“Governor Brown is moving ahead with a policy that grabs land, clear-cuts forests, destroys biodiversity, abuses Mother Earth, pimps Father Sky and threatens the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples”
Big oil lobbyist/marine guardian praises draft fracking regulations
by Dan Bacher
A powerful oil industry lobbyist praised draft fracking regulations released by the Brown administration on November 15 for creating an “environmental platform” for the expansion of hydraulic fracking operations in California, while environmentalists condemned the regulations for falling short of protecting California lands and waters from the controversial oil drilling practice.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force to create alleged “marine protected areas” in Southern California, said she was pleased that the Department of Conservation and the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources have been able to “promptly release” draft hydraulic fracturing regulations.
“Governor Brown signed SB 4 less than two months ago, and the state has worked expeditiously to implement this new comprehensive law,” said Reheis-Boyd. “These regulations are extensive but strike the right balance that will result in an environmental platform which will ensure that the potential energy resources contained in the Monterey Shale formation can be responsibly developed.”
Reheis-Boyd claimed that the state only produces 38% of the crude oil it needs to refine into transportation fuels that keep the state moving.
“There are no pipelines that bring crude oil to California – we either produce it here and provide jobs, improve the economy and become more energy secure or it comes by tanker from foreign sources. SB 4 provides for responsible development of a much needed resource for California,” she stated.
“The Western States Petroleum Association and our members look forward to engaging with the state and other stakeholders on how best to implement these new requirements in the coming months and years,” Reheis-Boyd concluded.
The “marine protected areas” in Southern California created under Reheis-Boyd’s “leadership” went into effect on January 1, 2012. These “marine protected areas” fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, wind and wave energy projects, military testing and all human impacts other than fishing and gathering – thereby clearing the way for expanded fracking and offshore oil drilling.
Just 1-1/2 years after these “no fishing” zones were implemented, it was revealed by Freedom of Information documents, truthout.org and the Associated Press that Southern California marine waters, including the same waters that were supposedly “protected” by the privately-funded MLPA Initiative, have been “fracked” at least 203 times in the past two decades. (http://www.scpr.org/news/2013/10/19/39912/more-offshore-fracking-found-off-southern-californ/)
In contrast with Reheis-Boyd’s praise of the draft regulations, environmental groups said Governor Brown’s fracking regulations fail to protect California’s air and water, falling even short of Senate Bill 4 minimal requirements.
In a statement, the Center for Biological Diversity said the regulations fall “far short of protecting California’s air, water, communities and climate from fracking, a dangerously polluting practice that involves blasting chemical-laden water into the earth to fracture rock formations.”
“Gov. Brown’s fracking regulations would leave California’s environment and public health horribly exposed to fracking pollution,” said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity. “These rules mostly take the narrowest, most oil industry-friendly approach to fracking that’s possible under state law. They will permit fracking to spread across the state, endangering our air, water, communities and climate. The only safe way forward for California is a halt to this inherently dangerous process.”
She said the draft regulations “go no further to protect Californians than the bare minimum requirements in S.B. 4″ — and in some instances fall short even of those minimal mandates.
For example, Senate Bill 4 requires notice of fracking to all tenants living within a 1,500-foot radius of the wellhead of any fracked well, or within 500 feet of the horizontal projection of the subsurface portion of the well bore.
Siegel pointed out that draft regulations attempt to restrict notification to people with a written lease by defining “tenant” as “a person or entity possessing the right to occupy a legally recognized parcel, or portion thereof, by way of a valid written agreement.” (See 1783.2(b).)
“Under California law, you don’t need a written agreement to receive legal protections as a tenant,” Siegel said. “It’s outrageous for the governor’s oil and gas officials to attempt to restrict the right to be warned that fracking may endanger your drinking water to people with a written lease.”
“Among other failings, today’s regulations do not address the large increase in deadly air pollutants like particulate matter, ozone and air toxics that will accompany a fracking boom. The Central Valley and the Los Angeles Basin, where industry is poised for a massive expansion of drilling, already suffer from the worst air quality in the nation,” she said.
According to a recent Center report, oil companies engaged in fracking and other “extreme oil production methods” used 12 dangerous “air toxic” chemicals more than 300 times in the Los Angeles Basin over the summer, The regulations will do nothing to reduce such air toxics.
In a letter sent on November 13, twenty of the country’s leading climate scientists called on Governor Jerry Brown to impose a moratorium on fracking in California. They said fracking and other extreme oil and gas extraction techniques disrupt the climate and harm California’s efforts to be a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (http://www.mercurynews.com/science-environment/ci_24509392/top-climate-scientists-call-fracking-ban-letter-gov)
“Shale gas and tight oil development is likely to worsen climate disruption, which would harm California’s efforts to be a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” the letter stated.
Siegel concluded, “Gov. Brown knows that in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need to leave a substantial portion of the world’s fossil fuel reserves in the ground. The only sufficient regulation would be a prohibition on fracking and other extreme fossil-fuel extraction techniques.”
Governor Brown signed Senator Fran Pavely’s Senate Bill 4, dubbed by conservation, consumer and environmental groups as the “green light to fracking” bill, on September 20. Over 100 organizations, including the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), Food and Water Watch, CREDO Action and the Center for Biological Diversity, opposed the legislation. The already weak legislation was eviscerated at the last minute with oil industry-friendly amendments under pressure by the Western States Petroleum Association and oil companies.
Brown’s signing of the bill occurs as the Governor continues and expands the worst environmental policies of the Schwarzenegger administration. Brown is rushing the Bay Delta Conservation Plan BDCP to build the peripheral tunnels, has presided over record fish kills and water exports at the Delta pumps and completed the creation of a statewide network of so-called “marine protected areas” under Schwarzenegger’s widely-contested Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative in December 2012.
Brown is also a big supporter of REDD+ carbon trading credits. At a protest in San Francisco on October 17, Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, urged Brown to reject REDD+ carbon trading credits that allow corporations to grab huge swaths of land in developing countries in order to keep polluting at home, endangering indigenous communities and the environment across the globe.
“Governor Brown is moving ahead with a policy that grabs land, clear-cuts forests, destroys biodiversity, abuses Mother Earth, pimps Father Sky and threatens the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples,” said Goldtooth. (http://www.ienearth.org/press-statement-tom-goldtooth-behind-the-backs-of-the-people-of-california/)
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