Massive failure to disclose by WA’s fossil fuel lobbyists

March 4, 2024

A review of lobbyist disclosure records by F Minus reveals 27 Washington lobbyists who are simultaneously representing fossil fuel clients and non-fossil-fuel clients who are being harmed by the climate crisis. An F Minus review of monthly filings also finds a massive failure among these lobbyists to comply with a new Public Disclosure Commission requirement to disclose the numbers of the bills on which they are lobbying, with compliance by just 2 of the 22 who filed activity reports for fossil fuel clients in Jan. 2024.

One of the two firms to comply with the new requirement was MJB Consulting, which disclosed lobbying on behalf of Marathon Petroleum on SB 6052, the Oil Industry Accountability Act, which would have strengthened transparency around petroleum pricing and applied the Consumer Protection Act to deceptive marketing claims made about transportation fuels. MJB Consulting also lobbied for Spokane County on HB 1899, a bill that would facilitate disaster relief for communities damaged by wildfires.

“Fossil fuels are driving the climate crisis, and the crisis is contributing to Washington’s increasingly frequent and severe wildfires,” said James Browning, Executive Director of F Minus. “So lobbying for a fossil fuel company and disaster relief funds at the same time is a prime example of playing both sides of the climate crisis.”

Smoke from the state’s increasingly severe wildfires is especially harmful to children, yet ten public school districts in Washington continue to share the lobbying firm of Cascade Government Affairs with Cascade Natural Gas and NW Natural, for whom the firm disclosed lobbying on “Energy and Environmental Issues” in Jan. 2024, without listing bill numbers.

Insight Strategic Partners lobbied on “Environment” and “Recycling” for King County at the same time it was lobbying for Chevron, one of the world’s biggest GHG emitters; TransAlta, which operates six methane-emitting gas plants in Canada; and Puget Sound Energy, which operates seven methane-emitting gas plants in Washington. Insight Strategic Partners did not disclose bill numbers for any of its fossil fuel clients. But during this same period, lobbyist David Ducharme was able to disclose the numbers of three bills on which he lobbied for Chevron, including SB 5783, which would reduce the state’s early emissions reduction targets under the Climate Commitment Act.

Alliances Northwest lobbied for BP America and Puget Sound Energy, but instead of bill numbers, listed every subject area on which the firm lobbied in Jan. 2024, so that its disclosures for these two fossil fuel companies were nearly identical to its disclosures for its client Nintendo.

The Nichols Group represented fossil fuel clients Phillips 66, Teck American, and the Koch Companies, one of the biggest funders of climate denialism. The firm disclosed spending $824 on a Koch dinner attended by several state representatives in January, but disclosed none of the bills on which it was lobbying for Koch.

Greg Hanon lobbies for the Western States Petroleum Association and publicly voiced WSPA’s opposition to the Oil Industry Accountability Act on Feb. 8, 2024. A disclosure filed by Hanon seven days later made no mention of this specific bill.

F Minus did not review all lobbyist disclosures for Jan. 2024, just those by fossil fuel lobbyists. “The climate crisis is holistic and effects everyone,” F Minus Director Browning said, “and future generations will wonder why we didn’t require these fossil fuel lobbyists to be more transparent.”

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