Thanks for your quick and thoughtful response to my article.
I would love to sit down with you and discuss Brown's environmental record some time.
You say, "His litany of grievances is informed and well argued. I agree with many of his points, but I have trouble understanding his basic mission, which seems to be to take down Jerry Brown and dismiss everything the clean energy movement has achieved in California since 1974. It's an unbalanced form of argument. Essentially Dan is claiming that everything California has achieved over the decades is worthless in comparison with what California, and Brown, have not achieved."
I appreciate that you agree with many of my points, but I disagree that my basic mission seems to be to "take down Jerry Brown and dismiss everything that the clean energy movement have achieved in California since 1974."
Let's make it clear that I completely support clean energy and California's efforts to develop clean energy since 1974. I don't believe that those efforts are "worthless in comparison with what California, and Brown, have not achieved."
However, I don't support policies supposedly designed to support clean energy that occur on the backs of indigenous peoples across the planet. As I pointed out in my piece, Governor Brown is an avid supporter of the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation+) that allows Northern Hemisphere polluters to buy forest carbon offset credits from the global South. Brown is trying to link an agreement among Chiapas, Mexico; Acre, Brazil; and California, to AB32, which commits to a 25% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for 2020, and an 80% reduction for 2050)
I agree with Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, who exposed the impact of Brown’s REDD policies on the environment and Indigenous Peoples when he spoke at a protest against Brown’s failed environmental policies in San Francisco on October 17, 2013. The protest was held because the Blue Green Alliance was going to give Brown an environmental award, but Brown never showed up to receive it. (http://www.ienearth.org/...
“Despite being awarded, as I speak, for his supposed environmentalism, Governor Brown is moving ahead with a policy that grabs land, clear-cuts forests, destroys biodiversity, abuses Mother Earth, pimps Father Sky and threatens the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples
This policy privatizes the air we breathe. Commodifies the clouds. Buy and sells the atmosphere. Corrupts the Sacred.
This policy is called carbon trading and REDD. REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. But REDD really means Reaping profits from Evictions, land grabs, Deforestation and Destruction of biodiversity. REDD does nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at source. And REDD may result in the biggest land grab of the last 500 years.”
I don't support carbon trading that transfers environmental degradation from one part of the planet to another. This does not solve the many environmental problems caused by fossil fuels.
You state, "For factual clarity, let me make a point on fracking, which of course I oppose. It's not true that California environmental groups have been united for a ban. Instead they have tried to heal their differences and at least agree on a moratorium."
To clarify, most representatives of grassroots environmental groups that I have heard speak at anti-fracking rallies support a ban on fracking. The larger NGOs, such as Natural Resources Defense Council and League of Conservation Voters, support a moratorium on fracking. However, these groups, including the groups in Californians Against Fracking, did unite to support the fracking moratorium bill that fail to pass through the Senate in late May.
You say, "In the meantime, the Brown administration is building up a formidable regulatory apparatus and a federal agency has found that industry estimates of recoverable oil in the Monterey Shale region were 96 percent overstated, a serious blow to the fracking lobby."
I find it hard to believe that Brown is "building up a formidable regulatory apparatus" based on his actions to date.
First, Brown showed his subservience to the oil industry when he fired Acting Director Chernow and Oil and Gas Supervisor Miller and appointed oil industry-friendly Mark Nechodom soon after his election in 2010. As a result, risky injection oil drilling permits increased by 18 percent. I find it hard to see how this action can be construed as "building up a formidable regulatory apparatus."
Second, Brown signed Senate Bill 4, a piece of legislation that creates the "regulatory apparatus" to in fact expand fracking in California. It is very telling that Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association, praised the legislation for providing "an environmental platform on which California can look toward the opportunity to responsibly develop the enormous potential energy resource contained in the Monterey Shale formation.”
Third, Brown is heavily beholden to the oil industry, which has led to his nickname "Big Oil Brown" by anti-fracking activists. As Robert Gammon pointed out in his investigative piece in the East Bay Express, Brown signed the bill after receiving at least $2.49 million over several years from oil and natural gas interests. (http://www.eastbayexpress.com/...)
Please enlighten me how Brown is setting up a "formidable regulatory apparatus" when the evidence appears to show otherwise.
I do agree with your statement that the recent Energy Information Agency's finding that estimates of recoverable oil in the Monterey Shale were 96 percent overstated is "a serious blow to the fracking lobby." Ironically, it is this fact more than anything else that may slow down the drive to frack California, at least until the oil industry develops new technology to recover Monterey Shale oil.
You say, "Those who oppose Brown on the High Speed Rail and the notorious Tunnels should carry on their battles to whatever the outcomes while staying focused on the Big Picture."
First, I'm glad that you appear to be opposed to the "notorious tunnels."
Second, in my articles I have focused on the "Big Picture" of how the peripheral tunnels, federal Shasta Dam raise, fracking, fish kills at the Delta pumps, and questionable "marine protection" all intersect.
Unfortunately, while you praise Jerry Brown for his "steady march to an alternative energy" in your Sacramento Bee op-ed piece, I feel that you are not looking at the "Big Picture" of how many Brown energy and environmental policies pose a dire threat to the fish, water, air and people of California, as I extensively documented in my response to your Bee article and in other articles I have written. These policies include:
• Record water exports from the Delta in 2011 that exceeded those of any previous administration, including the Schwarzenegger administration.
• Record deaths of Sacramento splittail, a native species, in the Delta pumps in 2011.
• The continuing record low levels of Delta and longfin smelt, Sacramento splittail and and other fish species documented in the Department of Fish and Wildlife's fall mid water trawl surveys in recent years.
• The systematic draining of Northern California reservoirs last year to supply water to subsidized corporate agribusiness interests and to fill Southern California reservoirs, an action that left salmon nests high and dry on the Sacramento and other rivers while adversely impacting the water supplies of local communities.
• Brown's continuing campaign to fast-track the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels, a project that will devastate Central Valley salmon, Delta fish populations and a host of Pacific fisheries.
Praising Brown for his "steady march to an alternative energy future," while not holding the Governor accountable for his many actions in recent years that imperil California's environment, amounts to a false portrayal of the administration's poor record on energy, water and the environment.
Activists in the trenches of California's water, fish and energy wars are faced now with a Governor, Jerry Brown, that is even more aggressive in pursuing environmental policies against the public trust than the previous Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Again, thanks for your response to my article. I look forward to any further dialogue on these issues. I have read and enjoyed many of your books and articles over the years.
Here's Hayden's rebuttal to my response to his June 1 editorial praising Brown's clean energy record (www.http://tomhayden.com/...
Here I hope I can sit down with Dan Bacher to discuss his accusations that I am “greenwashing” Governor Jerry Brown. His litany of grievances is informed and well argued. I agree with many of his points, but I have trouble understanding his basic mission, which seems to be to take down Jerry Brown and dismiss everything the clean energy movement has achieved in California since 1974. It's an unbalanced form of argument. Essentially Dan is claiming that everything California has achieved over the decades is worthless in comparison with what California, and Brown, have not achieved.
Since no other state has achieved as much, it might be better to argue how much farther we must travel based on what we already have built. Or does Dan believe we should ignore or defeat Jerry Brown, ignore the building blocks towards a green economy achieved so far, and start all over again from a position of pure resistance? That seems like a losing strategy to me. I start from a sense of how painfully slow it has been to achieve anything. But gains have been made. For one example, when Brown first ran for governor in 1974, the utilities were running ads claiming the lights would go out. They insisted that we needed 65 nuclear power plants along the coastline. Brown wasn't intimidated, though I remember the no-nukes movement attacking him for not being radical enough. Today we are down to one plant left in California, Diablo Canyon. I predict it will be closed in my lifetime, and California will be nuclear-free. The process took more than forty years.
For factual clarity, let me make a point on fracking, which of course I oppose. It's not true that California environmental groups have been united for a ban. Instead they have tried to heal their differences and at least agree on a moratorium. The moratorium bill died this month in the California Senate in a poor showing, obtaining only 16 votes. The Legislature is well behind the governor on this issue, but the bill will be reintroduced in January. In the meantime, the Brown administration is building up a formidable regulatory apparatus and a federal agency has found that industry estimates of recoverable oil in the Monterey Shale region were 96 percent overstated, a serious blow to the fracking lobby. The battle for public opinion must expand. In Los Angeles, an outcry in the West Adams District forced the City Council to pass a fracking moratorium. If that holds, it can be expanded countywide by a 3-2 vote of the LA supervisors. That's a fight worth fighting because it brings the fracking controversy "downtown", so to speak. Other options include demonstrations, referenda in one or two counties, and a Prop 65 challenge over the threat to groundwater. The divestment movement also is building as an option, with the Stanford decision as a breakthrough.
Those who oppose Brown on the High Speed Rail and the notorious Tunnels should carry on their battles to whatever the outcomes while staying focused on the Big Picture. California has $120 billion minimum to spend on climate change from now until 2020. Not all that money will be spent wisely or efficiently, but the investment in a sustainable green economy containing environmental justice will be hugely significant. Environmentalists should be calling on the governor to go further and faster, not treating him as the Main Enemy.
The link to my article on daily kos is: http://www.dailykos.com/...