Conflicts of Interest, Part 2: Catherine Reheis-Boyd

Perhaps even more disturbing than the apparent conflicts of the Executive Director of the MLPAI, is the outrageous conflict of interest of the President of the Western States Petroleum Association sitting on the final arbitrtion board of the so-called MLPAI “Initiative.”

Catherine Reheis-Boyd sits on this commitee –  the so-called “Blue Ribbon Task Force” (BRTF) of the self-invented Marine Life Protection Act “Initiative” program.  With it’s military sounding moniker, the powerful privately funded “Blue Ribbon Task Force” yields nearly legislative muscle. Their recommendations to the Fish and Game Commission are written into law for final approval by the state legislature.

This hand picked panel was chosen by then Secretary of Natural Resources Mike Chrisman, in close collaboration with former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  BRTF board members claim to be unpaid volunteers, working for free on behalf of the ocean and people of California.  And apparently, they don’t need the money.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd’s employer, the WSPA, is similar to it’s national counterpart the American Petroleum Institute (API).  The Western States Petroleum Association is a public relations, lobbying and advocacy organization for oil and natural gas.  It represents the oil industry in six western states: California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii.

The WSPA’s recommendations for offshore oil include the following:

“The Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico has resulted in questions about the safety of oil development off the Coast of California.

We continue to believe California businesses and consumers would benefit from development of the huge reserves of petroleum off the California Coast, in both state and federal waters.”

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Although Ms. Reheis-Boyd has adamately insisted that her interest in the MLPAI campaign comes from a benevolent concern for the ocean, the stated aims of her organization are far from it.  The WSPA has come out srongly in favor of offshore oil and natural gas drilling on the entire West Coast, and particularly California.

The North Coast has fought off several onslaughts by the oil industry in recent decades. It was only after the concerted effort of thousands of citizens in massive demonstrations in 1988 that oil prospectors were turned away.  Similar public outcry discouraged oil interests in the 1970’s.  At the same time, an active commercial fishing industry was one of many strong opponents of federal government and corporate designs to drill for oil off our coast.

Some observent North Coast residents have noticed that the final arrays proposed by “stakeholders” in the MLPAI program mirror the offshore federal lease sales 53 and 91 from the 1970’s and 80’s.  Natural gas and oil reserves are known to exist under the waters off Petrolia in Humboldt County, and Point Arena in Mendocino County, in the exact regions where the massive new closures are proposed to take effect.

It is not so much what Ms. Catherine Reheis-Boyd may have been for in her position with the Marine Life Protection Act “Initiative”-  as what she stands against.  Namely, the staunch protection of the North Coast from any kind of offshore oil development, now and forever.  Her sitting on the powerful “Blue Ribbon Task Force” was a sure-fire way guarantee these protections would not be included in the MLPAI.

As mentioned in the previous post  – a charge of conflict of interest (COI) does not require proof of any wrong-doing.  Simply showing that competing interests exist is enough.  In the case of Ms. Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the conflict of interst between marine life protection and offshore oil drilling could not possibly be any more bald, barefaced, and unabashedly brazen.

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