The second-biggest funder of Tim Eyman’s undemocratic I-1053, after BP, is oil giant Tesoro. Who is Tesoro? A black hat in an industry of black hats, it’s the largest independent refiner on the US West Coast.

Refinery Tesoro Anacortes_by permission_Flicker_FlyingColorsY2K10_Steve Halverson

On April 2 of this year, an explosion at Tesoro’s Anacortes refinery killed seven workers: Daniel Aldridge, 50, of Anacortes; Matthew Bowen, 31, of Arlington; Matt Gumbel, 34, of Oak Harbor; Darrin Hoines, 43, of Ferndale; Lew Janz, 41, of Anacortes; Kathryn Powell, 29, of Burlington; and Donna Van Dreumel, 36, of Oak Harbor.

Yesterday, state regulators slapped Tesoro with the largest penalty in state history for a workplace safety violation. The fine is $2.4 million. That would be a lot of money for you or me. For Tesoro, it’s three days’ profit.

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  • During the same tragic month of April (also the month the BP disaster started in the Gulf), Tesoro was earning $744,000 a day. And it was spending thousands of dollars on lobbying to forestall a modest tax increase on hazardous substances. The new revenue mostly would have funded cities and counties’ efforts to keep oil out of Puget Sound and other bodies of water. A search of the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission’s database (see page 78 in the tab for “total expenses by employer”) shows that Tesoro was spending more than $1,000 a day on just two Olympia lobbyists. That’s about ten times what Washington pays its elected legislators per day. The bill to protect Washington waters from oil and other toxics came close to passing. It’ll be back in 2011. The Gulf disaster boosts prospects for passage, unless I-1053 gives an ideological faction of 17 anti-tax state senators a veto. That’s why Tesoro likes Eyman’s 1053. That’s why they gave Eyman’s campaign $50,000.

    State investigators’ report of the Anacortes explosion is damning. As Bloomberg summarizes:

    Tesoro was cited for 39 “willful” violations and five “serious” violations of state workplace safety and health regulations, the Washington Department of Labor and Industries said in a press release today. The company could’ve prevented the accident, the agency said.

    The findings are the result of a six-month investigation into the most deadly U.S. refinery accident since 2005, when 15 people were killed by an explosion at BP Plc’s Texas City, Texas, refinery.

    “This explosion and the deaths of these men and women would never have occurred had Tesoro tested their equipment in a manner consistent with standard industry practices, their own policies and state regulations,” Judy Schurke, director of the state agency that oversees workplace safety and health, said in a statement.

    Tesoro, BP, and Tim Eyman: working together to thwart majority rule, working together to protect oil profits, working together to prevent clean water.



    Photo of Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Washington courtesy of Flicker photographer Steve Halverson, FlyingColorsY2K10( <!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:”Trade Gothic LT Com”; panose-1:2 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-2147483517 1073750090 0 0 9 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:””; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Trade Gothic LT Com”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –> © 2009).