On July 10, Karuna Jaggar of Breast Cancer Action and other members of Brown’s Last Chance campaign bestowed the “Poisonous Pumpjack” award upon a bobblehead Governor Jerry Brown for what they described as his “endless efforts to enable the oil and gas industries” during his tenure as governor.
The event coincided with Intersolar North America giving the Governor the “Lifetime Achievement” award at a event in San Francisco.
“California’s solar industry owes a debt of gratitude to Governor Brown for his decades of support,” said Bernadette del Chiaro, executive director of CALSSA. “It was his original vision and early acceptance of solar energy as a mainstream source of energy that set the wheels of industry in motion decades ago, and still generate change today.”
While Brown travels around the globe speaking at climate conferences, his administration has issued 20,000 oil drilling permits in seven years, including 12,000 permits for new wells. Brown’s strong support for oil industry expansion is undoubtedly a result of the $9.8 million in contributions that he has received from oil companies, gas corporations and utilities.
Jagger and other activists demanded that Brown “create a plan to transition California off fossil fuels” before his controversial Global Climate Action Summit begins in September in San Francisco.
You can see a video of the "awards ceremony" at: https://www.facebook.com/BCAction/videos/10155859893748212/UzpfSTc0NzU4NTk4OToxMDE1NjU5MzM3NjAxMDk5MA/
Then today, the Brown’s Last Chance campaign shifted into high gear when 26 scientists from Harvard, Stanford and other universities issued a letter calling on Brown to "show science-based climate leadership and protect California communities by addressing California’s own dirty oil extraction.”
“We, the undersigned scientists, strongly support the request of more than 800 organizations that you halt the approval of new fossil fuel projects in California and commit to a plan to phase out California’s oil and gas extraction, while providing a just transition for the communities and workers most impacted,” they said. https://t.co/lXlSfzy6mq
While Brown has portrayed himself as an “opponent” of the Trump administration’s plan to open new offshore drilling leases in federal waters, the Governor’s oil and gas regulators have approved 238 new offshore oil wells in state waters under existing leases off Los Angeles and Ventura counties from 2012 to 2016. That’s an increase of 17 percent, according to data released in a report issued by Fractracker Alliance in February 2017. To read the complete report, go to: www.fractracker.org/…(
On June 20, Consumer Watchdog launched a web site that allows you to compare California offshore wells under the control of Governor Jerry Brown and President Donald Trump. The numbers are stunning.
“Brown has called Trump’s federal offshore oil drilling short-sighed and reckless, but the site — www.BrownvTrumpOilMap.com— shows Brown controls four times more oil wells in state waters than those Trump controls in federal waters,” according to Liza Tucker, consumer advocate for Consumer Watchdog.
Offshore wells in state waters controlled by the Brown Administration total 5460, versus 1429 offshore wells in federal waters, those three nautical miles or more off California’s coast controlled by the Trump administration, according to Consumer Watchdog.
Of the state wells, 2028 are active; 1336 are production wells, while the rest are support wells like wastewater disposal and water flood/steam flood/observation, etc, according to Kyle Ferrar of the Fractracker Alliance. The federal offshore wells include 702 wells listed as active.
800 public interest groups from California and around the world, including Consumer Watchdog and the FracTracker Alliance, in April kicked off a campaign urging Governor Brown to stop the build-out of dirty fossil fuel infrastructure, keep oil and gas in the ground, and take immediate action to protect those most vulnerable to climate change as Brown gets ready for the global climate action summit that he will host September 12-14, 2018, in San Francisco. Read their letter to Brown and about the campaign at www.brownslastchance.org.
California has prohibited new offshore leases since 1984, but has allowed the expansion of oil drilling in existing leases. Brown has the power as Governor to close down all existing leases and wells through executive action, but he has instead furthered Big Oil’s agenda by presiding over the expansion of offshore drilling in state waters.
This failure of the state’s regulators to comprehensively protect the ocean from offshore drilling is exposed by the expansion of offshore drilling in Southern California waters that began in January 2012 after a network of so-called “marine protected areas” in Southern California waters was created under the helm of a Big Oil lobbyist.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create “marine protected areas” in Southern California from 2009 to 2012. Reheis-Boyd also served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast from 2004 to 2012.
Indigenous, Environmental and Labor Activists Protested ‘Right Stuff’ award
The greenwashing of Brown’s questionable environmental record is nothing new. The Blue Green Alliance on October 17, 2013 awarded Brown the "Right Stuff" award for his "environmental leadership" just a month after he signed Senate Bill 4, Senator Fran Pavley's green light for fracking bill.
Faced with a protest of over 60 indigenous leaders, environmental advocates and labor activists, Brown decided to not show at the gala dinner at Le Parc Hotel in San Francisco that evening. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/10/18/18745051.php)
Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, urged Brown to reject REDD+ carbon trading credits, which allow corporations to grab huge swaths of land in developing countries in order to keep polluting at home, endangering indigenous communities and the environment across the globe.
“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,” said Goldtooth. “The policy privatizes the air we breath. Commodifies the clouds. Buys and sells the atmosphere. Corrupts the sacred.” (http://www.ienearth.org/press-statement-tom-goldtooth-behind-the-backs-of-the-people-of-california/)
This event was preceded by another awards ceremony for Brown in Sacramento hosted by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in March 2012. Unfortunately, no protesters gathered there to “greet” Brown – and the press was barred from the event.
Governor also received ‘Ocean Champion Award’ from Monterey Aquarium
On March 26, 2012, I received a media advisory from the Governor's office stating that "Governor Edmund G. Brown will attend a reception commemorating Ocean Day this evening sponsored by the Monterey Bay Aquarium where he will receive the 2012 Ocean Champion Award." The event was held that evening at 6 p.m. at the Sutter Club in Sacramento.
However, the release noted, "This event is closed to the press." The media advisory listed a representative of Environment California as the contact for more information about the Ocean Day that the reception was part of.
I found it interesting that the press was barred from this event. Could this because the media might have asked some embarrassing questions about why Governor Jerry Brown was receiving the 2012 'Ocean Champion' award when he has committed himself to continuing many of the abysmal environmental polices of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, including the construction of the environmentally destructive Delta Tunnels, record water exports out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and the oil industry-lobbyist overseen Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative?
David Gurney, independent journalist and Co-Chair of the Ocean Protection Coalition in Mendocino at the time, noted that the Governor and the sponsors of the event employed the first and perhaps easiest way to “manage the news” - simply to deny reporters access to information or an event. (http://noyonews.net/?p=5525)
“Members of the press were left to wonder why reporting was barred from an event which logically, the Governor would want proudly publicized. Since the free press was barred, one can only wonder if Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, and chair of the MLPA Initiative for the South Coast, was on hand at the ‘Ocean Champion’ awards banquet ?” said Gurney.
Gurney said the sponsors of the event, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Julie Packard of the Packard Foundation, and other Resources Legacy Fund Foundation billionaires who funded the “Initiative,” were no doubt on hand in full force. “They did not want their quality time with the Governor impinged upon by the prying eyes of the press,” he noted.
“Our impoverished Governor, Jerry Brown, no doubt welcomed both the free seafood dinner, and the private funding of tens of millions of dollars that financed the outlaw public process, that claims to ‘save the ocean,’” Gurney quipped.
“The financiers of the Marine Life Protection Act ‘Initiative’ were celebrating the success of their experimental plan to both illegally privatize a governmental process, and appropriate about 14% of California’s offshore resources,” Gurney continued.
“It seems the main thing ‘protected’ by this corrupt version of ‘the Act,’ were the special interests who financed it. As such, the MLPA ‘Initiative’ should in reality be called: the marine life protection racket. Apparently, the bitter hypocrisy of super-rich ‘ocean guardians’ – eating a haute monde ‘sustainable seafood’ dinner in secrecy, to celebrate the faux conquistador of sustainable fishing communities – was totally lost on these corporate plutocrats,” Gurney concluded.
I agreed with Gurney about his criticism of the effort by the Governor's office and event sponsors to exclude the press from this event. This would have been a great chance for reporters to ask Brown about his policies on the oceans, Delta and other environmental issues.
Schwarzenegger policies continued and expanded
In addition, I found it puzzling that Brown was bestowed the “Ocean Champion” award by NGOs as his administration continued and expanded Schwarzenegger administration policies that threaten ocean, Delta and Central Valley fisheries.
Brown signed a couple of good bills for ocean fisheries, including a bill limiting the number of crab pots used by commercial fishermen and legislation banning the sale of shark fins in California. However, on the biggest and most controversial issues regarding our oceans, estuaries and freshwater resources, Brown has been firmly on the side of corporate interests that seek to privatize and exploit public trust resources.
First, the Governor presided over record water exports out of the Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, in 2011. The annual export total was 6,678,000 acre-feet of water in 2011, 208,000 acre-feet more than the previous record of 6,470,000 acre-feet set under the Arnold Schwarzenegger administration in 2005. The total includes 4.003 million acre-feet through the Banks Pumping Plant of the State Water Project (SWP), 2.570 million acre-feet through the Jones Pumping Plant of the Central Valley Project (CVP), 69 thousand acre-feet through the Contra Costa Canal (CVP) and 37 thousand acre-feet through the North Bay Aqueduct (SWP).
Second, the Brown administration presided over a record fish kill in the Delta pumps in 2011 - and has continued to pursue policies that continue to drive winter run Chinook salmon, Delta smelt and other fish species towards the abyss of extinction
.A record number of 8,989,639 native Sacramento splittail were "salvaged" in the Delta pumps in order to ship record amounts of water to corporate agribusiness, developers and oil companies in 2011. The annual splittail “salvage” number is 1,201,585 fish, according to the Bay Institute’s report, Collateral Damage, http://bay.org/publications/collateral-damage
The report emphasized that “Salvage numbers drastically underestimate the actual impact. Although the exact numbers are uncertain, it is clear that tens of millions of fish are killed each year, and only a small fraction of this is reflected in the salvage numbers that are reported.” One study of “pre-screen loss” estimated that as many as 19 of every 20 fish perished before being counted (Castillo, 2010).
This massive kill was just a fraction of fish, including Central Valley chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, threadfin shad, American shad, striped bass, largemouth bass and other species, massacred by the Delta pumps in recent years.
A California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) white paper report released in March 2013 reported, “Between 2000 and 2011, more than 130 million fish have been salvaged at the State and Federal Project water export facilities in the South Delta. Actual losses are far higher. For example, recent estimates indicate that 5-10 times more fish are lost than are salvaged, largely due to the high predation losses in and around water project facilities." (http://www.restorethedelta.org/peripheral-tunnels-will-not-eliminate-massive-fish-kills-at-export-facilities/)
Third, the Governor fast-tracked the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and then the California WaterFix to build the Delta Tunnels to export more water to Southern California water agencies, corporate agribusiness interests irrigating drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. If will likely result in the extinction of Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other imperiled fish species, as well as threaten salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.
Since 2013 and the granting of the two previous awards to Brown by corporate environmental NGOs, things have only become worse as the Governor nears the end of his term in January 2019.
Delta smelt and longfin smelt and other Delta fish populations have declined to record low levels; Brown’s oil and gas regulators have overseen a massive expansion of onshore and offshore oil drilling in California; the Governor has signed an oil industry-written cap-and-trade bill that lets big corporate polluters off the hook; and Brown is now pushing a dangerous bill, AB 813, that would create a regional energy market, handing over power from the California Independent System Operation to President Trump’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
To make things even worse, Brown in February 2017 pressured the Trump administration to exempt 3 major California oil fields from protections mandated under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
For more information about the Brown’s Last Chance campaign and to sign the letter to Governor Jerry Brown, go to: www.brownslastchance.org.