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Chevron Plays Key Role in Schwarzenegger Plan

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- ChevronTexaco Corp. significantly influenced Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to reorganize almost every aspect of state government, managing to shape such key recommendations as the removal of restrictions on oil refineries, reported the Associated Press.

Proposals in the California Performance Review (CPR) report that would benefit Chevron include:

* Streamlining the permit process for the construction of new oil refineries and the expansion of existing ones. Chevron, which owns two of the state's largest refineries in Richmond and El Segundo, wanted the state's help in revising existing laws.

* Streamlining the activities of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. That agency, which issues permits for dredging and sand mining in the Bay Area, oversees activities related to Chevron's interests in the Bay Area.

* Reorganizing the regulatory process for picking the locations for refineries, tank farms, liquefied natural gas and other energy facilities. Chevron has two proposals to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities in Southern California and the Mexican state of Baja California.

State records and interviews with the participants show Chevron enjoyed immense success in influencing the report through its array of lobbyists, lawyers and trade organizations. Few corporations have spent so much political cash on the governor, either. Since Schwarzenegger's election last October, the San Ramon-based company has contributed more than $200,000 to his committees and $500,000 to the California Republican Party.

Disclosure of Chevron's determined role in what many believe is the administration's most important political reform effort contrasts sharply with statements the governor made during last year's election campaign and afterward in which he promised to sweep out a corrupt system where "contributions go in, the favors go out."

Chevron officials said they were just doing their jobs through their vigorous participation in the CPR process, which included meeting with senior aides to the governor. "This is what we are here for," said Jack Coffey, Chevron's general manager over state government relations, from New York where he was attending the Republican convention.

Chevron learned about the CPR early and "obviously understood their agenda," Coffey said, adding that while there was direct contact by company lobbyists, most contact came through trade groups of which Chevron is a member. "We made an effort to feed those trade associations who were more active."

But, Coffey said, Chevron's donations to Schwarzenegger are because of his "pro-business agenda" and have nothing to do with the CPR report.
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