Meet Cathy Reheis-Boyd
Big Oil Takes Over Marine "Protection" in California
by Dan Bacher
January 29, 2010 -- Corporate greenwashing in California under Arnold Schwarzenegger, the "green governor," has become so bizarre and egregious that no political satirist, comedian or novelist could concoct fictional schemes that rival the reality of current politics in the state.
Only in Schwarzenegger's California would a governor appoint an oil industry lobbyist to a key administration position supposedly promoting "marine protection" at a time when oil companies are seeking to expand drilling operations off the California coast. Schwarzenegger strongly supports linking $140 million in annual funding for State Parks to approval of the Tranquillon Ridge oil-drilling project off the coast of Santa Barbara (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/jan/22/oil-parks-plan-derided-blackmail).
With this in mind, it is not surprising that Secretary of Resources Mike Chrisman in August 2009 announced the Governor's appointment of Cathy Reheis-Boyd, the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Western States Petroleum Association, as chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force for the remainder of the MLPA South Project.
After having served on the MLPA Task Force for the North Central Coast, Chrisman and Schwarzenegger apparently thought she had done such a good job of promoting the fast-track MLPA process that he appointed her to the new position.
Under the guise of "marine protection," Reheis-Boyd and other task force members developed a "marine protected area" plan on the North Central Coast that banned the Kashia Pomo Tribe and other American Indian Nations from harvesting seaweed, mussels and abalone as they had done for centuries from their traditional areas off Stewarts Point and Point Arena. In spite of overwhelming opposition to the plan by North Coast environmentalists, seaweed harvesters, fishermen and Indian Tribes, the Fish and Game Commission voted for the "Integrated Preferred Alternative" (IPA) adopted by the task force on August 5.
When the first settlers came to the coast, they didnt know how to feed themselves," Lester Pinola, the past chairman of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians of the Stewarts Point Rancheria in Sonoma County, told the Commission before the vote. "Our people showed them how to eat out of the ocean. In my opinion, this was a big mistake.
In yet another installment in this living political satire, the Board of Directors of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) on October 16, 2009 announced that Reheis-Boyd would assume the role of President of the oil and natural gas industry trade association January 1, 2010.
No one is more capable, experienced and deserving of leading our Association into the future than Cathy Reheis-Boyd, said Gary Yesavage, President of Global Manufacturing for Chevron Corporation and Chairman of WSPAs Board of Directors. Cathy is a great leader and the Board is 100 percent confident she will continue to be a forceful and successful advocate for our industry.
The Western States Petroleum Association is the leading petroleum industry trade association in six western states California, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Its twenty-seven members include major integrated oil and natural gas companies as well as independent refiners and marketers, and independent producers. Formed in 1906, it is the oldest petroleum industry trade association in the United States.
Reheis-Boyd, 52, has become the Associations "primary expert and spokesperson on climate change issues" and has played a key role regionally, nationally and internationally in public policy discussions on these issues, the news release noted.
Providing our regions future energy supplies and meeting our climate change objectives are going to be major challenges for all of us, not just the petroleum industry, said Reheis-Boyd. WSPA members will be integral to solving those challenges and I am looking forward to helping craft those solutions.
A Westlands Connection?
Ironically, the contact for the association listed at the top of the release was Tupper Hull, the former spokesman for the Westlands Water District. The district, considered by many to the "Darth Vader of California water politics, has continually fought every move by fishermen, tribes and environmentalists to restore salmon, steelhead and other fish populations of the Trinity, Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers.
John Lewallen, longtime North Coast environmentalist, seaweed harvester and member of the Public Ocean Access Network( oceannetwork [at] mcn.org), believes that Reheis-Boyd's position as an "oil industry superstar" is a conflict of interest with her position as chair of a task force charged with developing marine protected areas (MPAs).
"Reheis Boyd is moving right on up, really advancing the cause of the oil industry," commented Lewallen. "By setting up these no-take marine reserves and kicking fishermen, Indians, seaweed harvesters and other ocean food providers off traditional areas of the ocean, the Schwarzenegger administration is paving the way for offshore oil drilling. Twenty-three percent of the nation's offshore oil reserves are off the coast of California. The Point Arena Basin off Mendocino is on track now to be leased for drilling by the Mineral Management Services."
Lewallen noted that under Reheis-Boyd's "leadership," the Southern California community plan for new Marine Protected Areas, developed over 14 months by 64 stakeholders and many community groups, was "thrown in the trash can" on Nov. 10 by the Blue Ribbon Task Force of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative.
"The Southern California Blue Ribbon Task Force 'Integrated Preferred Alternative' is devastating to fishing communities, but good for offshore oil drilling interests," said Lewallen, the co-founder of the "Seaweed Rebellion" movement and longtime opponent of offshore oil drilling, the clearcutting of forests and corporate greenwashing.
Reheis-Boyd's ascendance on the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force and in the oil industry are no coincidence, since the MLPA task force's decisions provide a "green" veneer to plans by the oil industry, wave energy companies and corporate aquaculture to privative public trust ocean resources.
"The people of the state of the California are being denied access to sustainable ocean food by the MLPA process," said Barbara Stephens-Lewallen, John's wife, who will be banned from sustainably harvesting seaweed off Point Arena starting April 1, 2010, the result of the August vote by Schwarzenegger's hand picked Fish and Game Commission.
John and Barbara strongly opposed the appointment of Reheis-Boyd to the Blue Ribbon Task Force for the Marine Life Protection (MLPA) Initiatives North Coast Study Region, due to her obvious conflicts of interest. Unfortunately, Mike Chrisman, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Secretary for Natural Resources, in November appointed Reheis-Boyd to the controversial panel.
The Role of Reheis Boyd and other Corporate Interests
What the heck is an oil industry lobbyist doing on a task force supposedly overseeing "marine protection" in California?
Political insiders believe that Reheis-Boyd has been chosen for this position so she can protect the oil industry's interests on the California coast. The oil industry is seeking to open up new areas to oil drilling off the California coast, particularly in the Point Arena Basin and on the Tranquillon Ridge. She was apparently appointed to the North Central Coast, North Coast and South Coast Task Forces to make sure that marine protected areas (MPAs) don't impinge upon existing or planned future oil drilling operations off the coast.
The other members of Schwarzenegger's task force are Gregory Schem, president and chief executive officer, Harbor Real Estate Group; Jimmy Smith, chair, Humboldt County Board of Supervisors; Virginia Strom-Martin, advocate, Los Angeles Unified School District; William Anderson, president, Westrec Marina Management; Meg Caldwell, director and senior lecturer on law, Stanford Law School Environment and Natural Resources Law and Policy Program; Roberta Cordero, lawyer, co-founder Chumash Maritime Association; and Cindy Gustafson, district general manager, Tahoe City Public Utility District.
Schwarzenegger's choice of William Anderson, president, Westrec Marina Management, is also quite curious. "Focusing on the service side of the marina industry, Westrec is the most comprehensive and authoritative source of marina operating information in the business; handling fuel docks, ship's stores, boat repair and maintenance, commercial leasing, restaurants, campgrounds and lodging facilities," according to Westrec's website, http://www.westrec.com.
Just like having an oil industry official on a task force designed to create marine protected areas is an obvious conflict of interest, isn't having a marina operation executive on the panel a conflict of interest? Could Anderson be on the task force to make sure that marine reserves don't impede on marina operation and expansion plans now in the works?
The appointment of Gregory Schem, president and chief executive officer, Harbor Real Estate Group, is also bizarre. Why should a real estate corporation officer be presiding over a supposedly "environmental process? What background does he have in fisheries or "marine protection? to justify his appointment?
A broad coalition of North Coast environmentalists, fishermen, Indian Tribes and seaweed harvesters fear that these corporate officials were appointed to the MLPA Task Force to remove the strongest protectors of fish and the oceans and most ardent opponents of oil drilling from the water to clear the path to the development of offshore oil rigs, marina projects, corporate aquaculture and wave energy projects off the North Coast.
The MLPA, passed by the Legislature in 1999, has under Schwarzenegger become an surrealistic parody of "marine protection." The MLPA under Schwarzenegger does nothing to stop pollution and habitat destruction on the ocean, as the legislation originally intended to do, but only aims to further restrict sustainable fishermen and seaweed harvesters on the most heavily restricted stretch of ocean waters on the entire planet.
These MPAs do nothing to keep the ocean healthy," said Vern Goehring, Manager of the California Fisheries Coalition. "They do nothing to improve water quality."
North Coast Indian Tribes see the MLPA process as a threat to their sovereignty and culture. Its one of the largest challenges coming forward to the tribe in a really long time, said Smith River Rancheria tribal administrator Russ Crabtree at a recent Del Norte County Board of Supervisors meeting, as quoted in the Crescent City Triplicate. I see this as a challenge to tribal sovereignty" (http://www.triplicate.com/20100113107934/News/Local-News/Sovereignty-eyed-as-fish-limits-discussed).
The Schwarzenegger administration continues to fast track the MLPA process in spite of a June 31 study in Science magazine that revealed that the California current features the least exploited and most restored marine ecosystem population of any place studied (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/08/01/18613625.php).
Much of the motivation for the MLPA was concern about the state of the groundfish stocks - there is clear evidence that these can be rebuilt without MPAs resulting from the MLPA that have only recently begun to be implemented, said Dr. Ray Hilborn, the co-author of the article with Boris Worm and 19 other scientists. The benefits of the MPAs established under the MLPA will be primarily to have some areas of high abundance of species with limited mobility.
Is Ocean Privatization on the Agenda?
Even worse, the fast track MLPA process under Schwarzenegger is funded by the Resource Legacy Fund Foundation (RLFF), a shadowy organization supplied with millions and millions of dollars every year through the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, David and Lucille Packard Foundation and other corporate entities. The foundation heavily funds the corporate environmental NGOs that are pushing so hard for their way in the MLPA process.
The Stephens-Lewallens are outraged that a private corporation, a group with dark ties to some of the worst corporate greenwashers on the planet, is funding the MLPA Initiative.
"A shadowy group called the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation has taken over the process of setting up Marine Protected Areas, and is moving to finance and control fisheries law enforcement and the making of all fisheries regulations," added John Lewallen. "The sooner Californians unite to stop the private takeover of California's fisheries management, the better."
At the same time, many of these NGOs backed the water policy/bond package that clears the path to the construction of a peripheral canal and more dams that will result in the destruction of the California Delta ecosystem. While MLPA proponents are pushing for more redundant restrictions on North Coast coastal fishing communities, they apparently made a deal with the Governor and Legislators to back legislation that is likely to seal the doom of collapsing Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon, striped bass and other fish populations.
Has the MLPA Initiative under Schwarzenegger, the worst Governor in California history for fish and the environment, in reality become the Marine Life Privatization Act?
Meanwhile, the MLPA Initiative and California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) today (January 29) announced the appointment of the 31-member MLPA North Coast Regional Stakeholder Group. For the press release and list of stakeholders, go to: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/ncproject.asp#members