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California | North Coast | Environment & Forest Defense

2014 Ocean Fracking Investigation Coastal Commission Report
by Tomas DiFiore
Thursday Feb 6th, 2014 4:49 AM
The California Coastal Commission Has Authority to Halt Offshore Fracking. “Approximately half the oil platforms in federal waters in the Santa Barbara Channel discharge all or a portion of their wastewater directly to the ocean, according to a California Coastal Commission document. This produced wastewater contains all of the chemicals injected originally into the fracked wells, with the addition of toxins gathered from the subsurface environment.”
Coastal Commission to Report on Investigation into Offshore Fracking
Date: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 9:00 A.M. in Pismo Beach

Agenda Item 7. amendments & extensions, negative determinations, matters not requiring public hearings, and status report on offshore oil & gas exploration & development.
Agenda Item 7a. Hydraulic Fracking Update. Update by Commission staff on oil and gas hydraulic fracking activities in California state and federal waters. (AD-SF)

Investigations by the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) and the Associated Press (AP) have found over 200 instances of fracking operations in state and federal waters off California.

February 2014 Agenda
Pismo Beach, CA
(415) 407-3211
Phone number will only be in service when the meeting is in session.

Tell the California Coastal Commission that you want it to use the full weight of its authority to protect our coastal waters from oil and gas fracking. Watch here:
http://www.coastal.ca.gov/

Cal-Span, also known as C-SPAN is a good web channel on which to view State meetings. This is the link to the California Coastal Commission meetings channel:
http://www.cal-span.org/cgi-bin/media.pl?folder=CCC

The California Coastal Commission was established by voter initiative in 1972 (Proposition 20) and later made permanent by the Legislature through adoption of the California Coastal Act of 1976. The Commission is an independent, quasi-judicial state agency. The Commission is composed of twelve voting members, appointed equally (four each) by the Governor, the Senate Rules Committee, and the Speaker of the Assembly. Six of the voting commissioners are locally elected officials and six are appointed from the public at large. Three ex officio (non-voting) members represent the Resources Agency, the California State Transportation Agency, and the State Lands Commission.

Commission Meetings
The Commission holds monthly public meetings of three to five days in length in different locations throughout the state. The Commission meetings provide an opportunity for the Coastal Commissioners to take public testimony and to make permit, planning, and other policy decisions. Prior to each meeting, Commission staff collects and analyzes information pertinent to meeting agenda items and prepares written staff reports with recommendations for Commission action. These staff reports are available for public review, by contacting the appropriate Commission office.

California Coastal Commission Addresses and Telephone Numbers
http://www.coastal.ca.gov/address.html

Selected staff reports are also available electronically by means of a link from the Commission’s Meeting Notice.
http://www.coastal.ca.gov/mtgcurr.html

Members of the public may participate in the Commission’s decision-making process by attending public hearings or by making their views known to the Commission prior to public hearings.
http://www.coastal.ca.gov/mtgcurr.html

California Coastal Ocean Protection by California State Lands Commission (CSLC)

5 years ago, and just months before Secretary Salazar came to San Francisco, the State Lands Commission stood it's ground for Ocean Protection, opposing the Governor, the Oil and Gas Industry, and Big Green.

Big Green Goes For The Gold, Black Gold - PXP Tranquillon Ridge
January 26, 27, 28, three dates to remember.

Before the late January 27, 2009 decision by The State Lands Commission denying the (PXP)Tranquillon Ridge Project off the coast of Santa Barbara - both the Sierra Club California and the Ocean Conservancy were listed in a press release dated January 26, 2009 in support of an agreement to defy 40 years of true grassroots coastal protection against offshore oil.
http://www.noozhawk.com/news_releases/article/0127_state_lands_commission/

The Press Release read: Environmental Groups Urge California State Lands Commission To Support [An End To] Offshore Oil Drilling: For Immediate Release January 26, 2009 - Dear Chairman Garamendi and Commissioners: “Bottom line: Approval of this application marks the beginning of the end of oil offshore of California. On the other hand, rejecting this application will likely extend the life of those platforms, and the risks of oil spills off our coast.”

Even GOO! - the original Get Oil Out! group signed on to the deal which was brokered by the (PXP) Plains Exploration Company and the (EDC) Environmental Defense Center and the Citizens Planning Association of Santa Barbara County. Local Surfrider organizations had also supported the PXP Tranquillon Ridge Oil and LNG Extraction package.

There was dissent within ranks of course. The old guard of GOO! had retired and were in their eighties, AND NEVER gave their support to the slick deal. “I understand what they’re doing,” Bottoms said of GOO and the EDC’s decision to back the project. “As far as they’re concerned, that’s their way to get around Goliath, but they’re bowing to them. You’re not saying we don’t want this stuff anymore ... global warming, will only worsen so long as the world is reliant on oil.”

On the morning of Jan. 28, 1969, Bud Bottoms was an art director for a think tank in Santa Barbara.At 81 years of age in 2009, he recalled getting a phone call at work from his friend and then Santa Barbara News-Press reporter Dick Smith, who had been flying over Platform A and spotted oil bubbling to the surface. “I remember I yelled out - We've got to get oil out.” http://www.thedailysound.com/012809Oil

But by 2009, the State Budget was broken, and the fix was in. There was a 'sweetheart deal' worked out behind closed doors'. But over a period of three days, the political pendulum swung back across the abyss.

State Lands Commission Saves The Day, and the Coast

The State Lands Commission, is made up of the lieutenant governor, the state controller and the director of the Department of Finance, and has authority over mineral leases in state tidelands areas, which extend three miles offshore. That authority once rested with the finance director, but lawmakers established the commission in 1938 in the wake of a scandal over the finance director’s too-cozy relationship with the Standard Oil Co.

At 71 tears (1938-2009) The State Lands Commission Held It's Ground, Our Ground

In 2009, then Chief Deputy Finance Director Thomas Sheehy said (of the Tranquillon Ridge plan) “It’s time to look for win-win opportunities.” Replied Controller John Chiang: “I’m concerned we may be one win short of a win-win. There is tremendous uncertainty as to environmental benefits.” Sheehy then advised the commission that it was created by statute and its authority can be taken away by a vote of the Legislature. “That power can be altered, changed, truncated or terminated at any time.”

The battle continued through the spring into summer. As part of his revised budget plan, Schwarzenegger asked lawmakers to entrust his finance director with the authority to approve the Tranquillon Ridge drilling plan proposed by the PXP oil company. Although the company had negotiated a number of concessions that won the support of traditionally anti-oil environmental groups, the Lands Commission rejected the project in January.
1) If I remember correctly, one gift was a free beach that wasn't PXP's to giveaway.
2) There was no enforceable legal guarantee to either the yearly payments to the State, nor
3) Any enforceable legal guarantee that offshore platforms would be removed.

With environmental groups in full retreat from previous support for an oil drilling proposal offshore of Santa Barbara, the State Lands Commission then urged the Legislature to reject Governor Schwarzenegger's plan to allow his administration to overturn the commission’s rejection of the project.

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi called the proposal “a naked end run around the authority of this commission,” and the three-member panel voted to approve a resolution asking lawmakers to reject Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan.
http://www.vcstar.com/news/2009/jun/01/lands-commission-urges-rejection-of-offshore/

By July 22 and 23, 2009 - 53 leading California environmental organizations had sent letters to Governor Schwarzenegger to express their united opposition to the reported budget deal that would overturn the recent decision by the independent State Lands Commission denying the Tranquillon Ridge project proposal based on legitimate substantive reasons including concerns over a lack of enforceability. “This proposal, if approved, would have represented the first new offshore oil lease in California waters in over 40 years, and a major reversal of the Governor’s past assurances that there would be no new oil drilling off California’s coast.”

“This would have been the first new state offshore oil lease in 40 years,” said Susan Jordan of Santa Barbara, president of Coastal Protection Network. “I have never seen such a blatant power grab. You don’t have the right to unilaterally take control.”

The Tranquillon Sweetheart Deal In Review
“The state could reap $1.8 billion in royalties over 14 years. Viewed on an annual basis, that isn't much - just over $100 million a year. But with California's government facing a $24.3 billion deficit and literally running out of money, the Tranquillon Ridge drilling project would give the governor a rare new source of revenue.”

Retort
“California is the only oil producing state without an oil severance tax, and it would generate $1.2 billion dollars annually for our state. Instead, Big Oil has offered to California $100 million dollars to seduce the state into granting the first new oil drilling lease in California since the Santa Barbara oil spill 41 years ago.”

Willie Pelote, at the time California Political & Legislative Director, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees stated: “If the Governor really wants to generate more revenues he should charge oil companies for extraction - they do in Texas, Alaska, and other oil producing states.”

Another problem facing State Waters Ocean Protection, federal drilling permits from the Minerals Management Service don't include end dates.
http://www.truthout.org/060909L

How Many Angles Are There To A Drilling Rig(ged) Political Platform?

On August 7, 2003, the California Coastal Commission (CCC) and the San Francisco
Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), sent a letter to the Secretary
United States Department of Commerce:

“We wish to convey our strong opposition to the referenced rule changes because they would break the compact Congress and past administrations made with coastal states pursuant to
the federal Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) and its implementing regulations.”

Re: Federal Register Notice, Procedural Changes to the Federal Consistency Process 15 CFR Part 930, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM), National Ocean Service (NOS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce (Commerce)

“The proposed rule upends the balance of power intended by Congress between federal and state agencies making it easier for the oil and gas industry and federal agencies to circumvent and ignore legitimate environmental concerns raised by states and local government.”

“The proposed regulations substantially restrict the definition of federal activities requiring state review in a thinly veiled attempt to reverse a recent 9 th Circuit Court of Appeal decision rejecting DOI and oil industry arguments to narrowly define activities subject to consistency review. Another change strips states of the ability to determine whether previously reviewed federally licensed or permitted activities have substantially changed warranting a new consistency review. Under the new rule, OCRM shiftsthis power to the federal agency, which will promote litigation. Another change shifts power from the states to the Minerals Management Service in DOI todetermine whether an applicant has substantially complied with an OCS development plan and whether it must submit an amended plan to the state for its review. This abdication of responsibility by NOAA assigns the fox to guard the hen house.”

“These changes clearly and significantly weaken the ability of states to safeguard coastal communities against environmental degradation stemming from energy industry activities, federally permitted development, and federal agency activities. The new rules are euphemistically termed “improvements,” when in fact they constitute a full frontal attack on states’ rights and are a transparent effort to make it easier for the oil industry to drill off the California Coast.”

“The landmark Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972 is the only land-use planning and management law at the national level. It represents a unique and carefully crafted compact between coastal states and the federal government.”

Drilling Toys and Political Ploys: 5 Years Ago, Offshore Leases Were Media Headlines

The DOI Offshore Lease-Sales Hearing in San Francisco April 16, 2009, was packed all day. Assemblymember Nava Spoke: No More Oil & Gas Drilling Off the California Coast Assemblymember Pedro Nava (at the time, D-Santa Barbara, now has his own praticing law firm) delivered a strong message in the morning at the hearing held by the U.S. Department of the Interior in San Francisco.

WHEREAS, The United States Department of the Interior, acting in President Bush's final days in office, on January 16, 2009, proposed opening up six million acres off of California's coast to drilling for oil and natural gas; and
WHEREAS, While the Obama Administration has put a hold on the Department of the Interior's January 16th plan in order to consider various possible impacts of offshore oil development as well as consider input from the public, the expansion of oil development in areas previously protected by the outer continental shelf moratorium remain under consideration; and
WHEREAS, Proposed drilling areas include areas off Humboldt and Mendocino Counties and from San Luis Obispo south to San Diego; and
WHEREAS, The further development of nonrenewable resources that degrade our air, water, and land is contrary to our state's goals of reducing emissions that cause global warming, improving air quality, and increasing the use of renewable energy; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Assembly and the Senate of the State of California, jointly, That the Legislature of the State of California respectfully requests that the Congress of the United States reinstate the federal offshore oil and gas leasing moratorium for the 2009 fiscal year and beyond; and be it further
Resolved, That the Legislature of the State of California respectfully opposes the proposed expansion of oil and gas drilling off the Pacific Coast

Assemblymember Nava and Assemblymember Noreen Evans (D-Sonoma) were the authors of Assembly Joint Resolution 3, which requested that the Congress of the United States reinstate the federal offshore oil and gas leasing moratorium for the 2009 fiscal year and beyond. The measure also memorialized the Legislature’s opposition to the proposed expansion of oil and gas drilling off the Pacific Coast and any federal energy policies and legislation that would weaken California’s role in energy siting decisions Assembly Joint Resolution 3 by Assemblymembers Pedro Nava and Noreen Evans passed by a 6 to 3 vote. The joint letter to Secretary of the Interior requested the immediate reinstatement of the federal moratorium. The letter was hand delivered to Secretary Salazar by Assemblymember Pedro Nava in San Francisco.

California Coastal Commission Has Authority to Halt Offshore Fracking and to End Ocean Wastewater Discharge

“Approximately half the oil platforms in federal waters in the Santa Barbara Channel discharge all or a portion of their wastewater directly to the ocean, according to a California Coastal Commission document. This produced wastewater contains all of the chemicals injected originally into the fracked wells, with the addition of toxins gathered from the subsurface environment.”

“Oil companies have fracked offshore wells more than 200 times in recent years in the state and federal waters off California’s coast. A recent Center For Biological Diversity analysis of 12 frack jobs in state waters found that at least one-third of chemicals used in these fracking operations are suspected ecological hazards. Drawing on data disclosed by oil companies, the Center also found that more than a third of these chemicals are suspected of affecting human developmental and nervous systems.”

“The EPA’s new reporting requirements underscore how little is known about offshore fracking,” Sakashita said. “This risky practice has gone essentially unregulated. Until recently, no one even knew that our oceans were being fracked. To protect our coast, we need to stop this dangerous practice in its tracks” For more info, visit the Center’s offshore fracking webpage at:
http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/offshore_fracking/index.html.

New Analysis Finds Oil Companies Using Ecologically Hazardous Chemicals, Pumping Wastewater Into Coastal Waters
http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2013/fracking-11-14-2013.html

“Citing the use of hazardous hydraulic fracturing chemicals and the release of oil industry wastewater off California’s coast, the Center for Biological Diversity called on the Coastal Commission to halt fracking for oil and gas in state waters and press for tighter regulation of fracking in federal waters.”

Three months ago the Center initiated a direct action with the Coastal Commission. Tune in to the Coastal Commission Report on the Investigation into Offshore Fracking. Date: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 9:00 A.M.

Make comments to the California Coastal Commission

Members of the public may participate in the Commission’s decision-making process by attending public hearings or by making their views known to the Commission prior to public hearings. Be sure to read the EX PARTE COMMUNICATION REQUIREMENTS section.
http://www.coastal.ca.gov/mtgcurr.html

A description of the Coastal Commission members and the importance of the Commission, is given at the Surfrider Foundation Site in August of 2013:
http://www.surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/the-ccc-californias-state-agency-for-coastal-decision-making

The Frackinator At Large; Where Ever There's Oil and Gas, There's a TA$K Force

Clearly there is an orchestrated assault by an arrogant industry on the integrity of the letter of the law. At every level, in every city, and county, in the incorporated and un-incorporated areas of the counties of the Golden State, democratic governance is at stake. Even subtle changes to local rules adapted to for development projects, or the updated protections doublespeak so prevalent today, in themselves are initiated to challenge local codes, transforming piece by piece, the landscape of land use provisions under local ordinances.

Support the California Coastal Commission. Let your voice be heard!
Tune-in Wednesday February 12, 2014 at 9:00 am.

Tomas DiFiore