As oil companies expand fracking operations in California, environmental, health and progressive groups released a letter on Wednesday, August 28 calling SB 4's regulations "insufficient" and demanding that Governor Jerry Brown immediately impose a moratorium on fracking in California.

More than 100 groups, including CREDO, Food and Water Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, MoveOn.org, California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), Environmental Protection Information Center, Butte Environmental Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, signed the letter.

SB 4, a weak bill sponsored by Senator Fran Pavley, was the only fracking bill that wasn't defeated in Committee under intense pressure by the Western States Petroleum Association and oil companies. The association, headed by President Catherine Reheis-Boyd, is the wealthiest and most powerful corporate lobby in California.

Ironically, in one of the biggest conflicts of interest in California history, Reheis-Boyd also chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California. These "marine protected areas" fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil spills, pollution, wind and wave energy projects, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

"The letter is part of a growing movement made up of local activists, environmental, health and progressive groups urging California lawmakers to support a fracking moratorium -- the only way to adequately protect California's air, efforts to fight climate change, and precious water system from the dangers of fracking," according to a news release from the groups.

A University of Southern California/Los Angeles Times poll in June found that 58 percent of California voters favor a moratorium on fracking.

"The fight to protect California from fracking has reached a critical juncture," the letter stated. "But Senate Bill 4's effort to fill the legislative void on this dangerous practice is insufficient to protect our state, our people and our climate from the myriad dangers posed by fracking."

The groups said the Assembly Appropriations Committee is expected to vote as early as this week on SB 4, a regulatory fracking bill that was weakened during the legislative process because of pressure from the oil industry and lawmakers.

SB4 is woefully inadequate

"SB4 is woefully inadequate in addressing the threat that fracking poses to Californians' air, water, health and highly valued industries like agriculture and tourism," said Food & Water Watch California Campaign Director Adam Scow. "If we attempt to fill the legislative void with a faulty bill, we're essentially paving the way for fracking and other disasterous extraction methods. Instead of quibbling over the details of SB4, the conversation needs to focus around the reasons we need Governor Brown to issue a moratorium on fracking as soon as possible."

"Gov. Brown and state lawmakers need to halt fracking now to protect California's efforts to fight climate change," said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute. "When it comes to climate, there's just no safe way to frack our state's dirty oil deposits. If we're going to preserve a livable future for our children, we need a moratorium on this inherently dangerous process."

"It's a sad day when we have to protest what was supposed to be an environmental bill, but SB 4 simply won't protect us or our water from the dangers of fracking," said Becky Bond, CREDO's Political Director. "This weak bill will allow the fracking industry to massively ramp up fracking in California. What we need is a ban on fracking."

"More than 150,000 Californians have called for a ban on fracking in the state of California," said Victoria Kaplan, Campaign Director at MoveOn.org. "If Governor Brown is serious about stopping climate change and protecting our environment and our water, he should listen to the science, and to the voters, and ban fracking immediately."

You can read the full letter, along with all the groups signing on in support, here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/...

Ocean fracking is no surprise

The California Coastal Commission and other state officials recently expressed "surprise" after they read an Associated Press report documenting that at least 12 fracking operations have been conducted in the Santa Barbara Channel in recent years. Under pressure from legislators, they called for an investigation into fracking operations off the California coast.

However, the failure of the state and federal government to stop or even regulate the environmentally destructive practice of fracking in California's ocean waters is no surprise to those of us familar with the corrupt Marine Life Protection Act Initiative.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the same lobbyist now pushing fracking in California, apparently used her role as a state marine “protection” official to increase her network of influence in California politics to the point where the Western States Petroleum Association has become the most powerful corporate lobby in California. The association now has enormous influence over both state and federal regulators – and MLPA Initiative advocates helped facilitate her rise to power. (http://www.counterpunch.org/...)

Oil and gas companies spend more than $100 million a year to buy access to lawmakers in Washington and Sacramento, according to Stop Fooling California, an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies’ efforts to mislead and confuse Californians. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) alone has spent more than $16 million lobbying in Sacramento since 2009.

The association spent the most of any organization in first six months of 2013, $2,308,789.95, to lobby legislators and other state officials, according to documents filed with the California Secretary of State.

When the oil industry wields this much power - and an oil industry lobbyist oversaw the process that was supposed to "protect" the ocean - it shouldn't be a surprise to anybody that California's ocean waters are now being "fracked." Both the state and federal regulators have completely failed in their duty to protect our ocean, bays, rivers and Delta.

At the same time, Governor Jerry Brown, a strong supporter of the oil industry, is fast-tracking the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The tunnels will be used to export massive quantities of water to corporate agribusiness interests and oil companies seeking to expand fracking operations in Kern County and coastal areas. The construction of the tunnels will hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon and steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species.

For more information about the MLPA Initiative, go to: http://intercontinentalcry.org/...
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Originally posted to Dan Bacher on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 11:38 AM PDT.

Also republished by Los Angeles Kossacks, Climate Change SOS, California politics, and Climate Hawks.

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