Environmental leader applauds OAL decision, MLPA lawsuit

“Hopefully all these products of a privatized process rife with secret meetings, bad science, conflict of interest and scorning of state meeting and administrative law will be invalidated,” –  John Lewallen, North Coast environmental leader and longtime advocate for democracy and transparency in government.

“Any attempt to institutionally diminish our right to gather coastal resources is essentially an act of ethnic cleansing.  We depend on these traditions to carry on our culture for the rest of time.”  –  Yurok Tribal Chairman Thomas O’Rourke

by Dan Bacher

John Lewallen, North Coast environmental leader and longtime advocate for democracy and transparency in government, on September 14 praised the Office of Administrative Law’s disapproval of so-called “marine protected areas” in Southern California.

“On September 2, the State Office of Administrative Law (OAL) disapproved all of the new Marine Protected Areas (MPA) proposed for California’s South Coast by the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative,” said Lewallen. “In a five-point rejection statement, the OAL said that the California Fish & Game Commission had failed to follow public notice requirements, to show a necessity for the new MPAs, to submit all documents relied on, to provide reasons for rejecting alternatives, and to adequately respond to all public comments.”

Lewallen also said the legitimacy of the corrupt MLPA Initiative process also is being challenged in state court, with a hearing scheduled September 26 in San Diego on the validity of MPAs in effect on the North Central Coast since May 1, 2010. For information on this lawsuit vital to the rights of all Californians to be governed by state agencies which comply with state law, see: http://www.oceanaccessprotectionfund.org.

“Fishers, seaweed harvesters, tribal food gatherers, all ocean food providers have been hurt badly by the new North Central Coast MPAs,” emphasized Lewallen.

He noted that “marine protected areas,” established in 2007 under the privately funded MLPA Initiative, are also in effect on the Central Coast, while a plan for new MPAs on the North Coast is in process.

“Hopefully all these products of a privatized process rife with secret meetings, bad science, conflict of interest and scorning of state meeting and administrative law will be invalidated,” said Lewallen.

Lewallen, the co-founder of the Ocean Protection Coalition and the North Coast Seaweed Rebellion, has been in the forefront of grass roots campaigns against oil drilling, the clear cutting of ancient forests, wave energy projects and military testing off the coast and other environmental battles for over three decades. Lewallen is the author of “Ecology of Devastation: Indochina” (1971) and co-authored with James Robertson a handbook on environmental organizing, “The Grass Roots Primer” (1975), published by Sierra Club Books. He has written numerous articles on environmental issues for an array of publications since then.

Lewallen exposed role of big oil lobbyist in creating MPAs

In June 2009, Lewallen and his wife, Barbara, organized the historic “Point Arena Sustainable Fisheries Tour” to kick off the campaign against the MLPA Initiative on the North and North Central Coasts. The summit featured talks by North Coast environmental leaders, including Judith Vidaver of the Ocean Protection Coalition and longtime salmon restoration advocate Craig Bell, as well as commercial fishermen, Native American activists, recreational anglers, seaweed harvesters and environmental justice advocates.

At the summit and many times since then, Lewallen has criticized the key role that Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association and an ardent advocate of new oil drilling off the California coast, played in the MLPA process. Reheis-Boyd was chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, as well as serving on the North Central Coast and North Coast Task Forces. Lewallen believes Reheis-Boyd’s position as an “oil industry superstar” is a conflict of interest with her leadership role in developing so-called marine protected areas (MPAs).

“By setting up these no-take marine reserves and kicking fishermen, Indians, seaweed harvesters and other ocean food providers off traditional areas of the ocean, the Schwarzenegger administration is paving the way for offshore oil drilling,” Lewallen said in 2009. “Twenty-three percent of the nation’s offshore oil reserves are off the coast of California. The Point Arena Basin off Mendocino is on track now to be leased for drilling by the Mineral Management Service.”

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