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Jerry Brown

Groups Demand More Time for Review of Jerry Brown's Delta Tunnels Plan

by: Dan Bacher

Fri Jul 17, 2015 at 13:39:14 PM PDT

In their zeal to rush the controversial Delta tunnels plan through, the Brown and Obama administrations are doing everything they can to limit and suppress public comment on the revised EIS/EIS for the plan, potentially the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history.  

The California Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation imposed a public comment period of only 45 business days last Thursday when they announced the release of the revised documents. Comments are due by close of business Monday, August 31, 2015.

On July 16, a broad coalition of environmental and community organizations and California Indian Tribes demanded more time for the public to consider the controversial - and widely-criticized - public works project.

In a letter sent to the Department of the Interior, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, California Natural Resources Agency, and the California Department of Water Resources, the groups and Tribes decried the accelerated 45-day public comment period and seeks an extension to a standard 120-day comment period that will close on November 14, 2015.  

The signees to the letter are Conner Everts, the Co-Facilitator for the Environmental Water Caucus (EWC); Robert Wright, Senior Counsel for Friends of the River (FOR); Carolee Krieger, Executive Director of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN); Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA); and Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta (RTD).

"The short public comment period looks like a deliberate effort to make it virtually impossible for members of the public to be able to comprehend and respond with meaningful comments on the new NEPA and CEQP document," the groups said in the letter. "The BDCP agencies took almost one year to prepare the new documents and there is no public need for haste in providing too short a comment period."

The groups emphasized that despite more than 18,000 public comments on the original draft EIR/EIS, and despite repeated requests since December 2013, officials have refused to post any of the detailed comments by organizations or public agencies on the BDCP website.

"This deliberate concealment of independent and contrary views and information from the public also now makes it more difficult for the public to prepare meaningful comments on the new NEPA and CEQA documents. Moreover, comments such as those from the EPA and Army Corps constitute critical new information that would be the foundation for many informed comments at this time," the letter explained.

The letter also noted that the Department of Water Resources has declared it will not produce technical documents requested by public interest groups until August 28, 2015, just three days before the 45-day comment period ends.

The letter concluded, "In sum, the current comment period is inadequate because it fails to provide members of  the public with adequate time for review. The proposed project is the most controversial public  works project in California history. It is extremely complicated and the subject of voluminous  analysis in the form of project justification and advocacy. The subject is critically important to every Californian. We therefore request the additional time necessary to attempt to carefully scrutinize the subject NEPA and CEQA documents and then provide meaningful input by way of public comment."

You can read the letter here: http://www.friendsoftheriver.o...

The agencies recently divided the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the twin tunnels into two new components - California Water Fix, the conveyance part of the project, and California Eco Restore, the habitat "restoration" component. However, tunnels critics note that the "revised" project is essentially the same water grab for corporate agribusiness, developers and Southern California water agencies as the old one.

The tunnels will hasten the extinction of Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations of the Trinity and Klamath rivers, yet they will not provide any new water, according to Delta advocates.

"Virtually every promulgated statute and regulatory standard protecting the Delta has been routinely ignored and violated over the last three decades and, consequently, any assurances and promises by Delta tunnel proponents are worthless," said Bill Jennings, CSPA Executive Director. "California has been in a drought cycle more than forty percent of the time over the last hundred years and the tunnels will not provide a single additional drop of water. They will, however, further degrade Delta water quality and exacerbate conditions that have brought fisheries to the brink of extinction."

The reason for the state and federal governments' continued cheerleading for the Delta tunnels plan, in spite of the project having no basis whatsoever in science, logic or economics, is due to the biggest issue we face in water and other environmental politics in California and the nation today - the capture of the regulatory apparatus by the regulated. Corporate agribusiness, developers, Southern California water agencies, and other corporate interests are working hand in hand with the agencies to build the tunnels.

This capture of the regulatory apparatus by the regulated was highlighted in April when Delta advocates slammed Brown for breaking his campaign promise that bond money wouldn't be used to mitigate the environmental damage caused by the tunnels - a $25 billion project designed to export Sacramento River water to agribusiness interests, Southern California water agencies, and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations.

The admission by the Brown administration that it could use money from Proposition 1, the water bond, to pay for "habitat mitigation" linked to the construction and operation of the massive delta tunnels is no surprise, especially when you consider the Big Money interests that dumped $21,820,691 into the campaign. (http://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2015/04/29/why-governor-brown-broke-his-prop-1-promise-big-money-interests-dumped-218-million-into-the-prop-1-campaign)

The contributors are a who's who of Big Money interests in California, including corporate agribusiness groups, billionaires, timber barons, Big Oil, the tobacco industry, and the California Chamber of Commerce. There is no doubt that these wealthy corporate interests are expecting a big return for their "investment" in California's play-to-pay politic system, including the construction of the twin tunnels and new dams.  

The Winnemem Wintu Tribe, other tribal representatives and their allies challenged the capture of the regulatory apparatus by corporate interests on June 29 and 30  when they rallied, chanted, sang and waved signs on the sidewalk in front of Westin Hotel outside the Second California Water Summit in Sacramento.

They convened to protest Governor Jerry Brown's efforts to exclude California Tribes, environmentalists, fishermen and other key stakeholders in this public meeting about massive state water infrastructure projects proposed under Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond.

"This is a summit that is meant to help these people peddle Brown's projects that will benefit his buddies: agribusiness and water sellers in Southern California," said Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. "They are not interested in what's best for the people of California and their children."  

Members of the Concow Maidu, Miwok, Hoopa Valley, Pomo, Wailaki and other tribes and Native Hawaiian groups joined with local activists as they shouted, "Water is sacred, water is life, protect the salmon, protect water rights."  

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

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Meet the new water grab, same as the old water grab

by: Dan Bacher

Fri Jul 10, 2015 at 08:18:51 AM PDT

The state and federal governments released the EIR/EIS for the revised Delta Tunnels project, formerly known as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), on Thursday, July 9, a day earlier than environmentalists, fishermen and Tribal leaders had anticipated.

The Brown and Obama administrations touted the revised documents as "describing the changes and refinements made since last summer to the plant that seeks to secure California's water supplies and improve ecosystem conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta."

Continuing the lack of transparency and accountability to the public that the Brown and Obama administrations have become notorious for, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources announced that they will host a "media-only conference call" on Monday, July 13, 2015, to discuss the release of the revised document.

In their zeal to rush the plan through, the agencies are doing everything they can to limit and suppress public comment, with a public comment period of less than two months put in place. Comments are due by close of business Monday, August 31, 2015, just 54 days after the release of the EIR/EIS.

DWR has identified sub-alternative 4A (California WaterFix) as its preferred "conveyance" alternative The 2013 Draft EIR/EIS had previously identified Alternative 4 (BDCP) as DWR's preferred alternatives, according to the agencies.

"The new alternative described in these documents would help restore natural flow patterns in the Delta," claimed California Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin."With California WaterFix, we will not need to rely solely on south Delta pumping plants that can cause harmful reverse flows in nearby channels. We'll gain the flexibility to move water when and where it is safest for fish. With the release of a revised plan today, we are a step closer to finally modernizing our 50-year-old water conveyance system in the Delta and improving the reliability and sustainability of water supplies for California."

A "fact sheet" and "answers to frequently asked questions" are available at http://www.baydeltaconservatio... and http://www.californiawaterfix....

In anticipation of the release, Restore the Delta and a coalition of advocates for the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary held a teleconference on July 8 to preview the tunnels plan. While the Brown and Obama administrations claimed the "revised" plan would "restore natural flow patterns," tunnel opponents characterized the revised plan as a massive water grab by corporate agribusiness, Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations.

The teleconference took place the same day that Jerry Brown, the worst Governor for fish, water and the environment in recent California history, cynically called on states and provinces to join California in the "fight against climate change" in keynote remarks at the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto.

"The real source of climate action has to come from states and provinces," gushed Governor Brown, whose administration recently approved nine new offshore fracks in Southern California. "This is a call to arms. We're going to build up such a drumbeat that our national counterparts - they're going to listen." (http://cert1.mail-west.com/mc7rmhByjuO/jan/n31hBgtmyuz/qhB88dct3s41a9o/1hBqvn/geyd3rfebon3/hqshi?_c=d%7Cze7pzanwmhlzgt%7C13aborse3qlrtdu&_ce=1436459943.13d0bb084ec4b812a02dfee4436ab11c)

While Brown was greenwashing his abysmal environmental record, RTD and public trust advocates issued their own "call to arms" about how Brown's deeply flawed Bay Delta Conservation Plan failed to meet federal standards under the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act, or to pencil out the costs for water users.

They pointed out that the Brown administration leadership and tunnel boosters have employed public relations efforts like "Californians for Water Security" to rebrand the project "CA Water Fix" and "CA Eco Restore," though it will do neither, according to the groups.

Advocates warned that this repackaging of the water export tunnels will "waste up to $60 billion dollars without creating any new water, won't help desperate communities during the drought, or fund innovative water conservation, stormwater capture, or water recycling projects that cities are eager to build for resilience in a changing climate."

In addition, they said the lack of scoping meetings for the new plan, lack of details regarding financing, and addition of 8,000 new pages for public comment on top of the existing 40,000 pages, reveal that the Brown administration is seeking to move forward with the project "without transparency."

"$248 million spent thus far on drafts and publicity have netted a project-concept that will not produce one drop of new water for the state, but that has enriched special interest water and engineering consultants over the last eight years," according to the groups.

In the teleconference, Delta experts outlined three ways present State and Federal government action is harming the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary:

• Mismanagement of the Delta by the State Water Resources Control Board during the drought by suspending water quality standards;
• Federal legislation aiming to further weaken Delta protections and increase water exports;
• The plan to build massive Delta tunnels that will imperil Bay-Delta water quality and Northern California fisheries, inundate Delta family farms with salt water, and continue California's history of unsustainable water policy paid for by water rate and property tax payers.

Representatives of Delta water agencies, Friends of the River, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Restore the Delta and the Environmental Water Caucus commented on how the state and federal actions will push endangered species, such as Delta and longfin smelt, winter Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, over the abyss of extinction while failing to address the California drought and the state's long-term water supply needs.

"In this drought year, it is obvious there is not enough water in the system to meet species and in-basin needs and satisfy the insatiable water demands of the Delta water exporters," said Osha Meserve, Delta Water Rights attorney. "The tunnels, unlike water conservation, would not create any new water and would substantially degrade water quality, impairing the Clean Water Act mandate for the estuary to be fishable, swimmable and drinkable. The billions slated for investment in tunnels to literally reroute the Sacramento River will create even more pressure to push any remaining fish in the estuary over the brink of extinction, just like they have done this year."

Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), stated, "Virtually every promulgated statute and regulatory standard protecting the Delta has been routinely ignored and violated over the last three decades and, consequently, any assurances and promises by Delta tunnel proponents are worthless. California has been in a drought cycle more than forty percent of the time over the last hundred years and the tunnels will not provide a single additional drop of water. They will, however, further degrade Delta water quality and exacerbate conditions that have brought fisheries to the brink of extinction."

"The revised EIR does not consider the Environmental Water Caucus' sustainable export plan, which we have tried to get them to consider for more than three years," said Bob Wright, Senior Counsel for Friends of the River (FOR). "They have ignored the 8,000 public comments demanding a better plan. Rather than go back to the drawing board, this tunnels plan looks exactly like the old one. The deliberate suppression of alternatives reducing exports, coupled with the suppression of independent comments from the BDCP and Water Fix websites, is calculated to deceive the public about the adverse environmental effects and true costs of the Delta tunnels."  

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta (RTD), pointed out the threat posed by the recently introduced H.R. 2898 (Valadao), which would maximize water exports from the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary and further weaken regulations for endangered fish species.

"Today, Delta communities face invasive plant species and toxic algal blooms as a result of inadequate flow," said Barrigan-Parrilla. "HR 2898 does nothing to help with drought relief for 55 of California's 58 counties. It does nothing but shift public health and wealth to private hands through water transfers. HR 2898 is not in the interest of taxpayers and the general public, it is the same old water grab for industrial mega-growers."

Conner Everts, Facilitator for the Environmental Water Caucus (EWC), concluded, "Historic drought is proving, again, that local, cost effective and environmentally beneficial water solutions are immediate and eliminate the need for far away, costly, and environmentally detrimental speculative projects. With unprecedented response agencies like MWD are having to fully fund the huge demand for incentives and we are witnessing the future now."

"First things first: invest in local infrastructure and leaky pipes-LADWP today is announcing their local water and energy investment rate increase-stop dumping billions of gallons of treated wastewater into the ocean, and greatly increase efficiency while capturing and reusing stormwater, rainwater, and greywater. Our groundwater basins are being cleaned up and the opportunity to recharge and maintain like Orange County has been doing for years are the solutions of this century and the appropriate reaction to climate change and the extremes of this, the new normal," Everts said.

For more information about the campaign to stop the tunnels and the destruction of the San Francisco Bay Delta Estuary, go to: http://restorethedelta.org/

Two public meetings, one in Sacramento and one in Walnut Grover, are scheduled regarding the EIR/EIS:

• Sacramento - Tuesday, July 28, 2015, 3 to 7 p.m., Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel, Magnolia Room, 1230 J Street, Sacramento, C.A., 95814.

• Walnut Grove - Wednesday, July 29, 2015, 3 to 7 p.m., Jean Harvie Senior and Community Center, 14273 River Road, Walnut Grove, C.A., 95690.

Written comments are due by close of business Monday, August 31, 2015. Comments should be mailed to BDCP/WaterFix Comments, P.O. Box 1919, Sacramento, C.A., 95812, or emailed to BDCPComments [at] icfi.com.

Rather than taking Brown's cynical words about "climate change" and "green energy" at face value, people must look at Brown's actions, including expanding fracking in California; planning the construction of the most destructive public works project in California history, the Delta tunnels; driving Delta smelt, winter-run Chinook salmon and other fish species to the abyss of extinction; promoting pollution trading policies that benefit corporations at the expense of public health and the environment; and creating deeply flawed "marine protected areas" under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative that don't protect the ocean from oil spills, fracking, oil drilling and pollution.

For more information about the real environmental record of Governor Jerry Brown, go to: http://www.truth-out.org/speak...

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Gov. Brown quickly signs Vaccines Bill

by: Brian Leubitz

Wed Jul 01, 2015 at 09:10:56 AM PDT

Bill eliminates most non-medical exemptions

by Brian Leubitz

While SB277 may have drawn a lot of attention and vocal minorities to the Capitol (and anywhere else legislators congregated). But after the recent passage of the legislation, Governor Brown wasted no time in signing the bill yesterday.

SB 277 requires all children entering day care, kindergarten or 7th grade to be vaccinated, although the legislature included a specific exemption if a child's physician concludes that immunization is not recommended for reasons including family medical history. ...

Sen. Pan, speaking on KPCC's AirTalk on Tuesday, said he was pleased that Brown had "listened to the science, listened to the facts about vaccination." Brown, he said, has "taken a very important step in assuring we stop the erosion of community immunity in California and that we prevent diseases that should stay in the history books."(KPCC)

You can listen to that AirTalk program here. The governor's full letter is the right from the Chronicle's Melody Gutierrez.


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The Bay Delta Conservation Plan Forges Ahead

by: Dan Bacher

Mon Jun 22, 2015 at 14:27:59 PM PDT

If anybody thought the tremendous opposition to Jerry Brown's plan to build two giant tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta by fishermen, Indian Tribe leaders, family farmers, environmentalists and an array of scientific panels was enough to get the state and federal governments to ease their way out of the boondoggle, think again!

The Brown administration may have divided into two components - the California "Water Fix" (tunnels) component and the California "Eco Restore" component (habitat "restoration) - but the essence of the project remains the same. Whether you call the project a peripheral canal, pipes, Delta tunnels or some other term, the plan continues to be a shameless water grab by corporate agribusiness, Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations.

The commitment of the state and federal governments to push the plan forward was revealed on Friday, June 12, when the Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources filed notice in the federal register of their intent to prepare a partially "Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report/Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (RDEIR/SDEIS) on the Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan and Natural Community Conservation Plan."

"The RDEIR/SDEIS will describe and analyze refinement of the resource area analyses, alternatives, and actions, including additional alternatives that describe conveyance alternatives that do not contain all the elements of a Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Communities Conservation Plan that are described in the previously circulated Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS)," according to a joint announcement from the two agencies.

"Specifically, three new alternatives for conveyance facilities will be evaluated: Alternative 4A with three intakes, Alternative 2D with five intakes, and Alternative 5A with one intake. Should one of these new alternatives be chosen, they would be analyzed through the interagency consultation process as described under Section 7 of the Federal Endangered Species Act and the California Endangered Species Act through Section 2081(b) of the California Fish & Game Code," according to the agencies.

"Further, the recirculated documents will evaluate alternatives to support a determination of the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers," the announcement added.

Of course, the document doesn't include any alternatives that might actually address California's water supply and ecosystem needs, most notably the Environmental Water Caucus Responsible Exports Plan that sets an annual cap on Delta water exports of 3 million acre feet. (http://www.ewccalifornia.org/reports/responsibleexportsplanmay2013.pdf)

The construction of the twin tunnels would result in the extinction of Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon, Sacramento splittail and a host of other fish species, as well as imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

You can read the full notice online here: http://www.federalregister.gov...

Or in the actual federal register here: http://mavensnotebook.com/wp-c...

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Budget Deal Reached?

by: Brian Leubitz

Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 11:48:43 AM PDT

Legislature passed bill yesterday with $750mil over Gov.'s budget

by Brian Leubitz

Yesterday, the Legislature passed a budget as was required by the Constitution (and 2010's Prop 25) to keep their paychecks coming.

Senate Budget Chair Mark Leno acknowledged there's no deal yet with Gov. Brown but says he'd challenge anyone who calls this spending plan a "sham."

"This budget, fiscally responsible, pays down more debt - faster; puts more money in our rainy day fund; puts more money into public education; and begins - if minimally - to reinvest in the needs of the people of the state of California," Leno said on the Senate floor Monday. (Capitol Public Radio)

That was all well and good, but both the Senate and Assembly leaders acknowledged that the budget they passed wouldn't actually become law. The Governor wanted to slice a few million off of their budget, and wasn't going to sign the measure they passed.  

But they may have now reached a deal:

The Democratic governor is expected to hold a news conference at the Capitol on Tuesday afternoon. ...

The deal is expected to include additional money for child care and preschool programs, but likely not as much as legislative Democrats originally sought, a source said.(David Siders / SacBee)

Details are still emerging, but it appears that the Legislative Democrats got at least some portion of what they wanted in their own budget. How much still remains to be seen.

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Record of oil pipeline owner marred by 175 incidents since 2006

by: Dan Bacher

Sat May 23, 2015 at 11:55:38 AM PDT

During the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative process, corporate "environmental" NGO representatives and state officials went out of their way to make sure that Big Oil and other corporate polluters weren't impacted by the creation of alleged "marine protected areas" along the California coast.

State officials and MLPA Initiative advocates claimed that other state and federal laws and administrative actions "protect" the ocean from oil spills and new offshore oil drilling, so there was no need for specific bans or restrictions on oil industry activities in and near "marine protected areas."  

In violation of the provisions of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) of 1999, the "marine protected areas" failed to protect the ocean from oil spills, oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

Of course, MLPA Initiative advocates neglected to address why Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association, was allowed to CHAIR the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast and sat on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

However, as we can see from the oil spill disaster off the coast of Santa Barbara, the state and federal agencies responsible for enforcing the laws that are supposed to "protect" the ocean weren't able to prevent a big oil spill like the one now taking place from occurring. To make matters worse, these same agencies allowed oil companies to frack the ocean off California over 200 times over the past 20 years.  

Now we find out that company that owns the pipeline involved in Tuesday's major oil spill in Santa Barbara has had 175 incidents (mostly oil spills) nationwide since 2006, including 11 in California, according to a Center for Biological Diversity analysis of federal documents!

Plains Pipeline (a subsidiary of Plains All-American Pipeline) has also had federal enforcement actions initiated against it 20 times since 2006 for its operations across the country, according to data from the U.S. Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Many of those cases involve corrosion control and maintenance problems on its pipelines, including two cases in 2009 for which the company was fined $115,600.

"This company's disturbing record highlights oil production's toxic threat to California's coast," said Miyoko Sakashita, the Center's oceans program director. "Oil pipelines and offshore fracking and drilling endanger our fragile marine ecosystems. Every new oil project increases the risk of fouled beaches and oil-soaked sea life."

Sakashita said the ruptured oil pipeline near Refugio State Beach - a 24-inch wide, 11-mile long section carrying oil from offshore platforms and an Exxon Mobil processing plant onshore - leaked as much as 105,000 gallons of crude oil, including 21,000 gallons making it into the ocean, fouling about nine miles of coastal waters and beaches.

According to Sakashita, "The broken pipeline was 28 years old and operated by a company that has been repeatedly warned by government regulators to improve its procedures and control corrosion for its pipelines. Plains Pipeline had five incidents in California in 2014 alone, including the one that dumped oil into a Los Angeles neighborhood a year ago."

"Hundreds of miles of oil pipelines run through California's coastal areas, posing a serious threat of spills. A review released by the Center for Biological Diversity of federal data over the past 30 years shows that such oil spills from pipelines are a common and costly byproduct of oil production that has been rapidly increasing in the United States, including offshore," she noted.

An analysis of federal pipeline data commissioned last year by the Center showed there have been nearly 8,000 serious pipeline breaks nationwide since 1986, causing more than 2,300 injuries and nearly $7 billion in property damage. The vast majority of those incidents have involved oil pipelines, spilling more than 2 million barrels into waterways and on the ground. More than 35 percent of these incidents have been caused by corrosion or other spontaneous structural failures.

"The Santa Barbara Channel is rich in biodiversity, including whales, dolphins and more than 500 species of fish. Endangered blue whales often feed in the channel, and it is in the migration path for four other whales listed under the Endangered Species Act. Witnesses spotted sea lions and migrating whales in the coastal waters as the spill was taking place Tuesday," said Sakashita.

The Santa Barbara County coastline was the site of an oil platform explosion in 1969 that spilled up to 100,000 barrels of oil.

"If we're learned anything over the past 50 years, it's that coastal oil production remains inherently dangerous to wildlife, local communities and health of the planet," Sakashita said. "To protect our coast, we need to stop offshore drilling and fracking and quickly transition to cleaner energy sources."

She said offshore fracking has been used hundreds of times in recent years off California's coast, and oil companies are also making increasing use of techniques like acidizing to coax oil from beneath the ocean.

Oil spills like the latest one off Santa Barbara are inevitable as long as Big Oil is able to exert as much power and influence as it does now in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.  The oil industry is the largest and most powerful corporate lobby in California, with the Western States Petroleum Association alone spending $8.9 million on lobbying in 2014, nearly double what it spent the previous year.

To read my investigative piece on oil industry money and power in California in the East Bay Express, go to: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/...

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Winnemem Wintu representative responds to Brown's "Shut Up" comment

by: Dan Bacher

Wed May 13, 2015 at 18:32:11 PM PDT

Environmental groups and Tribes rally for rivers at Capitol

On May 11, Gary Mulcahy of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe responded to Jerry Brown's comment during a speech in Sacramento that opponents of the twin tunnels should "Shut Up" unless they had spent a "million hours" on the project like the administration's staff had. (https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/05/06/18771989.php)

"The Winnemem Wintu and California Indians have been on these rivers for over 6,000 years, praying for the water and praying for the salmon streams and fisheries all this time," said Mulcahy at a noon program at California Rivers Day at the State Capitol in Sacramento on Monday.  "We know our rivers and salmon and what they need. So Tunnel Vision Brown, until you have been on the rivers for over 6,000 years, Shut Up."

The Tribe has been fighting for years to stop a federal plan to raise Shasta Dam, a project that would inundate many of the Winnemen Wintu's remaining sacred sites, and to restore the original run of winter run Chinook salmon, now thriving in New Zealand, to the McCloud River above Lake Shasta.

California Rivers Day 2015 brought together 23 river groups from throughout the state and two Indian Tribes to speak up for rivers and call on state leaders to support "sustainable drought solutions" at noon at the West Steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento.

The noon program that Mulcahy spoke at was preceded by a "Paddle to the Capitol" that arrived at the Tower Bridge public boat dock at 10:30 am.

"The drought is taking a major toll on our rivers-California's lifeblood," according to Eric Wesselman, Executive Director of Friends of the River. "In addition to the noon program event at the Capitol, this day included a morning paddle down the Sacramento River to the Capitol, informational booths on the West Steps of the building, and meetings with legislators to promote sustainable drought solutions that protect our rivers."  

Katherine Evatt of the Foothill Conservancy, who also spoke at the noon rally, said, "California rivers matter. It is important that California rivers have a voice in the Legislature. We gathered here today to give California rivers a voice and to tell the Legislature that California rivers matter - and to make sure that they do not lose sight of that in the drought."  

The groups and Tribes released a letter to Governor Jerry Brown, Senator Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and Speaker Toni Atkins urging them to take a number of actions:

• Oppose any potential legislative efforts to weaken environmental protections for rivers  such as removing Wild & Scenic River protections for the McCloud River, reducing  minimum flow standards, or shortcutting the environmental review process for surface storage projects by undercutting the California Environmental Quality Act.

• Oppose AB 1242 (Gray) as it would undermine the Water Board's authority to require adequate instream flows to protect water quality, fish and wildlife, and aquatic habitat.

• Support SB 226 (Pavley), and expedite implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014, especially for critical overdraft basins, to ensure that the limits on surface water sources do not lead to over-pumping of groundwater and the collapse of our aquifers-California's largest, cheapest, and most environmentally sound reservoirs.

• Support SB 637 (Allen) to provide for the regulation of motorized suction dredge gold mining.

•Support AB 142 (Bigelow) to require the Resources Secretary to study and make a recommendation to the Legislature as to whether 37 miles of the Mokelumne River should be protected in the California Wild & Scenic Rivers System.

• Support SB 555 (Wolk) to take a needed step toward reducing system losses by requiring annual water loss audits and reporting.

• Support AB1, now in the Senate, (Brown) to prohibit a city or county from imposing a fine for a brown lawn or failure to water a lawn during a period for which the Governor has issued a state of emergency due to drought conditions.    

The letter also noted that "building massive surface storage projects" will not address the water crisis:

"The Public Policy Institute of California recently reported that the five major surface water storage projects currently under study (including the three most controversial projects - the Shasta Dam raise, Temperance Flat Dam, and Sites Reservoir) will cost roughly $9 billion but increase annual average supplies by just 1 percent. What these projects will do is put the state deeper in debt, delay our pursuit of real solutions, and destroy rivers along with Native American culture, family ranches, and thousands of acres of habitat for wildlife."

Organizations that participated in the event included the following:
Friends of the River
Foothill Conservancy
California Hydropower Reform Coalition
South Yuba River Citizens League
Sacramento River Preservation Trust
All Outdoors
California Sport Fishing Protection Alliance
Restore the Delta
Tuleyome
Adventure Connection
American Whitewater
American Rivers
New Voices Are Rising
Winnemem Wintu Tribe
American River Conservancy
Delta Kayaking Adventures
Tuolumne River Trust
Mother Lode Adventures
Paddle with Purpose
Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians
Protect American River Canyons
Effie Yeah Nature Center
American River Natural History Association
San Joaquin River Parkway & Conservation Trust
Save the American River Association

To learn more about California Rivers Day, go to: http://www.friendsoftheriver.o...

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The Extinction Governor Rips the Green Mask off His Tunnels Plan!

by: Dan Bacher

Tue Apr 14, 2015 at 03:37:25 AM PDT

Brown's ditching of plan's "conservation" components is part of larger pattern  

Governor Jerry Brown has finally admitted what most Californians have known all along - the "conservation" and "habitat restoration" components of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan have been nothing but window dressing for the twin tunnels water grab, potentially the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history.

On April 13, Restore the Delta (RTD), a coalition of anti-tunnels organizations and individuals, and the Center for Biological Diversity responded to the governor's abandonment of the pretense of "conservation" and "restoration" and move to permit a "tunnels only" Bay Delta Conservation Plan, as reported in the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times and other media outlets. (http://www.mercurynews.com/drought/ci_27895910/delta-tunnels-major-changes-environmental-restoration-could-endanger)

According to Paul Rogers in the Mercury News:

"Gov. Jerry Brown has billed his $25 billion plan to build two massive tunnels under the Delta as a way to not just make it easier to move water from north to south, but also increase the reliability of water supplies and bring back salmon and other endangered species.

But now the Brown administration is proposing a major and politically risky change: dropping a 50-year guarantee to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta's environment. A centerpiece of the project, the environmental plan included $8 billion to preserve 100,000 acres of wetlands and dozens of other restoration efforts."

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, noted that for eight years, Californians had been told that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan was going to serve what became law in 2009 - the so-called  "co-equal goals of restoring the Delta and providing water supply reliability."

"Our position has been that these co-equal goals are irreconcilable because the Delta watershed has been over subscribed five times," said Barrigan-Parrilla. "The BDCP planning process culminated in a 40,000-page plan and corresponding EIR/EIS, which cannot be permitted by Federal fish agencies because it failed to meet science-based standards for recovery of fisheries."

She emphasized, "Proponents of the BDCP are lamenting that, after 8 years and $240,000,000, they do not have a viable project. Even proponents now admit the BDCP was supposed to do something better, but it does not meet the 'better' standard."

The Center for Biological Diversity also responded to the Brown administration's revelation that the twin tunnels project to divert water from the San Francisco Bay-Delta to Southern California and industrial agribusinesses "no longer includes provisions to protect habitat for endangered salmon and smelt and more than 50 other imperiled species."

"The new plan is a giant step backward," said Chelsea Tu, a staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.  If it goes through, this massive project's boosters will be able to build these tunnels without having to do anything to protect our wildlife and waters - and will neatly sidestep input from the public."

"This backdoor process will waste more taxpayer money and kill more Delta species like endangered salmon and smelt," she stated.

She noted that since 2007 state and federal water contractors and public agencies have spent more than $240 million just in planning the so-called Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which would "green-light" the water export tunnels in exchange for promised measures intended to "benefit" the Delta environment.

"The new plan would be subject to review only under Section 7 of the federal Endangered Species Act, which could only require federal wildlife agencies to determine whether it will harm 21 wildlife species that are listed or proposed to be listed under the Act," she added.

Under the previous approach, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan planned to protect 57 imperiled species. A Section 7 consultation would only take place among federal agencies and would likely not contain mandatory mitigation requirements or a public participation process, according to Tu.

There is no doubt that construction of the giant tunnels will hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and numerous other fish species, as well as imperiling salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.  

BDCP 'science' is terminally flawed

Every scientific panel, ranging from the Independent Delta Science Board to the National Academy of Sciences, has criticized the flawed "science" behind the twin tunnel plan. Last August the state and federal governments decided to delay the proposed project following the scathing 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).

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) said the controversial plan to construct two 35-mile long tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to divert Sacramento River water to "agricultural plantations" in the deserts of southern California "was placed on life support" when the California Department of Water Resources announced that a revised EIR/EIS would be delayed until sometime in 2015.

"BDCP's friends and family anxiously expressed hope that an infusion of additional millions of dollars and months of treatment would enable the project to recover," quipped Bill Jennings, CSPA Executive Director. "However, the EPA comments coming 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. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/08/29/18760890.php)  

The recent abandonment of the pretense of "restoration" and "conservation" under the BCCP is part of a larger pattern by the Brown administration, a regime that has pushed some of the most anti-fish and anti-environmental policies of any adminstration in California history. This is a huge story that the mainstream media and most of the alternative media have failed to cover.

Since I am the only reporter, that I am aware of, who has investigated the environmental record of Jerry Brown as a whole, I encourage other journalists also to investigate his real environmental record, ranging from carbon trading greenwashing, to the oil industry lobbyist-overseen MLPA Initiative, to supporting the expansion of fracking in California, to driving Delta smelt and salmon to the edge of extinction. Brown appears to be doing everything he can to earn the nickname, "The Extinction Governor."

Much of the following information has been published in previous articles that I have written, but is crucial to review this data in light of the Brown's administration's latest environmental scandal - the abandonment of all pretense of "conservation" and "habitat restoration" under the twin tunnels plan.

Big Oil Brown greenwashed his legacy at U.N. Climate Summit

Many reporters and editors in the mainstream media still maintain the illusion that Jerry Brown is a "green governor" and "climate leader," in spite of a mounting pile of evidence to the contrary.

In September 2014, Jerry Brown spoke to world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City, touting California's controversial carbon trading policies as an example of "innovative climate strategies."

"The California story is a very hopeful one," Brown gushed. "It's a story of Republican and Democratic governors pioneering innovative climate strategies. It's not been easy, it's not without contest, but we're making real progress."  

Brown's remarks at the summit are available at: http://cert1.mail-west.com/oUy...

In a video message ahead of the Summit, Brown claimed, "We are carrying on because we know in California that carbon pollution kills, it undermines our environment, and, long-term, it's an economic loser. We face an existential challenge with the changes in our climate. The time to act is now. The place to look is California."

Yes, Jerry, California, now under attack by the anti-environmental policies and carbon trading greenwashing campaign by Governor Brown, is definitely "the place to look" for one example after another of environmental destruction.

"Governor Moonbeam" to Big Oil's favorite governor

Once known as "Governor Moonbeam" for his quirkiness and eccentricities during his first two administrations from 1975 to 1983, Brown has in his third administration transformed himself into "Big Oil Brown."

According to Jessie McKinley in the New York Times, The "Governor Moonbeam" nickname "was coined by Mike Royko, the famed Chicago columnist, who in 1976 said that Mr. Brown appeared to be attracting 'the moonbeam vote; which in Chicago political parlance meant young, idealistic and nontraditional." (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/weekinreview/07mckinley.html

Thirty-eight years later, Oil Change International, a research, communication, and advocacy organization focused on "exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the coming transition towards clean energy" has given Brown a new nickname, "Big Oil Brown," for the large contributions he has received from oil companies and his support of fracking. The web page dedicated to "Big Oil Brown" features Jerry attired in a suit and cowboy hat like a Texas oil baron right next to an oil rig (http://www.bigoilbrown.org/)

"California's Governor Jerry Brown has a problem: he wants to be seen as a climate champion who understands the science and takes this crisis seriously. At the same time, he just proposed new fracking rules in California that would amount to a gift to Big Oil. He can't have it both ways," according to the web page.

Leaders of environmental organizations, Indian Tribes and fishing groups became outraged when Brown signed Senator Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 4, the green light for fracking bill that clears the path for expanded fracking in California, in September 2013. The last minute amendments to the bill by the oil industry were so odious that they spurred the League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense Fund to withdraw their support at the last minute for the already weak legislation.

Among other things, the bill made California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of fracking permits optional and prevents imposing a moratorium on fracking for 15 months.

Big Oil strongly supported the amended version of Senate Bill 4 that Brown signed. Just ask Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association and former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, who praised the governor's signing of Senate Bill 4 for creating the "environmental" platform to expand fracking in California. (http://www.wspa.org/blog/post/statement-wspa-president-catherine-reheis-boyd-signing-sb-4)  

Brown received over $2 million from Big Oil before signing fracking expansion bill

Brown signed the bill after receiving at least $2,014,570.22 from fossil fuel interests since his race for Attorney General in 2006. (http://www.bigoilbrown.org/frackwater/)  

In the 2014 election cycle, four oil companies contributed a total of $161,000 to the Brown campaign at the time of Oil Change International's report. Occidental Petroleum has given $27,200, the maximum legally allowed.

Edison and Chevron have both contributed $27,200 twice, once for the primary election and another for the general election. Phillips 66 nearly maxed out with a $25,000 contribution. Fossil fuel industry contributions in the 2010 Governor's race were $198,451.22.

Then on October 17. 2004, the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) revealed that Aera Energy LLC, a company jointly owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil, contributed $250,000 to Jerry Brown's Yes on Proposition 1 and 2 campaign.

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)  

Proposition 30, one of the Governor's signature policy initiatives in 2012, was also heavily funded by Big Oil. The oil and gas companies contributed over $1,118,418 to the campaign, including $500,000 from Occidental Petroleum.

It gets worse. Opponents of Proposition 1, the controversial State Water Bond, on September 20 criticized Governor Jerry Brown and the backers of Prop. 1 for taking over $2.8 million raised to enact a tax increase for public education through Proposition 30 and diverting it to their campaign to pass "the biggest dam-building program in California history!"  

Brown backs controversial carbon trading  

But the Governor's signing of the green light to fracking bill is just one of the many attacks on the environment that Brown has engaged in.

Governor Brown is an avid supporter of the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation+) that allows Northern Hemisphere polluters to buy forest carbon offset credits from the global South. Brown is trying to link an agreement among Chiapas, Mexico; Acre, Brazil; and California, to AB32, which commits to a 25% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for 2020, and an 80% reduction for 2050).

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, exposed the impact of Brown's REDD policies on the environment and Indigenous Peoples when he spoke at a protest against Brown's failed environmental policies in San Francisco on October 17, 2013 when Brown was slated to receive environmental leadership award by the Blue Green Alliance. Brown didn't show up, probably because of those, including Goldtooth and Michael Preston of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, who gathered outside to protest the event. (http://www.ienearth.org/press-statement-tom-goldtooth-behind-the-backs-of-the-people-of-california/:

"Despite being awarded, as I speak, for his supposed environmentalism, Governor Brown is moving ahead with a policy that grabs land, clear-cuts forests, destroys biodiversity, abuses Mother Earth, pimps Father Sky and threatens the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples

This policy privatizes the air we breathe. Commodifies the clouds. Buy and sells the atmosphere. Corrupts the Sacred.

This policy is called carbon trading and REDD. REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. But REDD really means Reaping profits from Evictions, land grabs, Deforestation and Destruction of biodiversity. REDD does nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at source. And REDD may result in the biggest land grab of the last 500 years."  

Brown regime exported record quantities of water in 2011

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

The record water exports spurred massive fish kills at the state and federal Delta pumps. The Brown administration "salvaged" a record of nearly 9 million Sacramento splittail and over 2 million salmon, steelhead, striped bass, largemouth bass, threadfin shad, white catfish and sturgeon in the Delta export pumping facilities in 2011. Since the actual number of fish killed in the pumps is at least 5 to 10 times those reported, the actual number of fish killed is probably 55 million to 110 million.

In 2013 and early 2014, the Governor and the Obama administration oversaw the systematic emptying of Folsom and other northern California reservoirs during a record drought, imperiling struggling salmon and steelhead populations and local water supplies. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/02/07/1275862/-The-Emptying-of-Northern-California-Reservoirs)

Delta smelt moves closer to the abyss of extinction

And if that wasn't bad enough, the Brown and Obama administration's anti-fish and pro-agribusiness policies have resulted in pushing Delta fish populations closer to extinction

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 released this January. Department staff found a total of only eight smelt at a total of 100 sites sampled each month from September through December. (https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentId=92840)

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, American shad and Sacramento splittail have declined 97.80%, 99.70%, 99.98%, 97.80%, 91.90%, and 98.50%, respectively, between 1967 and 2014, according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

Oil lobbyist-overseen marine "protection"

Brown has also forged ahead with one of the worst environmental programs of the Schwarzenegger regime, the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

In one of the most egregious conflicts of interests in modern California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), chaired the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, as well as serving on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast. (http://intercontinentalcry.org/the-five-inconvenient-truths-about-the-mlpa-initiative/)

It is no surprise that the alleged "marine protected areas" fast-tracked under the Schwarzenegger and Brown administrations fail to protect the ocean from pollution, fracking, offshore oil drilling, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering.

In fact, a Freedom of Information Act and Associated Press investigation in 2013 revealed that Southern California marine waters were fracked at least 203 times in the past 20 years. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/10/19/calif-finds-more-instances-of-offshore-fracking/3045721/)

Much of the fracking took place while the Western States Petroleum Association president was overseeing the creation of the alleged "marine protected areas." Does anybody think there might have been a conflict of interest here? (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/04/09/18770950.php)

Brown's relentless march to environmental destruction

Other controversial environmental policies of the "Green Energy Governor" include the following:

• Department of Conservation Shake-Up: Brown fired Acting Director Derk Chernow and Oil and Gas Supervisor Elena Miller and appointed oil industry-friendly Mark Nechodom in 2011, amidst claims by the oil industry and their political allies that the two officials weren't granting permits quickly and easily enough. As a result, risky injection oil drilling permits increased by 18 percent. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/12/30/18703640.php)

• Clear cutting in the Sierra Nevada: Brown is doing nothing to stop Sierra Pacific Industries from clear cutting forests, destroying wildlife habitat, and contributing to climate change.

• California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA): Brown has tried to weaken or even eliminate CEQA, one of California's greatest environmental laws, to fast-track big developments for giant corporations like Walmart, Berkshire Hathaway, General Electric, Valero and Chevron.  

As I have documented in article after article, Brown, rather than a being an "environmental leader" or "climate leader" as some proclaim, appears to be on a relentless march to the destruction of fish, water and the environment.  

The Governor has definitely earned the nicknames of "Big Oil Brown," "Big Ag Brown," and "The Extinction Governor."

For more information about Brown's many anti-environmental policies, go to: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/... http://www.counterpunch.org/20... or http://www.alternet.org/enviro...  

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Oil lobbyist/former MLPA chair praises release of fracking EIR

by: Dan Bacher

Tue Jan 20, 2015 at 18:44:25 PM PST

The oil industry praised the release of the California Natural Resources Agency's draft environmental impact report of fracking operations in California, while environmental groups slammed the report for failing to address the many major risks posed by the controversial well stimulation technique.

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, praised the Brown administration's release of the regulation in a statement.

"The release of the draft EIR on Well Stimulation Operations marks an important milestone in meeting the deadlines set by Senate Bill 4. WSPA and our members are reviewing the details of the draft EIR and will continue to participate in workshops and public discussion regarding SB 4," said Reheis-Boyd.

"While we are pleased with the state's process on implementing Senate Bill 4, it is important to note the draft EIR contemplates hypothetical development scenarios and provides a high level review. To date, well stimulation in California has never been associated with any known adverse environmental impacts," Reheis-Boyd claimed. (http://www.wspa.org/blog/post/wspa-president-comments-report-detailing-environmental-impact-well-stimulation-operations)

In contrast with Reheis Boyd's claim that the release of the draft regulations mark an "important milestone" in meeting the deadlines set by Senate Bill 4, the Center for Biological for Biological Diversity said the draft environmental review of fracking "fails to adequately analyze many major risks from fracking, including air and water pollution and risks to public health."

The group noted that the review by California's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources was released even though state scientists are still six months away from completing their analysis of the risks and harms of the controversial form of oil and gas extraction.

"The California Council on Science and Technology today released the first volume of a state-commissioned, three-part fracking study," according to the Center. "The other two volumes won't be released until July, and the first volume addresses only the extent of fracking in California and does not assess risks."

"State oil officials' deeply flawed fracking review shows the urgent need for Gov. Brown to institute an immediate moratorium on fracking and other dangerous oil and gas development," said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity. "State regulators are shrugging off the grave threats to our air, water and health from oil and gas wells. Instead of whitewashing the risks, California needs to follow New York's lead and halt these dangerous activities immediately."

The science council reported that fracking is heavily concentrated in communities in the San Joaquin Valley, which already suffers some of the nation's most polluted air.

According to a recent American Lung Association report, the five cities with the most polluted air in the nation are in California - and three out of these five are in the San Joaquin Valley. (http://www.stateoftheair.org/2014/city-rankings/most-polluted-cities.html

These five cities are:
#1: Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA
#2: Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, CA
#3: Bakersfield, CA
#4: Fresno-Madera, CA
#5: Sacramento-Roseville, CA

But the council also said that fracking has occurred in at least 96 different oil and gas fields around the state and reiterated concerns about the risk of contaminated oil industry wastewater potentially being used to irrigate crops.

"The draft report from DOGGR focuses almost exclusively on fracking and other well-stimulation techniques, rather than considering the risks and harms associated with all phases of drilling and production, which cannot be separated from well stimulation," said Siegel. "Because of this flawed approach, state regulators can't fully analyze the environmental risks, but even this incomplete review admits fracking causes significant and unavoidable damage to California's air, biological and cultural resources, public safety and climate."

She also said the DOGGR review downplays the risks of water pollution, despite a previous finding from state scientists that fracking in California occurs at shallower depths than elsewhere, increasing the potential threat of contaminating groundwater, and despite the state's failure to protect groundwater from pollution by oil and gas wastewater, as required by federal law.

The Environmental Protection Agency has found "serious deficiencies" in California's effort to protect water supplies from contaminated oil industry wastewater, according to Siegel. Almost 3 billion gallons of oil industry wastewater have been illegally dumped into central California aquifers that should have been protected under federal law and are clean enough to supply drinking water and farming irrigation, according to recently released state documents obtained by the Center.

The wastewater entered the aquifers through at least nine injection disposal wells used by the oil industry to dispose of waste contaminated with fracking (hydraulic fracturing) fluids and other pollutants. (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/california_fracking/pdfs/20140915_State_Board_UIC_well_list_Category_1a.pdf)

Siegel said thousands of wells have already been fracked in 15 counties across California, as well as in the state's coastal waters.

The oil industry has been fracking like crazy off the Southern California coast over the past two decades, including the years that the WSPA President served as the Chair of the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create questionable "marine protected areas" in Southern California.

"In waters off Long Beach, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach - some of the region's most popular surfing strands and tourist attractions - oil companies have used fracking at least 203 times at six sites in the past two decades, according to interviews and drilling records obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request," stated am Associated Press report published on October 19, 2013 (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/10/19/calif-finds-more-instances-of-offshore-fracking/3045721/)

New York health officials recently released a fracking analysis that found that fracking posed significant threats to the environment and public health, noted Siegel. On the basis of that report, New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a ban on fracking in that state.

"Gov. Brown must follow New York's lead and protect our health and climate from oil and gas pollution," Siegel concluded.

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.

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 $850,000 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. (http://www.stopfoolingca.org/)

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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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Brown Signs Bag Ban, Martins Beach Access Law, and Ends Gay/Trans Panic Defense

by: Brian Leubitz

Tue Sep 30, 2014 at 17:44:32 PM PDT

SeaOttersdotComCalifornia becomes first state in the nation to ban plastic bags, but it could be headed to the ballot

by Brian Leubitz

Early next year, California will become the first state in the nation to bag plastic bags. Maybe:

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the nation's first statewide ban on the use of plastic bags in grocery stores and other businesses on Tuesday.
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An industry group representing plastic-bag makers, called the American Progressive Bag Alliance, said Tuesday they plan to put a referendum on the ballot in 2016 to repeal the California ban.(WSJ)

If the bag companies are able to referendum the bill, it would mean that the ban wouldn't go into effect until after the 2016 election. Given that the companies seem willing to pile money into a campaign, it seems something of a foregone conclusion that we will see an election on this one.

In other big legislation news, tech mogul Vinod Khosla was dealt a blow in his attempt to close the road to Martins Beach, a surfer favorite. Khosla has been fighting for a couple of years to close the road, in courts and against the legislation that Gov. Brown signed on Tuesday. Basically the law requires negotiation with Khosla for a year, and then authorizes eminent domain of the road if the negotiations are fruitless.

In other news, the LGBT community got a big victory with the Governor signing a bill that bans the use of the "gay panic" and "trans panic" defenses.

Simply put, gay panic is the notion that acts of violence are partly justifiable when a person's all-consuming hatred for LGBT people causes them to go berserk or act with "diminished capacity." It's a heinous defense tactic that banks on a judge or jury's own homophobia, apportioning some blame onto victims in order to get a murder charge downgraded to manslaughter. Leaning on a "heat of passion" line of thinking deliberately turns a trial into something out of a pulp novel. Gay panic benefits from anti-LGBT bias, and adds to it as well, by dredging up ancient stereotypes of gays as sexual predators who can't be trusted not to curb their appetites.
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But it's no longer a justifiable defense in Golden State courtrooms, since Assemblymember Susan Bonilla (an East Bay Democrat) has pushed a bill banning both gay panic and transgender panic as legal defenses through the legislature. Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 2501 into law over the weekend, continuing to put the state at the forefront of LGBT rights. (SF Weekly)

It is easy to overlook this bill, or think this is some historical relic. But this is real, and really offensive every time it is used. It is a big step forward for civil rights in California and across the country.

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Gov. Brown's Pen is Busy

by: Brian Leubitz

Mon Sep 29, 2014 at 10:24:12 AM PDT

California State Capitol 2Governor is tearing through the stack of legislation on his desk

by Brian Leubitz

The Horseshoe is busy. Very busy. And it isn't just the governor and his legislative staff. Those folks who post his press releases on the website must be pulling all-nighters.

If you check the Governor's official press release page, you will see a slew of signed and vetoed legislation. And that is just a fraction of what the bills that they are actually going through. The press releases from legislators, interest groups, and the governor are generally flying fast and furious.

Perhaps to emphasize his middle of the road politics these days, the Governor has taken exactly that approach to new labor legislation. He signed legislation that will hold businesses liable for subcontractor's labor violations, but he also vetoed a bill that would have made it harder for BigAg to stall new contracts with farm laborers. Despite the latter bill being dubbed one of the CalChamber's top "JobKillers", the bill made it through the Legislature. That's usually quite the feat, but with Sen. Steinberg pushing it, shouldn't be too much of a surprise. In his veto message, Gov. Brown says he wants to view the whole process rather than nibbling at one side or the other.

In another major piece of legislation, the governor vetoed a drone surveillance measure by Republican Asm. Jeff Gorell

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday vetoed a bill that would have required law enforcement agencies to obtain warrants to use drones for surveillance.
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The bill, AB 1327, would have required the government to secure a warrant from a judge before using surveillance drones except in cases of environmental emergencies such as oil or chemical spills. Three other states have placed a moratorium on drone use by state and local agencies. (LA Times)

Given that the bill carried substantial support from both parties in the Legislature, one would expect to see a similar bill in the next session. Although, from the Governor's veto message, it may need to be defined on the basis of the federal and state constitutions without adding too much in the way of new privacy rights. It might be something of a threading the needle task for whomever takes up the task.

Of course, that is just the start, to get a full record keeping, you can check out the Governor's Legislative Updates on his official press release page.

 

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Big Oil Brown speaks at U.N. Climate Summit

by: Dan Bacher

Tue Sep 23, 2014 at 15:47:36 PM PDT

Jerry Brown, one of the worst governors for fish, water and the environment in California history, spoke today at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York today in a cynical attempt to greenwash his deplorable environmental record.

During his U.N. address, Governor Brown touted California's controversial carbon trading policies as an example of "innovative climate strategies."

"The California story is a very hopeful one," Brown claimed. "It's a story of Republican and Democratic governors pioneering innovative climate strategies. It's not been easy, it's not without contest, but we're making real progress."

In a video message ahead of the Summit, Brown claimed, ""We are carrying on because we know in California that carbon pollution kills, it undermines our environment, and, long-term, it's an economic loser. We face an existential challenge with the changes in our climate. The time to act is now. The place to look is California."

Yes, California, now under attack by the anti-environmental policies and carbon trading greenwashing campaign by Governor Brown, is definitely "the place to look" for one example after another of environmental destruction.

Once known as "Governor Moonbeam" for his quirkiness and eccentricities during his first two administrations from 1975 to 1983, has in his third administration transformed himself into "Big Oil Brown."

According to Jessie McKinley in the New York Times, The "Governor Moonbeam" nickname "was coined by Mike Royko, the famed Chicago columnist, who in 1976 said that Mr. Brown appeared to be attracting 'the moonbeam vote; which in Chicago political parlance meant young, idealistic and nontraditional." (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/weekinreview/07mckinley.html)

Thirty-eight years later, Oil Change International, a research, communication, and advocacy organization focused on "exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the coming transition towards clean energy" has given Brown a new nickname, "Big Oil Brown," for the large contributions he has received from oil companies and his support of fracking. The web page dedicated to "Big Oil Brown" features Jerry attired in a suit and cowboy hat like a Texas oil baron right next to an oil rig (http://www.bigoilbrown.org/)

"California's Governor Jerry Brown has a problem: he wants to be seen as a climate champion who understands the science and takes this crisis seriously. At the same time, he just proposed new fracking rules in California that would amount to a gift to Big Oil. He can't have it both ways," according to the web page.

The group has also created a spoof ad about "Jerry Brown's Frackwater Cologne."

Leaders of environmental organizations, Indian Tribes and fishing groups are upset that Brown signed Senator Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 4, the green light for fracking bill that clears the path for expanded fracking in California, in September 2013. The last minute amendments to the bill by the oil industry were so odious that they spurred the League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense Fund to withdraw their support at the last minute for the already weak legislation.

The bill made California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of fracking permits optional and prevents imposing a moratorium on fracking for 15 months.

Big Oil strongly supported the amended version of Senate Bill 4 that Brown signed. Just ask Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association and former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, who praised the governor's signing of Senate Bill 4 for creating the "environmental" platform to expand fracking in California. (http://www.wspa.org/blog/post/statement-wspa-president-catherine-reheis-boyd-signing-sb-4)

"With the signing of Senate Bill 4, California has the toughest regulations of hydraulic fracturing and other energy production technologies in the country," said Reheis-Boyd. "While SB 4's requirements went significantly farther than the petroleum industry felt was necessary, we now have an environmental platform on which California can look toward the opportunity to responsibly develop the enormous potential energy resource contained in the Monterey Shale formation

Brown has received over $2 million from Big Oil

Brown signed the bill after receiving at least $2,014,570.22 from fossil fuel interests since his race for Attorney General in 2006. (http://www.bigoilbrown.org/frackwater/)

In the 2014 election cycle, four oil companies have contributed a total of $161,000 to the Brown campaign to date, according to Oil Change International. Occidental Petroleum has given $27,200, the maximum legally allowed. Edison and Chevron have both contributed $27,200 twice, once for the primary election and another for the general election. Phillips 66 has nearly maxed out with a $25,000 contribution. Fossil fuel industry contributions in 2010 Governor's race were $198,451.22.

Proposition 30, one of the Governor's signature policy initiatives in 2012, was also heavily funded by Big Oil. The oil and gas companies contributed over $1,118,418 to the campaign, including $500,000 from Occidental Petroleum.

It gets worse. Opponents of Proposition 1, the controversial State Water Bond, on September 20 criticized Governor Jerry Brown and the backers of Prop. 1 for taking over $2.8 million raised to enact a tax increase for public education through Proposition 30 and diverting it to their campaign to pass "the biggest dam-building program in California history!"

Carolee Krieger, No on Prop. 1 leader and California Water Impact Network (CWIN) Executive Director, said, "The governor is using a legal loophole to divert donations for public education to back his deadbeat dams, pork programs and subsidies for huge agribusiness. None of the donors of this $2.8 million left over from Prop. 30 could have had any idea their money would be spent on this water bond." (http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/Campaign/Committees/Detail.aspx?)

In addition, fossil fuel industry interests have donated $355,000 to Brown's two Oakland charter schools since 2006. In 2013 alone, Occidental Petroleum gave The Oakland Military Institute $150,000 at Brown's behest.

Brown backs carbon trading, Delta death tunnels

But the Governor's signing of the green light to fracking bill is just one of the many attacks on the environment that Brown has engaged in.

Governor Brown is an avid supporter of the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation+) that allows Northern Hemisphere polluters to buy forest carbon offset credits from the global South. Brown is trying to link an agreement among Chiapas, Mexico; Acre, Brazil; and California, to AB32, which commits to a 25% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for 2020, and an 80% reduction for 2050).

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, exposed the impact of Brown's REDD policies on the environment and Indigenous Peoples when he spoke at a protest against Brown's failed environmental policies in San Francisco on October 17, 2013 when Brown was slated to receive environmental leadership award by the Blue Green Alliance. Brown didn't show up, probably because of those, including Goldtooth and Michael Preston of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, who gathered outside to protest the event. (http://www.ienearth.org/press-statement-tom-goldtooth-behind-the-backs-of-the-people-of-california/:

"Despite being awarded, as I speak, for his supposed environmentalism, Governor Brown is moving ahead with a policy that grabs land, clear-cuts forests, destroys biodiversity, abuses Mother Earth, pimps Father Sky and threatens the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples

This policy privatizes the air we breathe. Commodifies the clouds. Buy and sells the atmosphere. Corrupts the Sacred.

This policy is called carbon trading and REDD. REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. But REDD really means Reaping profits from Evictions, land grabs, Deforestation and Destruction of biodiversity. REDD does nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at source. And REDD may result in the biggest land grab of the last 500 years."

Brown has also rushed the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels, a $67 billion boondoggle that will hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and numerous other fish species, as well as imperiling salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath Rivers. The plan would take large tracts of fertile Delta farmland out of production in order to irrigate drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, all under the guise of "habitat restoration."

Every scientific panel, ranging from the Independent Delta Science Board to the National Academy of Sciences, has criticized the flawed "science" behind the twin tunnel plan.

More recently, the state and federal governments decided to delay the proposed project 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).

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) said the controversial plan to construct two 35-mile long tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to divert Sacramento River water to "agricultural plantations" in the deserts of southern California "was placed on life support" when the California Department of Water Resources announced that a revised EIR/EIS would be delayed until sometime in 2015.

"BDCP's friends and family anxiously expressed hope that an infusion of additional millions of dollars and months of treatment would enable the project to recover," quipped Bill Jennings, CSPA Executive Director. "However, the EPA comments coming 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. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/08/29/18760890.php)

Brown administration exported record amounts of Delta water

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

The record water exports spurred massive fish kills at the state and federal Delta pumps. The Brown administration "salvaged" a record of nearly 9 million Sacramento splittail and over 2 million salmon, steelhead, striped bass, largemouth bass, threadfin shad, white catfish and sturgeon in the Delta export pumping facilities in 2011. Since the actual number of fish killed in the pumps is at least 5 to 10 times those reported, the actual number of fish killed is probably 55 million to 110 million.

More recently, Governor and the Obama administration oversaw the systematic emptying of Folsom and other northern California reservoirs last year during a record drought, imperiling struggling salmon and steelhead populations and local water supplies. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/02/07/1275862/-The-Emptying-of-Northern-California-Reservoirs)

And if that wasn't bad enough, the Brown and Obama administration's anti-fish and pro-agribusiness policies have resulted in pushing Delta fish populations closer to extinction. A Delta fish survey released by the California Department of Wildlife in January 2014 confirms the continuing collapse of the ecosystem of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.

The 2013 indices (a relative number of abundance) for Delta smelt, a federal and state endangered species, and American shad were the second lowest in the 46 years of the survey. The striped bass index was tied for third lowest, while the longfin smelt and threadfin shad indices were the eighth and fifth lowest, respectively, according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. (http://truth-out.org/speakout/item/21219-delta-fish-survey-reveals-an-ecosystem-in-collapse

Oil lobbyist-overseen marine "protection"

Brown has also forged ahead with one of the worst environmental programs of the Schwarzenegger regime, the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. In one of the most egregious conflicts of interests in modern California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), chaired the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, as well as serving on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast. (http://intercontinentalcry.org/the-five-inconvenient-truths-about-the-mlpa-initiative/)

It is no surprise that the alleged "marine protected areas" fast-tracked under the Schwarzenegger and Brown administrations fail to protect the ocean from pollution, fracking, offshore oil drilling, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering.

In fact, a Freedom of Information Act and Associated Press investigation last year revealed that Southern California marine waters were fracked at least 203 times in the past 20 years. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/10/19/calif-finds-more-instances-of-offshore-fracking/3045721/)

Much of the fracking took place while the Western States Petroleum Association president was overseeing the creation of the oil industry-friendly "marine protected areas." Does anybody think there might have been a conflict of interest here?

Brown's relentless march to environmental destruction

Other abysmal environmental policies of the "Green Energy Governor" include the following:

• Department of Conservation Shake-Up: Brown fired Acting Director Derk Chernow and Oil and Gas Supervisor Elena Miller and appointed oil industry-friendly Mark Nechodom in 2011, amidst claims by the oil industry and their political allies that the two officials weren't granting permits quickly and easily enough. As a result, risky injection oil drilling permits increased by 18 percent. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/12/30/18703640.php)

• California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA): Brown is trying to weaken or even eliminate CEQA, one of California's greatest environmental laws, to fast-track big developments for giant corporations like Walmart, Berkshire Hathaway, General Electric, Valero and Chevron.

• Clear cutting in the Sierra Nevada: Brown is doing nothing to stop Sierra Pacific Industries from clear cutting forests, destroying wildlife habitat, and contributing to climate change.

• "Theme Park" Wetlands: The Department of Fish and Wildlife under the Jerry Brown administration is working with the Annenberg Foundation to bulldoze a section of the Ballona Wetlands to build an interpretive center and help with the "restoration" of the land around the center.

As I have documented in article after article, Brown, rather than a being an "environmental leader" or "climate leader" as some proclaim, appears to be on a relentless march to the destruction of fish, water and the environment. He has definitely earned the nickname of "Big Oil Brown."

For more information about Brown's abysmal environmental policies, go to: http://www.counterpunch.org/20... or http://www.alternet.org/enviro...  

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Governor's Debate Gets Fiesty

by: Brian Leubitz

Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 08:18:10 AM PDT

Governor and challenger spar in sole debate

by Brian Leubitz

Neel Kashkari had his big moment in the spotlight last night at the governor's debate. Jerry Brown remains the prohibitive favorite with a 19.5 point lead in the RCP polling average. At this point, it would take something of a disaster on multiple fronts for Kashkari to surge past Brown.

But Brown is taking nothing for granted. His big war chest remains at the ready in case anything changes, and he is directly taking on his challenger. It began with a strong barb at Governor Brown from Kashkari:

His 40 years in government has left them out of touch with the struggles of working families. He has declared a governor -- a california comeback. It is not only go we have the had the best schools in california. Today's schools are ranked 46th out of 50 states. We used to have a vibrant job market. Today it is 44th out of 50 states. (CSPAN transcript)

And it just got more testy as it went along, closing with a nice summary by the Governor:

Four years ago when i came to Sacramento the place was in a shambles. A majority of people in California now feel we are on the right track. Five years ago only 13% felt we were on the right track. We are taking care of water and workers compensation and created a rainy day fund. {Before I arrived...}We lost 1.4 million jobs. Since i have been elected almost 1.3 million have come back and that isn't by accident.

And today's Field Poll confirms that topline number:

Californians are taking a more positive view of the direction of the state than then did four years ago when near record proportions (80%) felt the state was seriously off on the wrong track. Currently, slightly more voters believe the state is moving in the right direction (43%) as feel it is off on the wrong track (41%).

That is a big change. Yes, there is still work to do, but today California functions in a way it never did under Gov. Schwarzenegger. There are a lot of factors for that, but certainly Brown can claim a big chunk of that credit. He has made a difference in Sacramento, bringing competence and a steady firm hand on the tiller.

Kashkari attempted to talk about his "middle class plan" at every opportunity, but fundamentally it is just more Arnold-esque hooey. Lower taxes, and the jobs will flow. Meanwhile back in the real world, Brown can point to what he has already done with Prop 30 in bringing financial stability to the state for the past few years.

The whole debate is just under an hour, and worth a viewing (or two). You can watch it here or use the handy iframe to the right.

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Brown Signs Up for Debate with Kashkari

by: Brian Leubitz

Tue Aug 19, 2014 at 17:34:59 PM PDT

Candidates for Governor will face off on Sep 4 in LA

by Brian Leubitz

Neel Kashkari has been lobbying for a debate with Governor Brown for a while. It's the typical challenger stuff, claiming he was dodging, or chicken, yada, yada. But for a position as large as Governor of California, a debate is a worthwhile use of everybody's time. Once you strip away all the BS, hopefully we can have a productive conversation. And that conversation will happen on September 4 in Los Angeles.

Kashkari had challenged Brown to 10 debates, but until now, Brown had brushed off that proposition. Most polls show Brown leading Kashkari by about 20 points, and last month the governor told reporters he "hadn't made up (his) mind" as to whether or not he'd debate the former U.S. Treasury Department official.

But both Brown and Kashkari campaigns have now agreed to the September debate, which will be produced by KQED, the Los Angeles Times, the California Channel and Telemundo California. KQED's senior California politics and government editor, John Myers, will moderate the one-hour forum. Journalists from the Los Angeles Times and Telemundo will ask the candidates questions as well. (KQED / Scott Detrow)

Yes, Brown is leading, and it would take some sort of monumental change for Kashkari to get close to the Governor in the vote total. But this should be an interesting chance to hear two perspectives on the state. Brown has a strong record these last four years, but maybe Kashkari can at least try to drag his party into something approaching respectability over these last two and a half months.

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Brown Outlines New Water Bond Proposal

by: Brian Leubitz

Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:15:44 AM PDT

Bond is about half as large as current package on November ballot, doesn't include peripheral canals

by Brian Leubitz

Sen. Lois Wolk has been working for a long time on getting a revised water bond package on the ballot to replace the current $11.75bn bond slated for this November. The legislators and the governor are worried, justifiably, that voters will be scared off by that number when considering authorizing additional debt. However, given the current drought, a strong consensus has emerged that we must do something.

But, of course, there are always stumbling blocks. Like, say, the concept of peripheral tunnels to bring water around the Bay Delta. Sen. Wolk outlines how she sees the three pillars of a deal:

"It has to be a reasonable bond. It has to have the support of the governor. It must be tunnel neutral, and he is very clear about that, and I support that strongly," said Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), who represents the Delta. (Capital Public Radio / Ben Adler)

As you can hear in Ben Adler's clip above, the governor is a lot bit gunshy of adding additional debt. In something of a reversal of roles, the Republican caucus is pushing for a higher funding level, arguing that $2B of storage funds are insufficient, favoring a $3B minimum.

But, if the Governor can gather the votes that he needs before next week's deadline, his plan is likely to be the basis of the bond. While there may be a few changes here and there, one has to suspect that the time pressure will push Republicans toward accepting any deal that can get through the hurdles.

In a letter on his website, the Governor outlined his priorities for the package:

My $6 billion plan provides for water use efficiency and recycling, effective groundwater management and added storage. It invests in safe drinking water, particularly in disadvantaged communities and for watershed restoration and increased flows in some of our most important rivers and streams.

This water bond is tied to our comprehensive Water Action Plan that charts the way for California to become more resilient in the face of droughts and floods. It goes a long way to ensure clean drinking water, protect habitat and free up funding for local water projects.

See the flip for an outline of the spending priorities in the Governor's bond package as well as his open letter on the subject..

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George Will Thinks Kashkari is Goldwater 2.0. Goldwater 1.0 Rolls Over.

by: Brian Leubitz

Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 14:47:01 PM PDT

by Brian Leubitz

Neel Kashkari seems to be a bright man doing his best Don Quixote for the California GOP. He knows he isn't going to win without some sort of major Jerry Brown catastrophe. But, the party apparatus is thrilled that he defeated right wing nativist Tim Donnelly. Apparently so much so that GOP scribe George Will took to the pages of the Washington Post to declare that he is Goldwater 2.0:

Today, in this state where one in eight Americans lives, and where Democratic presidential candidates can reap 55 electoral votes without spending a dime or a day campaigning, the Republicans' gubernatorial candidate has an agenda and spirit similar to Goldwater's. Neel Kashkari is not, as some careless commentary suggests, an anti-Goldwater, diluting the state party's conservatism. He is Goldwater 2.0, defining conservatism a ­half-century on.

As Calitics has been down to a DDOS attack on the SoapBlox network, I've not been able to respond to this mularkey until now. And in the interim, the CalBuzz folks have taken Will's argument apart pretty completely.

This is, we report more in sadness than in anger, bullshit.
Maybe George had too many martinis wherever he was staying in Menlo Park when he wrote about Goldwater's nomination at the "unfortunately named Cow Palace" "fifty Julys ago, up the road near San Francisco." Or maybe he just had to come up with something to write off his trip out to the hustings. But he has no point, at least not one he shared with his readers.
Because: The widely known political imp Tyrion of Kashkari has not for one minute shown an interest in re-branding his party. He's desperately trying to make a case against a governor who balanced the budget and calmed the hyperpartisan dysfunction in Sacramento (with the help of voters who passed his tax measure, gave the Legislature the power to pass a budget with a majority of votes and approved measures to boost centrism).

To be honest, at many points it seems like Kashkari is running to get famous more than anything else. Not that I begrudge a campaign on a low budget, but after the fourth time guest hosting KFI's John and Ken Show, shouldn't somebody say something? I'm not sure Kashkari has the it in him to become a flamethrowing media personality, but you could see him landing a gig somewhere on TV or radio after all this is over. He hasn't really made any effort to change the hearts and minds of the still very much right-wing GOP base. He just was a slightly better option, and was able to squeak past Tim Donnelly by gathering 19.4% of the vote in the primary. There are a lot of people who voted for Donnelly, and they aren't going anywhere.

In the end, Kashkari is basically running around trying to do whatever he can to get noticed. The latest polls have him down 52-32, and he will never have the money to compete with the governor on the air waves. So, he goes where he can find a bit of free media and tries to maximize whatever he can get. That's about all you can do in a race like what he's facing. It is a daunting and thankless task, but he signed up for it.

Hey, Charlie Brown knew Lucy was going to move that football, but he still went for it, right?

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Brown Picks Mariano-Florentino Cuellar for Supreme Court

by: Brian Leubitz

Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 17:04:59 PM PDT

Stanford Law Professor is first of two picks that Brown will make

by Brian Leubitz

Gov. Brown will replace Justices Baxter and Kennard this year, and today he announced his first pick, Stanford law professor Mariano-Florentino Cuellar .

Cuellar, 41, was born in Matamoros, Mexico, and for years crossed the border by foot to attend school in Texas. He moved with his family to the Imperial Valley when he was 14 and obtained his bachelor's degree from Harvard College, his law degree from Yale Law School and a doctorate in political science from Stanford.

In selecting Cuellar, Gov. Jerry Brown said: "Tino Cuellar is a renowned scholar who has ... made significant contributions to both political science and the law. His vast knowledge and even temperament will - without question - add further luster to our highest court." (LA Times)

Baxter was widely considered one of the more conservative of the seven member court, so the replacement will likely shift the court leftward. While we can only speculate how a Justice Cuellar will rule, the fact is that Brown will have 3 of the 7 justices by next year. With another Brown administration very likely comes the very real possibility of a Brown majority on the court. And with his current appointment pattern, perhaps a very intellectual California Supreme Court as well.

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Federal judge denies motion to block water transfers

by: Dan Bacher

Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 12:08:08 PM PDT

A federal judge on July 11 denied a motion by an environmental group and fishing organization for a preliminary injunction against water transfers from northern California to San Joaquin Valley irrigators.

Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill of the U.S. District Court in Fresno rejected the motion for the preliminary injunction to stop the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from transferring water through the south Delta export pumps to the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority, which includes the Westlands Water District.

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) and AquAlliance filed the motion, claiming that the environmental assessment was "seriously flawed" and that the transfers posed "an eminent threat to threatened Delta smelt," according to a statement from Bill Jennings, CSPA Executive Director.

CSPA and AquAlliance had pointed out that extremely low Delta outflows this year had brought Delta smelt habitat (the low salinity zone) and Delta smelt into the Delta where they were threatened with lethal water temperatures.

The judge's decision was predicated on "agency deference" and the fact that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Bureau claimed that Delta smelt were not in danger because they're not in the Delta in summer, noted Jennings.

Jennings said, "We're deeply disappointed in the decision and will now decide our next steps. Contrary to the decision, Delta smelt are at severe risk. The U.S. Geological Survey's state-of-the-art flow gages of Delta outflow, confirmed by increasing salinity levels, reveal a net inflow to the Delta from the ocean."

Jennnings said the 23-26 June Delta smelt survey by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reveals that there are no Delta smelt in Suisun Bay and that 92.95% are in the Delta and exposed to high temperatures. A remnant group (7%) of Delta smelt is trapped in the Sacramento Ship Channel, but won't likely survive August temperatures.

State fishery biologists counted only 22 smelt, once the most numerous species in the entire Delta, from June 23 to June 26. The survey included 120 trawls at 40 different locations.

"The USFWS and Bureau have escorted Delta smelt to the scaffold and the judge signed the warrant. We did all we could do to prevent disaster," emphasized Jennings.

Jennings said the state and federal governments have mismanaged northern California water so poorly that there was actually a minus 45 cubic feet per second (cfs) net outflow to the Bay this May while the Department of Water Resources and US Bureau of Reclamation were reporting a plus 3805 cfs.

"Last year, excessive water exports and low outflow drew delta smelt from Suisun Bay into the central Delta where they were butchered by lethal water temperatures," Jennings revealed. "This year, with population levels hovering at historic lows: excessive transfers and exports, relaxed flow standards, high temperatures and negligible outflows may catapult the species into the abyss of extinction. On top of these threats, we were astonished to discover that the estimates of Delta outflow that state and federal agencies have reported and regulators have relied upon for years are wrong and significantly overestimate outflow in low flow conditions."

The Net Delta Outflow Index (NDOI) used to assess compliance with required flow standards is based upon a formula of both actual and estimated data. Examination of tidally filtered outflow data from the U.S. Geological Survey's state-of-the-art UVM flow meters on the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and Three-mile and Dutch Sloughs reveals that actual Net Delta Outflow (NDO) in low flow conditions are considerably lower, according to Jennings.

The Delta smelt, Hypomesus transpacificus, is an endangered fish from 2.0 to 2.8 inches long that is found only in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. It 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, approximately from March to May.

The fish is an "indicator species" that demonstrates the health of the Bay-Delta Estuary, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. Because of its one-year life cycle and relatively low fecundity, it is very susceptible to changes in the environmental conditions of its native habitat. Massive water exports out of Delta to corporate agribusiness interests have played a key role in the precipitous decline of the fish in recent years.  

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Activists in hazmat suits protest offshore fracking

by: Dan Bacher

Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 12:07:53 PM PDT

As the California Coastal Commission met in Ventura on Wednesday, July 9, a dozen hazmat-suit-wearing protesters with the Center for Biological Diversity and Food and Water Watch urged the commissioners to consider a biologist's warning that chemicals used in offshore fracking pose a toxic threat to sea mammals and coastal fish populations.

"We had really good turn out at the rally and it shows that a lot of people, especially those along the coast, are concerned about offshore fracking and its impacts," said Hillary Aidun of the Center for Biological Diversity.

The protest took place at 11 a.m. outside Ventura City Hall in Ventura. The Coastal Commission will also provide an update on the issue of offshore fracking during the second day of the meeting today.

"We now know that fracking chemicals pumped into California's offshore oil wells pose a scientifically documented danger to marine life," said Center biologist Shaye Wolf, who wrote the letter to the Commission. "The Coastal Commission needs to protect our waters by halting fracking off California's coast."

Oil companies have fracked at least 203 wells in waters off Huntington Beach, Long Beach and Seal Beach, as well as in federal waters in the Santa Barbara Channel, over the past 20 years, according to an Associated Press and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) investigation last year. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/10/19/calif-finds-more-instances-of-offshore-fracking/3045721/)

The Center analyzed the chemicals used during 19 fracking events at 19 different wells in California state waters reported during 2011 to 2013 on FracFocus. All 19 fracking events occurred in Long Beach Harbor within two miles from shore, Wolf wrote in her letter.

The letter explains that oil companies fracking in California waters have admitted to using at least 10 chemicals that can harm aquatic life. Nonylphenol ethoxylate, for example, is extremely toxic and has a long-lasting effect on aquatic environments, according to scientific research.

This chemical, which has been employed in at least 16 frack jobs in California state waters, can also bioaccumulate, that is, become dangerously concentrated in the bodies of creatures higher in the food chain, including sea otters.

"We found scientific studies indicating that at least 10 fracking fluid chemicals used offshore in California could kill or harm a broad variety of marine organisms, including sea otters, fish, and invertebrates, if released into the environment. Six of these 10 chemicals were used in all 19 frack jobs," the letter stated.

Fracking involves blasting massive amounts of water and industrial chemicals into the earth at pressures high enough to crack geologic formations and release oil and gas. Scientific studies have revealed that fracking poses consider harm not only to fish and other aquatic life, but to human health as well.

Fracking operations can also spur earthquakes. A substantial number of earthquakes in one region of Oklahoma over the past several years can be linked to the process of fracking, according to a new study from Science magazine.

"About half the oil platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel discharge wastewater into the sea," according to the Center. "The oil industry has federal permission to dump more than 9 billion gallons of wastewater, including fracking fluid, directly into the ocean off California's coast every year. Fracking chemicals can cause cancer and pose an ecological hazard in these wildlife-rich waters."

For more about offshore fracking, please go to http://www.StopOceanFracking.org.

Ironically, the same oil industry lobbyist who is leading the charge to expand fracking in California also served as chair of the state panel that created a series of so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California. In an extreme conflict of interest, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast. (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mpa/brtf_bios_sc.asp)

The Western States Petroleum Association President also "served" on the task forces to craft alleged "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast from 2004 to 2012. Much of the fracking exposed in the AP investigation occurred during the time the Reheis-Boyd served on these panels.

The so-called -marine protected created under the Initiative, privately funded by the Resources Legacy Foundation, fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

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