House of the Great Black Hole

House of the Great Black Hole

 

Time to find that balladeer in yourself, or your family unit.

Here’s another one by ‘Anon’ of Albion.

To be sung slowly, to the tune of “The House of the Rising Sun”  -

 

                         House of the Great Black Hole

 

There is a house in Mendoland,

They call the Great Black Hole,

Well it’s been the end of charities, my friend,

And many a generous soul.

 

First Pacific Seabird Group,

Its members have concerns,

Alas right now delinquent,

For missing tax returns.

 

Next MRB Research,

Nonprofit through and through,

With the same confounded problem,

Returns are gone there too.

 

Then Friends of the Blue Whale,

A child of MRB,

Delinquent as its parent,

And no returns to see.

 

Delinquents go to prison,

Then get out on parole,

But those in Mendoland all go,

To the House of the Great Black Hole.

 

Near Little River township,

You’ll find this moneyed place,

At 45601 Headlands Drive,

In a lovely seaside space.

 

Yet you cannot walk there,

Or drive to that estate,

That castle is surrounded,

With a massive iron gate.

 

The lord’s a man of science,

Who don’t know how to count,

The lady is a volunteer,

For just the right amount.

 

She ran the local hospital,

Into a money jam,

He robbed a nearby Indian tribe,

Or so claims Uncle Sam.

 

The lord and lady laugh at us,

While joking of our toll,

At sunset cocktail parties,

In the House of the Great Black Hole.

 

We’ve got one foot on the platform,

And the other foot on the train,

All charities in Mendoland,

Must wear that ball and chain.

 

If you think I’m lying,

Or that this can’t be right,

You’ll find it all on Google,

At the DOJ website.

 

Now people, tell your donors,

To be watchful of their dole,

They say there’s just no stopping,

The House of the Great Black Hole.

 

Anon,  Albion

 

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Big oil lobbyist “marine guardian” praises new fracking regulations

“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”

Fracking sacrifice zonesThe Monterey Shale fracking sacrifice zones

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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Jerry Brown Wants to Be a Climate Leader – and Frack for a Lot of Oil

2013.11.11.Jerry_Brown.MainCalifornia Governor Jerry Brown (photo: Thomas Hawk)

By Claire Sandberg, Truthout

California Governor Jerry Brown talks a big game on climate change. 

Earlier this year, Brown released a 20-page consensus statement signed by 500 scientists from 44 countries calling for immediate and steep reductions in carbon emissions. Standing onstage beside NASA climate scientist James Hansen to unveil the document at a Silicon Valley tech conference this May, Brown warned that the window for meaningful action on climate change was quickly closing: “If it’s like this five years from now, it’s over,” he told the assembled reporters.

Since then, Brown has signed new solar and electric car legislation and even traveled to Beijing to broker a nonbinding climate agreement with the Chinese government. The 75-year-old, third-term governor is fond of pointing to such a record and challenging national politicians to take California’s lead. But if elected officials around the country follow Brown’s example when it comes to fracking, all Brown’s efforts to stop catastrophic climate change will be for nothing.

In August, Brown gave his blessing to a dramatic expansion of fracking in California’s massive oil shale formations, which underlie a large area of the state from Southern to Central California. The fracking bill Brown signed into law, SB4, ensures that fracking will move forward unimpeded for at least the next two years, and exempts fracking from thorough review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the state’s bedrock environmental law. 

How Brown reconciles his stance on climate with his support for fracking has been the question environmentalists have challenged him to answer in recent months. The contrast was on full display in San Francisco on October 28, at the signing of another new climate pact, between California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. Inside the ceremony at the offices of Cisco Systems, Brown proclaimed global warming “the world’s greatest existential challenge.” On the street outside, anti-fracking protestors chanted, “Climate leaders don’t frack!” 

Read More:  HERE

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Sentencing postponed in Yurok embezzlement case

Roland RaymondMugshot photo of the drug-addled Roland Raymond

Sentencing postponed in Yurok embezzlement case at tribe’s request

By Thadeus Greenson/The Eureka Times-Standard

The federal sentencing of a former Yurok Tribe forestry director was
postponed Tuesday at the request of the tribe, which wants to file a victim
impact statement in the nearly $1 million embezzlement case.

Roland Raymond, 50, was due to be sentenced in a federal courthouse in San
Francisco. He faces a maximum of 37 months in prison after pleading guilty
to a single count of conspiring to embezzle funds from an Indian tribal
organization. The Yurok Tribe submitted a request to the court on Monday
afternoon asking to postpone the sentencing to allow it to submit the
victim impact statement and organize a delegation of the tribal council to
be present.

United States District Judge William Alsup granted the request Tuesday, and
has rescheduled Raymond’s sentencing for Nov. 15.

Yurok Tribe Executive Director Troy Fletcher said the tribe didn’t weigh in
on Raymond’s sentencing earlier because it was unaware a hearing had been
scheduled.

”We weren’t even notified of the sentencing, and didn’t find out about it
until we read about it in the Times-Standard,” Fletcher said, noting that
he found the information in an Oct. 23 article. “We feel like the U.S.
Attorney’s Office should have done more to consult with us as the victims
of the crime, which would include notification of hearings like this.”

Raymond was remanded into federal custody last week after failing a drug
test and violating the terms of his home confinement, according to court
documents.

With his guilty plea, Raymond admitted to working with a local company, Mad
River Biologists, to use an elaborate scheme of fake invoices, false
purchase requests and electronic bank transfers to embezzle more than
$870,000 in federal funds from the Yurok Tribe during a three-year period
of wildlife preservation studies. According to court documents, Raymond
stole the funds to support gambling and drug addictions.

Mad River Biologists founder Ron LeValley has also been charged with
conspiring to embezzle from an Indian tribal organization and has pleaded
not guilty. Prosecutors allege LeValley submitted the false invoices to the
tribe, accepted payments for services never rendered and then redirected
the funds back to Raymond, less a 20 percent fee taken off the top.

Free after posting a $50,000 appearance bond, LaValley is due back in court
Dec. 3 for what court records list as a “potential” change of plea hearing.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is arguing that Raymond should be sentenced to
20 months in federal prison, saying his cooperation with federal
investigators warrants shaving 10 months from the 30-month sentence
recommended by the federal probation department. Raymond’s attorney Randall
Davis agreed with the 20-month sentence, but argued his client should be
given credit for time already served behind bars and in home confinement,
and should only serve an additional seven months in federal prison.

Fletcher said the tribal council takes Raymond’s case very seriously and
wants to see justice served, but declined to comment specifically on what
the tribe’s victim impact statement will include, saying tribal attorney
Charles Henry will probably craft a draft statement that would then be
reviewed and approved by the entire tribal council.

Link to original article HERE

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Big Oil treated legislators to $13,000 dinner before key fracking bill vote

“There’s no doubt that the Western States Petroleum Association, Chevron and other oil companies use every avenue they can to dominate environmental policy in California, including lobbying legislators, contributing heavily to election campaigns, serving on state regulatory panels, and wining and dining politicians.  Until we get the big corporate money out of politics, California will continue to be awash in a sea of oil and oil-soaked politicians.”

Oil Lobby Spendingjpg

Big Oil treated legislators to $13,000 dinner before fracking bill vote

By Dan Bacher

The oil industry, the largest and most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento, dumped millions of dollars into its successful lobbying efforts to eviscerate an already weak fracking bill, Senator Fran Pavley’s Senate Bill 4, at the end of the Legislative Session.

Chevron, the Western States Petroleum Association and Area Energy LLC spent the most money lobbying legislators in the third quarter of 2013, according to Califronia Secretary of State Documents.

Chevron spent $1,696,477, the Western States Petroleum Association spent $1,269,478 and Aera Energy LLC spent $1,015,534. That’s a total of $3,981,489 just between July 1 and September 30, 2013.

In a classic example of the “pay to play” and “wine and dine” corruption that infests California politics, nearly $13,000 of the Western States Petroleum Association’s spending went toward hosting a dinner for 12 lawmakers and two staff members in September.

The dinner took place “at one of Sacramento’s poshest venues: The Kitchen, known for its interactive dining experience where guests sit in the kitchen as cooks share details of the five-course meal,” according to Laurel Rosenhall of the Sacramento Bee. “Moderate Democrats seemed to be the target audience for the treat: Assembly members Adam Gray, Henry Perea and Cheryl Brown attended, as did Sens. Norma Torres, Ron Calderon and Lou Correa.” (see LINK)

The dinner was held on September 4, as Senate Bill 4 was awaiting a vote on the Assembly floor.

The oil industry the next day added amendments that further weakened the already weak legislation opposed by a broad coalition of over 100 conservation, environmental justice and consumer groups, including Food and Water Watch, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Credo Campaign and California Water Impact Network (C-WIN).

These amendments including the following:

• Language added to the bill specifies that “no additional review or mitigation shall be required” if the supervisor of the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources “determines” that the proposed fracking activities have met the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. (see LINK)

“This provision could be used by DOGGR to bypass CEQA’s bedrock environmental review and mitigation requirements,” according to a statement from the groups. “This language could also prevent air and water boards, local land use jurisdictions and other agencies from carrying out their own CEQA reviews of fracking.”

• In addition, under existing law, the governor and DOGGR can deny approvals for wells that involve fracking or place a partial or complete moratorium on fracking. The new language states that DOGGR “shall allow” fracking to take place until regulations are finalized in 2015 provided that certain conditions are met.

“This could be interpreted to require every fracked well to be approved between now and 2015, with environmental review conducted only after the fact, and could be used to block the Governor or DOGGR from issuing a moratorium on fracking prior to 2015,” the groups stated.

At the last minute, the League of Conservation Voters, NRDC and other Senate Bill 4 backers withdrew their support for the legislation. However, the bill, having been given “green cover” by these NGOs, passed through the Legislature a week after the dinner.

Governor Jerry Brown, a strong supporter of the expansion of fracking in California, then signed the legislation on September 20.

“For Perea, Correa, Calderon and Torres, the September dinner was not the first time they’d been treated to The Kitchen by the oil industry. They were among 11 legislators who attended a Western States Petroleum Association dinner there last year, valued at nearly $11,000,” Rosenthall noted.

Oil lobby has spent $45.4 million since 2009

Prior to the latest Secretary of State filing, a landmark report released by the American Lung Association revealed that the oil industry lobby, the biggest corporate lobby in California, has spent $45.4 million in the state since 2009. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) alone has spent over $20 million since 2009. (see LINK)

Oil and gas companies spend more than $100 million a year to buy access to lawmakers in Washington and Sacramento, according to Stop Fooling California, an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies’ efforts to mislead and confuse Californians.

In addition, Robert Gammon, East Bay Express reporter, revealed that before Governor Jerry Brown signed Senator Fran Pavley’s Senate Bill 4, Brown accepted at least $2.49 million in financial donations over the past several years from oil and natural gas interests, according to public records on file with the Secretary of State’s Office and the California Fair Political Practices Commission. (see LINK)

The oil industry not only exerts influence by direct contributions to political campaigns, but by getting its lobbyists and representatives on key panels like the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force. (see LINK)

In one of biggest environmental scandals of the past decade, Reheis-Boyd served as chair of the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create alleged “marine protected areas” in Southern California. She also served on the North Coast, North Central Coast and Central Coast task forces from 2004 to 2011, from the beginning of the process to the end of the process. (see LINK)

The MLPA Initiative process overseen by Reheis-Boyd and other ocean industrialists created fake “marine protected areas” that fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, wind and wave energy projects and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

State officials and representatives of corporate “environmental” NGOs embraced and greenwashed the “leadership” of Reheis-Boyd and other corporate operatives who served on the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces to create “marine protected areas” that fail to actually protect the ocean. By backing her leadership as a “marine guardian,” they helped to increase the already powerful influence of the Western States Petroleum Association and the oil industry.

The California Coastal Commission and other state officials acted “surprised” when FOIA documents and an Associated Press investigation revealed that Southern California coastal waters have been fracked repeatedly, over 200 times according to the latest data. Yet independent investigative reporters like David Gurney and myself warned, again and again, that this would happen when an oil industry lobbyist was in charge of marine “protection.”

There’s no doubt that the Western States Petroleum Association, Chevron and other oil companies use every avenue they can to dominate environmental policy in California, including lobbying legislators, contributing heavily to election campaigns, serving on state regulatory panels, and wining and dining politicians. Until we get the big corporate money out of politics, Californian will continue to be awash in a sea of oil and oil-soaked politicians.

For more information about the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, go to: http://intercontinentalcry.org/the-five-inconvenient-truths-about-the-mlpa-initiative/

 

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Delta fish populations plunge in summer 2013

Delta SmeltDelta smelt photo by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento.

by Dan Bacher

The state and federal governments appear to be in a mad rush to drive Delta smelt, winter Chinook salmon and other struggling fish species over the abyss of extinction, according to data recently released by the fishery agencies and reports compiled by the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA).

“The state and federal water export projects continue to ignore regulatory requirements and Delta fisheries have again been hammered by excessive water exports,” according to a CSPA news release.

As Governor Jerry Brown continues to fast-track the construction of the peripheral tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) released the 2013 Fall Mid Water Trawl (FMWT) abundance indices.

The indices, a measure of relative abundance, reveal that Delta fish populations continue to collapse, due to massive water exports to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

The Department also released the 2013 U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) Delta Smelt Recovery Index, which failed to meet recovery criteria and restarted the five-year recovery period.

“To expedite water exports this summer, the Central Valley and State Water Projects violated water quality standards in the South Delta in June and July through 15 August and at Emmaton in April, May and June and at Jersey Point in June. Emmaton and Jersey Point are in the Western Delta,” according to CSPA. “Additionally, the temperature compliance point on the Sacramento River was moved upstream from Red Bluff to Anderson, eliminating almost two-thirds of the river miles of spawning habitat for endangered winter-run chinook salmon.”

The State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) informed the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau) that it would not take any enforcement action for these violations, CSPA stated.

The FMWT abundance indices reveal that populations of Delta fish are only a small fraction of their historical abundance before Delta water exports began.

The indices for Delta smelt (7), striped bass (23), threadfin shad (70), and American shad (135) were the second, second, third and second lowest, respectively, in the 46 years of the survey. The index for longfin smelt (36) was comparable to the very low indices of recent years.

“In other words, Delta smelt, striped bass, longfin smelt, American shad and threadfin shad populations in 2013 have plummeted 98.9, 99.6, 99.7, 89.1, 98.1 percent, respectively, from the average of the initial six years of the survey (1967-1972),” said Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. “The splittail index was not released but the 2012 September-October index was zero.”

The federal Central Valley Project began exporting water from the Delta in 1956 – but exports from the state and federal export pumps have increased dramatically in recent years.

The Brown administration authorized the export of record water amounts of water from the Delta in 2011 – 6,520,000 acre-feet, 217,000 acre feet more than the previous record of 6,303,000 acre feet set in 2005 under Schwarzenegger. Most of this went to corporate agribusiness, including mega-farmers irrigating unsustainable, selenium-laced land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

State officials disagree with Jennings’ contention that the State Board violated water quality standards to export water to corporate agribusiness interests this summer. Les Grober, environmental program manager for the Water Quality Control Board, told the Stockton Record that agency decided to change Delta standards “at the request of state and federal wildlife agencies worried about protecting salmon later in the year.” (http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20131107/A_NEWS/)

“We always have a tough situation,” Grober claimed. “How do you make the best use of a limited supply of water? We did what we thought was best.”

“Grober said that the decision did not result in any violations of water quality standards intended to protect fish. But he admitted that those standards may be inadequate, and said they are being reviewed as the state updates its water quality plan for the Delta,” the Stockton Record reported.

However, Jennings countered that the State Board not only violated Delta water quality standards, endangering Delta smelt and other fish populations, but imperiled winter run Chinook salmon by moving the temperature compliance point on the Sacramento River upstream from Red Bluff to Anderson. Jennings emphasized that these violations of regulations protecting upriver salmon and fish on the Delta are part of a historic pattern of routine law-breaking by the agencies entrusted to protect fish, water and the environment.

“The historical pattern and practice of violating regulatory requirements established to protect fisheries is outrageous, but the consistent failure by regulators and trustee agencies to enforce the law is simply incomprehensible and indicates a collaborative culture of noncompliance,” stated Jennings.

“The FBI would be investigating and the Justice Department prosecuting if a financial trust had ignored regulations over three decades and reduced trust assets by 99%,” said Jennings. “I can understand water agencies attempting to take water that doesn’t belong to them but I can’t understand the cops giving them the green light.”

Jennings said the State Board has a long history of ignoring violations of Delta standards by DWR and the Bureau, despite the fact that the standards themselves are “woefully inadequate.”

For example, between 1987 and 1992, Jennings said more than 247 violations of delta standards occurred without enforcement. South Delta standards have been violated for the last 18 years, since adoption of the 1995 water quality control plan.

“In the spring of 2009, the projects cannibalized a third of legally required Delta outflow for export,” said Jennings. “The flow standards on the San Joaquin River at Vernalis were violated in 2012.”

An August 2013 CSPA report, titled “Summer of 2013: the demise of Delta smelt under D-1641 Delta Water Quality Standards,” detailed how the state and federal projects “massacred” Delta smelt by increasing exports five-fold in late June and dramatically reducing Delta outflow in early July causing the low salinity zone and Delta smelt to be drawn into the western Delta where they encountered lethal temperatures caused by a upstream reservoir releases coupled with high ambient temperatures.

Another CSPA report, titled “The Consequences of the End of VAMP’s Export Restrictions,” detailed how the 2013 Vernalis pulse flow on the San Joaquin River was exported via an unauthorized water transfer that avoided environmental review and killed salmon and Delta smelt.

“Of course, regulators have long ignored the massive stranding of fish drawn into irrigation channels of the Yolo Bypass and Colusa Basin and stranded to perish, as detailed in CSPA’s July 2013 report titled Colusa Basin Drain Fish Stranding and Rescues,” said Jennings. “In 2013, National Marine Fisheries Biologists estimated that as many as half of returning endangered winter-run salmon were stranded.”

Jennings said the legal right to divert water from the Delta is conditioned on compliance with standards. DWR and the Bureau claimed that the violation of standards in 2013 was necessary to protect the cold-water pool behind Shasta Dam in order to “protect” spawning winter-run salmon.

However, Shasta Reservoir storage was 89% of historical average and only 55,000 acre-feet (AF) of water was saved in Shasta by failing to meet water quality objectives, according to their 21 August 2013 report.

The projects exported more than that in each of the months they violated standards. DWR exported some 826,778 AF and the Bureau exported 8,342 AF more than they had projected they would be able to deliver from the south Delta in 2013, according to Jennings.

“That water could have been – should have been – used to comply with standards rather than being exported,” stated Jennings. “Ironically, the Department of Interior (Bureau and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) gave away (i.e., didn’t use and didn’t store) some 451,000 AF of CVPIA water in 2011 that could have been stored for use in 2012 and 2013 to meet Delta standards and ensure sufficient cold water in Shasta Reservoir.”

The State Board is in the midst of a multi-year, multi-phase proceeding to develop new Delta Standards that is already years behind in revising the 1995 standards, which by law must be updated every three years.

“The existing and outdated standards are seriously inadequate,” said Jennings, “but one must question the point of revising standards if they’re simply going to be ignored.”

The reports and information discussed in this article are available on CSPA’s website at http://www.calsport.org.

Meanwhile, the Brown administration continues to push the $54.1 billion peripheral tunnel boondoggle even when all of the science indicates that the construction of the tunnels would hasten the extinction of the Central Valley Chinook salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other species while imperiling salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

However, the way the state and federal governments are managing water releases from upstream reservoirs and water exports from the Delta pumping facilities now, some of these species may already become extinct even before construction of the proposed tunnels is completed.

 

About CSPA: The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit public benefit conservation and research organization established in 1983 for the purpose of conserving, restoring, and enhancing the state’s water quality, wildlife and fishery resources and their aquatic ecosystems and associated riparian habitat.

 

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Friends of the Elephant Seal

The Friends of the Elephant Seal maintain a live webcam at the Piedras Blancas rookery on the Central California coast.  They also run a website that is a trove of information on seals and other marine mammals:  LINK

webcam:


Live streaming video by Ustream

 

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Fukushima Out of Control


By M O’Rourke

The World is at a critical crossroads. The Fukushima disaster in Japan has brought to the forefront the dangers of Worldwide nuclear radiation.

The crisis in Japan has been described as “a nuclear war without a war”. In the words of renowned novelist Haruki Murakami:

“This time no one dropped a bomb on us … We set the stage, we committed the crime with our own hands, we are destroying our own lands, and we are destroying our own lives.”

Nuclear radiation –which threatens life on planet earth– is not front page news in comparison to the most insignificant issues of public concern, including the local level crime scene or the tabloid gossip reports on Hollywood celebrities.

While the long-term repercussions of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster are yet to be fully assessed, they are far more serious than those pertaining to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine, which resulted in almost one million deaths (New Book Concludes — Chernobyl death toll: 985,000, mostly from cancer Global Research, September 10, 2010, See also Matthew Penney and Mark Selden The Severity of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster: Comparing Chernobyl and Fukushima, Global Research, May 25, 2011)

Moreover, while all eyes were riveted on the Fukushima Daiichi plant, news coverage both in Japan and internationally failed to fully acknowledge the impacts of a second catastrophe at TEPCO’s (Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc) Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant.

The shaky political consensus both in Japan, the U.S. and Western Europe is that the crisis at Fukushima has been contained.

The realties, however, are otherwise. Fukushima 3 was leaking unconfirmed amounts of plutonium. According to Dr. Helen Caldicott, “one millionth of a gram of plutonium, if inhaled can cause cancer”.

An opinion poll in May 2011 confirmed that more than 80 per cent of the Japanese population do not believe the government’s information regarding the nuclear crisis. (quoted in Sherwood Ross, Fukushima: Japan’s Second Nuclear Disaster, Global Research, November 10, 2011)

The Impacts in Japan

The Japanese government has been obliged to acknowledge that “the severity rating of its nuclear crisis … matches that of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster”. In a bitter irony, however, this tacit admission by the Japanese authorities has proven to been part of the cover-up of a significantly larger catastrophe, resulting in a process of global nuclear radiation and contamination:

“While Chernobyl was an enormous unprecedented disaster, it only occurred at one reactor and rapidly melted down. Once cooled, it was able to be covered with a concrete sarcophagus that was constructed with 100,000 workers. There are a staggering 4400 tons of nuclear fuel rods at Fukushima, which greatly dwarfs the total size of radiation sources at Chernobyl.” ( Extremely High Radiation Levels in Japan: University Researchers Challenge Official Data, Global Research, April 11, 2011)

Fukushima in the wake of the Tsunami, March 2011

Worldwide Contamination

The dumping of highly radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean constitutes a potential trigger to a process of global radioactive contamination. Radioactive elements have not only been detected in the food chain in Japan, radioactive rain water has been recorded in California:

“Hazardous radioactive elements being released in the sea and air around Fukushima accumulate at each step of various food chains (for example, into algae, crustaceans, small fish, bigger fish, then humans; or soil, grass, cow’s meat and milk, then humans). Entering the body, these elements — called internal emitters — migrate to specific organs such as the thyroid, liver, bone, and brain, continuously irradiating small volumes of cells with high doses of alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation, and over many years often induce cancer”. (Helen Caldicott, Fukushima: Nuclear Apologists Play Shoot the Messenger on Radiation, The Age, April 26, 2011)

While the spread of radiation to the West Coast of North America was casually acknowledged, the early press reports (AP and Reuters) “quoting diplomatic sources” stated that only “tiny amounts of radioactive particles have arrived in California but do not pose a threat to human health.”

“According to the news agencies, the unnamed sources have access to data from a network of measuring stations run by the United Nations’ Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization. …Headquarterd in Austria.

… Greg Jaczko, chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission,(a Commission with no current funding) told White House reporters on Thursday (March 17) that his experts “don’t see any concern from radiation levels that could be harmful here in the United States or any of the U.S. territories”.

M O’Rourke
Blackpool,UK

6 november 2013

 

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Coast Guard Proposes Policy to Transport Radioactive Fracking Wastewater by Barge

(from EcoNews)

By Emily DeMarco

The U.S. Coast Guard, which regulates the country’s waterways, will allow shale gas companies to ship fracking wastewater on the nation’s rivers and lakes under a proposed policy published Wednesday.

BargeIndustry officials say barges are the safest, and cheapest, way to move fracking wastewater, but a spill would severely contaminate waterways. Photo credit: Keith Robinson/ Flickr

The Coast Guard began studying the issue nearly two years ago at the request of its Pittsburgh office, which had inquiries from companies transporting Marcellus Shale wastewater. If the policy is approved, companies can ship the wastewater in bulk on barges on the nation’s 12,000 miles of waterways, a much cheaper mode than trucks or rail.

The public will have 30 days to comment.

Under the policy, companies would first have to test the wastewater at a state-certified laboratory and provide the data to the Coast Guard for review. The tests would determine levels of radioactivity, pH, bromides and other hazardous materials. In addition, the barges would also have to be checked for the accumulation of radioactive particles that might affect workers.

If the test results meet the limits outlined in the policy, the companies would receive Coast Guard approval to ship the wastewater in bulk. It is unclear whether the barge companies would self-report the test results.

All records outlined in the proposed policy must be held by the barge companies for two years, but would be available to the Coast Guard. Normally, the information also would be available to the public under the Freedom of Information Act. However, “the identity of proprietary chemicals may be withheld from public release,” the policy states.

Environmental groups, academics and the media have tried to get information about the chemicals used in fracking in the past. However, gas drilling companies have refused to release the specific amounts of chemicals they pump underground to release gas from the shale formation.

Benjamin Stout, a biology professor at Wheeling Jesuit University about 60 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, said the part of the policy about proprietary chemicals is worrisome to him because “it’s the easy out.”

“All they have to do is say ‘proprietary information’ and they don’t  have to do anything” in terms of releasing information to the public, Stout said. (Stout is a board member of FracTracker. Both FracTracker and PublicSource are funded, in part, by the Heinz Endowments.)

The gas drilling industry already is exempt from a laundry list of federal regulations, including the Clean Air and Clean Water acts.

The Coast Guard’s letter accompanying the proposed policy specifically asks the public for comment on the disclosure of proprietary information.

The full policy can be read on the Coast Guard’s website where all public comments will be posted.

“We are required to take in consideration those comments before we move to the next step,” said Carlos Diaz, a spokesman for the Coast Guard. “Our role as a regulatory agency is to get it right.”

The question of moving the wastewater by barges has been controversial.

Environmentalists said the possibility of a spill that could contaminate Pittsburgh’s rivers with chemicals isn’t worth the risk. But industry officials said barges are the safest, and cheapest, way to move the wastewater.

“Waterways are the least costly way of transporting it,” said James McCarville, executive director of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission, an agency that advocates for waterway transport. “We look forward to being able to get the trucks off the highways as quickly as possible.”

Stout counters that the risks on the water are huge.

“If and when there’s a spill, that can’t be cleaned up,” Stout said. “That means it’s going to be in the drinking-water supply of millions of people.”

One of the companies interested in the policy is GreenHunter Water, which handles wastewater for major oil and gas companies. Jonathan Hoopes, president of GreenHunter, said the company is pleased that the proposed policy has been published.

“Now that we’ve seen the proposed policy letter, it allows us to do the research that we need to do to comply,” Hoopes said. “You’ll hear a lot more from a lot larger companies than GreenHunter in the near future about this.”

Officials from the Marcellus Shale Coalition, which represents gas drilling companies, did not return a phone call requesting comment.

There is commercial interest in moving the wastewater from Pennsylvania via inland waterways to be stored, reprocessed or disposed of in Ohio, Texas and Louisiana, according to the policy.

If approved, the Coast Guard’s policy could be momentous for the gas-drilling industry, as the amount and transportation of wastewater is seen as a growing concern for both the industry and its critics.

Each barge could transport approximately 10,000 barrels of wastewater over the nation’s waterways.

Steve Hvozdovich, who is with the advocacy organization Clean Water Action, said his group plans to comment on the policy.

“I’m a little disappointed to hear there’s only a 30-day public comment period,” he said. “Thirty days is not sufficient in my mind.”

Original Article HERE

EcoWatch Fracking Info Page HERE

 

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