California Legislators Call for Offshore Oil Fracking Investigation

ban fracking nowAssemblymember Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) and eight other California lawmakers are calling on the Department of Interior and Environmental Protection Agency to investigate reports of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) beneath the seabed floor off the California Coast.

The legislators are asking for a strict review and possible new regulations of fracking in the ocean – less than 8 months after the completion of a network of questionable state “marine protected areas” that fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling and spills, pollution, wind and wave energy projects, military testing and all human impacts other than sustainable fishing and gathering.

“Hydraulic fracturing poses great potential dangers to our sea life and all California residents,” said Williams. “This controversial well stimulation technique needs greater scrutiny, particularly when it potentially jeopardizes our coastal way of life.”

Fracking employs huge volumes of water mixed with sand and toxic chemicals to blast open rock formations and extract oil and gas, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The controversial technique is already being used in hundreds — and perhaps thousands — of California oil and gas wells.

Assemblymembers Mark Stone, Marc Levine, Richard Bloom, Adrin Nazarian, Bob Wieckowski and Senators Fran Pavley, Noreen Evans and Hannah-Beth Jackson have signed on in support of Williams’ letter to federal regulators.

On August 3, the Associated Press reported that oil companies have used hydraulic fracturing at least a dozen times to “force open cracks beneath the seabed” in the Santa Barbara Channel. The report says that regulators are looking into whether companies should obtain a separate permit and should face a stricter environmental review.

The Santa Barbara Channel, where the fracking has occurred, was the site of the tragic 1969 oil spill that killed countless birds and marine life.

“The fact that hydraulic fracturing is occurring off our California coast with little or no review is a frightening thought,” Williams said. “We, as residents and noble citizens, must stand together to call for greater scrutiny. We cannot take chances that could irreparably harm us all.”

Californians should support the legislators’ call for a federal investigation of hydraulic fracturing beneath the seabed floor off the California Coast. At the same time, the legislators should support a formal investigation into the many conflicts of interest that infested the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, including the leadership role that a big oil lobbyist played in the corrupt process that was privately funded by the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation.

das williams

Assemblymember Das Williams

Fracking opponents must also oppose Governor Jerry Brown’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels to export northern California water to corporate agribusiness and oil companies. Water destined for the canals will be used to expand fracking in Kern County and coastal areas.

The construction of the 35-mile-long tunnels would hasten the extinction of Sacramento River chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt and other fish species, as well as imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity River, the only out-of-basin water supply for the Central Valley Project.

Big Oil Lobbyist Oversaw Creation of “Marine Protected Areas”

Inexplicably missing from the mainstream media and even most “alternative” media reports on fracking is any mention of one of the biggest environmental scandals of the past decade – the alarming fact that Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association, CHAIRED the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force that created the alleged “marine protected areas” that went into effect in Southern California waters in January 2012. She also served on the task forces to create “marine protected areas” on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

Grassroots environmentalists, Tribal leaders, fishermen and advocates of democracy and transparency in government blasted the leadership role of the oil industry lobbyist in creating these “marine protected areas,” but state officials and representatives of corporate “environmental” NGOs embraced her as a “marine guardian.” MLPA Initiative advocates refused to acknowledge the overt conflict of interest that a big oil lobbyist, who supports fracking, new offshore oil drilling, the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline and the evisceration of environmental laws, had in a process allegedly designed to “protect” the ocean.

You see, the “marine protected areas” created under Reheis-Boyd’s leadership weren’t true “marine protected areas” as the language of the landmark Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 called for. Reheis-Boyd, a marina corporation executive, a coastal real estate developer and other corporate operatives on MLPA Initiative task forces oversaw the creation of “marine protected areas” that effectively allow fracking and offshore oil drilling to continue and expand.

These “marine protected areas” fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling and spills, pollution, wind and wave energy projects, corporate aquaculture, military testing and all human impacts other than fishing and gathering.

Reheis-Boyd 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. The association now has enormous influence over both state and federal regulators – and MLPA Initiative advocates helped facilitate her rise to power.

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.

dan bacher

While I’m glad that the legislators are calling on federal regulators to investigate reports of hydraulic fracturing on the ocean, it is imperative that also call for an investigation of the huge scandal of how state officials and corporate “environmental” NGO representatives allowed a big oil industry lobbyist oversee what passes for “marine protection” in California.

Go here for more information about the MLPA Initiative.

Dan Bacher
The Fish Sniffer

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Published by the LA Progressive on August 13, 2013
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