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Governor Jerry Brown

Brown holds another closed door drought meeting excluding Tribes, fishermen

by: Dan Bacher

Sat Apr 18, 2015 at 19:45:37 PM PDT

After convening agribusiness, urban water agency and corporate "environmental" NGO leaders to discuss the drought last week, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. held another closed door meeting in Sacramento on April 16.

A media advisory from the Governor's Office said Brown would "gather" with representatives from the landscape, golf, home and garden, spa and pool, cemetery and mortuary, building and manufacturing, retail, restaurant and hospitality industries in Sacramento today to discuss the business community's efforts to conserve water.

As usual, Brown did not invite representatives of Indian Tribes, fishing groups, grass roots environmental organizations or Delta communities to the "gathering."

"The key challenge here - aside from getting the water - is to be able to collaborate together," said Governor Brown at last week's meeting. "We're going to rise to the occasion as Californians first and as members of different groups second."

As was the case in last week's meeting, only the final few minutes of the meeting, including time for questions, were open to coverage by "credentialed media"  (he doesn't want any authentic, independent media there!) at approximately 3:00 p.m.

According to the advisory:

"Earlier this month, Governor Brown announced the first ever 25 percent statewide mandatory water reductions and a series of actions to help save water, increase enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state's drought response and invest in new technologies that will make California more drought resilient. This order included measures to help: replace lawns with drought tolerant landscaping and old appliances with more water and energy efficient models; cut water use at campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes; prevent potable water irrigation at new developments unless water-efficient drip systems are used; and stop watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.

Within days of the Governor's order, the State Water Resources Control Board released its framework to achieve the mandatory water reductions and the California Energy Commission approved new water appliance standards to save billions of gallons of water per year. Yesterday, the California Department of Water Resources announced that due to the severe drought it will install an emergency, temporary rock barrier across a Sacramento San Joaquin Delta channel to help prevent the saltwater contamination of water that 25 million Californians depend on.

These measures build on unprecedented action by the State Water Resources Control Board over the past year to prohibit other wasteful water use and encourage Californians to conserve, including strict limits on outdoor irrigation (two days a week in much of California) and bans on hosing down outdoor surfaces, decorative water fountains that don't recirculate water and car washing without an automatic shut-off nozzle. Bars and restaurants are also now required to only serve water upon request and hotels must ask guests staying multiple nights whether linens and towels need to be washed.

Governor Brown proclaimed a drought state of emergency in January 2014 and for more than two years, the state's experts have been managing water resources to deal with the effects of the drought, which include severely curtailed water supplies to agricultural producers, farmworker job losses due to fallowed fields, drinking water vulnerability in communities across California, heightened fire danger and threats to endangered and threatened fish and wildlife.

Not mentioned in the Governor's media advisory was the fact that agribusiness uses 80 percent of California water while oil companies and Nestle Waters and other water bottling companies continue to drain and pollute California aquifers during a record drought.

The mainstream media, state officials and corporate "environmental" groups have for years tried to portray California as the "green" leader of the nation. In reality, California suffers from some of the greatest environmental degradation of any state in the nation, since corporate agribusiness, the oil industry and other big money interests control the majority of the state's politicians and exert inordinate influence over the state's environmental policies.

At an Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) event at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento last week, Natural Resources Secretary John Laird claimed that "everybody is a soldier in the fight" to address the drought.

Yes, everybody except for those corporate mega-farmers, who receive subsidized water and other subsidies, planting almonds in the drought!

According to the "On the Public Record" blog, almond acreage in California has expanded by 70,000 acres, a total of 280,000 acre feet per year of new water demand:

"I have marked the almond acreage at the beginning and end of the 2006-2009 drought (700,000 acres at the beginning, 810,000 acres at the end). At the beginning of our current drought, almond acreage was 870,000 acres. In 2013, after two years of drought, it was up to 940,000 acres. It looks like the 2014 California Almond Acreage Report comes out at the end of April (here's 2013). I will be excited to see a new total acreage.

Let's make this all explicit. Since this drought began, almonds have expanded by 70,000 acres. That's 280,000 acft/year of new water demand for a snack that will be exported. That water will come from groundwater or from other farmers. At the same time, the California EPA is literally telling urban users to take five minute cold showers. If there is a lot of new acreage in 2014 and 2015, it is going to be difficult for the Brown administration to stay friends with them."

It's clear that the severity of this drought calls for much more than just individual action like cutting back on your showers or flushing your toilet less. California water restrictions must include corporate agribusiness, Big Oil and Nestle and other bottling companies during the drought.

To take action, go to: http://sandiegofreepress.org/2...

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Governor Brown's drought order lets corporate agribusiness, oil companies off the hook

by: Dan Bacher

Thu Apr 02, 2015 at 19:33:36 PM PDT

Governor Jerry Brown on April 1 issued an executive order that he claimed will "save water," increase enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state's drought response and invest in new technologies that will make California more "drought resilient."

The order follows the lowest Sierra Nevada snowpack ever recorded in California history, only 5 percent of the historic average, with no end to the drought in sight.

Critics of the Governor's water policies quickly responded that Brown's order lets corporate agribusiness interests, the biggest users of the state's water, and big oil companies off the hook.

"Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action," said Governor Brown. "Therefore, I'm issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible."  

For the first time in state history, Brown directed the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water reductions in cities and towns across California to reduce water usage by 25 percent. "This savings amounts to approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months, or nearly as much as is currently in Lake Oroville," according to the Governor's Office.

His executive order also features "increased enforcent actions," including calls on local water agencies to adjust their rate structures to implement conservation pricing, recognized as an effective way to realize water reductions and discourage water waste.

In addition, the order called for "streamlining government response to the drought," including prioritizing state review and decision-making of water infrastructure projects and requiring state agencies to report to the Governor's Office on any application pending for more than 90 days.

To read the full press release and executive order http://gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=...  

Order does not address most egregious corporate water users

After the Governor held his press conference, Adam Scow, Food & Water Watch California Director, released a statement blasting Governor Jerry Brown's Executive Order for calling for mandatory water reductions while not addressing the state's "most egregious corporate water abuses" by agribusiness and oil companies.

"It is disappointing that Governor Brown's executive order to reduce California water use does not address the state's most egregious corporate water abuses. In the midst of a severe drought, the Governor continues to allow corporate farms and oil interests to deplete and pollute our precious groundwater resources that are crucial for saving water.

The Governor must save our groundwater from depletion by directing the State Water Board to protect groundwater as a public resource. Governor Brown should direct the Water Board to place a moratorium on the use of groundwater for irrigating crops on toxic and dry soils on the westside of the San Joaquin Valley. In the two year period covering 2014-2015, the Westlands Water District is on pace to pump over 1 million acre feet of groundwater - more water than Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco combined use in 1 year. Much of Westlands grows water-intensive almonds and pistachios, most of which are exported out of state and overseas. This is a wasteful and unreasonable water use, especially during a severe drought.

Governor Brown should also stop the ongoing contamination of groundwater aquifers by toxic wastewater from oil and gas operations. It is disturbing and irresponsible that the Brown administration continues to allow oil companies to contaminate and rob Californians of these fresh water sources. Given that there is currently no safe way to dispose of toxic wastewater, the Governor should place a moratorium on fracking and other dangerous oil extraction techniques to prevent the problem from getting even bigger."

Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels, said Brown's proposed drought barriers on the Delta will  push the Delta "closer to collapse." The group said these barriers threaten salmon while the Governor refuses to put restrictions on "corporate mega-farms."

"Governor Brown has had two responses of opposite extremes to the drought crisis," said RTD executive director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. "The first response is to place the largest burden of conservation on urban water users."

"His second response is to push the Delta further toward ecological collapse by expediting the placement of a barrier system to block water flows. Those barriers will decimate fisheries and leave the people of the Delta to suffer due to drought mismanagement by state and federal agencies over the last four years," she noted.

Drought rules don't real with the real crisis: over promised water

"Governor Brown vacillates between advocating for a good start on urban conservation and inflicting destruction on the Bay-Delta estuary," said Barrigan-Parrilla. "He refuses to deal with the real crisis: the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed has been five times over promised, with 70% of those water deliveries going to big almond growers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.  Enforcing better reporting by agricultural users is an important step, but we already know which watersheds are oversubscribed and that the only way to solve the problem is for adjudication of the Delta watershed."

She said the state and federal water projects' drought contingency plan for 2015 estimates that water districts relying on Delta exports have indicated a need for health and safety-related water supplies of 510,000 acre-feet.

The water projects have already pumped over 739,000 acre-feet in 2015, about 82 percent of which was stored as of March 21 at San Luis Reservoir, west of Los Banos.

Barrigan-Parrilla said it is not yet known how much of these exports are for the "health and safety" purposes of Metropolitan Water District customers, who will be making sacrifices as a result of water rationing and participating heroically in personal responsibility campaigns, and how much is to satisfy industrial mega-farm demand south of the Delta.

"There is not enough water in the watershed to satisfy the insatiable demands of big agribusiness growers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and to keep enough surface water in reserve for urban populations," Barrigan-Parrilla added.

Delta barriers will harm salmon and Delta smelt

Restore the Delta Policy Analyst Tim Stroshane said, "The proposed drought barriers project for the Delta will allow the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation to continue managing upstream storage so that the pain of the drought will be borne by Delta residents and ecosystems, and not by Delta water takers. The barriers will have drastic consequence on fisheries, commercial and recreational fishing economies, various Delta farming communities, recreation economies, all so that water will be made available beyond what is needed for health and human safety, but for what purposes we don't know."  

"California must save water first through agriculture reductions on polluted drainage impaired land, which uses 2/3 of the Delta's exported water. To protect urban areas, we need a Marshall Plan to implement conservation, groundwater storage, storm water capture, cisterns, recycling and effective drought planning. Estimates show that it will cost tens of billions to repair urban water systems alone," Barrigan-Parrilla said.

In the last 28 water years (since the beginning of the 1987-92 drought), wet and above normal years have occurred just 11 times (39 percent of the time) in both the San Joaquin and Sacramento River basins, according to Restore the Delta. This means that the premise of "emergency" drought barriers is false.

"Emergency" connotes an event that is short-lived and infrequent, if it occurs at all. But below normal to critical water years occur more than half the time (as they have for almost the last three decades). "Emergency" becomes meaningless.

"The Department of Water Resources plans to install and remove barriers simultaneously with when juvenile salmon would be attempting to rear in, or emigrate through, the Delta before they leave for the Pacific Ocean. The most invasive and disruptive activities associated with the barriers proposal occur at critically sensitive times in the life histories of these most magnificent and vulnerable listed species," Stroshane added.

Waters upstream and downstream of the barriers within the Delta will stagnate. When the dilution action of flows is greatly reduced during summer heat, water temperatures increase, salinity is projected to increase, and pollutant and contaminant concentrations will increase as well, according to Stroshane.

With the drought barriers, Delta smelt are likely to face extinction this year, with barriers installed to limit flow. And the Delta itself will be become an even less hospitable place for the vulnerable fish species that remain.

"Whether it's the barriers or the Delta tunnels, it is apparent how little Governor Brown cares for the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary.  He has not insisted on the fallowing of fields during the drought by junior water rights holders.  He is pushing Delta smelt to extinction, setting up our salmon fisheries for failure, and sacrificing sustainable six-generation Delta farms for almonds, fracking, and speculative desert development," concluded Barrigan-Parrilla.

For more information on the biggest threats to California's rivers, lakes, ocean waters, fish and environment, go to: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/...
 

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Westlands Water District hires Rep. Nunes' chief of staff

by: Dan Bacher

Mon Mar 30, 2015 at 09:14:29 AM PDT

In yet another example of the revolving door between government, corporations and water contractors that defines California politics, the powerful Westlands Water District announced on March 27 that Johnny Amaral will join Westlands' staff as Deputy General Manager for External Affairs, effective May 1, 2015.

Mr. Amaral is currently the Chief of Staff for Representative Devin Nunes, who represents California's 22nd Congressional District and is best known for sponsoring legislation to increase pumping Delta water to corporate agribusiness and to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt and other species.

"His service as a congressional chief of staff provides him with a wealth of experience in the fields of government, public affairs, and communications," according to a statement from Westlands.

"The District is excited about Johnny joining the District's staff," said Thomas Birmingham, Westlands' General Manager. "His prior work with elected officials at all levels of government in the San Joaquin Valley and other regions of the state will be instrumental in helping to forge a unified Valley position on potential solutions to address the Valley's chronic water supply shortages."

Mr. Amaral holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies from California State University, Fresno, that he received in 1997.  

Westlands will pay Amaral $250,000 a year - a 50 percent increase from his current salary in the House of Representatives.

Amaral's hiring serves to illustrate the increasing collaboration between government, water contractors and corporations in the state of California under Governor Jerry Brown. Just a few of the many examples of the revolving door between corporations and state government in recent years include:

• The Department of Water Resources' hiring of Susan Ramos "on loan" from the Westlands Water District, considered by many to be the "Darth Vader" of California water politics, to serve as "a liaison between all relevant parties" surrounding the Delta Habitat Conservation and Conveyance Program (DHCCP) and provide "technical and strategic assistance" to DWR (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/12/14/18702762.php)

Documents obtained by this reporter under the California Public Records Act revealed that Ramos, Deputy General Manager of the Westlands Water District, was hired in an "inter-jurisdictional personal exchange agreement" between the Department of Water Resources and Westlands Water District from November 15, 2009 through December 31, 2010. The contract was extended to run through December 31, 2011 and again to continue through December 31, 2012.  

• The resignation of State Senator Michael J. Rubio in February, 2013 to go work in a "government affairs" position for Chevron. Rubio, who was leading the charge to weaken the landmark California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and make it more friendly to corporations, claimed he resigned in order to spend more time with his family. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/23/1189354/-Senator-Michael-Rubio-resigns-to-take-job-with-Chevron)

• The hijacking of "marine protection" in California by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA). Reheis-Boyd chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California. She also served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast from 2004 to 2012. (http://yubanet.com/california/Dan-Bacher-Top-Censored-Environmental-Story-of-2012-Marine-guardian-lobbies-for-offshore-oil-drilling-fracking.php)  

• Governor Jerry Brown's appointment of Laura King Moon of Woodland, a lobbyist for the state's water exporters, as chief deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) in September 2013. Prior to that appointment, Moon was a project manager for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan since 2011 while "on loan" from the State Water Contractors, a "non-profit association" of 27 public water agencies from Northern, Central and Southern California that purchase water under contract from the State Water Project.

"This appointment is just more of the fox guarding the hen house," said Tom Stokely, Water Policy Analyst for the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), at the time of her appointment. "We know whose interests she will represent - and it's not the taxpayers of California."  

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Agency leaders admit big failure to protect water from oil pollution

by: Dan Bacher

Wed Mar 11, 2015 at 14:43:03 PM PDT

Anti-fracking coalition responds to Senate hearing on oil regulations

The California State Senate held an oversight hearing in Sacramento on March 10 to examine why California oil regulators issued hundreds of illegal permits that allowed the oil industry to inject toxic wastewater directly into protected aquifers. During the hearing, state and federal agency leaders admitted that that they failed to protect California's precious water supplies from fracking and other methods of oil extraction.

The hearing was held the same day the that the Environmental Working Group released a report revealing that the recent discovery of high levels of benzene in wastewater from oil and gas fracking operations in California turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg.  "An extensive review of a year-old state data by the Environmental Working Group has found that wastewater from hundreds of fracking operations was heavily contaminated with a toxic stew of chemicals known to cause cancer, reproductive harm and nervous system damage," according to the report. (http://www.ewg.org/release/california-s-fracking-wastewater-full-toxic-chemicals)

Speakers at the Joint Hearing of the California Senate Natural Resources and Water and Environmental Quality Committees included Mark Nechodom, Ph.D, Director, Department of Conservation; Jonathan Bishop, Chief Deputy Director, State Water Resources Control Board; Matthew Rodriguez, Secretary, the California Environmental Protection Agency; and John Laird, Secretary, the California Natural Resources Agency.

"We all fell down on the job," admitted Director Nechodom. He also said engineers at the Department of Conservation's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) monitoring wastewater injection were "not fully qualified."

Legislators questioned State Water Resources Control Board officials why they allowed the oil industry to operate oil injection wells adjacent to aquifers with high quality water.

"We relied on their expertise," Jonathan Bishop, chief deputy director of the board, said, referring to DOGGR. "In hindsight, maybe we should have done independent analysis. We didn't."

Before the hearing, a news release from the California Natural Resources Agency touted the "significant progress made by water quality and oil recovery regulators on ensuring the protection of drinking water," noting that the U.S. EPA had approved the state's plan to "move forward."

"Protecting human and environmental health and safety are our top priority, so we appreciate the U.S. EPA's approval of our plan to move forward," said Secretary Laird. "We are working closely with our federal counterparts to ensure that now and in the future the public and an important part of our economy can be protected and in balance."

The hearing, "Ensuring Groundwater Protection: Is the Underground Injection Control Program Working?," took place as California continues in a record drought and the oil industry is planning to expand the environmentally destructive practice of fracking in California.

Representatives of Californians Against Fracking weren't impressed with the state's plan approved by the U.S. EPA - and released the following statement at the conclusion of the hearing about the oil regulators' failure to protect groundwater from oil industry pollution. The group called on the regulators to immediately shut down all illegal injection wells.

"The ongoing contamination of California's drinking and irrigation water with toxic oil industry waste fluids is yet another example of why oil companies can't be trusted to operate while ensuring the protection of our communities' health and the environment," Dan Jacobson, State Director of Environment California said on behalf of Californians Against Fracking.

"Years of negligence by state regulators as oil companies have ramped up the use of dangerous methods like fracking have compromised our most precious resource-water. All illegal injection wells need to be shut down immediately to stop the ongoing damage and Gov. Brown needs to put a system in place to ensure regulators are enforcing laws meant to protect our water and health. Allowing more fracking and other new techniques will compound this crisis. That's why more than 150 groups have petitioned Gov. Brown for an immediate halt to fracking and other dangerous oil development," said Jacoboson.

At the hearing, state oil regulators also admitted that they allow cyclic steam injection to routinely occur at pressures high enough to crack the formation, in violation of state and federal law, according to Jacobson.

"The state's top water regulator also confirmed that drinking water aquifers have been contaminated with oil industry waste fluid," noted Jacobson. "In addition, while some limited testing of nearby water wells has been conducted, that the state lacks complete information on water wells and so cannot guarantee that all at-risk water wells have even been located."

Background materials and video link available at http://sntr.senate.ca.gov/2014...

The oil industry is the most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento - and it has dramatically increased its spending in recent years as it faces growing opposition to the expansion of fracking and other extreme oil extraction methods in California. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) spent $8.9 million on lobbying state officials in 2014, nearly double what it spent in the previous year. WSPA spent $4.67 million in 2013.

From 2005 to 2014, the oil industry spent an astounding $266 million influencing the Governor, the Legislature and other California officials, according to Stop Fooling California.

For an in-depth investigation of oil industry spending and influence in California, please read my article in the East Bay Express: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/...  

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Californians Against Fracking slams hearing process, calls for fracking ban

by: Dan Bacher

Thu Feb 19, 2015 at 14:50:36 PM PST

Two weeks after the largest anti-fracking protest in U.S. history took place in Oakland, a broad coalition of environmental groups renewed their call on Governor Jerry Brown to ban fracking and other unconventional oil drilling following reports of illegal wastewater injection into protected aquifers.

Amid new investigative reports into the state's mismanagement of oil industry wastewater wells and following a total fracking ban in the state of New York, community members concerned with the health and environmental risks of fracking and other unconventional oil extraction methods are calling on Brown, who constantly tries to portray himself as a "climate leader" and "green governor" at press conferences and other photo opportunities, to take immediate action to protect Californians.

Residents and representatives from an array of environmental groups voiced concerns at a hearing in Oakland Wednesday evening, according to a news release from Californians Against Fracking. The event is one in a series of hearings hosted by the California state agency responsible for oil development, intended to allow the public to comment on a report on the impacts of fracking on communities' health and the environment.

The hearing comes after the agency-the Conservation Department's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR)-issued fracking regulations at the beginning of this year, before the environmental impact report is complete.

"Governor Brown's oil regulators have issued rules for fracking before they've even finished studying it, putting the cart before the horse and endangering lives," said David Braun in a statement before the hearing on behalf of Californians Against Fracking. "Unsurprisingly, this is the same agency responsible for issuing hundreds of illegal permits for the disposal of oil industry wastewater into multiple protected drinking water aquifers."

"DOGGR's records also show that fracking flowback fluid, which ends up in wastewater disposal wells, contains high levels of benzene and other harmful chemicals. Clearly, the problems associated with fracking are a five alarm fire, but Jerry Brown and his Department of Conservation are treating it like business as usual. If Jerry Brown is truly serious about protecting the people of California and our communities' health, air and water, he will immediately halt fracking and order his health department to study the issue. We're confident his findings will be the same as New York's: A total ban on fracking," said Braun.

The hearing comes shortly after 8,000 Californians concerned with dangerous oil industry practices rallied in Oakland this month to call on Gov. Brown to ban fracking and transition California to 100 percent renewable energy, according to the group.

Californians Against Fracking is a coalition of about 200 environmental business, health, agriculture, labor, political and environmental justice organizations working to win a statewide ban on fracking and other dangerous extraction techniques in California. Follow @CAagainstFrack on Twitter.

Want to take action? Tell Governor Brown: "You allowed the oil industry to illegally inject fracking wastewater into federally protected aquifers used for drinking water and irrigation during our historic drought. Immediately shut down all illegal oil waste injection wells, then place an emergency moratorium on fracking in California." Go to: http://act.credoaction.com/sig...

Governor Jerry Brown's support of fracking takes place in the context of his administration's war on fish, water, the environment and the people of California. Brown has constantly gushed about his "green energy" and carbon trading policies at press conferences and photo opportunities while he is rushing the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the twin tunnels.

While the mainstream media and Brown's collaborators continue to greenwash the Governor's neo-liberal carbon trading policies, he has in fact continued and expanded the worst environmental policies of the Schwarzenegger administration, including exporting massive quantities of northern California water to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California water agencies and implementing the corrupt Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create questionable "marine protected areas."

The illegitimacy and corruption of the MLPA Initiative process was evidenced by the alarming fact that Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association who is leading the campaign to expand fracking in California, CHAIRED the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create alleged "marine protected areas" in Southern California. She also served on the task forces to create so-called "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

If that wasn't bad enough, the Brown administration, in collaboration with the Obama administration, has presided over the near-extinction of Delta smelt, as well as driving the American River steelhead run to its lowest-ever recorded population level and killing off 95% of the endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon last year. In recent California history, it is hard to find a Governor that has overseen more destruction of California's fish, waterways and environment than Jerry Brown, yet the mainstream media and some corporate "environmental" NGOs continue to falsely portray Brown as a "green" Governor. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/10/21/is-jerry-brown-running-scared/)

For more information about how Brown and his collaborators are the biggest threats to California's environment, go to: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/...  

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Governor Jerry Brown wins "Cold, Dead Fish Award" three years in a row!

by: Dan Bacher

Sun Feb 15, 2015 at 10:16:42 AM PST

It's time to present the "Cold, Dead Fish Awards," an annual "tribute" to those individuals, government agencies, corporations and others who have gone out of their way to destroy and despoil the fish, rivers, lakes, bays and ocean waters of California.

The year 2014 started off with a record drought that was aggravated by the impact of the Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Water Resources draining Trinity, Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs to record low levels to fill southern California reservoirs and the Kern Water Bank.

Folsom Lake dropped to its lowest level ever, forcing the closure of the American River to fishing as releases were reduced to 500 cfs. While February and March were wet months, the drought continued throughout the year, with the exception of a few big storms in December.

2014 was one of the toughest years ever for fish in California history. As a result of the mismanagement of Folsom Reservoir by the Bureau of Reclamation during a drought, Nimbus Fish Hatchery staff counted the lowest number of steelhead ever recorded, 10 fish, by December 29, normally a date when hundreds if not thousands of fish had already returned to the river.

For its disastrous water policies and the near-extinction of American River steelhead, as well as its continuing drive to raise Shasta Dam, David Murrillo, MidPacific Director of the Bureau, receives the "Extinct Steelhead" award.

However, the Bureau of Reclamation had a very willing partner in the destruction of California's fisheries, California Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin and Natural Resources Secretary John Laird.

As if draining the reservoirs and endangering American River steelhead and winter run Chinook salmon on the Sacramento River weren't enough, the California Fish and Wildlife's Fall Midwater Trawl Survey on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta revealed that the Delta smelt, an indicator species that demonstrates the health of the Delta, reached a new record low population level in 2014. Department staff found a total of only eight smelt at a total of over 100 sites sampled each month from September through December.

The survey also revealed the continuing collapse of striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad in the Delta. The striped bass index was the third lowest in history, the longfin smelt index was the third lowest in history, the threadfin shad index was the sixth lowest in history, and the American shad indiex was the second lowest in history.

For their continued commitment to driving Delta smelt and other fish species towards extinction, the esteemed "environmentalists" Cowin and Laird receive the "Delta Smelt Destruction Crew" award.

The year 2014 began and ended with moves to push forward drought relief legislation by Congressman Devin Nunes, Congressman Kevin McCarthy, and Congressman David Valadao, with the support of House Speaker John Boehner, to allow the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta pumps to operate "as long as water is available."

Restore the Delta described the legislation as "nothing more than a blatant, short-sighted water grab, fueled by years of political contributions from huge growers in the Westlands Water District and the Kern County Water Agency to these Central Valley Congressional Representatives."

On December 9, in spite of intense opposition by fishermen, environmentalists, Indian Tribes and Northern California Representatives, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by 230 to 182 "drought relief" legislation, H.R. 5781, that would eviscerate protections for Delta smelt, Chinook salmon and other fish species.

Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and the Obama administration opposed the bill, but you can expect a similar bill to be introduced in the new Congress and Senate this year.

For their efforts to destroy what's left of the Delta fisheries, co-sponsors Reps. David G. Valadao (CA-21), Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Ken Calvert (CA-42), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Tom McClintock (CA-04), and Devin Nunes (CA-22), received the "Corporate Welfare Crybabies" award.

On the ocean front, Brown administration officials and corporate "environmental" NGOS continued to greenwash the fake "marine protected areas" created under the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative, in spite of the fact that the science underlying the process was terminally flawed, according to the Yurok Tribe science team and other Tribal scientists, while the process was overseen by corrupt corporate interests. The process was also characterized by its private funding by the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, its failure to create authentic marine protected areas, and the violation of traditional Tribal fishing and gathering rights. (http://yubanet.com/california/Dan-Bacher-MLPA-Initiative-based-on-incomplete-and-terminally-flawed-science.php#.VOIZXN3Dy9U)

The illegitimacy of the MLPA Initiative "science" was highlighted when a federal judge in San Francisco on May 20 sentenced Ron LeValley of Mad River Biologists, the former co-chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Science Advisory Team for the North Coast, to serve 10 months in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to embezzle over $852,000 in federal funds from the Yurok Tribe.

In February LeValley pleaded guilty to a single federal charge of conspiracy to commit embezzlement and theft from an Indian Tribal Organization in the complex scheme in collaboration with former Yurok Forestry Director Roland Raymond.

For the demonstration of his lack of scientific ethics, we grant Ron LeValley with the "Junk Science Criminal" of the Year " award.

But we're not done yet. In spite of calls for an investigation of the terminally flawed science developed by the "Science Advisory Team" under the embezzler's helm, Chuck Bonham, Department of Fish and Wildlife Director, and Natural Resources Secretary John Laird continue to propagate the "Big Lie" that the process was "open, transparent and inclusive" and "based on science." For their "heroic" efforts to greenwash the MLPA Initiative, Bonham and Laird receive "The Big Lie" award of 2014.

Of course, we can't give these awards without a big "round of applause" to Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California. She also served on the task forces for the Central, North Central and North Coast.

The (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, has spent a total of $32,871,430 on lobbying since January 1, 2009. The group paid a record $8.9 million on lobbying to eviscerate California's environmental laws, oppose fracking moratorium legislation and to defeat a bill to protect the Vandenberg State Marine Reserve and Tranquillon Ridge from new oil drilling.

For her service to Big Oil by kicking fishermen and tribal members off vast areas of the ocean while opposing California's environmental laws, Reheis-Boyd gets the "Oil-Drenched Marine Guardian" award.

Always a big contender in these awards, the Westlands Water District and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority are awarded the "Raid on the Trinity" plaque for their continuing litigation to block the release of Trinity River water to stop an imminent fish kill on the Klamath in August when the water was warming up.

Fortunately, due to direct action protests by the Hoopa Valley Tribe and members of the Yurok, Karuk and Winnemen Tribes, combined with litigation by the Hoopa Valley and Yurok Tribes and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, the Bureau of Reclamation made the decision to release the water from the river and stop a massive fish kill from taking place like the one when over 68,000 salmon perished in September 2002.

Stewart Resnick, the Beverly Hills billionaire owner of Paramount Farms in Kern County, and his wife, Lynda, have been instrumental in promoting the construction of the peripheral tunnels and campaigns to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt populations.

The Resnicks made over $270,000 in contributions to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, $350,000 to support Gov. Gray Davis, and $102,000 to Gov. Jerry Brown. Most recently, Stewart Resnick made a donation of $150,000 to the Yes on Prop. 1 and 2 campaign to make sure the bond benefited him and corporate agribusiness allies. For their continual dedication to destroying our fisheries while making huge profits off selling back subsidized water to the public, Lynda and Stewart Resnick receive the "Koch Brothers of California" award.

Finally, there comes the most prestigious award, the "Cold, Dead Fish." The common link in much of the destruction and mayhem I've described in my articles is Jerry Brown, the worst Governor for fish, water and the environment in recent California history. Brown has constantly gushed about his "green energy" and carbon trading policies at press conferences and photo opportunities while he enthusiastically supports the expansion of fracking in California and is rushing the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels.

While the mainstream media and Brown's collaborators continue to greenwash the Governor's neo-liberal carbon trading policies, he has in fact continued and expanded the worst environmental policies of the Schwarzenegger administration, including exporting massive quantities of northern California water to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California water agencies and implementing the corrupt Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create fake "marine protected areas."

Brown and his backers in 2014 dumped over $16.4 million into Proposition 1, a water grab for agribusiness that passed in November. Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, summed up the water bond as "a poster-child of why California is in a water crisis: it enriches water speculators but accomplishes little in addressing the drought, solving California's long-term water needs, reducing reliance on The Delta, or protecting our rivers and fisheries."

Brown and his staff also continued to fast track the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels, in spite of the fact that the fiasco could violate the federal Clean Water Act and increase harm to endangered fish species, according to a scathing 43 page letter by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

If that wasn't bad enough, the Brown administration, in collaboration with the Obama administration, presided over the near extinction of Delta smelt, formerly the most abundant fish in the estuary, as well as a record low steelhead run on American River. In recent California history, it is hard to find a Governor that has overseen more destruction of California's fish, waterways and environment than Jerry Brown, yet the mainstream media and corporate "environmental" NGOs continue to falsely portray Brown as a "green" Governor.

For his continuing efforts to plunder California's natural resources while posing as a "Green Governor" promoting "green energy" and addressing "climate change," Brown gets the "Cold, Dead Fish Award" for the third year in a row.

For more information about the real environmental legacy of "Big Oil Brown, go to: http://www.counterpunch.org/20...

The year 2014 started off with a record drought that was aggravated by the impact of the Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Water Resources draining Trinity, Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs to record low levels to fill southern California reservoirs and the Kern Water Bank.

Folsom Lake dropped to its lowest level ever, forcing the closure of the American River to fishing as releases were reduced to 500 cfs. While February and March were wet months, the drought continued throughout the year, with the exception of a few big storms in December.

2014 was one of the toughest years ever for fish in California history. As a result of the mismanagement of Folsom Reservoir by the Bureau of Reclamation during a drought, Nimbus Fish Hatchery staff counted the lowest number of steelhead ever recorded, 10 fish, by December 29, normally a date when hundreds if not thousands of fish had already returned to the river.

For its disastrous water policies and the near-extinction of American River steelhead, as well as its continuing drive to raise Shasta Dam, David Murrillo, MidPacific Director of the Bureau, receives the "Extinct Steelhead" award.

However, the Bureau of Reclamation had a very willing partner in the destruction of California's fisheries, California Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin and Natural Resources Secretary John Laird.

As if draining the reservoirs and endangering American River steelhead and winter run Chinook salmon on the Sacramento River weren't enough, the California Fish and Wildlife's Fall Midwater Trawl Survey on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta revealed that the Delta smelt, an indicator species that demonstrates the health of the Delta, reached a new record low population level in 2014. Department staff found a total of only eight smelt at a total of over 100 sites sampled each month from September through December.

The survey also revealed the continuing collapse of striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad in the Delta. The striped bass index was the third lowest in history, the longfin smelt index was the third lowest in history, the threadfin shad index was the sixth lowest in history, and the American shad indiex was the second lowest in history.

For their continued commitment to driving Delta smelt and other fish species towards extinction, the esteemed "environmentalists" Cowin and Laird receive the "Delta Smelt Destruction Crew" award.

The year 2014 began and ended with moves to push forward drought relief legislation by Congressman Devin Nunes, Congressman Kevin McCarthy, and Congressman David Valadao, with the support of House Speaker John Boehner, to allow the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta pumps to operate "as long as water is available."

Restore the Delta described the legislation as "nothing more than a blatant, short-sighted water grab, fueled by years of political contributions from huge growers in the Westlands Water District and the Kern County Water Agency to these Central Valley Congressional Representatives."

On December 9, in spite of intense opposition by fishermen, environmentalists, Indian Tribes and Northern California Representatives, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by 230 to 182 "drought relief" legislation, H.R. 5781, that would eviscerate protections for Delta smelt, Chinook salmon and other fish species.

Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and the Obama administration opposed the bill, but you can expect a similar bill to be introduced in the new Congress and Senate this year.  

For their efforts to destroy what's left of the Delta fisheries, co-sponsors Reps. David G. Valadao (CA-21), Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Ken Calvert (CA-42), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Tom McClintock (CA-04), and Devin Nunes (CA-22), received the "Corporate Welfare Crybabies" award.

On the ocean front, Brown administration officials and corporate "environmental" NGOS continued to greenwash the fake "marine protected areas" created under the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative, in spite of the fact that the science underlying the process was terminally flawed, according to the Yurok Tribe science team and other Tribal scientists, while the process was overseen by corrupt corporate interests. The process was also characterized by its private funding by the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, its failure to create authentic marine protected areas, and the violation of traditional Tribal fishing and gathering rights. (http://yubanet.com/california/Dan-Bacher-MLPA-Initiative-based-on-incomplete-and-terminally-flawed-science.php#.VOIZXN3Dy9U)

The illegitimacy of the MLPA Initiative "science" was highlighted when a federal judge in San Francisco on May 20 sentenced Ron LeValley of Mad River Biologists, the former co-chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Science Advisory Team for the North Coast, to serve 10 months in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to embezzle over $852,000 in federal funds from the Yurok Tribe.

In February LeValley pleaded guilty to a single federal charge of conspiracy to commit embezzlement and theft from an Indian Tribal Organization in the complex scheme in collaboration with former Yurok Forestry Director Roland Raymond.

For the demonstration of his lack of scientific ethics, we grant Ron LeValley with the "Junk Science Criminal" of the Year " award.

But we're not done yet. In spite of calls for an investigation of the terminally flawed science developed by the "Science Advisory Team" under the embezzler's helm, Chuck Bonham, Department of Fish and Wildlife Director, and Natural Resources Secretary John Laird continue to propagate the "Big Lie" that the process was "open, transparent and inclusive" and  "based on science." For their "heroic" efforts to greenwash the MLPA Initiative, Bonham and Laird receive "The Big Lie" award of 2014.

Of course, we can't give these awards without a big "round of applause" to Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California. She also served on the task forces for the Central, North Central and North Coast.

The (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, has spent a total of $32,871,430 on lobbying since January 1, 2009. The group paid a record $8.9 million on lobbying to eviscerate California's environmental laws, oppose fracking moratorium legislation and to defeat a bill to protect  the Vandenberg State Marine Reserve and Tranquillon Ridge from new oil drilling.  

For her service to Big Oil by kicking fishermen and tribal members off vast areas of the ocean while opposing California's environmental laws, Reheis-Boyd gets the "Oil-Drenched Marine Guardian" award.  

Always a big contender in these awards, the Westlands Water District and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority are awarded the "Raid on the Trinity" plaque for their continuing litigation to block the release of Trinity River water to stop an imminent fish kill on the Klamath in August when the water was warming up.

Fortunately, due to direct action protests by the Hoopa Valley Tribe and members of the Yurok, Karuk and Winnemen Tribes, combined with litigation by the Hoopa Valley and Yurok Tribes and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, the Bureau of Reclamation made the decision to release the water from the river and stop a massive fish kill from taking place like the one when over 68,000 salmon perished in September 2002.

Stewart Resnick, the Beverly Hills billionaire owner of Paramount Farms in Kern County, and his wife, Lynda, have been instrumental in promoting the construction of the peripheral tunnels and campaigns to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt populations.

The Resnicks made over $270,000 in contributions to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, $350,000 to support Gov. Gray Davis, and $102,000 to Gov. Jerry Brown. Most recently, Stewart Resnick made a donation of $150,000 to the Yes on Prop. 1 and 2 campaign to make sure the bond benefited him and corporate agribusiness allies. For their continual dedication to destroying our fisheries while making huge profits off selling back subsidized water to the public, Lynda and Stewart Resnick receive the "Koch Brothers of California" award.

Finally, there comes the most prestigious award, the "Cold, Dead Fish." The common link in much of the destruction and mayhem I've described in my articles is Jerry Brown, the worst Governor for fish, water and the environment in recent California history.  Brown has constantly gushed about his "green energy" and carbon trading policies at press conferences and photo opportunities while he enthusiastically supports the expansion of fracking in California and is rushing the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels.  

While the mainstream media and Brown's collaborators continue to greenwash the Governor's neo-liberal carbon trading policies, he has in fact continued and expanded the worst environmental policies of the Schwarzenegger administration, including exporting massive quantities of northern California water to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California water agencies and implementing the corrupt Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create fake "marine protected areas.  

Brown and his backers in 2014 dumped over $16.4 million into Proposition 1, a water grab for agribusiness that passed in November. Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, summed up the water bond as "a poster-child of why California is in a water crisis: it enriches water speculators but accomplishes little in addressing the drought, solving California's long-term water needs, reducing reliance on The Delta, or protecting our rivers and fisheries."

Brown and his staff also continued to fast track the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels, in spite of the fact that the fiasco could violate the federal Clean Water Act and increase harm to endangered fish species, according to a scathing 43 page letter by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

If that wasn't bad enough, the Brown administration, in collaboration with the Obama administration, presided over the near extinction of Delta smelt, formerly the most abundant fish in the estuary, as well as a record low steelhead run on American River. In recent California history, it is hard to find a Governor that has overseen more destruction of California's fish, waterways and environment than Jerry Brown, yet the mainstream media and corporate "environmental" NGOs continue to falsely portray Brown as a "green" Governor.

For his continuing efforts to plunder California's natural resources while posing as a "Green Governor" promoting "green energy" and addressing "climate change," Brown gets the "Cold, Dead Fish Award" for the third year in a row.

For more information about the real environmental legacy of "Big Oil Brown, go to: http://www.counterpunch.org/20...

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Will the State Water Board Tear Up Paper Water?

by: Dan Bacher

Thu Feb 05, 2015 at 18:11:56 PM PST

Restore the Delta (RTD) today responded to the State Water Resources Control Board's (SWRCB) draft order issued Wednesday night demanding water diversion data from every riparian and pre-1914 water right holder in the Delta's Central Valley watershed, starting March 1st "until, well, whenever."

"This is an unprecedented move by the Board's Division of Water Rights," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, opponents of Governor Jerry  Brown's rush to build Twin Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom salmon and other Pacific fisheries. "The Board has never issued such a large-scale demand for water rights information before."

RTD has urged the Board to adjudicate all water rights, as the State has granted 5.5 times more water rights than actual water exists in a normal year. Rather than adjudicate the entire system, and face their own fatally flawed math, the Board has chosen to focus on senior water rights holders.

"The scourge of paper water is haunting California during this drought," said Barrigan-Parrilla. "While the Board probably won't act quickly to tear up paper water, and make the priority system better and more responsive, they're taking an important step by requiring everyone in the Central Valley of the Delta to disclose their diversion and use of water. You can't manage what you don't measure."

The move comes after the US Bureau of Reclamation and California Department of Water Resources charged last July 23rd that Delta water right holders were illegally diverting water reaching the Delta from state and federal reservoirs, a charge thoroughly rejected by Delta interests at the time.

Their diversion and use data are due to the Board on the fifth of each month, apparently starting with March. The Board also threatened to use its "authority to bring enforcement against diverters for unauthorized diversion or use in violation" of the state's water code.

In 2012, Restore the Delta's Policy Analyst Tim Stroshane, then a researcher with the California Water Impact Network, warned the Board that in dry times the Delta watershed would be way short of water to supply, compared to what water right holders claimed they had. "I found that in years of average flow, there were 5.5 times more claims to water than there was natural flow to support them. It's called paper water," said Stroshane. "During this drought, the claims exceed the meager river flows even more. So people are frustrated and looking for answers."

In response to a demand for Delta diversion and water rights information, Bill Jennings, RTD board member and Executive Director of California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, told the Board in September 2014 that they could only make sense of Delta water rights and state and federal exports if they investigated the whole Central Valley watershed of the Delta. "If the Board wants to pursue allegations that Delta farmers are illegally taking water belonging to the state and federal projects, it needs to first determine whether the water the projects claim is being taken actually reaches the Delta, and whether the projects have legal rights to it," wrote Jennings last September.

It appears that is what the Board intends to do in 2015. No stream draining to the Delta is spared in the Board's call for diversion data. The Board's action snags in its web water right holders from the far northern Sacramento River to upstream along the San Joaquin, and up each major tributary stream in the Central Valley, from the Feather River to the Merced. From the Anderson Cottonwood Irrigation District near Redding to the Central California Irrigation District near Fresno, all the mom and pop water right holders, and everyone else in between is subject to the Board's order.

The Board does not directly regulate these water rights, but state law does authorize the Board to investigate any type of water right to ensure that the holder is diverting water within the limits of that right. US Bureau of Reclamation and California Department of Water Resources operators told the State Water Board back on January 20th that "Sacramento Valley depletions are like a big black box" of diversions by Sacramento water right holders as well as the dry conditions and groundwater pumping there during the drought. That "black box" is the lack of data plaguing not only the State Water Board, but also the ability of state and federal engineers to operate the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project safely and effectively.

(Their discussion with Board members Felicia Marcus, Dorene D'Adamo, and Fran Spivy-Weber may be viewed at the State Water Board web site (between 17:45 and 29:36) http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/board_...

CSPA's Bill Jennings and State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus have in recent months spoken independently of the benefits of adjudicating water rights throughout the Delta's watershed.

Jennings threw down the gauntlet last August 13th, filing a formal complaint with the State Water Board "against unauthorized and illegal diversion of water by DWR and USBR at their Delta pumping facilities, and against USBR and others for unauthorized and illegal diversion of San Joaquin River riparian flow." He was, in short, petitioning the State Water Board "to initiate, on its own motion, an adjudication of Central Valley water rights."

By law the Board has 270 days (which lapses in May) to decide how it wants to proceed on Jennings' complaint. "Unfortunately, the Board has a track record of rejecting complaints like this out of an abundance of procrastination," said Stroshane.

Board Chair Marcus mentioned adjudication as a source of good data for managing water, in remarks she made to the Public Policy Institute of California's "Managing Drought" event in Sacramento January 12th.

"In the absence of data, everybody thinks someone else is pulling the wool over someone's eyes. This year," she said, "I would like more light than heat." (Her remarks can be viewed (between 37:53 and 40:40) at, https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

For more information, contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; steve@hopcraft.com; Twitter: @shopcraft
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 barbara@restorethedelta.org; Twitter:@RestoretheDelta

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Oil lobby group tops spending list with $8.9 million in 2014

by: Dan Bacher

Thu Feb 05, 2015 at 09:32:10 AM PST

The oil industry continued its long reign as the top spender on lobbying in California in 2014, according to data just released by the California Secretary of State.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) led the list with $8.9 million spent on lobbying in 2014, nearly double what it spent in the previous year. WSPA spent $4.67 million in 2013.

WSPA apparently spent much of its money on stopping a fracking moratorium bill in the Legislature and trying to undermine California's law to lower greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of WSPA and the former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create questionable "marine protected areas" in Southern California, also successfully opposed legislation by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson to protect the Vandenberg State Marine Reserve and the Tranquillon Ridge from offshore oil drilling plans.

"The winners of the 2014 lobbying competition are in - and the winner is... BIG OIL!'" said Stop Fooling California, an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies' efforts to mislead and confuse Californians. "Congratulations, Western States Petroleum Association and Chevron! No one has spent more on evil in California than you!"

The association spent a total of 4,009,178 lobbying state officials in the third quarter of 2014, a new quarterly record by WSPA. (http://calaccess.sos.ca.gov/Lobbying/Employers/Detail.aspx?id=1147195&session=2013&view=activity)

During that quarter, the association paid $375,800 to KP Public Affairs, a prominent Sacramento lobbying and public relations firm that represents clients in health care, aerospace manufacturing and other industries. WSPA also paid $77,576 to Pillsbury Winthrup Shaw Pittman LLP.

WSPA spent $1,456,785 in the first quarter, $1,725,180 in the second quarter and $1,692,391 in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Along with KP Public Affairs and Pillsbury Winthrup Shaw Pittman LLP, the association hired two other firms, California Resource Strategies and Alcantar & Kahl, to lobby for Big Oil.

The Sacramento Bee pointed out that the "vast majority of the petroleum association's spending on lobbying last year - about $7.2 million - was reported under a catch-all 'other' category that requires no detailed disclosure showing who benefited or how the money was spent." (http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article9261986.html#storylink=cpy)

The San Ramon-based Chevron and its subsidiaries placed third on the list with $4,282,216 spent on lobbying in 2014, including $2,198,209 paid in the fourth quarter.

The California State Council of Service Employees placed second with $5.9 million, while the California Chamber of Commerce finished fourth on the list with $3.9 million and the California Hospital Association and California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems finished fifth with $3 million

The oil industry has spent over $70 million on lobbyists in California since January 2009, according to a 2014 report written by Will Barrett, the Senior Policy Analyst for the American Lung Association in California. (http://www.lung.org/associations/states/california/advocacy/climate-change/oil-industy-lobbying-report.pdf)

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) topped the oil industry spending with a total of $31,179,039 spent on lobbying since January 1, 2009 at the time of Barrett's report. Chevron was second in lobbying expenses with a total of $15,542,565 spent during the same period.

From July 1 to September 30 alone, the oil industry spent an unprecedented $7.1 million lobbying elected officials in California "with a major focus on getting oil companies out of a major clean air regulation," said Barrett.

Big Oil also exerts its power and influence by spending many millions of dollars every election season on candidates and ballot measures. For example, the oil industry dumped $7.6 million into defeating a measure calling for a fracking ban in Santa Barbara County and nearly $2 million into an unsuccessful campaign to defeat a measure banning fracking and other extreme oil extraction techniques in San Benito County. Chevron also spent $3 million (unsuccessfully) to elect "their" candidates to the Richmond City Council.

Not only does Big Oil spend millions every year on lobbying and campaign contributions, but it funds "Astroturf" campaigns to eviscerate environmental laws. Leaked documents provided to Northwest Public Radio, Business Week and other media outlets last year exposed a campaign by the Western States Petroleum Association to fund and coordinate a network of "Astroturf" groups to oppose environmental laws and local campaigns against fracking in California, Washington and Oregon.

This network was revealed in a PowerPoint presentation from a Nov. 11 presentation to the Washington Research Council, given by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, WSPA President. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/12/12/18765457.php)

"The Powerpoint deck details a plan to throttle AB 32 (also known as the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006) and steps to thwart low carbon fuel standards (known as LCFS) in California, Oregon, and Washington State," revealed Stop Fooling California. (http://www.stopfoolingca.org/2014/12/leaked-the-oil-lobbys-conspiracy-to-kill-off-californias-climate-law/)

Oil and chemical industry representatives also further exert their power and influence by serving on state and federal regulatory panels. In one of the most overt conflicts of interest in recent California history, WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd served as the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act Blue Ribbon Task Force to create questionable "marine protected areas" in Southern California. (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mpa/brtf_bios_sc.asp)

She also served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast, as well as on a NOAA federal marine protected areas panel from 2003 to 2014.

The so-called "marine protected areas" created under the MLPA Initiative fail to protect the ocean from fracking, offshore oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

Not only did these alleged "Yosemites of the Sea" fail to protect the ocean, but they violate the traditional fishing and gathering rights of the Yurok Tribe and other Indian Nations and are based on terminally flawed and incomplete science. In fact, Ron LeValley, the Co-Chair of the MLPA Initiative Science Advisory Team for the North Coast, is currently in federal prison for conspiracy to embezzle $852,000 from the Yurok Tribe.

The millions Chevron and other oil companies have spent on lobbying, campaign contributions and setting up "Astroturf" groups promoting the oil industry agenda are just chump change to Big Oil. The five big oil companies - BP, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell - made a combined total of $93 billion in 2013.

Even with sliding oil prices, the big five oil companies- BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Shell- made $16.4 billion in the last quarter of 2014 and $89.7 billion for the entire year, according to the Center for American Progress. (http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2015/02/03/105935/sliding-oil-prices-still-yield-90-billion-2014-for-big-oil/)  

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Anti-fracking coalition calls for shut down of toxic injection wells

by: Dan Bacher

Tue Feb 03, 2015 at 11:42:01 AM PST

A coalition of anti-fracking groups and the Center for Biological Diversity today urged the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to immediately shut down hundreds of injection wells that are illegally dumping toxic oil industry wastewater into scores of California aquifers during the midst of a record drought.

Oil and gas companies over decades used more than 170 waste disposal wells to inject oil and gas wastewater into dozens of aquifers containing potable water, in violation of state and federal law, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The majority of these violations are located in California's Central Valley, while others are near San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria. (http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/State-let-oil-companies-taint-drinkable-water-in-6054242.php)

"Oil companies in drought-ravaged California have, for years, pumped wastewater from their operations into aquifers that had been clean enough for people to drink," said David Baker, reporter. "They did it with explicit permission from state regulators, who were supposed to protect the increasingly strained ground water supplies from contamination."

The permission to pollute was granted because of the capture of the state's regulatory apparatus by Big Oil and other corporate interests. In fact, the oil industry not only exerts its enormous influence by spending millions and millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributors, but is able to get its officials actually placed on state and federal regulatory panels.

In one of the most egregious examples of the conflicts of interest that infest California environmental politics, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), served as the CHAIR of the Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California. The head lobbyist for the oil industry's campaigns to expand fracking and eviscerate California's clean water and air laws also sat on the task forces to create so-called "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

This latest report on the fracking disaster that has hit California follows an emergency shutdown of multiple injection wells in Kern County last year due to concern from state regulators that the wells had contaminated groundwater supplies, adding to the growing calls for Governor Jerry Brown, known as "Big Oil Brown" by many environmental activists, to immediately shut down illegal injection wells.

In a statement issued on behalf of Californians Against Fracking, Dan Jacobson, state director for Environment California, said, "Years of negligence by state officials and wanton disregard by the oil industry for the law have led us to water pollution crisis in California and a clear indication that state regulators are not willing to protect California's farmers and families from harsh chemicals that are illegally permeating our water supply. Put simply, California regulators are not up to the task of managing safe wastewater disposal and cede residents' safety and health to oil and gas production."

"We call on Gov. Brown immediately to shut down injection wells that are illegally polluting our groundwater and to issue a moratorium on fracking and other dangerous oil and gas activities, which create large volumes of toxic wastewater. Preserving and protecting California's water and farms is not something to take lightly," he concluded.

The Center for Biological Diversity also called on the EPA to "immediately shut down" hundreds of injection wells that are illegally dumping toxic wastewater into scores of California aquifers, including some that supply water for drinking and farming irrigation.

Today's letter urges the EPA to issue an administrative order requiring operators of these disposal wells to cease operations to protect aquifers from further damage and comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

"In the midst of an unprecedented drought and when so many Californians lack access to safe, clean drinking water, it is outrageous to allow contamination of drinking and irrigation water to continue. It is never acceptable to allow the contamination of drinking and irrigation water with industrial wastewater," the letter says.

The Center said recently revealed documents from the EPA and the state's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources show that state and federal regulators have investigated at least 532 oil industry injection wells across the state - from Monterey County and sites near San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara to Kern and Los Angeles counties - over concerns they are illegally dumping wastewater into scores of aquifers containing water that should be protected under state and federal laws.

"California's drinking water aquifers shouldn't be garbage dumps for the oil industry," said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute. "It's legally required and just common sense that every well injecting wastewater illegally be shut down immediately to avoid further damage."

Last summer, the state's oil division issued emergency shutdown orders for multiple injection wells in Kern County after it came to light that they were injecting wastewater into aquifers containing high-quality drinking water. But she said the newly revealed documents show that hundreds of other injection wells dumping wastewater into protected aquifers are still in operation.

An EPA letter from December 2014 reveals the seriousness of the problem, but fails to order the immediate shut-down of all wells injecting into protected aquifers.

"Given the need to resolve the program's serious deficiencies in a timely matter, EPA has strengthened oversight and support of the program," the EPA letter says.

"Oil industry wastewater is an extremely salty fluid that typically contains a wide range of contaminants and dangerous chemicals associated with oil production," Siegel said. "It can also contain fracking chemicals linked to cancer and other serious health concerns."

Up to half of all new oil wells in California are fracked, according to a recent study. Flowback fluid from fracked wells often contains dangerous levels of cancer-causing benzene, according to state-mandated tests.

"This water contamination crisis is just the latest consequence of the state's failure to protect Californians from oil industry pollution," said Siegel. "Gov. Brown hasn't heeded calls to protect our air, water and health, so we need the EPA to take immediate action."

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

In other fracking news, concerned residents from communities across California gathered on the steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento on Wednesday, January 28, to voice their concerns about the health and environmental risks associated with fracking and dangerous oil extraction techniques, and an increase in the number of trains carrying potentially explosive oil through communities across the state. The group called on Gov. Jerry Brown to take actions to protect Californians.

The Sacramento event is the final leg of a statewide tour during which hundreds of community members participated in nightly town halls across the state. Throughout the tour, organizers collected messages to Brown from residents about the negative effects of oil drilling in their communities. They delivered those messages to Brown's Capitol office on Wednesday.

On Feb. 7 thousands of Californians will converge in Oakland - Brown's home town - for the "March for Real Climate Leadership." For more information, go to:http://marchforclimateleadership.org

WHAT: The March for Real Climate Leadership: Our Water, Our Health, Our California
WHEN: 11:30 am, February 7, 2015
WHERE: Frank Ogawa / Oscar Grant Plaza, 14th & Broadway, Oakland, California

Background: Big Oil Money and Power Rules California Politics

There are many powerful industries based in California, ranging from the computer and high tech industry to corporate agribusiness, but no industry has more influence over the state's environmental policies than Big Oil.

The oil industry has spent over $70 million on lobbyists in California since January 2009, including record amounts of money spent during the third quarter of 2014, according to a recent report written by Will Barrett, the Senior Policy Analyst for the American Lung Association in California. (http://www.lung.org/associations/states/california/advocacy/climate-change/oil-industy-lobbying-report.pdf)

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, topped the oil industry spending with a total of $31,179,039 spent on lobbying since January 1, 2009. Chevron was second in lobbying expenses with a total of $15,542,565 spent during the same period.

From July 1 to September 30 alone, the oil industry spent an unprecedented $7.1 million lobbying elected officials in California "with a major focus on getting oil companies out of a major clean air regulation," said Barrett.

And this doesn't include spending on ballot measures or the recent election, including Chevron spending $3 million (unsuccessfully!) to elect "their" candidates to the Richmond City Council. Big Oil also dumped $7.6 million into defeating a measure calling for a fracking ban in Santa Barbara County and nearly $2 million into an unsuccessful campaign to defeat a measure banning fracking and other extreme oil extraction techniques in San Benito County.

Not only does Big Oil spend many millions every year on lobbying and campaign contributions, but its representatives also serve on state and federal regulatory panels and fund "Astroturf" campaigns to eviscerate environmental laws.

In one of the most overt conflicts of interest in California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, served as the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force to create fake "marine protected areas" in Southern California. Not only did she serve on this panel, but she also was a member of the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

These so-called "marine protected areas" fail to protect the ocean from fracking, offshore oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

Not only did these so-called "Yosemites of the Sea" fail to protect the ocean, but they violate the traditional fishing and gathering rights of the Yurok Tribe and other Indian Nations and are based on terminally flawed and incomplete science. In fact, Ron LeValley, the Co-Chair of the MLPA Initiative Science Advisory Team for the North Coast, is currently in federal prison for conspiracy to embezzle $852,000 from the Yurok Tribe.

People need to understand that the millions Chevron and other oil companies have spent on lobbying, campaign contributions and setting up "Astroturf" groups promoting the oil industry agenda are small change to Big Oil. The five big oil companies - BP, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell - made a combined total of $93 billion in profits last year. Big Oil's estimated profits in 2014 were over $96 billion.  

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Jerry Brown's True "Green" Legacy: The Death of the Delta?

by: Dan Bacher

Fri Jan 16, 2015 at 16:12:07 PM PST

The following is a revised transcript of the presentation that I gave when I was inducted into the California Outdoors Hall of Fame by Tom Stienstra, Outdoor Writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and award-winning author, at the ISE Show in Sacramento on January 11.

Tom Stienstra suggested that I include my 10 favorite destinations for fishing in California as part of my presentation today. These are the American River, Feather River, Sacramento River, Lake Valley Reservoir, Spicer Reservoir, Monterey Bay and Coast, Bodega Bay, San Francisco Bay, Fort Bragg and Trinity River.

Compiling this list was a really good exercise because although I've fished Costa Rica, Mexico, Alaska and British Columbia and many other places, this revealed that my favorite places to fish are close to home.

I also discovered that the one connecting thread of my 10 favorite destinations is that every one of these locations, from the Trinity River that is diverted to the Sacramento, to Monterey Bay, to Spicer Reservoir on the North Fork of the Stanislaus, is intimately connected to the Bay Delta Ecosystem.

If there is one message that I urge you to take home today, it is that if anglers, hunters and outdoors people don't stand up now, this precious ecosystem and all of the great trout, salmon, steelhead, striped bass, halibut, and other fisheries that we enjoy will be lost forever.

There are two stories that I broke recently that really bring this home.  

American River steelhead collapse - On December 29, I found out from the Nimbus Fish Hatchery manager the alarming news that only 10 adult steelhead have returned to the American River. Normally there would be hundreds or thousands of these fish. Last year there were over 335 adults by the same time. In banner years, over 2,000 steelhead would have returned by this time.

As one who has spent many hours in meetings, rallies and events working to restore the river, this is very disappointing. The previous low for the river was 200 fish in 1994.

Nobody's really sure the reasons why the numbers are so low, but the mismanagement of Folsom Reservoir by the Brown and Obama administrations during the drought certainly played a key role. Folsom was drained to only 17 percent of capacity by the same time last year to provide export water to corporate agribusiness and Southern California water agencies. The cold water pool and carryover capacity were both imperiled by the draining and fishing was closed last winter to protect the steelhead.

Delta smelt and pelagic organism collapse - Last night I received dismal results of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Fall Midwater Trawl Survey on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. These revealed that the Delta smelt, an indicator species that demonstrates the health of the Delta, reached a new record low population level in 2014.

Department staff found a total of only eight smelt at a total of over 100 sites sampled each month from September through December.

The Delta smelt "index," a measure of abundance relative to the volume of water sampled, is 9, the lowest in survey history. Delta smelt abundance was highest in 1970 and has been consistently low since 2003, except in 2011, according to Steven Slater, CDFW environmental scientist.  

The smelt was once the most abundant fish in the Bay-Delta Estuary. It is considered an indicator species because the 2.0 to 2.8 inch long fish is found only in  the estuary and spends all of its life in the Delta.

The survey also revealed the continuing collapse of striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad in the Delta.

• The striped bass index is 59, making it the third lowest index in the survey's history. Age-0 (young of the year) striper abundance was highest at the survey's inception in 1967.

• The longfin smelt index is 16, making it the second lowest index in history. Longfin smelt abundance was also highest in 1967.

• The threadfin shad index is 282, the sixth lowest in history and the seventh in a series of very low abundance indices. Threadfin abundance was highest in 1997.  

• The American shad index is 278, the second lowest in history. American shad abundance was highest in 2003.  

The dramatic decline of fish species this year is part of a long term decline, due to massive water exports out of the Delta, increases in toxic chemicals and the impact of invasive species.

The surveys were initiated in 1967, the same year the State Water Project began exporting water from the Delta. The surveys show that population indices of Delta smelt, striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad have declined 95.6%, 99.6%, 99.8%, 97.8%, 90.9%, respectively, between 1967 and 2013, according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) and Board Member of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN).

Both the 2013 and 2014 indices for Sacramento splittail, another native fish found only in the estuary, were not released, but results from 2012 reveal that splittail indices have dropped 98.5% from 1967 levels. In 2011, the Brown administration presided over a record "salvage" of 9 million splittail in 2011, a record year for exports by the federal and state projects.

You can read the full report with graphs at: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHan...

What are some solutions to stopping this collapse, one that has been made much worse by the pro-corporate agribusiness policies of the Brown and Scharzenegger administrations?

First, we must strongly oppose federal "drought relief" legislation proposed by Congressman David Valadao that will make things even worse by overriding the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act.

Second, we must relentlessly oppose Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the $67 billion twin tunnels under the Delta. The plan is based on the premise that taking more water from the Sacramento River above the Delta will "restore" the collapsing estuary. We should support the Environmental Water Caucus Responsible Exports Plan that sets a cap of 3 million acre feet year year and proposes creative conservation and recycling strategies for solving California's water crisis.

Third, join a fishery conservation or environmental justice organization of your choice. The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Restore the Delta, California Striped Bass Association, California Water Impact Network, Klamath Justice Coalition, Friends of the River, Water for Fish and Save the American River Association are among the groups standing up for the fish. These are the groups that I work most closely with.

Fourth, representatives of fish groups, environmental groups and Indian Tribes need to get together and very stridently demand that Governor Jerry Brown, Natural Resources Secretary John Laird and DFW Director Chuck Bonham take emergency action above and beyond anything they are doing now, to address the mismanagement of our water resources to save Central Valley salmon and steelhead, Delta smelt and other species! We must DEMAND, not politely ask, that they take immediate action to address this crisis!

If things continue in the direction they are going, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon, Sacramento River winter-run and spring-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley sturgeon and other species WILL become extinct in the coming years. We need to come up with new, creative, innovative and more confrontational organizing strategies to stop the state and federal governments from killing off what's left of the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.

For more information about the 2015 Outdoors Hall of Fame Inductees, including Armand Castagne and Roy Weatherby, go to: http://www.sfgate.com/outdoors...

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Delta smelt reaches new record low in fall survey

by: Dan Bacher

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 16:10:38 PM PST

The Delta smelt, an indicator species that demonstrates the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, reached a new record low population level in 2014, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's fall midwater trawl survey that was released Friday, January 9.

Department staff found a total of only eight smelt at a total of 100 sites sampled each month from September through December

The smelt was once the most abundant fish in the Bay-Delta Estuary. It is considered an indicator species because the 2.0 to 2.8 inch long fish is endemic to the estuary and spends all of its life in the Delta.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has conducted the Fall Midwater Trawl Survey (FMWT) to index the fall abundance of pelagic (open water) fish, including Delta smelt, striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad, nearly annually since 1967. The index of each species is a number that indicates a relative population abundance.

The dramatic decline of fish species this year is part of a long term decline of fish species, due to massive water exports out of the Delta, increases in toxic chemicals and the impact of invasive species.

Scientists and leaders of fishing groups, Indian Tribes and environmental organizations pinpoint the export of massive amounts of water to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, Southern California water agencies, and oil companies conducting steam injection and fracking operations in Kern County as the key factor behind the fishery collapse.

"The 2014 Delta Smelt index is 9, making it the lowest index in FMWT history," wrote Steven Slater, CDFW environmental scientist, in a memo revealing the results of the survey. "Delta Smelt abundance was highest in 1970 and has been consistently low since 2003, except in 2011."

Found only in the upper Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the fish mainly inhabits the freshwater-saltwater mixing zone of the estuary, except during its spawning season when it migrates upstream to freshwater following winter "first flush" flow events from approximately March to May.

Because of its one-year life cycle and relatively low fecundity, the Delta smelt is very susceptible to changes in the environmental conditions of its native habitat.

The survey also revealed the continuing collapse of striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad in the Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.

The 2014 age-0 striped bass index is 59, making it the third lowest index in the survey's history. Age-0 striped bass abundance was highest at the survey's inception in 1967, according to Slater.

The index for longfin smelt, a cousin of the Delta smelt, is 16, making it the second lowest index in history. Longfin smelt abundance was also highest in 1967.

The 2014 threadfin shad index is 282, the sixth lowest in history and the seventh in a series of very low abundance indices. Threadfin shad abundance was highest in 1997, a year of high outflows into San Pablo and San Francisco bays.

"The 2014 American Shad index is 278, which is the second lowest in FMWT history and only slightly higher than the 2008 index of 271," said Slater. "American Shad abundance was highest in 2003."

Delta advocates pointed to mismanagement of Central Valley reservoirs and the Bay Delta Estuary by the state and federal governments as the primary reason for the decline.

"These crashes in fish populations show that the Delta was not managed for fish protection in 2014," responded Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. "We know from research that outflows to San Francisco Bay were needed to stop salinity intrusion at the state and federal export pumping facilities."

"Thirty years of overpumping have led to the destruction of our fish species during the current severe drought. The question is whether proposed federal drought relief legislation proposed in Congress is going to even worsen the bad management practices and destroy Bay Delta fisheries in 2014," Barrigan-Parrilla stated.

The surveys were initiated in 1967, the same year the State Water Project began exporting water from the Delta. The surveys show that population indices of Delta smelt, striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad have declined 95.6%, 99.6%, 99.8%, 97.8%, 90.9%, respectively, between 1967 and 2013, according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) and Board Member of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN).

Both the 2013 and 2014 indices for Sacramento splittail, another native fish found only in the estuary, were not released, but results from 2012 reveal that splittail indices have dropped 98.5% from 1967 levels. In 2011, the Brown administration presided over a record "salvage" of 9 million splittail in 2011, a record year for exports by the federal and state projects.

The release of the survey takes place as Governor Jerry Brown continues to back the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the twin tunnels under the Delta. The plan is based on the premise that taking more water from the Sacramento River above the Delta will "restore" the collapsing estuary.

The $67 billion plan will hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

You can read the full report with graphs at: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHan...

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Statewide Tour Urges Governor Brown to Stop Fracking

by: Dan Bacher

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 14:11:55 PM PST

Coalition Calls on California to Move to 100% Renewable Energy  

Governor Jerry Brown has constantly touted his "green energy" and carbon trading policies at press conferences and photo opportunities while he enthusiastically supports the expansion of fracking in California and is rushing the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels.

In his Inaugural Address on January 5, as his "green" environmental policies had driven Delta smelt and American River steelhead to the lowest population levels in recorded history, the Governor gushed:

"In fact, we are well on our way to meeting our AB 32 goal of reducing carbon pollution and limiting the emissions of heat-trapping gases to 431 million tons by 2020. But now, it is time to establish our next set of objectives for 2030 and beyond.

Toward that end, I propose three ambitious goals to be accomplished within the next 15 years:
Increase from one-third to 50 percent our electricity derived from renewable sources;
Reduce today's petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent;
Double the efficiency of existing buildings and make heating fuels cleaner."

While Brown and his staff continue to greenwash the Governor's neo-liberal environmental policies, thousands of Californians will convene over the next week as part of the "California Crossroads Tour" calling on Governor Jerry Brown to ban fracking, stand up to Big Oil, and "move California beyond fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy," according to a news release from Californians Against Fracking.

By standing up to Big Oil, anti-fracking activists are taking on the most powerful corporate lobby in California, the oil industry. The oil industry's campaign to expand the environmentally destructive practice of fracking in California is overseen by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create fake "marine protected areas" in Southern California's heavily-fracked waters.

"California is at a crossroads," said David Braun of Californians Against Fracking and an organizer of the tour. "Our governor and our elected officials need to decide if we're going to be a real leader on climate change, or if we will continue to allow fracking and other dangerous extractions methods that put our communities and environment at risk."

"Californians around the state are affected by the oil industry in different ways-whether they are exposed to dangerous toxins from living near a drilling site, have potentially explosive trains rumbling through their neighborhoods carrying crude oil-but we all stand to lose if we continue to ignore warnings that spell out doom if we don't put an end to the use of fossil fuels," said Braun.

Leaders from Californians Against Fracking are traveling to eight cities over nine days as a part of the California Crossroads Tour, designed as an opportunity for community members and experts to speak out against the negative health and environmental impacts of high-risk oil drilling, wastewater injection into deep disposal wells, and the prospect of a dramatic increase of oil by rail.

The tour kicked off on Monday, January 12, at the King Chavez High School auditorium in San Diego and will stop in Los Angeles, Oxnard, Santa Barbara, Delano, San Juan Bautista, and Oakland. It will culminate Jan. 20 at the State Capitol in Sacramento, where residents will deliver messages from communities across the state to Gov. Jerry Brown, organizers said.

"In California, communities facing the threat of fracking are taking actions to protect themselves," according to the coalition. "In 2014, Santa Cruz and Mendocino counties joined the city of Beverly Hills in passing measures to ban fracking and similar oil extraction techniques. San Benito County voters also approved a fracking ban with a 59 percent majority, despite a $2 million opposition campaign by the oil industry."

The City of Los Angeles is considering a ban and two cities in Los Angeles County-La Habra Heights and Hermosa Beach-are slated to vote on fracking and oil projects in March. A livestream of the event at the Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles will be available Jan. 13 from 7-9 p.m.

The tour will be followed up by the February 7 "March for Real Climate Leadership" in Oakland that is hosted by a broad group of partner organizations and will bring thousands of people from across the state into the streets of Oakland to "call on Governor Brown to ban fracking, stand up to Big Oil, and move beyond fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy." More information is available at marchforclimateleadership.org.

Californians Against Fracking is a coalition of about 200 environmental business, health, agriculture, labor, political and environmental justice organizations working to win a statewide ban on fracking in California. Follow @CAagainstFrack on Twitter

CONTACT: Juan Gastelum at 310-905-3191, Juan.Gastelum [at] berlinrosen.com
Niketa Kumar at 610-659-2544, Niketa.Kumar [at] berlinrosen.com

Big Oil Money and Power in California

While there are many powerful industries based in California, ranging from the computer and high tech industry to corporate agribusiness, no industry has more influence over the state's environmental policies than Big Oil.

The oil industry has spent over $70 million on lobbyists in California since January 2009, including record amounts of money spent during the third quarter of 2014, according to a recent report written by Will Barrett, the Senior Policy Analyst for the American Lung Association in California. (http://www.lung.org/associations/states/california/advocacy/climate-change/oil-industy-lobbying-report.pdf)

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, topped the oil industry spending with a total of $31,179,039 spent on lobbying since January 1, 2009. Chevron was second in lobbying expenses with a total of $15,542,565 spent during the same period.

From July 1 to September 30 alone, the oil industry spent an unprecedented $7.1 million lobbying elected officials in California "with a major focus on getting oil companies out of a major clean air regulation," said Barrett.

And this doesn't include spending on ballot measures or the recent election, including Chevron spending $3 million (unsuccessfully!) to elect "their" candidates to the Richmond City Council. Big Oil also dumped $7.6 million into defeating a measure calling for a fracking ban in Santa Barbara County and nearly $2 million into an unsuccessful campaign to defeat a measure banning fracking and other extreme oil extraction techniques in San Benito County.

Not only does Big Oil spend many millions every year on lobbying and campaign contributions, but its representatives also serve on state and federal regulatory panels and fund "Astroturf" campaigns to eviscerate environmental laws.

In one of the most overt conflicts of interest in California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, served as the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force to create fake "marine protected areas" in Southern California. Not only did she serve on this panel, but she also was a member of the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

These so-called "marine protected areas" fail to protect the ocean from fracking, offshore oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

People need to understand that the millions Chevron and other oil companies have spent on lobbying, campaign contributions and setting up "Astroturf" groups promoting the oil industry agenda are small change to Big Oil. The five big oil companies - BP, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell - made a combined total of $93 billion in profits last year. Big Oil's estimated profits in 2014 were over $96 billion. (http://www.stopfoolingca.org/)  

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Tunnel critics respond to secret settlement as Delta smelt nears extinction

by: Dan Bacher

Tue Jan 13, 2015 at 07:58:03 AM PST

When you think that things can't get worse in the toxic nightmare that is California water politics, be assured - "Yes, They Can!"

Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Governor Jerry Brown's rush to build massive Peripheral Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today responded to the prospect of a secret settlement of the debt Westlands Water District owes to US taxpayers and the near extinction presently of Delta smelt.

Restore the Delta Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla stated, "The idea that the Westlands Water District can secretly negotiate a settlement with the Federal Government that secures Westlands' water rights, by circumventing state water rights, and that lets Westlands walk away from hundreds of millions of dollars of debt that they owe to U.S. taxpayers is incomprehensible. Worse, Westlands is not being required to document how they will continue to farm without belching polluted discharge water back into the watershed, or how their farmers will pay for the approximate $2 billion that it will cost to fix their drainage issues."

"American taxpayers should not be on the hook to subsidize water profits for 600 rich farming corporations. Westlands should not be given Federal entitlements to water right seniority over California farmers who were in production decades before Westlands farmers, especially during times of water scarcity, as during this drought. It seems that Westland's extensive lobbying and media efforts are buying the best government available in Washington," she said.

Barrrigan-Parrilla emphasized that this deal is "especially disturbing" considering the recent numbers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Fall Midwater Trawl Survey that show that the Delta Smelt population has reached a new record low. (https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentId=92840)

"The smelt, which was once the most abundant fish in the Bay-Delta Estuary, is an indicator species, meaning that it demonstrates the health of the Bay-Delta estuary," continued Barrigan-Parrilla. "The species is nearly extinct; other Bay-Delta fisheries are in rapid decline, and nobody is thinking about the economic damage that will be inflicted on commercial fisheries and their connected economies resulting from the over pumping of the Delta."

The survey also revealed the continuing collapse of striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad in the Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. The population index for striped bass is the third lowest in history, while the index for longfin smelt is the second lowest ever recorded. The population index for threadfin shad is the sixth lowest, while the index for American shad is the second lowest. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/09/1356714/-Delta-smelt-reaches-new-record-low-in-fall-survey)

Barrigan-Parrilla said, "While Westlands continues to push Federal legislation for increased water exports at the pumps during the drought, enhanced water rights through secret negotiations, an unrestricted license to pollute, and their bills paid by American taxpayers, the Delta ecosystem is unraveling.

Westlands leaders will never be satisfied until they have all the water they want, when they want, without any restrictions, despite the economic and environmental consequences for the rest of California. They want the Delta tunnels so they can take as much water from Northern California as quickly as possible, and without the tunnels they want laws passed that simply let them muscle their way to the front of the line, even before the fish, to take all the water they want.

They talk about feeding the world and their economic importance to the nation - which in reality is 0.3% of California's GDP. The truth is that their free hand of the marketplace is in our back pockets grabbing our tax dollars and the future sustainability of the Bay-Delta estuary for California's children."

She concluded, "We call on the Bureau of Reclamation and the Obama Administration to make public the details of these secret negotiations, and to bring all impacted parties to the table to work on California's water challenges "in a manner that supports the enforcement of existing laws."

For more information about the secret settlement, go to: http://bit.ly/1C0aSyW

Again, please remember that when you think it can't get any worse, the state and federal governments have an uncanny ability to find a new, unprecedented low in their mad race to the bottom.

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Tunnel critics respond to secret settlement as Delta smelt nears extinction

by: Dan Bacher

Tue Jan 13, 2015 at 07:58:03 AM PST

When you think that things can't get worse in the toxic nightmare that is California water politics, be assured - "Yes, They Can!"

Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Governor Jerry Brown's rush to build massive Peripheral Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today responded to the prospect of a secret settlement of the debt Westlands Water District owes to US taxpayers and the near extinction presently of Delta smelt.

Restore the Delta Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla stated, "The idea that the Westlands Water District can secretly negotiate a settlement with the Federal Government that secures Westlands' water rights, by circumventing state water rights, and that lets Westlands walk away from hundreds of millions of dollars of debt that they owe to U.S. taxpayers is incomprehensible. Worse, Westlands is not being required to document how they will continue to farm without belching polluted discharge water back into the watershed, or how their farmers will pay for the approximate $2 billion that it will cost to fix their drainage issues."

"American taxpayers should not be on the hook to subsidize water profits for 600 rich farming corporations. Westlands should not be given Federal entitlements to water right seniority over California farmers who were in production decades before Westlands farmers, especially during times of water scarcity, as during this drought. It seems that Westland's extensive lobbying and media efforts are buying the best government available in Washington," she said.

Barrrigan-Parrilla emphasized that this deal is "especially disturbing" considering the recent numbers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Fall Midwater Trawl Survey that show that the Delta Smelt population has reached a new record low. (https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentId=92840)

"The smelt, which was once the most abundant fish in the Bay-Delta Estuary, is an indicator species, meaning that it demonstrates the health of the Bay-Delta estuary," continued Barrigan-Parrilla. "The species is nearly extinct; other Bay-Delta fisheries are in rapid decline, and nobody is thinking about the economic damage that will be inflicted on commercial fisheries and their connected economies resulting from the over pumping of the Delta."

The survey also revealed the continuing collapse of striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad in the Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. The population index for striped bass is the third lowest in history, while the index for longfin smelt is the second lowest ever recorded. The population index for threadfin shad is the sixth lowest, while the index for American shad is the second lowest. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/09/1356714/-Delta-smelt-reaches-new-record-low-in-fall-survey)

Barrigan-Parrilla said, "While Westlands continues to push Federal legislation for increased water exports at the pumps during the drought, enhanced water rights through secret negotiations, an unrestricted license to pollute, and their bills paid by American taxpayers, the Delta ecosystem is unraveling.

Westlands leaders will never be satisfied until they have all the water they want, when they want, without any restrictions, despite the economic and environmental consequences for the rest of California. They want the Delta tunnels so they can take as much water from Northern California as quickly as possible, and without the tunnels they want laws passed that simply let them muscle their way to the front of the line, even before the fish, to take all the water they want.

They talk about feeding the world and their economic importance to the nation - which in reality is 0.3% of California's GDP. The truth is that their free hand of the marketplace is in our back pockets grabbing our tax dollars and the future sustainability of the Bay-Delta estuary for California's children."

She concluded, "We call on the Bureau of Reclamation and the Obama Administration to make public the details of these secret negotiations, and to bring all impacted parties to the table to work on California's water challenges "in a manner that supports the enforcement of existing laws."

For more information about the secret settlement, go to: http://bit.ly/1C0aSyW

Again, please remember that when you think it can't get any worse, the state and federal governments have an uncanny ability to find a new, unprecedented low in their mad race to the bottom.

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Bay Delta Conservation Plan's Terminal Flaws Remain

by: Dan Bacher

Mon Dec 22, 2014 at 09:03:42 AM PST

In spite of minor changes, tunnel plan is still a water grab  

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) officials on December 19 unveiled changes to Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the giant twin tunnels, including the elimination of the northern pumping plants at the proposed water intakes on the Sacramento River.

Delta advocates weren't impressed, responding that the "fatal" flaws of the water diversion project remain. These include taking water from the Sacramento River above the Delta, violating the Clean Water Act and hastening the extinction of Central Valley salmon and other species.

The cornerstone of the plan remains two massive tunnels, 40 feet in diameter, that would divert water from the Sacramento River and ship it over 30 miles away to the state and federal water project diversion canals near Tracy in the South Delta. The tunnel plan is opposed by a diverse coalition of fishing groups, Indian Tribes, family farmers, Delta residents, environmentalists and consumer advocates.

In a news release, the Brown administration and its federal partners claimed they had made "several significant changes" to the water conveyance portion of the proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan, most notably the elimination of the need to build three pumping plants along the Sacramento near Hood.

"The changes were pursued over the past year in an effort to respond to the concerns of Delta landowners and others," according to DWR. "The changes, subject to further refinement, will be incorporated into the draft plan and Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement that were available for formal public comment until July 29."

They said changes will be "recirculated" for additional public comment in 2015, but didn't indicate a specific date or month when this would occur.

The changes announced Friday would:

• Eliminate three pumping plants on the east bank of the Sacramento River between Hood and Walnut Grove.

• "Minimize activity" on Staten Island, which provides important sandhill crane habitat, by removing tunnel launch facilities, large reusable tunnel material storage areas, a barge landing site, and high-voltage power lines.

• Increase use of property owned by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).

• Eliminate the need for additional permanent power lines to the intake locations in the north Delta, including near Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.

• Eliminate impacts on Italian Slough (near Clifton Court Forebay) by removing an underground siphon.

• Reduce power requirements.

• Allow water to flow from the Sacramento River entirely by gravity at certain river stages.

• Reduce tunnel operation and maintenance costs.

"The changes would eliminate the need to build three separate two-story pumping plants along a five-mile stretch between Clarksburg and Courtland," DWR said. "The original plans to build three intakes screened for fish protection along that stretch of river would not change, but after extensive engineering analysis, DWR has determined that it is not necessary to also build pumping plants adjacent to each intake in order to move the water from the river and into tunnels."

Instead, water could be moved from the river into tunnels by a single new pumping plant constructed 40 miles away, at the end of the tunnels on DWR property near Clifton Court Forebay, according to DWR.

"The roughly 87-acre footprint of each intake would not change, but three 46,000-square-foot buildings would not be needed to house pumping plants. No permanent transmission lines, substations, and surge shafts would be needed, either. Facilities at the intakes would include fish screens in the river, sedimentation basins, drying lagoons, access roads, and control gate structures," DWR stated.

Fact sheets and visual simulations of the proposed changes to the northern intakes and Clifton Court Forebay are available at: http://baydeltaconservationpla...

Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Governor Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels, said a "slight revision" of the proposed project removes none of the "fatal flaws," including removing water before it flows through the Delta and violating the Clean Water Act and degrading Delta families' drinking water. The plan continues to threaten Central Valley Chinook salmon, steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other imperiled fish species with extinction.

"You can dress it up, you can dress it down by making the project look less industrial," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, RTD executive director. "But if you divert the Sacramento River from the Delta, it will kill the SF Bay-Delta estuary. It is still a water grab and slightly lessening the construction impacts means nothing."

Tunnel opponents once again called upon Governor Brown to "abandon the doomed project" and instead embrace a "sustainable water solution that is fair to all Californians." That solution includes reducing Delta water exports, strengthening Delta levees, and investing in regional water independence through sustainable programs.

"These minor changes appear to save money for the water-takers on construction and possibly operation costs, but they still do not address local concerns," said Osha Meserve, counsel for Local Agencies of the North Delta (LAND). "It is a misnomer to call the new configuration 'gravity flow' as if it will operate on its own."

"The river flows by gravity," she noted. "This system will still require pumps, and a tremendous amount of energy to operate. They have lost even more ability to operate the experimental intakes in 'real time' to protect fish, with the pumps so far away."

Meserve also pointed out that:

• Local tunnel critics have never focused on the pumping plant structures on their own as being a major concern, in contrast to claims by DWR officials. "It is misleading to say this minor project change addresses local concerns," said Meserve.

• The so-called temporary electricity transmission lines (10 years) are still a major bird strike concern. All they have proposed to mitigate this impact is to install bird diverters, which have limited effectiveness, especially in foggy or nighttime conditions.

"There is also no direct monitoring of bird strikes being proposed," said Meserve. "They intend to just do a population survey of the Greater sandhill cranes every five years to see if the population has changed. If it has gone down, it is not even clear what the response would be to assist in the crane's survival."

• Taking some tunnel impacts (tunnel launch sites and muck) off of Staten just places them in other islands to the north and south. These areas also contain important bird habitat and productive farmland.

"84% of the water in low-water years would still have to be taken from the existing below-Delta pumps - continuing the massive fish killing that has gone on for decades and threatens extinction of salmon, smelt and other species," emphasized Barrigan-Parrilla. "The BDCP still takes the fresh water that presently flows through the Delta from above the northern Delta boundary, causing harm to the farmers who currently draw water within the Delta."

"The fight over the BDCP tunnels and the future of the Delta is California's fight over whether we will have a sustainable economy and environment, or if we will succumb to the top 1% of corporate water interests controlling rivers, streams, fisheries, water rates, family farming, local development, and spending from the general fund - all in all - access to the California dream," Barrigan-Parrilla said.

The tunnels opponents outlined a sustainable solution to our water challenges. "We need to face the fact that the State has over allocated up to 5 times more water than is normally available in the Delta watershed," said Barrigan-Parrilla. "We need to invest in water recycling, conservation, stormwater capture, groundwater cleanup, and new water-saving technologies that provide local jobs and reduce reliance on the over pumped Delta."

The Environmental Water Caucus (EWC), a coalition of fishing groups, environmental organizations and Indian Tribes, proposes an alternative that reduces water exports to a more sustainable level, in order to permit recovery of the Delta while maintaining water supplies for both Delta and south of Delta water users. The "Responsible Exports (RX) Plan" sets a cap on water exports of 3 million acre feet in all years. (http://www.restorethedelta.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/RESPONSIBLE-EXPORTS-PLAN-MAY-2013.pdf)

In contrast, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan is based on the absurd contention that diverting more water from the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas will "restore" it. In reality, the BDCP will hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperiling salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

In an extreme case of corporate greenwashing, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, under the guise of "habitat restoration," will take vast tracts of Delta farmland out of agricultural production in order to irrigate toxic, drainage-impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley owned by powerful corporate agribusiness interests.

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

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Oil lobbyist/marine protected area chair's "Astroturf" campaign exposed!

by: Dan Bacher

Thu Dec 11, 2014 at 19:09:25 PM PST

Leaked documents provided to Business Week, Northwest Public Radio and other media outlets have exposed a campaign by the Western States Petroleum Association to fund and coordinate a network of "Astroturf" groups to oppose environmental laws and local campaigns against fracking in California, Washington and Oregon.

This network was revealed in a leaked powerpoint presentation from a Nov. 11 presentation to the Washington Research Council, given by  Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California.  (http://www.stopfoolingca.org/2014/12/leaked-the-oil-lobbys-conspiracy-to-kill-off-californias-climate-law/)

"The Powerpoint deck details a plan to throttle AB 32 (also known as the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006) and steps to thwart low carbon fuel standards (known as LCFS) in California, Oregon, and Washington State,"  Stop Fooling California revealed. "Northwest Public Radio appears to have been the first to confirm the authenticity of the deck, which Bloomberg Businessweek did as well, with WSPA spokesman Tupper Hull."

Specifically, the deck from a presentation by WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd lays out the construction of what environmentalists contend is an elaborate 'astroturf campaign by WSPA, the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento.

"Groups with names such as Oregon Climate Change Campaign, Washington Consumers for Sound Fuel Policy, and AB 32 Implementation Group are made to look and sound like grassroots citizen-activists while promoting oil industry priorities and actually working against the implementation of AB 32," Stop Fooling California explained.

A review of the documents confirms the claims by Stop Fooling California. The most controversial slide (9) shows WSPA in the center, surrounded by the organization's "coalitions and campaigns," including Californians for Energy Independence, Californians Against Higher Oil Taxes, Concerned Mineral Owners of California, Kern Citizens for Energy, and "Local Hydraulic Fracturing Campaigns," all described as "upstream" groups.

The right side of the slide features what the organization describes as "downstream" groups, including the California Drivers Alliance, Fed Up at The Pump, Californians Against Higher Taxes, Save Our Jobs, Washington Consumers for Sound Fuel Policy, AB 32 Implementation Group, Tank the Tax, Oregonians for Sound Fuel Policies, Californians for Affordable and Reliable Energy, Fueling California and California Fuel Facts.

That's a total of 16 groups orchestrated by WSPA and its allies!

In the same slide, Reheis-Boyd discloses:

"In 2014, WSPA has activated a significant numbers of campaigns and coalitions that have contributed to WSPA's advocacy goals and continue to respond to aggressive anti-oil initiatives in the West.

Each campaign was structured to address specific state and local issues and provide an excellent opportunity for the petroleum industry to educate consumers and voters in all of WSPA's five Western States.

WSPA has also invested in several coalitions that are best suited to drive consumer and grassroots messages for regulators and policy makers."

The PowerPoint also features a series of slides (3-8), entitled "the Worst of Times," showing photos of protests against the Keystone Pipeline, against oil trains going through communities, for a fracking ban, and demanding climate justice. Photos of Bill McKibben of 350.org and Tom Steyer, billionaire philanthropist also p

The rest of the slides (10 through 31) focus on the "Climate Change Campaigns" by WSPA in California, Oregon and Washington.

Unfortunately, not one of the "reporters" who covered the WSPA "Astroturf" scandal mentioned the even bigger scandal of how the same oil industry lobbyist who delivered the PowerPoint presentation oversaw the creation of fake "marine protected areas" in Southern California, in collaboration with state officials and corporate "environmental" NGOs.

In one of the most overt conflicts of interest in California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, not only chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create fake "marine protected areas" on the South Coast, but "served" on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast from 2004 to 2012. (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mpa/brtf_bios_sc.asp)

Not only did she sit on the state task forces, but she also "serves" on a federal marine protected area panel.

In her role as "marine guardian," Reheis Boyd and other members of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force created a "network" of so-called "marine protected areas" that fail to protect the ocean from fracking, offshore oil drilling, pollution, corporate aquaculture, military testing and all human impacts other than fishing and gathering.  

After hearing from dozens of speakers at task force meeting on November 11, 2009,  Reheis and the other panel members selected a controversial plan that would close fishing and gathering in many areas, including waters off Laguna Beach and Point Dume, but do nothing to stop pollution, fracking, oil drilling, military testing or other insults to the ocean in Southern California waters.

"We're not going to make everyone happy, but this has to be done," panel Chairwoman Catherine Reheis-Boyd told the LA Times in an interview before the vote. "It's agony to weigh the environmental goals against people's livelihoods, especially here in Southern California, where the urban/ocean interface is greater than anywhere else in the nation." http://articles.latimes.com/20...

"It's not perfect, but it's something we hope we can live with," said Reheis-Boyd, according to Sign on San Diego the same day. (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2009/nov/11/panel-expands-sanctuaries-off-county-coast/)

Now we not only have to "live with" these fake "marine protected areas," but we have to "live with" the increasingly prominent role that Reheis-Boyd and oil industry plays in California politics. Her rise to power was helped tremendously by the greenwashing of her position on the task forces by Brown and Schwarzenegger administration officials and representatives of "Gang Green" environmental NGOs.

The creation of Astroturf groups and the hijacking by the oil industry of what passes for "marine protection" in California take place in the context of the increasing money and influence the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and the oil industry wields over state, federal and local government officials.

The oil industry has spent over $70 million on lobbyists in California since January 2009, including record amounts of money spent during the third quarter of 2014, according to a recent report written by Will Barrett, the Senior Policy Analyst for the American Lung Association in California.

Chevron was second only to the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) in oil industry spending on lobbyists since 2009 with a total of $15,542,565 spent. WSPA, the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, established to lobby for Chevron and other big oil companies, topped Chevron's own lobbying expenses with a total of $31,179,039 spent on lobbying since January 1, 2009.

From July 1 to September 30 alone, the oil industry spent an unprecedented $7.1 million lobbying elected officials in California "with a major focus on getting oil companies out of a major clean air regulation," said Barrett.

And this doesn't include spending on ballot measures or the recent election, including Chevron spending $3 million (unsuccessfully!) to elect "their" candidates to the Richmond City Council. Big Oil also dumped $7.6 million into defeating a measure calling for a fracking ban in Santa Barbara County and nearly $2 million into an unsuccessful campaign to defeat a measure banning fracking and other extreme oil extraction techniques in San Benito County.

People need to understand that the millions Chevron and other oil companies have spent on lobbying, campaign contributions and setting up "Astroturf" groups promoting the oil industry agenda are small change to Big Oil. The five big oil companies - BP, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell - made a combined total of $93 billion in profits last year. Big Oil's estimated profits in 2014 to date are over $87 billion.  

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30,000 people demand that Big Oil Brown halt offshore fracking

by: Dan Bacher

Mon Nov 17, 2014 at 15:48:31 PM PST

The state and federal governments have been in collusion with Big Oil in California for decades - and people concerned about the future of fish, wildlife and the oceans are fed up with the fact that Southern California's oceans were fracked at least 203 times over the past 20 years.

Citing the threats to coastal communities and marine wildlife posed by fracking pollution, the Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday, November 12 delivered a petition signed by more than 30,000 people urging Governor Jerry Brown to halt offshore fracking in California's coastal waters.

The petition was released the same week that a new report by American Lung Association's Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing revealed that the oil industry from July through Sept 2014 spent an amazing $7.1 million lobbying legislators in Sacramento.

"California's coast is a natural treasure, upon which millions of people and animals depend. But now oil companies are threatening entire ecosystems by intensifying drilling with toxic fracking techniques," the petition says.

It urges Brown to "act now to halt this dangerous practice and preserve our oceans for future generations."

"Thousands of people are urging Gov. Brown to stop offshore fracking before dangerous chemicals or an oil spill inflict catastrophic damage," said Miyoko Sakashita, the Center's Oceans director. "Fracking offshore and onshore poses a toxic threat to our air, water and wildlife. The governor can end fracking in California and reject oil development plans that would frack federal waters off our coast."

The Center wants Brown to halt offshore fracking in state waters under the Emergency Service Act, which authorizes the governor to impose a broad array of measures to protect the health and safety of state residents. Federal law also gives governors a special say in offshore oil and gas decisions that Brown could use to fight fracking in federal waters in the Santa Barbara Channel, according to Yamashita.

Yamashita said oil companies have fracked hundreds of wells off California's coast and the oil industry has federal permission to annually dump more than 9 billion gallons of wastewater, including chemical-laden fracking fluid, directly into the ocean off California's coast.

This rampant fracking has only become possible because of the cozy relationship between federal and state regulators and the oil industry, the largest and most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento.

"The California Coastal Commission, meeting this week in Half Moon Bay, has struggled to determine the full extent of offshore fracking, which involves blasting water and industrial chemicals into the seafloor at pressures high enough to crack rocks and release oil and gas," according to Sakashita.

Offshore fracking is no surprise

The intensive fracking taking place off the California coast is no surprise to grassroots environmentalists, fishermen and Tribal leaders who challenged the corrupt Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

In one of the biggest conflicts of interest in recent California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and leader of the campaign to expand offshore oil drilling and fracking in California, CHAIRED the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create fake "marine protected areas" on the South Coast. She also served on the task forces to create the alleged "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

This is not just a case of where the regulated have captured the regulators. In the case of the MLPA Initiative, the regulated - a big oil lobbyist and other corporate interests - actually served as the regulators!

The MLPA Initiative, funded by the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, created so-called "marine protected areas" that fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and Tribal gathering. These "marine protected areas" are good for Big Oil, polluters and corporate interests - and bad for sustainable fishermen, tribal gatherers and the public trust.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and media investigations by Associated Press and truthout.org reveal that the ocean has been fracked at least 203 times in the past 20 years, including the period from 2004 to 2012 that Reheis-Boyd served as a "marine guardian." (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/10/19/calif-finds-more-instances-of-offshore-fracking/3045721/)

The Western States Petroleum Association that Reheis-Boyd heads is the most powerful corporate lobbying group in California. The association spent over $4 million, a new record, for the three month period from July 1 through September 30. (http://truth-out.org/news/item/27373-western-states-petroleum-association-spent-4-million-lobbying-this-summer)

New report documents Big Oil's increase in lobbying expenses!

Will Barrett, the Senior Policy Analyst for the American Lung Association in California, has just published a new report revealing that the oil industry has spent $70 million on lobbyists in California since 2009. (See the in-depth analysis here: http://www.lung.org/associatio...

In the last three months alone, the oil industry has spent an unprecedented $7.1 million lobbying elected officials with a major focus on getting oil companies out of a major clean air regulation.

The oil industry spending total from July through Sept 2014 amounts to an amazing $2.4 million/month, $78,000/day, $3,200/hour, $54/minute and $1/second!

And this doesn't include spending on ballot measures or the recent election, including Chevron spending $3 million (unsuccessfully) to elect "their" candidates to the Richmond City Council. Big Oil also dumped $7.6 million into defeating a measure calling for a fracking ban in Santa Barbara County and nearly $2 million into an unsuccessful campaign to defeat a measure banning fracking and other extreme oil extraction techniques in San Benito County.

The report documented record money spent on lobbying by the oil industry through the first 9 months of 2014. Big Oil has spent $13.6 million lobbying elected officials so far this year:
• This surpassed the prior record ($13.5 million) seen in all of 2013.
• The industry pent $1.5 million per month lobbying in 2014.
• Oil interests represented 17 percent of all lobbying in California last quarter.

The report also revealed huge increases in July-September 2014 compared to previous quarters. Big Oil made significant increases in spending in 2014 as the legislative session came to a close and as the industry intensified its anti-AB 32 campaign:
• The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), whose president oversaw the creation of so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, spent $4 million in the last three months alone, more than twice historical levels
• WSPA spent more than $7 million so far in 2014, leading all statewide lobbying by a wide margin
• WSPA paid nearly $2.5 million to KP Public Affairs in 2013-14, the state's highest paid lobbying firm.
• Eight oil interests spent their most ever lobbying in California
• Four broke annual spending records in just 9 months.
• Phillips66 (4), Chevron (6) and Valero (9) are also all among the top ten lobbying spenders from July-Sept 2014.
• Phillips66 spent $880,000, 4 times over its recent average
• Valero spent $542,000 in 3 months - more than the prior 42 months combined.

Data source: Secretary of State's online campaign finance/lobbying disclosure database

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

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Strategic Leadership Forum in D.C. Greenwashes Brown's Tunnel Plan

by: Dan Bacher

Mon Nov 10, 2014 at 19:50:31 PM PST

No, this is not an April's Fool Day article - a group called the "North American Strategic Leadership Forum" selected Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build two massive tunnels under the Delta as the "Project of the Year" for 2014!

Organizations bestowing awards to undeserving politicians, projects and organizations is nothing new. In recent years, big "environmental" NGOs have given environmental leadership awards to politicians such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown, two of the worst Governors for fish, water and the environment in California history, to curry favor with them.

Among the groups to give Schwarzenegger awards for his "green" leadership, in spite of his war on salmon, the Delta and the oceans, included the Hudson Riverkeeper at their annual "Fishermen's Banquet" in New York City in April 2010.

Then the Monterey Bay Aquarium and an array of corporate "environmental" NGOs gave the very undeserving Governor Jerry Brown the "Ocean Champion" award in 2012. (www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/04/05/18710843.php‎).

In October 2013, The Blue Green Alliance had planned to give Governor Jerry Brown the "Right Stuff" award in San Francisco, but he didn't show up because of the protest by environmental and Native American activists outside the hotel where the event was held.

However, the North American Strategic Leadership Forum recently topped even these shamelessly pandering organizations in their attempt to greenwash anti-environmental politicians and projects by honoring the California Department of Water Resources' Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels.

The Forum, which "draws more than 500 industry executives from all aspects of an infrastructure project lifecycle - including lenders and investors, law, design, engineering and construction firms, and owner operators - to focus on projects with business opportunities available within the next 3-18 months," just honored the Bay Delta Conservation Plan as the "Engineering Project of the Year" in Washington D.C. (http://www.bus-ex.com/article/north-american-infrastructure-winners)

It gets worse. The BDCP was also named a finalist for the categories of "Strategic Project of the Year" and "Green/New Project of the Year." (http://www.cg-la.com/media-enquiries/press-releases/59-press-releases/cg-la-announces-finalists-for-top-project-in-north-america-pr)

Water activist Jerry Cadagan commented, "To once again steal from humorist Dave Barry, 'we are not making this up!'"

It is interesting that the California Department of Water Resources applied for these awards, but did not publicize receiving them.

The forum features the following description for the BDCP:

Bay Delta Conservation Plan Tunnels
Subsector: Water Transmission
Location: California
Value: US $25 billion
Stage: Planned
Project Sponsor: California Department of Water Resources
Project Presenter: Jim Macrae, Senior Project Manager, California Department of Water Resources

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) is a part of California's overall water management portfolio. It is being developed as a 50-year habitat conservation plan with the goals of restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem and securing California water supplies. The BDCP would secure California's water supply by building new water delivery infrastructure and operating the system to improve the ecological health of the Delta. The BDCP also would restore or protect approximately 150,000 acres of habitat to address the Delta's environmental challenges. (http://www.cg-la.com/forums/nalf6/projects#NI)

Lets get this right, folks - this forum gave Jerry Brown's Peripheral Tunnel Plan, potentially one of the most environmentally destructive projects in California history, "Engineering Project of the Year" for 2014 and listed the boondoggle as a finalist  for the categories of "Strategic Project of the Year" and "Green/New Project of the Year?"

Apparently the leadership of the forum is not aware of the scathing criticisms of the project by an array of science panels, ranging from the National Academy of Sciences Sciences, to a panel of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service scientists, to the Delta Independent Science Board.

Nor was the group apparently aware of the state and federal government's decision to delay the $67 billion proposed project until sometime in 2015, following the 43-page comment letter by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) slamming the Bay Delta Conservation Plan's draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS).  

Now did the forum leadership apparently know that the scathing EPA comments came on top of some 4,500 pages of searing reviews by municipalities, counties and water agencies that would be adversely impacted by the project, almost 2,000 pages of highly critical comments by environmental and fishing organizations, hundreds of pages of harsh analyses by government agencies and stinging comments from many thousands of California citizens reveal that BDCP is suffering from a congenital terminal illness, according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California

The EPA diagnosis pointed out that operating the proposed conveyance facilities "would contribute to increased and persistent violations of water quality standards in the Delta, set under the Clean Water Act," and that the tunnels "would not protect beneficial uses for aquatic life, thereby violating the Clean Water Act."

The letter noted that the EIR/EIS "assumes a 100 percent success rate for habitat restoration, which is not consistent with our experience, or supported by restoration ecology and conservation biology academic literature and scientific investigation" and detailed the likelihood that proposed habitat restoration would exacerbate the production and transport of methylmercury."

EPA also criticized the failure to analyze upstream/downstream impacts and observed that there is broad scientific agreement that "existing freshwater flow conditions in the San Francisco Estuary are insufficient to protect the aquatic ecosystem and multiple fish species, and that both increased freshwater flows and aquatic habitat restoration are needed to restore ecosystem processes in the Bay Delta and protect native and migratory fish populations."

The agency identified serious inadequacies in the level of analysis, the restoration and adaptive management programs, finance plan, selection of alternatives and found numerous major flaws in the specific effects determinations and impact analyses.

Does that sound like a project that deserves "Engineering Project of the Year" award and warrants being listed as a finalist for "Strategic Project of the Year" and "Green/New Project of the Year?"

Only folks who live a parallel universe devoid of logic, science and common sense would give grant ANY award to a $67 billion project that will hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

EPA's comments on the BDCP EIR/EIS and more information about the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance can be found at: http://www.calsport.org.  

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Western States Petroleum Association spent $4 million lobbying in Sacramento this summer

by: Dan Bacher

Fri Nov 07, 2014 at 16:38:54 PM PST

The oil industry spent millions in political campaigns in California this election cycle, led by the over $7.6 million that they used to defeat a measure calling for a fracking ban in Santa Barbara County.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, lauded the "volunteers" of the No on Measure P campaign for their successful efforts in a tweet to her supporters:

"Congrats to the @NoOnMeasureP team & all the volunteers who helped make today reality! Glad Santa Barbara got it right on science & facts!"

The oil industry also spent over $3 million in an unsuccessful effort to influence city council elections in Richmond California, as well as nearly $2 million in an unsuccessful campaign to defeat a measure banning fracking and other extreme oil extraction techniques in San Benito County.

While mainstream media focused considerable attention on the millions of dollars dumped into political campaigns, they failed to mention the record $4,009,177.87 that the Western States Petroleum Association spent on lobbying legislators from July 1 through September 30.

A news release from Sierra Club California reported, "Just days before the election, 7th quarter lobbying filings for the two-year legislative session were released. They showed that the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the lead trade association for oil companies, spent more than $4 million to influence legislators during the period including July, August and September this year, the last three active months of the legislative session. That compares to $1.7 million the group spent during the 6th quarter."

According to the documents that WSPA filed with the California Secretary of State's Office, the $4,009,177.87 included a total of $453,377.03 to lobbying firms, $1259.26 for "other expenses" and $3,554,541.58 for "total other payments to influence."
(http://cal-access.ss.ca.gov/PDFGen/pdfgen.prg?filingid=1911643&amendid=0

The largest amount of money spent on lobbying firms, $375,800.53, went to KP Public Affairs in Sacramento.

Stop Fooling California (http://www.stopfoolingca.org), an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies' efforts to mislead and confuse Californians, asked in a tweet and on Facebook, "We know what @OfficialWSPA lobbyists give Sacramento. What are you getting in return?"

They also challenged Reheis Boyd: "Hey @WSPAPrez, how come you spent $4 million this summer lobbying against CA's #cleanair laws?"

Besides fighting California's clean air laws, massive oil industry opposition resulted in the defeat of a bill to protect a marine protected area in Southern California from oil drilling. On August 26, State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson's bill to ban offshore oil drilling from an area of state waters in the Santa Barbara Channel known as Tranquillon Ridge stalled on the Assembly Floor effectively killing the bill for the year.

The bill, SB 1096, would have protected the Vandenburg State Marine Reserve, created under the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, and the rest of the Tranquillon Ridge from offshore oil drilling plans.

The mainstream media and the "alternative" media, with this exception of this reporter, failed to note the extreme irony of the fact that WSPA President Reheis-Boyd had chaired the panel to create alleged "marine protected areas" in Southern California and sat on the panel to develop "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast! (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/09/08/18761341.php)

The oil industry also defeated Senator Holly Mitchell and Mark Leno's bill, SB 1132, calling for a fracking moratorium in California. State Senators voting 'NO' on the fracking moratorium bill on May 29, 2014 received 14 times as much money the oil and gas industry, on average ($25,227), as senators voting 'YES' ($1,772) from January 1, 2009 to December 21, 2012, according to MapLight, a non profit organization revealing money's influence on politics.

The WSPA and the oil companies also were able to gut Senator Fran Pavley's already weak Senate Bill 4, the "green light for fracking" bill, by introducing poison pill amendments before the Legislature passed it and the Governor signed it in September 2013.

A huge conflict of interest that the corporate media refuses to discuss

Besides serving as the voice for the oil industry, WSPA President Reheis-Boyd also wears another hat - "marine guardian" - that has allowed her and other corporate interests to help eviscerate "marine protection" in California. I have discussed this conflict of interest in many of my previous articles, but it essential to review again because the mainstream media and most of the "alternative" media refuse to discuss it.

In one of the biggest conflicts of interest in recent California history, Reheis-Boyd served as the Chair of the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative that created fake "marine protected areas" in Southern California. She was appointed by the Schwarzenegger administration to the position, in spite of a massive outcry by fishermen, Tribal members and grassroots environmentalists over the enormous conflict of interest that her appointment presented - and how this appointment further tainted an already corrupt process.(http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mpa/brtf_bios_sc.asp)

While she was pushing for increased fracking and offshore oil drilling in California, the oil industry lobbyist also served on the task forces to create questionable "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

These alleged "marine protected areas" 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 gathering. The Marine Life Protection Act Initiative, lauded by corporate "environmentalists" and state officials as the "most open and transparent" process in California history, was in fact one of the most corrupt and conflict of interest-infested environmental fiascos ever seen in the state.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and media investigations by Associated Press and truthout.org reveal that the ocean has been fracked at least 203 times in the past 20 years, including the period from 2004 to 2012 that Reheis-Boyd served as a "marine guardian." (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/10/19/calif-finds-more-instances-of-offshore-fracking/3045721/)

As if serving on a state marine protection panel wasn't bad enough, Reheis-Boyd also serves on a federal government marine protected areas panel. The National Marine Protected Areas Center website lists Reheis-Boyd as a member of a 20 member MPA (Marine Protected Areas) Advisory Committee.

Background: Big Oil Money and Power in California

While there are many powerful industries based in California, ranging from the computer and high tech industry to corporate agribusiness, no industry has more influence over the state's environmental policies than Big Oil.

An ongoing analysis of reports filed with the California Secretary of State shows that the oil industry, the largest and most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento, collectively spent over $63 million lobbying California policymakers between January 1, 2009 and June 30, 2014.

The Western States Petroleum Association, led by President Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, topped the oil industry lobby spending with $26,969,861.

A report released on April 1, 2014 by the ACCE Institute and Common Cause also revealed that the oil industry spent $123.6 million to lobby elected officials in California from 1999 through 2013. This was an increase of over 400 percent since the 1999-2000 legislative session, when the industry spent $4.8 million. In 2013-2014 alone, the top lobbyist employer, Western States Petroleum Association, spent $4.7 million.

The report also documents that Big Oil has spent $143.3 million on political candidates and campaigns - nearly $10 million per year and more than any other corporate lobby - over the past fifteen years. (http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2014/04/10/bil_oil_floods_the_capitol_4.1.14v2.pdf)

In addition to the oil industry spending exerting its enormous power through campaign contributions, lobbying legislators and serving on state and federal regulatory panels, the oil industry also has set up "Astroturf" groups, including the California Drivers Alliance and Fueling California, to fight against environmental regulations protecting our air, water, land, fish, wildlife and human health.

Yet these millions of dollars are just chump change to Big Oil, since the five big oil companies made over $93 billion in profits in 2013. This year their estimated profits to date are over $78 billion.(http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2014/02/10/83879/with-only-93-billion-in-profits-the-big-five-oil-companies-demand-to-keep-tax-breaks/)  

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Goliath Wins Against David on Prop. 1

by: Dan Bacher

Wed Nov 05, 2014 at 19:05:08 PM PST

Proposition 1, Governor Jerry Brown's $7.5 billion water bond, sailed to easy victory on November 4, as forecasted in a number of polls.

The election results show how the power of millions of dollars of corporate money in the corrupt oligarchy of California were able to defeat a how a grassroots movement of fishermen, environmentalists, Indian Tribes and family farmers opposed to Prop. 1.

The Hoopa Valley, Yurok, Winnemem Wintu and Concow Maidu Tribes, the defenders of California's rivers and oceans for thousands of years, strongly opposed Prop. 1. because of the threat the bond poses to water, salmon and their culture. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/11/04/18763767.php)

Prop. 1 proponents, including a rogue's gallery of oil companies, corporate agribusiness tycoons, Big Tobacco, health insurance companies and greedy billionaires, dumped over $16.4 million into the campaign, while Prop. 1 opponents raised around $100,000 for the effort. In other words, the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign outmatched the No on Prop. 1 campaign by a factor of 164 to 1.

In a state and country where corporations have the same rights as people, the political game is rigged so that Goliath is usually able to defeat David. The state's voters, responding to the avalanche of pro-Prop. 1 ads funded by corporate interests, approved the measure by a vote of 66.77 percent to 33.23 percent.

The results of the Prop. 1 campaign are a classic example why everybody who cares about the future of this state and country should join the Move to Amend Coalition. From Massachusetts to Ohio, from Illinois to Florida, and Wisconsin, citizens voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to pass a Constitutional amendment calling for an end to the doctrines of corporate Constitutional rights and money as free speech.

The Amendment states: "We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling and other related cases, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights."

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

Farming, Conservation, Environmental Groups: Prop. 1 Didn't Solve Our Water Crisis

Californians for Fair Water Policy, a statewide coalition of environmental, water conservation, fishing, farming and community organizations and Indian Tribes, responded to the passage of Prop. 1 by calling for a new focus on sustainable water policies and for the governor to abandon his proposed Delta Tunnels project to export water from the Sacramento River to corporate agribusiness interests, Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations.

"When Californians wake up today following the election, the water challenges we face are still huge and pressing," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta. "Now that the debate over Prop. 1 is behind us; it is time to look at sustainable solutions to our water challenges. Whether you supported or opposed Prop 1, we all agree that it will do nothing to address our current drought. So we need to face the fact that the State has over allocated up to 5 times more water than is normally available in our rivers and streams."

"Proposition 1 will not solve our water crisis," says Adam Scow, California Director of Food & Water Watch. "Its proponents sold the water bond as a way to protect California from future drought, but Prop 1 fails to address the real problems, especially the State's poor management of our water resources. Governor Brown must balance California's overstretched water budget and reduce allocations to water-wasting super-farms in the desert. Food & Water Watch will continue to work with allies to ensure that Prop 1's voter-approved funds benefit the public interest, and do not promote corporate interests by building new dams and subsidizing excessive water transfers to unsustainable agribusiness operations."

"Prop. 1 did not change any of these stubborn facts: the Delta has been overpumped for decades, and this cannot be sustained, and our salmon and other fisheries are on the verge of collapse," said Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. "The one thing that must be done if we're going to stabilize the state's water policies: balance water rights claims to actual water supplies."

"The governor is still wedded to his Bay Delta Conservation Plan/Delta Tunnels project, which the EPA has said would violate the Clean Water Act," said Bob Wright, Senior Counsel of Friends of the River. "The Delta Tunnels project is fatally flawed, and the governor should abandon it and instead promote sustainable water solutions."

"We urge the governor to shift his concentration from the doomed Delta Tunnels project to large scale recycling, conservation, storm water capture, ground water clean up projects, and other new drought technologies that will provide local jobs and reduce reliance on imported water supplies," said Conner Everts, Executive Director, Southern California Watershed Alliance. "Sustainable water programs are needed to safeguard California from inevitable future droughts."

Billionaires, Corporate Interests Dumped Over $16.4 Million into Prop. 1 Campaign

Voters throughout the state fiercely debated the pros and cons of Proposition 1, Jerry Brown's $7.5 billion water bond, before they went to the polls on November 4.

While the pros and cons are important, an even bigger issue in any environmental battle or process is the money behind the campaign. The big corporate money spent on the water bond largely determines who the bond will benefit - billionaires, agribusiness, oil companies and corporate "environmental" NGOs, not the fish, wildlife or people of California.

The passage of Proposition 1 was inevitable considering the millions of dollars dumped into the campaign by Governor Brown and his collaborators - and the deceptive campaign ads run by the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign cynically employing fear-mongering over the drought to scare Californians into voting for Prop. 1.

I have discussed the campaign contributions to Prop. 1 in my previous articles, but it's a good idea to review these contributions again, now that the election is over.

Contributions to Brown's Yes on Props 1 and 2 Committee totalled $13,880,528.43, according to the latest data posted on the California Secretary of State's website. (http://cal-access.ss.ca.gov/Campaign/Measures/Detail.aspx?id=1369617&session=2013)

The contributions feature millions of dollars from billionaires, corporate agribusiness, Big Oil and the tobacco industry - corporate interests that all expect a big return for their "investment" in the corrupt "play to pay" politics that rules California today.

Contributions to the committee from the period from October 1 to October 18 alone amounted to $9,537,048.90.

Expenditures during the period from January 1 through October 18 were $10,728,645.50, with $10,149,477.92 just from the period of October 1 to October 18.

But this isn't the only committee that funded the Yes on 1 campaign. When you consider the other committees backing Prop.1 listed on the Secretary of State's website, the total amount of contributions jumps by another $2,541,257.91 to $16,421,785.91!

The "California Business Political Action Committee," sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce, raised $550,000 for Yes on 1 and 2 during the period from January 1 to October 18, 2014.

The "Wetlands Conservation Committee, Yes on Prop. 1," sponsored by Ducks Unlimited, Audubon California and the Nature Conservancy, raised $215,000 from January 1 through October 18.

Other committees backing Prop. 1 include:

• The "Conservation Action Fund": $818,623.78

• The Sac Valley Water & Rice For Prop. 1: $44,499.00

• Think Long Committee, sponsored by the Nicolas Berggruen Institute Trust, Supporting Propositions 1 and 2: $250,000

• Western Plant Health Association, Supporting Propositions 1 and 2: $100,000

• NRDC Action Fund Ballot Measures Committee - Yes on Prop. 1; $9,514.27

• Environmental Coalition for Water and Wildlife Protection - Yes on Prop. 1: $102,000

• The Southern California District County Laborers PAC: $58,219.02

• The California Water Association Political Issues Committee - Yes on Prop. 1: $100,000

• Laborers Pacific Southwest Regional Organizing Coalition Issues PAC - Yes on Props 1 and 2: $293,401.84

While the committees backing Prop. 1 raised over $16.4 million, the Vote No on Prop. 1 campaign raised over $97,999, a small fraction of the money raised by Prop. 1 proponents.

In addition, opponents of Prop. 1 revealed that the Nature Conservancy donated $500,000 to the campaign.

"Prop. 1's big dam projects will make very little new water, and the water will mainly go to unsustainable huge agribusinesses," said Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. "Most disturbing is the $500,000 that the Nature Conservancy has contributed to the Prop 1 campaign. The Nature Conservancy has benefited from the gifting of public lands in the Delta by the Department of Water Resources."

She emphasized, "The Nature Conservancy turned a blind eye to oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for the ability to manage wetlands, and pumps oil on its own lands. In California, they are turning a blind eye to the issue of how water exports will be accelerated from the Bay-Delta estuary if Prop. 1 passes, and how this water will fill Governor Brown's Delta tunnels. They are supporting water policies that will serve special corporate interests in exchange for the opportunity to manage more conservancy projects in the Delta and throughout California."

The campaign for and against Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond on the November 4 ballot, was the classic David and Goliath battle of this election season in California.

Governor Jerry Brown, the Republican and Democratic Party establishment, corporate agribusiness interests, oil companies, construction unions, corporate "environmental" NGOs, prominent billionaires, the health care industry and big water agencies backed the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign. In contrast, a grassroots coalition of fishing groups, environmentalists, consumer organizations, Indian Tribes, family farmers and Delta water agencies campaigned against Proposition 1.

The top 18 campaign contributors - those who donated $250,000 or more - raised a total of $12,005,279 for the Yes on Prop. 1 and 2 campaign, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). (http://fppc.ca.gov/top10Nov2014/)

These contributions include $250,000 donated to the campaign by Aera Energy LLC, a company jointly owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil.

The Bakersfield-based Aera Energy is one of California's largest oil and gas producers, accounting for nearly 25 percent of the state's production, according to the company's website. (http://www.aeraenergy.com/who-we-are.asp)

Corporate agribusiness interests, the largest users of federal and state water project water exported through the Delta pumping facilities, donated a total of $850,000 to the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign. The California Farm Bureau Federation contributed $250,000 and the Western Growers Service Association donated $250,000.

Stewart Resnick, the Beverly Hills agribusiness tycoon, owner of Paramount Farms and largest orchard fruit grower in the world, contributed $150,000 and the California Cotton Alliance contributed $200,000 to the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign.

Resnick and his wife, Lynda, have been instrumental in promoting campaigns to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt populations and to build the fish-killing peripheral tunnels - and have made millions off reselling environmental water to the public.

The largest individual donor in the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign was Sean Parker, who contributed $1 million to the campaign. Parker is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist who cofounded the file-sharing computer service Napster and served as the first president of the social networking website Facebook.

Four members of the Fisher family, who own the Gap stores, collectively donated $1.5 million to the Yes. on Prop. 1 and Prop. 2 campaign. They also own the Mendocino Redwood Company and Humboldt Redwood Company, formerly the Pacific Lumber Company (PALCO), more than half a million acres of redwood forest lands in total.

Doris F. Fisher contributed $499,000, John J. Fisher $351,000, Robert J. Fisher $400,000 and William S. Fisher $250,000.

Tobacco giant Philip Morris also contributed $100,000 to Governor Brown's committee established to support Propositions 1 and 2. On October 20, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) called on the governor to return that money.

Folks like Stewart Resnick, the Fisher Family and other billionaires, the oil industry and agribusiness interests didn't dump millions into the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign for the common good or benefit of all Californians - they did it as a relatively small investment to advance their own interests and to further privatize and plunder the public trust, including our rivers, Delta and the oceans, for their own personal profit.

Winnemem Wintu Chief Caleen Sisk: It's All One Big Project

Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, said the water bond, peripheral tunnels, Shasta Dam raise and other water projects now being planned by the state and federal governments are in in reality "one Big Project" that will destroy salmon, rivers and groundwater supplies.

"It does not make sense that people are separating the water puzzle into individual pieces, such as: the raising of Shasta Dam, Proposition 1, the Delta tunnels, BDCP, Sites Reservoir, Temperance Flat, CALFED, Delta Vision, BDCP, OCAP, the Bay Delta, Trinity/Klamath Rivers, the Sacramento River, the San Joaquin River, and water rights," said Chief Sisk. "It is all one BIG Project."

She emphasized, "You have to look at the whole picture and everything in between from Shasta Dam to the Delta estuary. We need to ask what is affected by our actions and who is benefitting from them? These are not separate projects; they are all the same thing that the State is asking us to fund - California water being manipulated for the enrichment of some and the devastation of cultures, environments, and species all in the name of higher profits."  

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