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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 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?"

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.

 

Discuss

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/...

Discuss

The outrage over the bottling of California water by Nestlé, Walmart and other big corporations during a record drought has become viral on social media and national and international press websites over the past couple of months.  

On May 20, people from across the state converged on two Nestlé bottling plants - one in Sacramento and the other in Los Angeles - demanding that the Swiss-based Nestlé corporation halt its bottling operations during the state’s record drought.

Wednesday's protest, led by the California-based Courage Campaign, was the third in Sacramento over the past year. The first two protests were "shut downs" this March and last October organized by the Crunch Nestlé Alliance. For my report on the March protest, go to: http://www.truth-out.org/....

For over an hour Wednesday, over 50 protesters held signs and marched as they chanted, "Hey hey, ho ho, Nestlé Waters has got to go," "Water is a human right! Don't let Nestlé win this fight," and "Keep our water in the ground, Nestle Waters get out of town."

One eight-foot-long banner at the Sacramento protest read: “Nestle, 515,000 people say leave California’s precious water in the ground,” referring to the total number of signatures on the petitions.

At the protests, activists delivered the 515,000 signatures from people in California and around the country who signed onto a series of petitions to Nestlé executives, Governor Brown, the California State Water Resources Control Board,  and the U.S. Forest Service urging an immediate shutdown of Nestlé’s bottling operations across the state.  

The petitions were circulated by Courage Campaign, SumOfUs.org, CREDO, Corporate Accountability International, Avaaz, Food & Water Watch, Care2, Change.org and Daily Kos.

In Sacramento, local activists and residents joined residents from San Francisco and Oakland who took buses to protest outside Nestlé’s bottling plant at 8670 Younger Creek Drive. View photos from the Sacramento protest here: https://www.flickr.com/... in California.

Jessica Lopez, the Chair of the Concow Maidu Tribe, participated in the protest with her daughter, Salvina Chinook.

"I stand here in solidarity with everybody here demanding the protection of our water rights," said Chair Lopez. "Nestle needs to stop bottling water during this drought. Why have they obtained their current permits to pump city water?"

Tim Molina, Strategic Campaign Organizer for the California-based Courage Campaign, who spoke at the Sacramento event, said to the crowd, "Today we are saying enough is enough. With people across California doing their part to conserve water -- it’s time that Nestlé did the right thing and put people over profits -  by immediately halting their water bottling operations across the State."

“If Nestlé won’t do what’s right to protect California’s precious water supply, it is up to Governor Brown and the California Water Resource Control Boards to step in and stop this blatant misuse of water during our State’s epic drought," he said.

“Bottling public water for private profit doesn’t make sense for communities and it doesn’t make sense for the environment,” said Sandra Lupien, Western Region Communications Manager at Food & Water Watch, also at the protest in Sacrmaento. “During a historic drought crisis, it is utter madness to allow corporations like Nestlé to suck our dwindling groundwater and sell it for thousands of times what it pays. Putting a halt to water bottling in California is a no-brainer and Governor Jerry Brown must stand up to protect Californians’ public resource.”

After the activists gave the petitions to Nestle representatives at the Sacramento plant, the Nestle supervisor presented the organizers with a letter from Tim Brown, President and CEO of Nestle Waters North America, responding to a letter from the Courage Campaign.

Brown wrote, "Keep in mind that beverages consumed in California but not bottled in the state must be shipped a longer distance, which has its own drawbacks, such as the environmental impact of transportation. Sourcing water in California provides water with a lower carbon footprint, which has a beneficial environmental impact. The entire bottled industry accounts for 0.02 percent of the annual water used in California."

The company said it also would like to engage in "thoughtful dialogue" with the water bottling opponents.

"We appreciate the opportunity to engage in thoughtful dialogue - and in meaningful action - to address California's water challenges. We would welcome the opportunity to speak with you - in person or over the phone - to advance our shared desire for a more sustainable California. We are hopeful that the public discussion we are all engaged in around water use - including your efforts - leads to positive collective action."

In 2014, Nestlé Waters used about 50 million gallons from the Sacramento municipal water supply to produce "Nestlé Pure Life® Purified Drinking Water" and for other plant operations, according to a statement from Nestlé Waters. To read the city of Sacramento's responses to my questions about the Nestlé bottling plant's use of city water, go to: http://www.dailykos.com/...)

In Los Angeles, local activists and residents were joined by people from Orange County and Long Beach who took buses to protest outside Nestlé’s bottling plant at 1560 East 20th Street.  

The representatives from consumer, environmental and human rights groups who participated in the protest, like at the protest in Sacramento, blasted the corporation for making millions off bottled water during the drought when urban users are seeing increasing restrictions on their water use.

“As California's water supplies dry up, Nestlé continues to make millions selling bottled water and that’s outrageous!” explained Liz McDowell, campaigner for SumOfUs.org. “We’ve stood up to Nestlé exploiting natural resources for profit in the past everywhere from Pakistan to Canada, and now the global community is speaking out before California runs completely dry.”

The Desert Sun reported earlier this month that Nestlé was bottling water in desert and drought-stricken areas of California and selling it for profit, all while its permit for water pipelines and wells in the San Bernardino National Forest lists 1988 as the year of expiration. Nestlé currently extracts water from at least a dozen natural springs in California for its Arrowhead and Pure Life brands.(http://www.desertsun.com/...)

A majority of people in the U.S. believe Nestle should stop bottling in California, according to a recent poll. However, in spite of the clear and growing public outcry, when asked about the controversy, Nestlé CEO Tim Brown remarked that he wished the multinational corporation could bottle more water from the drought stricken state, the groups pointed out.

“Nestlé is profiteering at the expense of the public interest,” stated Zack Malitz, Campaign Manager at CREDO Action. “In the midst of an historic drought with no end in sight, it is wildly irresponsible for Nestle to extract vast amounts of California’s water.”

Joe Baker, Care2’s Vice President of Advocacy and Editorial, said, "Care2 and its 30 million members are an online community standing together for good - and it is not good for the public to have Nestle bottling our water during an extreme drought in California. We’re asking Nestle to do the responsible thing for the public good, and stop bottling water in a drought-stricken area. Every single drop counts."

"For decades, Nestle has demonstrated a blatant disregard for local communities and the environment," said Erin Diaz, the campaign director at Corporate Accountability International's Think Outside the Bottle campaign. "In response to community concerns about its backdoor political dealings and environmental damage, Nestle has poured millions into PR and greenwashing campaigns. But Nestle's money can't wash away its abysmal track record, and Californians are demanding an end to Nestle's abusive practices."

John Tye, Campaign Director, Avaaz, concluded, “Families across the American West are already paying a steep price for mismanagement and scandalous selloffs of public resources. It's time for California, and Governor Brown, to set a strong example for conservation and responsive regulation. Tens of thousands of people across the country are tired of watching companies like Nestlé profit at the expense of the taxpayers."  

The protests take place as Jerry Brown continues to push his plan to construct two massive tunnels under the Delta, potentially the most environmentally destructive protect in California history. The twin tunnels would divert massive quantities of water from the Sacramento River to be used by corporate agribusiness interests irrigating drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, as well as to Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations.

The construction of the tunnels would hasten the extinction of winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other imperiled fish species, as well as threaten the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

But the tunnels plan is just one of the many environmentally destructive policies of the Brown administration. Governor Brown has presided over record water exports and fish kills at the Delta pumping facilities; promotes the expansion of fracking in California; pursues water policies that have driven Delta smelt, winter-run Chinook salmon and other fish species closer to extinction; and authorized the completion of questionable "marine protected areas" created under the helm of a big oil lobbyist during the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. (http://www.truth-out.org/...)

The groups are now urging everybody to sign the pledge by Daily Kos, Courage Campaign and Corporate Accountability International: Do not drink bottled water from Nestlé: https://www.dailykos.com/...

This is the text of the pledge to Nestlé Corporation:

I pledge to choose tap water instead of buying the following Nestlé products: Acqua Panna, Arrowhead, Deer Park, Ice Mountain, Nestea, Nestlé Pure Life, Ozarka, Perrier, Poland Spring, Resource, S. Pellegrino, Sweet Leaf, Tradewinds and Zephyrhills.

For more information, go to: https://www.couragecampaign.org/...
 

Discuss

During the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative process, corporate "environmental" NGO representatives and state officials went out of their way to make sure that Big Oil and other corporate polluters weren't impacted by the creation of alleged "marine protected areas" along the California coast.

State officials and 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 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, was allowed to CHAIR the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast and sat on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

However, as we can see from the oil spill disaster off the coast of Santa Barbara, the state and federal agencies responsible for enforcing the laws that are supposed to "protect" the ocean weren't able to prevent a big oil spill like the one now taking place from occurring. To make matters worse, these same agencies allowed oil companies to frack the ocean off California over 200 times over the past 20 years.  

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!

Plains Pipeline (a subsidiary of Plains All-American 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 & 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.

“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.”

Sakashita said the ruptured oil pipeline near Refugio State Beach — 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, including 21,000 gallons making it into the ocean, fouling about nine miles of coastal waters and beaches.

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. 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," she noted.

An analysis of federal pipeline data commissioned last year by the Center 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.

"The Santa Barbara Channel is rich in biodiversity, including whales, dolphins and more than 500 species of fish. Endangered blue whales often feed in the channel, and it is in the migration path for four other whales listed under the Endangered Species Act. Witnesses spotted sea lions and migrating whales in the coastal waters as the spill was taking place Tuesday," said Sakashita.

The Santa Barbara County coastline was the site of an oil platform explosion in 1969 that spilled up to 100,000 barrels of oil.

“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,” Sakashita said. “To protect our coast, we need to stop offshore drilling and fracking and quickly transition to cleaner energy sources.”

She said offshore fracking has been used hundreds of times in recent years off California’s coast, and oil companies are also making increasing use of techniques like acidizing to coax oil from beneath the ocean.

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.

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

State and federal government crews continue to monitor the clean up of a big oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara as the size of the disaster has expanded.

The spill from a ruptured pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline expanded overnight from 4 miles long to two slicks stretching 9 miles along the coast, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The 11-mile long section of pipeline from Las Flores to Gaviota carries carries crude oil from offshore platforms and an Exxon Mobil processing plant.

Preliminary reports indicated that the ruptured 24 inch pipeline in Goleta leaked an estimated 21,000 gallons of crude oil Tuesday. However, the pipeline company may have actually released as much as 105,000 gallons, with tens of thousands of gallons going into the ocean, according to the latest data from Plains All American. (http://touch.latimes.com/...)

A local first reported the spill coming from a leak in the pipeline at Refugio State Beach around noon on Tuesday, May 19. The Coast Guard dispatched members from the Marine Safety Detachment Santa Barbara and Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach upon initial notification, according to a statement from the Coast Guard.

Coast Guard crews stopped the leak by 3 p.m., according to Coast Guard Petty Officer Andrea Anderson. In addition to the Coast Guard, the California Office of Emergency Services, California Fish and Wildlife, county fire departments, and Exxon Mobil are currently on scene.

"Contractors are working to remove contained pockets of oil utilizing skimmers, vacuum trucks, absorbent pads, and absorbent boom," the Coast Guard reported. "Additional cleanup actions are ongoing through the sandy beaches in the affected area. Approximately 3,000 feet of containment boom has been deployed."

A fishing ban has been established by the Department of Fish and Wildlife until data reflects that the fish are safe to eat. The closure is initiated from one mile east to one mile west of Refugio State Beach and a distance of ½ mile off shore.

The Santa Barbara Health Department recommends that all residents avoid contact with areas where the oil spill is present. "Refugio Beach remains closed and is considered a Hazmat area and only personnel with Hazmat credentials are authorized be on the beach," said Susan Klein-Rothschild, Public Information Officer for the Health Department.

For more information about the spill, go to: http://www.refugioresponse.com

The region impacted by the spill includes three "marine protected areas" created under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative - the Campus Point, Naples and Kashtayit State Marine Conservation Areas -  along with the Refugio State Marine Conservation Area.  

In one of the biggest environmental scandals in recent California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association, served as Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force that created the Campus Point State Marine Conservation Area and other so-called "marine protected areas." She also served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast from 2004 to 2012. (http://www.truth-out.org/...)

Reheis-Boyd leads the campaign to expand fracking and offshore oil drilling in California. The alleged "marine protected areas" created under the leadership of her and other corporate operatives on the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil spills, oil drilling, pollution, corporate aquaculture, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

Oil industry says it "regrets" oil spill

Reheis-Boyd responded to the oil spill in a statement. She claimed, "As an industry, we are always concerned when accidents like this happen. WSPA members strive to prevent any amount of spillage and have numerous programs and procedures designed to prevent such occurrences. Once the incident is contained and thoroughly cleaned up, they will review the facts surrounding this incident and apply what they learn to prevent future accidents." (http://www.wspa.org/...)

"We are grateful for the quick response on the part of the Coast Guard, Plains All American, the Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response and other responders that appear to have quickly limited the size of the spill. And we appreciate the efforts of the local response agencies and volunteers who are working on cleanup efforts," she said.

She noted that Plains All American, the owner of the pipeline, is a member of the Western States Petroleum Association.

Plains said it "deeply regrets this release has occurred and is making every effort to limit its environmental impact. Our focus remains on ensuring the safety of all involved. No injuries have been reported at this time."

Spill a "stark reminder" of risks posed by expanded oil drilling

As reports of the spill and the clean up efforts were emerging, representatives of environmental groups responded to the disaster.

Becca Claassen, Santa Barbara County Organizer of Food & Water Watch, said the Santa Barbara spill provides even more reason for the state of California to ban fracking.

“The oil spill near Refugio State Beach is a stark reminder of the dangerous risks expanded oil drilling poses to Santa Barbara County’s environment and its residents’ quality of life," said Classen. "This incident is all the more reason to ban fracking both offshore and onshore to help prevent future spills and protect Santa Barbara’s beautiful beaches and coastal environment.”

In 2013, an Associated Press and Freedom of Information Act investigation revealed that oil companies had conducted fracking offshore fracking operations in Southern California waters, including the Santa Barbara Channel, over a 20-year period. The oil companies were fracking Southern California waters at the same time that Reheis-Boyd served as the Chair of the MLPA panel for the South Coast from 2009 to 2012.

"There it is!" said Joey Racano of the Ocean Outfall Group, after he heard about the oil spill. "This has been a site of ongoing fracking offshore for years with no public knowledge or review. Christine Reheis Boyd, Western States Petroleum Association President AND chair of the Blue Ribbon Panel on the MLPA, here are the results of your handiwork and deceit."

Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director with the Center for Biological Diversity, released the following statement about the spill:

"Time and again we've seen oil foul our coasts, whether it's Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico or Santa Barbara. Oil spills are part of the ugly cost of fossil fuel development, made even worse by aging domestic infrastructure. It doesn't have to be this way and it shouldn't. We need to start aggressively moving away from fuel sources that are devastating for wildlife, people and our climate. If we don't, what we're seeing in Santa Barbara will continue be the norm."

Volunteers are being coordinated through Calspillwatch.com

Media Advisory from Food & Water Watch regarding press conference:

Sandra Lupien, Food & Water Watch, 510-681-3171, slupien [at] fwwatch.org
Becca Claassen, Food & Water Watch, 805-865-2231, rclaassen [at] fwwatch.org

Concerned Residents Hold Rally and Press Conference to Call for Moratorium on Fracking in Response to Refugio Beach Spill

Santa Barbara, CA – Outraged over an oil pipeline burst that Tuesday spilled at least 100,000 gallons of oil into a nine-mile slick along the Pacific Coast west of Santa Barbara, concerned residents will hold a rally and press conference at noon on Thursday at Santa Barbara County Courthouse, 1100 Anacapa St., SB to express the urgent need to get a moratorium on extreme oil extraction like fracking and phase out oil development in California.

WHAT:Press Conference in response to Tuesday oil spill in Santa Barbara County

WHEN: Thursday, May 21, 2015 at noon

WHERE: SB County Courthouse, 1100 Anacapa St., SB in the Sunken Gardens.

WHO: Food & Water Watch, 350 Santa Barbara, Center for Biological Diversity, World Business Academy, Californians Against Fracking, Environmental Defense Center. Speakers include 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, EDC's Chief Council Linda Krop, Becca Claassen SB County Organizer for Food and Water Watch and others.

VISUALS: Backdrop of SB County Courthouse, People Holding Signs

Discuss

In the same region where questionable "marine protected areas" were created under the helm of a Big Oil lobbyist, state and federal government crews are cleaning up a big oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara.

The spill from a ruptured pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline spans four miles wide and there is still some seepage, according to authorities.

"The ruptured pipeline in Goleta leaked an estimated 21,000 gallons of crude oil Tuesday, some of which flowed into the ocean off Santa Barbara County, authorities said," the LA Times reported. (http://touch.latimes.com/...)

A local first reported the spill coming from a leak the pipeline at Refugio State Beach around noon on Tuesday, May 19. Coast Guard crews stopped the leak by 3 p.m., said Coast Guard Petty Officer Andrea Anderson.

The region impacted by the spill includes three "marine protected areas" created under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative - the Campus Point, Naples and Kashtayit State Marine Conservation Areas -  along with the Refugio State Marine Conservation Area.  

In one of the biggest environmental scandals in recent California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association, served as Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force that created the Campus Point State Marine Conservation Area and other so-called "marine protected areas." She also served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast from 2004 to 2012. (http://www.truth-out.org/...)

Reheis-Boyd leads the campaign to expand fracking and offshore oil drilling in California. The alleged "marine protected areas" created under the leadership of her and other corporate operatives on the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil spills, oil drilling, pollution, corporate aquaculture, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

As reports of the spill and the clean up efforts were emerging, representatives of environmental groups responded to the disaster.

Becca Claassen, Santa Barbara County Organizer of Food & Water Watch, said the Santa Barbara spill provides even more reason for the state of California to ban fracking.

“The oil spill near Refugio State Beach is a stark reminder of the dangerous risks expanded oil drilling poses to Santa Barbara County’s environment and its residents’ quality of life," said Classen. "This incident is all the more reason to ban fracking both offshore and onshore to help prevent future spills and protect Santa Barbara’s beautiful beaches and coastal environment.”

In 2013, an Associated Press and Freedom of Information Act investigation revealed that oil companies had conducted fracking offshore fracking operations in Southern California waters, including the Santa Barbara Channel, over a 20-year period. The oil companies were fracking Southern California waters at the same time that Reheis-Boyd served as the Chair of the MLPA panel for the South Coast from 2009 to 2012.

"There it is!" said Joey Racano of the Ocean Outfall Group, after he heard about the oil spill. "This has been a site of ongoing fracking offshore for years with no public knowledge or review. Christine Reheis Boyd, Western States Petroleum Association President AND chair of the Blue Ribbon Panel on the MLPA, here are the results of your handiwork and deceit."

Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director with the Center for Biological Diversity, released the following statement about the spill:

"Time and again we've seen oil foul our coasts, whether it's Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico or Santa Barbara. Oil spills are part of the ugly cost of fossil fuel development, made even worse by aging domestic infrastructure. It doesn't have to be this way and it shouldn't. We need to start aggressively moving away from fuel sources that are devastating for wildlife, people and our climate. If we don't, what we're seeing in Santa Barbara will continue be the norm."

The oil spill 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 (http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/...)

Yes, the Western States Petroleum Association President, the same oil lobbyist who oversaw the creation of questionable "marine protected areas" in Southern California, and the oil companies are opposing SB 788.

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