Mendocino County Today: August 14, 2013
by AVA News Service, August 13, 2013
MENDOCINO COUNTY has needed a slaughterhouse forever, and maybe we're about to get one. The Economic Development & Financing Corporation (EDFC) will hold a public meeting next month to discuss potential plans for a local facility where ranchers could have their animals slaughtered and processed. The meeting is scheduled for Sept. 5 and follows the release of the Mendocino County Meat Plant Study, conducted by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension (UCCE) and funded by an Economic Development Administration grant.
THE 19 RANCHERS surveyed for the study “indicated that there is significant interest in utilizing a combined slaughter and processing facility located in Mendocino County,” that would include “meat grinding, labeling of packaged cuts and extended carcass hang time. We are a direct market to the Bay Area — they want our local products, but the only way to get the end product into the market is through a United States Department of Agriculture facility.”
WHICH the proposed slaughterhouse would be. Local meat producers now have to drive their animals to Humboldt and Sonoma counties for certified processing. The cost of the project is estimated to be $1.9 million, with $1.4 million being the cost of the facility and $500,000 for cash reserves.
WHERE TO PUT IT? They'll look for a site with: Access to municipal sewer utilities, Access to municipal electric and water utilities, Proximity to a major transportation route, Community acceptance of project site, Labor force availability, Land site suitability, Ranch site requirements.
THE PUBLIC MEETING is scheduled for 5pm, Sept. 5 at the EDFC's conference room at 631 South Orchard Avenue, and the ranchers better stand by for people in bunny suits and human wave attacks by vegans. “Community acceptance of project site” won't be easy, but the old Masonite site seems like a natch.
IF MENDO COULD GET ITS ACT TOGETHER and set up a cooperative like the ranchers in Puget Sound did a few years ago — a big if, given the level of non-cooperation shown so far — it’s possible that a mobile slaughterhouse like the USDA-approved Island Grown Farmer’s Coop would work well in Mendocino County.
BY WAY OF BACKGROUND, here’s our report of the last time the Board of Supervisors discussed the prospect of an inland slaughterhouse back in June of 2010. (Note the significant reduction in the cost of the facility — among other things — and the two ranchers who offered their own property as sites for a slaughterhouse facility.)
THE MEAT AXE
by Mark Scaramella
On Tuesday, May 18 (2010), the Board of Supervisors spent an afternoon discussing the possibility of a slaughterhouse somewhere along Highway 101. 101 is something of a slaughterhouse itself, especially near Hopland to the south and between Willits and Laytonville to the north. The interstate suddenly goes from four lanes to two. Motorists slow to react are often killed.
The slaughterhouse under discussion, however, would render four-footed animals into steaks and chops.
Several sons of the soil, fresh off their back 40s, appeared before the Supervisors to talk up a tax-subsidized facility.
The slaughterhouse idea has been floating around for several years now, never getting very far because, of course, nobody’s willing to put up millions of dollars for, ahem, a pig in a poke.
Ranchers, miscellaneous Friends of Ranchers, and some local food advocates spoke for the idea; none of them offered to front the money. They seemed to think the Supervisors would somehow fund it, or fund the planning of it.
A rancher named John Ford, unlike his fellow ranchers, seemed much more reality-based. Ford rattled off some likely numbers and told the Board, “I can’t see where this is economically viable.”
Several enviros and a vegetarian told the Board that there were various problems with the idea — the smell, the waste, the humane treatment, the idea itself…
One Ukiah resident was for it as long as it wasn’t in his neighborhood.
Counting herself among the Friends of Ranchers, Fifth District Supervisor Candidate Wendy Roberts said she’d spoken to “Sea Ranchers and large cattle ranchers Peter Bradford, Larry Mailliard, Larry Stornetta… They tell me it would make a tremendous benefit to them. No more hauling of animals out of county.” Roberts then added the facility should not be in the Ukiah area. “Our support is conditional on that,” said Roberts.
Supervisor Pinches, a cattleman, pointed out that the idea hasn’t gone much past “Gosh! Wouldn’t it be great if the County built us a slaughterhouse!”
Bradford, Mailliard and Stornetta, individually or severally, could finance a slaughterhouse themselves. So, why don't they? Why do they even suppose the public should be involved in building one for their private cows?
John Harper is chief of Mendocino County’s UC Extension/Farm Advisor Office, local fount of tax-funded advice and the occasional handout for gentleman farmers. The office also includes forestry expert Greg Giusti and the egregious grape guy, Glen McGourty. Harper functions as supervisor of the other two and their “livestock” expert. It fell to him to come up with a slaughterhouse concept for discussion purposes, although Harper took pains several times to note that his $18 million (depending on which price per square foot number you use) figure was pure speculation since nobody knows how much livestock would be brought in for slaughter nor how much finished meat could be sold. And nobody knows how the slaughterhouse would be funded or where it would be located or how the hippies would be cooled out if it magically became more than the dream of wealthy ranchers to get themselves a big freebie.
In other words, it was discussion time at the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors.
The ranchers agreed with Harper that there's a market for their chopped up cows and pigs in the Sacramento Valley and among San Francisco's Whole Foods types that a Mendo-based slaughterhouse might efficiently serve. Presently, Mendo's small animal exports are trucked to Eureka or Sonoma County to be converted to hamburger and lamb chops.
Supervisor Pinches suggested that a producers cooperative might be a good way to get things going.
And there's the rub.
Mendocino County’s wealthiest ranchers are all for having Mendocino County spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and many staff hours to discuss imaginary slaughterhouses but they don't want a co-op and, of course, they don't want to put up their own money.
At this point in Mendocino County's long history of civic inertia — it took a whole decade to simply update the General Plan and five years to rubber-stamp a waterless modest housing project permit — the County has zero money to fund any free enterprise for rich people, let alone one costing an estimated $18 million.
Two local ranchers, Jim Lawson of Willits and retired Undersheriff Beryl Murray of Redwood Valley, seemed entirely carried away with the prospect of free money. They told the Board “You [the Board of Supervisors] can build it on my ranch if you want to.”
Ukiah Councilwoman Mari Rodin (who, by the way, doesn’t seem to know what “tare weight” is) spoke for the fantasy slaughterhouse.
There will be a slaughterhouse in inland Mendocino County the day after the Willits Bypass is completed.
AND AFTER 150 YEARS Boonville will be without a full service bar when the Boonville Saloon closes this week. Shelly and Marcia did their darndest to make a go of it, but as of Saturday the 17th the nearest place for Valley people to get a real drink will be the Water Trough, Ukiah.
A CLOSER LOOK at the thuggish dismissal of Kathy Corral reveals that the overall survival of the Anderson Valley Health Center might be more precarious than many of us thought. The dental clinic has been losing money, but the looming restoration of MediCal's dental component may re-secure funding for that sector of the Center's operations, although not in time to save Ms. Corral's job, the job she'd held for 11 years, the job she moved to Boonville for and bought a house here on the assumption her employment was secure. When I spoke to her last week, Ms. Corral, 60, insisted she not be portrayed as a “disgruntled employee,” although she said her sudden lay-off “felt like a heart attack.” Ms. Corral was a model employee and very popular with patients. She often bought supplies and needed pieces of equipment out of her own pocket and worked long weekends on her own time. In other words, a model employee who, if it had been calmly explained to her in civilized terms and circumstances would have understood that a money-losing dental clinic necessarily must lay people off. But to be marched out of the building like a criminal?
IF YOU CAME in late, after nearly 12 years on the job as manager of the AV Clinic's dental office, a man named Dave Turner, two Fridays ago, demanded Ms. Corral's keys, told her she could not say goodbye to fellow employees and escorted her out to the parking lot like she'd done something wrong. Clinic administrator Diane Agee had, however, grandly assured Ms. Corral that the Gualala-based management of the Anderson Valley Health Center would not contest Ms. Corral's unemployment benefits.
AND HERE'S the rub, or the likely rub: The Anderson Valley Health Center is managed by traveling administrators out of Gualala. They manage three clinics including the one in Gualala and a dental office in Point Arena. The Anderson Valley Health Center, it seems, is now viewed by Gualala as a liability, that Anderson Valley people are close enough to Ukiah to avail themselves of the clinic at the old Hillside Hospital or submit to the for-profit medical services offered by the Adventist Hospital complex.
KNOPF has published Coast writer's Carolyn Cooke's latest, a collection of short stories called Amor and Psycho which might be a case study of romance in Mendocino County but is instead a work of art. Ms. Cooke, a resident of Point Arena where amor and psycho are daily occurrences, is a really, really good writer whose terrific non-fiction has appeared, but not often enough, in this very newspaper. The Chron's reviewer wrote Sunday “…Summarized, these stories sound like major downers, yet somehow they manage to be bracing. Cooke writes with humor and great affection for people, and she is unafraid to take on the inexplicable.” Which surrounds us, the inexplicable that is, and always is made interesting in the hands of a capable writer, which this person definitely is. I've got my copy of Amor and Psycho on order.
HOW SOLITARY CONFINEMENT IN PELICAN BAY PRISON ALMOST DROVE ME MAD
by Michael Cabral
How can I make anyone understand what it’s like to cling desperately to the hope of someday being heard because that¹s the only hope left? That¹s one reason why the hunger strike going on across California’s prisons matters. It might just keep that hope alive for prisoners locked down in Pelican Bay State Prison¹s Security Housing and Administrative Segregation Units (known as the SHU).
At the age of eighteen years, four months, and six days, I was cast into the SHU where I stayed for two and half years, alone, without a window, a television, or a radio. (Mail, when it came, was delayed for months at a time.)
My only real distractions were the terrifying and gut-wrenching sounds and smells of grown men reaching their breaking points: crying, screaming, banging; blood and feces being smeared on walls and bodies; Correctional Officers (C/Os) yelling, shooting pepper spray — and puking.
I found a small measure of comfort in books and in treasured conversations through the ventilation system, with older men whose faces I¹d never see (conversing with anyone face-to-face was so rare as to be nonexistent). There was also the sound of my door being padlocked shut whenever there was a tsunami warning, meaning that if a tsunami did wash over us, the inmates¹ only hope is that death comes quickly. Maybe that sound was the most dehumanizing of all, because to realize you matter so little to other human beings is not a feeling one gets used to, or ever forgets.
There were seven inmate suicides during my time in the SHU. None of them surprised me. As an eighteen-year-old with my entire life ahead of me, I understood why people wanted to die.
To combat the temptation to follow my neighbors into the afterlife, I exercised with extreme vigor, I wrote, I studied family photos, as well as images I found in old magazines, imagining myself in the places and situations depicted. These offered at least the illusion of escape from the bare cement walls that always seemed to be closing in on me. Such relief came at a cost ‹ a progressive separation from my real life. I could get so lost in my fantasies (about home, barbecues, beaches, about committing violent crimes, about sex, building my dream house, about any number of things) that the slightest interruption ‹ the sound of the food port being unlocked at dinnertime ‹ could hurl me into fits of anger, depression, anxiety attacks. Living in the SHU was literally driving me mad.
On the bright side, there is a bakery in Pelican Bay. We¹d often get fresh baked cookies in our lunches. They were delicious. Sometimes, though, C/Os [correction officers] would remove them from some of the lunches for their own enjoyment. They were that good, good enough to make someone squash an inmate¹s only sense of relief, perhaps his only source of joy, with a dirty boot before passing in the tray. “You really have to try one.”
I spent two and a half years in the SHU, ostensibly as punishment for a fistfight with another inmate (I was charged with battery with no serious injury). I believe the real reason was that I had defied the Administration by refusing to participate in prison gang politics and to inform on other inmates who were active gang members. You could say I was lucky to get out in that short a time. More than 75 Pelican Bay SHU prisoners have been held in isolation for more than twenty years, and more than five times that number have been there for more than a decade.
Ironically, when I was placed in the SHU they told me it was for my own protection, and to give the prison time to evaluate my housing needs. If that “evaluation” had taken any longer, I would have lost my mind. ¥¥
(Michael Cabral has served ten years on a 15-Life sentence for murder, beginning when he was still a juvenile. His first two and a half years were spent in the Pelican Bay SHU. He spent time in Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad, and is currently at Corcoran State Prison. His writing has appeared often in The Beat Within <http://www.beatwithin.org> , New America Media¹s weekly publication of writing and art by juvenile detainees.)
DIAGNOSIS: NOT A CHARITY
Those UVMC Job Cuts—
I understand that UVMC has had another round of employee cutbacks: some people being fired outright, others having had their hours slashed. Times are tough. But let’s take a closer look.
The hospital has scapegoated the as-yet-to-be-implemented Affordable Health Care Act for these cuts, preposterously citing a projected .07% cut in revenues. This apparently amounts to be a whopping $35,000! In addition! If you talk to clinicians at the hospital, many of these penalties have long been anticipated, with plans in place to further reduce readmissions. Note that in other contexts, UVMC's administration cites a readmission rate that is actually quite low in relation to hospitals nationwide.
So what is actually going on? No one really knows. This is a closed organization. But it seems likely that the layoffs are more related to organizational forces within the larger Adventist system. There is a big push within the Adventist system to think in terms of a larger northern California network, mostly centered in St. Helena. In the past few years many local jobs have been lost to reorganization, replaced by positions in Sonoma County. You can argue that this is the efficiency of “economies of scale,” but the fact remains that jobs are lost here in Ukiah. On one hand the hospital continues to appeal to our community for donations, on the other it is actively implementing cuts in services that instead will be offered at other Adventist hospitals out of town.
What I find most annoying is that UVMC is supposedly a non-profit, but it is a non-profit hospital in name only. I can't think of any meaningful acts of charity on the part of the hospital. Can you? Rather, its profits are consumed by the salaries of a large, corporate-like administrative structure. Being a closed organization UVMC is tight-lipped about the salaries paid to its administrators but if it is similar to the same-sized hospitals in northern California, administrative salaries are much higher than those of doctors and nurses. (Check out typical administrative salaries at Becker's Hospital Review). In addition, it is not commonly known that a significant percentage of the hospital's local revenue is passed up the food chain to a large central regional administration located in Roseville. Again, the figures are not available to the public. UVMC is now the largest employer in Ukiah. Many families depend on it for their income. But when real or imagined financial exigencies occur, it is the lowest level, most poorly paid employees who bear the brunt. Nowhere do I read of cuts in administrator salaries. Thus, our local hospital's economic model differs little from big banks and corporations.
It seems like the community needs to be aware that this large economic engine in our county is not really as community-minded as its public relations department makes it out to be, and I hope that the hospital, with enough pressure from the community, will respond with some credible numbers and some much needed transparency in its dealings with local employees and patients.
Sincerely, John Arteaga, Ukiah
AT AROUND  Don Pío Baroja, one of my favorite writers, found refuge in Basel, where he lived in the house, in the shirt, in the trousers, and in the slippers of the oddly totalizing writer Dominik Müller, and ate his heart out with homesickness for Spain. The only element of his clothing that didn't originate in Müller's costume shop was the beret on his head. Don Pío was a very special kind of anarchist, so special that he had enemies in all political camps in his fatherland, all of whom wanted to shoot him, even in the attics of country's two embassies in Paris. So he fled to Basel's Water Tower area, where Dr. Müller did for this Spanish refugee what we refused to have the Führer do for us: he offered him a pair of pants. Pío Baroja accepted. Herr Müller published an interview with this, the greatest Spanish novelist of his time. People who read it and who knew Baroja said to themselves, "There goes another one — Baroja's on Franco's side!" It gave us a shock, too, and we sought out this Basque writer. He was, thank heavens, still the same. His Swiss host had played an evil game with the refugee's world fame. I lacked the courage to alert Don Pío to the scam that was going on. He was himself unable to read the words his friend had put in his mouth. [...] He was old, sick, and exhausted, and without Spain he couldn't go on living. This vagabond genius, this desperado and anarchizing romantic, whose life's work already filled more than eighty volumes, was suffering from the same illness as had befallen his Basque compatriot, Unamuno: Spain. [...] The finest products of the country are the ones who are repeatedly ruined by it — not only in Iberia, although that is where the affliction causes a dramatic level of desperation only possible in the somber shadow of the Man of La Mancha.
— Albert Vigoleis Thelen, 1953; from “The Island of Second Sight”
WBAI-FM LAYS OFF MOST OF STAFF
by Ben Sisario
WBAI-FM, the noncommercial radio station that has been a liberal fixture in New York for more than 50 years, laid off about two-thirds of its staff last week, including its entire news department, because of long-simmering financial difficulties.
In a tearful on-air announcement on Friday, Summer Reese, the interim executive director of the Pacifica Foundation, which owns WBAI, said that after talks with SAG-Aftra, the union that represents broadcasting talent, “we will be laying off virtually everyone whose voice you recognize on the air,” effective Monday.
She said on the air that 75% of the staff would be let go, but in an interview over the weekend she said that the final number was 19 out of the station’s 29 employees, about 66%.
Andrew Phillips, the former general manager of another of Pacifica’s five stations, KPFA-FM in Berkeley, Calif., has been appointed WBAI’s interim program director.
A spokeswoman for SAG-Aftra declined to comment.
Pacifica also operates stations in Washington, Houston and Los Angeles, and syndicates popular public affairs programs like “Democracy Now!,” which started at WBAI in 1996.
WBAI, which broadcasts at 99.5 FM, has long struggled financially, and its leadership structure has been described as anarchic. But its problems multiplied last year after Hurricane Sandy, when it was forced to vacate its studios on Wall Street. In March, the station began a drive to raise $500,000 to pay back rent on its transmitter. Ms. Reese said the station had millions of dollars in debt and had operated at a loss since 2004. She said the Pacifica network had repeatedly drained its finances to cover WBAI’s expenses. The station, she added, could no longer afford to make its payroll and was laying off employees to pay its transmitter rent and to avoid being forced to sell its broadcast license.
WBAI is not the only troubled Pacifica station. Ms. Reese recently said that WPFW-FM in Washington might not be able “to get through until September.” Over the weekend she said that since Pacifica had been dealing with these troubled stations, “the entire enterprise is distressed,” but that by fixing its finances the network could survive.
(Courtesy, the New York Times)
Gotta say the workmen’s comp process seems more like a scam these days. Us employers pay a lot to insure that our workers and clients are protected. It helps us sleep at night for sure, but then one hears about how workers, who need the compensation literally have to hire a lawyer and sue to get it. What’s up with that? So who wins, lawyers and insurance companies. Seems like the idea is getting missed here; protecting the injured. With the State breathing down our necks to do the right thing from all departments including the DMV, why are the insurance companies just helping the injured workers? Seems more like a scam to me. — Philo Head Scratcher, Greg Krouse
ED NOTE: Single payer would do away with much of Workmen's Comp which, as you say, makes it very difficult for small businesses to stay in business and pay the exorbitant rates the insurance combines demand.
CLOSING EAST HILL ROAD WITHOUT A PERMIT
The City of Willits agreed last week to allow CalTrans’ contractors for construction of the Willits Bypass, DeSilva Gates and FlatIron, to close one of the area’s major residential thoroughfares, East Hill Road through October 15th. The closures takes place daily from 7am to 7pm. Following is a letter to the editor written by Willits resident Mary Burns, submitted to several local newspapers. The letter does an excellent job summarizing the facts of the situation.
“Caltrans’ closure of East Hill Rd is causing major traffic jams, and the contractor doesn’t even have a permit yet! This not only impacts the thousands of people on Pine Mountain and East Hill Road, but anyone who intends to head south on 101 and lives on Eastside, Valley, Canyon, Tomki, or Hearst Willits Road, has good reason to use East Hill rather than endure City traffic.
I believe all residents have a right to use East Hill Road. It is not “unusual use”; it is routine use. The City is quaking in their boots because the contractors, De Silva Gates and Flatiron (“DSG/F”), threatened to sue if the City did not allow their unusual and extreme use of our streets without appropriate compensation to the City. Yet DSG/F are not practicing “good neighbor” policy for routine use. Those of you in attendance during a recent City Council meeting will recall Bruce Burton admonishing the crowd to be lenient with DSG/F, as it constituted being a good neighbor. To whom? A temporary resident or people who have contributed to the community for generations and are committed to staying here and contributing more, REAL neighbors?”
Where is the Traffic Management Plan? Why wasn’t the TMP part of relinquishment discussions? Why is it not part of current negotiations with DSG/F for use of City streets? It was promised in the FEIR. Closing City streets IS use! More than that: it is abuse! Perhaps it’s time to hire another attorney, since the City attorney did not assure that the relinquishment agreement was enforceable and the City is unwilling to enforce the agreement. We need to call every council member! This closure may be the very reason DSG/F had their attorney threaten the City! Are they trying to save money by not hiring a flagman, and working more slowly? If they didn’t account for traffic management in their bid it is THEIR mistake, not ours.
Finally, just because this portion of East Hill Road is on City property doesn’t mean Mr. Pinches is off the hook. He is the advocate for county residents and should be with us in demanding the City address the county residents they impact with their agreements. Let them learn WHY it is time they adopt a good neighbor policy. It is high time the City take account of the 8,000 people their decisions affect who do NOT have voting rights.
This is only the beginning of six years of construction, and a mere glimpse into the abuse of residents that DSG/F can apparently be expected to dish out. I encourage EVERYONE to show up at the City Council Meeting on August 14th to express their outrage at the City for allowing this. I hope everyone calls who they know on Pine Mountain or the valley that use East Hill Road, and encourage them to show up on the 14th. Even if this issue is not on the agenda, it must be addressed at public comment.
THE MENDOCINO COUNTY REPUBLICAN CENTRAL COMMITTEE will meet Saturday, August 17, 2013, 10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon at Lumberjacks Restaurant, 1700 S. Main Street, Willits. No, we don't have to sit in the same booth just because there are only four of us in this drug-drenched county of Billaries. We may be an endangered species but we're still dangerous! For further information contact: Stan Anderson, 707-321-2592.
LOCAL PLAYWRIGHT’S WORK TO BE PRODUCED IN NEW YORK
Local playwright Lawrence Bullock, whose work has been produced at various theaters since 1992, has received news that his one act play “My Prisoner, Myself” has been selected for production at The Producer’s Club, under the auspices of Love Creek Productions, an independent theater ensemble that has been producing plays for over thirty years. Patrick Simone, graduate of Marietta College, will be directing the one act. He says, “I am excited to be directing this entertaining and funny one-act. It’s a great play.” Casting will be complete soon and the show will run for two weeks, beginning September 12th, at The Producer’s Club, a small “black box” theater on 44th street in New York City, in the Times Square Theater District. Mr. Bullock wrote “My Prisoner, Myself,” as a way of relaxing while he was writing the first draft of a more serious full length play, “Verify Zero” (since completed) which he describes as “A study of the modern soldier, corruption in the military, and the misguided attempts to create the perfect warrior. I didn’t want to write an ‘anti-war’ play per se, but a play in which the discussion of the futility of war is also a character. Modern warfare has become truly bizarre, with attempts to selectively remove soldiers’ traumatic memories, either through therapy (hypnotherapy and others) and through chemical memory erasing regimens. “Verify Zero” has elements of a thriller, with a side dish of thought. I hope to do a local reading soon , if possible.”
DOCENT TOUR AT GRACE HUDSON MUSEUM ON AUG. 20
On Tuesday, August 20, from 12 to 1 pm, Curator Marvin Schenck will lead a docent and member tour of the Grace Hudson Museum's new exhibit, "Milford Zornes: A Painter of Influence," a retrospective of the watercolorist and master teacher whose career spanned nine decades and many countries. The tour is free for members of the Museum. The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah and is open Wed.-Sat. from 10 am to 4:30 pm and Sunday from noon to 4:30 pm. For more information please go to www.gracehudsonmuseum.org or call 467-2836. —Roberta Werdinger"
CALIFORNIA LEGISLATORS CALL FOR OFFSHORE OIL FRACKING INVESTIGATION
by Dan Bacher
Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) and eight other California lawmakers are calling on the Department of Interior and Environmental Protection Agency to investigate reports of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) beneath the seabed floor off the California Coast.
The legislators are asking for a strict review and possible new regulations of fracking in the ocean - less than 8 months after the completion of a network of questionable state "marine protected areas" that fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling and spills, pollution, wind and wave energy projects, military testing and all human impacts other than sustainable fishing and gathering.
“Hydraulic fracturing poses great potential dangers to our sea life and all California residents,” said Williams. “This controversial well stimulation technique needs greater scrutiny, particularly when it potentially jeopardizes our coastal way of life.”
Fracking employs huge volumes of water mixed with sand and toxic chemicals to blast open rock formations and extract oil and gas, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The controversial technique is already being used in hundreds — and perhaps thousands — of California oil and gas wells.
Assemblymembers Mark Stone, Marc Levine, Richard Bloom, Adrin Nazarian, Bob Wieckowski and Senators Fran Pavley, Noreen Evans and Hannah-Beth Jackson have signed on in support of Williams' letter to federal regulators.
On August 3, the Associated Press reported that oil companies have used hydraulic fracturing at least a dozen times to “force open cracks beneath the seabed" in the Santa Barbara Channel. The report says that regulators are looking into whether companies should obtain a separate permit and should face a stricter environmental review.
The Santa Barbara Channel, where the fracking has occurred, was the site of the tragic 1969 oil spill that killed countless birds and marine life.
“The fact that hydraulic fracturing is occurring off our California coast with little or no review is a frightening thought,” Williams said. “We, as residents and noble citizens, must stand together to call for greater scrutiny. We cannot take chances that could irreparably harm us all.”
Californians should support the legislators' call for a federal investigation of hydraulic fracturing beneath the seabed floor off the California Coast. At the same time, the legislators should support a formal investigation into the many conflicts of interest that infested the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, including the leadership role that a big oil lobbyist played in the corrupt process that was privately funded by the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation.
Fracking opponents must also oppose Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels to export northern California water to corporate agribusiness and oil companies. Water destined for the canals will be used to expand fracking in Kern County and coastal areas.
The construction of the 35-mile-long tunnels would hasten the extinction of Sacramento River chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt and other fish species, as well as imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity River, the only out-of-basin water supply for the Central Valley Project.
Background: Big oil lobbyist oversaw creation of "marine protected areas"
Inexplicably missing from the mainstream media and even most "alternative" media reports on fracking is any mention of one of the biggest environmental scandals of the past decade - the alarming fact that Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association, CHAIRED the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force that created the alleged "marine protected areas" that went into effect in Southern California waters in January 2012. She also served on the task forces to create "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast. (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mpa/brtf_bios_sc.asp)
Grassroots environmentalists, Tribal leaders, fishermen and advocates of democracy and transparency in government blasted the leadership role of the oil industry lobbyist in creating these "marine protected areas," but state officials and representatives of corporate "environmental" NGOs embraced her as a "marine guardian." MLPA Initiative advocates refused to acknowledge the overt conflict of interest that a big oil lobbyist, who supports fracking, new offshore oil drilling, the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline and the evisceration of environmental laws, had in a process allegedly designed to "protect" the ocean.
You see, the "marine protected areas" created under Reheis-Boyd's leadership weren't true "marine protected areas" as the language of the landmark Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 called for. Reheis-Boyd, a marina corporation executive, a coastal real estate developer and other corporate operatives on MLPA Initiative task forces oversaw the creation of "marine protected areas" that effectively allow fracking and offshore oil drilling to continue and expand. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/01/02/the-oil-industrys-marine-reserves/)
These "marine protected areas" fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling and spills, pollution, wind and wave energy projects, corporate aquaculture, military testing and all human impacts other than fishing and gathering.
Reheis-Boyd apparently used her role as a state marine "protection" official to increase her network of influence in California politics to the point where the Western States Petroleum Association has become the most powerful corporate lobby in California. The association now has enormous influence over both state and federal regulators - and MLPA Initiative advocates helped facilitate her rise to power. (http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/site/lawsuit-filed-against-fracking-oil-lobbyist-says-its-safe)
Oil and gas companies spend more than $100 million a year to buy access to lawmakers in Washington and Sacramento, according to Stop Fooling California (http://www.stopfoolingca.org), an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies' efforts to mislead and confuse Californians. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) alone has spent more than $16 million lobbying in Sacramento since 2009.
While I'm glad that the Legislators are calling on federal regulators to investigate reports of hydraulic fracturing on the ocean, it is imperative that also call for an investigation of the huge scandal of how state officials and corporate "environmental" NGO representatives allowed a big oil industry lobbyist oversee what passes for "marine protection" in California.
For more information about the MLPA Initiative, go to: http://intercontinentalcry.org/the-five-inconvenient-truths-about-the-mlpa-initiative/