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Only in California would a big oil industry lobbyist lead a panel to create "marine protected areas" that exempt the oil industry and other ocean industrialists while removing fishermen and gatherers off vast areas of the ocean - and then lead a campaign to promote fracking while calling for the weakening of environmental and safety laws.

And only in California, allegedly a "green state," would state officials and corporate "environmental" NGO "leaders" greenwash a process overseen by a big oil lobbyist and other corporate operatives by continually claiming that the process was the "most open, transparent and inclusive" environmental process in the state's history - while it was anything but.

In the latest episode in this bizarre saga, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create alleged "marine protected areas" in Southern California, urged California and Contra Costa County officials to take a "thoughtful and cautious approach" as it considered changes to safety programs recommended by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB). (

After hearing testimony by board staff, local officials, and community members in Richmond on January 15, the Chemical Safety Board voted 2-1 to wait four months before making a final decision on whether to recommend a complete overhaul of refinery safety regulations, according to the East Bay Express.(

Reheis-Boyd claimed that "moving too quickly" to adopt some of the new programs being recommended by the CSB could "inject a high level of complexity and confusion into long-standing and successful safety programs, thereby increasing, not decreasing, the risk of accidents."

“Everyone in the petroleum refining industry is focused on safety," Reheis-Boyd said. "That’s not the issue. The issue is identifying the best possible programs to ensure safe operations and putting those programs into practice in ways that make safety second nature. We must be very careful in how we introduce change, especially into programs that have a long record of acceptance and success.”

Reheis-Boyd said the CSB is recommending state and local regulatory agencies "adopt significant change" in the way industrial facilities in California, including oil refineries in Contra Costa County, manage their safety programs.

The recommendation, part of a larger report on the fire at Chevron’s Richmond Refinery on August 6, 2012, would require state and local regulatory agencies and refiners to adopt an entirely new system for managing safety program known as “Safety Case” management, according to Reheis-Boyd.

Currently, CalOSHA requires and industrial facilities utilize a “Process Safety Management (PSM)” system for planning, testing and implementing safety measures in industrial facilities, noted Reheis-Boyd.

"The goals of Safety Case programs and PSM programs are identical – to provide the highest level of safety for workers and communities as possible. There are significant differences, however, in how those systems are developed and deployed," she contended.

“Learning from incidents is an essential element of the Process Safety Management framework and the CSB’s reports have been an important source of lessons learned," Reheis-Boyd continued. “The CSB’s recommendations deserve serious and thoughtful review. It’s entirely possible that after careful review some of the recommendations concerning changes to regulatory oversight could be integrated into the existing PSM and Risk Management Program (RMP) regulatory framework.”

However, when it came to kicking sustainable fishermen and gatherers off California coastal waters to "protect" the ocean, Reheis-Boyd and other members of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces failed to employ anything close to a "thoughtful and cautious approach."

They were anything but "thoughtful and cautious" when they created "marine protected areas" that fail to protect the ocean from fracking, offshore oil drilling, pollution, wind and wave energy projects, military testing and all human impacts other than fishing and gathering.

And Reheis-Boyd's claim that the Chemical Safety Board was "moving too quickly" to adopt some of the new programs being recommended by the board staff is extremely hypocritical when she, as the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force Chair, had no problem fast-tracking the MLPA Initiative process on the South Coast to close off big areas to sustainable recreational and commercial fishing.

In an extreme conflict of interest, Reheis-Boyd not only chaired the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, but she served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast. (

While Reheis-Boyd served on the task forces to "protect" the ocean, the oil industry was conducting environmentally destructive hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations off the Southern California coast. Documents recently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and media investigations by Associated Press and reveal that the ocean has been fracked at least 203 times in the past 20 years, including the period from 2004 to 2012 that Reheis-Boyd served as a "marine guardian."

The Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) is a landmark law, signed by Governor Gray Davis in 1999, designed to create a network of marine protected areas off the California Coast. However, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004 created the privately-funded MLPA "Initiative" to "implement" the law, effectively eviscerating the MLPA.

When will there be a long overdue investigation into the conflicts of interest, terminally flawed science, violation of the Yurok Tribe's gathering rights and failure to provide comprehensive protection in so-called "marine protected areas" that have made the MLPA Initiative into one of the most tainted environmental processes in California history?

Background: Oil industry money and power

The oil industry is the most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento, so it is able to wield enormous influence over state and federal regulators and environmental processes. The result of this inordinate money and influence is the effective evisceration of the Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 during the MLPA Initiative process and the signing of Senator Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 4, the green light for fracking bill, by Governor Jerry Brown on September 20, 2013.

A report recently released by the American Lung Association revealed that the oil industry lobby spent $45.4 million in the state between January 1 2009 and June 30, 2013. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) alone has spent over $20 million since 2009 to lobby legislators. (

For more information on oil industry power and money, go to:

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