Mendocino County Today: September 13, 2013
by AVA News Service, September 12, 2013
SAUL LANDAU, long-time friend and occasional contributor to the AVA died September 9, 2013 at his home in Alameda of bladder cancer at the age of 77.
Landau, with Fidel Castro
Saul Landau, a prolific, award-winning documentary filmmaker who traveled the world profiling political leaders like Cuba's Fidel Castro and Chile's Salvador Allende and used his camera to draw attention to war, poverty and racism, has died. He was 77. Landau, who had been battling bladder cancer for two years, died Monday night at home in Alameda, Calif., with his children and grandchildren, said colleague John Cavanagh, director of the Institute for Policy Studies. The director, producer and writer of more than 40 documentaries had continued to work almost until his death. He regularly submitted essays to the Huffington Post and elsewhere, sometimes writing from his hospital bed, according to his son, Greg. He was also working on a documentary on homophobia in Cuba. Landau authored of 14 books. While most covered issues like radical politics, consumer culture and globalization, one of them, My Dad Was Not Hamlet, was a collection of poetry. His documentaries tackled a variety of issues, but each contained one underlying theme: reporting on a subject that was otherwise going largely unnoticed at the time, whether it was American ghetto life, the destruction of an indigenous Mexican culture or the inner workings of the CIA. “We tried to take on themes that nobody else was taking on and that were important,” Landau told the Associated Press in July. His most acclaimed documentary was likely 1979's Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang, which examined the effects of radiation exposure to people living downwind from Nevada's above-ground nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s. The film received a George Polk Award for investigative reporting and other honors. It took its name from Landau's friend Paul Jacobs, who contracted cancer that he believed was caused by radiation exposure. He died before the film was completed. Landau told the AP one of the documentaries he was most proud of was The Sixth Sun: Mayan Uprising in Chiapas, which looked at the 1994 rebellion by the impoverished indigenous people of southern Mexico. Landau traveled to Chiapas to interview, among others, the masked revolutionary leader known as Subcommandante Marcos. His 1968 documentary Fidel gave U.S. audiences one of their earliest close-ups of the revolutionary leader who installed communism in Cuba. It came about after a brief meeting with Castro, who told Landau he had seen a news report he had done on Cuba the year before. “He said he liked the film very much and asked me what my next film was going to be,” Landau recalled. “I said, 'I'd like to do one on you.'“ In 1971, Landau and fellow filmmaker Haskell Wexler traveled to Chile for a rare U.S. interview with Allende, who had just been elected his country's president and who would die two years later in a military coup. Although he made more than three dozen films, Landau said he never set out to be a filmmaker. “I didn't set out to be anything,” he said in July. “I just fell into it.” Landau graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and after moving to San Francisco he was at various times a film distributor, author, playwright and member of the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Two of his earliest books, The New Radicals and To Serve The Devil (both co-written with Jacobs), led to his being approached by a San Francisco public television station that wanted a report on ghetto conditions in Oakland. The result was his first documentary, 1966's Losing Just The Same. A frequent commentator on radio and television in later years, Landau was also a professor emeritus at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where he taught history and digital media. (Courtesy, the Associated Press)
* * *
A REMEMBRANCE of Saul Landau by Jeffrey St. Clair of Counterpunch may be found at:
MENDO SUPES TAKE ON THE FEDERAL RESERVE…
Board of Supervisors meeting, August 27, 2013.
JAYSON SCHMITT, Senior Vice President and Mendocino Investment Portfolio Manager, Chandler Asset Management: “The Federal Reserve has talked about a target area in which it may reduce monetary accommodation at 6.5% so we are getting closer to that target. The Federal Reserve has now started to take maybe some measures, actually in their September meeting, of reducing some of this monetary accommodation. And what this is called is the taper. I’m sure that all of you have heard this on the news and things like that.”
SUPERVISOR DAN HAMBURG: “Monetary accommodation, that’s a very interesting term of art, sir.”
SCHMITT: [Laughs out loud.]
HAMBURG: “It really means running the printing presses.”
SUPERVISOR JOHN PINCHES: “They also call it quantitative easing.”
HAMBURG: “Quantitative easing.”
SCHMITT: [Laughs, nods.] “Quantitative easing.”
PINCHES: “But right here in Mendocino County we call it counterfeiting.”
Schmitt laughs condescendingly at Pinches' non-joke about counterfeiting
SCHMITT: [Laughs.] “Some may have some different words for that. So I’m just using the vernacular. What we have going on today is basically a zero interest rate policy that has gone on now for three or four years. So all of you have probably earned basically zero on your savings account recently.”
HAMBURG: “If you get a loan it’s not zero.”
SCHMITT: “That’s true.”
HAMBURG: “I’d have to be a bank.”
SCHMITT: “This is true.”
HAMBURG: “If I were a bank I’d get 0%.”
SCHMITT: [Nods.] “This is true.”
HAMBURG: “But I’m not a bank, I’m a human.”
SCHMITT: “But what we have had actually is very low historical rates for consumers when you look at mortgage loans and things like that. The other thing that’s happening is quantitative easing. One of the things you pointed out was the printing press. I see now that the Federal Reserve now continues to buy $85 billion worth of securities.”
PINCHES: “A month.”
HAMBURG: “A month.”
SCHMITT: “A month. Correct. So what you have now is that they are buying about $40-$45 billion of US Treasuries and then $40-$45 million of US mortgage securities. What they are talking about doing now is reducing the amount of purchases that are going to happen. So what they are talking about doing is reducing those purchases, i.e., the monetary accommodation, but they are not talking about raising rates, i.e., the federal funds rate. So what we have seen is a reaction in the market and what that has been is a steepening of the yield curve so what you see is that at the very front end basically interest rates haven’t moved, as you go out further interest rates are definitely moving up, you can see that in mortgage securities today. Have you gone out and looked at mortgages recently? That’s only about 100 basis points higher, 1% higher, maybe even a little bit more. So we continue to see that so this is part of what the Federal Reserve is doing is they are starting to reduce that monetary accommodation and when they do that, that will start to push interest rates up, especially those longer term rates will happen first.”
AND IT'LL ALL come apart.
IN 1863, Indians from throughout the upper Sacramento Valley were rounded up and force-marched west by soldiers, over the mountains to Covelo where the newly created reservation called Nome Cult, run by crooked federal appointees, awaited them. Of course many Indians died, especially women, children and the elderly who walked as the soldiers rode horses and were well supplied. The 15th annual 100-mile Nome Cult Trail walk, a re-creation of the atrocity, begins this week week. Descendants of American Indians who took part in the original relocation and other supporters will walk from Chico to Covelo to commemorate the 147th anniversary of the trail, camping each night. Participants will descend into Round Valley on Wednesday, September 18th for an event sponsored by the Round Valley Indian Tribes at the Round Valley Reservation in Covelo. The theme for the walk and gatherings is “Honor Their Memory — A Path Not Forgotten.” For event information, contact Sandra Knight of Chico Mechoopda Tribe, 899-8922 ext. 213 or Alberta Azbill of Round Valley Indian Tribes, 707-983-6126 ext. 11.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Baseball is just about the best thing this country has going for it. We're all old ballplayers, aren't we? Who doesn't play baseball? How many girls play football? Is there anything better in the world than the World Series? (— Pete Rose)
RECOMMENDED READING: “Cool Gray City of Love — 49 Views of San Francisco” by Gary Kamiya. The title is famously from one of many bad poems written about The City, this one in 1920 by a poet pal of Jack London and Ambrose Bierce named George Sterling. But it's a perfect fit for this wonderful book, the best I've read on the place I consider my home town, having arrived here in 1941 among a convoy of Hawaii's evacuees following Pearl Harbor and having lived here off and on ever since. The City is cool and it's often gray west of Masonic, a thousand grays in the course of a few hours, and sometimes not gray at all at Baker Beach at the ocean's edge. That gray is synonymous with the town, lending it the cool and, to my mind, much of its beauty in the way it filters the sunlight. I was out in it just today in the same area that beguiles me and the author in much the same way as we, and probably most people, stare for hours at the kaleidascopic vistas presented by Lands End, the few square miles running west and north of Park Presidio, where California and San Francisco began. Kamiya manages, in his 49 views, to tell the story of San Francisco, including its geologic story, from prehistoric times to the frenetic era we having going now.
AS KAMIYA emphasizes, San Francisco, unlike most cities, contains everything from some of the densest neighborhoods in the country to some startlingly wild places, most of them bordered by the old Sutro Baths to the west, the Presidio to the east. I was just out there in the cool and the gray, pausing at the Washington Boulevard overlook for one of a hundred exhilarating vistas limned by the Golden Gate Bridge to the east and, today, the Farallones in the deep west, the Marin Headlands to the north. Down the stairs and along the new trails above Marshall Beach, just east of Baker Beach, seaside scene of nude parades, mostly male, and today, in the rip tides on the Honolulu side of the Bridge, a lone wind surfer, first one I'd ever seen outside the Golden Gate. On ambitious walks I trek the sand stairs leading up and out of Baker Beach, but lately I prefer the trail on the bluffs east of the Beach where, last week, a naked guy burst out of the bushes about three feet in front of me and ran off downhill toward Marshall Beach. Startled as hell, I assumed a belated defensive position and, with no more nude projectiles imminent, I walked on, out to the Bridge itself, then up through the Presidio and on home, noting as I went a whole new perspective on what I was seeing, all of it gained from this wonderful book.
JEFF COSTELLO WRITES: “Okay, the Sept. 4 paper arrived in Denver today, Thursday the 12th. Eight days after publication. The flight from San Francisco to Denver takes less than four hours. So what happens to a bundle of newspapers in the rest of the time? This is a fine example of American Exceptionalism, a Sarah Palin-esque cliché that even Obama — normally articulate in his lies — has sunk to using. Putin correctly warned against this exceptionalism business. John McCain called that ‘an insult to intelligence of the American people.’ Huh? The only thing left is to recall Mencken: ‘Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public’.”
WILLITS & THE ERIN BROCKOVICH BYPASS
by Will Parrish
When it comes to movies that depict real-life David vs. Goliath struggles of plain rural folks against ruthless parastatal corporations that destroy their hometown under a cloak of deceit, you really can't beat the Academy Award winning 2000 Steven Soderbergh film Erin Brockovich. You all know the plot: A down-on-her-luck, crusading legal assistant brings a giant utility to its knees for polluting the groundwater beneath her tiny desert town with hexavalent chromium.
The movie does feature all sorts of fantasies and exaggerations, but its gist is reality-based. Erin Brockovich is an actual person who lived most of her life in Hinkley, California, an unincorporated Mojave Desert town about half-way between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. For many years, California's private power monolith, PG&E, used hexavalent chromium to counteract corrosion in a cooling tower at its Hinkley Compressor Station, which serviced natural gas pipelines to the San Francisco Bay Area.
As the movie portrays, PG&E had a policy of discharging chromium 6-contaminated water from its cooling tower into unlined ponds, which of course made its way into the surrounding groundwater, and has since then caused horrible cancers and deformities among nearby residents.
Let's linger in the realm of reality for the moment. PG&E's chromium plume — which the company originally went to great lengths to cover up — is still spreading. In the last few years, PG&E has been buying houses in Hinkley from anybody who wants to leave, even if they don't live in an area with documented contamination. They are demolishing the houses and planting alfalfa fields. It's safe to say Hinkley is one of the last places in the country that will be experiencing a population boom anytime soon.
Now, let's switch over to the fantasy realm, one that Hollywood script writers are supposed to inhabit by nature of their profession, but which you might like to think multi-billion dollar pubic agencies like the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) are inimical to.
CalTrans claims that Erin Brockovich's hometown is about to experience a population surge. They say Hinkley will soon be beset with bumper-to-bumper traffic. Thus, CalTrans intends to build the Hinkley Bypass to alleviate the problem beginning in about 2015.
Right about now, you would be forgiven for concluding that you are reading a parody piece, one that has as its real indirect aim to underscore the absurdity of the Willits Bypass. After all, CalTrans has sold its highly destructive six-mile boondoggle around Willits to government regulators and elected officials based on similar fantasies about soaring population and traffic figures.
I presented this information in a June piece entitled “How CalTrans Sold The Willits Bypass,” which owes a lot to the research of Redwood Valley resident Julia Frech.
Here is an actual excerpt from CalTrans' “State Route 58 Hinkley Expressway Project” Environmental Impact Statement, published in December 2012, and available at http://www.caltrans.ca.gov/dist8/:
“Average daily traffic (ADT) is forecast to nearly double, from 12,100 vehicles in 2011 to 24,100 vehicles in 2040. If no improvements are made, this highway segment is projected to deteriorate... with heavy traffic congestion and great variations in speed.”
State Route 58 is a 240-mile freeway that extends from Highway 101 near San Luis Obispo to Interstate 15 (I-15) in Barstow. Lots of truck traffic passes through Hinkley on its way to or from Bartstow, though the traffic never slows below 50mph during peak periods. CalTrans' plan is to move Route 58 a half-mile over to the south, and to build two interchanges with on/off ramps for the roads through Hinkley, at a taxpayer-funded cost that CalTrans estimated to be roughly $159 million.
As Julia Frech, who recently visited Hinkley, points out, “By the time Caltrans is done building the new freeway in Hinkley, hardly anybody would be left there, leaving the current 58 an empty highway, with empty interchanges.”
It bears repeating that the methods CalTrans has used to sell the Hinkley and Willits bypasses to pubic agencies, and to the people the bypasses would allegedly serve, are strikingly similar.
In the case of the Hinkley Expressway, CalTrans has arbitarily established so-called “Level of Service 'C' “ as the project's traffic goal. “Level of Service” is a rubric that guides decisions regarding how many lanes are needed in the new roadway to accommodate the amount of traffic projected to use it. As of now, the Highway 58 segment through town is only two lanes. If traffic volumes are above a certain level, though, it becomes necessary based on established policy to build a four-lane freeway that achieves the “level of service” in question.
That's where CalTrans' claim that Hinkley's population and traffic are on the verge of soaring enters into play. Based on CalTrans' projection that Hinkley's traffic volume will be increasing 4% per year for the foreseeable future, the only way Highway 58 can achieve “Level of Service 'C' “ in that region is if CalTrans is handed over $100 million in taxpayer funding to build a four-lane freeway around town, then doles out the funds to its favored construction contractors.
CalTrans has used the exact same playbook in Willits. In 1992, as the agency was ramping up for the Willits Bypass, its personnel generated an estimate that traffic would increase roughly 2% per year through town across the next two decades.
We're now more than two decades on from that projection, and Willits traffic has remained flat or even declined somewhat. Yet, because of the falsified traffic data, and because “Level of Service 'C' “ is the stated goal for the Willits Bypass, CalTrans' honchos have been able to exclude from consideration all two-lane options for rerouting traffic.
Countless local residents have argued for years that if CalTrans has to build a bypass around Willits, there is plenty of room to do so on the already-existing Northern Pacific railroad corridor for both a two-lane bypass and the railroad. This two-lane route would cost a small fraction of what the now-in-construction Willits Bypass does, while also having a fraction of the environmental impact and avoiding the Little Lake wetlands entirely.
Preferable to that, even, would be for CalTrans to use a combination of minor adjustments to the existing traffic engineering scheme on Highway 101 in town, such as restriping the needless left turn lane that runs for more than a quarter mile south of Highway 20, to relieve what traffic congestion does exist.
For a clear and concise explanation of the exact methods by which CalTrans inflated Willits' traffic figures — much the same as with Hinkley — you can access the video “How CalTrans Sold The Willits Bypass” at
It's not just Willits and Hinkley where CalTrans is employing these methods. Big Orange is using the same approach to sell a bypass around Olancha, a waypoint on US Route 395, a freeway that stretches from the north Mojave Desert, around the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevadas, up and over these same mountains, and into Reno, Nevada. This new expressway would destroy roughly 400 acres of quite rare desert wetlands habitat, including habitat for the endangered desert tortoise. The Olancha bypass would begin construction between 2016 and 2018. Estimated cost: about $100 million.
There's also the Kramer Junction bypass, which is also along Highway 58. And there are the highway widening projects at Richardson Grove and on Highway 197/199 along the Smith River, in far northern California.
How many other CalTrans projects are using or have used this playbook? It's beyond the scope of this article to figure that out. It's long past time, though, that Big Orange be held to account for lying to justify projects that destroy natural communities, while greatly damaging the economic and cultural vitality of small towns.
An overarching issue is the existence of the transportation industrial complex, which is fueled by the mega-trucking industry and the highway construction industry, with CalTrans as their agent. As Rosamond Crowder of the Willits Environmental Center put it, “CalTrans takes our tax dollars and they serve the Complex.”
There's another thread that connects the Willits and Erin Brockovich/Hinkley bypasses: chemical contamination. As many people reading this will recall, Willits has had its own public health catastrophe involving hexavalent chromium that originated in the mid-20th century. For many years, Willits was home to a RemCo hydraulics plant that provided chrome plating for military gear throughout much of the Cold War.
Based on decades of illegal dumping and spills adjacent to residential neighborhoods, schools and busy commercial areas, a cocktail of chromium and other chemicals contaminated Willits' groundwater. Runoff poured through a storm drain straight into Baechtel Creek. People sickened and died.
A new scandal over chemical contamination in Willits might be emerging. As I addressed two weeks ago in these pages, CalTrans' contractors hauled fill soil from the old Apache Mill site north of Willits for nine days in August, dumping this soil on the wick drain fields of the Little Lake wetlands where the bypass' northern interchange is slated for construction.
The filling operation was clearly illegal, being that it had not undergone any public review process. Abandoned mill sites are notorious for having high levels of chemical contamination. A lawsuit by the Willits Environmental Center and Keep the Code against the Mendocino County Planning Department halted the operation.
Roughly a week later though, CalTrans switched to obtaining its fill from a hillside on the south end of town, just south of Walker Rd. Dump trucks are again running all night, from roughly 7pm to 7am, dumping fill dirt right on top of the possibly contaminated soil that is already spread out across the wetlands. These wetlands, of course, are connected to much of the watershed of Little Lake Valley via the creeks that drain into it and from it.
The soils study that CalTrans conducted prior to commencing the hauling of this potentially contaminated fill been made available to the public. I obtained the study early this week. It was conducted by TestAmerica Laboratories of Pleasanton for CalTrans and completed on March 15, 2013 (only a few days before the California Highway Patrol dislodged protesters who had blocked the beginning of construction for several weeks).
The study indicates extremely elevated levels of mercury, arsenic, and various other dangerous chemicals in the soil CalTrans used. Moreover, the study failed to test for the presence of polychlorinated dibenzodioxins (PCDDs), known as dioxins, which are a common (and extremely harmful) contaminant of mill sites.
Caltrans Spokesman Phil Frisbie, Jr. provided this statement to KGO TV reporter Jennifer Olmey:
“The results from one of these samples indicated high elevated levels of chromium. Soil at this location was not used for our project. Other samples at the site tested positive for diesel fuel. Further research revealed that rotting wood debris can cause a false positive for this test, and since the site was previously a lumber mill, and the levels detected were low, soil from that area of site was determined to be acceptable for use.”
Frisbie avoids addressing mercury, arsenic, dioxin, and the rest in this statement. We'll have more on this story next week. ¥¥
(Contact Will Parrish at wparrish(at)riseup.net.)
ANDERSON VALLEY FOODSHED GROUP PRESENTS
Rural Living Skills Demonstrations
At the Mendocino County Fair and Apple Show
In the Ah Building, across from the Apple Tasting
Noon Making Kombucha – Lynda McClure
2:00pm Quilting – Deanna Apfel and Helen Papke
4:00pm Making Rejuvelac – William Renauld
6:00pm Making Wild Apple Cider & Apple Cider Vinegar – Diane Paget
11:00am Making Kefir – Cindy Wilder
Noon Thinking Like a Watershed – Linda MacElwee and Patty Madigan (kid friendly)
2:00pm Using Seaweed – Barbara and John Lewallen
3:00pm Growing and Using Grain ‐ Doug Mosel
4:00pm CheeseMaking (part one) – Rachel Burgos
5:00pm Using Drip Irrigation – Greg Krouse
6:00pm Growing Orchard Crops – Patrick Schaefer
10:00am CheeseMaking (part two) – Rachel Burgos
11:00 am Making Sauerkraut – Tim Ward
1:00pm Making and Using Natural Clay Paint – Brent Levin
2:00pm Using Medicinal Herbs – Mary Pat Palmer
4:00pm Utilizing Small Diameter Suppressed Growth Trees – John Cunnan
JOIN SANCTUARY FOREST on Saturday, September 21st for the Forestry Practices hike! Mike Jani of Humboldt Redwood Company (HRC) and Tim Metz of Restoration Forestry will co-lead this educational hike, which will be held in the Hole in the Headwaters just south of Eureka. Last year Mike and Tim took hikers to visit this same forest, which is adjacent to the headwaters forest, to view a proposed Timber Harvest Plan (THP) area. This year’s adventure will take hikers back to the approved THP area to view the results of the selective harvest that took place. Leaders will discuss successes and failures and ways to improve and move forward with practicing responsible forestry into the future. Meet at the Park n’ Ride parking lot directly off the Herrick Ave/Elk River Rd exit off highway 101 at the south end of Eureka at 10 a.m. Wear sturdy walking or hiking shoes, bring a lunch and plenty of water. Hikers should be prepared for a moderate to rigorous walk both on and off trail. The hike is free of charge, though donations are gladly accepted and help Sanctuary Forest offer this program year after year. For questions or clarifications, contact Marisa at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 986-1087 x 1#. Hope to see you there!
Support from volunteers and local businesses have made this program possible for Sanctuary Forest. Local businesses that have made generous contributions are Blue Star Gas, Jangus Publishing Group, Whitethorn Winery, Charlotte’s Perennial Gardens, The Security Store, Chautauqua Natural Foods, Clover Willison Insurance Services, Hohstadt Garden Center, Roy Baker, O.D., Worthy Construction, Wyckoff Plumbing, Mattole Meadows, James Friel Plumbing, Ned Hardwood Construction, Randall Sand & Gravel, Sylvandale Gardens, Redwood Properties, Dazey’s Supply, Monica Coyne Artist Blacksmith, Southern Humboldt Fitness, Pierson Building Center, Whitethorn Construction, Caffe Dolce, Mattole River Studios, and Wildberries Marketplace.
Sanctuary Forest is a land trust whose mission is to conserve the Mattole River watershed and surrounding areas for wildlife habitat and aesthetic, spiritual and intrinsic values, in cooperation with our diverse community.
Contact: Marisa Formosa, Education Coordinator, (707) 986-1087 x 1#
SENATOR PAVLEY'S GUTTED FRACKING BILL GOES TO GOVERNOR'S DESK
by Dan Bacher
Sacramento — Senate Bill 4, a controversial bill sponsored by Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) that opponents say would clear a path to increased fracking, passed the California Legislature on Wednesday, September 11 and is now headed to Governor Jerry Brown's desk.
The Assembly passed the bill by a vote of 53 to 18. The bill then moved to the Senate for concurrence and was approved by the Senate late yesterday.
Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, is a water-intensive process where millions of gallons of fluid – typically water, sand, and chemicals, including ones known to kill fish and cause cancer in humans – are injected underground at high pressure to fracture the rock surrounding an oil or gas well. This releases extra oil and gas from the rock, so it can flow into the well, according to Food and Water Watch.
“SB 4 would require permits for fracking, acidizing and other oil well stimulation practices,” according to a news release from Senator Pavley's office. “It would require notification of neighbors, public disclosure of all chemicals used, groundwater and air quality monitoring and an independent scientific study. The study would evaluate potential risks such as groundwater and surface water contamination, greenhouse gas emissions, local air pollution, seismic impacts, and effects on wildlife, native plants and habitat.”
In response to massive opposition to her bill from a broad coalition of anti-fracking groups, Senator Pavley claimed her bill is “an insurance policy” — and described the bill's passage as a “stunning victory for the public and the environment that moves California a step closer to regulating hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), acidizing and other unregulated oilfield practices.”
“Without SB 4, there will be no public disclosure of chemicals, no groundwater monitoring and no regulation of acidizing, and the oil companies will continue to be able to frack without a permit or any public accountability whatsoever,” she stated. “The world won’t be perfect if SB 4 passes, but it will be a whole lot better.”
Pavley added, “I commend my colleagues for this crucial and difficult vote. There are still many unanswered questions about the use and impacts of fracking and acidizing, and it is in the interest of all Californians to monitor and regulate these practices. Ultimately the oil industry, not the public, should be held accountable for the costs of these activities.”
In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, Brown's office said the Governor will sign the bill if the legislation reaches his desk.
“The administration has worked collaboratively with the Legislature to craft a bill that comprehensively addresses potential impacts from fracking, including water and air quality, seismic activity and other potential risks,” claimed Brown spokesman Evan Westrup.
Calling the legislation “an important step forward,” Westrup said Brown “looks forward to signing it once it reaches his desk.”
Bill opponents disagree strongly with the Brown administration's assessment of the bill as “an important step forward. The bill “undermines existing environmental law and leaves Californians unprotected from fracking and other dangerous and extreme fossil fuel extraction techniques,” according to a statement from Californians Against Fracking, a statewide coalition of over 100 organizations now calling for a moratorium on fracking.
The coalition said farmers, environmental justice groups, public health advocates, local elected officials, students, Hollywood, and many others are calling on Governor Brown to and put a stop to fracking in California. 200,000 petitions have been signed urging Governor Brown to ban fracking in California.
Members of Californians Against Fracking criticized the Assembly's passage of the already weak bill that was further weakened by amendments supported by the Western States Petroleum Association on Friday, September 6 — and urged Brown to ban or place an immediate moratorium on fracking in California. They charged that the bill, as amended, exempts the legislation from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
"This vote to allow fracking in California and exempt it from California's benchmark environmental law shows that our Assembly has thoroughly failed at protecting Californians,” said Zack Malitz, campaign manager for CREDO. “We're depending on Governor Brown to step in to prevent the wholesale fracking of our state.”
“This legislation does nothing to stop fracking or protect communities across the state from its harmful effects and last minute changes to the bill made it even worse,” said Adam Scow, California campaigns director at Food & Water Watch. “The threats to our state's water, air, and climate are real and pressing and we don't have time for half measures like SB 4. We need courageous leadership – it’s time for Governor Brown to act now to ban fracking in California.”
“There's only one prudent next step to protect California's water, air, and climate – for Governor Brown to place an immediate moratorium on fracking, acidizing, and other unconventional methods of exploiting fossil fuels,” said Victoria Kaplan, campaign director at MoveOn.org. “Legislators have failed to heed the wishes of a majority of Californians calling for a moratorium or a ban and MoveOn members will continue to organize across the state for an end to fracking.”
“The passage of SB 4 demonstrates the continuing stranglehold that Big Oil has on the political process in Sacramento. Attempts to find common ground with an industry hell-bent on exploiting every last drop of oil regardless of the impact on California’s water, valuable farmland and the climate are inevitably bound to fail. The passage of this mangled bill only confirms the need for a moratorium on these dangerous extraction techniques,” said Ross Hammond, senior campaigner with Friends of the Earth.
“SB 4 tragically green-lights an extremely dangerous practice with terrible public health impacts near the homes and schools of California’s communities already most overburdened by pollution,” said Madeline Stano, Luke Cole Memorial Fellow at the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment.
“This bill will not protect Californians from the enormous threats of fracking pollution,” summed up Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “Fracking poses unacceptable risks to the air we breathe, the water we drink and our climate. We’ll keep working to end this inherently dangerous activity in our state.”
In her comment on the Sacramento Bee website, activist Lauren Steiner emphasized, “This bill is just a permitting, monitoring, notification and disclosure bill with a study thrown in. Telling someone when you're going to frack, where you're going to frack and what chemicals you are going to use is like a murderer telling you, 'I'm going to shoot you on your front porch tomorrow at noon using an AK-47.' At the end of the day, you're still dead. And do we really need any more studies to show us the harms of fracking?”
To read her complete comment and the article it responds to, go to: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2013/09/jerry-brown-urges-passage-of-fracking-bill.html#storylink=cpy
At the last minute, the only four NGOs still supporting the bill — the California League of Conservation Voters, Clean Water Action, the Environmental Working Group and Natural Resources Defense Council — pulled their support for the legislation after the Legislature refused to amend the bill as they had requested earlier in the day. Their letter to Pavley is available here:
At the same time that Governor Brown said he intends to sign the gutted fracking bill, the Brown administration continues to fast track the construction of the twin tunnels under the Sacramento -San Joaquin River Delta to export more water to corporate agribusiness interests. The building of the peripheral tunnels under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) will hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon and steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species.
Californians Against Fracking is a coalition of environmental, business, health, agriculture, labor, political, and environmental justice organizations working to win a statewide ban on fracking in California. For more information and to sign the petitions to ban fracking in California, visit: