(June 2, 2005) -- For several days, LB city staff "has been working furiously" to oppose state legislation that City Manager Jerry Miller calls an irresponsible "raid" on LB's oil abandonment fund (tidelands oil revenue set aside to clean up and close LB's offshore oil fields when they run out of oil).
A June 1 memo by City Manager Jerry Miller to LB's State Legislation and Environmental Affairs Committee, cc'd to LB Councilmembers and the city's highest ranking officials, describes City Hall's efforts and blasts claims about LB's record made on the state Senate floor on June 1 by state Sen. Carol Migden (D., SF).
On May 27, LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill sent a hardball letter to Senator Migden one day after the Senator amended SB 1086 (a previously innocuous bill) in the Senate Appropriations Committee which she chairs.
"The City must be allowed to protect the Long Beach Tidelands by ensuring the proper funding and subsequent abandonment of oil operations. To do otherwise is unethical and irresponsible," Mayor O'Neill wrote.
On May 26, Sen. Migden added verbiage to SB 1086 to stop LB from setting aside tidelands oil revenue for future clean up of LB tidelands oil fields. As amended, Migden's bill would take money set aside by LB (City Hall says $83.8 million, Sac'to estimates it could be $100+ million by now) and send it to Sacramento where lawmakers could spend it on current budget items.
(The exact figures are subject to change...and liability is based on estimated future costs.)
Mayor O'Neill also "made personal phone calls to key legislators and the Governor's office to help secure their assistance. The Port of Long Beach has supported our efforts," City Manager Miller's memo said.
City management separately informed LBReport.com that the Port of LB has thus far not funded any of its estimated $17 million share of liability for future clean up and closure costs. [This couldn't be confirmed with the Port at the end of the business day; we'll add PoLB response on June 3; check back with this page, click reload or refresh on your browser for updated text.]
City management said City Hall's total liability of $4.8 million is now half covered ($2.4 million) because City Hall set aside part of the tidelands oil revenue for this purpose.
Under leases negotiated by LB and approved by the State Lands Commission, state taxpayers (who receive 90% of the oil field revenue) will bear the lion's share of the estimated clean-up and closure costs. City Hall estimates the state's total liability is $299 million...of which LB has to date set aside roughly $83.8 million. (If Sacramento takes that sum, state taxpayers would eventually face the full future cost, estimated by City Hall to be nearly $300 million.)
City Manager Miller's memo said Sen. Migden made inaccurate statements about LB on the Senate floor on June 1:
LB City Hall letters opposing SB 1086 as amended also flew to other state lawmakers (Sens. Vincent, Bowen, Escutia, Scott, Ackerman and Poochigian) and to the League of CA Cities and Lt. Governor Bruz Bustamante. Lt. Gov. Bustamante is one of three members of the State Lands Commission, the state body that tried and failed in court to get LB's oil abandonment fund money. (Sen. Migden's legislation would effectively do by statute what the State Lands Commission couldn't accomplish in court under current law.)
City Manager Miller says State Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV) led the effort to oppose SB 1086 using fact sheets provided by City Hall. The memo adds that "the City also reached out to the Republican Caucus" and acknowledges that Senator Tom McClintock (R., Thousand Oaks) was among those making eloquent statements in opposition to SB 1086 as amended.
City Hall "also sought the assistance of THUMS, TOPKO, and the California Independent Petroleum Association's (CIPA) who have made calls and engaged their legislative advocacy teams," Mr. Miller said.
The bill passed the state Senate on a 22-13 vote and now heads to the Assembly. City Manager Miller's memo says: