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Written By: Dan Bacher, December 17, 2013
Just when you thought our Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations faced more than enough threats, including massive kills in the Delta pumps and the plan to build the tunnels, the Brown administration has found a way to make things even worse by expanding the environmentally destructive of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) for oil and natural gas in California.
The State Department of Conservation (DOC) in November sent out the official public notice of proposed regulations for the use of well stimulation – fracking and acidizing - in oil and gas production in California.
SB 4, dubbed the “green light to fracking” bill by environmental, consumer, and fishery conservation groups, mandates the implementation of new fracking regulations. Over 100 organizations, including the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), Food and Water Watch, CREDO Action and the Center for Biological Diversity, opposed the legislation because it will result in the expansion of fracking in California.
The water to be used by the tunnels is expected to come from Governor Brown’s proposed peripheral tunnels. The potential contamination of groundwater supplies and streams by expanded fracking and acidizing operations poses a huge threat to salmon, steelhead and other fish populations and human health throughout the state.
The public notice begins the formal rulemaking process and marks the beginning of a 60-day public comment period – and anglers must make their voices heard.
The agency claims the regulations, which are to go into effect on January 1, 2015, are "designed to protect health, safety, and the environment, and supplement existing strong well construction standards. They address a comprehensive list of issues, including testing, monitoring, public notice, and permitting."
DOC also said it will have emergency regulations in place by January 1, 2014 to "ensure that the major requirements of SB 4 are addressed in the interim." For more information, please visit http://www.conservation.ca.gov.
Governor Jerry Brown, a big supporter of the expansion of fracking in California, signed the widely-contested legislation on September 20. The already weak legislation was eviscerated at the last minute with oil industry-friendly amendments under pressure by the Western States Petroleum Association and oil companies.
You know that this legislation won't protect the land, water, fish, wildlife and people of California from the expansion of fracking when a big oil lobbyist praises the draft regulations.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), said she was "pleased" that the Department of Conservation and the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources have been able to "promptly release" draft hydraulic fracturing regulations.
"Governor Brown signed SB 4 less than two months ago, and the state has worked expeditiously to implement this new comprehensive law," gushed Reheis-Boyd. "These regulations are extensive but strike the right balance that will result in an environmental platform which will ensure that the potential energy resources contained in the Monterey Shale formation can be responsibly developed."
Then in her latest blog on the WSPA website, she further praised the legislation, along with lauding Senator Fran Pavley and Governor Jerry Brown for their "environmental leadership." (http://www.wspa.org/blog/post/climate-scientists-ignore-california’s-energy-realities)
"This September, California adopted the nation’s strictest regulations for the oil extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing," Reheis-Boyd claimed. "The landmark bill, SB 4, was authored by one of our state’s preeminent environmental leaders, Senator Fran Pavley, and signed by Jerry Brown, one of the nation’s greenest governors."
In one of the most overt conflicts of interest in California history, Reheis-Boyd served as Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create alleged "marine protected areas" in Southern California, as well as serving on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast. The “marine protected areas” she oversaw the crafting of fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, wind and wave energy projects, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.
In contrast to Reheis-Boyd’s praise for the new regulations, fracking opponents said the regulations fall far short of protecting California’s air, water, communities and climate from fracking, a dangerously polluting practice that involves blasting chemical-laden water into the earth to fracture rock formations.
"These regulations do nothing to stop fracking or protect communities across the state from its harmful effects and last minute changes to the Senate Bill 4 made the legislation 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."
The pollution resulting from fracking threatens already contaminated groundwater and surface water supplies in the Central Valley and coastal areas - and much of the water to be used to expand fracking is expected to come from the Delta via the proposed twin tunnels.
Caleen Sisk, Chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, a key leader in the fight to stop the raising of Shasta Dam and the construction of the tunnels and to restore winter run Chinook salmon to the McCloud River above Shasta Dam, urges people to support a ban on fracking in California.
"California's new draft fracking rules Are BAD," she said. "Tell Governor Brown that weak regulations won't cut it. We need a ban!"
"Regulations don't make fracking any safer - no water for fracking at the expense of the Tribal ceremonies and salmon habitat," Sisk stated.
Sisk, Food and Water Watch and anti-fracking activists are urging people to submit public comments on the draft rules. To take action, go to the Food and Water Watch website: https://secure3.convio.net/fww/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1010
Comments regarding the proposed regulations will be taken at five public hearings around the state:
Sacramento -- January 6, Sierra Room, California Environmental Protection Agency Building, 10th & I streets, 3-7 p.m.
Long Beach -- January 6, California State University-Long Beach auditorium, 1212 Bellflower Boulevard, 3-7 p.m.
Bakersfield -- January 8, Kern County Administrative Center, first floor board chambers, 1115 Truxtun Avenue, 3-7 p.m.
Salinas -- January 8, National Steinbeck Center, One Main Street, 3-7 p.m.
Santa Maria -- January 13, Santa Barbara County supervisors hearing room, 511 East Lakeside Parkway, 3-7 p.m.
The Department of Conservation will also hold public scoping meetings regarding the Environmental Impact Report for the fracking regulations. Once in draft form, the EIR will be circulated for specific comments on its analysis and conclusions.
Three scoping meetings were already held in December in Oakland, Sacramento and Bakersfield and two meetings will be held in Southern California in January. The remaining meetings will take place at:
● Ventura, 4 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, January 8, Ventura College Performing Arts Center, 4700 Loma Vista Road.
● Long Beach, 4 to 8 p.m., Thursday, January 9, Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Boulevard.
Brown's support of expanded fracking in California occurs as the Governor continues and expands the worst environmental policies of the Schwarzenegger administration. Brown is rushing the Bay Delta Conservation Plan BDCP to build the peripheral tunnels, has presided over record fish kills and water exports at the Delta pumps and completed the creation of a statewide network of so-called "marine protected areas" under Schwarzenegger's MLPA Initiative in December 2012.
The Bay Delta Conservation Plan Environmental Impact Report documents were released to the public on Monday, December 9 and the 120 day public comment period began on Friday, December 13.
Anglers are urged to comment on the documents and attend upcoming protests and other events challenging the tunnels. For more information, go to http://www.restorethedelta.org.
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