The Navy Comes to Town

Addressing the Navy3Rosalind Peterson addresses John Moser and Matt Hahn of the US Navy during public comment for the Navy’s EIS on March 7, 2014.  Neither men were allowed to respond to questions from the public.

On March 7, 2014, smack-dab in the middle of the Mendocino Coast’s annual ‘Whale Festival,’ the US Navy came to Fort Bragg to pitch their Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for 2015-2020 plans of expanded naval warfare “training and testing.”

The scheduled 5-8 p.m. meeting was divided into two parts.  The first hour-and-a-half was taken up by a roomful of nine information booths, selling various aspects of the Navy’s self-pronounced “environmental stewardship program” in the name of militarism and national defense.

Most of the public stayed outside, and waited for the real meeting to begin at 6:30.

I interviewed some of the players in this dog-and-pony show, who’s immediate victims will be the marine mammals, birds, fish, and invertebrates – and every other living thing that shares the ocean with our modern madness for ever increasingly brilliant killing machines.

The radio piece I produced for a local public station, appears below:

(Notice that at about 01:30 in, EIS Program Manager John Mosher seems to tacitly admit the Navy is lying about “zero mortalities” for marine mammals in their five-year plan for weapons and sonar testing, in order to easily get through the environmental review process.)

 

KMUD News Piece on the Navy’s Pacific Northwest Training and Testing EIS by Jugglestone

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Guilty plea for former MLPA “Initiative” co-chair

Owl Cash by Holly Harvey“The validity of the science employed by the MLPA Initiative Science Advisory Team under LeValley’s leadership becomes even more suspect when one considers that LeValley and the Team repeatedly and inexplicably refused to allow the Yurok Tribe to present their scientific studies regarding “marine protected areas.”  The Tribe exposed the questionable science of the MLPA Initiative in a statement on June 6, 2012.”

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Last week Ron LeValley, science co-chair of the Marine Life Protection Act’s so-called “Initiative,” pled guilty to felony conspiracy for his part in stealing close to a million dollars in federal money that was allocated to the Yurok tribe for Spotted Owl bird counts.  It comes as no surprise that a leading figure in the totally corrupt hijacking by private interests of the MLPA has reaped this conviction. – D.G.

Norcoast MLPA closures

Former marine protected area science co-chair pleads guilty to embezzlement charge 

by Dan Bacher 

On June 6, 2012, the California Fish and Game Commission adopted regulations for alleged “marine protected areas” on the North Coast, completing a controversial network of MPAs in California’s open coastal waters from Mexico to the Oregon state line created under the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. 

State officials and representatives of corporate “environmental” NGOs engaged in a flurry of boasting about these so-called “science-based” “Yosemites of the Sea” and “underwater parks.” 

“This is a great day for California’s ocean and coastal resources,” gushed Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird, a strong supporter of the MLPA Initiative, as well as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels. “As promised, we have completed the nation’s first statewide open coast system of marine protected areas, strengthening California’s ongoing commitment to conserve marine life for future generations.” 

The news release from the Department of Fish and Wildlife touted the network of so-called “marine protected areas” created under the MLPA Initiative as “the first in the United States to be designed from the ground up as a science-based network, rather than a patchwork of independent protected areas without specific goals and objectives.” 

Unfortunately, Laird, the Department and corporate “environmentalists” failed to mention the alarming fact that Del Norte District Attorney Jon Alexander on February 23, 2012 had arrested Ron LeValley, the Co-Chair of the MLPA Initiative “Science Advisory Team” for the North Coast that created the alleged “science-based” marine protected areas, on a $1 million warrant. The warrant accused him of embezzlement of Yurok Tribe money and conspiracy to commit a crime in collaboration with Roland Raymond, Yurok Tribe Forestry Chair. 

The District Attorney later dropped the charges to allow federal authorities to pursue the charges against Raymond and LeValley. Then the U.S. Attorney on October 11, 2013 formally charged Ron LeValley of Eureka with “conspiracy to commit embezzlement and theft from an Indian Tribal Organization” in a scheme with Roland Raymond, Yurok Tribe Forestry Director. 

On February 11, this case moved one step closer to resolution when LeValley, of Mad River Biologists, pled guilty to a single federal charge of conspiring to embezzle nearly $1 million in federal funds from the Yurok Tribe. 

Court documents reveal that LeValley conspired with Roland Raymond to embezzle the funds through a complex scheme of fake and inflated invoices and payments for spotted owl surveys that LeValley and his organization never performed. 

Matt Mais, spokesman for the Yurok Tribe, the largest Indian Tribe in California, confirmed LeValley’s guilty plea in the scheme that proceeded between 2007 and 2010. The Tribe declined comment on the case at this time. 

In January, a judge sentenced Raymond to serve 36 months in federal prison for his role in the embezzlement scheme. Raymond pleaded guilty to the single conspiracy charge. 

LeValley is scheduled for sentencing on May 20, 2014. The terms of his plea agreement had not been made public as of the afternoon of February 11, according to the North Coast Journal. (LINK

For details on the complex embezzlement scheme, go to my article: EMBEZZLEMENT 

The link to the indictment is available at: INDICTMENT 

Yurok Tribe, fishermen outraged by embezzlement scam 

The Yurok Tribe, fishing groups and grassroots environmentalists were outraged by the embezzlement scheme from the moment it was uncovered. 

On February 14, 2012, the Yurok Tribal Council, in a letter to Tribal Members expressed “great disappointment and outrage” over “serious allegations of theft of Tribal resources” by two biologists and the former Yurok Forestry Department Director after the embezzlement was discovered. (LINK

The letter informed Tribal members that, as part of the internal investigation, the Tribe would institute a series of measures including the hiring of a Controller and Auditor General; the hiring of an Accounting Fraud Examiner; and the implementation of an independent review of its fiscal and associated procedures. 

“The Tribal Council understands the outrage that we all may feel as the victims of these alleged crimes,” said Thomas O’Rourke, Chairman of the Yurok Tribe, in the letter. “The Tribe will provide more information shortly and will continue to insure that these alleged crimes that are subject to the fullest prosecution under the law.” 

Many North Coast residents believe the charges against LeValley call into question the legitimacy of the “science” used to close vast areas of the North Coast to fishing and gathering under the MLPA Initiative – while doing nothing to stop pollution, fracking, oil drilling, wind and wave energy projects, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering. 

“I would like to know how the state of California is going to revise the science advice LeValley provided for the North Coast MLPA Initiative process, based on him filing false documents,” said Jim Martin, West Coast Regional Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA). 

He suggested forming a “truth and reconciliation commission” to unravel “what really happened” in the MLPA Initiative. 

MLPA “Initiative’s” science is ‘incomplete and terminally flawed,’ according to Tribes 

The validity of the science employed by the MLPA Initiative Science Advisory Team under LeValley’s leadership becomes even more suspect when one considers that LeValley and the Team repeatedly and inexplicably refused to allow the Yurok Tribe to present their scientific studies regarding “marine protected areas.” 

The Tribe exposed the questionable science of the MLPA Initiative in a statement on June 6, 2012 that questioned the “protection” provided in the so-called “marine protected areas, showing how two species, Pacific eulachon and mussels would be “summarily mismanaged.” (LINK

“Under the MLPA each marine species is assigned a certain level of protection,” according to the Tribe. “Species like mussels are given a low level of protection, which in MLPA-speak, translates to more regulation. 

“To date, there has been no scientific data submitted suggesting that mussels on the North Coast are in any sort of danger or are overharvested. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The readily available quantitative survey data collected over decades by North Coast experts shows there is quite an abundance of mussels in this sparsely populated study region,” the Tribe continued. 

“Fish like Pacific eulachon, also known as candle fish, are given a high level of protection, or in other words, their harvest is not limited by the proposed regulations. Eulachon are near extinction and listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act,” the Tribe stated. 

“Both of these marine species are essential and critical to the cultural survival of northern California tribes,” said Thomas O’Rourke, Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “However, under the proposed regulations they would be summarily mismanaged. It’s examples like these that compel our concerns.” 

The Tribe said it attempted on numerous occasions to address the scientific inadequacies with the MLPA science developed under the Schwarzenegger administration by adding “more robust protocols” into the equation, but was denied every time. 

For example, the MLPA Science Advisory Team Co-Chaired by LeValley in August 2010 turned down a request by the Tribe to make a presentation to the panel. Among other data, the Tribe was going to present data of test results from other marine reserves regarding mussels 

The Northern California Tribal Chairman’s Association, including the Chairs of the Elk Valley Rancheria, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Karuk Tribe, Smith River Rancheria, Trinidad Rancheria, and Yurok Tribe, documented in a letter how the science behind the MLPA Initiative developed by Schwarzenegger’s Science Advisory Team is “incomplete and terminally flawed.” (LINK

On the day of the historic direct action protest by a coalition of over 50 Tribes and their allies in Fort Bragg in July 2010, Frankie Joe Myers, Yurok Tribal member and Coastal Justice Coalition activist, exposed the refusal to incorporate Tribal science that underlies the “science” of the MLPA process. 

“The whole process is inherently flawed by institutionalized racism,” said Myers. “It doesn’t recognize Tribes as political entities, or Tribal biologists as legitimate scientists.” (LINK

Wouldn’t it have been prudent for the Natural Resources Agency and Department of Fish and Wildlife to have postponed the implementation of the alleged North Coast “marine protected areas” until this case had been resolved in the courts – and when the legitimacy of the “science” of the MLPA Initiative was already facing severe criticism from respected Tribal scientists? 

MLPA Initiative Background: 

The Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) is a law, signed by Governor Gray Davis in 1999, designed to create a network of marine protected areas off the California Coast. However, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004 created the privately-funded MLPA “Initiative” to “implement” the law, effectively eviscerating the MLPA. 

The “marine protected areas” created under the MLPA Initiative fail to protect the ocean from oil spills and drilling, water pollution, military testing, seismic testing, wave and wind energy projects, corporate aquaculture and all other uses of the ocean other than fishing and gathering. 

The MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces that oversaw the implementation of “marine protected areas” included a big oil lobbyist, marina developer, real estate executive and other individuals with numerous conflicts of interest. Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, served on the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the North Coast and North Central Coast. 

Reheis-Boyd, a relentless advocate for offshore oil drilling, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the Keystone XL Pipeline and the weakening of environmental laws, also chaired the South Coast MLPA Blue Ribbon Task that developed the MPAs that went into effect in Southern California waters on January 1, 2012. 

The MLPA Initiative operated through a controversial private/public partnership funded by the shadowy Resources Legacy Fund Foundation. The Schwarzenegger administration, under intense criticism by grassroots environmentalists, fishermen and Tribal members, authorized the implementation of marine protected areas under the initiative through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the foundation and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

 

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Stop Gov. Brown’s Frackwater Tunnels

“2013 was California’s driest year in recorded history. But the devastating drought isn’t stopping Governor Brown from signing off on a massive expansion of water-intensive fracking, which not only permanently contaminates vast quantities of water but also fuels climate-change-driven extreme drought.” - Zack Malitz, CREDO Action

stopthetunnelsca.pdf_600_

by Dan Bacher

We have less than two weeks to submit public comments opposing Governor Jerry Brown’s dangerous fracking regulations that pose a serious risk to human health, fish, wildlife, rivers and the ocean by encouraging a massive expansion of this toxic, environmentally destructive practice in California. It is essential that you submit a public comment now telling Governor Brown to ban fracking.

The regulations result from the Governor’s signing of Senator Fran Pavley’s “green light to fracking” bill, Senate Bill 4, on September 20. The already weak legislation was eviscerated with amendments introduced by the Western States Petroleum Association and other oil industry lobbyists just before the bill passed through the Legislature.

Zack Malitz, Campaign Manager CREDO Action from Working Assets, reported, “2013 was California’s driest year in recorded history. But the devastating drought isn’t stopping Governor Brown from signing off on a massive expansion of water-intensive fracking, which not only permanently contaminates vast quantities of water but also fuels climate-change-driven extreme drought.”

“Governor Brown’s administration recently proposed regulations that, far from protecting California from toxic fracking, give it an official stamp of approval,” said Malitz. “The state is accepting public comments on the regulations for just under two more weeks, which gives us a crucial opportunity to demonstrate the depth and intensity of public opposition to fracking by flooding the state with tens of thousands of public comments condemning this dangerous proposal — and, hopefully, pressure Governor Brown to change course.”

Tell Governor Brown: Scrap your dangerous fracking regulations and ban fracking now. Click here to submit a public comment: LINK 

Malitz said the most important flaw in Governor Brown’s fracking regulations is that they allow fracking, as well as other dangerous oil-extraction techniques like acidizing, in which huge quantities of acid are injected underground.

“There are no regulations that can make fracking safe,” emphasized Malitz. “However it’s regulated, fracking contaminates water, produces toxic air pollution, creates dangerous wastewater, industrializes communities, and accelerates climate change by allowing the fossil fuel industry to burn and extract otherwise inaccessible oil and gas.”

Malitz noted that Governor Brown has called climate change “the world’s greatest existential challenge,” repeatedly stated his commitment to reducing carbon pollution from fossil fuels, and fought for renewable energy.

“But Governor Brown can’t have it both ways: No real climate leader would frack California. Fossil fuel companies already have proven reserves of oil, gas and coal far greater than what we can burn without hurtling over the climate cliff, so there’s just no excuse to extract even more oil with fracking,” stated Malitz.

Activists across the state are organizing to ban fracking in their cities and counties, to pressure their state legislators into standing up for a statewide ban on fracking, and to confront Governor Brown wherever he makes a public appearance. “This public comment period gives us a chance to come together to speak out against fracking and call on Governor Brown to protect our state from this irredeemably toxic industry,” Malitz concluded.

Public hearings scheduled throughout state

Comments regarding the proposed regulations will also be taken at five public hearings around the state. It is important that we get a large showing to these hearings to show massive opposition to the environmentally destructive practice of fracking. The schedule for the hearings is as follows:

Sacramento — January 6, Sierra Room, California Environmental Protection Agency Building, 10th & I streets, 3-7 p.m.

Long Beach — January 6, California State University-Long Beach auditorium, 1212 Bellflower Boulevard, 3-7 p.m.

Bakersfield — January 8, Kern County Administrative Center, first floor board chambers, 1115 Truxtun Avenue, 3-7 p.m.

Salinas — January 8, National Steinbeck Center, One Main Street, 3-7 p.m.

Santa Maria — January 13, Santa Barbara County supervisors hearing room, 511 East Lakeside Parkway, 3-7 p.m.

You can be sure that these draft regulations won’t protect the land, water, fish, wildlife and people of California from the expansion of fracking when a big oil lobbyist praises them.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative 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,” gushed 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.”

Then in her latest blog on the WSPA website, she further praised the legislation, along with lauding Senator Fran Pavley and Governor Jerry Brown for their “environmental leadership.” (LINK)

“This September, California adopted the nation’s strictest regulations for the oil extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing,” Reheis-Boyd claimed. “The landmark bill, SB 4, was authored by one of our state’s preeminent environmental leaders, Senator Fran Pavley, and signed by Jerry Brown, one of the nation’s greenest governors.”

Background on Senate Bill 4, Fracking: 

The Center for Biological Diversity said the draft 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.”The pollution resulting from fracking threatens already contaminated groundwater and surface water supplies in the Central Valley and coastal areas – and much of the water to be used to expand fracking is expected to come from the Delta via the proposed twin tunnels.

Ken Broder in allgov.com reported on the recent acknowledgement by Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) officials that tunnel water could be used for fracking. (LINK)

Take Action Now! 

Caleen Sisk, Chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, a key leader in the fight to stop the raising of Shasta Dam and the construction of the peripheral tunnels and to restore winter run Chinook salmon to the McCloud River above Shasta Dam, urges people to support a ban on fracking in California.

“California’s new draft fracking rules Are BAD,” she said. “Tell Governor Brown that weak regulations won’t cut it. We need a ban!”

“Regulations don’t make fracking any safer – no water for fracking at the expense of the Tribal ceremonies and salmon habitat,” Sisk stated.

Sisk, Food and Water Watch, CREDO Action and anti-fracking activists are urging people to submit public comments on the draft rules and show up at the public hearings.

To take action, you can also go to the Food and Water Watch website: LINK

 

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Walmarting the rivers and oceans

The Walton Family Foundation reported “investments” totaling more than $91.4 million in “environmental initiatives” in 2012

socalstrikePhoto of Southern California Walmart strikers, courtesy of OUR Walmart, http://forrespect.org/ 

                                 Walmarting the rivers and oceans 

by Dan Bacher

Walmart has been in the headlines in recent weeks after the retailer announced plans to keep its stores open this Thanksgiving, forcing Walmart employees to cancel many of their holiday plans.

Numerous blogs and alternative media outlets have also reported on plans by Walmart workers and community allies to hold 1500 protests on Black Friday across the country, in what is set to be one of the largest mobilizations of working families in American history.

“Workers are calling for an end to illegal retaliation, and for Walmart to publicly commit to improving labor standards, such as providing workers with more full time work and $25,000 a year,” according to a statement from OUR Walmart. (http://forrespect.org/2013/11/21/walmart-workers-community-allies-to-hold-1500-protests-across-country-on-black-friday/ )

“Black Friday 2013 will mark a turning point in American history,” said Dorian Warren, associate professor at Columbia University. “Fifteen hundred protests against Walmart is unprecedented. Working families are fighting back like never before – and have the support of America behind them.

However, less well-known to the public is Walmart’s ambitious campaign of corporate greenwashing in recent years.

Walmart, the country’s largest retailer and employer, makes more than $17 billion in profits, so it has a lot of money to dump into “environmental” groups that serve its agenda of privatization of the public trust. The wealth of the Walton family totals over $144.7 billion – equal to that of 42% of Americans.

The Walton Family Foundation reported “investments” totaling more than $91.4 million in “environmental initiatives” in 2012, including contributions to corporate “environmental” NGOs pushing ocean privatization through the “catch shares” programs and so-called “marine protected areas” like those created under Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, as well as to groups supporting the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels.

According to a press release from the Walmart Headquarters in Bentonville Arkansas, “the foundation awarded grants of more than $91 million to groups and programs that create benefits for local economies and communities through lasting conservation solutions for oceans and rivers.”

The foundation directed an overwhelming majority of the grants toward its two core environmental initiatives – “Freshwater Conservation” and Marine Conservation.”

“Our work is rooted in our belief that the conservation solutions that last are the ones that make economic sense,” gushed Scott Burns, director of the foundation’s Environment Focus Area. “The foundation and our grantees embrace ‘conservationomics’ – the idea that conservation efforts can and should bring economic prosperity to local communities.”

The foundation donated $38,648,952 to “Marine Conservation,” $29,367,340 to “Freshwater Conservation” and $23,683,286 for “Other Environment Grants” in 2012.

Conservation International, the top recipient of Walmart money, got a total of $22,650,774, including $5,725,000 for the Bird’s Head Seascape, $4,214,881 for the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape and 12,718,763 for “Other Environmental Grants.”

The Environmental Defense Fund, the second largest recipient, received a total of $12,943,017, including $7,800,000 for catch shares, $1,881,652 for the Colorado River, $3,032,300 for the Mississippi River, $20,000 for the Gulf Of Mexico and $209,065 for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Ocean Conservancy, a strong supporter of the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act Initiative to create “marine protected areas” in California, received the third largest chunk of money from the foundation in 2012, $5,447,354, including $2,112,500 for “Marine Conservation” in the Gulf of Mexico and $3,334,854 for the oil spill in the Gulf.

Nature Conservancy, Inc. received $4,509,616, the fourth largest amount of money, including $1,700,000 for the Colorado River, $725,557 for the Mississippi River, $553,148 for the Bird’s Head Seascape, $21,000 for Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape, $350,000 for Gulf of Mexico projects, $400,825 for catch shares and $759,086 for “other conservation grants.”

Other recipients of Walton Foundation money in 2012 include American Rivers, the Center for American Progress, Environmental Working Group, Marine Stewardship Council, National Audubon Society, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Geographic Society, Oxfam America, Inc., Resources Legacy Fund, World Wildlife Fund and many other NGOs.

A complete list of Walton Family Foundation recipients is available at: http://www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/about/2012-grant-report#environment.

Conservation International features Walton and Stewart Resnick on Board

Conservation International, the top recipient at $22,650,774, is an organization noted for its top-down approach to conservation and involvement with corporate greenwashing.

A Walton Foundation press release claimed that, “Conservation International continued to implement a three-year program to empower local communities to manage and conserve fishing resources on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast.”

However, the group’s board features some of the most controversial corporate leaders on the planet, including Rob Walton and Stewart Resnick.

Rob Walton, Walmart Chairman, serves as the Chairman of the Executive Committee of Conservation International. Serving with him on Conservation International’s Board of Directors is Stewart Resnick, the owner of Paramount Farms.

Resnick has been instrumental in campaigns to build the peripheral tunnels to increase water exports to corporate agribusiness, developers and oil companies, to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt and to eradicate striped bass in California. The Center for Investigative Reporting describes Resnick as a “Corporate Farming Billionaire and One-Man Environmental Wrecking Crew.”

Resnick is notorious for buying subsidized Delta water and then selling it back to the public for a big profit, as revealed in an article by the late Mike Taugher in the Contra Costa Times on May 23, 2009. (http://www.revivethesanjoaquin.org/content/pumping-water-and-cash-delta)

“As the West Coast’s largest estuary plunged to the brink of collapse from 2000 to 2007, state water officials pumped unprecedented amounts of water out of the Delta only to effectively buy some of it back at taxpayer expense for a failed environmental protection plan, a MediaNews investigation has found,” said Taugher.

Taugher said the “environmental water account” set up in 2000 to “improve” the Delta ecosystem spent nearly $200 million mostly to benefit water users while also creating a “cash stream for private landowners and water agencies in the Bakersfield area.”

“No one appears to have benefited more than companies owned or controlled by Stewart Resnick, a Beverly Hills billionaire, philanthropist and major political donor whose companies, including Paramount Farms, own more than 115,000 acres in Kern County,” Taugher stated. “Resnick’s water and farm companies collected about 20 cents of every dollar spent by the program.”

Likewise, the Nature Conservancy, a group that received the fourth largest amount, $4,509,616, from the Walton Family Foundation in 2012, is also known for its strong support of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels that Resnick and other corporate agribusiness interests so avidly support.

A broad coalition of fishermen, Indian Tribes, environmentalists, family farmers and elected officials opposes the construction of the tunnels because they would hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other species.

Environmental Defense Fund’s drive to privatize fisheries

Environmental Defense Fund, with the second highest donation at $12,943,017, is known for its market-based approach to conservation and its push for “catch shares” that essentially privatize the oceans. The relationship between the group and the retail giant is so close that it operates an office in Bentonville, Arkansas, where Walmart is headquartered.

“Environmental Defense Fund released its ‘Catch Shares Design Manual: A Guide for Fishermen and Managers’ to provide a roadmap to catch share design, which is a focus of our Marine Conservation initiative,” according to the Walton Family Foundation.

A catch share, also known as an individual fishing quota, is a transferable voucher that gives individuals or businesses the ability to access a fixed percentage of the total authorized catch of a particular species.

“Fishery management systems based on catch shares turn a public resource into private property and have lead to socioeconomic and environmental problems. Contrary to arguments by catch share proponents – namely large commercial fishing interests – this management system has exacerbated unsustainable fishing practices,” according to the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch.

True to form, Sam Rawlings Walton, the grandson of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, serves on the Board of Trustees of EDF.

Times articles put spotlight on Walmart

Two New York Times articles in April 2012 put Walmart and the Walton family’s “dirty laundry” in the international spotlight, leading to a renewed call by the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) for the public to support their boycott of Walmart, a campaign that began in August 2011. (http://myemail.constantcontact.com/RFA-Encourages-Continued-National-Boycott-of-Wal-Mart-Stores-.html?soid=1102181706823&aid=itF-3JDXPa4)

The Times articles covered Walton family support for anti-fishing, pro-privatization efforts in North America, followed by the publication’s exposure of alleged $24 million worth of bribes in Central America to speed up the chain’s expansion into Mexico.

“The headlines prove that Walmart and the Walton Family Foundation are no friends of local communities anywhere, and their ongoing efforts to destroy coastal fishing businesses through support of arbitrary marine reserves and privatization of fish stocks nationwide should not be supported by anglers,” said RFA executive director Jim Donofrio. “We’re asking coastal fishermen who support open access, under the law, to healthy and sustainable fish stocks to send a clear message to this arrogant corporation that we’ve had enough of their greenwashing and grafting efforts.

Donofrio noted that Walmart made world headlines following a New York Times story that charges the Bentonville, Arkansas company and its leaders of squashing an internal investigation into suspected payments of over $24 million in bribes to obtain permits to build in Mexico.

Reporter’s lapse shows complicity of corporate media

The bribery scandal was exposed on the same day that the Gloucester Times of Massachusetts exposed a reporting lapse in another recent New York Times article about the relationship between Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Walmart partnering together for “more enlightened and sustainable operations.” (http://www.gloucestertimes.com/local/x1774445793/EDF-Wal-Mart-Walton-ties-get-major-media-brush)

The New York Times had earlier reported that EDF “does not accept contributions from Wal-Mart or other corporations it works for.”

However, when confronted on the fact that the $1.3 billion Walton Family Foundation (started in 1987 by Wal-Mart’s founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and directed presently by the Walton family) has been underwriting EDF’s successful effort to replace the nation’s mostly small-business, owner-operated fishing industry with “a catch shares model designed to cap the number of active fishermen by trading away ownership of the resource to those with the deepest pockets,” the author of the New York Times report conceded by email that in her rush to meet deadlines, she had not considered the relationship between the Walton family and Wal-Mart, according to Donofrio.

“I didn’t think to check the EDF board for Walton family members, or Walton Family Foundation donations,” said reporter Stephanie Clifford, adding “None of the third parties I’d spoken to had mentioned that connection, which isn’t an excuse – I should have thought of it myself, but didn’t.”

RFA is hoping that saltwater anglers and fishing business owners help send Walmart stocks tumbling by refusing to shop at the corporate giant any longer.

“The Walton family uses their fortune to buy off friends who’ll cover for their despicable business practices, whether it’s corporate greenwashing with EDF, rebranding efforts through national trade association campaigns, or apparently by way of directed bribes to local officials in other countries,” Donofrio said. “Don’t just stop buying fishing tackle at Wal-Mart – stop supporting this company altogether and let’s quit supporting complete buyouts and takeovers of local communities.”

Commercial fishermen support Walmart boycott

Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), supports RFA’s boycott of Walmart.

“People who are concerned about our environment or labor rights should all be boycotting Walmart,” said Grader. “Their polices are clearly intended to commodify our natural resources and put them under the control of large corporations.”

“The Walton Family Foundation is funding the Environmental Defense Fund, which wants to commodify water through water marketing and privatize our fish through catch shares program,” said Grader. “These are tools used by corporations to further the growing disparity between 1 percent and the rest of us.”

“I’ve been boycotting Walmart for decades and it’s absolutely great that recreational and commercial fishermen are together on this,” concluded Grader.

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“Gasland 2″ to be shown today in Fort Bragg

No Fracking

TODAY,  Tuesday Nov. 19th,  at  5:00 P.M. - 

The Ocean Protection Coalition (OPC) is showing “Gasland 2″ the brand new sequel to the popular documentary “Gasland”  this evening at 5:00 P.M. at the Fort Bragg Library meeting room, 499 E. Laurel Street in Fort Bragg.  Admission is free or by donation.

The film will be followed by a meeting at 7:00 P.M., to form strategies and coalitions to stop fracking in Mendocino County.

Link to the movie:  http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/

Don’t miss this special showing of the film!

 

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Oil company fined $60,000 for illegally discharging fracking fluid

“An honest appraisal of the science and common sense around hydraulic fracturing leads to a conclusion the technology we’ve used without harm in California for 60 plus years is safe and its benefits a blessing,” said Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association.

california-fracking-map-791x1024

Oil company fined $60,000 for illegally discharging fracking fluid

by Dan Bacher

The oil industry in California has constantly claimed that fracking (hydraulic fracturing) for oil and natural gas is “safe” and doesn’t harm the environment.

“An honest appraisal of the science and common sense around hydraulic fracturing leads to a conclusion the technology we’ve used without harm in California for 60 plus years is safe and its benefits a blessing,” said Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), earlier this year.

“Oil drilling activities in California are strictly regulated by several agencies and the state’s oil producers are working closely with the government to develop even stronger protections to ensure the vast potential of the Monterey Shale can be realized,” she claimed. (Western States Petroleum Association – LINK )

However, Reheis-Boyd fails to mention that the discharge of fracking fluid, composed of toxic chemicals that the oil industry refuses to disclose because they consider them a trade secret, presents an enormous threat to groundwater supplies, streams, fish and wildlife.

In the most recent example of the threat to the environment and human health that fracking poses, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board on November 15 ordered an oil company, Vintage Production California LLC, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum Company, to pay a $60,000 penalty for discharging hydraulic fracturing fluid into an unlined sump in violation of the California Water Code.

The penalty is the result of a settlement agreement between Vintage and the Water Board’s prosecution team, and is the maximum penalty allowable under the state Water Code.

“The prosecution team’s investigation determined that Vintage periodically discharged saline water, formation fluids, and hydraulic fracturing fluid to an unlined sump for 12 days,” according to a Water Board news release. “The sump was next to a newly drilled Vintage oil well near the City of Shafter in Kern County. The prosecution team concluded the discharge posed a threat to groundwater quality and that Vintage violated the Water Code for the unpermitted discharge of wastewater to land.”

The investigation that led to the settlement began immediately after a YouTube video was brought to the prosecution team’s attention. (You Tube video - LINK )

The team issued an investigative order under Water Code Section 13267 that required Vintage to provide a technical report with specific details about the operation of the well and the discharges to the sump.

After reviewing the submitted technical information, the prosecution team issued a Notice of Violation to Vintage for the discharge of fluids to the sump for 12 days (September 30 through October 11, 2012) in violation of General Waiver Resolution R5-2008-0192 and Water Code Section 13350, according to the Water Board.

“The discharge of high-salinity water to unlined sumps in areas with good quality groundwater, such as at the Vintage Production site near Shafter, is not consistent with the Tulare Lake Basin Plan,” said Central Valley Water Board Executive Officer Pamela Creedon. “We are concerned that similar discharges may have occurred elsewhere throughout the Central Valley.”

“Past and future drilling operations will be evaluated to ensure that operators are in compliance with Basin Plan policy. Additionally, we are presently revising General Waiver Resolution R5-2008-0192 to more specifically address oil field drilling fluid discharges to unlined sumps located in the Central Valley,” she stated.

Creedon said Vintage agreed to cease discharging to unlined sumps in agricultural areas – and the company is “voluntarily investigating” the leaching potential of the solidified material in the closed sump.

Opponents of fracking point out that incidents like this one will become increasing common as oil companies ramp up fracking and acidizing operations to extract oil from Monterey Shale deposits in the Central Valley and coastal areas. On September 20, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senator Fran Pavley’s Senate Bill 4, legislation that gives the green light to the expansion of fracking operations in California.

The $60,000 fine is just chump change for an oil company like Occidental. The Los Angeles-based company said earnings in the third quarter of 2013 jumped more than 14% as domestic oil production increased and gas prices rose, according to the LA Times.

“The company reported a profit of $1.58 billion, or $1.96 a share, in the three months ended Sept. 30,” the LA Times reported. “That was compared to $1.38 billion, or $1.69 a share, from the same quarter a year earlier. Sales jumped 8.1% to $6.45 billion.” (L.A. Times - LINK )

The oil industry, represented by the Western States Petroleum Association, is the largest and most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento. Big Oil wields huge influence over the Legislature, Governor’s Office and state agencies through lobbying, campaign contributions and domination of regulatory processes, such as Reheis-Boyd’s chairing of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called “marine protected areas” in Southern California.

Chevron, the Western States Petroleum Association and Aera Energy LLC spent the most money of any organizations or companies lobbying legislators in the third quarter of 2013, according to California Secretary of State documents.

Chevron spent $1,696,477, the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) 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 the first three quarters of 2013, WSPA alone spent a total of $3,578,266 on lobbying legislators. (Lobbying costs - LINK )

Before the release of third quarter lobbying expenditures, a report released by the American Lung Association revealed that the oil industry lobby has spent $45.4 million in the state influencing legislators since 2009. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) alone has spent over $20 million since 2009.  (Lobbying in California - 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.”

The draft Settlement Agreement and Stipulation for Entry of Administrative Civil Liability Order R5-2013-0587 (Stipulated Order) is available for a 30-day public review and comment period prior to consideration by the Central Valley Water Board. The Stipulated Order is at: - LINK

 

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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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