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As the oil industry spent record amounts on lobbying in Sacramento and made record profits, documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity reveal that almost 3 billion gallons of oil industry wastewater were illegally dumped into Central California aquifers that supply drinking water and irrigation water for farms.
The documents also reveal that Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board testing found high levels of arsenic, thallium and nitrates, contaminants sometimes found in oil industry wastewater, in water-supply wells near these waste-disposal operations. The illegal dumping took place in a state where Big Oil is the most powerful corporate lobby and the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) is the most powerful corporate lobbying organization, alarming facts that the majority of the public and even many environmental activists are not aware of.
An analysis of reports filed with the California Secretary of State shows that the oil industry collectively spent over $63 million lobbying California policymakers between January 1, 2009 and June 30, 2014.
Read More | Billions of Gallons of Oil Industry Wastewater Illegally Injected into Central California | Center for Biological Diversity
Related Indybay Feature: California's Big Oil Dirty Dozen
Stewart Resnick, the Beverly Hills billionaire owner of Paramount Farms in Kern County, and his wife, Lynda, have been instrumental in promoting campaigns to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt populations, as well as to build the fish-killing peripheral tunnels. One of the largest private water brokers in the U.S., the Resnick holding company Roll International makes millions of dollars in profits off marketing subsidized public water back to the public.
On August 27, over 200 Tribal Members and Leaders, river advocates and politicians attended a day of celebration on the Trinity River below Lewiston Dam. It was a day that the Bureau of Reclamation designated as a “Multicultural Day,“ so the Hoopa Valley Tribe organized an event to demonstrate the impacts of water diversion on their culture and the river communities.
It was also a day for giving thanks and celebrating culture and tradition. Tribal Officials talked of a sense of relief for having water flowing in decent amounts down the Trinity River, providing cooler water for spawning salmon to make their epic journeys back to the places of their birth. Members of the Yurok, Hoopa Valley and Karuk tribes, as well as leaders of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, displayed signs and banners with slogans including “Fish Need Water,” “Let The River Flow,” "Give Us Our Water, " "Save The Salmon," "Tribal Rights Are Non Negotiable," "Release The Dam Water," "Undam the Klamath - Free the Trinity," "Central Valley agri-giants are killing salmon", "Fish Can't Swim In Money," and "Westlands Sucks The Trinity Dry."
The event began right before noon when the “Water Warriors,” those who have protested in defense of the Trinity in recent weeks, walked from the gate at the entrance into the hatchery where they convened at a stage. The “Water Warriors” wore t-shirts donated by Hoopa Valley Tribal Fisheries with “Free Our River” emblazoned on the front and carried an array of signs and colorful banners. Many of those “Water Warriors” had participated in a direct action protest at the Bureau of Reclamation Offices in Sacramento on August 19, organized by the Klamath Justice Coalition and Got Water?, that helped pressure Reclamation to increase releases into the Trinity River below the dam to avert a fish kill on the lower Klamath.
Read More with Photos | See Also: Tribal members rally in Sacramento to stop Klamath River fish kill
On August 21, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) announced a settlement on behalf of plaintiffs Animal Place
, Farm Sanctuary
, and Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary
in the animal groups’ lawsuit against egg industry defendants Andy Cheung and Lien Diep. The defendants abandoned 50,000 hens without food at a facility near Turlock, which led to the largest farmed animal rescue in California history. The settlement permanently prohibits Cheung, who managed the facility, from working directly with animals again—and places similar restrictions on Diep.
“The egg industry is rife with routine animal suffering, but today’s settlement ensures that those responsible for the tragedy in Turlock are permanently out of the business of raising animals,” said Matthew Liebman, senior attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Read More |
Animal Legal Defense Fund
Restore the Delta (RTD) and many other groups held a large rally at the State Capitol on July 29, featuring the delivery of a “Death of the Delta" coffin containing thousands of public comments opposing Governor Jerry Brown’s peripheral tunnels. Hundreds of people, including fishermen, Tribal leaders, environmentalists, Delta farmers and environmental justice advocates, rallied to protest Jerry Brown’s tunnel plan and to call for a new Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS).
Rallies have been held around the world in opposition to Israel's recent air strikes on Gaza and the collective punishment carried out against the Palestinian people living there and in the West Bank. In Northern California, demonstrations have been held in Fresno, Oakland, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Salinas, and Santa Cruz. According to the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC), as of August 17, approximately 1939 Palestinians, including whole families, have been killed since July 8. A total of 9886 Palestinians, including 2878 children, 1854 women, and 374 elderly, have been injured. 47 Israeli soldiers, most of whom were invading Gaza at the time of their death, have been killed by Palestinian resistance, and two Israeli civilians were killed by Palestinian shells.
A large and militant protest was held in Fresno on June 16 after a young man was shot 17 times by two Fresno Police officers on June 11. 100 people protesting the shooting held a rally, attempted to see mayor Ashley Swearengin, and then marched to police headquarters. It was a spirited event, which included several of the family members of the man who was shot 17 times. The protesters demanded changes at the Fresno Police Department (FPD) that would lead to fewer officer involved shootings (OIS).
In a letter sent to mayor Swearengin, and handed to City Manager Bruce Rudd, they wrote “We are requesting a meeting with your office to discuss the use of deadly force by Fresno Police officers. As you may know a non-English speaking farmworker who was intoxicated and holding a knife was shot several times by two officers on June 11, 2014. As you may also know, two days later on Friday June 13th, Fresno law enforcement officers managed to negotiate the surrender by a man with a gun. The second incident, which lasted 5 hours, indicates two things: 1) Negotiation with suspects works and 2) The June 11th incident as well as others could have been prevented.”
Security arrived and demanded everyone leave City Hall, and the protesters carried a coffin and signs to the Fresno County Jail, a couple of blocks away. After a short rally, the march headed to FPD headquarters where family members had the opportunity to share their feelings. While there, someone wrote chalk messages on the sidewalk and on a police memorial nearby, and subsequently two protesters were arrested, booked, and released.
Read More with Photos
On May Day 2014, actions across the Bay Area were as diverse as the people who live here. Multiple events were held leading up to the holiday as part of the Earth Day to May Day Days of Direct Action. Across the board, rallies supported undocumented workers and residents. UC Santa Cruz students continued to protest the appointment of Janet Napolitano. Additionally, many of the marches were joined by contingents supporting justice for people affected by police violence, including Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa and Antonio Lopez in San José.
A community barbeque and speak-out was held on April 12 in Stockton, California, organized by the Inter Council for Mothers of Murdered Children. Dionne Smith and Carey Downs led the speakout, providing updates on their struggle for justice in the Stockton police killing of their son, James Rivera Jr. Other families came to talk about their children who have been killed by the Stockton police.
After the speakout and before eating, people tried to leave the barbecue for a peaceful march to the police station and back, with young children holding a banner in the lead. A whole troop of police in riot gear came from out of nowhere, blocking the exits from the park from every side. After several attempts to get around them, people came back to eat the food, with the police still surrounding the park.
Hundreds of indigenous people from California and across the country gathered with a crowd of over 4,000 activists at the capitol building in Sacramento on March 15th. They demanded that Governor Brown ban fracking, the environmentally destructive oil extraction practice that pollutes groundwater, rivers and oceans.
Fracking, another name for hydrofacturing, is a method of oil and gas production that involves blasting millions of gallons of water, mixed with sand and toxic chemicals, under high pressure deep into the earth to extract oil and gas. At the same time it often pollutes local air and water, endangering the lives of people and wildlife.
The event, organized by Californians Against Fracking, featured diverse speakers including environmental justice advocates, farmers, student activists and other groups opposed to fracking. Hundreds of organizations, ranging from grassroots groups to large NGOs, helped to organized the rally. A march around the capitol building with signs raised high and much cheering followed the rally.
Read more with photos | More Photos: 1 | Video: 1
See Also: Fracking Opponents Should Oppose Peripheral Tunnels
|| Fracking Boom Would Increase California's Earthquake Dangers
Homeless people in downtown Fresno can no longer set up encampments. They must put up a tent in the evening and take it down early in the morning. During the day, they have to stay with their property or it will be taken and put into storage. On March 6, the Fresno City Council passed an ordinance that makes it easier for the police to remove shopping carts from the homeless. This follows ordinances to stop the homeless from using median islands to ask for money and another one that prevents the homeless from aggressive panhandling.
These “quality of life” ordinances are having an impact as the homeless experience more pressure to be constantly on the move and never have a place to stay that is safe and secure. Kate [not real name], a retirement age homeless woman with breast cancer, broke down and cried, saying that the stress of living on the street, the insecurity of having to always be on the move and worry about whether her tent and sleeping bag were being taken away have led her to stop the cancer treatments at the hospital. The level of stress was too high for her to continue. Without treatment, Kate will probably not survive for long.
On January 9, Tenants Together and their allies filed a class action suit against notorious Central Valley landlord, JD Homes Rentals. The lawsuit seeks immediate court intervention to ensure that substandard conditions in the thousands of units managed by JD Homes Rentals are repaired and the properties made habitable. A press conference announcing the lawsuit was held near the Fresno Water Tower.
Among the allegations, the complaint details JD Homes' business practices of failing to maintain properties, leaving tenants with roaches, leaking plumbing, defective wiring, and a plethora of other unsafe conditions. Requests for repairs are often ignored for months, and sometimes years. When repairs are made, the complaint alleges, they are merely cosmetic and fail to address the health and safety issues, and JD Homes often retaliates against tenants who complain to authorities.
Read More |
Over 400 people organized by Californians for a Fair Water Policy, a statewide coalition opposing Gov. Brown’s massive water export tunnels, attended a rally on December 13 at the State Capitol protesting the Bay Delta Conservation Plan as the 120 day comment period for the BDCP and environmental documents began.
"So, on this Friday the 13th the BDCP public comment period begins," said Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA). "They give us 40,214 pages of documents – that’s a nine-foot high stack containing 20% more pages than the 32 volumes of the last printed edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. We’re asked to provide comments within 85 working days – that’s 473 pages a day. You can purchase a printed copy for only $3,000."
Tunnel opponents pointed out “fatal flaws” of the tunnels they said would be too costly, create no new water and do nothing to increase regional water self-reliance. Experts identified many impacts from the tunnels that would damage water quality, harm the environment, destroy fisheries and sustainable farming, and impose billions of dollars of increases on water ratepayers. Two-thirds of the water would go to huge corporate agribusiness operations on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, engaged in unsustainable agriculture, growing permanent crops on arid land.
Read More with Photos | See Also: Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Fishermen Blast Bay Delta Conservation Plan
| Environmental Water Caucus requests extension of BDCP comment period
| White Paper Outlining Alternatives to Giant Bay Delta Tunnels Released
| Water ratepayers protest ‘twin tunnel tax’ at L.A. City Hall
| Governor's Bay Delta Conservation Plan Point Man Resigns
| Dark Links: the MLPA Initiative and Bay Delta Conservation Plan
| Bay Delta Conservation Plan: Same Bad Proposal, No Real Solution
| Winnemem Wintu Reject Bay Delta Conservation Plan
| Bay Delta Conservation Plan EIR runs rough-shod over the facts
| Tell Governor Brown No to the Tunnels
| Agencies will receive Bay Delta Conservation Plan documents Friday
| Bay Delta Conservation Plan is not the 'most realistic plan'
| Peripheral tunnels won't address subsidence threat to Central Valley
| Westlands officials ponder big buy-in on Bay Delta Conservation Plan