There’s no doubt that the Western States Petroleum Association, Chevron and other oil companies use every avenue they can to dominate environmental policy in California, including lobbying legislators, contributing heavily to election campaigns, serving on state regulatory panels, and wining and dining politicians. Until we get the big corporate money out of politics, California will continue to be awash in a sea of oil money.
CEQA reform supporters and Democrats must be feeling a bit like Juliet in a Shakespeare tragedy, ever since Sen. Michael Rubio announced he was leaving the Senate to become a lobbyist at Chevron.
The move leaves Senate Democrats without a supermajority and leaves CEQA reformers without a moderate Democrat capable of bridging both extremes in the debate over modifying (or “updating” or “modernizing” or “gutting”) the California Environmental Quality Act.
Setting aside questions of propriety, Chevron was shrewd to hire state Sen. Michael Rubio to head its governmental relations operation.
Rubio’s decision to quit midterm makes sense, too. I don’t doubt his stated reason for giving up a promising political career: that he and his wife have a daughter who has Down syndrome and he felt a need to put his family first.
By stepping through the revolving door, the first-term Democratic senator will probably more than double his legislative salary, heady stuff for a guy who grew up without much in the Kern County oil patch. He’s accepting a cushy position.
Last Wednesday, then state Sen. Michael Rubio of Shafter told The Bee’s editorial board that he soon would introduce legislation to reform the landmark California Environmental Quality Act.
Rubio, citing a bout with the flu, spoke via telephone instead of appearing in person with other CEQA reform supporters.
The first-term Democrat told of CEQA abuses that had stymied urban revitalization and green energy projects. He also defended his proposal to exempt projects from environmental review if they met standards established by other laws.
State Sen. Michael J. Rubio (D–Shafter) abruptly announced Friday that he is resigning his office to spend more time with his family and accept a government affairs job with Chevron Corp.
The departure of Rubio, who was leading the charge to make California’s environmental laws more business-friendly, creates a third vacancy in the 40-person Senate.