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Jerry Brown Lashes Out Against Environmentalists Over Fracking

| October 30, 2013
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Gov. Jerry Brown delivers his State of the State address during a joint session of the California legislature at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on Monday, Jan. 31, 2011. (Steve Yeater/AP)

Recent photo of Gov. Jerry Brown, who yesterday spoke out on global warming. (Steve Yeater/AP)

Gov. Jerry Brown was on KQED Forum today discussing the recently signed regional pact with Oregon, Washington state, and British Columbia to fight global warming.

But as Paul Rogers, managing editor of KQED Science and an environmental reporter for the San Jose Mercury News wrote yesterday, rather than hailing Brown, environmentalists are focusing on an area in which they disagree with Brown. Just a day after the global warming pact was signed …

… environmentalists lashed out at Brown for his full-throated support(of) fracking, the controversial practice in which oil and gas companies inject water, sand and chemicals into the ground to fracture underground rock formations and release huge amounts of fossil fuels. Those are the very substances that scientists say are causing more global warming.

“To see the governor support fracking at a climate change event is terribly ironic,” said attorney Kassie Siegel with the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group. “Gov. Brown is a climate leader, but supporting fracking can undermine all that he has done.” Full article

Forum host Michael Krasny asked Brown about the issue, and in characteristic fashion, the governor didn’t mince words.

Transcript:

Krasny: Critics are saying, “Can you really have a meaningful climate change pact if you don’t address fracking?”

Brown: The premise of that assertion is that climate change is primarily about fracking. And that’s the most absurd idea I’ve ever heard.

This is like saying one tire in the 1 billion vehicles in the world is the problem. Fracking is a point, it’s an issue, but climate change is dealing with cars, with power plants, with cows, with agriculture, with cement, with land use, with many, many things….

The key point here that most people have in their minds is fracking the Monterey shale. Nobody’s doing that. At best it’s several years if it ever happens. And it can’t happen until a  major and the first serious scientific study to an environmental impact analysis that I required by a law I signed two months ago is done. I’m supervising that analysis and we’re going to find out.

Some of these fracking people, I talked to one young lady, I said,  ”Give science a chance.” [She said,] “No, I don’t’ need that, I studied it in college.” She did not study fracking the Monterey shale in college, because it has not been studied in any serious way before. But it will, and there will be plenty of time to make comments, the state will have to respond to each of the hundreds of thousand of comments. This is a big deal, and the fact that people have just pretended not to see it as a big deal, shows you the utter emptiness of some of the political debate today. People don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

For equal time, climate change luminary Al Gore spoke about the relationship of  global warming to fracking on Forum in February …

I’m concerned about it. It has pluses and minuses. Advocates have long pointed out that natural gas has only 50 percent of the CO2 content when it’s burned compared to coal. But a lot of it leaks in the fracking process. And when the methane leaks into the atmosphere, each molecule has 70 times the potential warming effect compared to CO2 over a 10-20 year period, and then it lessens somewhat. But that means not very much needs to leak to wipe out the advantage …

People often say fracking is an issue that requires the classic question: is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Well, the Earth’s atmosphere is completely full. And we’re going to have to make a shift to renewable energy sources. We have the ability to do that. The report came out recently that last year the largest new additions to electricity production in the U.S. came from wind — 42 percent of all new energy production from wind. In Australia, wind energy, a report says, is now cheaper than electricity from a new coal plant or a new gas plant. And solar photovoltaic energy is spreading far more rapidly than anyone thought was possible. In 2010 the world’s cumulative investments in renewable energy for the first time exceeded the world’s investments in fossil fuel energy.

Now the fracking wave over the last two years has put [non-renewables] out in front again, but it is inexorable that we will shift to renewable energy.

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  • manchuscout

    Jerry Brown: ” . . . climate change is dealing with cars, with power plants, with cows, with agriculture, with cement, with land use, with many, many things . . .”

    Sorry Governor. Dealing with climate change is centered upon the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Electric cars don’t do that. Solar, hydro and geothermal power plants don’t do that! Burning natural gas, regardless of the means by which it is acquired, DOES! Fracking just keeps us dependent upon fossil fuels. THAT HAS GOT TO STOP!

  • azaredaniel

    The Southwest is in the midst of a record drought, some 14 years in the making, which means the water supply for many Western states – California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada – is drying up. Last month the Bureau of Reclamation announced they’recutting the flow of water into Lake Mead, which has already lost 100 feet of water since the drought began.

    What happens if the Southwest drought does not end soon?

    Will we keep using 3 to 6 million gallons of Clean Water per Fracked well, to extract natural gas?

    This petition will ask the California Regulators and Law makers to allocate Renewable Portfolio Standards to Ca. home owners, the RPS is the allocation method that is used to set aside a certain percentage of electrical generation for Renewable Energy in the the State.

    The State of California has mandated that 33% of its Energy come from Renewable Energy by 2020.

    The state currently produces about 71% of the electricity it consumes, while it imports 8% from the Pacific Northwest and 21% from the Southwest.

    This is how we generate our electricity in 2011, natural gas was burned to make 45.3% of electrical power generated in-state. Nuclear power from Diablo Canyon in San Luis Obispo County accounted for 9.15%, large hydropower 18.3%, Renewable 16.6% and coal 1.6%.

    There is 9% missing from San Onofre and with the current South Western drought, how long before the 18.3% hydro will be effected?

    Another generator of power that jumps out is natural gas, 45.3%, that is a lot of Fracked Wells poisoning our ground water, 3 to 6 million gallons of water are used per well. If Fracking is safe why did Vice Pres Cheney lobby and win Executive, Congressional, and Judicial exemptions from:

    Clean Water Act.

    Safe Drinking Water.

    Act Clean Air Act.

    Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

    Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act.

    National Environmental Policy Act.

    “Americans should not have to accept unsafe drinking water just because natural gas is cheaper than Coal. the Industry has used its political power to escape accountability, leaving the American people unprotected, and no Industry can claim to be part of the solution if it supports exemptions from the basic Laws designed to ensure that we have Clean Water and Clean Air” Natural Resources Defense Council.

    We have to change how we generate our electricity, with are current drought conditions and using our pure clean water for Fracking, there has to be a better way to generate electricity, and there is, a proven stimulating policy.

    The Feed in Tariff is a policy mechanism designed to accelerate investment in Renewable Energy, the California FiT allows eligible customers generators to enter into 10- 15- 20- year contracts with their utility company to sell the electricity produced by renewable energy, and guarantees that anyone who generates electricity from R E source, whether Homeowner, small business, or large utility, is able to sell that electricity. It is mandated by the State to produce 33% R E by 2020.

    FIT policies can be implemented to support all renewable technologies including:
    Wind
    Photovoltaics (PV)
    Solar thermal
    Geothermal
    Biogas
    Biomass
    Fuel cells
    Tidal and wave power.

    There is currently 3 utilities using a Commercial Feed in Tariff in California Counties, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, and Sacramento, are paying their businesses 17 cents per kilowatt hour for the Renewable Energy they generate. We can get our Law makers and Regulators to implement a Residential Feed in Tariff, to help us weather Global Warming, insulate our communities from grid failures, generate a fair revenue stream for the Homeowners and protect our Water.

    Why it is better to own your own Renewable Energy System.

    “The benefits of owning a renewable energy system far outweigh the benefits of a lease or a power purchase agreement (PPA). Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, homeowners are eligible for a federal personal income tax credit up to 30% of the purchase cost of their renewable energy system, without a maximum limit.** Homeowners can utilize the incentive money in any way they choose. But homeowners that choose to lease their systems turn over their rebates and incentives to the third party lease or PPA companies associated with the solar systems installed on their homes.”

    “The owner of a renewable energy system is also sheltered from rising electricity costs, which have historically increased on average of 3-5% each year. This presents homeowners with opportunities to save money each month on energy and also reduces their reliance on third-party utility companies. By purchasing a renewable energy system with cash or through a loan, a homeowner can completely pay off his or her system and then independently produce clean energy.

    By choosing a lease or a PPA option homeowners are essentially substituting their utility companies with third-party leasing companies. Additionally, homeowners will likely be required to purchase their systems, renew their leases, or have the systems removed from their roof and revert to paying utility rates once their leases have ended.” Charlie Angione.

    “There’s absolutely no such thing as a $0 down solar lease or PPA and here’s why. A requirement of both of these financing programs is that you agree upfront to give the leasing or PPA company your 30% federal tax credit which is worth thousands of dollars as well as any other financial incentives.

    At $5.57 per Watt. a 6 kW solar system would yield a federal tax credit of $10,026!

    With a $0 down loan instead of a lease, you’ll get to keep the 30% federal tax credit as well as all other applicable financial incentives for yourself and you’ll own your solar system instead of renting it, for a much greater return on investment.

    And if you do decide to lease instead of own, good luck ever selling your home with a lease attached to it. What homebuyer will want to purchase your home and assume your remaining lease payments on a used solar system on your roof, when they can buy and own a brand new system for thousands less.” Ray Boggs.

    We also need to change a current law, California law does not allow Homeowners to oversize their Renewable Energy systems.

    Campaign to allow Californian residents to sell electricity obtained by renewable energy for a fair pro-business market price. Will you read, sign, and share this petition?

    http://signon.org/sign/let-california-home-owners

  • Pamela Zuppo

    Let’s be clear here, the author confused “gas fracking” with the “oil fracking” that is already taking place in California. For proof of that fact, take a walk through Kern country to see for yourself the hundreds of fracked wells in the state of California.

    If you’re unable to take a frack field tour in Kern County, you can read up on one farmer’s accounting of the dangerous level of fracking wells near his farm and the constant flaring of methane gas that escapes oil wells. Here’s a video to watch definitively confirming current oil fracking in California: Fracking probe expands in Central Valley at http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/11/02/3587611/fracking-probe-expands-in-valley.html

    Either Brown is a flagrant liar or just plain stupid. More so, it appears Brown is just corrupt as he accepted $2.5 million dollars from the oil industry for his campaign, Prop 30, and his charter school in Oakland. I’m surprised black oil doesn’t emit from his pores and run down his head. Furthermore, the EPA and the California Air Resources Board have issued reports concerning oil fracking in California.

    Allow me to expound on the dangers of oil fracking, which certainly is NOT a so-called “bridge fuel” the gas fracking proponents enjoy touting at every opportunity:

    ~ Fracked crude oil from the Monterey shale is heavy, carbon-intensive oil that will serve to increase carbon emissions, exacerbating global warming, and would be in direct violation of the guidelines promulgated by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) under California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32).

    ~ CARB studies the characteristics of each source of oil —extraction and transportation — and assigns it a score, the higher being worse for the climate. While oil sources worldwide have scores between 5 and 13, under the system used by CARB, California oil scores badly and is rated higher than tar sands bitumen: California’s Midway-Sunset oil scores 21.18. Crude from nearby Coalinga scores 25.36. The San Ardo field, where bobbing pump jacks push up against Highway 101 between King City and San Luis Obispo, scores a whopping 28.82.[1]

    ~ Fracking the projected 15.4 billion barrels of oil in California will add 6.8 million tons of carbon pollution to the atmosphere, delaying the full implementation of AB 32 by 80 years.

    ~ The U.S. Geological Survey report, published January 2013, found the total carbon sequestration capacity of the western U.S. is approximately 91 million metric tons per year, which is roughly equivalent to the emissions from about 44% of US automobiles, or about 83 million passenger cars, or about 5% of all U. S. fossil fuel emissions. The
    report further noted it would not be possible to “plant trees to offset all of
    America’s appetite for burning fossil fuels”.[2]

    ~ California’s Central Valley, home to 4 million Californians, has the highest level of particulate matter and ozone pollution in the United States and the asthma rate is three times the national average, according to the American Lung Association.

    ~ Deep shale drilling is known to release significant levels of methane gases and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) that cause smog and lead to respiratory problems, and cancer causing air toxics such as benzene and arsenic. The oil and gas industry is the single largest producer of methane gas in the US, accountable for approximately 40% of all methane emissions.[3] In addition to the emissions from drilling, large numbers of trucks are used to transport chemicals to each drill site and wastewater away from each drill site, causing significant increases in particulate and smog-forming pollutants. The air pollution and health problems that result from fracking are costs and impacts that Central Valley residents cannot bear.

    Water Issues:
    ~ During a severe drought in the region of Kern County, the oil industry received 8.4
    billion gallons a year—as much water as it needed—from the network of aqueducts
    and canals that carry water from Sierra Nevada rivers and reservoirs.

    ~ According to the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal
    Resources (DOGGR), Kern County oil companies injected 1.3 billion barrels of water and steam into the ground in order to produce 162 million barrels of oil a year, which means one barrel of fracked oil requires 320 gallons of water.

    ~ Toxic wastewater from fracking operations in California is often disposed of into underground injection wells deep beneath the surface of the earth. These wells, known as Class II injection wells, are regulated under the US EPA Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program. They are often in close proximity to, or pass through, underground sources of water used for drinking and agriculture. While industry
    claims that underground injection of fracking wastewater is safe, the EPA has criticized California’s implementation of the UIC program and monitoring of Class II wells. In particular, the report criticizes the Division of Oil and Gas Resources’ (DOGGR) one-size-fits-all risk assessment for protection of waterways.

    As an environmentalist, my response to Governor Jerry Brown is “Go Home, You’re Drunk on Corruption”.