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In 1982, Jerry Brown called his unpopular scheme to divert more water to corporate agribusiness and Southern California water agencies the "peripheral canal." The voters of the state overwhelmingly rejected the canal proposal in the November election.

After Brown was inaugurated for his third term as Governor in 2011, he described the reincarnated "conveyance" plan proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) as the Delta "tunnels."

Now the Governor, in his fourth term, wants to change the name of the widely-opposed project to "pipes."

In addressing Sacramento business leaders at the 90th Annual "Sacramento Host Breakfast" on May 28, Governor Jerry Brown said that he is now going to call the Delta tunnels, "pipes," because pipes are more popular.

"Instead of a tunnel, were going to call it a pipe. That seems to be more popular," he said to laughter from the crowd, according to the Sacramento Bee. (http://www.sacbee.com/...)

Apparently, Brown has been not watching the media coverage of the massive Santa Barbara oil spill. The disaster is the result of a rupture in one of these “ever-popular” pipes, owned by the Plains All-American Pipeline corporation, on May 19 off Refugio State Beach. The "pipe" concept is so "popular" off Santa Barbara now that a "Stand In The Sand" protest yesterday drew over 500 people!  

Whether he calls them "tunnels," "pipes," a "canal" or some other term, we all know that they are in reality a Big Water Grab for Stewart Resnick of Paramount Farms, Westlands Water District,  Southern California water agencies, and oil companies conducting steam injection and fracking operations. The Brown administration recently divided the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan into two components - The "California Water Fix" component for the tunnels and the "California Eco Restore" component for the habitat "restoration" component.

Restore the Delta (RTD), a group opposing the Governor's massive twin tunnels plan, noted that Brown's reference to "pipes," and his entire talk touting the alleged "benefits" of the tunnels, echoes the message created by Californians for Water Security — a special interest campaign initiated by Stewart Resnick’s Paramount Farms.

In case you didn't know, Stewart Resnick is the largest orchard fruit and nut grower in the world, and is one of the biggest contributors to candidates from both the Democratic and Republican parties every election season. He contributed $150,000 last fall to help pass Jerry Brown's Proposition 1, the water bond. (http://www.eastbayexpress.com/...)

The well-connected Beverly Hills billionaire sits on the board of the Conservation International, a controversial corporate "environmental" group, and is an advisor to UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, most well-known around the world for her administration's pepper spraying of students at an Occupy protest in the fall of 2011. (http://www.dailykos.com/...)

“The strategy of Californians for Water Security and the new California Water Fix is to take Californians’ real concerns about our need to fix our leaky water mains and aging urban infrastructure in earthquake prone places like Los Angeles and wrap those fears into the Delta project to divert the Sacramento River from the Bay-Delta estuary, depriving the Delta of its primary freshwater source,” said RTD Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla.  

“Whether it’s a peripheral canal, twin tunnels, or now pipes, it’s the same old project. Changing the lipstick shade one puts on a pig, doesn’t make the pig any more attractive,” she noted. “The Delta canals/tunnels/pipes will destroy the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas. They will ruin the environment and economy for the 4 million residents of the Delta counties. They will finish off our salmon runs and other native fish species which are barely hanging on from years of over pumping.”

"The tunnels will become financial burdens for water rate payers and property tax payers in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. They will leave the 500,000 customers of the Contra Costa Water District with drinking water that will not meet Clean Water Act standards. They will ruin the $5.2 billion annual family farm community," she explained.

“They will not provide urban residents with any additional water, but they will ensure that the mega growers like Stewart Resnick and those in Westlands who can spend millions on lobbyists and misleading messaging campaigns get the water they want to grow almonds on drainage impaired lands in the desert. It’s time for Governor Brown to stop carrying water for special interests and to show leadership in creating water programs that benefit ALL Californians,” she concluded.

For more information about Restore the Delta (RTD), go to: http://restorethedelta.org

The construction of the Delta tunnels would hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt and other fish species, as well as threaten the steelhead and salmon populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

The tunnels plan is just one of Jerry Brown's many attacks on fish, water and the environment. Unfortunately, most in the mainstream media continue to falsely portray Brown as a "green" Governor as they fall for his constant grandstanding about his "green energy" and neo-liberal carbon trading policies. For an in-depth analysis of Brown's environmental record, read my article: http://www.truth-out.org/...

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Hundreds of people, including scores of school children from Native American Tribes and local communities along the Klamath and Trinity Rivers teamed up to complete a  260-mile relay up the Klamath and Trinity Rivers today.

The rivers and streams along the route once provided top-notch salmon habitat and hosted the West Coast’s third largest salmon run.

The 2015 Salmon Run will reach its destination at noon today and will be followed by a traditional salmon bake at 1 p.m. at the Chiloquin Community Center, in Chiloquin, Oregon.

What started with school children running a relay to deliver a hand carved salmon up the Trinity River, the Klamath’s largest tributary, has grown into a decade-long Inter-Tribal tradition involving hundreds of children, their parents, and dedicated fish advocates from Yurok, Hoopa, Karuk and beginning this year the Klamath Tribes.

In an effort to remove dams along the Klamath River that block fish passage and ruin water quality, Tribes have united with strong conviction, at a time when juvenile salmon are facing extreme health impacts.  

According to the Klamath Fish Health Assessment Team, one hundred percent of juvenile Chinook salmon in the Klamath River carry the C. Shasta virus, a deadly illness that is exacerbated by the dams in the Klamath.

2015 Salmon Run organizer Crispen McAllister, a Karuk Tribal member who personally ran much of the distance bridging the mouth to the headwaters of the Klamath, will be in attendance at the end of the race today at a public event. The gathering and feast will feature a traditional salmon bake, provided by lower river tribes that still have access to the spring run Chinook that historically inhabited Chiloquin.

Everyone is welcome to participate in this spiritual activity.  It is the first time the Klamath have joined with the lower river tribes to bring the run past the dams that currently block the salmon.

The 260 Mile Salmon Run began at the Pacific Ocean on May 29, 2015. It finishes in Chiloquin, Oregon on Monday, June 1st, 2015 at Noon.

CONTACT:
Dania Rose Colegrove, (707) 499-3110
Taylor David: taylor.david@klamathtribes.com
Crispen McAllister: ckarukc@gmail.com
Klamath Fish Health Assessment Team, Sara Borok: (707) 822-0330

 

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I wrote the following article in 2010 warning of the consequences of not protecting the ocean from oil spills, oil drilling, pollution and all human impacts other than fishing and gathering in the "marine protected areas" created under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. This article warned of the consequences of allowing a Big Oil lobbyist and other corporate operatives to oversee "marine protection" in California.

With a major oil spill from a ruptured pipeline devastating over 9 miles of the Santa Barbara County coast, we can see now that the very thing that grassroots environmentalists, Tribal leaders and fishermen warned about has come to pass. Ironically, four "marine protected areas" created under the helm of Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) are being fouled by the oil spill.

Since I wrote this article a number of things have happened.

First, the flawed statewide network of "marine protected areas" created under the Schwarzenegger administration was "completed" in December 2012 under the Brown administration.

Second, in spite of protests and direct actions, the "marine protected areas" created under the MLPA Initiative still prohibit Tribal gatherers and fishermen from gathering and fishing in no-take "State Marine Reserves."

Third, last May a federal judge sentenced Ron Le Valley, the Chair of the MLPA Science Advisory Team for the North Coast, to 10 months in federal prison for conspiracy to embezzle over $800,000 from the Yurok Tribe.

Fourth, the state of California has to this date failed to address the Yurok Tribe Science Team's criticisms of the terminally flawed science behind the "marine protected areas" on the North Coast.

Fifth, an Associated Press and Freedom of Information Act request in 2010 revealed that Southern California waters had been fracked over 200 times over a 20 year period. Much of this fracking took place while the President of the Western States Petroleum Association chaired the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create marine protected areas on the South Coast  

The oil spill - and failure of the MLPA Initiative's flawed "marine protected areas" to stop it - makes it even more urgent that the Legislature pass State Senator Mike McGuire’s California Coastal Protection Act of 2015 (Senate Bill 788), to address a glaring offshore oil drilling loophole in California law.

The California Coastal Sanctuary Act, passed in 1994, contains a loophole from the offshore extraction prohibition, Public Resources Code 6244, by allowing new oil leases if the “State Lands Commission determines that oil and gas deposits contained in tidelands are being drained by means of wells upon adjacent federal lands and leasing of the tidelands for oil or gas production is in the best interest of the State.”

SB 788 would eliminate this loophole by repealing PRC 6244 to ensure that the Coastal Sanctuary Act and Marine Life Protection Act are able to provide their intended protections for our coastal resources and prevent additional offshore oil extraction.

In the ultimate irony, the Western States Petroleum Association President, the same oil lobbyist who oversaw the creation of so-called “marine protected areas” in Southern California, and the oil companies are opposing SB 788!

Here is the article from June 2010: http://yubanet.com/...

MLPA Initiative will do nothing to stop a big oil spill off California

Published on Jun 12, 2010 - 6:21:54 AM

By: Dan Bacher

June 12, 2010 - The BP Oil Spill, the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history, continues to devastate the fish and wildlife populations and coastal fishing communities of the Gulf of Mexico.

A federal government panel on Thursday doubled its estimate of how much oil has been flowing into the Gulf from the Horizon Deepwater spill, according to the New York Times on June 10.

"The new estimate is 25,000 to 30,000 barrels of oil a day," said reporters Justin Gillis and Henry Fountain. "That range, still preliminary, is far above the previous estimate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day."

The panel suggests that the same amount of oil that was spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster could have been spewing into the Gulf every 8-10 days during the unprecedented catastrophe.

The spill occurs at a time when Arnold Schwarzenegger, the worst ever Governor for fish and the environment in California history, and his collaborators continue to tout his fast-track Marine Life ‘"Protection" Act (MLPA) Initiative as a "model" of marine "protection."

The Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), a landmark law passed by the California Legislature and signed by Governor Davis in 1999, was supported by both Democrats and Republicans and a coalition of environmental and fishing groups.

However, oil industry, marina development and other corporate interests, in a bizarre parody of marine "protection," have hijacked the implementation of the MLPA under the Schwarzenegger administration. There is no doubt that Schwarzenegger's MLPA Initiative will do little or nothing to stop a disaster like that of the BP or the Exxon Valdez oil spills from taking place in California waters.

"These marine protected areas, as currently designed, don't protect against oil spills," said Sara Randall, program director of the Institute for Fishery Resources and Commercial Fishermen of America. "What's the point of developing marine protected areas if they don't protect the resources?"

The MLPA, as amended in 2004, is very broad in its scope. The law was intended to not only restrict or prohibit fishing in a network of "marine protected areas," but to restrict or prohibit other human activities including coastal development and water pollution.

"Coastal development, water pollution, and other human activities threaten the health of marine habitat and the biological diversity found in California's ocean waters," the law states in Fish and Game Code Section 2851, section c.

The law also broadly defines a "marine protected area" (MPA) as "a named, discrete geographic marine or estuarine area seaward of the mean high tide line or the mouth of a coastal river, including any area of inertial or sub tidal terrain, together with its overlying water and associated flora and fauna that has been designated by law, administrative action, or voter initiative to protect or conserve marine life and habitat" (Fish and Game Code 2852, section c).

Furthermore, the law also defines a "Marine life reserve," as "a marine protected area in which all extractive activities, including the taking of marine species, and, at the discretion of the commission and within the authority of the commission, other activities that upset the natural ecological functions of the area, are prohibited. While, to the extent feasible, the area shall be open to the public for managed enjoyment and study, the area shall be maintained to the extent practicable in an undisturbed and unpolluted state" (Fish and Game Code 2852, section d).

Schwarzenegger eviscerates the MLPA

Unfortunately, the Schwarzenegger administration has taken all other "human uses" and "extractive activities" other than fishing and seaweed harvesting off the table in the implementation of the MLPA process. The MLPA fiasco does nothing to stop water pollution, oil drilling, and wave energy projects or other activities from destroying fish and other marine life populations in California's coastal waters.

A group of fisherman and conservationists exposed the Governor for doing nothing to stop pollution and other activities other than fishing in a protest they held at the Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles on September 30, 2009.

"Ironically, Governor Schwarzenegger is trying to build his legacy as a green governor while he simultaneously ignores all the ocean pollution plaguing California's beaches and coastal waters," said protest organizer Wendy Tochihara. "As anyone in Southern California who enjoys the ocean knows, poor water-quality and resulting beach closures are all too common, especially during the rainy season."

She emphasized, "The Marine Life Protection Act currently being implemented in Southern California by the administration was supposed to be comprehensive, addressing all aspects that affect the ocean, like pollution, coastal development and fishing. However, the Governor has abandoned sound science and is instead only duplicating existing fishing ban laws."

Environmental groups have also criticized the evisceration of the MLPA under Schwarzenegger. Robert Ovetz, then the executive director of the conservation group Seaflow, in http://www.counterpunch.org in April 2008, pointed out that Schwarzenegger's so-called "marine protected areas" would not protect the ocean from the "Next Cosco Busan" spill.

Although Ovetz said that "Vessel No Traffic" areas designated by the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force were a good "first step," he noted they were "far too small to adequately protect the Farallon Islands, Fitzgerald and Pt. Reyes from the approximately 3,600 large cargo vessels and oil supertankers entering San Francisco Bay every year virtually unregulated by the US Coast Guard."

"There is more than just fish in the sea," said Ovetz. "It would be hard to know it from observing the progress of the Marine Life Protection Act in Northern California. Otherwise known as the MLPA, it is a multi-year process to redesign California's nearly 100 state Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) into networks of protected marine habitats. But those working to implement the MLPA along the North Central coast are so narrowly focused on fish they are missing the proverbial forest for the trees."

John Stephens-Lewallen: MLPA paves the way for new offshore drilling

John Stephens-Lewallen, a well-respected North Coast environmental leader and co-founder of the Ocean Protection Coalition and the grassroots Seaweed Rebellion, has been a staunch opponent of offshore oil drilling for decades. He said that the MLPAI not only fails to protect the California Coast from offshore oil drilling, but "paves the way for new offshore oil rigs."

"The MLPAI divides coastal communities so we're fighting against each over fisheries closures whereas we should working together to phase out offshore drilling and to put in place a massive conversion to sustainable energy," emphasized Stephens-Lewallen. "The people running the process, privately funded by the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, are interested in procuring ports and eliminating food providers so they can industrialize the ocean."

"The corporate interests have allied with some preservationists in following a bogus theory of ecosystem management that says that people should be eliminated from the ocean ecosystem," noted Stephens-Lewallen. "This paves the way for offshore drilling, since many of these preservationist organizations secure their funding from the ocean industrialists through the big foundations."

Stephens-Lewallen and other opponents of the MLPAI have criticized Schwarzenegger for appointing Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, as the chair of the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast. She also now serves on the North Central Coast task force and served on the North Coast task force charged with implementation of the MLPA in one of the most overt examples of corporate greenwashing in California history.

"In March, Reheis-Boyd assured the Fort Bragg City Council that setting up marine reserves had nothing to do with opening offshore oil drilling up," he said. "But at same time, Reheis-Boyd and other members of the task force toured port facilities at the Albion and Noyo harbors where we suspect the oil industry could eventually install onshore facilities to be used in tandem with offshore rigs. The North Coast Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) seem designed to eliminate the fishing industry in the Point Area area, since they bracket the harbor."

Stephens-Lewallen questions whether the placement of these marine reserves has been designed to facilitate the development of offshore oil in the Point Arena Basin in Mendocino County. This is one of the areas the oil industry is most interested in exploring for oil – and is one of the greatest marine ecosystems, sustained by upwelling, on the West Coast.

Giving credence to his contention that the MLPA Initiative paves the way for new oil drilling, Catherine Reheis-Boyd recently affirmed her support for new offshore oil rigs in spite of the BP spill's devastation, in her commentary, "Gulf Oil Spill Comments," on the association's website, http://www.wspa.org.

"The tragic Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico has resulted in California Governor Schwarzenegger's withdrawal of his support for limited offshore oil development near Santa Barbara," said Reheis-Boyd. "WSPA has not taken a position on specific offshore projects. But we have been vocal about our views that California businesses and consumers would benefit from development of the huge reserves of petroleum off the California coast, in both state and federal waters."

Other corporate interests who preside over the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force include members Gregory F. Schem and William (Bill) Anderson.

Schem is president and chief executive officer of Harbor Real Estate Group, specializing in marina and waterfront real estate investments, including a marina, fuel dock, and boat yard in Marina del Rey, in addition to other California assets.

Anderson has been president and chief operating officer of Westrec Marinas since 1989. Westrec Marinas is the nation's largest owner and operator of waterfront marinas.

How can anybody possibly claim that the MLPAI "protects" the oceans when the Governor has appointed oil company, real estate and marina development interests – all of whom all have a direct stake in how marine reserves are implemented and designated – to decision making positions on MLPA panels?

Besides failing to protect California coastal waters from other human uses than fishing in waters that already feature the largest marine protected area in the United States (the Rockcod Conservation Area), the MLPA Initiative has openly violated numerous state, federal and international laws. These include the California Public Records Act, Bagley-Keene Open Meetings Act, First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, American Indian Religious Freedom Act, and UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

For more information about the violation of indigenous subsistence, cultural and religious rights under the MLPA, go to: Violet Wilder's facebook page, "KEEP THE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BEACHES ACCESSIBLE FOR THE COASTAL TRIBES" (http://www.facebook.com/...

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Oxnard, CA – Dozens of residents of Oxnard and Ventura County gathered Saturday for the interfaith Blessing of the Ocean, an action uniting the voices of people representing many faiths and perspectives. They urged local and California leaders to ban fracking and extreme oil extraction and to oppose new gas fired power plants in order to protect our coastlines, ocean and communities from the harmful effects of oil and gas development.

“We call the ocean, our mother waters where all waters return. We are comprised of mostly water and without our waters being healthy and clean, all life suffers,”said Peuyoko Perez, Chumash Earth Steward, in a news release from Food & Water Watch. “We are connected to all things in this world and are stewards of the earth designed to be caretakers. I believe seven generations ago my Chumash ancestors thought how can we push our children out to the next seven generations. We must all erase division in our hearts and lives and usher in a time where we learn and work together for the benefit of all life flourishing.”

The action came less than two weeks after a pipeline burst in Santa Barbara County, spilling more than 105,000 gallons of oil onto miles of coastline and into the Pacific Ocean, fouling four marine protected (MPAs) areas created under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

This week, tar balls from an as yet unidentified source began to appear on beaches in Ventura County, Los Angeles County and Orange County. On Monday, a the body of an oil-covered dolphin was found being devoured by vultures at Oxnard Shores, the site of Saturday’s Blessing of the Ocean.

“Today we are asking for God’s blessing and protection of marine life and our earth,” said Lupe Anguiana, a former Catholic Nun. “As people of faith and stewards of the earth, it is our duty to stand up to the pollution and destruction happening on our coasts and in our communities. Governor Jerry Brown was trained as a Jesuit to be a steward of the earth; that he allows expanded drilling for dirty oil on our coast and throughout our state during a time of drought shows that he has lost his way.”

Oxnard’s coast is home to a variety of beautiful and endangered wildlife, white sand beaches, critical wetlands and also home to thousands of local residents, according to the news release. Despite this, the oil and gas industry continues to expand drilling on these shores and NRG Energy plans to build a fourth gas fired power plant on this fragile coast.

"When it comes to stewarding the planet, we're utterly failing,” said David Braun, director of Faith Against Fracking. “We have a responsibility as people of faith to stop God's most majestic creations from being destroyed; meanwhile, the planet is dying all around us. The tragic oil spill in Santa Barbara County is the latest example. Our faith teaches us that not only must we acknowledge that the destruction of the planet is wrong, but we must do something about it as well.”

Participants urged Oxnard City officials to deny NRG Energy’s proposal to build a fourth gas fired peaker power plant along Oxnard’s coast and called on Governor Jerry Brown to take the first step toward getting California off dirty fossil fuels by banning fracking and extreme oil and gas extraction.

The action was organized by Faith Against Fracking, Stewards of the Earth, Ventura County Climate Hub, Interfaith Power and Light and Food & Water Watch. Perez offered a Chumash blessing and Anguiano offered a Catholic blessing; in addition, Jan Dietrick offered a Bahai blessing, and Gudrun Eastham offered a Unitarian Universalist blessing of the ocean.

For more information, contact: Tomas Morales Rebecchi, Ventura County Organizer, Food & Water Watch, trebecchi@fwwatch.org, (619) 252-6899.

To read more about the Santa Barbara Oil Spill and why it occurred, go to: http://www.indybay.org/.... You can also read my investigative piece in the East Bay Express about oil industry money and power in California at: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/...

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As the Santa Barbara Oil Spill fouls the controversial "marine protected areas" created under the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, Californians Against Fracking announced they will march with local residents at the site of the tragic spill to call on Governor Jerry Brown to stop fracking and "move California off dirty fossil fuels."

Following a disastrous 105,000-gallon oil spill that devastated fish and wildlife populations and closed down beaches, the group "Stand in the Sand" will gather in De La Guerra Plaza in Santa Barbara on Sunday, May 31 at 1 p.m. to show solidarity with local residents and organizations working on the front lines in response to the spill, according to a news release from Californians Against Fracking.

"Members of Californians Against Fracking, including Santa Barbara County Organizer for Food & Water Watch Rebecca Claassen, will be there to call on Gov. Jerry Brown to issue an emergency moratorium on unconventional oil extraction methods including on- and off-shore fracking, and move the state toward 100 percent renewable energy," according to the group. "Carrying a 90-foot long inflatable pipeline, the group will call attention to the governor and state regulators’ failure to protect California communities from the hazards of extreme oil and gas operations."

Four "marine protected areas" created under the MLPA Initiative are now imperiled by the oil spill that started at Refugio State Beach on Tuesday, May 20, when an oil pipeline owned by the Plains All-American Pipeline Corporation ruptured, devastating over 9 miles of the Santa Barbara County Coast.

Ironically, the "marine protected areas" threatened by the spill - the Goleta Slough, Campus Point, Naples and Kashtayit State Marine Conservation Areas - were created under the oversight of a Big Oil lobbyist. Yes, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association who is leading the campaign to frack California and eviscerate environmental laws, CHAIRED the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" that don't protect the ocean from oil spills, offshore oil drilling and fracking!

More than 1,000 residents from all over California are expected to join the "Stand in the Sand" rally outside Santa Barbara City Hall, and then march to the waterfront where they will create a human barrier to symbolically stem the tide of expanding extreme oil extraction operations in the state. Community members wearing yellow T-shirts will link arms at the waterfront, where there will also be an inflatable pipeline and electric cars. For more information, go to: http://www.standinthesand.org/...

Stand in the Sand was created in response to the Gulf Oil Spill in 2010. The group is raising money to aid clean-up efforts in Santa Barbara.

For more information about Californians Against Fracking, follow @CAagainstFrack on Twitter. For more information about Food & Water Watch, visit foodandwaterwatch.org.

You can view an eyewitness video on the oil spill by Madeline Stano of the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment at: https://youtu.be/...

Mainstream and most alternative media refuse to discuss reason for oil spill - Big Oil's capture of regulatory process

Unfortunately, the LA Times, the Santa Barbara Independent and other mainstream and alternative media are failing to cover the real story behind the Refugio State Beach disaster - the fact that oil spills like this one are the inevitable result of the capture of the state and federal agencies by the oil and chemical industry.

We can't effectively address the Santa Barbara disaster without discussing the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, a controversial "public-private partnership" between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation (RLFF) that was supposed to create a network of "marine protected areas" along the California coast.

During the MLPA Initiative process from 2004 to 2012, state officials and initiative advocates made sure that Big Oil and other corporate polluters weren't impacted by the creation of alleged "marine protected areas" along the California coast.

In an article published widely in June 2010, I warned that the "marine protected areas" created under the MLPA Initiative don't protect the ocean from oil spills and pollution. (http://yubanet.com/...)

"These marine protected areas, as currently designed, don't protect against oil spills," said Sara Randall, then the program director of the Institute for Fishery Resources and Commercial Fishermen of America. "What's the point of developing marine protected areas if they don't protect the resources?"

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

Of course, MLPA Initiative advocates neglected to address why Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association in Sacramento, was allowed to not only chair the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, but to sit on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast, as well as on a NOAA federal marine protected areas panel. (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/...)

In yet another big conflict of interest, the WSPA President's husband, James Boyd, served on the California Energy Commission from 2002 to 2012. From 2007 to 2012, he served as the Commission's Vice Chair, the second most powerful position on the Commission! (http://www.energy.ca.gov/...)

Unfortunately, as we can see from the current oil spill disaster off the coast of Santa Barbara, the state and federal regulatory agencies and the MLPA Initiative's so-called "marine protected areas" weren't able to prevent a big oil spill like the one now taking place from occurring - and the fishermen, Tribal members and grassroots environmentalists who criticized oil industry lobbyist oversight of the MLPA Initiative process were absolutely right about their fears that the highly-touted "Yosemites of the Sea" wouldn't protect the ocean.

This disaster could have been averted if the pipeline had an automatic shut-off valve, but it didn't, according to a Santa Barbara County official. Now you will see the federal and state regulatory agencies pointing fingers at each other as to who is to "blame" for the spill when it is the entire regulatory apparatus, now captured by Big Oil, that is really responsible for the spill.

To make matters worse, these same agencies, ranging from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the federal agency that permits offshore drilling, to the California Coastal Commission, failed to stop oil companies from fracking the ocean off California over 200 times over the past 20 years.

Plains All-American has had 175 incidents since 2006

The company that owns the pipeline involved in the major oil spill in Santa Barbara has had 175 incidents (mostly oil spills) nationwide since 2006, including 11 in California, according to a Center for Biological Diversity analysis of federal documents! (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/...)

But ultimately, the people responsible for the Santa Barbara Oil Spill of 2015 are the state and federal officials who have allowed the oil industry to hijack what passes for "marine protection" in California - and who have let the oil industry get away with fracking the heck out of Southern California marine waters while engaging in very lax enforcement of environmental laws, including effective inspections of oil pipelines.

If the regulators had not been controlled by the regulated, this pipeline spill might have been prevented.

To read more about this scandal, go to my latest article: http://www.indybay.org/... and read my investigative piece in the East Bay Express about oil industry money and power in California at: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/...

Take Action: Avaaz, a "global web movement to bring people-powered politics to decision making everywhere," is now calling California Attorney General Kamala Harris and local District Attorney Joyce Dudly to file civil and criminal charges against Plains All American and its CEOs in a petition campaign. This is a campaign that I strongly support: https://secure.avaaz.org/...

Plains All American CEO Greg Armstrong raked in over $5 million in compensation last year and is guaranteed $29 - $87 million in golden parachute cash while oil from a rupture in his company's shoddy pipeline is fouling the beaches and ocean waters for 9 miles off the Santa Barbara County coastline.

 

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Over 300 people participated  in a rally and march on Sunday, May 24 at the State Capitol in Sacramento from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The protest was part of more than 420 "Anti-Monsanto/Anti-GMO" demonstrations worldwide in 47 states and 52 countries on six continents. (http://www.march-against-monsanto.com)

The colorful signs displayed at the protest included a number of slogans, such as, "Monsanto Does Not Have My Consent to Use My Body As A Science Experiment,"
"Humans Aren't Roundup Ready," "Shut Down Monsanto," "Save the Bees - Stop Spraying Pesticides," "Ban Glyphophosphate."

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest against the Monsanto Company from the U.S. to Europe, Africa and other countries. March Against Monsanto featured different prominent speakers, including former presidential candidates and health icons.

Aren Oliveira, the son of Red Sun (Mauro Oliveira), said, "I stand here for the children of the world to stop GMOs once and for all."

Red Sun then pointed out, after offering a prayer to the Creator, "We are in the sixth great extinction. This is the most important topic that humanity has to deal with now. There are more extinctions of species taking place now than in any other extinction."

He gave examples of species quickly moving towards extinction, including giraffes, elephants and river dolphins. "There are now less than 100 Vaquita dolphins left in the upper Sea of Cortez," he noted.

"Now is not the time to give any leeway in our fight to save the planet and its species from GMOs," he concluded.

Tiny Marie of the Brown Berets de SacrAtzlan emphasized how Monsanto has greatly harmed Indigenous Peoples around the globe, including the workers from Oaxaca and Southern Mexico who harvest Monsanto GMO crops in Mexico and the U.S. In the march, she carried a sign saying, "Monsanto Facilitates the Poisoning of Farmworkers."

The Sunday rally followed a half day shutdown of Monsanto in Woodland last Thursday when about 100 activists closed down Monsanto's  front gates.

March Against Monsanto 2015 has generated mass awareness and interest as world regulatory organizations openly declare Monsanto’s glyphosate-containing Roundup herbicide to be a serious threat to health, according to Bob Saunders, an organizer of the Sacramento event.

The leading authority on human wellness protocols, The World Health Organization, has already determined Monsanto’s Roundup to be a ‘probable carcinogen’ within the food supply.

The announcements have led to initiatives like The Women’s and Children’s Bill of Rights to Ban Glyphosate to protect highly susceptible groups from toxic glyphosate exposure if signed into law. Glyphosate has been detected in groundwater supplies and 60-100% of rainwater collection samples in various parts of the world, inciting concerns of mass pollution on a global scale.

"The Woodland Monsanto plant is the world’s largest Biotech seed facility in the world," said Saunders. "Monsanto controls 92% of the world’s seed market and conducts genetic engineering (GE) that produces genetically modified foods (GMOs)....genetically mutated products that reach food markets and food tables, which has been linked to an array of health and safety issues, and more. The actions also protested the predatory business practices of the corporate giant Monsanto."

Then today May 28, anti-Monsanto environmental activists Thursday targeted Rep. Doris Matsui's district office in an effort to obtain the congresswoman's opposition to HR 1599, commonly known as the DARK Act, that seeks to prevent consumers from knowing what is in their food.

The demonstrators gathered at 4:30 p.m. outside the Federal Courthouse (5th & I) before going up to Rep. Matsui's office. The protest was part of a day of action across the state where activists are contacting the five California U.S. Representatives and telling them to vote NO! on HR 1599.

Critics of the bill have dubbed it the DARK Act, aka "Deny Americans the Right-to-Know" Act, because that’s exactly what it does, it keeps you, the consumer, in the dark, intentionally.

In March 2015, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), reintroduced his federal bill to preempt states’ rights to enact Genetically Modified Organism (GMOs) labeling laws, and create a voluntary non-GMO labeling scheme.  Pompeo calls his bill "The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act."

Pompeo’s bill is wholly inaccurate regarding its claim of labeling foods—in truth this bill prevents you from ever learning which foods you buy and/or eat, that may contain GMOs by banning cities, counties and states from passing a labeling bill.

This bill was “inspired” by Vermont’s passage of a GMO labeling bill in 2014.  Rather than have to fight each GMO labeling bill as it passed in several states, Monsanto and the other agrochemical giants decided instead to “persuade” Congress to write a bill to kill potential GMO food labeling completely and thus kill any attempt for passage of protective bills.  Rep. Pompeo, carried that bill forward.

Though many countries either label or ban GMOs, the United States lags behind, allowing agribusiness giants like Monsanto and other corporate minions to “set” policy, rather than listen to the will of the American people.  

GMOs are partially banned by Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Russia, Luxembourg, Madeira, New Zealand, Peru, South America, France, Switzerland and Costa Rico, and are currently labeled in 64 countries. 95% of Americans surveyed call for labeling of GMO foods (The right to know what they are eating).

http://www.justlabelit.org/...

Organic Consumers Association International Director Ronnie Cummins said: “The Pompeo bill, aptly dubbed the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, is not only anti-consumer, but anti-democracy and anti-state's rights as well.

“The bill will take away the right of states to require GMO labeling and will legalize the routine industry practice of labeling genetically engineered (GE) foods as ‘natural’ or ‘all natural.’ It also includes a complicated scheme for voluntary labeling of non-GMO foods," said Cummins.

“The DARK Act overturns the century-old balance of power between the federal government and states, whereby states have exercised their right to pass numerous laws regarding food safety or food labels when the federal government failed to act," added Cummins.

Discuss

In breaking news, the activist organization Avaaz revealed that Plains All American CEO Greg Armstrong raked in over $5 million in compensation last year and is guaranteed $29 - $87 million in golden parachute cash while oil from a rupture in his company's shoddy pipeline is fouling the beaches and ocean waters for 9 miles off the Santa Barbara County coastline.

Avaaz, a "global web movement to bring people-powered politics to decision making everywhere," is now calling California Attorney General Kamala Harris and local District Attorney Joyce Dudly to file civil and criminal charges against Plains All American and its CEOs in a petition campaign. This is a campaign that I strongly support: https://secure.avaaz.org/...

In a letter to supporters, Terra, Joseph, Rosa and the rest of the Avaaz team wrote:

"I live on the California coast, and I'm crying as I write this. Last week a massive oil pipeline burst off of Santa Barbara, and now thousands of dolphins, sea lions, and pelicans are drowning in slick rivers of oil. But my rage and sadness is also hope, because I know together we can make sure this never happens again.

While our rocky shores are awash in oil and dead fish, Plains All American CEO Greg Armstrong raked in over $5 million in compensation last year, and is guaranteed $29 - $87 million in golden parachute cash! These guys broke the law to make a quick buck. But if we hold them accountable, we can prevent another catastrophe by putting oil company executives everywhere on notice that they can’t get away with these kinds of shady games on our watch.

Let's tell California Attorney General Kamala Harris and local District Attorney Joyce Dudly to file civil and criminal charges against Plains All American and its shady CEOs! Sign now, and spread the word:

https://secure.avaaz.org/...

The pipeline that burst lacked basic safety features, like an automatic shut-off valve. And Plains All American is one of the most reckless companies in the US, with over 175 documented violations in the past decade.  They’ve been warned time and again, but did nothing.

I live in San Diego, just 200 miles south of this devastating oil spill. My best days are the days I surf with seals and dolphins. Floating in the waves as they frolic with joy and abandon makes the whole world make sense.  

These precious creatures are now drowning in oil because of the profiteering short cuts of the Plains All American, but we can hold the culprits accountable. Click now to tell the DA and AG to bring the maximum possible charges.

50 years ago a similar oil spill devastated Santa Barbara’s coastal sanctuary, sparking the modern environmental movement around the world.  Together people everywhere rose-up then in fury and hope, writing new laws to protect our planet and our children’s future.  Let us allow this tragedy to renew our determination, so together we can rise again."

Media and NGOs need to dig deeper into oil industry hijacking of regulatory process

Although I strongly support this petition, I also urge Avaaz and other groups to dig deeper and educate themselves about the much bigger scandal of Big Oil's capture of the regulatory apparatus that I have documented in article, after article, after article.

Why are the LA Times, the Santa Barbara Independent, other mainstream and alternative media and the NGOs failing to mention that oil spills like the Refugio State Beach Disaster are the inevitable result of the capture of the state and federal agencies by the oil and chemical industry? Why are they avoiding any mention of the giant, oil soaked elephant in the room?

We can't effectively address the Santa Barbara disaster without discussing the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, a controversial "public-private partnership" between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation (RLFF) that was supposed to create a network of "marine protected areas" along the California coast.

During the privately funded MLPA Initiative process from 2004 to 2012, state officials and corporate "environmental" NGO representatives made sure that Big Oil and other corporate polluters weren't impacted by the creation of alleged "marine protected areas" along the California coast.  

In an article published widely in June 2010, I warned that the "marine protected areas" created under the MLPA Initiative don't protect the ocean from oil spills and pollution. (http://yubanet.com/...)

"These marine protected areas, as currently designed, don't protect against oil spills," said Sara Randall, then the program director of the Institute for Fishery Resources and Commercial Fishermen of America. "What's the point of developing marine protected areas if they don't protect the resources?"

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

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

Of course, MLPA Initiative advocates neglected to address why Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association in Sacramento, was allowed to CHAIR the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast and to sit on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast, as well as on a NOAA federal marine protected areas panel. (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/...)  

To make matters even worse, the WSPA President's husband, James Boyd, served on the California Energy Commission from 2002 to 2012. From 2007 to 2012, he served as the Commission's Vice Chair, the second most powerful position on the Commission! (http://www.energy.ca.gov/...)

Unfortunately, as we can see from the current oil spill disaster off the coast of Santa Barbara, the state and federal regulatory agencies and the MLPA Initiative's so-called "marine protected areas" weren't able to prevent a big oil spill like the one now taking place from occurring - and the fishermen, Tribal members and grassroots environmentalists who criticized oil industry lobbyist oversight of the MLPA Initiative process were absolutely right about their fears that the new "Yosemites of the Sea" wouldn't protect the ocean.

Ironically, the region impacted by the spill includes three "marine protected areas" created by the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force under the helm of the Western States Petroleum Association President - the Campus Point, Naples and Kashtayit State Marine Conservation Areas - along with the Refugio State Marine Conservation Area.

This disaster could have been averted if the pipeline had an automatic shut-off valve, but it didn't, according to a Santa Barbara County official. Now you will see the federal and state regulatory agencies pointing fingers at each other as to who is to "blame" for the spill when it is the entire regulatory apparatus, now captured by Big Oil, that is really responsible for the spill.

To make matters worse, these same agencies, ranging from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the federal agency that permits offshore drilling, to the California Coastal Commission, failed to stop oil companies from fracking the ocean off California over 200 times over the past 20 years.

The company that owns the pipeline involved in Tuesday’s major oil spill in Santa Barbara has had 175 incidents (mostly oil spills) nationwide since 2006, including 11 in California, according to a Center for Biological Diversity analysis of federal documents! (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/...)

But ultimately, the people responsible for the Santa Barbara Oil Spill of 2014 are the state and federal officials who have allowed the oil industry to hijack what passes for "marine protection" in California - and who have let the oil industry get away with fracking the heck out of Southern California marine waters while engaging in very lax enforcement of environmental laws, including effective inspections of oil pipelines.

If the regulators had not been controlled by the regulated, this pipeline spill might have been prevented.

To read more about this scandal, go to my latest article: http://www.indybay.org/... and read my investigative piece in the East Bay Express about oil industry money and power in California at: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/...

SEC Form 10-K Annual Report (SEC)
http://www.sec.gov/....

Executive Profile (Boardroom Insiders)
http://people.equilar.com/...

Discuss

Oil industry representatives, in response to criticism over their use of water for fracking and steam injection oil drilling operations during the drought, have claimed that oil field wastewater can be used beneficially by farmers to irrigate crop in California.

In a recent blog post, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, touted the use of oil field wastewater for irrigating crops in Kern County in the southern San Joaquin Valley. (https://www.wspa.org/...)

"Bringing crude oil to the surface from deep underground so it can be refined into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel is a process that also produces water – lots of water," gushed Reheis-Boyd.

"For every barrel of oil produced in California, many more barrels of water are also brought to the surface," she said. "According to the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, the average barrel of oil in California results in the production of 15 barrels of water."

She acknowledged that much of this water is "unsuitable for use above ground" but claimed, "Fortunately, there are still uses for this water."

"Most of it is injected into oil fields as steam or water to help produce more energy for Californians.  Some of it is treated and provided to farmers who use it to irrigate their crops," she said.

Reheis-Boyd claimed Kern County producers currently provide more than 31,000 acre feet of water annually to irrigate 45,000 acres of productive farmland. "That’s more than 10 billion gallons of water for farmers who are facing severe cuts in the water they receive from other sources, such as state and federal water projects," she said.  

However, earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times revealed that testing by Water Defense had found toxic industrial chemicals present in the recycled oil field wastewater used to irrigate crops in California’s Central Valley, effectively challenging the oil industry claims that oil industry wastewater could be safely used for irrigating food crops. (http://touch.latimes.com/...)

The Times quoted Blake Sanden, an agriculture extension agent and irrigation water expert with UC Davis, who said "everyone smells the petrochemicals in the irrigation water" in the Cawelo district. "When I talk to growers, and they smell the oil field crap in that water, they assume the soil is taking care of this.

"Microorganisms in soils can consume and process some impurities, Sanden said, but it's not clear whether oil field waste is making its way into the roots or leaves of irrigated plants, and then into the food chain," the Times reported.

Two national advocacy organizations, Food & Water Watch and Water Defense, are now calling on California Governor Jerry Brown to protect Americans who consume California produce by ending the practice of using toxic oil field wastewater for irrigation.  

Scott Smith, Chief Scientist of Water Defense, collected the samples from treated wastewater sold by the oil and gas industry to the Cawelo Water District in Kern County, according to a joint statement from the two groups.

An alarming video released on May 26 shows Smith, who has tested water across the country, encountering tar balls and oil slicks, conditions he compared to those he witnessed during the Gulf oil spill in 2010. (http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/...)

“I always viewed California as a leader in protecting the environment,” said Smith. “I was absolutely shocked when I found myself surrounded by food crops with the smell of oil coming off the irrigation water. It was worse than what I smelled during the BP Gulf oil spill.”

But the trouble doesn’t end with the smell.  “When the test results came back we found dangerous and toxic chemicals in the irrigation canal system,” said Smith. “The levels of these toxic chemicals exceeded what I have tested in official oil spill disasters.”

Water Defense reported that its tests found industrial solvents, including acetone and methylene chloride, as well as oil.

“California grows the lion’s share of the fruits and vegetables we eat in the United States,” said Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch Executive Director. “It is inexcusable that the oil and gas industry is allowed to use American families’ dinner plates as a disposal site for toxic oil field wastewater. Governor Jerry Brown must take immediate action to protect our food by ending the use of this industrial waste for irrigation.”

To learn more about Water Defense’s testing methods, read the interview with Scott Smith and view the video at their blog: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/...

For more information, go to: foodandwaterwatch.org and waterdefense.org.

 

Discuss

The same region devastated by the Santa Barbara Oil Spill of 1969 is now the scene of a massive clean up of crude oil by the state and federal governments and volunteers. The international and national media have spread throughout the world the startling images of the oil soaked beaches, birds, fish and ecosystem in a deluge of TV, radio, newspaper and internet reports.

The oil spill resulted from the rupture of an oil pipeline owned by Plains Pipeline, a subsidiary of Plains All-American Pipeline, near Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County on Tuesday, May 19. A 24-inch wide, 11-mile long section carrying oil from offshore platforms and an Exxon Mobil processing plant onshore leaked as much as 105,000 gallons of crude oil. An estimated 21,000 gallons made into the ocean, devastating nine miles of coastal waters and beaches.    

The oil spill that began off Refugio State Beach was inevitable, when you consider the capture of the regulatory apparatus by the oil industry in California. Until people challenge the power of Big Oil in California and the industry's control over the state and federal regulatory agencies, we will see more of the Refugio-type of oil spill disasters in the future.

During the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative process from 2004 to 2012, state officials and corporate "environmental" NGOs made sure that Big Oil and other corporate polluters weren't impacted by the creation of alleged "marine protected areas" along the California coast. The MLPA Initiative, a controversial "public-private partnership" between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation (RLFF), was supposed to create a network of "marine protected areas" along the California coast.

In an article published widely in June 2010, I warned that the "marine protected areas" created under the MLPA Initiative don't protect the ocean from oil spills and pollution. (http://yubanet.com/...)

"These marine protected areas, as currently designed, don't protect against oil spills," said Sara Randall, then the program director of the Institute for Fishery Resources and Commercial Fishermen of America. "What's the point of developing marine protected areas if they don't protect the resources?"

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

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

Of course, MLPA Initiative advocates neglected to address why Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association in Sacramento, was allowed to CHAIR the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast and to sit on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast, as well as on a NOAA federal marine protected areas panel. (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/...)

They dismissed any questioning of why a Big Oil lobbyist was allowed to oversee "marine protection" in California as "wild conspiracy theories."

To make matters even worse, the WSPA President's husband, James Boyd, served on the California Energy Commission from 2002 to 2012. From 2007 to 2012, he served as the Commission's Vice Chair, the second most powerful position on the Commission! (http://www.energy.ca.gov/...)  

However, as we can see from the current oil spill disaster off the coast of Santa Barbara, the state and federal regulatory agencies and the MLPA Initiative's so-called "marine protected areas" weren't able to prevent a big oil spill like the one now taking place from occurring - and the fishermen, Tribal members and grassroots environmentalists who criticized oil industry lobbyist oversight of the MLPA Initiative process were absolutely right about their fears that the new "Yosemites of the Sea" wouldn't protect the ocean.

Ironically, the region impacted by the spill includes three "marine protected areas" created by the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force under the helm of the Western States Petroleum Association President - the Campus Point, Naples and Kashtayit State Marine Conservation Areas - along with the Refugio State Marine Conservation Area.  

This disaster could have been averted if the pipeline had an automatic shut-off valve, but it didn't, according to a Santa Barbara County official. Now you will see the federal and state regulatory agencies pointing fingers at each other as to who is to  "blame" for the spill when it is the entire regulatory apparatus, now captured by Big Oil, that is really responsible for the spill.

To make matters worse, these same agencies, ranging from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the federal agency that permits offshore drilling, to the California Coastal Commission, failed to stop oil companies from fracking the ocean off California over 200 times over the past 20 years.  

Record of pipeline owner marred by 175 incidents since 2006

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

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

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

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

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

An analysis of federal pipeline data commissioned by the Center last year showed there have been nearly 8,000 serious pipeline breaks nationwide since 1986, causing more than 2,300 injuries and nearly $7 billion in property damage.

The vast majority of those incidents have involved oil pipelines, spilling more than 2 million barrels into waterways and on the ground. More than 35 percent of these incidents have been caused by corrosion or other spontaneous structural failures, according to the Center.  

The Santa Barbara Channel is rich in biodiversity, featuring whales, dolphins and more than 500 species of fish, including lingcod, white seabass, calico and sand bass, sheephead, ocean whitefish, yellowtail and dozens of species of rockfish. Endangered blue whales often feed in the forage in the channel, also migration path for four other whales listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  

Sakashita reminded people that the Santa Barbara County coastline was the site of an oil platform explosion in 1969 that spilled up to 100,000 barrels of oil. That oil spill, with its massive devastation of fish, wildlife and the ocean ecosystem, served as the impetus for the creation of the modern environmental movement and Earth Day.

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

Oil industry is most powerful corporate lobby in California

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

The oil industry has spent over $70 million on lobbyists in California since January 2009, according to a 2014 report written by Will Barrett, the Senior Policy Analyst for the American Lung Association in California. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) topped the oil industry spending with a total of $31,179,039 spent on lobbying since January 1, 2009 at the time of Barrett’s report. Chevron was second in lobbying expenses with a total of $15,542,565 spent during the same period. (http://www.lung.org/...)

From July 1 to September 30 alone, the oil industry spent an unprecedented $7.1 million lobbying elected officials in California “with a major focus on getting oil companies out of a major clean air regulation,” said Barrett.

Big Oil also exerts its power and influence by spending many millions of dollars every election season on candidates and ballot measures. The oil industry dumped $7.6 million into defeating a measure calling for a fracking ban in Santa Barbara County; yes the same county where the oil spill is now devastating the ecosystem.

Not only does Big Oil spend millions every year on lobbying and campaign contributions, but it funds "Astroturf" campaigns to eviscerate environmental laws. And as we have seen in the case of Catherine Reheis-Boyd and her husband, James Boyd, oil and chemical industry representatives further exert their power and influence by serving on state and federal regulatory panels.    

The millions Chevron and other oil companies have spent on lobbying, campaign contributions and setting up “Astroturf” groups promoting the oil industry agenda are just chump change to Big Oil. The five big oil companies – BP, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell –  made $16.4 billion in the last quarter of 2014 and $89.7 billion for the entire year, according to the Center for American Progress. This was done in spite of "sliding" oil prices.

Yet both the mainstream media and the "alternative" media articles that I have read to date have failed in their coverage of the Santa Barbara Oil Spill over the past week, since they have neglected their duty to expose the reason behind the spill - the capture of the regulatory apparatus by Big Oil, a huge environmental scandal that I have exposed in article, after article, after article.

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

Discuss

In their statements to the State Water Resources Control Board on May 20, Restore the Delta (RTD) and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) slammed the Brown administration regarding drought impacts, the installation of a drought barrier in the Delta, and violations of Delta water quality standards since the beginning of the year.

“The California drought is a fifty-eight county drought,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director for Restore the Delta. “Previous workshops in front of the SWRCB have focused primarily on efforts to get water to a handful of the 58 counties in California, and less than equal time has been spent on the impacts of drought management on the five Delta counties, Delta fisheries, threatened species, and water quality standards."

"The five Delta Counties are donor counties to the water export system, and have already suffered the negative impacts from the export of hundreds of millions of acre-feet of water over decades," she said. "This board determined in 2010 that greater outflows to the San Francisco Bay were needed for the protections of the estuary. Yet, the pumps have yet to be turned off one day in over four years of drought. The negative impacts of over pumping the estuary are now being exacerbated by drought emergency measures, and federal water quality standards are being violated on a daily basis.”

California Sportfishing Protection Alliance’s Bill Jennings emphasized, “The State Board Drought orders are an execution warrant for Central Valley fisheries. It is an unreasonable use of water to send species into extinction and hijack water from the environment, areas where water originates, and urban communities, simply to supply junior water rights holders in the desert with vast quantities of water to irrigate crops that produce relatively little revenue and few jobs.”

Barrigan-Parrilla said "the priorities of the State are evident" in the inadequate steps taken to protect the endangered giant garter snake during drought barrier construction at False River. Photos taken during barrier construction show that DWR installed a 150-foot-long fence along the road surrounded by open fields that extend for 7 miles around the island.

Barrigan-Parrilla explained, “It is laughable to think that a small fence will protect the threatened snake from slithering into equipment and materials during construction. The snake can go, and has already gone, around this cloth fence. Additional historical documents show that the False River Barrier is being constructed exactly where their habitat is located on Bradford Island.

If the State cannot follow the laws in place or use good sense and judgment to get this small project right from the start, how can anyone believe that they will they protect the dozens of endangered species that live in the Delta, like the giant garter snake, while staging 35 miles of around-the-clock construction for 10 years to build Governor Brown’s water tunnels?”

Restore the Delta also released a short video on You Tube to make their drought concerns accessible to the public, calling for favoritism to end in the Brown Administration’s handling of drought measures and efforts to move forward with the Delta tunnels. The video can be seen here.

Discuss

There will be a march and rally against Monsanto at the State Capitol in Sacramento on Sunday, May 24, starting at 10 a.m., part of a worldwide day of action against the corporate giant. The press advisory is below:

PRESS ADVISORY
for Sunday, May 24, 2015
Contact: Bob Saunders – Anti-Monsanto Project  916-370-8251    rsaund3980@aol.com

After Monsanto-Woodland Shutdown Thursday, Hundreds of Demonstrators to Rally & March at Capitol
Sunday, Join Huge Anti-Monsanto Worldwide Protests; Activists Claim Monsanto is 'Poisoning the World'

(SACRAMENTO, CA) –  Hundreds of people are expected to participate in a large rally and March SUNDAY, MAY 24, at the State Capitol (North Steps) starting at 10 a.m. – part of more than 420 "Anti-Monsanto/Anti-GMO" demonstrations worldwide in 47 states and 52 countries on six continents. http://www.march-against-monsanto.com/  

Hundreds of thousands – possibly millions – of people will take to the streets to protest against the Monsanto Company from the U.S. to Europe, Africa and other countries. March Against Monsanto will feature different prominent speakers, including former presidential candidates and health icons.

The Sunday rally follows a half day shutdown of Monsanto in Woodland this past Thursday when about 100 activists closed down Monsanto's  front gates.

March Against Monsanto 2015 has generated mass awareness and interest as world regulatory organizations openly declare Monsanto’s glyphosate-containing Roundup herbicide to be a serious threat to health. The leading authority on human wellness protocols, The World Health Organization, has already determined Monsanto’s Roundup to be a ‘probable carcinogen’ within the food supply.

The announcements have led to initiatives like The Women’s and Children’s Bill of Rights to Ban Glyphosate to protect highly susceptible groups from toxic glyphosate exposure if signed into law. Glyphosate has been detected in groundwater supplies and 60-100% of rainwater collection samples in various parts of the world, inciting concerns of mass pollution on a global scale.

LOCAL BACKGROUND: The Woodland Monsanto plant is the world’s largest Biotech seed facility in the world.  Monsanto controls 92% of the world’s seed market and conducts genetic engineering (GE) which produces genetically modified foods (GMOs)....genetically mutated products that reach food markets and food tables, which has been linked to an array of health and safety issues, and more.  The actions also protest the predatory business practices of the corporate giant Monsanto.

GMOs are partially banned by Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Russia, Luxembourg, Madeira, New Zealand, Peru, South America, France, Switzerland and Costa Rico, and are currently labeled in 64 countries. 95% of Americans surveyed call for labeling of GMO foods (The right to know what they are eating).

http://www.justlabelit.org/...

Activists are protesting the "DARK Act" (HR 1599).  If passed, it will deny Americans the right to know what is in their food.  In Europe, however, the International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE) is asking the EU Parliament and the EU Commission for an immediate ban of glyphosate. http://www.isde.org/...

Monsanto's GM soybeans are seed-treated with bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been linked to massive die-offs of bees. More than two out of five American Honeybee colonies died in the past year, and beekeepers saw approximately 42% of U.S. Honeybee colonies die off in a single year.

“Monsanto’s claim of ‘feeding the world,’ is a hoax and corporate propaganda. Monsanto is poisoning the world and harming people through the massive use of Glyphosate and other herbicides and insecticides, genetic engineering of seeds, and much more.  Our entire food supply system is at risk and we must act quickly to stop them from any further damage," said Faygo, of the Anti-Monsanto Project.

Discuss

While Paramount Farms and other corporate agribusiness interests continue to expand water-thirsty almond acreage during California's epic drought, Delta farmers this week stepped up to the plate and proposed a voluntary 25 percent reduction in their water use.

On May 22, the State Water Resources Control Board approved the proposal from Delta farmers, riparian water right holders in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, to voluntarily cut back water use in exchange for assurances they would not face further riparian curtailment during the June-September growing season.

“This proposal helps Delta growers manage the risk of potentially deeper curtailment, while ensuring significant water conservation efforts in this fourth year of drought,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus, in a Board press release. “It allows participating growers to share in the sacrifice that people throughout the state are facing because of the severe drought, while protecting their economic well-being by giving them some certainty regarding exercise of the State Water Board’s enforcement discretion at the beginning of the planting season.”

According to the release:

"Growers who participate in the program could opt to either reduce water diversions under their riparian rights by 25 percent, or fallow 25 percent of their land, In both cases, the reductions would be from 2013 levels. Riparian water right holders who choose not to participate in this voluntary program may face enforcement of riparian curtailments later this year, though risk of curtailment would not be any greater than it would have been if the program were not approved.

Water right holders throughout the state, including senior and riparian right holders, have been warned that curtailments are likely this year because of the continued unprecedented drought conditions. Junior water right holders in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds and others have already been curtailed for the second consecutive year. Last year, hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland were fallowed.

To be included in this program, participants will have to submit a specific plan to achieve the program’s conservation requirements by June 1, and the State Water Board will conduct spot checks during the growing season.

The program only applies to riparian water right holders in the Delta. Riparian water rights are held by those who own property that abuts a river or stream and divert water for use on that property. Unlike appropriative rights, which are curtailed by seniority along a waterway, riparian rights are curtailed collectively by a shared percentage. Because most of the farm land in the Delta abuts natural streams and sloughs, riparian water right claims are more extensive in the Delta than in other agricultural regions of the state.

These water rights are among the most secure in the state’s water rights system and are curtailed only when natural stream flow is inadequate to serve the reasonable uses of all riparians.

The State Water Board welcomed the farmers’ proposal and staff has worked with them and other stakeholders to refine it. The State Water Board is open to voluntary agreements to manage and mitigate drought impacts, as long as they do not harm other water rights and do not cause unreasonable effects to fish and wildlife.

Although this conservation program has been proposed by riparian water rights holders in the Delta, the program could be a template for riparians in other parts of the state, subject to adjustment for local and regional conditions."

George Hartmann, a water rights lawyer who is representing farmers in negotiations with the state, told the New York Times the reasoning behind the proposal:  "There’s a misconception that delta farmers are a bunch of arrogant snobs who say, ‘It’s our water and don’t you dare touch it.' But they recognize there’s an extreme drought, and they want to do something to help. Hopefully this will change part of that perception.” (http://www.nytimes.com/...)

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, the executive director of Restore the Delta (RTD), described the plan as an “absolutely generous and noble act” from the Delta farmers.

“It really exemplifies the difference between sustainable farming that we see here versus continued expansion of permanent crops like almonds in the desert," she told the Times. "It may just be enough to save the fisheries or help another community out if there is a real emergency.”

Let's hear a big round of applause for Delta farmers in their voluntary effort to save water during the California drought! Now when will other farmers follow their model water conservation plan, approved by the Water Board?

During the same State Water Resources Control Board where Delta farmers proposed their voluntary water cuts, Restore the Delta and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) slammed the Brown administration regarding drought impacts, the installation of a drought barrier in the Delta, and violations of Delta water quality standards since the beginning of the year.

“The California drought is a fifty-eight county drought,” said Barrigan-Parrilla. “Previous workshops in front of the SWRCB have focused primarily on efforts to get water to a handful of the 58 counties in California, and less than equal time has been spent on the impacts of drought management on the five Delta counties, Delta fisheries, threatened species, and water quality standards."

"The five Delta Counties are donor counties to the water export system, and have already suffered the negative impacts from the export of hundreds of millions of acre-feet of water over decades," she said. "This board determined in 2010 that greater outflows to the San Francisco Bay were needed for the protections of the estuary. Yet, the pumps have yet to be turned off one day in over four years of drought. The negative impacts of over pumping the estuary are now being exacerbated by drought emergency measures, and federal water quality standards are being violated on a daily basis.”

Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, emphasized, “The State Board Drought orders are an execution warrant for Central Valley fisheries. It is an unreasonable use of water to send species into extinction and hijack water from the environment, areas where water originates, and urban communities, simply to supply junior water rights holders in the desert with vast quantities of water to irrigate crops that produce relatively little revenue and few jobs.”

Barrigan-Parrilla said "the priorities of the State are evident" in the inadequate steps taken to protect the endangered giant garter snake during drought barrier construction at False River. Photos taken during barrier construction show that DWR installed a 150-foot-long fence along the road surrounded by open fields that extend for 7 miles around the island.

Barrigan-Parrilla explained, “It is laughable to think that a small fence will protect the threatened snake from slithering into equipment and materials during construction. The snake can go, and has already gone, around this cloth fence. Additional historical documents show that the False River Barrier is being constructed exactly where their habitat is located on Bradford Island.

If the State cannot follow the laws in place or use good sense and judgment to get this small project right from the start, how can anyone believe that they will they protect the dozens of endangered species that live in the Delta, like the giant garter snake, while staging 35 miles of around-the-clock construction for 10 years to build Governor Brown’s water tunnels?”

Restore the Delta also released a short video on You Tube to make their drought concerns accessible to the public, calling for favoritism to end in the Brown Administration’s handling of drought measures and efforts to move forward with the Delta tunnels. The video can be seen here: http://restorethedelta.org/...

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