Big Oil money in for Faulconer

World fracking capital’s mayor wields carbon cash clout in San Diego

Steps taken in hydraulic fracking
  • Steps taken in hydraulic fracking

With locals debating whether San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer's much-ballyhooed pre-election climate protection plan has any teeth, big carbon, in the form of the American Petroleum Institute of Washington DC, is letting its cash do the talking.

Kevin Faulconer

Kevin Faulconer

On May 11, the oil industry lobbying group came up with $5000 for Community Leaders of America, a Virginia political nonprofit. In addition, the Carbon Council, with an Ann Arbor, Michigan, address, gave Community Leaders $2500.

On the same day, Community Leaders handed the funds to a San Diego political committee called Communities United for Tomorrow's Economy Supporting the Re-election of Mayor Faulconer.

In all, Community Leaders has so far given the pro-Faulconer committee — operated by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Lincoln Club of San Diego County — a total of $12,500, according to a May 12 disclosure filing with the city clerk.

As previously reported here, Community Leaders styles itself as "the caucus of America’s local elected Republican leaders," acting as a conduit for millions of dollars of political money from Washington-based lobbying operations to GOP candidates across the country.

Besides the oil lobby, tobacco giants Altria and R.J. Reynolds are major financial backers, as are Walmart, trash haulers Waste Management and Republic Services, and airline industry lobbyists.

Betsy Price

Betsy Price

Chairing the caucus is Betsy Price, the GOP mayor of Fort Worth, Texas, deep in the heart of carbon country.

“I look forward to working with my fellow Conservative municipal elected officials to take advantage of the opportunities to grow and expand the Republican Mayors and City Council caucus,” Price told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram after her January appointment.

"I shop at Neiman’s a lot,” Price told the paper in 2014 after a branch of the famous Dallas-based luxury shopping chain opened near her house. “Now my husband said this gives [him] a serious headache.”

Anti-carbon environmental groups assert that under Price, the practice of fracking for the natural gas that lies in the vast Barnett Shale under Fort Worth has gotten out of hand.

"Residents have been sickened by vapors from drilling operations, found their neighborhoods suddenly ruined by noise and fumes, and had their water sucked up by drilling operations in the middle of severe drought," said ClimateProgress in a December 2013 report.

Price has also come under fire for a series of special tax breaks the city has given local businesses, including one for Frac Tech Services, which calls itself “the largest private well completion company in North America.”

The mayor defended the abatements, telling the Star-Telegram in August, 2011, "I've talked to friends around the state who want to know what the heck you put in the water in Fort Worth that everybody's coming to Fort Worth."

Replied one skeptical blogger, "We also agree with Betsy — we'd like to know what's in the water too. Better yet, WHAT water?"

Noted the Star-Telegram: "Frac Tech Services, proposing the biggest expansion, is already in Fort Worth. Do you think a fracking company would leave the fracking capital of the world over a tax break? Somewhere along the line, tax breaks went from being something special to being routine. They now seem to be a business entitlement."

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