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Fracking activists to protest Jerry Brown in SF

Anti-fracking activists intend to protest as Gov. Jerry Brown visits the Bay Area this afternoon to sign a regional agreement to align government policy, combat climate change and promote clean energy.

Brown is scheduled to be at Cisco-Meraki’s San Francisco headquarters at 4 p.m. to sign the pact with Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and British Columbia environmental officials.

But the Californians Against Fracking coalition – which includes members of more than 150 groups including MoveOn.org Civic Action, CREDO, Friends of the Earth, Food & Water Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Race, Poverty, and the Environment, and Environment California – say Brown’s support of fracking could undermine any progress the agreement would make.

Brown last month signed into law SB 4 by state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Calabasas, which creates the state’s first rules for hydraulic fracturing or acidation to extract oil and natural gas. Some environmentalists, including this coalition, argue that only a moratorium on these techniques will keep California safe from environmental harms and further the state’s clean-energy goals.

The activists who’ll protest Brown’s appearance today say using fracking, acidization, and other unconventional extraction techniques to access 15 billion barrels of crude oil beneath California would produce nearly as much global warming pollution as the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, and set back the state’s progress on combating climate change.

Posted on Monday, October 28th, 2013
Under: energy, Environment, Global warming, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | 3 Comments »

Dianne Feinstein supports fracking regulation bill

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday endorsed a controversial state bill that would regulate but allow “fracking” and another new means of extracting oil and gas.

“The discovery that fracking and acidization of oil and gas formations could produce approximately 23.9 billion barrels of petroleum in the continental United States — 64 percent of which is estimated to lie within the Monterey Shale formation underlying portions of Central and Southern California — points to the need for action to ensure protection of the state’s natural resources,” said Feinstein, D-Calif.

SB 4 by state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Calabasas, would require the state Secretary of Natural Resources to work with state and regional water boards and the state air board to create regulations governing “well stimulation” treatments, which includes hydraulic fracturing – commonly known as “fracking” – and acidization.

The bill also would require permits for all well-stimulation treatments, disclosure of the fluids used in such procedures, advance notification of neighbors near where such methods will be used, and more.

Opponents of the bill say the only way to protect California from fracking’s environmental threats is to halt it entirely with a moratorium. SB 4 now awaits an Assembly floor vote.

“I strongly support Senator Pavley’s legislation and urge the legislature to pass the bill and Governor Brown to sign it,” Feinstein said. “Unless the potential dangers of fracking are addressed, we face the possibility of catastrophic consequences to the state’s environment and precious groundwater.”

Posted on Wednesday, September 4th, 2013
Under: Assembly, Dianne Feinstein, energy, Environment, U.S. Senate | 4 Comments »

Fracking battle heats up for session’s final weeks

The debate over fracking is reaching a fever pitch in Sacramento, as activists urge a moratorium in the final weeks of this legislative session.

A coalition of more than 100 environmental, health and liberal groups on Wednesday released an open letter urging Gov. Jerry Brown to impose such a ban and blasting SB 4, a pending bill that would allow some fracking to go forward.

“This is a do-or-die moment in the fight against fracking in California,” CREDO political director Becky Bond said in a conference call with reporters, adding that although state Sen. Fran Pavley – SB 4’s author – has been a reliable ally to environmentalists in the past, “it’s appalling that this bill is the best the Legislature has to offer Californians.”

“We know that there’s no safe way to frack,” she said. “Anything less than a moratorium is reckless and unacceptable.”

But the only moratorium bill that has made it to a floor vote this year – AB 1323 by Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, D-Culver City – was defeated in a 24-37 Assembly vote in May.

California must act now, Pavley said by email later Wednesday.

“Companies are fracking and acidizing wells in California now, and we can’t afford to wait for another attempt at a moratorium to take action,” she said. “Strict regulations are our best tool right now to protect the public and the environment and hold the industry and regulators accountable.”

Pavley’s bill would establish a regulatory program for hydraulic fracturing and acid-injection methods of extracting oil and gas, including a study, development of regulations, a permitting process, and public notification and disclosure.

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Yet opponents say SB 4 “does nothing to make fracking any less dangerous,” per Adam Scow, California campaigns director for Food & Water Watch.

Victoria Kaplan, a campaign director with MoveOn.org, told reporters that public opinion against fracking is building steadily in California. “The more people learn about fracking, the more they hate it – that’s what we’re seeing this summer.”

Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, said fracking not only “endangers the air we breathe and the water we drink,” but also would set back California’s efforts to roll back climate change. Not only does the fracking process release methane – a potent greenhouse gas – but burning the oil that it produces from the Monterey Shale will generate more than 6.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide, she said.

SB 4 is now pending in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Activists plan to deliver more than 9,000 petition signatures Thursday to committee chairman Mike Gatto’s and Assembly Speaker John Pérez‘s offices, urging them to add an immediate moratorium on fracking to SB 4.

This is only the latest such petition: MoveOn.org says more than 120,000 people have signed various petitions to ban fracking in California.

Posted on Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, energy, Environment, Jerry Brown | 5 Comments »

Ads attack Brown, lawmakers on clear-cutting

Television ads attacking Gov. Jerry Brown, state lawmakers and special interests for not doing enough to stop the clear-cutting of California forests are airing in the North Bay.

They’re airing on CNN, MSNBC, Headline News and various environmental networks, including National Geographic Channel and Discovery Channel, throughout July in the Marin County cities of Fairfax, San Rafael, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, Belvedere, Lagunitas, San Geronimo, Corte Madera, Larkspur, San Quentin, Forest Knolls, Sausalito, Greenbrae, Ross, Tiburon, Kentfield and Woodacre, according to a release from the Battle Creek Alliance.

The 30-second commercials charge that more than 350,000 acres of California’s forests have been clear-cut in the last decade or so by just one company, and blame Brown, the Legislature, corporations and public agencies.

I dig Jerry’s shades.

Battle Creek Alliance is a small Northern California nonprofit environmental group that previously ran the spots ran in the Sacramento area.

Posted on Thursday, July 11th, 2013
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Environment, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | 1 Comment »

Mike Thompson co-founds Invasive Species Caucus

A Bay Area congressman announced today that he has cofounded a bipartisan Congressional Invasive Species Caucus.

Mike ThompsonNo, this isn’t related to immigration reform. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, said he launched the caucus with Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich., to raise awareness about invasive flora and fauna, support local communities who are bearing the brunt of this problem, and promote efforts to prevent and control their spread.

“Invasive species pose a costly challenge to infrastructure, agriculture and the environment,” Thompson said in a news release. “By bringing together experts and industry leaders, we can come up with plans to protect our communities from invasive species before they become a major problem.”

Invasive species can devastate native habitat, damage crops, clog water pipes, infect other plants and animals with dangerous diseases, or outcompete native species. This can lead to lower crop yields, health hazards, irreparable environmental damage and severe tolls on local, state, and federal budgets.

Quagga musselsThompson recently co-sponsored a bipartisan bill, H.R. 1823, the Protecting Lakes Against Quagga Act, that would add quagga mussels to the national invasive species list, giving federal agencies greater ability to prevent their spread. In Thompson’s district, Clear Lake, Lake Sonoma, and Lake Berryessa are all rated at the highest possible risk for quagga invasion, though none has been invaded yet.

If such an invasion occurred, control and treatment would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and impact the water supply for residents in Sonoma, Lake, and Solano Counties, Thompson’s office says – and if the mussels invade the state water infrastructure, it could cost millions every year to keep the pipes clear.

Posted on Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
Under: Environment, Mike Thompson, U.S. House | No Comments »

Activists plan anti-fracking day of action

Opponents of using hydraulic fracturing – “fracking” – to access hard-to-reach oil and natural gas are planning actions Thursday at assemblymembers’ offices around California.

Activists organized by MoveOn.org will deliver petitions in 13 Assembly districts, marking the launch of Californians Against Fracking, a coalition of 70 organizations advocating for a ban.

“The gutting of Holly Mitchell’s fracking moratorium bill [AB 1323] and the blocking of Richard Bloom’s bill [AB 1301] by Assembly leadership ignores the will of the voters of California who have made their voices heard with thousands of phone calls and petition signatures. What we demand is a ban on fracking to protect our health,” said Aura Walker, a Culver City mother, whose petition on MoveOn.org’s petition platform has been signed by more than 35,000 people. “California is already earthquake prone. Additionally, poisonous gases will permanently pollute many precious aquifers, irreversibly poisoning our drinking water.”

In the South Bay, activist Ann Benson of Portola Valley will lead the delivery of a local petition at noon to the Los Altos office of Assemblyman Richard Gordon, urging him to support a fracking ban. At the same time, Dorothy Hann of San Ramon will lead the delivery of a similar petition to Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan in San Ramon.

And the nascent Californians Against Fracking group plans a noon rally outside the state office building at 455 Golden Gate Ave. in San Francisco, as well as one at the same time in Los Angeles. Both will be delivering petitions to Gov. Jerry Brown’s offices.

Environmentalists have taken Brown to task after the governor in March said California should examine fracking to capitalize on the Monterey shale deposit, which the U.S. Energy Department has estimated could hold up to 15 billion barrels of oil — about 64 percent of the nation’s shale oil resources. As some legislative Democrats sought bans, Brown had said the technology shouldn’t be rejected out of hand.

“We want to get the greenhouse gas emissions down, but we also want to keep our economy going. That’s the balance that’s required,” he said at the time. “The fossil fuel deposits in California are incredible; the potential is extraordinary. But between now and development lies a lot of questions that need to be answered.”

UPDATE @ 5:07 P.M.: The California State Senate voted 27-11 this afternoon to pass SB 4 by state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Calabasas, which would require public noticing before fracking can take place, permits, disclosure of chemicals and an independent scientific study of fracking and its risks to California, among other provisions. “I am pleased my colleagues want to hold oil well operators accountable and answer critical questions about groundwater quality, water supply, earthquakes and air quality,” Pavley said in a news release. “We must protect California from risks to our economy, public health and safety and environment.”

Posted on Wednesday, May 29th, 2013
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, energy, Environment, Jerry Brown, Joan Buchanan, Rich Gordon | 5 Comments »

CoCo Supe Gioia named to Air Resources Board

Gov. Jerry Brown today named Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia to the California Air Resources Board.

John GioiaGioia, 55, of Richmond, has been a county supervisor since 1999 and served as the board’s chairman in 2002, 2006 and 2010. Earlier, he was in private law practice from 1986 to 1998, and was a legal researcher for another firm from 1984 to 1986.

He’s also a member of Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board of Directors, and was chairman in 2012. A Democrat, Gioia holds a law degree from the UC-Berkeley School of Law.

Brown also today named attorney and Rolling Hills Estates City Councilwoman Judith Mitchell, 71, to the Air Resources Board.

The 12-member board, appointed by the governor but subject to state Senate confirmation, is part of the California Environmental Protection Agency and has a mission to “promote and protect public health, welfare and ecological resources through the effective and efficient reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering the effects on the economy of the state.” The job carries no compensation.

UPDATE @ 4:06 P.M.: Gioia issued a statement saying he’s “greatly honored by being appointed to take on this new, important responsibility. I have deep respect for Governor Brown’s history of innovative and bold leadership on the environment, including on air quality issues.” He praised CARB Chairwoman Mary Nichols as “an amazing lifelong environmentalist who was just named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world,” and said he looks forward to working with her and other board members “in tackling critical upcoming issues, including investing the state’s cap-and-trade revenues, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, advancing clean energy, and improving community health.”

Posted on Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
Under: Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, economy, Environment, Jerry Brown | No Comments »

Protesters target Zuckerberg at Facebook HQ

Protesters will be marching on Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters tomorrow to protest founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s role in a public policy group that seems to be advocating for construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

Activists are angry that Zuckerberg’s FWD.us group is running a national TV ad praising and featuring pipeline supporter U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.:

“The president says I’m for ‘all of the above’ when it comes to energy,” Graham says in the ad. “Well, those are words coming out of his mouth. They don’t come from his heart. No Keystone pipeline. No drilling in the Gulf. At the end of the day, the economy is not doing well.”

Actually, the ad isn’t from FWD.us directly, but rather from one of its subsidiaries, Americans for a Conservative Direction. Another FWD.us subsidiary, the Council for American Job Growth, is running an ad in support of U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, which in part praises Begich’s support for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR):

Critics say Zuckerberg is quietly bankrolling media efforts for what they say are environmentally harmful fossil-fuel projects, even as he publicly claims to be concerned about climate change.

Surely the billionaire social-media mogul knew what he was getting into when he announced the formation of his issue-advocacy group about a month ago – this is the Bay Area, after all.

The march and rally is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., starting at 1401 Willow Road in Menlo Park. It’s organized by Next Step Keystone Action – a coalition including 350 Bay Area and 350 Silicon Valley, Rainforest Action Network, Idle No More, CREDO, Friends of the Earth, and others.

Posted on Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
Under: Environment, U.S. Senate | 21 Comments »

Mark DeSaulnier named ‘Regionalist of the Year’

The Bay Area Council, a public policy group consisting of the region’s 275 largest employers, has named state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier as its inaugural “Regionalist of the Year.”

Mark DeSaulnierThe council called DeSaulnier, D-Concord, a champion of regional cooperation and solutions on issues of transportation, healthcare, economic, housing, land-use planning and environmental protection, among others.

“Sen. DeSaulnier throughout his career of service at the city, county and state levels has exhibited his commitment to the Bay Area as a region and his commitment to serve the needs of the Bay Area and all the people of this region not just those who voted for him,” council president and CEO Jim Wunderman said in a news release. “Mark understands that cities and counties and districts cannot succeed unless the region as a whole is working together to accomplish common and mutually beneficial goals. Sometimes regionalism does not play well at home, but Mark has always exhibited the political courage to do what is right for our region.”

As a Contra Costa County supervisor, DeSaulnier served on the boards of all three of the Bay Area’s regional agencies: the Association of Bay Area Governments, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. He also served on the California Air Resources Board, and the council says he was “an early and ardent proponent of taking an integrated, regional approach to housing, land use and transportation planning – long before the approach was officially codified through the current Sustainable Communities Strategy.”

DeSaulnier played a key role in creating the Joint Policy Committee, a leadership group of the Bay Area’s main regional agencies aimed at improving their efficiency and integration. And he has championed several critical regional transportation projects, including the expansion of Highway 4, BART to eastern Contra Costa County, and the Caldecott Tunnel’s fourth bore.

Posted on Monday, April 29th, 2013
Under: California State Senate, economy, Environment, housing, Mark DeSaulnier, Transportation | 4 Comments »

Fremont boy wins big EPA award

A seventh-grader from Fremont has been awarded a President’s Environmental Youth Award for his founding of a nonprofit focused on raising kids’ awareness of environmental issues.

Established in 1971 and administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the annual award goes to one outstanding project from each of EPA’s ten regions. Projects are developed by individuals, K-12 school classes, summer camps and youth groups.

Pavan Raj GowdaPavan Raj Gowda, 12, founded Green Kids Now Inc., which aims to increase understanding of environmental issues with school programs, workshops, and online resources. It also hosts an annual “Green Kid Conference” in Mountain View, at which students and their families can learn about and explore environmental issues such as climate science and air quality, and provides resources and opportunities for children to use in their communities.

Pavan also has written two children storybooks, “Two Tales from a Kid” and “Geckoboy-The Battle of Fracking” to raise awareness of the value of community involvement in environmental issues and the side effects of hydraulic fracturing. And he serves as an international reporter for the Primary Perspectives children’s radio program in Australia.

Pavan won for EPA Region IX, which includes all of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and the Pacific Islands.

“EPA is proud to honor Pavan’s extraordinary effort to engage children in environmental action and better the lives of those in his community and future generations,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the agency’s regional administrator. “Instilling a sense of environmental stewardship in our young people is critical in ensuring our environment is protected for years to come.”

Posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013
Under: Environment | 1 Comment »