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Oil lobbyist/former MLPA chair praises release of fracking EIR

by Dan Bacher
“While we are pleased with the state's process on implementing Senate Bill 4, it is important to note the draft EIR contemplates hypothetical development scenarios and provides a high level review. To date, well stimulation in California has never been associated with any known adverse environmental impacts,” claimed Reheis-Boyd.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife map of South Coast marine protected areas created under the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. While oil lobbyist Reheis-Boyd was serving as Chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, the oil industry was fracking like crazy in Southern California waters.
Oil lobbyist/former MLPA chair praises release of fracking EIR

by Dan Bacher

The oil industry welcomed the release of the California Natural Resources Agency’s draft environmental impact report of fracking operations in California, while environmental groups slammed the report for failing to address the many major risks posed by the controversial well stimulation technique.

Catherine Reheis Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called “marine protected areas” in Southern California, praised the Brown administration's release of the regulation in a statement.

“The release of the draft EIR on Well Stimulation Operations marks an important milestone in meeting the deadlines set by Senate Bill 4. WSPA and our members are reviewing the details of the draft EIR and will continue to participate in workshops and public discussion regarding SB 4,” said Reheis-Boyd.

“While we are pleased with the state's process on implementing Senate Bill 4, it is important to note the draft EIR contemplates hypothetical development scenarios and provides a high level review. To date, well stimulation in California has never been associated with any known adverse environmental impacts,” Reheis-Boyd claimed. (

In contrast with Reheis Boyd’s claim that the release of the draft regulations mark an “important milestone" in meeting the deadlines set by Senate Bill 4, the Center for Biological for Biological Diversity said the draft environmental review of fracking “fails to adequately analyze many major risks from fracking, including air and water pollution and risks to public health.”

The group noted that the review by California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources was released even though state scientists are still six months away from completing their analysis of the risks and harms of the controversial form of oil and gas extraction.

“The California Council on Science and Technology today released the first volume of a state-commissioned, three-part fracking study," according to the Center. “The other two volumes won’t be released until July, and the first volume addresses only the extent of fracking in California and does not assess risks.”

“State oil officials’ deeply flawed fracking review shows the urgent need for Gov. Brown to institute an immediate moratorium on fracking and other dangerous oil and gas development,” said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity. “State regulators are shrugging off the grave threats to our air, water and health from oil and gas wells. Instead of whitewashing the risks, California needs to follow New York’s lead and halt these dangerous activities immediately.”

The science council reported that fracking is heavily concentrated in communities in the San Joaquin Valley, which already suffers some of the nation’s most polluted air.

According to a recent American Lung Association report, the five cities with the most polluted air in the nation are in California - and three out of these five are in the San Joaquin Valley. (

These five cities are:
#1: Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA
#2: Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, CA
#3: Bakersfield, CA
#4: Fresno-Madera, CA
#5: Sacramento-Roseville, CA

But the council also said that fracking has occurred in at least 96 different oil and gas fields around the state and reiterated concerns about the risk of contaminated oil industry wastewater potentially being used to irrigate crops.

“The draft report from DOGGR focuses almost exclusively on fracking and other well-stimulation techniques, rather than considering the risks and harms associated with all phases of drilling and production, which cannot be separated from well stimulation,” said Siegel. “Because of this flawed approach, state regulators can’t fully analyze the environmental risks, but even this incomplete review admits fracking causes significant and unavoidable damage to California’s air, biological and cultural resources, public safety and climate."

She also said the DOGGR review downplays the risks of water pollution, despite a previous finding from state scientists that fracking in California occurs at shallower depths than elsewhere, increasing the potential threat of contaminating groundwater, and despite the state’s failure to protect groundwater from pollution by oil and gas wastewater, as required by federal law.

The Environmental Protection Agency has found "serious deficiencies" in California’s effort to protect water supplies from contaminated oil industry wastewater, according to Siegel. Almost 3 billion gallons of oil industry wastewater have been illegally dumped into central California aquifers that should have been protected under federal law and are clean enough to supply drinking water and farming irrigation, according to state documents obtained by the Center.

The wastewater entered the aquifers through at least nine injection disposal wells used by the oil industry to dispose of waste contaminated with fracking (hydraulic fracturing) fluids and other pollutants. (

Siegel said thousands of wells have already been fracked in 15 counties across California, as well as in the state’s coastal waters.

The oil industry has been fracking like crazy off the Southern California coast over the past two decades, including the years that the WSPA President served as the Chair of the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create questionable "marine protected areas" in Southern California.

"In waters off Long Beach, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach — some of the region's most popular surfing strands and tourist attractions — oil companies have used fracking at least 203 times at six sites in the past two decades, according to interviews and drilling records obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request," stated an Associated Press report published on October 19, 2013 (

New York health officials recently released a fracking analysis that found that fracking posed significant threats to the environment and public health, noted Siegel. On the basis of that report, New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a ban on fracking in that state.

“Gov. Brown must follow New York’s lead and protect our health and climate from oil and gas pollution,” Siegel concluded.

Background: Big Oil Money and Power in California

While there are many powerful industries based in California, ranging from the computer and high tech industry to corporate agribusiness, no industry has more influence over the state's environmental policies than Big Oil.

The oil industry has spent over $70 million on lobbyists in California since January 2009, including record amounts of money spent during the third quarter of 2014, according to a recent report written by Will Barrett, the Senior Policy Analyst for the American Lung Association in California. (

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, topped the oil industry spending with a total of $31,179,039 spent on lobbying since January 1, 2009. Chevron was second in lobbying expenses with a total of $15,542,565 spent during the same period.

From July 1 to September 30 alone, the oil industry spent an unprecedented $7.1 million lobbying elected officials in California “with a major focus on getting oil companies out of a major clean air regulation,” said Barrett.

And this doesn’t include spending on ballot measures or the recent election, including Chevron spending $3 million (unsuccessfully!) to elect “their” candidates to the Richmond City Council. Big Oil also dumped $7.6 million into defeating a measure calling for a fracking ban in Santa Barbara County and nearly $2 million into an unsuccessful campaign to defeat a measure banning fracking and other extreme oil extraction techniques in San Benito County.

Not only does Big Oil spend many millions every year on lobbying and campaign contributions, but its representatives also serve on state and federal regulatory panels and fund "Astroturf" campaigns to eviscerate environmental laws.

In one of the most overt conflicts of interest in California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, served as the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force to create fake "marine protected areas" in Southern California. Not only did she serve on this panel, but she also was a member of the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

These so-called "marine protected areas" fail to protect the ocean from fracking, offshore oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

Not only did these so-called "Yosemites of the Sea" fail to protect the ocean, but they violate the traditional fishing and gathering rights of the Yurok Tribe and other Indian Nations and are based on terminally flawed and incomplete science. In fact, Ron LeValley, the Co-Chair of the MLPA Initiative Science Advisory Team for the North Coast, is currently in federal prison for conspiracy to embezzle $850,000 from the Yurok Tribe.

People need to understand that the millions Chevron and other oil companies have spent on lobbying, campaign contributions and setting up “Astroturf” groups promoting the oil industry agenda are small change to Big Oil. The five big oil companies – BP, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell – made a combined total of $93 billion in profits last year. Big Oil’s estimated profits in 2014 were over $96 billion. (
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