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LA City Council members call for fracking moratorium
by Dan Bacher
Thursday Sep 5th, 2013 12:33 PM
The press conference took place at a critical time for California’s fish, water and environment. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by truthout.org and the Associated Press recently revealed that oil companies conducted fracking operations at least 12 times in Southern California coastal waters without any public notice or environmental impact reports.

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Mike Bonin's Office.
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LA City council members call for fracking moratorium

by Dan Bacher

LA City Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Mike Bonin on Wednesday, September 4 called for a fracking moratorium in Los Angeles at a press conference on the steps of City Hall.

"Oil companies have already begun fracking in the Los Angeles region, and residents near confirmed activity have experienced severe property damage and a spike in serious health concerns," according to a statement from the Councilmembers and environmental and consumer groups. "Oil companies have targeted the LA region for expanded fracking - a major threat to L.A.’s water supply, air quality, and private property."

Councilmembers Koretz and Bonin discussed a proposed moratorium on fracking within the City of Los Angeles and along the City's water supply route.

The Councilmembers also called on Governor Jerry Brown to listen to the majority of Californians who oppose the inherently dangerous process of fracking and impose an immediate statewide moratorium on fracking.

“If a group of people poisoned millions of gallons of California’s water while no one was looking we would label it terrorism and call out the troops,’’ Koretz said. “Yet that what’s happening with fracking right now in California.”

Koretz noted that "fracking is happening all over the state, and the United States Geological Survey says fracking-related activity has definitively caused earthquakes in Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. As a state, we have to decide which it is, are we protecting our water supply, or not?”

“The quality of our water and the safety of our neighborhoods comes first,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin. “The threat fracking poses to families in L.A. is serious and I am proud to join Councilmember Koretz in proposing a moratorium on fracking in the City of Los Angeles and along our water supply route."

Koretz and Bonin’s measure would outlaw fracking by changing the city’s zoning laws. The measure went to the Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee for review and public hearings.

Representatives of consumer and environmental groups, including Food and Water Watch, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community and the Sierra Club spoke in support of the ban at the event.

“As Governor Brown has failed to act, cities like Los Angeles are stepping up to protect residents,” said Brenna Norton, Southern California Organizer for Food & Water Watch. “Nationwide the evidence is clear: No amount of regulation can make this fundamentally destructive and toxic drilling safe."

“The health impacts of the chemicals used in fracking, acidization and gravel packing are clear,” said Angela Johnson Meszaros, general counsel for Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles. “Introducing these chemicals into a densely populated city like Los Angeles exposes people to unnecessary threats in both the short term and over the long term."

Actor and environmental champion Ed Begley, who narrated Restore the Delta’s documentary film “Over Troubled Waters,” and actor Esai Morales also spoke out against the environmentally destructive practice of fracking.

“It is very important that we realize the potential risks that others around the country have already been dealing with and make sure that we do not expose Californians to those risks,” said Begley. “There are just too many unknowns and our citizens cannot afford foolish experimentation with our water, air, health, earthquakes and climate.”

To view a video of the press conference, go to: http://www.facebook.com/MikeBoninCD11#!/photo.php?v=10201457848863134

The press conference took place at a critical time for California’s fish, water and environment. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by truthout.org and the Associated Press recently revealed that oil companies conducted fracking operations at least 12 times in Southern California coastal waters without any public notice or environmental impact reports.

The California Coastal Commission and other state officials expressed "surprise" after they read the Associated Press report documenting fracking operations conducted in the Santa Barbara Channel in recent years. Under pressure from legislators lead by Assemblyman Das Williams, they called for an investigation into fracking operations off the California coast.

Peripheral tunnels will provide fracking water

As fracking proceeds in Monterey Shale Deposits in Kern County and coastal area, 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 oil companies seeking to expand fracking operations in Kern County and coastal areas, as well as to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. 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.

The oil industry claims fracking is environmentally sound and already regulated. In an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle on May 12, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, claimed, “In truth, hydraulic fracturing has been used in California for 60-plus years, is not destructive and has never been linked to any environmental harm here. The process is and has been closely regulated. California's well construction and testing regulations that protect our groundwater are the strictest in the nation." (http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/article/Fracking-has-viable-future-in-California-4506267.php)

On the other hand, fracking opponents say hydraulic fracturing is environmentally destructive, since it uses huge volumes of water mixed with sand and dangerous chemicals to blast open rock formations and extract oil and natural gas, as exposed in the film documentaries Gasland and Gasland II. They note that the controversial technique has been used in hundreds and perhaps thousands of California oil and gas wells, but is currently unregulated and unmonitored by state officials.

Fracking linked to earthquakes

Fracking also threatens to spur earthquakes in already earthquake-prone California. An NBC News report on September 4 reveals that wastewater from the fracking appears to be linked to all the earthquakes in a town in Ohio that had no known past quakes. (http://www.nbcnews.com/science/fracking-practices-blame-ohio-earthquakes-8C11073601)

As oil companies expand fracking operations in California, environmental, health and progressive groups released a letter on August 28 demanding that Governor Jerry Brown immediately impose a moratorium on fracking in California. They oppose SB 4, a weak bill sponsored by Senator Fran Pavley that effectively gives the green light to 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. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/08/29/18742315.php)

On August 12, activist Lauren Steiner organized a protest of over 50 people against SB 4 in front of Pavley's office in Calabasas. (http://culvercity.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/activists-protest-pavleys-hydraulic-fracking-regulation-bill_a9f0c5c0)

Background: Oil industry is top corporate lobby in California

The complete failure of the state and federal governments 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 (MLPA) Initiative – or anybody who has read my investigative news pieces on this topic.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the same lobbyist now leading the charge to expand 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.

Reheis-Boyd chaired the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force to create alleged “marine protected areas” in Southern California. She also served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

The oil industry now exceeds corporate agribusiness, the computer and software industry, the film and television industry, the aerospace industry and other major corporate players in California politics in the power that it wields.

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/2013/08/07/the-ocean-frackers/)

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, as well as farmland, are now being "fracked." Both the state and federal regulators have completely failed in their duty to protect our ocean, bays, rivers and Delta.

For more information about the MLPA Initiative, go to: http://intercontinentalcry.org/the-five-inconvenient-truths-about-the-mlpa-initiative/