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Flawed Fracking Bill Passes California Assembly
by Dan Bacher
Wednesday Sep 11th, 2013 1:44 PM
"This vote to allow fracking in California and exempt it from California's benchmark environmental law shows that our Assembly has thoroughly failed at protecting Californians," said Zack Malitz, campaign manager for CREDO, referring to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
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fracking_photo-1.jpeg

Flawed Fracking Bill Passes California Assembly

by Dan Bacher

Sacramento - Senate Bill 4, a controversial bill sponsored by Senator Fran Pavley that opponents say would clear a path to increased fracking, passed the California Assembly today.

It will likely head to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk after a concurrent vote in the Senate.

The Assembly passed the bill by 53 to 18. A Senate vote could take place at any time.

In response to massive opposition to her bill from a broad coalition of anti-fracking groups, Senator Pavley claimed her bill is “an insurance policy.”

“Without SB 4, there will be no public disclosure of chemicals, no groundwater monitoring and no regulation of acidizing, and the oil companies will continue to be able to frack without a permit or any public accountability whatsoever,” she stated. “The world won’t be perfect if SB 4 passes, but it will be a whole lot better.

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, Brown's office said the Governor will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

"The administration has worked collaboratively with the Legislature to craft a bill that comprehensively addresses potential impacts from fracking, including water and air quality, seismic activity and other potential risks," claimed Brown spokesman Evan Westrup.

Calling the legislation "an important step forward," Westrup said Brown "looks forward to signing it once it reaches his desk."

Bill opponents disagree strongly with the Brown administrations' assessment of the bill as "an important step forward" or Pavley's claim that the bill is an "insurance policy."

The bill "undermines existing environmental law and leaves Californians unprotected from fracking and other dangerous and extreme fossil fuel extraction techniques," according to a statement from Californians Against Fracking, a statewide coalition of over 100 organizations now calling for a moratorium on fracking.

Farmers, environmental justice groups, public health advocates, local elected officials, students, Hollywood, and many others are calling on Governor Brown to and put a stop to fracking in California, 200,000 petitions have been signed urging Governor Brown to ban fracking in California.

Members of the Californians Against Fracking criticized the Assembly's passage of the already weak bill that was further weakened by amendments supported by the Western States Petroleum Association on Friday, September 6 - and urged Brown to ban or place an immediate moratorium on fracking in California.

"This vote to allow fracking in California and exempt it from California's benchmark environmental law shows that our Assembly has thoroughly failed at protecting Californians," said Zack Malitz, campaign manager for CREDO. "We're depending on Governor Brown to step in to prevent the wholesale fracking of our state."

"This legislation does nothing to stop fracking or protect communities across the state from its harmful effects and last minute changes to the bill made it even worse," said Adam Scow, California campaigns director at Food & Water Watch. "The threats to our state's water, air, and climate are real and pressing and we don't have time for half measures like SB 4. We need courageous leadership – it’s time for Governor Brown to act now to ban fracking in California."

"There's only one prudent next step to protect California's water, air, and climate – for Governor Brown to place an immediate moratorium on fracking, acidizing, and other unconventional methods of exploiting fossil fuels," said Victoria Kaplan, campaign director at MoveOn.org. "Legislators have failed to heed the wishes of a majority of Californians calling for a moratorium or a ban and MoveOn members will continue to organize across the state for an end to fracking."

“The passage of SB 4 demonstrates the continuing stranglehold that Big Oil has on the political process in Sacramento. Attempts to find common ground with an industry hell-bent on exploiting every last drop of oil regardless of the impact on California’s water, valuable farmland and the climate are inevitably bound to fail. The passage of this mangled bill only confirms the need for a moratorium on these dangerous extraction techniques,” said Ross Hammond, senior campaigner with Friends of the Earth.

“SB 4 tragically green-lights an extremely dangerous practice with terrible public health impacts near the homes and schools of California’s communities already most overburdened by pollution,” said Madeline Stano, Luke Cole Memorial Fellow at the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment.

“This bill will not protect Californians from the enormous threats of fracking pollution,” said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “Fracking poses unacceptable risks to the air we breathe, the water we drink and our climate. We’ll keep working to end this inherently dangerous activity in our state.”

In her comment on the Sacramento Bee website, activist Lauren Steiner emphasized, "This bill is just a permitting, monitoring, notification and disclosure bill with a study thrown in. Telling someone when you're going to frack, where you're going to frack and what chemicals you are going to use is like a murderer telling you, 'I'm going to shoot you on your front porch tomorrow at noon using an AK-47.' At the end of the day, you're still dead. And do we really need any more studies to show us the harms of fracking?"

To read her complete comment and the article it responds to, go to: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2013/09/jerry-brown-urges-passage-of-fracking-bill.html#storylink=cpy

Zack Malitz urged you to call your Senator right now and urge a "No" vote on SB 4: http://act.credoaction.com/call/sb4_senate/?akid=8880.300166.JhdiX9&rd=1&t=1

Californians Against Fracking is a coalition of environmental, business, health, agriculture, labor, political, and environmental justice organizations working to win a statewide ban on fracking in California. For more information and to sign the petitions to ban fracking in California, visit: http://www.CaliforniansAgainstFracking.org

Background: Oil industry is top corporate lobby in California

Oil companies have fracked at least 12 times in California's ocean waters, according to information received from Freedom of Information Act documents obtained by truthout.org and the Associated Press. The California Coastal Commission has pledged to investigate the environmentally destructive oil extraction method, including what powers the agency has to regulate it.(http://www.mercurynews.com/central-coast/ci_23876202/californias-coastal-commission-investigate-offshore-fracking)

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.

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 the most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento, 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.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. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/08/07/the-ocean-frackers/)

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/