California Tribes Front and Center at Sacramento Anti-Fracking Rally

California Tribes Front and Center at Sacramento Anti-Fracking Rally

Marc Dadigan

Parched by drought that is causing water shortages and threatening crops and fisheries, California and the tribes residing there are embattled over fracking, which uses millions of gallons of water per shale well.

California has more tribes than any other state, and scores of them were out in force on March 15 at a “Don’t Frack California” rally at the State Capitol in Sacramento. More than 4,000 people gathered to demand that Governor Jerry Brown pass a moratorium on hydraulic fracking for oil.

Carrying signs ranging from the simple “Honor Tribal Water Rights” to the more provocative “Gov. Brown Is a Fracking Mother Earth Molestor,” hundreds of California Indians representing the Winnemem Wintu, Miwok, Chumash, Hoopa Valley, Karuk, Yurok, Lakota, Ohlone, Pomo and many other tribes voiced a unified position against the practice.

In September, Brown signed into law the first regulations on hydraulic fracturing, which environmentalists and tribal officials say would allow for the practice to be widespread. Fracking uses water, sand and chemicals to crack rock formations underground in order to reach oil and gas. The technology makes it possible for oil companies to unlock California’s vast Monterey Shale deposit, estimated to hold 15.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

Tribal representatives and activists at the rally unanimously opposed the authorization of any fracking, which is known to use vast quantities of water, because it threatens the health of their rivers and important fisheries at a time when water shortages are already affecting ecosystems and ancestral lands.

RELATED: Hoopa Valley Tribe Declares Drought Emergency as California Dries Out

There are also concerns that fracking can cause earthquakes. "Shaky Ground," a new report from Clean Water Action, Earthworks and the Center for Biological Diversity, states that more than half of the state's permitted oil wastewater injection wells are located less than 10 miles from an active fault and that 87 of them, or six percent, are located within a mile of an active fault.

Politicians, too, are seeking at the very least further study. State Senators Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) introduced legislation in February calling for a moratorium on fracking until a comprehensive independent review of the environmental and public health impacts can be completed.

“There are a million Angelenos that live within a five-mile radius of the largest urban oil field in the country,” said Mitchell, whose predominantly minority district includes the Inglewood Oil Field, in a statement. “Complaints that residents are exposed to hazardous chemicals and toxic pollutants and which cause all kinds of health symptoms have been ignored. When industrial operations like fracking and acidization disproportionately impact minority communities, environmental justice has been breached and needs to be restored.”

Winnemem Wintu Chief and Spiritual Leader Caleen Sisk, who gave the keynote speech at the rally, said the governor’s fracking bill was connected to Brown’s $25 billion proposal to build twin tunnels to pump water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to Southern California municipalities and industrial agriculture. Many Winnemem Wintu sacred sites could be inundated if Congress authorizes the federal government’s proposal to raise Shasta Dam by 18 feet, a plan Sisk said is part of the effort to find more water for fracking.

RELATED: California’s $25 Billion Delta Tunnels Plan Leaves Tribes Behind

“Here at the Capitol is where the big minds and big thinkers are supposed to be taking care of us, but there are a lot of ‘Brown water’ plans going on here,” she said. “We pray to the Creator that you will have strength in your work to fight this so the ones that come after us will have clean water when they get here.”

Pennie Opal Plant of Gathering Tribes spoke to the crowd about the connections between the fight against fracking and efforts to stop oil extraction in the Alberta oil sands of Canada, as well as the shipment of explosive crude oil by train in the Midwest.

“It’s time to transition,” Plant said. “[Mother Earth] is expecting us to be strong. We are not her failed experiment. We are her immune system. We are her cells activating on behalf of her fish, our two-legged relatives, those who fly and all of her life.”

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Daniel Ferra
Daniel Ferra
We need sustainable energy policies, Ban Fracking and implement a California Residential and Commercial Feed in Tariff so our kids and grandchildren have a fighting chance to survive. Globally we are emitting 40-44 Billion tons of Green House Gases annually, here in California we emit 446 million tons of Carbon Dioxide a year, 1,222,000 Toxic Tons a Day. "Tell the California Public Utility Commission: No new dirty gas plants! Every year, more than 70,000 California kids are rushed to the hospital because they can’t breathe, due to air pollution in Calfiornia. Unfortunately the Governor and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) are considering huge new gas-fired power plants to replace the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Dirty gas plants will make our air, water, and soil, worse and just aren't needed. We can't sit by and let our air get dirtier and our kids even sicker, when we've got cheaper, cleaner, safer options like Renewable Energy." Sierra Club. California, there is enough Residential Solar to power 2.25 San Onofres, couple that with a Residential and Commercial Feed in Tariff and we can solve some of these environmental and electrical generating problems. 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're cutting 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 for a Residential Feed in Tariff, 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. The 17 cents per kilowatt hour allows the Commercial Business owner and the Utility to make a profit. Commercial Ca. rates are 17 - 24 cents per kilowatt hour. Implementing a Residential Feed in Tariff at 13 cents per kilowatt hour for the first 2,300 MW, and then allow no more than 3-5 cents reduction in kilowatt per hour, for the first tier Residential rate in you area and for the remaining capacity of Residential Solar, there is a built in Fee for the Utility for using the Grid. A game changer for the Hard Working, Voting, Tax Paying, Home Owner and a Fair Profit for The Utility, a win for our Children, Utilities, and Our Planet. 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? Roof top Solar is the new mantra for Solar Leasing Companies with Net-Metering which allows them to replace One Utility with Another, we need to change this policy with a Residential Feed in Tariff that will level the playing field and allow all of us to participate in the State mandated 33% Renewable Energy by 2020. Do not exchange One Utility for Another (Solar Leasing Companies) "Solar is absolutely great as long as you stay away from leases and PPAs. Prices for solar have dropped so dramatically in the past year, that leasing a solar system makes absolutely no sense in today's market. The typical household system is rated at about 4.75 kW. After subtracting the 30% federal tax credit, the cost would be $9,642 to own this system. The typical cost to lease that same 4.75 kW system would be $35,205 once you totaled up the 20 years worth of lease payments and the 30% federal tax credit that you'll have to forfeit when you lease a system. $9,642 to own or $35,205 to lease. Which would you rather choose? If you need $0 down financing then there are much better options than a lease or PPA. FHA is offering through participating lenders, a $0 down solar loan with tax deductible interest and only a 650 credit score to qualify. Property Assessed Clean Energy loans are available throughout the state that require no FICO score checks, with tax deductible interest that allow you to make your payments through your property tax bill with no payment due until November 2014. Both of these programs allow you to keep the 30% federal tax credit as well as any applicable cash rebate. With a lease or PPA you'll have to forfeit the 30% tax credit and any cash rebate, and lease or PPA payments are not tax deductible. Solar leases and PPA served their purpose two years ago when no other viable form of financing was available, but today solar leases and PPAs are two of the most expensive ways to keep a solar system on your roof." Ray Boggs.


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