Jerry Brown poses as ‘climate leader’ while he promotes fracking, Delta Tunnels
by Dan Bacher
If Governor Jerry Brown really cared about climate change, green energy and the people of California and the planet, he would take a number of urgently needed actions, rather than issue constant statements and proclamations about how “green” his administration is.
Responding to President Donald Trump’s decision on June 1 to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, California Governor Jerry Brown immediately issued a bluntly-worded statement condemning the decision.
“Donald Trump has absolutely chosen the wrong course,” said Brown. “He’s wrong on the facts. America’s economy is boosted by following the Paris Agreement. He’s wrong on the science. Totally wrong. California will resist this misguided and insane course of action. Trump is AWOL but California is on the field, ready for battle.”
As usual, Brown’s statement and ensuing interviews were greeted by mostly fawning, uncritical coverage by the national and international media portraying the Governor as the “resistance” to Trump and a “climate leader.” Brown may speak colorful and fiery words at times, but they are often not backed up by his actions.
He’s a political genius when it comes to working media, since he’s convinced much of the state, national and international media that he’s a “climate leader” and “green governor” when he actually oversees some of the most environmentally devastating policies of any governor in recent California history.
If Brown really cared about climate change, green energy and the people of California and the planet, he would take a number of urgently needed actions, rather than issue constant statements and proclamations about how “green” his administration is.
Some of the most important actions Brown could take include:
(1) Sign the pledge, initiated by the Environmental Caucus of the Democratic Party, to no longer take Big Oil and fossil fuel money;
(2) Return at least some of the nearly $10 million that he has received in recent years from the oil and energy companies;
(3) support a ban on new land-based fracking operations in California;
(4) back a ban on offshore fracking operations;
(5) enforce the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) of 1999 and make the questionable “marine protected areas” created under the helm of a big oil lobbyist into real ones;
(6) stop appointing oil and energy company officials to California’s regulatory panels and commissions;
(7) remove those officials who have conflicts of interests regarding their investments in oil and energy companies.
(8) oppose carbon trading policies, backed by the Western States Petroleum Association, that merely trade pollution from one area to another, at great expense to indigenous peoples around the globe;
(9) stop the state’s two-year delay on the implementation of scientific recommendations to protect people living with close proximity to oil and gas regulations;
(10) halt his environmentally destructive Delta Tunnels plan, a project that will destroy the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, and hasten the extinction of winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and many other fish species. In addition, Brown’s “legacy project” will imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.
I would much rather have Brown address any one of these real problems that the people and environment of California now suffer from than have him go off to grandstand at yet another climate conference to stroke his ego.
On February 6, twelve public interest groups, led by Consumer Watchdog and Food & Water Watch, unveiled a comprehensive “report card” on Jerry Brown Administration’s environmental record showing he falls short in six out of seven key areas, including oil drilling, fossil fuel generated electricity, toxic emissions, the California Environmental Quality Act, coastal protection, and water. The report recommends some additional actions for the Brown administration to take, along with several of the same actions I recommended.
“Far from the environmentalist that Brown claims to be, Brown has expanded the burning of heat-trapping natural gas and nurtured oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing while stifling efforts to protect the public from harm,” the report says. “The Public Utilities Commission has approved a slew of unnecessary new fossil-fuel power plants when the state’s three major investor-owned utilities have overbuilt their generating capacity by nearly triple the minimum extra capacity that the state requires. Under Brown, the number of active onshore oil and gas wells jumped by 23 percent since the year before he was elected Governor in a bid to produce more oil.”
The report calls for a moratorium on the building of natural gas powered electricity plants, given what they described as “the glut of electric capacity,” and calls for an outside audit of the state’s energy needs. The groups showed how California can improve its environmental protections to meet standards set in other states.
The document recommends that the administration:
- Use executive authority to ban fracking as New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo did, reject any drilling in protected coastal sanctuaries, and phase out oil drilling. End irrigation with wastewater.
- Abandon the regional grid, deny new natural gas plant application, revisit those already approved and close Aliso Canyon permanently.
- Create an oversight board for toxics regulation, require companies to pay for cleanup and to increase penalties.
- Stop CEQA exemptions for developers and industry.
- Uphold the Coastal Act protections. Move nuclear waste to a licensed facility.
- Abandon the Delta Tunnels, the controversial California WaterFix. Make water conservation a priority. Force industry to pay for clean water.
“Brown has run into the arms of polluting industries, hurting the environment and vulnerable communities,” summed up Liza Tucker, the author of the report. “Despite continuing the climate change work begun by his predecessors, on a wide array of environmental issues Brown has allowed or encouraged regulators to fail.”
Read the report “How Green Is Jerry Brown?”