Oil Lobbyists Treated California Lawmakers To A $13,000 Dinner The Week Before A Major Fracking Vote


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A major oil lobbying group spent $13,000 on a dinner for California lawmakers just one week before the state’s watered-down fracking regulatory bill passed the state Legislature, according to the state’s quarterly reports.

The Sacramento Bee outlined the heft of the oil and gas industry’s spending leading up to the bill’s vote, which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on September 20.

From July 1 to September 30, three oil and gas groups spent the most money lobbying out of all the interest groups in the state. Chevron spent $1,696,477; Aera Energy LLC spent $1,015,534; and the Western States Petroleum Association spent $1,269,478, $13,000 of which went towards a dinner for 12 state lawmakers and two staff members at “one of Sacramento’s poshest venues,” according to the Bee.

“Moderate Democrats seemed to be the target audience for the treat: Assembly members Adam Gray, Henry Perea and Cheryl Brown attended, as did Sens. Norma Torres, Ron Calderon and Lou Correa,” the Bee piece reads.

And it wasn’t the first time some of these lawmakers had been taken to dinner by the oil and gas industry: Perea, Correa, Calderon and Torres were four of 11 California lawmakers who attended a dinner sponsored by Western States Petroleum Association at the same restaurant last year.

The fracking bill that was ultimately signed into law in September was a significantly-weakened version of the original bill. The law as it was signed does require oil and gas companies to get a permit before they drill, but it doesn’t trigger an environmental review process for each well — something the the Western States Petroleum Association lobbied hard against.

The law will force oil and gas companies to list the chemicals they use online, require them to get a permit for fracking, notify neighbors before drilling and monitor ground water and air quality. These regulations were “so watered down” from the original bill that they were deemed “useless” by the LA Times. “In recent amendments, the key regulatory element of the bill was so weakened that it is no longer recognizable,” the LA Times wrote.