Brown has transformed himself into “Big Oil Brown,” one of the worst Governors for fish, water and the environment in California history.
By Dan Bacher / DailyKos
In an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee Forum section on June 1, former State Senator Tom Hayden touts the “green energy” policies of California Governor Jerry Brown, even though anti-fracking activists have nicknamed the Governor “Big Oil Brown” for his subservience to the oil and gas industry.
“California is poised to spend $120 bill by 2020 towards constructing a sustainable green economy, says Hayden in his piece, “Brown’s steady march to an alternative energy future.”
Hayden describes Brown “as a modern Archimedes, the ancient Greek philosopher who searched for a leverage point from which to transform the world.”
“California is that leverage point, a modern economy that Brown wants to ‘decarbonize’ Brown pledges the creation of 500,000 clean energy jobs over his two terms, on top of the current 1.2 million,” gushes Hayden.
Hayden also touts the allegedly “visionary” energy policies of Jerry Brown. “It’s a long way from the early days when Brown was ridiculed as a Zen outlier speaking riddles about renewables. None dare call him Moonbeam now,” says Hayden.
The former Senator acknowledges the public outcry over fracking, as well as the necessity of “making the connection between greenhouse gas reductions and environmental justice,” but doesn’t call for a ban on fracking like the majority of environmental groups in the state have called for.
Hayden is right that none call Jerry Brown “Moonbeam” now. Brown has transformed himself into “Big Oil Brown,” one of the worst Governors for fish, water and the environment in California history.
Brown signed Senator Fran Pavley’s Senate Bill 4, the green light for fracking bill that clears the path for expanded fracking in California, in September 2013. The last minute amendments to the bill by the oil industry were so odious that they spurred the League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense Fund to withdraw their support at the last minute for the already weak legislation.
The bill made California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of fracking permits optional -and prevents imposing a moratorium on fracking for 15 months. Brown signed the bill after receiving at least $2.49 million over several years from oil and natural gas interests.
Hayden makes the following incredible statement, “Lacking legislative support, Brown’s alternative is to build a regulatory apparatus so formidable that fracking won’t be occurring any time soon.”
In case Hayden missed it, fracking is occurring already. In fact, a Freedom of Information Act and Associated Press investigation revealed that Southern California marine waters have already been fracked at least 203 times in the past 20 years.
And the current “regulatory apparatus” created under Senate Bill 4 is one that the oil industry lobby praises.
Just ask Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association and former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, who praised the governor’s signing of Senate Bill 4 for creating the “environmental” platform to expand fracking in California.
“With the signing of Senate Bill 4, California has the toughest regulations of hydraulic fracturing and other energy production technologies in the country,” said Reheis-Boyd. “While SB 4’s requirements went significantly farther than the petroleum industry felt was necessary, we now have an environmental platform on which California can look toward the opportunity to responsibly develop the enormous potential energy resource contained in the Monterey Shale formation.”
But the Governor’s signing of the green light to fracking bill is just one of the many attacks on the environment that Brown has engaged in – and that Hayden is greenwashing by writing his puff piece about Brown.
Governor Brown is an avid supporter of the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation+) that allows Northern Hemisphere polluters to buy forest carbon offset credits from the global South. Brown is trying to link an agreement among Chiapas, Mexico; Acre, Brazil; and California, to AB32, which commits to a 25% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for 2020, and an 80% reduction for 2050)
Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, exposed the impact of Brown’s REDD policies on the environment and Indigenous Peoples when he spoke at a protest against Brown’s failed environmental policies in San Francisco on October 17, 2013:
“Despite being awarded, as I speak, for his supposed environmentalism, Governor Brown is moving ahead with a policy that grabs land, clear-cuts forests, destroys biodiversity, abuses Mother Earth, pimps Father Sky and threatens the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples
This policy privatizes the air we breathe. Commodifies the clouds. Buy and sells the atmosphere. Corrupts the Sacred.
This policy is called carbon trading and REDD. REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. But REDD really means Reaping profits from Evictions, land grabs, Deforestation and Destruction of biodiversity. REDD does nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at source. And REDD may result in the biggest land grab of the last 500 years.”
Brown has also rushed the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels, a $67 billion boondoggle that will hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and numerous other fish species, as well as imperiing salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath River. The plan would take large tracts of fertile Delta farmland out of production in order to irrigate drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, all under the guise of “habitat restoration.
Every scientific panel, ranging from the Independent Delta Science Board to the National Academy of Sciences, has criticized the flawed “science” behind the twin tunnel plan.
The Brown administration also authorized the export of record water amounts of water from the Delta in 2011 – 6,520,000 acre-feet, 217,000 acre feet more than the previous record of 6,303,000 acre feet set in 2005 under Schwarzenegger. Most of this water went to corporate agribusiness, including mega-farmers irrigating unsustainable, selenium-laced land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.
The record water exports spurred massive fish kills at the state and federal Delta pumps. The Brown administration “salvaged” a record 9 million Sacramento splittail and 2 million salmon, steelhead, striped bass, largemouth bass, threadfin shad, white catfish and sturgeon in the Delta export pumping facilities in 2011. Since the actual number of fish killed in the pumps is at least 5 to 10 times those reported, the actual number of fish killed is probably 55 million to 110 million.
More recently, Governor and the Obama administration oversaw the systematic emptying of Folsom and other northern California reservoirs last year during a record drought, imperiling salmon and steelhead and local water supplies.
Brown has also forged ahead with one of the worst environmental programs of the Schwarzenegger regime, the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. In one of the most egregious conflicts of interests in modern California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), chaired the MLPA Blue Ribbon Takes Force for the South Coast, as well as serving on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.
It is no surprise that the alleged “marine protected areas” fast-tracked under the administration of the Governor who Hayden calls a “modern day Archimedes” fail to protect the ocean from pollution, fracking, offshore oil drilling, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering.
Other abysmal environmental policies of the “Green Energy Governor” include the following.
• California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA): Brown is trying to weaken or even eliminate CEQA, one of California’s greatest environmental laws, to fast-track big developments for giant corporations like Walmart, Berkshire Hathaway, General Electric, Valero and Chevron.
• Department of Conservation Appointments: After Brown fired Acting Director Chernow and Oil and Gas Supervisor Miller and appointed oil industry-friendly Mark Nechodom, risky injection oil drilling permits increased by 18 percent.
• Clear cutting in the Sierra Nevada: Brown is doing nothing to stop Sierra Pacific Industries from clear cutting forests, destroying wildlife habitat, and contributing to climate change.
• “Theme Park” Wetlands: The Department of Fish and Wildlife under the Jerry Brown administration is working with the Annenberg Foundation to bulldoze a section of the Ballona Wetlands to build an interpretive center and help with the “restoration” of the land around the center.
As I have documented in article after article, Brown is on a “steady” march, but it’s a march to the destruction of fish, water and the environment, not to “an alternative energy future” as Hayden proclaims.
For more information about Brown’s abysmal environmental policies, go here.