by Dan Bacher

On July 21, a prominent North Coast environmental leader called for the resignation of an oil lobbyist who serves as a member of the Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) to implement Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

Judith Vidaver, Chair of the Ocean Protection Coalition based in Mendocino County, asked for the resignation of Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association, in her public testimony several hours after over 300 Indian Tribal members and their allies peacefully took control of a BRTF meeting to protest the violation of sovereign Tribal gathering and fishing rights under the MLPA.

“OPC respectively and regrettably requests that Catherine Reheis-Boyd voluntarily step down from her position on the Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF),” said Vidaver. “Oil and water do not mix – as we are daily being reminded by the disaster spewing in the Gulf. Mrs. Reheis-Boyd’s position as President of the Western States Petroleum Association and her lobbying efforts to expand offshore oil drilling off the coast of California are a patent conflict of interest for which she should recuse herself from the BRTF proceedings which are ostensibly meant to protect the marine environment.”

“OPC does not believe Mrs. Reheis-Boyd can provide unbiased, objective and science-based recommendations regarding placement and sizes of MPAs-especially if she may be privy to confidential oil industry information regarding areas of the coast of interest to the oil/gas industry,” stated Vidaver.

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