The Wild Wild West-where Big Oil & Gas make up their own rules in the Nation’s Breadbasket!

California has a strong reputation for environmental regulation and “green” cities. So you’d think when it comes to the controversial practice of fracking for oil and gas, California would again be a leader.

Consider California’s Governor, Jerry Brown (aka Governor Moonbeam) is a Democrat with long standing environmental credentials.  And the Democrats have won a “super-majority” in the California Legislature, meaning that they could pass fracking legislation without a single Republican vote.

With this backdrop, you’d also expect that California regulatory agencies would have issued stringent requirements for any fracking operations that would dare to try to do their questionable business in the State

Think again.

Image from Bloomberg.com

A recent vote in the California legislature denied a moratorium with regards to the central coast exploration of the Monterey Shale. A moratorium is not say no to business, it’s saying we need to find out a little more to make sure this is safe. A moratorium is not a ban, it’s pretty middle of road, reach across aisles politicking. And California said no.

“There is tremendous (scientific) uncertainty,” said Michael Kiparsky, associate director of UC Berkeley’s Wheeler Institute for Water Law and Policy and co-author of a recent report that found gaping holes in California’s regulation of fracking. “California has historically been a leader in the governance of environmental issues” – but not fracking, Kiparsky said. “There is the opportunity to learn a lot from other states … and try not to repeat their learning experiences.”

So what kinds of problems are real people in California encountering with the lack of regulation and oversight?  Look no further than the breadbasket of America, California’s Central Valley.

According to the Sacramento Bee:

“One afternoon last fall, Tom Frantz cradled a video camera in his hand and pointed it at an oil well on the edge of this San Joaquin Valley farm town.  Workers shuffled amid trucks and drilling equipment, preparing the site for hydraulic fracturing – fracking, for short – the controversial drilling method that has the potential to spark an economic boom in California and perhaps even free the state from foreign oil.  But Frantz recorded something less promising: oily-brown waste spilled from a pipe into an unlined pit near an almond grove, followed by a stream of soapy-looking liquid.

“That was kind of shocking,” said Frantz, 63, a fourth-generation farmer. “We can’t live without fresh groundwater. It doesn’t take much to ruin that.” 

Further the Sacramento Bee reported:

“Along once-quiet rural roads, residents complain about dust and noise from trucks and drilling equipment. Large metallic flares dot the countryside, burning off methane and other gases into one of the most polluted air basins in America.  Last year, one flare roared for months close to Walt Desatoff’s home outside Shafter. “I called it my loud, expensive porch light,” he said.  A retired businessman, he moved to rural Shafter in the early 1990s for its quiet pace of life. Now, he can smell the gassy odors and hear the million-mosquito drone of heavy equipment from his front porch.

“I’m not opposed to it,” he said. “We just need more control. Let’s do it right. Let’s do it safe. Let’s do it where it’s monitored and (companies) are not just given carte blanche to do whatever they want.”

So Governor Brown, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom – anybody in the State Legislature??? Hello?  Are you going to help or just stay in Big Oil and Gas’s back pocket?  Is allowing unbridled fracking worth risking California’s vibrant agricultural economy that puts food on our table every day so Big Oil can get their way?

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