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Frac Free Mendocino County Earth Day Update: Precautionary Principle Policy
Application of Offshore Moratorium on Oil and Gas Development, Exploration and/or Production within the County of Mendocino, under the guidance of the Precautionary Principle MENDOCINO COUNTY POLICY #43 PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE POLICY - Where threats of serious or irreversible damage to people or nature exist, lack of full scientific certainty about cause and effect shall not be viewed as sufficient reason for the County to postpone cost effective measures to prevent the degradation of the environment or protect the health of its residents. Any gaps in scientific data uncovered by the examination of alternatives will provide a guidepost for future research, but will not prevent protective action from being taken by the County.
To: Mendocino County Board Of Supervisors
From: Tomas DiFiore
Re: Application of Offshore Moratorium on Oil and Gas Development, Exploration and/or Production within the County of Mendocino, under the guidance of the Precautionary Principle MENDOCINO COUNTY POLICY #43 PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE POLICY ADOPTED: June 27, 2006
The core tenet I propose is in the Adopted Precautionary Principle (skip to last page)
Good day Board members.
In the time since I last presented before the Board, in the State of California, several municipalities and counties have begun the process of enacting local bans on Fracking, not moratoriums, but outright bans. San Benito, Butte, Carson, L.A., Culver City.
Humboldt County, which is in the last stage of their General Plan Update, has one sentence buried deep in the Energy section (tentatively approved by the Humboldt BoS) that bans hydraulic fracturing for oil or gas.
GPU Chapters Tentatively Approved by the Board of Supervisors
Chapter 12 - Energy
Part 3, Chapter 12. Energy Element 12-6
August 22, 2013 12.5 Standards
E-S1. Oil and Gas.
E-S2. Application Requirements and Standards for Oil and Gas Energy Exploration
or Extraction Projects.
6. Hydraulic fracturing for release and recovery of hydrocarbons is prohibited.
At the same time, Humboldt County has recently, without public input changed their guiding principles, raising a concern among residents and a scandal in the press. There is much commentary and controversy over the move which not only change the County's guiding principles, but deleted one, down now from twelve guiding principles to eleven. It took years of public input to develop the original twelve.
The one that caught my eye, is a sleek revision to ecosystem protections and conservation biology: Principle #6:
Original: Protect agriculture and timberland over the long-term, using measures such as increased restrictions on resource land subdivisions and patent parcel development.
June 3 2013 revision: Encourage, incentivize and support agriculture, timber and compatible uses on resource lands.
Oct 7, 2013 revision (straw vote 4-1 with Lovelace dissenting): Encourage, incentivize and support agriculture, timber, ecosystem services and compatible uses on resource lands.
To learn more about the recent development of the Humboldt County GPU or General Plan Update, and the pro-development shenanigans visit:
The Oct 7, 2013 revision should say “ecosystem functions and services.”
Ecosystem Functions and Services
Ecosystem functions are the physical, chemical, and biological processes or attributes that contribute to the self-maintenance of an ecosystem; in other words, what the ecosystem does. Some examples of ecosystem functions are provision of wildlife habitat, carbon cycling, or the trapping of nutrients. Thus, ecosystems, such as wetlands, forests, or estuaries, can be characterized by the processes, or functions, that occur within them.
Ecosystem services are the beneficial outcomes, for the natural environment or people, that result from ecosystem functions. Some examples of ecosystem services are support of the food chain, harvesting of animals or plants, and the provision of clean water or scenic views. In order for an ecosystem to provide services to humans, some interaction with, or at least some appreciation by, humans is required. Thus, functions of ecosystems are value-neutral, while their services have value to society.
Luckily, Mendocino County has a Precautionary Principle
“Santa Barbara County voters will likely have a chance to choose whether they want be a part of the solution or part of the problem. An organization called the Water Guardians is currently collecting signatures to qualify an initiative to ban fracking and other high-intensity petroleum production in Santa Barbara County for the November ballot. Whether this effort succeeds or fails will likely determine greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade in our County, a critical period during which we need to reduce emissions in order to head-off the worst impacts of climate change.”
“The Water Guardians Initiative proposes to ban high-intensity oil production: Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which water, chemicals and sand are blasted underground to break up the rock and extract oil; acidizing, which adds hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acid to dissolve the rock to extract oil; and cyclic steam injection, which uses large amounts of water, steam and energy to heat the thick, heavy oil so it will flow more readily. There are many local environmental concerns with these techniques which can lead to air pollution and water contamination, and expansion of these techniques would also lead to large increases in greenhouse gas emissions in the County.”
Why a Ban on Fracking is Critical for the Climate
By Editor on April 15, 2014
“High-intensity oil production could triple County greenhouse gas emissions. Unlike in other parts of the country where fracking for natural gas occurs which produces less carbon dioxide when burned than coal and oil, in California, the fracking of the Monterrey Shale is for oil with no potential climate benefit. Since the Monterey Shale formation that extends throughout California is potentially one of the largest shale oil reserves in the country, a ramp up in unconventional oil production would increase state emissions and hinder the state’s ability to take a lead in reducing emissions and transitioning to cleaner sources of energy.”
“In Santa Barbara County, one company alone (Santa Maria Energy) has 7,700 possible well locations. Using the same rate of emissions per well as their current well project, that works out to 4,971,029 tons of greenhouse gases per year. That is the equivalent of almost one million cars, and it is nearly three times the total current total Countywide emissions. That is just to extract the oil. It doesn’t include additional emissions from transporting, refining or burning that oil.”
“That is a staggering number. It means that Santa Barbara County could eliminate a hundred percent of its emissions, stop driving, get all our power from solar and wind, eliminate all agricultural emissions and still triple emissions in the County just from this oil extraction.”
This is a very forward looking, precautionary theme from Santa Barbara.
Mendocino County has a Precautionary Principle
The Board of Supervisors finds and declares that:
(Sections have been selected as being most appropriate to convey both concerns and policy)
A. Every resident, present and future, of Mendocino County has an equal right to a healthy and safe environment. This requires that our air, water, earth, and food be of a sufficiently high standard that individuals and communities can live healthy, fulfilling, and dignified lives. The duty to enhance, protect and preserve Mendocino County’s environment, community health, and quality of life rests on the shoulders of local government, residents, citizen groups, and businesses alike.
B. Mendocino County and its communities have a history of making choices based on the least environmentally harmful alternatives, thereby challenging traditional assumptions about risk management. Numerous protective county ordinances and policies include: 1) Barring the aerial application of phenoxy-based herbicides; 2) Protecting water quality by requiring an environmental impact statement when an industrial development is proposed for siting where quality impacts are likely; 3) Reserving adequate stream flows for protection of fish, wildlife habitat, and other instream use; 4) Maintaining an outstanding and award winning rural household hazardous waste program; 5) Restricting the cultivation of genetically modified crops and livestock; and 6) Reducing pesticide applications on school properties.
E. A central element of the precautionary approach is the careful assessment of available alternatives using the best available science. An alternatives assessment examines a broad range of options in order to present the public with different effects of different options considering short-term versus long-term benefits and costs, and evaluating and comparing the effects of each option. This reveals options with fewer potential effects and/or greater potential benefits to health and the natural environment. This process allows fundamental questions to be asked:
"Is the potentially harmful activity necessary?" "What less harmful options are available?" and "How little damage is possible?"
F. The alternatives assessment is also a public process because the public bears the ecological and health benefits and consequences of environmental decisions.
G. Mendocino County looks forward to the time when the County generates more power from local renewable resources, when building and planning incorporates greater use of green building techniques, when more of our waste is recycled, when our rivers and streams adequately sustain our fisheries, when groundwater is free from contaminants, and when our foods are cultivated using less intensive methods. The Precautionary Principle provides guidance....
H. Realizing these goals and achieving a society living respectfully within the bounds of nature will take a behavioral as well as technological revolution. A precautionary approach to decision-making will move Mendocino County beyond finding cures for environmental ills to preventing the ills before they can do harm.
The Mendocino County Precautionary Principle
The following shall constitute the Mendocino County Precautionary Principle Policy.
Based on the best available science, the Precautionary Principle requires the selection of the alternative that presents the least potential threat to human health and the County’s natural systems.
Where threats of serious or irreversible damage to people or nature exist, lack of full scientific certainty about cause and effect shall not be viewed as sufficient reason for the County to postpone cost effective measures to prevent the degradation of the environment or protect the health of its residents. Any gaps in scientific data uncovered by the examination of alternatives will provide a guidepost for future research, but will not prevent protective action from being taken by the County. As new scientific data become available, the County will review its decisions and make adjustments when warranted.
Where there are reasonable grounds for concern, the precautionary approach to decision-
making is meant to help reduce harm by triggering a process to select the least potential threat. The essential elements of the Precautionary Principle approach to decision-making include:
1. Anticipatory Action: There is a duty to take anticipatory action to prevent harm. Government, business, and community groups, as well as the general public, share this responsibility.
2. Right to Know: The community has a right to know complete and accurate information on potential human health and environmental impacts associated with the selection of products, services, operations or plans. The burden to supply this information lies with the proponent, not with the general public.
3. Alternatives Assessment:
4. Full Cost Accounting:
5. Participatory Decision-Making Process: Decisions that may affect the environment, health, and quality of life, by applying the Precautionary Principle must be transparent, participatory, and informed by the best available information.
The Board of Supervisors, in accordance with the policy implementation requirements set forth above, directs all officers, boards, commissions, and departments of the County to take a precautionary approach and evaluate alternatives when making decisions that could impact health and the environment, especially where those actions could pose threats of serious harm or irreversible damage.
1200 people have signed onto petitions to Ban Fracking in Mendocino County, 1000 have signed the inland petition from Potter Valley. I am requesting that the Board of Supervisors of Mendocino County, apply the process of the Precautionary Principle to the concern I have presented to the Board since January, 2014.
Over the course of this time, I have presented data and sources from peer reviewed science, news articles, community databases, court cases, geological surveys, historical published and unpublished well data from the California Division of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), USGS Province Resource Assessments, and ownerships within the county by corporate industry players.
All data point to the potential for development of hydrocarbon resources in the Franciscan Shale, or rather below the Franciscan Shale (Stevens Sands, Anderson Sands) within Mendocino County. I have submitted over 140 pages in supporting documentation. If there are any questions please let me know. All data is posted and updated regularly at my blog.
STEAM INJECTION IS LITERALLY GLOBAL WARMING
constant comments, and informative research links;
Thank you Board Members for your time to view this document. I know that your Agenda is very busy. Perhaps this could be read individually. Thank you again.
The core tenet I propose is in the Adopted Precautionary Principle:
“Based on the best available science, the Precautionary Principle requires the selection of the alternative that presents the least potential threat to human health and the County’s natural systems.”
“Where threats of serious or irreversible damage to people or nature exist, lack of full scientific certainty about cause and effect shall not be viewed as sufficient reason for the County to postpone cost effective measures to prevent the degradation of the environment or protect the health of its residents. Any gaps in scientific data uncovered by the examination of alternatives will provide a guidepost for future research, but will not prevent protective action from being taken by the County. As new scientific data become available, the County will review its decisions and make adjustments when warranted.”
The Offshore Moratorium language requires that any modification which allows for the exploration or development of Oil and/or Gas, must go before the voters. That same concept can be applied, by moving the entire Moratorium inland to cover the unincorporated areas, and in the course of time, a greater focus will prevail on Section G. of the Precautionary Principle.
G. “Mendocino County can look forward to the time when the County generates more power from local renewable resources...”
Choosing to reduce my carbon footprint, I chose to submit this document to our Board of Supervisors in digital format, otherwise, I would have to drive one hour each way.
Frac Free Mendocino County Earth Day Update: Precautionary Principle Policy