FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Ten Concrete Actions Jerry Brown Can Take to Become a Real Green Governor

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, words that many agree with, 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” at the same time he oversees some of the most environmentally devastating policies of any governor in recent California history.

If Brown really cared about climate change, green energy, the environment and the people of California and the planet, he would take a number of urgently-needed actions, rather than just 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 contributions over $200 from the oil industry.

(2) Return at least some of the $9.8 million that he has received in recent years from oil and energy companies. In the “Brown’s Dirty Hands” report, Consumer Watchdog revealed that that twenty-six energy companies including the state’s three major investor-owned utilities, Occidental, Chevron, and NRG—all with business before the state—donated $9.8 million to Jerry Brown’s campaigns, causes, and initiatives, and to the California Democratic Party since he ran for Governor for his third term.

(3) Support a ban on new land-based fracking operations in California. New York and Maryland have already banned the environmentally destructive practice of fracking, but California hasn’t, in spite of the “green” image that the state government constantly promotes.

(4) Back a ban on offshore fracking operations. Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act in 2013 revealed that Big Oil had conducted fracking operations at least 203 times during a 20 year period off the Southern California coast.

(5) Enforce the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) of 1999 to make the questionable “marine protected areas” created under the helm of a big oil lobbyist into real ones. The “marine protected areas,” created under a process that MLPA Initiative advocates touted as “open, transparent and inclusive,” don’t protect the ocean from pollution, fracking, offshore oil drilling, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering.

(6) 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.

(7) Review and adopt sustainable and fish-friendly alternatives to addressing California’s water supply and ecosystem restoration needs, such as the Environmental Water Caucus Responsible Exports Plan.

(8) Stop appointing oil and energy company officials, as well as agribusiness officials and lobbyists, to California’s regulatory panels and commissions. In a classic example of how Big Oil has captured the regulatory apparatus in California, Brown appointed Bill Bartling of Bakersfield, who has worked as an oil industry executive and consultant, as district deputy in the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources for the Bakersfield region at the embattled California Department of Conservation in October 2015.

(9) 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.

(10)  Craft and implement a creative statewide plan, in cooperation with leaders of recreational and commercial fishing groups, Indian Tribes, conservation organizations and environmental justice groups, to restore salmon, steelhead and other anadromous fish populations to historical abundance.

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 speak at yet another climate conference.

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.”

While Brown portrays himself as the “resistance” to President Trump’s positions on climate change and other issues, it is worth noting that Brown and the Trump administration appear to share a lot of common ground on many issues, including water infrastructure, public lands, the Delta Tunnels and the expansion of fracking in California. On April 13, Brown and Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke had a “positive and productive” meeting during Zinke’s visit to California. For more information, go here.

More articles by:

Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento. He can be reached at: Dan Bacher danielbacher@fishsniffer.com.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
Paul Street
Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy
Russell Mokhiber
Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter
T.J. Coles
The Battle for Latin America: How the U.S. Helped Destroy the “Pink Tide”
Ron Jacobs
Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyen Thai Binh Street
Dean Baker
Fun Fictions in Economics
David Rosen
Trump’s One-Dimensional Gender Identity
Kenn Orphan
Notre Dame: We Have Always Belonged to Her
Robert Hunziker
The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems
Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr.
Paddy Wagon
Brett Wilkins
Jimmy Carter: US ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’
John W. Whitehead
From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State
Nick Pemberton
To Never Forget or Never Remember
Stephen Cooper
My Unforgettable College Stabbings
Louis Proyect
A Leftist Rejoinder to the “Capitalist Miracle”
Louisa Willcox
Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife
Brian Cloughley
Britain Shakes a Futile Fist and Germany Behaves Sensibly
Jessicah Pierre
A Revolutionary Idea to Close the Racial Wealth Divide
George Burchett
Revolutionary Journalism
Dan Bacher
U.S. Senate Confirms Oil Lobbyist David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary
Nicky Reid
The Strange Success of Russiagate
Chris Gilbert
Defending Venezuela: Two Approaches
Todd Larsen
The Planetary Cost of Amazon’s Convenience
Kelly Martin
How the White House is Spinning Earth Day
Nino Pagliccia
Cuba and Venezuela: Killing Two Birds With a Stone
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Guadalcanal and Bloody Ridge, Solomon Islands
David Kattenburg
Trudeau’s Long Winter
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
Ellen Lindeen
What Does it Mean to Teach Peace?
Adewale Maye and Eileen Appelbaum
Paid Family and Medical Leave: a Bargain Even Low-Wage Workers Can Afford
Ramzy Baroud
War Versus Peace: Israel Has Decided and So Should We
Ann Garrison
Vets for Peace to Barbara Lee: Support Manning and Assange
Thomas Knapp
The Mueller Report Changed my Mind on Term Limits
Jill Richardson
Why is Going Green So Hard? Because the System Isn’t
Mallika Khanna
The Greenwashing of Earth Day
Arshad Khan
Do the Harmless Pangolins Have to Become Extinct?
Paul Armentano
Pushing Marijuana Legalization Across the Finish Line
B. R. Gowani
Surreal Realities: Pelosi, Maneka Gandhi, Pompeo, Trump
Paul Buhle
Using the Law to Build a Socialist Society
Elliot Sperber
Ecology Over Economy 
April 18, 2019
Gerald Sussman
Russiagate is Dead! Long Live Russiagate!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail