More than a month after Tim Eyman announced that he would attempt to qualify a clone of Initiative 1053 for the ballot in 2012 (I-1185), we finally know what it was that prompted him to launch his signature drive: a commitment from oil industry lobbyists to dump money into his campaign coffers.
Reports filed with the Public Disclosure Commission last night show that BP and ConocoPhillips, two of the world’s biggest oil companies, each contributed $100,000 directly to the latest incarnation of Eyman’s “Voters Want More Choices” campaign committee in April, while Tim Eyman revealed in an email to the press this morning that Tesoro and Equilon (Shell) recently sent checks for $100,000 and $50,000 to the Association of Washington Business’ political action committee, which have supposedly been earmarked to help buy signatures for I-1185 (or so Eyman claims).
“Once again, greedy multinational oil companies are underwriting Tim Eyman, lubricating the wheels of his initiative factory with barrels of cash,” said NPI founder Andrew Villeneuve. “Of the $247,285.59 raised by Eyman’s I-1185 campaign committee (“Voters Want More Choices – Save the Two Thirds”) so far, more than eighty percent of the total was contributed by BP and ConocoPhillips ($200,000). And of the $186,035 given to the AWB’s PAC that Eyman claims will ultimately be spent on I-1185, $150,000 (again, eighty plus percent) was contributed by Tesoro and Shell.”
“What are these oil companies after? It’s simple: they want to rig the system to put their own profits ahead of people and planet. They don’t want to be held accountable for the pollution that their refineries and storage tanks generate. Their executives and lobbyists are shameless swindlers who think they can buy our signatures, our votes, and our elected leaders.”
Big oil’s presence in Washington: A bit of background
BP (also known as British Petroleum): BP has the worst safety record in the oil industry, and as of 2010, is responsible for the worst environmental disaster in American history: the Deepwater Horizon gusher. The gusher, which began on April 20th, 2010, when a blowout preventer failed, spilled approximately 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico (that’s 779,037,750 liters) until it was capped on July 15th. As a result of the spill, BP became by one account the most despised corporation in America, overtaking the likes of AIG, ExxonMobil, and Citigroup. According to the University of Massachusetts, BP is the twenty fifth largest corporate air polluter in the United States. In 2006, its facilities emitted 4.41 million pounds of toxic gas into the air. BP’s major assets in Washington State include:
- a refinery at Cherry Point, located at 4519 Grandview Road in Blaine
- a storage terminal in Seattle, located at 1652 SW Lander Street in Seattle
ConocoPhillips: According to the University of Massachusetts, ConocoPhillips is the eleventh largest corporate air polluter in the United States. In 2006, its facilities emitted 6.39 million pounds of toxic gas into the air. ConocoPhillips’ major assets in Washington State include:
- a refinery in Ferndale, located at 3901 Unick Road in Ferndale
- a storage terminal in Renton, located at 2423 Lind Avenue SW in Renton
- a storage terminal in Spokane, located at 6317 E Sharp Avenue in Spokane
Equilon (Shell): According to the University of Massachusetts, Royal Dutch Shell is the twenty-eighth largest corporate air polluter in the United States. In 2006, its facilities emitted 2.98 million pounds of toxic gas into the air. Shell’s major assets in Washington State include:
- a refinery in Anacortes, located at 8505 S Texas Road in Anacortes
- a storage terminal in Seattle, located at 2555 13th Avenue SW in Seattle
Tesoro: According to the University of Massachusetts, Tesoro is the twenty-second largest corporate air polluter in the United States. Its facilities emit 3.74 million pounds of toxic gases into the air every year. Tesoro owns a refinery in Anacortes.
Data originally compiled by NPI’s Permanent Defense for StopGreed.org
“These powerful oil companies already benefit from billions in public subsidies, but that’s not enough for them,” Villeneuve added. “They don’t just want a loophole-filled tax code engineered in their favor. They want to prevent the people of Washington – and the people’s representatives – from requiring them to share in the cost of keeping our air and our water clean. That’s why they dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into I-1053 two years ago, and that’s why they’re backing I-1185 now. They’re cheaters who have a mind to keep on cheating as long as we let them get away with it.”
In the coming weeks and months, NPI will be working to hold BP, ConocoPhillips, Tesoro, Shell, the Association of Washington Business, and other corporations and corporate lobbies accountable for their involvement in I-1185.
“Washingtonians need to realize that powerful interests are trying to trick us into undermining our own plan of government, which says that our Legislature shall operate democratically, by majority vote,” Villeneuve said.
“I-1185 is a recipe for more legislative gridlock, more underfunded services, and more unemployment. That’s not what our state needs. We urge all Washingtonians to stand with us in fighting to uphold our Constitution and strengthen our state’s common wealth in this crucial election year.”