BP Logo Sinking into Oily Sea
BP would benefit from the passage of Initiative 1053, but Washington would lose

Headquartered in Westminster City, London, BP — formerly known as British Petroleum — is the world’s third largest energy company and fourth largest corporation overall. It drills for, refines, and sells oil. It began its life as the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company nearly a century ago, changing its name to British Petroleum in 1954. (Its presence in Iran ended as of 1979, when the shah was deposed). It acquired a controlling sake in Sohio, one of the descendants of John Rockefeller’s Standard Oil. In 1998, it merged with Amoco, another Standard Oil descendant. Two years later, BP bought Atlantic Richfield Company, better known as Arco, which subsequently became BP West Coast Products LLC.

BP has the worst safety record in the oil industry, and as of this year, is responsible for the worst environmental disaster in American history: the Deepwater Horizon gusher. The gusher, which began on April 20th when a blowout preventer failed, spilled approximately 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico (that’s 779,037,750 liters) until it was capped on July 15th. As a result of the spill, BP is now the most despised corporation in America, overtaking the likes of AIG, ExxonMobil, and Citigroup.

We must be particularly careful about the political process because the legitimacy of that process is crucial both for society and for us, a company working in that society…. That is why we’ve decided, as a global policy, that from now on we will make no political contributions from corporate funds anywhere in the world. We’ll engage in the policy debate, stating our views and encouraging the development of ideas, but we won’t fund any political activity or any political party.”

Lord Browne, former chief executive of BP, in 2002

According to the University of Massachusetts, BP is the twenty fifth largest corporate air polluter in the United States. In 2006, its facilities emitted 4.41 million pounds of toxic gas into the air.


BP is the United States’ hundredth largest donor to political campaigns, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which counts BP as one of its “heavy hitters”. BP has spent more than $5 million on federal campaigns during the last twenty years. Nearly three fourths of their contributions went to Republican and right wing candidates.

BP spends even more on lobbying at the federal level. Last year, BP spent a cool $16 million lobbying Congress, and additional sums lobbying at the state level. BP’s lobbyist in Olympia is William Kidd; it also retains the services of AlliancesNW, a local lobbying firm. (Source: PDC data).

Assets in Washington State

BP’s major assets in Washington State include:

  • a refinery at Cherry Point, located at 4519 Grandview Road, Blaine, WA 98230
  • a storage terminal in Seattle, located at 1652 SW Lander Street, Seattle, WA 98134

What BP Wants

Like several other massive oil companies that have sunk big bucks into Initiative 1053, BP wants to avoid being held responsible for the pollution it emits into our air and water. In the most recent legislative session, the House and Senate considered legislation that would have slightly increased the hazardous materials tax to pay for cleanup efforts. Lobbyists for BP and the other oil companies pulled out all the stops to defeat the legislation, and they succeeded.

Inside BP's Boardroom
BP executives drink wine in the corporate boardroom while listening to a presentation by Chief Scientist Steven Koonin on Februrary 22nd, 2005. (Photo Credit: Kaihsu Tai). Reused under the terms of the GNU FDL.

They were so successful in fact, that neither HB 3181 (which had thirty seven cosponsors!), nor its companion bill, SB 6851 (which had twenty four cosponsors!) was brought to the floor for a vote. (The bills died in the respective Rules Committee of the chamber where they were introduced, because they were each short one or two votes).

Though Big Oil won, the environmental movement is already talking about trying to get the cleanup bill passed in 2011. So the oil companies have decided to buy an insurance policy for next year in the form of Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1053.

If I-1053 passes, the Legislature will not be able to increase the hazardous materials tax with a simple majority vote. All the oil lobbyists would have to do is convince a third of one house to oppose such a proposal, and they could kill it.

That’s why BP supports Initiative 1053. They’re not interested in smart public policy. They’re not interested in protecting Washington’s quality of life. They’re interested in their bottom line. It’s just… good business.

Corporate Profile

  • Company Type: Public
  • Traded on: NYSE, LSE (BP)
  • Contribution Address: 4101 Winfield Road, Warrenville, Illinois, 60555
  • Chief Executive: Tony Hayward (to be succeeded by Bob Dudley on October 1st)
  • 2010 1st Quarter Revenue: $73 billion
  • 2010 1st Quarter Net Profit: $6.1 billion

Contribution History for the 2010 Cycle

From Public Disclosure Commission records…
Amount Date Initiative/Sponsor Committee Given To
$15,000 07/09/2010 1053 (Tim Eyman) Citizens for Responsible Spending
$50,000 06/01/2010 1053 (Tim Eyman) Voters Want More Choices

Total amount shelled out by BP for electioneering: $65,000