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Restore the Delta urges Brown to back 'clean water bond'

by: Dan Bacher

Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 12:01:52 PM PDT

Restore the Delta (RTD) called on Governor Brown to back a "clean water bond" for the November 2014 ballot that does not include any taxpayer funding for mitigating the damage from the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels.

The group's statement was issued after Brown told legislators in private meetings on Tuesday, June 24 that he opposes the existing $11.1 billion water bond and supports a $6 billion water bond instead, including about $2 billion for storage.

Brown also reportedly told legislators that Republicans "must accept less than their stated priority of $3 billion" for water storage projects, according to Capitol Public Radio. (http://www.capradio.org/articles/2014/06/24/brown-opposes-existing-water-bond,-wants-$6-billion-replacement/)

The Governor's Office has declined to comment on the specifics of his proposal, including whether any funding in the bond will help pay for mitigation for damage caused by the construction of two massive tunnels under the Delta proposed under Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). "The Governor is concerned about ongoing debt service and its impact on future budgets," according to Jim Evans of the Governor's Office.

However, a draft of Brown's blueprint obtained by the Sacramento and Fresno Bees also "suggests $1.5 billion for water supply and water reliability, encompassing areas like safe drinking water and groundwater cleanup; $1.5 billion for watershed protection; $500 million for flood control; and $500 million for the Delta." (http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/06/25/3996045/capitol-alert-governors-bond-plan.html)

"The document also states a general rule shared by Senate leaders: the bond must be 'Bay Delta Conservation Plan neutral,'" the Bee reported.

In response to the latest water bond developments, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, said, "California desperately needs a new sustainable water policy and a bond measure that invests in conservation policies that have broad and deep support. We call on Gov. Brown to leave tunnels mitigation out of a water bond."

Barrigan-Parrilla cited records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act showing that the BDCP appears to plan to use bond funds to help fund purchases over the next 50 years of up to 1.3 million acre feet of water annually from upstream areas, such as the Sacramento Valley.

"These purchases are supposed to make up for over-pumping for the new water export Tunnels," said Barrigan-Parrilla. "This provision would become a referendum on the tunnels project and would likely doom the water bond to failure, leaving us with no progress on our need for drought resilient water projects."

"In bond provisions labeled as BDCP 'restoration' and 'habitat' funding, the public would pay to purchase so called 'enhanced environmental flow' water from previously identified districts in the Upper Sacramento River Basin - leading to the devastation of their groundwater supplies. That same water would be diverted into the new BDCP Tunnels before it flows into the heart of the Delta," said Barrigan-Parrilla.

"Mega-growers within Westlands and Kern County are depending on public subsidies to make the BDCP pencil out. The public purchase of 'environmental' water with bond funds has already been shown to be a waste. From 2000-2007, an 'environmental water account' was set up and spent nearly $200 million in public funds as the species crashed and the State Water Project over pumped the Delta, creating, huge profits for private landowners like billionaire Stewart Resnick. The voters will not agree to that kind of waste and profiteering again," Barrigan-Parrilla added.

In addition, BDCP water exporters are relying on the public, through a combination of state and federal funds and two successive state water bonds, to pay $7.824 billion (before interest in today's dollars) toward the cost of BDCP. The draft BDCP describes how state bond measures would provide $3.759 billion in funds to carry out the project, according to Barrigan-Parilla.

She said taxpayers, through other state and federal funding allocations, would also pay the remaining $4 billion needed for the estimated $25 billion dollar project. With the water exporters paying for the cost of the water export Tunnels through increased water rates to families, the public would pay additionally through taxes for the cost of creating more than 140,000 acres of experimental habitat, on Delta farmland, the largest strip of prime farmland in California.

"According to independent scientific reviews, BDCP habitat is unlikely to yield the benefits assumed by BDCP, in part because the Tunnels will starve the Delta of needed fresh water flows. The BDCP water export Tunnels will remove life-giving flows of high quality water through the Delta. The massive acquisition of farmland for habitat is a ruse to justify building the BDCP Tunnels, and the water exporters are planning to stick the taxpayers with that bill," said Barrigan-Parrilla.

Restore the Delta calls on Governor Brown support the following three principles in the 2014 water bond:

• Remove all funding for Delta habitat and water purchases tied to the BDCP. Funding actions needed by the still draft, unfinished BDCP will take away funding from other crucial water projects that will make California drought resilient. Taxpayers should not be expected to pay to restore habitat or purchase paper "environmental" water to make the Tunnels appear to be an environmental project.

• Support levee improvement funding in order to upgrade Delta levees to the minimum PL194-99 standards. The Governor needs to recognize that if there is a catastrophic event in the Delta, one hundred percent of the loss of life and 80% of the economic loss will fall on the Delta region. Levees protect statewide water supplies and provide local flood protection. Regional infrastructure worth billions of dollars (roads, railroads, electric transmission lines, gas lines) is also at risk.

"The State claims to be worried about an earthquake in the Delta, yet inexplicably is focused not on shoring up the Delta's earthquake defenses, but on building Peripheral Tunnels to "protect" the water exported. The State has forgotten that 4 million people live in the five Delta Counties and need to be protected from a catastrophic flood event," she said.

• Support conservation and local water supply and treatment projects throughout California to make the state more water resilient and less dependent on Delta exports.

"We are calling on Governor Brown to support principles that will actually lead to more secure water supplies for all Californians, rather than endorsing a water exporter driven bond that will deliver only for certain special-interest water districts to the detriment of the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas," she summed up.

"If the governor and Westlands mega-growers insist on including taxpayer subsidies for the tunnels mitigation in the water bond, it will become a vote of the people of California on the mammoth and destructive BDCP Tunnel project, estimated to cost a total of at least $54.1 billion after interest," said Restore the Delta's media consultant, Steve Hopcraft.

The current water bond on the November ballot was created as part of a water policy/water bond package passed by the Legislature in a special session called by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in November 2009. The water bond was rescheduled twice, first in 2010 and then again in 2012, due to strong opposition to provisions in the bond that facilitate the construction of the twin tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Brown is a relentless advocate for the widely-criticized Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels - and looks at the tunnel plan, estimated to cost up to $67 billion, as a "legacy" project.

On Monday, June 23, Senator Lois Wolk's new water bond, SB 848, failed to gain required two-thirds vote "due to Republican opposition and demands that the measure include more funding to enable the construction of two tunnels underneath the Delta to divert water to farming interests in the Southern San Joaquin Valley," according to a statement from Wolk's Office.

The vote was on party lines, with the Senate Democrats supporting the measure and the Senate Republicans voting against it.

The 22 yes votes were Beall, Corbett, Correa, De León, DeSaulnier, Evans, Galgiani, Hernandez, Hueso, Jackson, Lara, Leno, Lieu, Liu, Mitchell, Monning, Padilla, Pavley, Roth, Steinberg, Torres, and Wolk, all Democrats.

The no votes were Anderson, Berryhill, Fuller, Huff, Knight, Morrell, Vidak, Walters, Wyland, all Republicans.

No votes were recorded by Block, Calderon, Cannella, Gaines, Hancock, Hill, Nielsen, Wright and Yee.

Three of those recorded not voting - Leland Yee of San Francisco, Ron Calderon of Montebello and Rod Wright of Inglewood - were suspended from the State Senate with pay this March. Senators Yee and Calderon were indicted in separate federal corruption cases, while Senator Wright will be sentenced on July 21 on criminal charges that he lied about where he lived when he ran for office in 2008. (http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/rod-wright/#storylink=cpy)

"Yesterday's vote was a missed opportunity," said Senator Wolk. "It was especially disappointing to see my Republican colleagues from Northern California tie their horses to the Delta Tunnels and support the current bond written in 2009 rather than the tunnel neutral approach in SB 848 that was before them. The 2009 bond promotes the tunnels and is doomed to be rejected by the voters."

"We are in a drought," she said. "The voters want real solutions, not the tunnels. There is no better time than now to act. SB 848 includes water solutions for every region of the state that reflect local needs and priorities. This bond doesn't hurt any region and, critically, it avoids investments in controversial projects like the Delta Tunnels that will result in opposition at the ballot. SB 848 is the only proposal that doesn't provoke a North-South water war and meets Republican core demand for surface storage."

For more information, go to: http://www.indybay.org/newsite...

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Fracking moratorium bill defeated by oil industry lobby

by: Dan Bacher

Fri May 30, 2014 at 12:40:33 PM PDT

The California State Senate failed to pass SB 1132, legislation authored by Senators Holly Mitchell and Mark Leno that would have stopped hydraulic fracturing and other dangerous well stimulation methods while the state studied their risks.  

The vote failed with a tie of 16 to 16, with 8 votes not recorded. The 16 aye votes were Beall, Corbett, De León, DeSaulnier, Evans, Hancock, Jackson, Leno, Lieu, Liu, Mitchell, Monning, Padilla, Pavley, Steinberg and Wolk

The 16 no votes were Anderson, Berryhill, Cannella, Correa, Fuller, Gaines, Galgiani, Hernandez, Huff, Knight, Morrell, Nielsen, Torres, Vidak, Walters, Wyland. The 8 votes not recorded include absentions by Block, Lara, Hill, Hueso and Roth. Three Senators - Calderon, Wright and Yee - can't and didn't vote because they are suspended and were not present for the vote.  

The defeat of the legislation was undoubtedly due to the huge amounts of money dumped into lobbying the Legislature by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying group in Sacramento, and oil companies.

WSPA alone spent a total of $5,331,493 in 2009, $4,013,813 in 2010, $4,273,664 in 2011, $5,698,917 in 2012 and $4,670,010 in 2013 on lobbying at the State Capitol - and spent $1,456,785 in just the first 3 months of 2014. (http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/23365-californias-big-oil-dirty-dozen) You can bet that a good chunk of this money spent so far this year was spent on stopping Senate Bill 1132.  

The statewide coalition Californians Against Fracking issued the following statement:

"Despite polls showing a majority of Californians in favor of banning fracking, today the California Senate failed to pass SB 1132 to place a moratorium on fracking. The vote is disappointing but not completely unexpected given that the oil industry has spent a whopping $15 million on lobbying activities to defeat the bill and buy influence in Sacramento.

State lawmakers will continue to face growing concern about fracking pollution from voters in their communities. Californians Against Fracking calls on Governor Brown to protect California's water, agriculture, public health and climate by declaring a moratorium on fracking now. If Governor Brown is serious about fighting climate change and its severe impacts, including droughts and fires, then he must show real leadership and stop the fracking now."

The statement was issued on behalf of Californians Against Fracking, 350.org, Center for Biological Diversity, Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, CREDO Action, Environment California, Food & Water Watch and Oil Change International.  

As the Friday deadline for moving legislation from California's Senate to the Assembly approaches, Senator Holly J. Mitchell's bill to set a moratorium on fracking for oil in the state still needed three votes to pass when the Senate recessed Wednesday night, according to a statement from Senator Mitchell's Office.

Mitchell said the SB 1132 elicited "spirited floor debate" before the failure of several senators to vote on the bill left it without the 21 votes needed to advance to the Assembly. Although a motion for reconsideration allows Mitchell to bring the bill up for vote again, unless at least three senators cast favorable votes by Friday, the bill dies for the current legislative session.

"Last year our efforts to enact a moratorium got as far as an Assembly committee, and this year to the floor of the Senate, with more 'yes' than 'no' votes," noted Senator Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), who carried a similar bill, AB 1323, while serving in the Assembly. "We have the momentum, this issue's gone viral nationally, and it's just a matter of time before the dangers of fracking prompt people to put it on pause until its safety can be established."  

"When the impacts on the public of a for-profit endeavor are unknown, we try it out first in minority neighborhoods - assuming low vigilance and the need to bring in jobs makes safety irrelevant," said the Senator. "But we've put big industry on notice: That ploy won't fly forever. People's neighborhoods aren't fodder for fracking, environmental justice must come, and one day soon the vote to refrain from polluting for profit will prevail!"  

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, celebrated the defeat of SB 1132, by stating, "With SB 1132 behind us, let's now focus on SB 4 implementation." (https://www.wspa.org/blog/post/sb-1132-behind-us-let's-now-focus-sb-4-implementation)

"Today's defeat of Senate Bill 1132, legislation that would have imposed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation technologies, clears a path for a concerted and collaborative effort to fully implement new statewide regulations embodied in Senate Bill 4," she said.

"The SB 4 regulations put into place a robust set of monitoring, disclosure, testing, land use and research requirements that ensure hydraulic fracturing in California is conducted safely and without harm to the environment.  But there is still much to be done to finalize these new regulations and the petroleum industry is going to be a constructive partner in getting them accomplished," Reheis-Boyd claimed.

The oil industry is most powerful corporate lobby in California. A ground breaking report released on April 1, 2014 by the ACCE Institute and Common Cause reveals that Big Oil's combined spending on lobbying and political campaigns in Sacramento amounts to a stunning $266.9 million over the past 15 years. This massive spending enables the oil industry to effectively buy the votes of many State Assembly Members and Senators.  (http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/14/how-big-oil-bought-sacramento/)

But the oil industry exerts its influence not just through spending enormous sums on lobbying and contributions to political campaigns, but by serving on state and federal government panels.

In one of the biggest conflicts of interest in California environmental history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, served as the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, as well as sitting on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

It is no surprise that the alleged "Yosemites of the Sea" created under Reheis-Boyd's "leadership" fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and tribal gathering.

It is also no surprise that the oil industry was fracking like crazy in Southern California ocean waters at the same time that Reheis-Boyd and MLPA Initiative advocates were greenwashing one of the most corrupt environmental processes in California history.    

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Fracking moratorium bill defeated by oil industry lobby

by: Dan Bacher

Fri May 30, 2014 at 12:40:33 PM PDT

The California State Senate failed to pass SB 1132, legislation authored by Senators Holly Mitchell and Mark Leno that would have stopped hydraulic fracturing and other dangerous well stimulation methods while the state studied their risks.  

The vote failed with a tie of 16 to 16, with 8 votes not recorded. The 16 aye votes were Beall, Corbett, De León, DeSaulnier, Evans, Hancock, Jackson, Leno, Lieu, Liu, Mitchell, Monning, Padilla, Pavley, Steinberg and Wolk

The 16 no votes were Anderson, Berryhill, Cannella, Correa, Fuller, Gaines, Galgiani, Hernandez, Huff, Knight, Morrell, Nielsen, Torres, Vidak, Walters, Wyland. The 8 votes not recorded include absentions by Block, Lara, Hill, Hueso and Roth. Three Senators - Calderon, Wright and Yee - can't and didn't vote because they are suspended and were not present for the vote.  

The defeat of the legislation was undoubtedly due to the huge amounts of money dumped into lobbying the Legislature by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying group in Sacramento, and oil companies.

WSPA alone spent a total of $5,331,493 in 2009, $4,013,813 in 2010, $4,273,664 in 2011, $5,698,917 in 2012 and $4,670,010 in 2013 on lobbying at the State Capitol - and spent $1,456,785 in just the first 3 months of 2014. (http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/23365-californias-big-oil-dirty-dozen) You can bet that a good chunk of this money spent so far this year was spent on stopping Senate Bill 1132.  

The statewide coalition Californians Against Fracking issued the following statement:

"Despite polls showing a majority of Californians in favor of banning fracking, today the California Senate failed to pass SB 1132 to place a moratorium on fracking. The vote is disappointing but not completely unexpected given that the oil industry has spent a whopping $15 million on lobbying activities to defeat the bill and buy influence in Sacramento.

State lawmakers will continue to face growing concern about fracking pollution from voters in their communities. Californians Against Fracking calls on Governor Brown to protect California's water, agriculture, public health and climate by declaring a moratorium on fracking now. If Governor Brown is serious about fighting climate change and its severe impacts, including droughts and fires, then he must show real leadership and stop the fracking now."

The statement was issued on behalf of Californians Against Fracking, 350.org, Center for Biological Diversity, Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, CREDO Action, Environment California, Food & Water Watch and Oil Change International.  

As the Friday deadline for moving legislation from California's Senate to the Assembly approaches, Senator Holly J. Mitchell's bill to set a moratorium on fracking for oil in the state still needed three votes to pass when the Senate recessed Wednesday night, according to a statement from Senator Mitchell's Office.

Mitchell said the SB 1132 elicited "spirited floor debate" before the failure of several senators to vote on the bill left it without the 21 votes needed to advance to the Assembly. Although a motion for reconsideration allows Mitchell to bring the bill up for vote again, unless at least three senators cast favorable votes by Friday, the bill dies for the current legislative session.

"Last year our efforts to enact a moratorium got as far as an Assembly committee, and this year to the floor of the Senate, with more 'yes' than 'no' votes," noted Senator Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), who carried a similar bill, AB 1323, while serving in the Assembly. "We have the momentum, this issue's gone viral nationally, and it's just a matter of time before the dangers of fracking prompt people to put it on pause until its safety can be established."  

"When the impacts on the public of a for-profit endeavor are unknown, we try it out first in minority neighborhoods - assuming low vigilance and the need to bring in jobs makes safety irrelevant," said the Senator. "But we've put big industry on notice: That ploy won't fly forever. People's neighborhoods aren't fodder for fracking, environmental justice must come, and one day soon the vote to refrain from polluting for profit will prevail!"  

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, celebrated the defeat of SB 1132, by stating, "With SB 1132 behind us, let's now focus on SB 4 implementation." (https://www.wspa.org/blog/post/sb-1132-behind-us-let's-now-focus-sb-4-implementation)

"Today's defeat of Senate Bill 1132, legislation that would have imposed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation technologies, clears a path for a concerted and collaborative effort to fully implement new statewide regulations embodied in Senate Bill 4," she said.

"The SB 4 regulations put into place a robust set of monitoring, disclosure, testing, land use and research requirements that ensure hydraulic fracturing in California is conducted safely and without harm to the environment.  But there is still much to be done to finalize these new regulations and the petroleum industry is going to be a constructive partner in getting them accomplished," Reheis-Boyd claimed.

The oil industry is most powerful corporate lobby in California. A ground breaking report released on April 1, 2014 by the ACCE Institute and Common Cause reveals that Big Oil's combined spending on lobbying and political campaigns in Sacramento amounts to a stunning $266.9 million over the past 15 years. This massive spending enables the oil industry to effectively buy the votes of many State Assembly Members and Senators.  (http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/14/how-big-oil-bought-sacramento/)

But the oil industry exerts its influence not just through spending enormous sums on lobbying and contributions to political campaigns, but by serving on state and federal government panels.

In one of the biggest conflicts of interest in California environmental history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, served as the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, as well as sitting on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

It is no surprise that the alleged "Yosemites of the Sea" created under Reheis-Boyd's "leadership" fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and tribal gathering.

It is also no surprise that the oil industry was fracking like crazy in Southern California ocean waters at the same time that Reheis-Boyd and MLPA Initiative advocates were greenwashing one of the most corrupt environmental processes in California history.    

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Delta Tunnels Opponents Offer Senator Feinstein A Better Water Solution

by: Dan Bacher

Tue May 20, 2014 at 15:40:47 PM PDT

In discussing her agribusiness-friendly drought relief legislation, S 2198, Senator Dianne Feinstein recently told the San Francisco Chronicle that environmentalists have "never been helpful to me in producing good water policy.'"

"I have not had a single constructive view from environmentalists of how to provide water when there is no snowpack," said Feinstein in her interview. (http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Feinstein-Environmentalists-no-help-on-5481560.php)

Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels, on Monday announced the release of  a new video in response to Feinstein's false claim that environmentalists have "never been helpful" to her in solving California's water resource challenges.

Restore the Delta's storyboard video, http://youtu.be/Ml_pCr2uMaE, describes what water efficiency would accomplish for the Delta and for meeting California's water and jobs needs. RTD, along with the Environmental Water Caucus in their Responsible Water Exports Plan, has long proposed  sustainable water water policies.

"Sen. Feinstein is carrying water in S 2198 for huge industrial mega-growers who  have planted thousands of additional acres of almonds on dry lands in Westlands  and Kern Water Districts in the midst of our three-year dry spell," said Barbara  Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of RTD. "Sen. Feinstein's response to this  unsustainable overplanting of permanent crops on unsustainable lands without their  own water supply is to strip sustainable farms and fisheries of protections so these  huge growers can water their unwise plantings."

"During times of drought, people think about big water projects as the solution because most people have seen large canals or dams that hold and convey  water," she said. "We decided to create a storyboard that shows what water efficiency looks like with easy to understand facts so that people can learn why water efficiency is  the better value for each dollar spent on water infrastructure."

"The water efficiency  story will be turned into a feature video in the months ahead -- and it will tell the  story of how water efficiency throughout California is the solution for the Delta  and the citizens of California," Barrigan-Parrilla concluded.

The video is here: http://youtu.be/Ml_pCr2uMaE
 

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Fracking moratorium bill put in suspense file

by: Dan Bacher

Mon May 19, 2014 at 19:23:18 PM PDT

Senate Bill 1132, Senator Holly Mitchell and Mark Leno's legislation to require a moratorium on fracking in California while studies were conducted, was put into the suspense file today following the hearing in the appropriations committee this morning.

According to Stop Fracking California State, "The Appropriations Committee has the power to put bills into the Suspense File. This happens for any bill with an annual cost of more than $150,000 (any fund)."

According to the state legislature's website: "Suspense File bills are then considered at one hearing after the state budget has been prepared and the committee has a better sense of available revenue. No testimony is presented - author or witness - at the Suspense File hearing."

The committee will announce Friday if SB 1132 moves through Appropriations for a vote by the entire Senate. That vote would occur within a few days.

Daily Kos is hosting a CA Fracking Marathon blogathon this week to urge people to phone members of the committee to ensure SB 1132 comes up for a vote. Daily Kos is part of a coalition that includes Earth Works, the Sierra Club, 350.org, the Indigenous Envioronmental Network, and the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment.

SB 1132 would require the California Natural Resources Agency to facilitate an "independent scientific study" on well stimulation treatments (fracking and acidizing) and their hazards and risks to natural resources and public, occupational, and environmental health and safety by January 1, 2015.

The legislation would also:

• require the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to adopt rules and regulations for well stimulation treatments by January 1, 2015, in consultation with the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), CalRecycle, and any local air and regional water quality control boards;

• require DOGGR to complete a statewide environmental impact report (EIR) by July 1, 2015 ;

• allow operators to continue well stimulation practices while DOGGR completes its regulations, providing that the well owner complies with interim requirements.

Big Oil spends more than any other corporate lobby

It is crucial to understand that the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) spends more money every year on lobbying in Sacramento than any other corporate group. This massive spending enables the oil industry to effectively buy the votes of State Assembly Members and Senators.

The organization spent a total of $5,331,493 in 2009, $4,013,813 in 2010, $4,273,664 in 2011, $5,698,917 in 2012 and $4,670,010 in 2013 on lobbying at the State Capitol - and spent $1,456,785 in just the first 3 months of 2014. (http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/23365-californias-big-oil-dirty-dozen) You can bet that a good chunk of this money spent so far this year was spent on stopping Senate Bill 1132.

A ground breaking report released on April 1, 2014 by the ACCE Institute and Common Cause also reveals that Big Oil's combined spending on lobbying and political campaigns in Sacramento amounts to a stunning $266.9 million over the past 15 years. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/14/how-big-oil-bought-sacramento/)

But the oil industry exerts its influence not just through spending enormous sums on lobbying and contributions to political campaigns, but by serving on state and federal government panels.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, served as the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, as well as sitting on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

It is no surprise that the alleged "Yosemites of the Sea" created under Reheis-Boyd's "leadership" fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and tribal gathering. It is also no surprise that the oil industry was fracking like crazy in Southern California ocean waters at the same time that Reheis-Boyd and MLPA Initiative advocates were greenwashing one of the most corrupt environmental processes in California history.

In spite of false claims by the mainstream media and state officials that California is a "green state," in reality California under Jerry Brown and the current state leadership is an "Oilogarchy" of the worst kind.

League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Calls on Governor Brown to Ban Fracking

In another development in the campaign to ban fracking in California, the California League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) assembly on Sunday, May 18 voted unanimously to pass a resolution calling on Governor Brown and the state legislature to ban fracking.
In addition, the resolution affirmed LULAC's support for local ordinances and initiatives now underway in several cities and counties throughout California to ban fracking.

"Because the health and environment of California's Latino communities, who already disproportionately suffer from pollution, is threatened by fracking, the California League of United Latin American Citizens calls on Governor Brown to ban fracking now," said California State LULAC Director Dave Rodriguez.

Fracking, an extreme form of energy extraction using millions of gallons of water and known toxic chemicals, has been linked to increased air pollution and a possible association with human birth defects. Some communities, like Carson, have been plagued by problems related to fossil fuel industry abuse.

"Our communities have suffered long enough from the impacts of oil extraction and we must stop the oil industry's latest assault to expand fracking and other forms of high intensity extraction," said Carson councilmember Albert Robles. "We welcome the support of the League to protect the health and well-being of our communities." Robles introduced a fracking moratorium this year after Occidental Petroleum proposed to drill 200 wells near residential homes in Carson.

While Governor Brown continues to allow oil companies to frack and use other intensive well-stimulation techniques, many cities and counties are advancing local fracking bans or moratoria including Butte County, Monterey County, Santa Barbara County, San Benito County, Santa Cruz County and the cities of Los Angeles and Culver City.

"We are really excited that LULAC has recognized that the fight is not just at the state level, but is now at the local level with the people in cities and counties really taking a stand, and using the initiative process," said Margaret Morales Rebecchi from San Benito Rising. "Governor Brown has thwarted action at the state level. It is so fortunate that LULAC recognizes and endorses the efforts by the people to have the final say."

For more information, go to: http://www.californiansagainst...

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California Unions Urge Support for State's Veterans, Yes Vote on Prop 41

by: California Labor Federation

Mon May 19, 2014 at 12:09:57 PM PDT

By Steve Smith

Over 200,000 California veterans live in poverty. More than a quarter of the nation's homeless veterans are right here in our state. We see them on the street. Their injuries - both physical and emotional - are evident. Yet, far too little is being done to help the heroes who fought for our country find a roof over their heads at night. That's simply shameful.

We can do better. We must do better.

Prop 41 directs $600 million of existing Proposition 12 (Veterans Bond Act of 2008) to housing options for veterans. On June 3, California voters have an opportunity to infuse much-needed funds into transitional housing for veterans, which would go a long way to providing a warm place to sleep at night for those who have sacrificed so much to defend the very freedoms many of us take for granted.

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Big Oil lobbyist praises EDF for "balanced approach" to fracking

by: Dan Bacher

Fri May 16, 2014 at 17:58:41 PM PDT

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and the former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, has praised the supposedly "balanced approach" to fracking advocated by the Environmental Defense Fund and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the recipient of millions of dollars of Walton Family Foundation money every year, is a supporter of the environmentally destructive practice of fracking for natural gas and oil. The group claims fracking would provide "measurable environmental benefits" in spite of the enormous harm that fracking poses to human health, groundwater and surface water supplies, and fish and wildlife populations.

EDF is no stranger to corporate greenwashing campaigns, since the corporate "environmental" NGO is also a big backer of "catch shares" or "catch and trade" programs that privatize fisheries. These programs for the 1 percent result in fisheries being transferred from traditional fishing families into fewer, increasingly corporate hands.The Walton Family Foundation donated $8,500,000 to EDF to promote catch shares in 2013 and $7,800,000 in 2012 (http://www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/about/2012-grant-report#environment.)

Reheis-Boyd, in her latest blog on the Western States Petroleum Association website (http://www.wspa.org), applauded Fred Krupp, President of the Environmental Defense Fund, and Michael Bloomberg for calling for "sensible rulemaking" and "measurable regulations" on fracking in their April 29 op-ed in the New York Times.

It is crucial to understand that the Western States Petroleum Association that Reheis-Boyd heads is the most powerful corporate lobbying group in Sacramento. The organization spent a total of $5,331,493 in 2009, $4,013,813 in 2010, $4,273,664 in 2011, $5,698,917 in 2012 and $4,670,010 in 2013 on lobbying at the State Capitol - and spent $1,456,785 in just the first 3 months of 2014. (http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/23365-californias-big-oil-dirty-dozen)

Reheis-Boyd said:

"In an April 29 opinion editorial published in the New York Times, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) joined former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in advocating for a balanced approach to hydraulic fracturing:

'The shale gas boom is indeed lowering energy costs, creating new jobs, boosting domestic manufacturing and delivering some measurable environmental benefits as well. Unlike coal, natural gas produces minuscule amounts of such toxic air pollutants as sulfur dioxide and mercury when burned - so the transition from coal- to natural-gas-fired electricity generation is improving overall air quality, which improves public health. There's also a potential climate benefit, since natural-gas-fired plants emit roughly half the carbon dioxide of coal-fired ones.'

We agree. Krupp and Bloomberg also called for sensible rulemaking and measurable regulations that protect the environment while allowing the petroleum industry to capitalize on an historic moment in our nation's economy. Despite the emotions surrounding hydraulic fracturing, the American energy renaissance, led by the increase in domestic shale oil and gas production, can move forward safely."

Reheis-Boyd then used her blog piece to greenwash Senator Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 4, the green light to fracking bill in California, claiming that "California is leading and innovating this entire discussion."

The vast majority of conservation and environmental justice groups strongly opposed Senate Bill 4 because it would create a clear path to expanded fracking in California. However, the Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council and League of Conservation Voters supported the legislation until the last minute - withdrawing their support only after the oil industry added "poison pill" amendments to further weaken the badly-flawed legislation.

Reheis Boyd also reiterated oil industry disinformation claiming that the Pavley bill created the "most stringent" fracking regulations in the nation:

"Senate Bill 4 regulations, passed at the end of last year's session, are the most stringent hydraulic fracturing regulations in the nation. The bill requires companies to obtain a permit from the state, notify surrounding landowners, conduct pre and post fracturing water tests, disclose all chemicals used in the process, conduct regular pressure tests on wells to ensure well integrity and submit extensive water management plans.

This week's New York Times opinion editorial is a good reminder we must finally agree to embrace balanced policies that can achieve strict environmental protection, economic growth, and increased domestic energy security."

Reheis-Boyd is extremely hypocritical for saying she supports "balanced" policies and "strict environmental protection," based upon her dubious record as the Chair of the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast. (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mpa/brtf_bios_sc.asp)

She and her collaborators on the task force made sure that the questionable "marine protected areas" created in Southern California under her "leadership" fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, corporate aquaculture, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering. Reheis-Boyd, state officials and MLPA Initiative advocates ensured that these alleged "marine protected areas" were good for big oil and ocean industrialists - and bad for fishermen, tribal gatherers and the public trust.

Reheis-Boyd also "served" on the MLPA initiative Blue Ribbon Task Forces to create so-called "marine protected areas" on the North Coast, North Central Coast and Central Coast and she currently sits on a federal "marine protection" panel, NOAA's 20 member Marine Protected Areas Advisory Committee. As she served on these panels, the oil industry engaged in a frenzy of environmentally destructive fracking operations off the Southern California coast, as revealed in an Associated Press and Freedom of Information Act investigation last year.

The corrupt process that Reheis-Boyd oversaw created no take "state marine reserves" that violate the traditional gathering rights of the Yurok Tribe and other California Indian Tribes to harvest seaweed, mussels and fish, as they have done for thousands of years. The privately funded process also rejected numerous requests by Yurok Tribe scientists and lawyers to present scientific studies that countered the terminally flawed and incomplete "science," based on flawed assumptions, that drove the MLPA Initiative. (http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2011/07/15/lop_yurok_6-29_11.pdf)

As Frankie Joe Myers, Yurok Tribe member and Coastal Justice Coalition organizer, said before a direct action protest against the MLPA Initiative in Fort Bragg in July 2010, "The whole process is inherently flawed by institutionalized racism. It doesn't recognize Tribes as political entities, or Tribal biologists as legitimate scientists." (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/07/24/18654645.php)

"Whether it is their intention or not, what the Marine Life Protection Act does to tribes is it systematically decimates our ability to be who we are," emphasized Myers. "That is the definition of cultural genocide.

To make make matters even worse, Ron LeValley, the Co-Chair of the MLPA Science Advisory Team - the same controversial state panel that inexplicably rejected the Yurok Tribe's science studies - will be sentenced on May 20 on a single federal charge of conspiracy to embezzle nearly $1 million from the Yurok Tribe!( theava.com/archives/28651)

On February 11, LeValley, of Mad River Biologists, pled guilty to the charge in federal court. Court documents reveal that LeValley conspired with Roland Raymond, former Yurok Tribe forestry chair, 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. The link to the federal indictment is available at: http://noyonews.net/wp-content...

More recently, the industry that Reheis-Boyd lobbies for engaged in over 100 violations of California's new public disclosure rules for fracking and other dangerous oil production methods. The violations were uncovered by a Center for Biological Diversity analysis of records from the state, the oil industry and South Coast air quality regulators. (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2014/fracking-04-30-2014.html)

In a letter to Governor Jerry Brown, the Center revealed that state regulators with the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources have failed to disclose legally mandated reports for 47 frack jobs and notices for more than 100 uses of other risky oil production techniques.

"This lack of disclosure underscores the failure of current regulations and the need for strong action that will protect public health and safety and the environment," the letter says.

However, these overt violations of California environmental law are just a small taste of the massive violations of environmental laws that will take place if Reheis-Boyd and her collaborators are allowed to proceed with their plans to expand fracking operations in California.

If the oil industry and Governor Jerry Brown have their way, groundwater and surface supplies will be polluted with numerous toxic chemicals, including methanol, benzene, naphthalene and trimethylbenzene. According to the Center, evidence is mounting throughout the country that these chemicals are making their way into aquifers and drinking water.

Human health, endangered Central Valley salmon, steelhead and other fish populations and many wildlife species will be imperiled by increasing water pollution in California, as well as by the increasing use of water for fracking that is badly needed for people, farms and fish during the current drought.

In addition, air pollution caused by fracking contributes to the risk of asthma, cancer, and other health problems in people living near fracked wells, according to a Colorado School of Public Health study. (http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/20/local/la-me-gs-fracking-increases-air-pollution-health-risks-to-residents-20120320)

There is no doubt that we must completely reject the false claims by the oil industry, the Environmental Defense Fund and Michael Bloomberg that fracking can be conducted in a "safe" and "sensible" manner that "protects" the environment. We must call on Governor Brown and other state officials to ban fracking now!

We must also call on Brown and state and federal officials to halt the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the biggest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. The tunnels will provide water for fracking and steam injection operations used to extract oil in Kern County, as well as for corporate agribusiness interests irrigating drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California water agencies. For more information about the twin tunnels, go to http://www.restorethedelta.org.  

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Internal memo reveals 'the fix is in' on Delta tunnel plan

by: Dan Bacher

Sun May 11, 2014 at 15:53:59 PM PDT

DWR creates two new divisions to implement BDCP  

Advocates for the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, Central Valley salmon and openness and transparency in government have often stated that the "fix is in" on Governor Jerry Brown's peripheral tunnel plan.

Their contention that the process is rigged and unjustly manipulated by state officials and water contractors was only confirmed in a May 6 memorandum sent to Department of Water Resources (DWR) staff from DWR Director Mark Cowin indicating that the Brown administration is stepping up its efforts to fast-track the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels.

Cowin said two new organizations will be established within the agency to implement the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan - a DWR BDCP Office and the Delta Conveyance Facilities Design and Construction Enterprise (DCE) - beginning June 1.

"While many milestones remain before a positive decision to implement BDCP is achieved, DWR must begin to prepare to carry out its critical role in the implementation phase of this important project, should a conclusion be reached to move forward," said Cowin. "To this end, we are establishing two new DWR organizations beginning June 1, 2014 - the DWR BDCP Office and the Delta Conveyance Facilities Design and Construction Enterprise (known as the DCE)."

The DCE will constitute a new joint powers authority overseen by a Program Manager under contract to the Department of Water Resources and staffed by representatives from DWR, the Metropolitan Water District and other water agencies, and private contractors. It will give water contractors who would benefit from the tunnel plan a key role in the construction planning for the project.

According to Cowin, "The organizational structure and staffing of the DCE is envisioned to be somewhat unique in comparison to a typical DWR organization. It will be managed by a Program Manager under contract to DWR, and will be staffed by highly qualified individuals from within DWR, participating regional and local public water agencies, and private consulting firms. As part of DWR, it will have the capacity to issue contracts for consulting services as well as construction, using DWR's authority and in keeping with all applicable State contracting statutes."

Delta advocates criticized the memo for being the latest in a series of actions taken by the Brown administration to rush the construction of the peripheral tunnels before permitting of the process is complete - and before any financial plan or agreement to pay for the tunnels, estimated to cost $67 billion or more, is in place.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, said, "Permitting is not complete. There is no financial plan or agreement. The Implementing Agreement will not be released to the public until after the public comment period on the BDCP and its EIR/S is complete."

"Yet, DWR is moving forward to implement the project?" she asked. "They are trying to steamroll Delta communities which will be harmed by the impacts, and the people of California who will be stuck paying the bill for the boondoggle."

Carolee Krieger, Executive Director of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), after reading the memorandum, said, "It sounds to me like DWR is going ahead full steam, facts or lack of facts be damned. They have no idea what the project looks like because they have not been able to do the drilling tests because the Delta landowners have won their lawsuits. So they (DWR) have no idea what problems they may face with tunnel construction; they have no real idea of the costs...only guesses."

"It sounds to me like the same thing the Third District Court said about paper water in our Monterey Agreement case...they are going on 'a wish and a prayer!'" she stated.

"And where in the State Water Project (SWP) contracts does it allow DWR to collect funds from the contractors for this BDCP/Twin Tunnel planning, as this is not maintenance but a huge new project?" asked Krieger.

Nancy Vogel, Director of Public Affairs for the Department of Water Resources and former reporter for the Sacramento Bee and LA Times, confirmed that Cowin had sent out the memo, but couldn't answer several questions posed to her by the Central Valley Business Times (CVBT).

The CVBT reported, "Nancy Vogel, chief spokeswoman for DWR, says she does not know how much of the existing DWR budget, including money and staff, will be diverted to the two offices; what prompted the decision to move forward with the two offices or how many additional staff have been or will be hired to staff the offices. (http://www.centralvalleybusinesstimes.com/stories/001/?ID=25822)

As the Brown administration continues to rush the construction of the twin tunnels, opposition to the project by a coalition of family farmers, Indian Tribes, fishing groups, environmental organizations, Delta residents and elected officials continues to grow.

The public review and comment period for the Draft BDCP and BDCP Draft EIR/EIS will run through June 13, 2014. Restore the Delta will host a "Public Comment Party" to complete more than one hundred citizens comments against the environmentally destructive peripheral tunnels on May 13, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Reserve at Spanos Park, Mt. Diablo Room 6301 W. Eight Mile Rd. in Stockton.

Refreshments will be provided. RSVP and letter writing information, language translators or childcare can be arranged: contact stina [at] restorethedelta.org or call (209) 475-9550. (RSVP is encouraged, but not required.)

The water diverted from the Sacramento River through the tunnels would go to corporate agribusiness interests farming toxic, drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations in Kern County, and Southern California water agencies. The construction of the twin tunnels would hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations of the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

Below is the memo:

State of California California Natural Resources Agency

M e m o r a n d u m

Date: May 6, 2014

To: All DWR Employees

From: Department of Water Resources

Subject: Establishment of the DWR BDCP Office and the DHCCP Design and

Construction Enterprise

As many of you are keenly aware, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has been deeply engaged in the development of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) since 2006. Several DWR offices and divisions are currently working on BDCP, either as part of the Delta Habitat Conservation and Conveyance Program (DHCCP) or as part of the planning and analysis of the overall BDCP program.

We are approaching a critical juncture for BDCP as the planning phase reaches completion, State and federal resource agencies consider permitting decisions, and a more detailed financing plan is developed. While many milestones remain before a positive decision to implement BDCP is achieved, DWR must begin to prepare to carry out its critical role in the implementation phase of this important project, should a conclusion be reached to move forward. To this end, we are establishing two new DWR organizations beginning June 1, 2014 - the DWR BDCP Office and the Delta Conveyance Facilities Design and Construction Enterprise (known as the DCE).

First, a new BDCP Office will be established within the Executive Division. The initial focus will be the completion of the conservation plan while providing early coordination and transition to implementation of BDCP conservation measures 2 through 22, including, for example, tidal marsh restoration, Yolo Bypass fishery enhancement and urban stormwater treatment. This team will work to plan, manage, and integrate coordination among DWR's various divisions involved with development of BDCP and initiate preliminary evaluations needed to implement BDCP. In addition, this team will play an important role in agency and stakeholder engagement needed to complete the plan. To help facilitate the completion of BDCP, including the needed close coordination with the Governor's Office and the State administration, the office will initially be led by the Chief Deputy Director.

This office will lay the foundation for the implementation of BDCP, and once the BDCP is finalized, that work will be merged into the formal BDCP Implementation Office as is defined in Chapter 7 of the BDCP. This organization will likely be a multi-agency effort involving DWR or supported by DWR.

Second, a Delta Conveyance Facility Design and Construction Enterprise (DCE) will be established within the Department as a new program to support activities associated with design and construction of conservation measure 1, the Delta Conveyance facilities. The mission of this enterprise is intended to be limited to this singular focus, and the life span of the enterprise will be limited to the time necessary to complete construction of these facilities. The organizational structure and staffing of the DCE is envisioned to be somewhat unique in comparison to a typical DWR organization. It will be managed by a Program Manager under contract to DWR, and will be staffed by highly qualified individuals from within DWR, participating regional and local public water agencies, and private consulting firms. As part of DWR, it will have the capacity to issue contracts for consulting services as well as construction, using DWR's authority and in keeping with all applicable State contracting statutes. Initially the DCE will be located in the Bonderson Building, but it is anticipated that it will move to another location to accommodate the growth needed to complete the design and construction of the conveyance facilities.

Undoubtedly, a number of questions will arise about how these two structures will mesh with our existing organization at DWR, and we will be working with you all to elicit your questions and develop solutions together. I look forward to your continued support as we enter into this exciting phase of the BDCP which will shape the future of Delta ecological restoration and water project operations.

Mark W. Cowin

Director

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FRIENDS OF THE RIVER POSTS BDCP COMMENTS SUPPRESSED BY THE GOVERNMENT

by: Dan Bacher

Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 18:02:53 PM PDT

CONTACT:
Bob Wright, Senior Counsel, Friends of the River
BWright@friendsoftheriver.org 916- 442-3155 X207

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10, 2014

FRIENDS OF THE RIVER POSTS BDCP COMMENTS SUPPRESSED BY THE GOVERNMENT

Sacramento, CA - Friends of the River announced today that it is posting all comments made on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) Water Tunnels project on its website, www.friendsoftheriver.org  , under the heading  Bay Delta Conservation Plan Public Comment Library. The federal and state agencies in charge of the project now refuse to post any correspondence other than project proponent material touting the Water Tunnels. It is imperative that public interest organizations, public agencies, and California citizens, taxpayers and ratepayers have access to comments made as they come in to assist them in spotting issues and formulating their own comments on the 40,000 pages of advocacy--the Plan and draft EIR/EIS-- touting the BDCP Water Tunnels. The government agencies declare they will not make the comments "available to the public" until "the release of the Final EIR/EIS." That concealment of the comments until after the public review period has ended will be of no help to the public in formulating comments during the review period.  

Friends of the River has been demanding copies of the comments from the government agencies under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Friends of the River (FOR) is posting the comments it has obtained regardless of whether the particular comment agrees or disagrees with FOR's support for saving the Sacramento River and San Francisco Bay-Delta and opposition to the Water Tunnels. FOR is now doing what the government of a free country should be-- but is not-- doing. That is, FOR is insuring that all sides of this important and controversial issue can be heard during this critical public review period.

The proposed BDCP Water Tunnels project that is the subject of the BDCP draft Plan and draft EIR/EIS is one of the most controversial and expensive public works projects in the history of the State of California. Back in June of 1982 a statewide referendum blocked development of the project (then called the "peripheral canal") by a 2 to 1 vote. The Water Tunnels raise profound environmental issues under several laws including the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act, and California Environmental Quality Act. With respect to economic issues, the only true statewide cost-benefit study of the project concluded that the costs would exceed the benefits by 2.5 to 1, so that the project does not make economic or financial sense.

Bob Wright, Senior Counsel for Friends of the River, said "The BDCP Water Tunnels project is in reality a dagger aimed at the hearts of the Sacramento River and the San Francisco Bay-Delta as well as a pickpocket after the wallets of California taxpayers and ratepayers. That is why the BDCP agencies are afraid to post the comments. They are afraid of the truth."

According to often repeated statements by Resources Agency Secretary John Laird and others, the BDCP development process would be fair, open, and transparent. Now the truth is even clearer than before that special interests--not the public-- will decide the important issues behind closed doors and the public will only see what the BDCP proponents want it to see.  

Serious questions have been raised about the financial feasibility and environmental consequences of the BDCP Water Tunnels. The project would re-route a large portion of the Sacramento River into massive underground tunnels, to the detriment of fish, wildlife and local uses of the River and the Delta.   Public debate over such a destructive and expensive public works project is essential.  

Informed public debate is the hallmark of our democracy.  The modern equivalent of the venerable town hall/public park assembly is the ability to view comments from the public via the internet regarding proposed major governmental actions.  Friends of the River will continue to post the comments on its website that it is obtaining from the government agencies with regular updates in mid - April, mid - May, and early June through the end of the public comment period, now scheduled to end June 13, 2014. Unlike the BDCP proponents, Friends of the River and other protectors of our rivers and the San Francisco Bay-Delta are not afraid of the truth or contrary points of view.
###

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California Senate Committee approves fracking moratorium bill

by: Dan Bacher

Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 18:02:46 PM PDT

The California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on April 8 passed SB 1132, legislation that will place a moratorium on fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and well stimulation until the state fully studies the impact of the oil extraction on California's air and water quality, public health and economy.

The bill, authored by Senator Holly Mitchell and Senator Mark Leno, will next be considered by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on April 30, 2014.

The legislation, approved by a 5 to 2 vote as anti-fracking activists packed the State Capitol hearing room, would expand the current study focused on the environmental and public health effects of fracking to include the economic costs and harms, effects on private property and land use, and risks to worker safety, according to a statement from a coalition of groups.

The Committee vote took place as California reels from a big drought and Governor Jerry Brown continues to support the expansion of fracking in California and the construction of the fish-killing peripheral tunnels under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).

"A moratorium on fracking is especially critical as California faces a severe drought with water resources at an all-time low," said Senator Mark Leno. "We are currently allowing fracking operations to expand despite the potential consequences on our water supply, including availability and price of water, the potential for drinking water contamination and the generation of billions of barrels of polluted water.''

"There are a million Angelenos that live within a 5-mile radius of the largest urban oil field in the country," said Senator Holly Mitchell, whose predominantly minority district includes the Inglewood Oil Field. "In my district vulnerable neighborhoods lie adjacent to drilling operations whose practices go largely unregulated."

A broad coalition of environmental, labor, public health, and business groups applauded the Committee's vote, noting that the body of research around correlations between fracking and public health concerns, water pollution and increased seismic activity is "growing."

"The bill indicates that California should take a pause on all fracking activity until the threats it presents are better understood and we can ensure the safety of our air, water and climate," they said in a joint statement.

Food and Water Watch, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club, CREDO Action, the Physicians for Social Responsibility and many other groups praised the passage of the bill.

"A moratorium on fracking is a crucial and necessary measure towards protecting California's water and family farmers," said Adam Scow, California Director of Food & Water Watch. "We applaud the Senate Committee's passage of SB 1132 to stop the oil industry's irresponsible and harmful pollution of our water, air, and soil."

"Fracking and well stimulation are not California's solution to a safe secure energy future," said Kathryn Phillips, Director, Sierra Club California. "The latest science shows that fracking and well stimulation create air pollution, water pollution and other impacts that jeopardize public health, the environment and economic sustainability. Californians have said repeatedly, in so many ways, that they want a state where they can breathe clean air and drink clean water. The committee's vote today brings us a step closer to achieving that."

"The California Senate's advancement of this moratorium legislation is a crucial step toward protecting our air and water from fracking pollution," said Brian Nowicki, California Climate Policy Director, Center for Biological Diversity. "Fracking is a toxic technique that threatens our health, our climate, and our precious water supply. Sacramento lawmakers should move quickly to pass this bill and halt fracking before irreparable damage is done to our state."

Zack Malitz, CREDO Campaign Manager, said, "This vote is a wakeup call for Governor Brown. Every day more elected officials in California go on the record in support of a moratorium on fracking, putting enormous pressure on Governor Brown to split with Big Oil and return to the climate leadership he showed earlier in his political career."

"Physicians and other health professionals throughout California recognize the significant potential public and environmental health impacts of fracking because of increased threats posed by associated air pollution, groundwater contamination, and seismic activity," said Robert M. Gould, President, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, Physicians for Social Responsibility. "California should ensure that it is strongly protected against these impacts before allowing fracking to continue here."

On the other hand, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, the most powerful corporate lobbying group in Sacramento, is strongly opposing the legislation. She claimed that expanded fracking operations could result in up to 200,000 new jobs in the Central Valley.

"It brings the opportunity to turn around the domestic (petroleum) production from on a slight decline to stable to increase," said Reheis-Boyd, the former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create fake, oil industry-friendly "marine protected areas" in southern Calfornia, as quoted by KCRA TV in Sacramento. "And so the job potential -- let's say in the Central Valley -- is 200,000 jobs."

Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, says fracking, a form of "extreme mining" that uses large quantities of water, is closely linked with the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels and the federal proposal to raise Shasta Dam, since these projects will supply the water to expand fracking in Kern County and coastal areas. The dam raise and tunnel plan will flood many of the Tribe's remaining sacred sites not already inundated by Shasta Dam - and will result in the extermination of wild Chinook salmon, a fish that is sacred to the Tribe.

"We call to Olebis to look down on us and send down the good blessings," said Sisk. "We call on sacred Mt. Shasta to help bless us with this sacred water, so it will continue to bring us and our children's, children and so on in to the future with good health and long life for all our relations. We are calling on the water and fire spirits to help bring back the balance in our world, as wild salmon, wolves, beavers and giant trees make their way back.

We sing to the water that flows from the sacred spring on Buliyum Puyuk (Mt. Shasta) to the ocean and back again.....waters from Mauna Kea come back and answer the call and the lakes of fire send their blessings. We ask the fires inside of Mt Shasta and all the sacred fires inside the mountains of the world to help us bring understanding and balance to our way of life and change our lives to the good again.

Bring back the original taste of water to guide the people and all relatives back to healthy thinking and acting. For nothing will be here with out fresh clean healthy WATER. No air can be produced without waters to grow the trees, the Kelp, ......this world was created in the most perfect functioning way.....but now so much destruction and toxic waste ....for mega money for a few. We pray that our words will be heard and the August Fire and Water Ceremony be good in sending our prayers up the Creator!!!"

Background on fracking and oil industry money

For those not familiar with the practice, fracking blasts massive amounts of chemical-laced water into the ground to crack rock formations in order to extract oil and natural gas, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The process routinely employs numerous toxic chemicals, including methanol, benzene and trimethylbenzene.

Oil companies have also fracked offshore wells over 200 times in the ocean near California's coast, from Seal Beach to the Santa Barbara Channel, according to a Freedom of Information Act Request and media investigation by the Associated Press and truthout.org last year. WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd served on the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Forces during much of the time that this fracking of our marine waters was taking place.

The Center cited two studies documenting the harm fracking poses to human health. Birth defects are more common in babies born to mothers living near fracked wells, according to a new study by researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health. In California, a recent Center report found that oil companies used 12 dangerous "air toxic" chemicals more than 300 times in the Los Angeles Basin over a period of a few months.

Besides posing a big threat to human health, the pollution to California groundwater supplies, rivers and the Delta that will result from fracking and acidization will devastate already imperiled populations of Central Valley Chinook salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) spent over $4.67 million, more than any other interest group, while lobbying state government in 2013, according to data released by the Secretary State's Office and compiled by the Capitol Morning Report.

Another oil company giant, Chevron Corporation and its subsidiaries, spent $3.95 million, the third most spent by any group on lobbying state government in 2013. Chevron also spent much of its money on lobbying against bills that would ban or regulate fracking in California.

Since it is the most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento, the oil industry is able to wield enormous influence over state and federal regulators and environmental processes. The result of this inordinate money and influence is the effective evisceration of the Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 during the MLPA Initiative process and the signing of Senator Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 4.

A report recently released by the American Lung Association revealed that the oil industry lobby spent $45.4 million in the state between January 1 2009 and June 30, 2013. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) alone has spent over $20 million since 2009 to lobby legislators. (http://blog.center4tobaccopolicy.org/oil-lobbying-in-california)

For more information on oil industry power and money, go to: http://www.counterpunch.org/20...
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California DMV's Autonomous Vehicle Regulations Must Protect Users' Privacy

by: Consumer Watchdog

Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 12:17:05 PM PDT

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Map reveals tunnels will supply water for agribusiness, fracking

by: Dan Bacher

Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 09:41:35 AM PST

Much of the area that the oil industry could frack for oil and natural gas in California is located in and near toxic, drainage-impaired land farmed by corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, Restore the Delta and Food and Water Watch revealed on March 4.

The groups, who oppose Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels, released a new map that shows that 35-mile long twin tunnels would mainly supply water to the largest agribusiness users of Delta water exports, land impaired by toxic selenium concentrations that make farming unsustainable, and the oil and gas basins where the energy industry could expand the environmentally destructive practice of fracking (hydraulic fracturing).

The maps were released at a time when Governor Brown is fast-tracking the construction of the peripheral tunnels and backing the fracking of California. In September, Brown signed Senate Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 4, legislation that anti-fracking opponents say gives the green light to fracking in California.

Before Governor Brown signed 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. (http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/fracking-jerry-brown/Content?oid=3726533)

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta (RTD), told reporters in a teleconference the significance behind the map. (http://restorethedelta.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Restore-the-Delta-Fracking-Selenium-Soils-Valley-Agriculture-Irrigators-BDCP-Map-Table-rd.pdf).

"This map shows a remarkable overlay of where our water is going, how the public subsidizes unsustainable crops on drainage-impaired lands, selenium concentrations that pose a threat to the public, and underlying oil deposits that could be fracked with water from the governor's tunnels," she said. "Unsustainable farming has damaged these lands. And the taxpayers have been subsidizing it."

"The fracking sites line up perfectly in the Valley with where the governor wants to export this water," added Steve Hopcraft, a spokesman for Restore the Delta.

Barrigan-Parrilla said fracking is another "water intensive industry" in the San Joaquin Valley that will further contaminate groundwater supplies already impaired by selenium, nitrates, pesticides and other pollutants.

"The governor's plan describes water for fracking via the proposed peripheral tunnels as a beneficial use," she stated, referring to the BDCP website. "Beneficial for whom? The peripheral tunnels would benefit unsustainable corporate agribusiness in one region and potentially the energy industry - at the expense of everyday Californians."

Barrigan-Parrilla said the map shows the largest agricultural users of water exported from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta "all are irrigating land impaired by concentrations of selenium that will make farming increasingly unsustainable. These drainage-impaired lands, however, sit on top of oil and gas basins that underlie the San Joaquin Valley."

"The $60 billion tunnel project will not benefit the SF-Bay Delta estuary, or its surrounding communities and urban areas. It will not benefit San Joaquin farming communities that do not have access to clean drinking water. And it will not benefit urban ratepayers within the Metropolitan Water District or the Santa Clara Water District, as they will pay for a disproportionate share of the tunnels project," she stated.

She also said methods of energy extraction, including fracking and steam extraction, require "significant quantities of water and produce contaminated water, which would further render San Joaquin Valley groundwater basins unusable for farm community residents who already do not have access to clean drinking water."

Oil industry claims little water used for fracking

The oil industry minimizes the amount of water used for fracking, contending that fracking uses relatively little water. The Western States Petroleum Association, the largest corporate lobby in Sacramento, also claims that fracking is safe and environmentally friendly.

"Hydraulic fracturing does not use large volumes of water, at least not in California," claimed Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force to created so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California.

"All of the hydraulic fracturing that occurred last year used less than 300 acre feet of water, according to the California Department of Conservation. That's about the same amount of water needed to keep two West Coast golf courses green," said Reheis-Boyd, in her latest piece on the WSPA website, entitled, "Oil Production and the Drought: We Get It," (http://www.wspa.org/blog/post/moratorium-legislation-does-not-make-sense-california)

Reheis Boyd also claimed, "The Department of Conservation also found that California uses 'much less water' and fluid than other states where hydraulic fracturing is currently underway. Strict standards ensure that proper well casings are in place to protect surface and fresh water."

However, fracking and peripheral tunnels opponents point out that reporting of water used for fracking is voluntary, so the California Department of Conservation's figure is virtually meaningless.

Adam Scow, California Campaigns Director for Food and Water Watch, revealed that Kern County, where 70 percent of California's oil reserves are located, used 150,000 acre feet of water in 2008 alone. Most of this water comes from the State Water Project and federal Central Valley Project that obtain their water from the Delta.

"When you consider that 8 barrels of water are used for every barrel of oil extracted, you could be getting into millions of acre feet used for fracking oil wells," he noted.

Barrigan-Parrilla said that if 30,000 potential fracking sites were utilized, that could result in an additional 450,000 acre feet of water used, considering that each fracking operation uses 15 acre feet of water.

She also noted that the industry has used four times the amount of water that it has claimed it employs in Colorado and other states where fracking has been used to extract oil and natural gas.

Scow emphasized, "It's unfair for the Governor to make Californians subsidize water use and abuse by corporate agribusiness and oil companies, especially in a drought and in a bad economy."

Westlands and Kern County receive bulk of Delta water exports

In addition to showing the overlay of drainage impaired land and oil and gas basins in the San Joaquin Valley, the map also demonstrated that just two of the water export contractors, Westlands Water District and Kern County Water Agency, used a larger percentage of water, 55 percent, than the urban districts serving Los Angeles (Metropolitan Water District) and Santa Clara Valley (Santa Clara Valley Water District) combined, who used 45 percent.

"From 2000 to 2009, Westlands and Kern County Water Agency received an average 1,788,000 acre feet of exported water from the Delta, whereas Metropolitan Water District and the Santa Clara Valley Water District (home to tens of millions of Californians) received on average 1,400,000 acre feet of exported water from the Delta," she stated. "Total Delta exports for this period were 5.2 million-acre feet on average, with over 3 million acre-feet of water on average going to these agribusiness districts."

During the 2010 State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) hearings, participating scientists from fishery agencies and NGOs reached consensus that the Delta needed additional flows for fisheries to be restored. Delta exports would need to be cut to 3 to 3.5 million acre-feet to achieve those additional needed flows.

The Environmental Water Caucus Responsible Exports Plan, backed by Restore the Delta and Food and Water Watch, sets a cap of 3 million acre feet per year for Delta exports, while ensuring the meeting of California's water needs through increased conservation, recycling, the retirement of drainage impaired land and other measures.

Barrigan-Parrilla said the continuing irrigation of drainage impaired lands will set the stage for environmental disaster by imperiling wildlife and fish populations, including Central Valley salmon and steelhead and Delta fish populations.

"Selenium contamination from unsustainable farming in Westlands and Kern threatens farming in neighboring areas, water quality and wildlife, and a repeat of the Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge disaster is possible," Barrigan-Parrilla said. "The majority of lands with the highest selenium concentration fall within the boundaries of the Westlands Water District and the Kern County Water agency. Selenium-laden land that drained polluted water into wildlife areas caused the tragedy in Kesterson 25 years ago - birds in the wildlife refuge born with deformities."

"The drainage-impaired lands within Westlands drain back into neighboring water districts, and then back into the San Joaquin River. This polluted water makes its way back down the San Joaquin River, draining into the South Delta, loading the Delta with additional salt concentrations and pollutants that are extremely harmful to fisheries," Barrigan-Parrilla observed.

It's time to change direction

Meanwhile, the Governor continues to push the peripheral tunnels and the expansion of fracking in California. The two organizations called upon Governor Brown to "change direction and instead of subsidizing unsustainable agriculture and fracking, invest in policies that create regional water independence."

In an action backing up the two groups' opposition to the peripheral tunnels, a state advisory panel including scientists, Tribal leaders, commercial fishermen and recreational anglers on February 26 slammed the Bay Delta Delta Conservation Plan for leading to the decline of imperiled stocks of Central Valley salmon.

The California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout has recommended that Director of Fish and Wildlife Chuck Bonham deny the incidental take permit for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan Alternative 4, claiming that the plan does not meet the requirements of a Natural Communities Conservation Plan and therefore cannot be approved because it will contribute to the further decline of Sacramento River winter run and spring run Chinook salmon. (http://mavensnotebook.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CACSST-to-Bonham-CDFW-on-BDCP-NCCP_022614.pdf)

The letter states, "BDCP promotes the unproven scientific hypothesis that habitat restoration can substitute for flows. However, the State Water Resources Control Board has already indicated that Delta inflows and outflows are presently insufficient to help listed species recover their former abundance. BDCP would reduce Delta outflow, which contributes to the decreases in salmon smolt survival rates modeled by BDCP."

The Restore the Delta map can be viewed here: http://restorethedelta.org/wp-...

The Food and Water Watch map can be viewed here: http://yx17.us/p/?_1723-722/1S...

Background on fracking and oil industry money

For those not familiar with the practice, fracking blasts massive amounts of chemical-laced water into the ground to crack rock formations in order to extract oil and natural gas. according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The process routinely employs numerous toxic chemicals, including methanol, benzene and trimethylbenzene. Fracking has been documented in 10 California counties.

Oil companies have also fracked offshore wells over 200 times in the ocean near California's coast, from Seal Beach to the Santa Barbara Channel, according to a Freedom of Information Act Request and media investigation by the Associated Press and truthout.org last year. WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd served on the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Forces during much of the time that this fracking of our marine waters was taking place.

The Center cited two studies documenting the harm fracking poses to human health. Birth defects are more common in babies born to mothers living near fracked wells, according to a new study by researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health. In California, a recent Center report found that oil companies used 12 dangerous "air toxic" chemicals more than 300 times in the Los Angeles Basin over a period of a few months.

Besides posing a big threat to human health, the pollution to California groundwater supplies, rivers and the Delta that will result from fracking and acidization will devastate already imperiled populations of Central Valley Chinook salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, spent over $4.67 million, more than any other interest group, while lobbying state government in 2013, according to data released by the Secretary State's Office and compiled by the Capitol Morning Report.

Another oil company giant, Chevron Corporation and its subsidiaries, spent $3.95 million, the third most spent by any group on lobbying state government in 2013. Chevron also spent much of its money on lobbying against bills that would ban or regulate fracking in California.

Since it is the most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento, the oil industry is able to wield enormous influence over state and federal regulators and environmental processes. The result of this inordinate money and influence is the effective evisceration of the Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 during the MLPA Initiative process and the signing of Senator Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 4.

A report recently released by the American Lung Association revealed that the oil industry lobby spent $45.4 million in the state between January 1 2009 and June 30, 2013. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) alone has spent over $20 million since 2009 to lobby legislators. (http://blog.center4tobaccopolicy.org/oil-lobbying-in-california)

For more information on oil industry power and money, go to: http://www.counterpunch.org/20...  

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California AG Takes Lead In Cybersecurity

by: Consumer Watchdog

Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 16:51:53 PM PST

Kamala HarrisData breaches at major retailers Target and Neiman Marcus during last year's holiday shopping season affected more than 100 million people and focused new attention on the need to protect person information stored online.

While it's clear that tough data breach legislation must be enacted, California Attorney General Kamala Harris is taking action to improve cybersecurity in the state before new laws are passed.  Today she released recommendations to California businesses to help protect against and respond to the increasing threat of malware, data breaches and other cyber risks.

In addition Harris is leading an investigation by state attorneys general into the Target and Neiman Marcus breaches, Don Thompson of The Associated Press reported:

Harris' office also disclosed that California is leading a multistate investigation into the massive holiday season consumer data theft at discount retailer Target Corp. and luxury retailer Neiman Marcus, breaches that left tens of millions of customers at risk. More than 7 million Californians were affected by the Target breach alone, Special Assistant Attorney General for Law and Technology Jeff Rabkin said.

The U.S. Justice Department is taking the lead in trying to identify the culprits, who are suspected to be based overseas, while the multistate investigation focuses on whether the retailers share blame because they lacked the necessary precautions to prevent the thefts. The state investigation also will explore whether Target and Neiman Marcus acted properly as soon as they learned of the problem, Rabkin said in a telephone interview.

The guide, Cybersecurity in the Golden State, offers suggestions focused on small to mid-sized businesses, which are particularly vulnerable to cybercrime and often lack the resources to hire cybersecurity personnel. In 2012, 50 percent of all cyber attacks were aimed at businesses with fewer than 2,500 employees and 31 percent were aimed at those with less than 250 employees, Harris said.

Key recommendations for small business owners include:

  • Assume you are a target and develop an incident response plan now.
  • Review the data your business stores and shares with third parties including backup storage and cloud computing. Once you know what data you have and where it is, get rid of what is not necessary.
  • Encrypt the data you need to keep. Strong encryption technology is now commonly available for free, and it is easy to use.
  • Follow safe online practices such as regularly updating firewall and antivirus software on all devices, using strong passwords, avoiding downloading software from unknown sources and practicing safe online banking by only using a secure browser connection.

In 2003 California was the first state to pass a data breach notification.  In 2012 the law was amended to require any breach that involved more than 500 Californians be reported to the attorney general.

>The 170 breaches reported to the attorney general's office in 2013 represent a 30 percent increase over the 131 identified the year before,  according to figures provided to The Associated Press. Among entities reporting breaches in 2012 were American Express Travel Related Services Co., Kaiser Permanente and several state government agencies, including the departments of Public Health and Social Services.

Given the current data breach laws Harris is taking meaningful action.  But, what's ultimately needed is a law that would make her best practice recommendations legal mandates.  We need a California Financial Information Privacy Act that would:

  • Change breach notification standards to be immediate.
  • Set limits on the time data can be retained. And limits on what information can be collected and retained.
  • Write minimum-security standards into the law so that they are no longer voluntary.
  • Most importantly: create a private right of action. Put a price tag on retailers' mistreatment of our private financial information.
John Simpson
Until there is a real price to pay, Target, Neiman Marcus and other retailers will continue to make us targets.


Posted by John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project Director.
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Target Needs to Pay for Targeting Our Privacy

by: Consumer Watchdog

Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 17:05:26 PM PST

Target ShirtTarget is targeting our privacy. There's a big red bullseye, a target - like the one on the shirt I'm wearing today - that Target and Neiman Marcus, who chose not to show up to answer questions today, have put on us because they haven't done enough to protect our private financial data. And the reason is that there's no financial incentive to do so.

110 million Americans had their personal financial information breached. That 's one out of two adult Americans. I was in Sacramento today to testify in front of a joint California Assembly committee hearing investigating the breach. And yet Target did not send a single representative to Sacramento today to answer questions about the largest data breach in American history?

The fact that Target didn't show up today tells us all we need to know about how sorry Target is and how committed it is to our privacy.

If you are as offended by this as I am, I have a t-shirt for you to wear too.

The reason Target won't face legislative questions today is the same reason that our personal financial information and data is at such grave risk: there is no price to pay. There are few financial penalties to companies like Target when our personal data is taken.  

Beyond public embarrassment, Target has little financial incentive to care.

We, the consumers, pay the consequences but we have no remedies.

According to the Committees' own staff research, 1 in 4 consumers whose personal information that is taken becomes a victim of identity theft. 1 in 4 victims of a data breach is also a victim of identity theft. If these numbers apply to Target, that would potentially create more than 25 million identity theft victims.  

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AAA Gets an "F" For Dumping Agents, Leaving Customers in the Lurch

by: Consumer Watchdog

Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 10:48:33 AM PST

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The Emptying of Northern California Reservoirs

by: Dan Bacher

Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 11:06:27 AM PST

State and feds shipped massive amounts of water south during drought

The dry bed of Folsom Lake has become an unlikely tourist attraction for visitors to the Sacramento area this year. On any given day this winter, large numbers of people can be seen wandering around the mud flats, granite boulders and rock formations of the lake bed to view ruins of Mormon Island and other communities that were inundated when the lake was formed by the construction of Folsom Dam in the 1950s.

The lake is its lowest level ever, 17 percent of capacity and 32 percent of average, since the Bureau of Reclamation filled the reservoir with the clear waters of the North, Middle and South Forks of the American River that drain the Sierra Nevada Range. Because of the record low level of the lake, the cities of Sacramento, Folsom and other communities face dramatic water shortages this year.

The impact on the American River and its unique urban steelhead and salmon fisheries is just as alarming. The Bureau in early January dropped flows to only 500 cubic feet per second (cfs), compared to winter flows ranging from 2000 to 5,000 cfs that anglers are used to fishing in- and much higher flows during wet years.

Because of the threat to steelhead and Chinook salmon posed by the low water conditions, the Department of Fish and Wildlife voted for an emergency fishing closure on the upper section of the lower American on Wednesday, February 5, along with closures on the Russian River and coastal streams threatened by drought.

Stafford Lehr, Fisheries Branch Chief of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, explained to the Commission the dire situation that steelhead, salmon and other fish face in the low flows.

"The snowpack is only 12 percent of normal and Folsom Lake is only 17 percent of capacity," said Lehr. "We are trying to maximize the protection of as many wild salmon and steelhead in the American and other rivers as possible. We are implementing the emergency closures on some waters to reduce mortality caused by angling."

Lerh stated, "We are fully aware of the impacts these closures will have on anglers and related businesses. However, anglers have overwhelmingly supported the decision to close fisheries because they are the original conservationists. They understand the severity of this drought."

Southern California reservoirs are 96 and 86 percent of capacity

While the drought has received major national and regional mainstream and alternative media attention, most media outlets have failed to explain how the Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Water Resources systematically drained northern California reservoirs last summer, resulting in low flows and endangering salmon and steelhead in the Sacramento, Feather and American rivers while supplying corporate agribusiness interests with subsidized water and filling Southern California water banks and reservoirs.

Last summer, high water releases down the Sacramento, Feather and American rivers left Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs at dangerously low levels. Shasta is at 36 percent of capacity and 53 percent of average; Oroville, 36 percent of capacity and 54 percent of average; and Folsom, 17 percent of capacity and 32 percent of average. (http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/reservoirs/RES)

Yet Pyramid Lake in Los Angeles County is 96 percent of capacity and 101 percent of average, while Castaic Reservoir is 86 percent of capacity and 102 percent of average. Both are State Water Project reservoirs that receive their water from the Delta through the California Aqueduct.

The state and federal water agencies exported massive quantities of water to agribusiness interests and Southern California water agencies, endangering local water supplies and fish populations as the ecosystem continues to collapse. (http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/22/6090426/northern-california-reservoirs.html)

Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, explained how the water was mismanaged.

"We entered 2013 with Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs at 115 percent, 113 percent, and 121 percent of historical average storage. In April, they were still at 101 percent, 108 percent and 96 percent of average," said Jennings.

"With no rainfall and little snowpack, the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau (of Reclamation) notified their contractors that water deliveries would be reduced. But they didn't reduce deliveries. Instead, they actually exported 835,000 acre-feet more water than they said they would be able to deliver," said Jennings. (http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/26/6097073/viewpoints-better-solutions-for.html)

Ironically, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will have enough water in 2014, 2015 and 2016 to supply its users while Sacramento, Folsom and other cities have been forced to cut water use by 20 percent.

"We'll have plenty of water in 2015," Jeffrey Kightlinger, Metropolitan's general manager, told the Sacramento Bee. "And even if it's still a drought, we'll still have enough water in 2016." (http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/12/6063205/california-drought-will-test-jerry.html#storylink=cpy)

Jennings said the present crisis could have been avoided, and is a "direct result of egregious mismanagement of the state's water supply system by the state and federal water projects."

"Excessive water exports and the failure to prepare for inevitable drought have created a decades-long disaster for fisheries, and placed the people and economic prosperity of northern California at grave risk. The State's obsession with tunneling under the Delta does nothing to address drought, or put us on a path to correct the misuse of limited water supplies," he added.

There is no doubt that California's fish populations are in unprecedented crisis, due to massive water exports south of the Delta by the state and federal water projects.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife's fall midwater trawl surveys, initiated in 1967, the same year the State Water Project began exporting water from the Delta, document the steep decline of Delta fish species. They reveal that the population abundance of Delta smelt, striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad declined 95.6%, 99.6%, 99.8%, 97.8%, 90.9%, respectively, between 1967 and 2013, according to Jennings. The 2013 abundance estimates for Sacramento splittail, a native minnow, were not released, but results from 2012 reveal that splittail abundance indices have dropped 98.5% from 1967 levels.

Jennings noted that 2013 was also a bad year for salmon. As many as half of this year's up-migrating winter-run Chinook salmon were stranded in the Yolo Bypass and Colusa Basin in April-June and Sacramento River temperature requirements to protect spawning winter-run were relaxed in June.

In November, abrupt reductions in Sacramento River flow exposed spawning redds, killed up to 40% of Sacramento River fall-run Chinook salmon eggs and stranded newly emerged fry. "And low reservoir levels will likely lead to inadequate flows for young salmon out-migration this coming spring," said Jennings.

Failure to plan ahead contributed to water shortage

John Herrick, Restore the Delta board member and Counsel and Manager of the South Delta Water Agency, said the failure of the state and federal water projects to plan ahead contributed to the current water shortage - and a looming disaster for salmon, steelhead and other fish species.

"Last winter and spring the projects were concerned about not having enough water to meet fishery or agricultural standards, and so sought changes in their permits to allow for the relaxation of those standards," he said.

"At the same time, they projected the amount of water available for export. As soon as the projections were released, they began to pump MORE water than they projected; thus taking the water needed for fish and endangering future allocations for all purposes. If this had not been allowed, the reservoirs would have 800+ TAF more storage in them than they currently do," he noted.

"The Urgency Petition process is for actual, unforeseeable emergencies," said Herrick. "The State has known since at least September that we might be facing a horrible water supply year due to the lack of precipitation during the first 9 months of 2013. Knowing that reservoir levels were getting very low, and that the prior year had insufficient water for fish and water quality standards, the projects simply waited to see what would happen. Not until the very last minute did they file their Urgency Petition (to the State Water Resources Board - SWRCB)," he explained.

Herrick noted that Urgency Petitions require no public notice or input, but must be based on a finding that the petitioner exercised due diligence in getting the permit change under the normal petition process if possible.

"Since the projects have known for months that this scenario was facing them, they should have made their petition months ago. But that would have resulted in public notice, public hearing and input by the interests who depend on the current standards being met," he said.

Herrick said, "It appears that, as in the past, the projects manipulated the process to make sure there was no official opposition to their requests to violate the water quality standards. Worse, it appears the regulators (SWRCB staff) were working with the regulated projects outside of the public purview to make sure the petition remained unknown. Therefore, there was no contrary data submitted to contradict the pre-agreed to order granting the petition.

Herrick asked, "What would have been the findings of the SWRCB Board if the information of the projects taking too much water last season were in the record?"

Tunnels and fracking will only amplify California's water and fish crisis

In spite of the record drought, Governor Jerry Brown continues his plan to build the fish killing-peripheral tunnels under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and to expand the water-intensive oil extraction process of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) for oil and natural gas in California.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, the Executive Director of Restore the Delta, urged the state and water agencies to invest in projects that yield new water and jobs, rather than spending billions on the environmentally destructive twin tunnels.

"We have had three dry years in a row and the governor admits the tunnels won't add one drop of water to our drought-plagued state," said Barrigan-Parrilla. "We need solutions more appropriate to our future water challenges, not this $60 billion mega-project that would misspend the billions needed for sustainable water solutions."

"The better approach would be to invest wisely in projects that actually produce new water and local jobs. California needs more water recycling projects, such as Orange County's that is producing enough water for 600,000 residents each year. By cleaning up groundwater, we will create another new supply and room to store water when it is truly available," concluded Barrigan-Parrilla.

The proposed peripheral tunnels will undoubtedly kill the sensitive Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a delicate mix of salt and freshwater, that is vital to the life cycle of Central Valley Chinook salmon, as well as thousands of other fish and species, according to the Winnemem Wintu Tribe.

"There is no precedent for the killing of an estuary of this size, so how could any study be trusted to protect the Delta for salmon and other fish? How can they even know what the effects will be?" said Winnemem Wintu Chief and Spiritual Leader Caleen Sisk. "The end of salmon would also mean the end of Winnemem, so the BDCP is a threat to our very existence as indigenous people."

Referring to Shasta, Oroville and Folsom dams, Sisk said, "These dams are supposed to be efficient in times like these, but they will never work when water mongers are in charge. They want the dumbed down public to believe now that building the twin tunnels and raising Shasta Dam are what MUST BE DONE...to keep golf courses green, and fallow farms wet with drinking water! Why don't they use their 'reclaimed water' project there like they did on the San Francisco Peaks?"

The massive tunnels won't create any new water, but they will divert huge quantities of precious water from the Sacramento River to corporate agribusiness interests, Southern California water agencies, and oil companies conducting steam injection and fracking operations in Kern County. The construction of the tunnels would hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations, as well as imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity River, the largest tributary of the Klamath River.

"We can't make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California's drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas," said Governor Brown when he declared a drought state of emergency in January. "I've declared this emergency and I'm calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible."

Brown can't make it rain, but he can can put a moratorium on fracking and he can stop his tunnels project in order to preserve California's precious water resources during an unprecedented drought. While Governor Brown is apparently pushing the construction of the peripheral tunnels as a monument to his "legacy," his real legacy will be the extinction of Central Valley salmon and steelhead populations and the draining of northern California unless he stops his mad plans to build the tunnels and frack California.

For more information, go to: http://www.restorethedelta.org  

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Patient and Consumer Initiatives Will Save Lives and Money

by: Consumer Watchdog

Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 13:36:42 PM PST

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Water ratepayers protest 'twin tunnel tax' at L.A. City Hall

by: Dan Bacher

Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 11:38:54 AM PST

One of the biggest myths about the fight over Governor Jerry Brown's plan to build the twin tunnels under the Delta is that it is a conflict between northern California and Southern California.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. The conflict over the two gigantic twin tunnels is not between northern California and southern California, but instead between the great majority of Californians, both north and south, who oppose the tunnels and corporate agribusiness interests, developers, water privateers and corporate-backed politicians who support the project.

The growing opposition to the twin tunnels proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) was highlighted by a news conference in front of LA City Hall on Wednesday, December 18. Water ratepayers, community leaders and consumer groups spoke out against the tunnels project, claiming that it would raise rates and property taxes but bring no new water to Los Angeles.

Governor Jerry Brown and his staff have portrayed the BDCP as the "solution" to achieving the co-equal goals of ecosystem restoration and water supply reliability. The 120-day public comment period for the 40,214 pages of BDCP documents released last week began on Friday, December 13.

"One calamitous storm or natural disaster - driven by climate change - could jeopardize the entire Delta, destroy its ecosystem and cut off water to 25 million Californians," Brown claimed. "This agreement with our federal partners moves us another step closer to being more prepared for an uncertain future in California." (http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/12/18/consumer-group-warns-delta-twin-tunnels-plan-may-cost-ratepayers/)

Food & Water Watch, eight Los Angeles neighborhood councils, the Sierra Club, Southern California Watershed Alliance and Environmental Water Caucus Ratepayers and advocates strongly disagreed with Brown - and called on Mayor Garcetti, the Los Angeles City Council and LADWP to oppose "unfair rate hikes and property taxes" proposed to pay for the massive twin tunnels project.

The 35-mile long, 40-foot wide twin-tunnels project is estimated to cost between $25 and $54.1 billion, forcing Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to increase water bills and property taxes from $2,000-$4,500 per household, according to Food & Water Watch California Director Adam Scow. This "twin-tunnel tax" would not bring any new water to Los Angeles.

"At a time when Los Angeles is becoming more water efficient and using less water from the Delta, this twin-tunnel project would raise water bills and property taxes on Los Angeles homeowners and small businesses by at least $2,000 to subsidize more water for large corporate agribusinesses in Kern County and the Westlands Water District," said Scow. "This plan is fundamentally unfair to Los Angeles taxpayers and ratepayers."

Scow said the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's water plan calls for reducing its purchase of imported water from the Delta by 30 percent and increasing its local water supply through cost-effective measures such as replacing aging water pipes, cleaning groundwater, and expanding water recycling.

"Yet large corporate agribusinesses in Kern County and the Westlands Water District support the tunnels on the condition that they will secure massive amounts of water from the Delta for themselves and continue to be subsidized by taxpayers and ratepayers in Los Angeles and throughout southern California," emphasized Scow.

"It's wrong and unfair for Los Angeles ratepayers to subsidize new tunnels for corporate interests when we already need to invest billions in fixing and upgrading our local water infrastructure," said Ed Begley, actor and environmental advocate. "We need to clean our local water supply and create local jobs - not waste billions on a wasteful tunnel project."

An independent cost-estimate of the tunnels done by ECONorthwest for Food and Water Watch and the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) shows that LADWP would need to increase water bills from $7-15 per month for over 40 years or $2000-$4,500 per household to fund its cost share of the tunnels, according to Scow.

Furthermore, with rising energy prices, delays, and cost overruns - common in large-scale construction projects - the costs to Angelinos could be significantly higher. ECONorthwest projects that the real cost of constructing the tunnels would be $17 billion in 2017, the earliest year that construction would begin.

"In a tough economy, we know that ratepayers can only afford to pay so much," said Chris Sales, Board President of the Northridge South Neighborhood Council. "The Northridge South Neighborhood Council, which represents 20,000 Angelenos, encourages Mayor Garcetti and the City Council to oppose this wasteful project and prioritize investments that create local jobs and protect our environment."

"The North Hollywood North East Neighborhood Council, representing 25,000 residents, opposes the twin-tunnels - a project that would raise our water bills and property taxes but deliver no additional water," said Board President Ernie Moscoso. "We call on Mayor Garcetti and the City Council to oppose this unfair tunnel tax and prioritize investments that expand our local water supply."

LADWP has projected that billions of dollars are needed to replace its aging system of pipes and water mains, and billions more to expand water recycling and to clean a large aquifer in the San Fernando Valley, according to the groups. A recent poll from the L.A. Times showed that when told about the costs of the tunnels, a majority of Californians opposed the project.

Conner Everts, Executive Director of the Southern California Watershed Alliance, also slammed the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, representing a growing movement of Los Angeles Basin environmentalists who are opposed to Jerry Brown's twin tunnels.

"This project is an unfair tunnel tax will raise our water bills but give us no new water," said Everts, who grew up steelhead and trout fishing in Southern California streams. "Los Angeles needs to invest in local infrastructure and local jobs first."

Everts also noted that Southern California is on the path to taking less imported water. "If we continue with the illusion that there will be more water, we aren't facing the reality of our water supply, or investing in water conservation jobs for Southern California," he stated.

Increasing numbers of columnists and editors from the Los Angeles Times and other Southern California newspapers have criticized the tunnel plan also.

On December 15, LA Times columnist George Skelton exposed how Governor's Brown's use of the "threat" of a "catastrophic earthquake" on the Delta to justify the construction of the twin tunnels is based on a "shakey rationale." (http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-cap-delta-20131216,0,4576916.column#axzz2ns32l7z5)

Skelton also had a solution to the tunnels. "Before spending $16 billion boring oversize tunnels and mucking up people's lives, how about this? Try modern fish screens. Relocate the pumps so they don't reverse river flows. Take the water after it flushes through the delta," he said.

Californians for a Fair Water Policy is a statewide coalition of ratepayers, environmentalists, Tribal leaders, farmers, businesses and fishermen opposed to the tunnels project because of the severe negative impacts on California ratepayers, taxpayers, wild salmon and the San Francisco Bay Delta's ecosystem. Learn more at http://www.stopthetunnels.org.  

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$100 Billion Win

by: Consumer Watchdog

Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 12:21:38 PM PST

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It's Time to Take Back UC for California

by: Take Back UC

Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 09:29:43 AM PST

With the passage of Proposition 30 last November, millions of Californians voted to make personal financial sacrifices in support of public education.  As an elected state representative and former UC faculty member, I feel a special responsibility to ensure that these hard earned funds are being utilized to increase access to UC by Californians.

To be sure, Prop. 30 funds have helped to blunt the assault on access and quality that the financial crisis brought to California's schools, community colleges and our public Universities.  Some have even enacted additional reforms in order to protect students and taxpayers from future contingencies.

But some, like the University of California, have done just the opposite.

Billions have been squandered on risky investments and oversized executive entitlements.  And UC's administrative staff-the highest paid public employees in California who have almost no contact with patients and students-have become the fastest growing segment of its workforce.

The UC isn't just a university.  Through its 10 campuses, five medical centers, three national laboratories, and nineteen other facilities, it is one of the leading economic, research and health delivery institutions in America.  It serves 200,000 students and 4 million patients annually, and is responsible for 1 in 46 California jobs.  

In many ways, as the UC goes, so goes California.  And things are not going as well as they should be.

Student tuition has tripled, and out-of-state enrollment has skyrocketed.  Courses have been cut and student services slashed.  Debt has doubled.  Taxpayer-subsidized UC hospitals are shirking their responsibility to provide health care to the poor on public programs like Medi-Cal, and they have been hit with millions of dollars in government fines for patient safety violations and court-ordered whistleblower settlements.

Unfortunately, under our Constitution, UC does not have to play by the same rules as other public agencies-even other public schools in California.  

That's why the real power to change UC lies with all of us-patients, students, faculty, alumni, donors, staff and California taxpayers.  We write the checks, fill the classrooms and hospitals, and maintain the facilities.  For generations, Californians have made the sacrifices necessary to build the UC into a crown jewel.  

If we are to preserve this legacy and strengthen it for future generations of Californians, we must take action to end the cycle of mismanagement that is putting UC students and patients at risk.  We must be vigilant and equally steadfast advocates for the reforms that are needed to get UC back on track.

In short:  we need to come together and TAKE BACK UC.

TAKE BACK UC is a grassroots coalition of opinion leaders, organizations, students, patients, workers and taxpayers from every corner of the Golden State.  Our cause is to raise awareness about problems in the UC system, and to mobilize the public in support of common sense solutions-like increased access to qualified California students with reduced student expense to earn a UC degree, access to UC hospitals and physicians, safe staffing at UC health facilities and campuses, and fair pension reforms.

Ultimately, the time for reform at UC is now.  Last month, a new President took the reins at UC.   Our coalition will show that not only is there a need for change at UC-but that there is a mandate for it.  This isn't just about sharing our concerns today--- but holding the Regents and top UC administrators accountable for results in the months and years to come.  

There are a few things you can do to help grow this watchdog movement right now.

1. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
2. Learn more and lend your name to our growing list of supporters by signing up at www.TakeBackUC.org.  
3. Sign our Change.org petition on fair pension reform for UC executives and safe staffing levels at UC hospitals - and share them with your friends!

Thank you in advance for your continued support of public education in California, and your commitment to restoring the University of California to its rightful place as the crown jewel of our Golden State.

Dr. Richard Pan
California State Assemblymember (D-9th District)

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