Tag Archives: climate change

The Republicans Have Reserved Seating for Climate Change Believers

Chad Mayes gets moved to the back

by Brian Leubitz

Asm. Chad Mayes stands next to Gov. Brown, a big no-no in Republican circles. Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Yesterday, the Assembly Republicans shifted some deck chairs on the Titanic, and got a new leader for their superminority come next legislative session. Chad Mayes got the boot for acknowledging that climate change was real (while negotiating some odious provisions) and voting for the cap and trade legislation. And so, he has a very special seat at the back of the Republican caucus reserved for heretics.

“Once again, elected Republican legislators have shown that they can’t abide heresy – in this case, acknowledgement that climate change is real and requires real solutions. Mayes, in organizing Republican votes for AB 398, showed more political courage than any member of the federal Climate Solutions Caucus… and lost his position as Assembly Minority Leader. This vote only reinforces our belief that there’s no reasoning with Republicans on climate solutions. The only real solution is to vote them out,” said RL Miller, chair of the California Democratic Party’s environmental caucus as well as the president of Climate Hawks Vote, a PAC building political power for the climate movement.

At this point, the need for Republican votes is rare. Logically, they should seize the opportunity whenever they can. But that would require compromise to achieve some semblance of results on their goals, and the base DOES NOT LIKE compromise.

New Assembly Minority Leader Brian Dahle with his daughter, not a member of the Assembly GOP Caucus

And so Chad Mayes is shifted to the side. And given that the base at home is quite unhappy, he may face a nasty primary challenge next year as well. But the problem Republicans face is that they are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Mayes actually managed to get some pretty unpalatable provisions in the cap and trade legislation that were something of a giveaway to the oil and business lobby. You know, the GOP money people, but his base at home simply doesn’t like negotiating anything with Democrats, especially anything that acknowledges that climate change is real.

But don’t worry about Mayes, he’ll find a nice paycheck somewhere now lobbying for some corporate interest. But the lesson here is clear for the GOP: “No negotiating. We like our irrelevancy and screaming from the cheap seats.”

Why regulation of fracking in California is a bad idea.

The California state Assembly will shortly take up a bill authored by California’s biggest climate hawk, Fran Pavley, to regulate fracking. Her SB4 bill promises to impose a comprehensive regulatory scheme instead of the current utter lack of regulations and instead of the weak regulations proposed by the state’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Regulations. It will cover not only fracking, the process of fracturing and pulverizing rock to get at its precious fossil fuels, but acidization, the process of dissolving rock in hydrochloric acid or worse to get at the same fossil fuels. The bill will study induced seismicity and require groundwater monitoring. It’s backed by an impressive array of green groups including California League of Conservation Voters and Natural Resources Defense Council. SB4 has already passed the state Senate and an Assembly committee, so it’s close to becoming law.

20121007monterey_thumbI share Senator Pavley’s concern for the climate. I volunteered for her in a close election last fall; I walked for her, I phone-banked for her, I helped raise thousands of dollars for her, I live-tweeted debates, and I helped other bloggers write about her. She gave me a social media shout-out at a volunteer thank you lunch last year. I’m proud to call her my State Senator.

Unlike other states where the frackers brag about extracting the allegedly “cleaner,” “bridge fuel” natural gas, California will be fracked for oil. The Monterey Shale, running from Monterey to Los Angeles under the richest farmland in the country, contains 400 billion barrels of oil. And it’s particularly carbon-intensive, sour, heavy crude – the California Air Resources Board ranks (PDF) some California oil as the dirtiest in the world, even above the filthy Canadian tarsands. Fracking and other unconventional extraction techniques could release about 15.5 billion barrels of that oil – about 2/3 of the United States’ reserves. I’ve previously calculated that California’s fracked up oil is as bad as Keystone XL for the climate.

I helped get a resolution calling for a moratorium on fracking through the California Democratic Party in April. Alas, bills calling for a moratorium couldn’t pass the California Assembly in May. At the same time, the political landscape has drastically shifted since 2012, when very weak regulatory bills couldn’t even make it out of committees. A June 2013 poll shows that 70% of Californians want fracking either banned or heavily regulated.

SB4 may pass the Assembly and be signed by Governor Brown. At that point, it’s likely that the California legislature will consider fracking “safely regulated,” check it off the to-do list, and get back to its main job of repairing years of damage caused by Republican budget cuts. There will be no appetite for tougher laws, just as there is no hope for single-payer legislation in the post-Obamacare national landscape. And the bill will act as a green light to major players currently claiming “regulatory uncertainty” as a reason not to dive headlong into fracking up the Golden State.

On the other hand, if SB4 fails in the Assembly, a fracking moratorium bill will emerge next year, and the clamor to do something will increase.

SB4 is California’s equivalent of a Nebraska bill changing the route of the Keystone XL pipeline, but not stopping or even slowing down our headlong rush to burn all the oil.

And what happens if we do burn all the oil? James Hansen’s latest paper provides a dense, depressing answer: burning all the Earth’s fossil fuels would raise the temperature of the Earth an average of 25 degrees C, making most of the planet uninhabitable.

SB4 presents a choice for California Democrats. Do they regulate the trade secrets and what happens to the produced water and whether the neighbors know what’s going on? Or do they say no to a carbon-intensive project that would undo all of the state’s progress on clean energy?

Shining some light on California’s energy

Nothing makes me appreciate electricity more than conferences and airports. I walk around the perimeters, eyes fixed to the ground (and my dwindling phone screen), looking for that unoccupied little power outlet of opportunity that will allow me to stay connected all day (maybe? We can only hope).

Listening to naysayers talk about trumped-up “problems” with solar energy, one would think that we’re going to be stuck with the same antiquated, centralized electricity system for ages. But that’s just not the case, particularly because of solar. In fact, we all have the opportunity to procure our own solar power strips, so to speak. Distributed rooftop solar can now be accessed by Californians of all walks of life through programs that take care of the initial installation costs, leaving users to enjoy the long term advantages. In fact, according to a July 2012 California Solar Initiative report, two-thirds of home solar installations now occur in low and median income neighborhoods.

Unfortunately for us, monopoly utilities have gotten themselves a sweet deal that guarantees healthy profits at the expense of ratepayer’s wallets and health, so you can imagine they’re not about to give it up without a fight. And fight they have, doing their best to hinder and obstruct a new energy source because it cuts into the profits they make out of building, maintaining (well, how much of this goes on is clearly debatable) and running their large-scale infrastructure. Their latest efforts are focused on eliminating net energy metering, a successful policy in 43 states that gives solar customers fair credit for the energy they put back on the grid.  

I asked Refugio Mata – a long time community organizer in East Los Angeles and the spokesperson for My Generation (Sierra Club’s clean energy campaign in California) www.sierraclub.org/mygeneration about this:  “Instead of trying to inhibit or kill the growth of rooftop solar in California, utilities should be doing everything they can to enable Californians from all walks of life to be part of the clean energy solution. When we install solar panels on our roofs, we are creating good, local jobs. Solar panels help make the transition from dirty to clean energy possible. By replacing fossil fuel energy with rooftop solar panels we also help to clean up the air we breathe and protect the health of California’s most vulnerable communities”

Speaking of protecting the health of Californians, that’s exactly what a new organization called Californians Against Utilities Stopping Solar Energy (CAUSE) has set out to do.  CAUSE is co-chaired by California physicians like Dr. Luis Pacheco, Medical Director of the Transitional Care Unit at California Hospital Medical Center and Dr. Deonza Thymes, board certified Emergency Medicine physician and CEO and founder of Healthfly Inc. The group believes rooftop solar should remain a core part of California communities and our economy, and that it should not be stifled to protect utility profits.  

We need to consider and evaluate the full value of all energy sources available and encourage consumers to make their own choices without any high-handed, political, backroom deals tilting the balance against a choice that is clearly rising in popularity. For example, a recent study by Crossborder Energy on the value of net energy metering shows that it will deliver more than $92 million per year to all California ratepayers and the grid.  It’s good for our health, and a financial benefit.  Condescending attitudes from utilities, masked as concern, will do nothing to help the communities that fossil fuel providers claim to worry about. Clean air, well-paid local jobs and cost-efficient rooftop solar energy can go much further in this regard.  

Climate Change and the Budget

Brown looks long-term on impending climate crisis

by Brian Leubitz

Gov. Brown, in this go-round as governor, has hardly been spending willy-nilly. Now he says that he has another reason:

“It doesn’t look like the people who are in charge are going to do what it takes to really slow down this climate change, so we’re going to have to adapt, and adapting is going to be very, very expensive,” Brown said. “That’s another reason why we have to maintain some budget discipline.”

Brown, who has urged lawmakers of his own party to resist spending despite the state’s improving revenue outlook, said weather is “becoming more intense” as a result of climate change and will “cost a lot of money and a lot of lives.”(SacBee)

Now, I actually find this pretty persuasive. Climate change will hit California particularly hard. Drought and fires will be increasingly common. Our fertile Central Valley will not be so fertile when we have no water for what is basically a semi-arid climate. Snowpacks will cease to become good water reserves as they melt too early in the season. In short, Gov. Brown was probably underselling the costs of adaptation to climate change.

That is not to say that we shouldn’t be continuing to work to slow climate change. We need to rethink our fossil fuel usage, and how we are assisting in that dependence. (Ahem…for starters: fracking and LNG pipeline) And yes, planning for budgeting long-term to address the changes inherent in catastrophic climate change should be part of the overall adaptation process. That being said, it would be interesting to see how money is being specifically directed towards that planning.

Wearing Clean Underwear, Going Fossil Free

Underwear--Proof-of-Global-WarmingLast night, I attended a meeting of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party’s Resolutions Committee to speak on behalf of a resolution I wrote. The resolution calls for the University of California and California State University endowments, and institutional investors California Public Employees Retirement Systems and California State Teachers’ Retirement System to divest from fossil fuels within five years.

And I wore clean underwear to the meeting. Just to spite Fox News.

The reasons behind the resolution are simple. Climate change caused by burning of fossil fuels is the greatest challenge facing the next few generations of humanity. Efforts to legislate solutions have often been stalled by fossil-fueled politicians; hence, a movement has sprung up to divest institutional funds from fossil fuel companies, popularized by Bill McKibben in his Rolling Stone piece on global warming’s terrifying new math.

The “warm” argument for divestment points out the morality. It’s not primarily an economic strategy, but a moral and political one. Just like in the struggle for civil rights or the fight to end Apartheid in South Africa, the more we can make climate change a deeply moral issue, the more we will push society towards action. Fossil fuel divestment, explicitly modeled on the successful anti-apartheid movement, has been endorsed by Nelson Mandela. If it’s wrong to wreck the planet, than it’s also wrong to profit from that wreckage. At the same time, divestment builds political power by forcing our nation’s most prominent institutions and individuals (many of whom sit on college boards) to choose a side. Divestment sparks a big discussion and gets prominent media attention, moving the case for action forward.

The “cold” argument for supporting divestment recognizes that smart institutions will get out of the carbon bubble before it bursts. Investors are now beginning the long ugly process of grappling with the fact that the unburnable carbon in fossil fuels will create stranded assets, i.e., assets worth less on the market than on a balance sheet. One estimate has 55% of investors’ portfolios exposed to risk. Standard & Poors warns of oil firms’ credit downgrades. The Motley Fool sees fossil fuels as modern asbestos stocks.

And getting on the fossil fuel divestment bandwagon is smart politics. The Fossil Free website shows over 250 colleges and universities have movements calling for their endowments to divest from fossil fuels. Give them a reason to enthuse about Democratic Party action.

Of course, Fox News doesn’t like the fossil free movement. A Fox News host claimed that those of us who want to divest from fossil fuels don’t want clean underwear. My retort, via Twitter: “hey @FoxNews – I wear clean silk lingerie and I support #fossilfree divestment. But no one who believes the BS you spew will ever see it.”

Since Ventura County became the first Democratic party in the nation to call for fossil fuel divestment last week, we’ve been joined by other Democratic clubs in California. If you’re interested in doing the same, here’s a template resolution:

WHEREAS, almost every government in the world has agreed that any warming above a 2°C (3.6°F) rise would be unsafe. We have already raised the temperature 0.8°C (1.4°F), which has caused far more damage than most scientists expected – a third of summer sea ice in the Arctic is gone, the oceans are 30 percent more acidic, and since warm air holds more water vapor than cold, consequences of inaction will result in devastating floods and drought;

WHEREAS, scientists estimate that humans can release roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and still have some reasonable hope of staying below two degrees, while proven coal, oil, and gas reserves equal about 2,795 gigatons of CO2, or five times the amount we can release to maintain 2 degrees of warming;

and WHEREAS, California’s institutions of higher education and pension funds should encourage only those investments that allow students and retirees to live healthy lives without the impact of a warming planet, and thus campaigns to divest from fossil fuels have begun at campuses within both the University of California and California State University systems;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the (your county) Democratic Party calls upon the University of California and California State University endowments, and CALPERS and CALSTRS institutional funds to immediately stop new investments in fossil fuel companies, to take steps to divest all holdings from the top 200 fossil fuel companies as determined by the Carbon Tracker list within five years, and to release updates available to the public, detailing progress made toward full divestment;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Democratic Party send a copy of this resolution to the Governor of the State of California, Board of Regents of the University of California, Chancellor of the California State University system, and officials at CalPERS and CalSTRS, asking support for divestment from fossil fuels.

I’m very pleased to report that the Los Angeles County resolutions committee passed my fossil fuel divestment resolution unanimously – one committee member stated “You had me at the first ‘whereas’ clause.” It’ll go on to the full party meeting next week, where I’m told that it’ll probably be approved on a routine basis. And I’ll wear clean underwear in support…but won’t post pix to prove it.

California’s fracked up oil: nearly as bad for the climate as Keystone XL?

by RL Miller

IMAG0681The Keystone XL pipeline has birthed a movement, massive rallies, and even the Keystone Principle – “Specifically and categorically, we must cease making large, long-term capital investments in new fossil fuel infrastructure that “locks in” dangerous emission levels for many decades.” Keystone is a carbon bomb.

Very nearly as explosive, yet virtually ignored: California’s oil awaiting fracking. The state’s oil reserves – 400 billion barrels – were long considered dwindling, until fracking the oil has promised to liberate, or something, 15 billion barrels.

The math puts the carbon impacts of California’s oil on par with Keystone. The respected Skeptical Science blog calculates Keystone’s impact over 40 years as adding 7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions. I did the math and found that California’s easily available oil awaiting fracking is 6.45 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

7 billion tons of carbon pollution is more than 6.45 billion tons, but not much more.

The chemistry agrees: California’s oil is as dirty as the Canadian tar sands. State data shows that several California oil fields produce just as much carbon dioxide per barrel of oil as the tar sands do. A handful of fields yield even more.

The ugly physics of handling this dirty oil are reminiscent of the Keystone pipeline’s politics of exporting pollution. California’s landmark global warming law, AB32, institutes a low carbon fuel standard. High-carbon oil won’t be refined here. It will be shipped to  less climate-conscious states or less finicky countries. And transporting dirty oil out of state will create yet more pollution.

The Keystone Principle demands that California’s oil stay underground; the terrifying new math of global warming demands that California’s oil stay underground. Meanwhile, the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity paints it as “black gold”: video here.

One would think that environmentally aware Governor Jerry Brown and the Democrats in the California legislature who passed AB32 would be lining up to oppose fracking this carbon bomb.

One would be wrong.

The people attending Forward on Climate rallies throughout the nation don’t want fracking – the Los Angeles rally that I attended yesterday had prominent anti-fracking signs and speakers. But not a single Democrat in the California legislature will touch a fracking moratorium bill. They’re too busy nibbling around the edges of regulating well casings, as if that somehow makes it all right to frack all this dirty carbon. They’re too busy siding with the Koch brothers, against the people who elected them, and against the climate. They’re going to frack up the Golden State.

If the President Wants Cleaner, Safer Gas and Oil, Give Consumers Knowledge and Power

Fracking Pond

It was a relief to hear more than a passing reference to climate change in President Obama’s State of the Union Speech, including promises of more support for wind and solar power. But the oil industry heard nothing to even cause even a smidgen of concern.

Asking Congress to “get together to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change” should have been marked in the transcript as a laugh line.  And the presidential promise to “keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits” was an emergency alert for communities under siege from natural gas fracking and states–particularly California–whose dwindling supply of clean water is being sucked away by both oil companies and climate change.

While the president pledged support for “research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner and protects our air and our water,” technology is only as good as the corporations willing to pay for it as well as put safety above profit. What citizens want is information and a say in the process. Right now they have precious little of either.

So the citizen’s challenge to President Obama and Congress has to be this:

  • We want knowledge and the oil industry demands secrecy about its drilling, its safety procedures, the toxic chemicals it injects into wells and the effects of drilling on land, water and air.
  • We want responsibility and the oil industry wants deniability about chemical and methane seepage (to protect it from liability for the damage it causes, from poisoning our water to killing farm stock after leaks from wastewater ponds like the one pictured above).
  • We want advance information about new drilling and the industry wants no discussion with communities before the drill bits hit the soil; dangerous fracking gets far less advance scrutiny than solar and wind projects.
  • We want the environmental and quality of life effects of drilling measured and balanced before deep new fracking and injection wells go up next door; the industry calls such requests “job killers.

Judy DuganPresident Obama rightly praised the growth of cleaner cars and called for more conservation and greener buildings. He left no wiggle room in his speech for climate-change deniers, not with American coastal communities being submerged by rising seas and ever-more-frequent giant storms like Sandy. Yet that firmness doesn’t track with his praise for clean-burning natural gas. Any clean-air benefit in combustion has to be balanced against the high volumes of methane–which is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide–in the gas fracking process.

He praised growing North American energy independence–yet such “independence,” in a global market like oil, will do exactly nothing to reduce U.S. gasoline prices. And the worse cost is the acceptance of filthy tar sands oil from Canada, which pollutes at every stage from extraction to refining.

Everything in politics is a tradeoff, and President Obama has at least put energy conservation and climate change back on the national radar. What we need to see now is a commitment to saving our air, land and water for generations to come, rather than accepting the false “job killer” mantra of industry and its empty promises to put safety over profit.


Posted by Judy Dugan, former research director for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an effective voice for taxpayers and consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

Doing the math: California poised to delay climate action for 80 years

California is home to AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 authored by State Senator Fran Pavley that caps and trades carbon pollution, mandates lower carbon fuel, higher mileage from automobiles, energy efficiency, and puts the state at the forefront of the clean energy economy.

bendy straw milkshakeCalifornia is also home to 15 billion barrels of oil that now can be easily recovered using modern fracking technology. The state has always had some oil, as anyone who’s ever seen There Will Be Blood or cleaned up a Santa Barbara spill can attest. But the wells got old, and most of the good milkshakes got drank, until fracking – the art of using a very long bendy straw – came along. And now Venoco, Occidental Petroleum, and others are salivating at the thought of fracking up California. The New York Times’ story on vast oil reserves now within reach has gotten national attention. Rightwing papers are asking: could the Monterey Shale save California? (never mind that California saved itself by depriving Republicans of their hostage-taking abilities). From the Times:

Comprising two-thirds of the United States’s total estimated shale oil reserves and covering 1,750 square miles from Southern to Central California, the Monterey Shale could turn California into the nation’s top oil-producing state and yield the kind of riches that far smaller shale oil deposits have showered on North Dakota and Texas.

California’s 15 billion barrels of easily fracked oil are roughly four times the size of the Bakken formation. It’s enough to bedazzle Democratic lawmakers. Once known for their environmentalism, they’re rushing to gut, oops, I mean amend, the California Environmental Quality Act, just in time for the embarrassment of fracked-up blood money.

Alas, neither the New York Times nor any of the pieces predicting untold riches for the state bother to calculate what burning all this shale oil will do to the climate.

What will 15 billion barrels of oil do to the state’s efforts to fight global warming?

I did the math.

20121007monterey_thumbAn Environmental Protection Agency calculator explains that burning one barrel of oil releases 0.43 metric ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Burning 15 billion barrels thus releases 6.45 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. Think of it as a very, very large, fat-and-sugar-loaded, milkshake sitting on a table waiting to be drank.

Generally, AB32 set a goal of rolling back emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The state set a baseline of 507 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, and a goal of reducing that to 427 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. This PDF explains how the 507 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year was calculated along with estimated savings from various programs within AB32, e.g., the Pavley (high miles per gallon) standards will save 27.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. It’s a smart, well balanced diet for the state’s carbon footprint.

In other words, releasing 6.45 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is the equivalent of delaying a planned reduction of 80 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year – for 80 years.

And that’s just fracked up.

I hope that Fran Pavley, California’s fiercest climate hawk, will declare that high-fat milkshakes have no place in a balanced diet, and champion the fight for a moratorium on fracking up the Golden State.

Kidnappings, pirates, Halliburton, and me.

The London-based Control Risks holds itself out as “an independent global risk consultancy specialising in helping organizations manage political, integrity, and security risks in complex and hostile environments.” Or, in practical terms, it provides anti-piracy services, handles kidnappings and other crises, and writes white papers analyzing terrorism risks in various countries. One suspects that this expertise doesn’t come cheap. Clients buy discretion for large sums of cash, but SourceWatch notes “a long history of working with the energy sector, covering ground in Algeria, Angola, Congo, Nigeria, Russia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Sudan and Yemen.”  And now it’s advising unnamed, but presumably energy-oriented and rich, businesses how to handle fracking activists.

Because a worried upstate New York farmer has a lot in common with a Somali pirate.

The splash page on “The Global Anti-Fracking Movement: What it wants, how it operates, and what’s next” is here. You’re supposed to be able to download the report only by giving an email address to receive more briefings, and if you’re a senior executive in the oil and gas industry you can get the report and a complimentary personal briefing. For those of us who are not senior executives in the oil and gas industry and who don’t want want to give our email address to a shadowy international business that may count Halliburton and Bechtel among its clients, here is the entire report (pdf format).

The report views American environmental activists through the same hostile lens as it uses on kidnappers of Exxon executives. It is shocked to report that “A notable feature of the anti-fracking movement – shared with other social movements such as Occupy – is the extensive use of online social media to disseminate information, organise and mobilise.” (p.8)

The white paper carefully separates those who call for an outright ban from those seeking tighter regulation: “the majority of the anti-fracking movement simply wants tighter environmental regulation of unconventional gas development. With tighter regulation, enforcement and accountability, a sizeable swathe of the anti-fracking movement – from grassroots activists with single-issue grievances to influential environmental NGOs such as the Us’s Natural Resources defense Council (NRdC) – is prepared to drop its objection to hydraulic fracturing.” (p.5) And it goes on to discuss, without actually suggesting that big green groups concerned about climate should co-opt local people concerned about their food and water supply, wink, nudge (p.9):

International environmental NGOs also play a key global networking role. For example, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the World Wide Fund for Nature (formerly World Wildlife Fund) each mount anti-fracking advocacy campaigns and support local anti-fracking groups. yet in contrast with grassroots activists, focused primarily on local social, economic and environmental impacts, international environmental NGOs situate unconventional gas extraction largely within their efforts on climate change.

The intervention of international NGOs has inevitably pulled the anti-fracking movement – at the global level – towards the climate change agenda, meaning that purely climate change-focused groups, such as 350.org, have obtained a prominent position. This

has occasionally resulted in friction within the anti-fracking movement, to the extent that some climate change-focused NGOs – though not the three listed above – view unconventional gas as a low carbon alternative to coal. Not only do such groups ignore

pressing local impact concerns, they may also be more amenable to tighter regulation as opposed to an outright ban.

20121007monterey_thumbControl Risks’ final suggestions for handling those pesky activists: “acknowledge grievances,” “engage local communities,” “reduce impacts,” and “create more winners” (pay people).  But nothing about actually listening to the activists, cleaning up wastewater, disclosing toxic fluids, or actually reducing carbon emissions.

California is next in line for a fracking boom, if the clients of Control Risks have their way – the federal Bureau of Land Management’s first auction of fracking leases sold 18,000 acres in ten minutes flat. The divide-and-conquer strategy is just beginning; most large green groups have stayed silent on the woefully insufficient draft regulations recently proposed, Very Serious Editorials opine that full disclosure of fracking fluids is somehow sufficient, bills being introduced echo the call for regulation rather than a moratorium, and efforts within the California Democratic Party to call for a moratorium are being watered down.

As for me, I’m not going to kidnap or terrorize the pro-fracking folk. I just don’t want them doing to the vineyards and suburbs of California what has been done to the farms of Pennsylvania and New York. If you live in California, click here to tell Governor Brown to ban fracking.

Fracking up California: the new Gold Rush starts today

( – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

20121007monterey_thumbThe fossil fuel industry is eyeing a new Gold Rush in the Golden State: the Monterey Shale, a natural gas play stretching from Monterey County south to Bakersfield, Santa Barbara, and the Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles County. It’s said to hold more barrels than North Dakota’s Bakken Formation. “several oil companies, including Venoco and Occidental, have reported they are experimenting in California’s shale formations.”

Last week a convention was held on unlocking the Golden State’s shale resources, billed as “Be Part of the Biggest Thing to Hit California Since the Gold Rush!”

Today in Sacramento, the federal Bureau of Land Management is holding its first auction of 18,000 acres in Fresno, San Benito, and Monterey counties. A protest is being organized, complete with hazmat suits – you can RSVP here. If you can’t make it to Sacramento, here’s an online petition to tell the BLM – Don’t frack California.

The jury is out on whether natural gas, which is mostly methane, is actually as clean burning as it’s made out to be. California state regulators have lost track of whether California is being fracked; when they do re-regulate, they probably won’t track methane emissions at all. California agricultural interests are concerned about fracking our food supply. An earthquake inducing, water intensive process doesn’t seem like a good idea in an earthquake-prone, water-scarce state. The original Gold Rush pioneers didn’t worry about environmental degradation as they chased shiny yellow riches. The frackers will likewise heedlessly harm our air and water. Unless we speak up.

I’m organizing folk concerned about fracking in California – if interested, respond in comments with your email address, or tweet me @RL_Miller.