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Big Oil in Third World California

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Ann Garrison       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   3 comments

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Shortly after writing "Arnold Schwarzenegger Threatens California like the IMF threatens Africa," published on the Op-Ed News, I came across nearly identical essays on the California budget by Willie L. Pelote, Sr., Assistant Director and Political Action Coordinator for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees:

Willie Pelote, Sr.
Governor's budget proposals mirror Third World structural readjustment,
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California's for the rich, and

New budget takes California backwards.

On July 22nd, I found Mr. Pelote in the California Chronicle, speaking to the new oil and natural gas driling off the California Coast, near Santa Barbara, site of the disastrous 1969 oil spill which triggered the passionate coastal defense coalition which has stopped new offshore drilling up until now:

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"This individual project off the Santa Barbara Coast simply is not a California budget issue. If the Governor really wants to generate more revenues he should charge oil companies for extraction just like they do in Texas, Alaska, and other oil producing states."

Indeed. As I've reported, Arnold Schwarzenegger champions extending oil and natural gas leases off the Santa Barbara coast with the promise of a possible $1.8 billion in increased state revenue, at current prices. At first, this would seem to go a long way towards easing California's pain, but, this $1.8 billion is really $1.8 billion over 13 years time, between now and the year 2022, when, supposedly, Houston-based Plains Exploration and Oil Production Company will stop drilling.

How much would the State of California get from the extension of oil and gas drilling leases, to solve its budget crisis this year? One hundred million dollars, which would not fill much of the $26 billion hole, unlike a 9.9% oil and gas severance tax, which, at current crude oil and natural gas prices, would raise $1 billion, this year.

Schwarzenegger's budgets resemble those of multinational corporations, backed by the IMF and World Bank, in Africa, where Big Oil and other multinational mining corporations generate a higher rate of return on investment than in any other part of the world-because they leave so little with African people.

And, since no one seems to dispute that California will soon face another budget crisis like that coming to a head this week, we have to ask.

How much of Californians' oil and natural gas, and, what other natural resources, does Arnold Schwarzenegger hope to give away, for insignificant revenues, in exchange for his signature on future budgets to keep California running, much as the World Bank or IMF's signature keeps Third World nations running, awhile longer, but each time for a higher price?

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AFSCME, released "Heal California" in response to the recent California budget battle, but, like the budget battle, and the battle over oil and natural gas drilling leases, and, over an oil and natural gas severance tax, its argument will keep coming back:

This essay first appeared on


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Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at (more...)

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