california

California Democrats Who Got Big Gifts From Oil Industry Gave Big Gifts Back

This is a guest post by David Pomerantz originally published by Energy and Policy Institute

California’s legislators received $253,771.98 in 2016 in free trips, dinners, and hotel stays from groups at least partly funded by or affiliated with companies from the oil industry, according to legislators’ financial disclosure forms released last week. The Energy and Policy Institute analyzed the disclosures, and we found a correlation between who got the most valuable gifts from Big Oil and the Democrats who voted with the oil industry the most.

With large Democratic majorities in California, the oil industry has pinned its hopes in the state on a group of so-called “moderate” Democrats that it has assiduously courted in recent years. (Republicans have tended to vote in lock-step with the oil industry.) Reporters have investigated how the oil industry has showered those Democrats with campaign contributions, but our analysis is the first that systematically looks at the gifts that oil companies and their allies have given to Democrats, in the form of free international and domestic travel, hotel stays, dinners, baseball tickets and bottles of wine and booze.

Chevron, Aera Energy Sue to Block Monterey County, California’s Voter-Approved Ban on Fracking

Anti-fracking protest in front of California state house

Last November, voters of Monterey County, California, passed a fracking ban known as Measure Z with 56 percent of the vote, despite being outspent 30-to-1 by the industry-backed group, Monterey County Citizens for Energy Independence

Passing Measure Z makes Monterey the sixth California county to ban fracking, but the first to face a serious legal challenge. 

In December, Chevron and Aera Energy, the two biggest companies drilling in Central California’s San Ardo fields, both filed lawsuits against Monterey County to block implementation of Measure Z, alleging that it restricts how they can use their property.

Oil and Gas Lobby Fights California Regulators to Keep Injecting Drilling Wastewater into Protected Aquifers

Three active oil wells in a dry California landscape

Last month the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), missed its own deadline for shutting down 475 oil industry injection wells determined to be dumping toxic fluids into protected California groundwater aquifers. The division said it would continue to allow more than 1,600 other wells to continue injections into federally protected aquifers because it believes they stand a chance of being exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act protections.

Yet the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), a regional oil and gas lobbying group, is still suing the agency to prevent any wells from closing.

California Residents and Lawmakers Fight Reopening of Aliso Canyon, Site of Huge Natural Gas Blowout

Protesters rally against the reopening of the Aliso Canyon facility with signs

It’s now a waiting game as California regulators decide whether to reopen the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in Los Angeles County, the site of an October 2015 blowout that released an estimated 97,000 metric tons of methane over four months.

California Regulators Allow Oil Companies to Continue Injecting Wastewater Into More Than 1,600 Wells in Protected Aquifers

Pump jack

Regulators with the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) announced in January that they plan to halt oil and gas wastewater injection in 475 oil wells in the Golden State — but also that they will continue to allow injections into federally protected aquifers at another 1,650 wells.

According to the environmental advocacy group Clean Water Action, the announcement appears to be in violation of DOGGR’s own compliance schedule, adopted by regulation in 2014, which requires all injection well operators that have not obtained an aquifer exemption from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to cease injection by February 15, 2017.

Bureau of Land Management Slammed for Downplaying Fracking’s Threats to California Public Lands — Again

Anti-fracking protesters rally in Oakland, California's streets

An environmental impact statement released by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Thursday “ignores risks of hydraulic fracturing” according to an environmental group that took the agency to court for similar omissions in 2013. 

The BLM’s latest environmental impact statement and resource-management plan looked at opening up 400,000 acres of federal land in Monterey, San Benito, and Fresno counties to oil and gas development.

However, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, the agency offers inadequate analysis of the pollution and effects of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and other extreme extraction techniques for natural gas.

Is Historical Oil Drilling Responsible For L.A.'s Reputation As Earthquake Prone?

A study by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey points to oil drilling operations as the likely culprit in some of the biggest earthquakes that hit Southern California in the early 20th century — which led to questions about whether or not the Los Angeles region is really as earthquake prone as it is known for.

A number of recent studies have found that earthquakes in Oklahoma and Texas were likely induced by oil production or underground injection of oilfield wastewater. For instance, USGS researchers found that wastewater disposal most likely induced the third-largest earthquake in recent Oklahoma history, the 5.1-magnitude quake that occurred on February 13 of this year.

Previous research has found no evidence that oil operations have led to induced seismic events in Southern California, particularly the greater Los Angeles region, where many of the state’s major oilfields lie, since 1935. But what about before that?

Oil Industry Wastewater Injection Has Overpressurized Aquifers For Decades, Threatening California Drinking Water

A new report from the Washington, D.C-based Environmental Action Center (EAC) on California’s underground injection program finds that oil industry wells in the state have been overpressurizing some aquifers for decades, risking the contamination of neighboring aquifers that might contain drinkable water. Despite full awareness of the problem, state regulators have done little to stop them.

One Year After Worst Methane Leak In U.S. History, Locals Still Calling To Shut Down Aliso Canyon

Protesters against the reopening of Aliso Canyon

It took two and a half months after methane first started leaking from the Aliso Canyon storage facility on October 23, 2015 for the state of California to declare a state of emergency.

By the time the leak was stopped in February 2016, the blowout at Aliso Canyon had caused an estimated 100,000 metric tons of natural gas to escape into the atmosphere, the largest single emission of methane documented in U.S. history. Thousands of homes had to be evacuated in the nearby North San Fernando Valley community of Porter Ranch, where residents suffered headaches, nosebleeds, rashes, and other serious health impacts due to the gas leak.

Hey California, Why Are You Allowing the Use of Oil Wastewater To Irrigate Our Food?

There are times when science is obvious. This is one of those times.

A new report by researchers at PSE Healthy Energy, UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the University of the Pacific sheds light on a very troubling practice in the field of Big Ag — the use of oil industry wastewater for irrigating food crops. 

Would you water your garden with the wastewater from an oil field? No. So why does California allow this practice in industrial agriculture? 

This disturbing scientific report identifies dozens of hazardous chemicals used in oilfields supplying waste fluid to water California food crops and recharge drinking water aquifers. People in the Central Valley could be drinking these oil industry chemicals right now, and current water-testing procedures wouldn’t detect these dangerous substances. Given these shocking findings, California regulators should immediately halt the use of oil-waste fluid in any procedure that could contaminate the water we drink or the food we eat,” said John Fleming, a staff scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity.

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