One of the most popular initiatives - Measure O, a proposal to impose an oil severance tax for oil extracted within the city limits of Los Angeles - was introduced by LA Councilwoman (and current candidate in the CA36 Congressional race) Janice Hahn. The measure is projected to bring in about $4 million in revenues annually. Neighboring cities of Beverly Hills, Inglewood, Long Beach, and Seal Beach already impose a similar tax.
Measure O is endorsed by the California Courage Campaign, the LA Conservation Corps, the Sierra Club, and other environmental organizations.
Yet a year after Hahn first proposed the idea, she now stands as the only LA City council member in opposition to the measure.
Hahn's turnabout shines a rare spotlight inside the world of LA City politics, where powerful interest groups often create chaos with the legislative process.
From the LA Times:
Buffeted by the competing wishes of special interests, the mayor and various civic leaders, council members repeatedly changed their minds on the ballot proposals, hastily rewriting some while killing others outright......
A separate tax on oil production was proposed by Councilwoman Janice Hahn, whose harbor district has the most refineries. After representatives of those refineries complained, Hahn publicly rescinded her support on the day of the crucial vote.
Hahn's colleagues passed it anyway, delighted to find a new source of money for the city's cash-strapped budget.
KCET reports that the opposition is sponsored by the California Independent Petroleum Association, "a non-profit, non-partisan trade association representing approximately 450 independent crude oil and natural gas producers," according to its website. CIPA has lobbied extensively to expand offshore drilling off the coast of California and in ANWAR, opposes Cap and Trade, and any limits to hydraulic fracturing (aka "fracking"), a controversial and dangerous means of natural gas extraction made famous by the HBO movie, "Gasland"
According the KCET, CIPA has given more than $400,000 to California candidates from 2001 to 2010. Sixty-two percent of those candidates were Republicans.
Some of Measure O's opponents have gone on to endorse Janice Hahn in her bid to win the Congressional seat vacated by Jane Harman.