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By Amy Trainer, West Marin Environmental Action Committee
Scientist for Controversial Oyster Company Seeks End-around Peer Reviewed Science to Commercialize Wilderness
Today, Environmental Action Committee of West Marin submitted a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell requesting that she reject the efforts by Dr. Corey Goodman, an advocate/scientist for the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, to bypass peer-reviewed science in order to commercialize Drakes Estero wilderness, the ecological heart of Point Reyes National Seashore. Dr. Goodman recently filed a misconduct claim against the United States Geological Survey and National Park Service, asking that taxpayers fund an investigation based on his meritless claims.
The Drakes Bay Oyster Company is currently working with ultra-conservative Republicans and law firms associated with the anti-regulatory Koch Brothers to deny the public a protected national park wilderness on property all Americans own.
"The latest trumped up charges from Dr. Goodman and the anti-science ultra-conservative lawyers at Cause of Action echo prior claims that multiple federal investigations found to be wholly without merit. Millions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted on these feckless allegations in an attempt to undermine former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's public policy decision to let Drakes Estero marine wilderness area go wild. The allegations against the USGS manipulate and cherry-pick the facts to mislead the public."
The letter outlines how Dr. Goodman’s accusations are fatally flawed and lack merit, specifically noting that:
- Dr. Goodman incorrectly describes the data that informed the Final Environmental Impact Statement conclusion on adverse impacts to harbor seals from oyster operations,
- The National Academy of Sciences and peer-reviewed research confirm harbor seal disturbances from oyster operations, which directly undermines Dr. Goodman’s claims,
- Dr. Goodman unilaterally redefines the purpose of the USGS Report from a photo study to a seal study and then attacks the USGS for something it did not do,
- Dr. Goodman incorrectly describes the USGS consultant’s findings and misleads the public.
Dr. Goodman’s recent effort to infuse manufactured scientific controversy into a matter of park policy follows his past failed efforts. The investigations revealed Dr. Goodman’s obsession to advocate on behalf of Company, even when neither the evidence nor the peer-reviewed science support his regurgitated allegations.
Earlier this year, after Dr. Goodman made accusations against the National Park Service’s scientific research, the Interior Inspector General conducted an investigation and concluded: “We found no evidence, documents, DEIS revisions, or witnesses that supported the complainant’s [Dr. Goodman’s] allegations.”
Last year, after Dr. Goodman attacked the Park Service’s peer reviewed science and the Marine Mammal Commission’s report that upheld the Park Service research, the Commission reviewed his charges and concluded “Your characterization of the photographs …is, in my view, incomplete, inaccurate, and misleading…I disagree completely with your interpretation of the seal behavior documented…”
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By Amy Trainer, West Marin Environmental Action Committee
More Right-Wing Connections to Drakes Bay Oyster Company Surface as Lawsuit Against Obama Administration, National Park Service Rages On
With a hearing scheduled in the 9th Circuit Federal Appeals Court today the long-scheduled closure of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company has become a cause celebre of well-funded conservative groups, as they seek to overturn the Interior Department’s decision so they can open more of our protected public lands to oil and gas exploration. Right-wing national organizations have launched new efforts in the wake of moves by Washington politicians, including oil-state Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana), who inserted language in his Keystone pipeline project and coastal drilling bill to give this one company a new, exclusive permit worth millions of dollars in an ecologically sensitive marine wilderness area, and House Republican Natural Resources Committee Chairman “Doc” Hastings (R-Washington), who has launched a review after assailing the Obama Administration’s decision to protect the Point Reyes National Seashore on its 50th Anniversary.
A sample of recent national right-wing involvement:
• Several weeks ago, Cause of Action, a Beltway-based legal foundation that refuses to reveal its funders but has strong links to the right-wing Koch Brothers, stepped into the fray, driving the company’s legal fight. The respected PBS “Newshour” http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/05/conflict-of-lease-and-legacy-provokes-controversy-on-the-half-shell.html exposed their involvement. Since that time, we have learned Cause of Action has been involved in 11 lawsuits, all advocating conservative causes, including a suit against the EPA and against Delaware’s governor trying to kill the development of renewable energy in that state.
• Yesterday, national Fox News http://video.foxnews.com/v/2376406357001/family-owned-business-says-govt-trying-to-shut-them-down/ joined their crusade with a biased report. In the interview, the Fox news host repeatedly misstated facts, and the Oyster company’s owner fails to mention that he bought the property in 2005 fully knowing that his permit to operate would expire 7 years later.
• We also have learned that the Pacific Legal Foundation, linked to the Koch Brothers by Sourcewatch http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Koch_Family_Foundations , is involved in the legal fight http://www.pacificlegal.org/pcg/PLF-to-back-Drakes-Bay-Oyster-Company-in-court, as it notes that it will be in the Court on Tuesday, live tweeting.
It’s clear that this is no longer about an oyster company with a significant record of violations with the California Coastal Commission.
It’s about out-of-state special interests working with the oyster company to set a dangerous new precedent to deregulate commercial activity on protected public lands and open them to oil and gas exploration.
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By John A. Pérez, Speaker of the California State Assembly
The strong revenue California collected in April is one more encouraging sign that after years of weathering the Great Recession we appear to have reached a point of budget stability. To help build on that stability, Assembly Democrats have crafted a Blueprint for a Responsible Budget that will keep California on sound financial footing not just this budget year, but in the future as well.
Over the past several years, Legislative Democrats have made tough but necessary budget cuts. Voters approved the majority-vote budget, which removed the game playing and gridlock that had jeopardized California’s financial picture. And voters stood with Democrats in supporting temporary tax revenues to help fund our schools and avoid even deeper cuts. The Blueprint for a Responsible Budget is based on the following three interrelated principles:
1. Continuing Fiscal Responsibility – the state must pay down debt, provide a prudent reserve, and craft a workable Rainy Day Fund that protects against future economic downturns. We must provide a balanced budget, not just for this year, but for every fiscal year in the forecast period, and we must accelerate the repayment of our budget debts. By accelerating repayment of budget debts we increase our budget stability and our ability to invest in our future. The time has come to craft a real and workable Rainy Day Fund that captures one-time spiking revenues to be set aside for economic downturns.
2. Strengthening the Middle Class – schools and higher education must give everyone a fair shot at the middle class, small businesses must be strengthened, and there must be a functional safety net that gets people back on their feet, contributing to our economy. Middle Class students must be able to afford a college education without being strapped with debt that strangles them well into the future and hurts future economic growth. Funding the Middle Class Scholarship with General Fund revenues from Proposition 39 can slash student fees at UC and CSU by 40 percent.
3. Delivering Effective, Efficient Services for Californians– wasteful red tape and bureaucratic delays must be eliminated for businesses, veterans, and others working with government. Business filings must be processed by the Secretary of State in five days or less, the Department of Public Health “exporting licenses” for perishable goods must also be approved within five days, so California exports can get to their destination and the state’s exporters can prosper. Updating Local Coastal Plans, helping Veterans access the services and benefits they’ve earned and funding courts – with accountability—to preserve access to necessary court services are other key aspects of Assembly Democrats Blueprint for a Responsible budget.
With the Governor’s May budget revision being announced this week and the Legislature working to pass a final budget by June 15, these are some of the issues Assembly Democrats will be focusing on to make sure our state takes the critical steps we need. for our schools, small businesses, safety net, higher education, courts and other key areas that have been harmed during the Great Recession.
(This post originally appeared on www.FoxandHoundsDaily.com)
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By Kassie Donoghue, DC, CCA Government Affairs Director
This week the Assembly Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider legislation by Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, AB 1000, that would allow patients direct access to physical therapy treatment for 45 calendar days or 12 visits, without a doctor’s referral. After that window, a signature approving the physical therapist’s plan of care is required from a physician (or osteopathic physician) and surgeon, or a podiatrist.
While there are a number of worthy provisions in AB 1000, the bill doesn’t do enough in its current form to allow for continuity of care – and deserves to be amended.
Frequently, the patient being seen by the physical therapist has a doctor of chiropractic as their primary treating provider. Since 1922 doctors of chiropractic (DCs) in California have been educated and licensed by the State of California to serve as portal of entry/primary care providers. DCs are educated to differentially diagnose all conditions of the human body. After undergraduate study, chiropractic students earn a four-year doctorate degree with classroom and laboratory work in basic clinical sciences, physical examination, diagnosis and differential diagnosis, x-ray and interpretation of laboratory blood work and other treatment procedures. Clinical education includes a year -long internship overseen by a licensed DC on patients with various clinical presentations using manipulation as their primary clinical procedure.
Only health care providers who are trained in the complete diagnosis of all conditions that affect the human body can provide adequate patient safety. We have long been concerned that a seemingly “simple problem” for which a patient may seek treatment directly from a physical therapist might actually be masking a much more serious condition such as heart failure, diabetes, cancer or other disorder.
That is why the California Chiropractic Association (CCA) appreciates the provision in AB 1000 providing that if the physical therapist has reason to believe the patient has signs or symptoms of a condition that requires treatment beyond the scope of practice of a physical therapist, or if the patient is not progressing toward documented goals, the physical therapist shall refer the patient to an appropriately licensed health care provider.
However, we have concerns with how this requirement will be enforced. Additionally, CCA believes it would be appropriate to include language that outlines the minimum penalty for a physical therapist who violates these limitations on direct access.
AB 1000 should be amended. Specifically, doctors of chiropractic should be added to the providers who can approve a patient’s plan of care, thereby ensuring patient safety while allowing for continuity of care for the patient with the primary provider of their choice.
Kassie Donoghue, DC, is government affairs director for the California Chiropractic Association.
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By Lou Paulson, President, California Professional Firefighters
If there’s one thing the debate over public employees’ pensions has taught us, it’s that California needs to invest more in mathematics instruction in its schools.
When Stanford professors who receive special interest funding for their work and self-proclaimed ”taxpayer” organizations bankrolled by anti-union groups wag their finger at an an investment system that yields 8 percent annual returns, it’s clear there’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the numbers.
No wonder the state budget is never balanced.
But let’s back up for a moment. When governments hire teachers, first responders, parks maintenance workers, garbage truck drivers, et cetera, they make certain promises regarding those employees’ retirements. Then, they often have decades to pay for those promises. It’s the same as when a family buys a house — they finance the large amount, and pay it off over 30 years.
In California, the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) pays for most of those government workers’ retirements, and it does that by making investments, earning interest, and growing the bank account from which it cuts retirement checks.
Critics of CalPERS contend the system doesn’t have enough money in the bank to cover all of the promises it has made. However, it’s already sitting on 70 percent of the money it will need over the coming 30 years. Should it have 100 percent? Of course not. Many of the workers whose retirements CalPERS is funding are still young and working, so the system won’t need to cut checks to them for years or even decades.
The better question is not how much CalPERS has sitting in the bank, but whether it — like that family buying a home — has a realistic plan for paying off its commitments to public employees. The numbers indicate that the answer to that question is a clear “yes.”
CalPERS is currently projecting a 7.5 percent annual return on its investments. Critics call that “unrealistic.” Some suggest 3 percent is a safer figure. However, the system yielded a 13.3 percent return in 2012, and over the past two decades it has earned an average of 8 percent every year.
Any investor would be ecstatic to realize sustained returns on investments like the ones CalPERS achieves. In fact, over a 20-year period prior to the recession, from 1988-2007, the average Wall Street mutual fund investor saw annual returns of just 4.48 percent, according to Dalbar, a financial market analyst.
So why is it that CalPERS is getting scapegoated by cities throughout the state filing for bankruptcy and struggling to balance their budgets?
San Bernardino? When that city began claiming financial distress and stopped making its pension payments, its entire pension obligation for the year was $1.9 million. However, it had a budget hole of well over $40 million. That means even if the city had zero pension costs, it would still have had a massive shortfall. Pensions clearly were not the driving factor.
The same goes for Stockton. Pensions costs make up a small fraction of its budget. Debt service on loans to pay for the construction of a lavish waterfront ballpark and entertainment complex likely has much more to do with that city’s financial woes.
Stockton is a cautionary tale, though. When the city began having problems making its payments and began discussing doing away with defined-benefit pensions, police officers began trading jobs, moving into over cities and counties where their retirements were guaranteed. As a result, crime rose in Stockton and its police force lost a tremendous amount of experience.
Of course, those who advocate clawing back the retirement promises made to first responders, teachers, garbage truck drivers, and other public employees — for them, the more likely scenario is that they’re not looking to have a dialogue based on real numbers at all, but instead one rooted in politics.
(This post originally appeared on www.foxandhounds.net)
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By Kevin Singer, Communications Coordinator, Californians for Responsible Economic Development
A proposed ballot initiative that would enact a tax on oil and gas extracted from California will be granted summary and title by the Office of the Attorney General today. Californians for Responsible Economic Development, the group behind the measure, now has 150 days to collect 505,000 signatures if they wish to qualify it for the 2014 ballot.
In order to collect the signatures the campaign is taking a two-pronged approach, using both grassroots organizing and meeting with donors to raise money for paid signature gathering. In the three months leading up to official summary and title, 109 volunteers from across California have signed up to help gather signatures in addition to the organizations supporting the bill. “As people learn about the benefits of CMED - decreased tuition, renewed cities and parks and job creation fueled by green energy - they are eager to sign on and help,” explains Jack Tibbetts, author and lead-proponent of the campaign.
The California Modernization and Economic Development Act (CMED) places a 9.5% tax on the oil and gas that's extracted from California, and would bring in over $2 billion of new revenue to the state. $1.2 billion would be allocated in four equal parts towards K-12, California Community Colleges, California State University and the University of California. Another $400 million would be used to provide businesses with subsidies for switching to cleaner, cheaper forms of energy. The remaining $300 million will be allocated to county governments for infrastructure repair, public works projects, and funding public services.
The bill has already attracted the attention and support from a wide variety of interest groups and individuals, and touts a growing list of endorsements on their website (www.cmedact.org/endorsements). In February, former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich endorsed CMED stating. Using a tax on oil extracted from under California to help finance the education of Californians should be a no-brainer. It will only improve our schools. The real question is why California hasn’t done this long before now.”
Dr. Daniel Kammen, Nobel Prize recipient and co-author of Prop 87 (a similar measure on the 2006 ballot), wholeheartedly endorsed the proposal: “Placing a small surcharge on petroleum and gas that is extracted from California can only benefit our state. It would spur innovation on the producer side to reduce costs and bring in funds that are critically needed to green the economy, re-invest in education, and renew cities and parks. The California Modernization and Economic Development Act is the best way moving forward to ensure that all of these priorities are met.”
Last week, the California Modernization and Economic Act gained the support of State Senator Noreen Evans, who is currently sponsoring her own version of an extraction tax in the Senate, SB 241, to fund education and parks in California. She had this to say about the proposed ballot initiative: "The California Modernization and Economic Development Act closes a glaring corporate tax loophole in California that has benefited big oil for far too long. I absolutely support efforts that will allow California to collect on these vast and irreplaceable natural resource revenues that should fund one of the most important core services of government-education. It's past time California ends the oil industry's free ride and finally sets a solid revenue stream towards funding government's education obligations."
“Going forward, the CMED campaign will be working closely with the Senator’s office to ensure that an oil severance tax is enacted” said Tibbetts. “The campaign to qualify the California Modernization and Economic Development Act wholeheartedly supports Senate Bill 241 and we are encouraged by the efforts being made by Senator Evans. California is in critical need of netting additional revenue for education and other important services that will promote job growth and advance our people and our economy. However, just as oil companies have the right to extract and profit from our resources, California has the right to some compensation for the mineral wealth removed. Should the Senate fail to vote and pass SB 241, our campaign will work with public officials, donors, interest groups and students to produce an extraction tax for the 2014 ballot.”
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by Neal Desai, Pacific Region Associate Director, National Parks Conservation Association
Court Documents Reveal Controversial Oyster Company’s Financial Reporting Deceived State of California and Public
Taxpayers may be responsible for clean-up costs over 50 times what company previously reported.
BACKGROUND: At the April 17th California Fish & Game Commission meeting in Santa Rosa, the National Parks Conservation Association on behalf of conservation and public interest advocates demanded accountability for a huge financial discrepancy in documents filed by the controversial Drakes Bay Oyster Company that operates in Point Reyes National Seashore. The discrepancies identify that the Commission and the public has been misled by the Company’s reporting and that the Commission and/or taxpayers may have to pick up the tab for more than $600,000 worth of unreported clean-up costs.
Every year for the past 7 years, the Company submitted documents to the Commission stating that their clean-up costs for their multi-million dollar business would be only $10,000. Immediately after the expiration of its Federal permit that allowed it to operate, the Company sued the Interior Department and submitted documents to the Federal court under penalty of perjury stating that their clean-up costs would be more than $600,000, an amount over 50 times greater than what the Company reported every year to Commission and the public.
The Commission’s lease to the Company that expired when the Federal permit expired required it to provide a good-faith estimate of the value of clean-up for the required clean-up bond. The Company repeatedly failed to provide that good-faith estimate to inform the Commission, policy-makers, and the public.
The Lease’s Proof of Use Report states:
Lessees need to determine annually the cost to clean-up their lease(s). The clean-up estimate will include the cost of labor and supplies for the removal of all materials, growing structures, and any other non-natural debris associated with aquaculture activities. This cost estimate shall be included in the narrative portion of your Proof-of-Use Report for each lease.
The Lease (Section D) states:
The escrow account shall be increased if the Fish and Game Commission determines that, if abandoned, the culture operation is likely to be more expensive to remove. The escrow account may be reduced by the Commission upon demonstration that the probable cost of removal of all improvements would be less than the deposit previously required. In its annual Proof-of Use Report, the Lessor shall advise the Commission of its best estimate of the probable cost of removal the lease operation. (emphasis added)
Even as recent as their last report in 2011, the Company’s owners reported that they “do not expect the cleanup costs to change.”
This annual filing to the Commission ensures that the business assumes responsibility of clean up and does not stick the State, Californians, or taxpayers with the bill when the business vacates public property. The clean-up bond is intended to help protect public trust resources and shield taxpayers from cleaning up after industry’s waste and environmental damage.
STATEMENT by Neal Desai, Pacific Region Associate Director, National Parks Conservation Association:
“For years, Californians have expressed outrage over the Company’s repeated violations of regulations that protect our fragile coastline at this national park. While the Company has evaded its responsibility to protect this sensitive marine habitat, its reporting and financial discrepancies have deceived the public and Fish and Game Commission. Taxpayers should be outraged that they may have to foot the bill for cleaning up the significant mess that could be left behind by this unsustainable oyster operation.”
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by Will Craven, SolarCity
Recently launched pro-solar initiative CAUSE (Californians Against Utilities Stopping Solar Energy) was a presence at two Southern California Earth Day events this weekend. The organization is dedicated to combatting monopoly utility efforts to kill rooftop solar, maintaining a thriving solar industry in California, and promoting the health and economic benefits that solar delivers to all Californians.
On Saturday at Earth Day Latino in downtown Los Angeles, Vanessa Wendling and Rafael Guillen gave remarks and one-on-one consultations on solar’s increasing affordability, and its potential to reduce fossil fuel emissions which threaten public health. Since 2009 two-thirds of California home solar installations have occurred in low and median income neighborhoods, according to a July 2012 California Solar Initiative report.
These customers and their communities benefit from Net Metering policy, which gives solar customers a credit for the surplus clean electricity their systems send to the electrical grid for their neighbors to consume. Efforts by utilities such as Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric to undermine solar adoption by attacking net metering have thus far been unsuccessful.
With Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown in attendance, more than 50 people gathered at Truth Tabernacle Church in Bloomington on Saturday to celebrate the church’s 52 kilowatt solar system. The church likewise Net Meters its surplus clean electricity, receiving fair credit that assists in supporting church programs and operations. The Sierra Club also attended the event as part of its My Generation campaign.
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By Eric C. Bauman, Chair, Los Angeles County Democratic Party
It was an exciting scene this past weekend as thousands of Democrats from across the state descended on Sacramento for the 2013 California Democratic Party Convention.
The historic victories of 2012 were celebrated, and we began laying the groundwork for the important battleground elections just around the corner.
While we are focused on the future, we were proud to learn that the Los Angeles County Democratic Party was honored with five prestigious "Pollies" from the American Association of Political Consultants four our work in the 2012 campaign:
• "Hi. My name is Julien," LACDP's pro-Prop 30 robo-call won "Best Use of Social Pressure," and "Best Use of Unusual Phone Techniques"
• LACDP's postcard series promoting voting by mail, "Hello from...," won the Democratic candidate division for "Best Use of Humor"
• Our Facebook outreach in 2012 was honored with two awards: "I'm Voting Yes on 30 & No on 32," won "Best Use of Social Pressure," and the "I Voted Obama Comment," won "Best Use of Facebook GOTV" for Democrats
• Additionally, LACDP's online voter registration promotion effort received an Honorable Mention in the Democratic category for "Best Use of Facebook Advertising"
You can see all of our award winning entries at www.lacdp.org/campaignawards.
But like I said...
We must now shift our focus to the battles that lie ahead - so will you support LACDP's upcoming JFK Awards to help us continue creating innovative campaign programs that break through the noise and communicate effectively with voters?
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By Susan Frank, Director, California Business Alliance for a Green Economy
Oil Industry Opposes California’s Clean Fuels Future; Changes Tune After Originally Supporting State Standard
Several years ago cleantech companies, mainstream businesses and the oil industry stood side-by-side in their support of cleaner, low-carbon fuels – an unexpected, but welcomed event in the history of California’s clean energy policy development.
But now, Chevron and other oil companies have not only abandoned their commitment to cleaner fuels, they’ve declared war on California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).
I was recently interviewed for an in-depth investigation by Bloomberg News, which shows that Chevron, in particular, broke faith with California just a few years after the company’s initial support for the LCFS. The investigation uncovered internal Chevron documents, which reveal company officials abandoned support for low-carbon fuels when profit projections were lower than those from traditional fuels.
Six years ago, oil industry support for the LCFS was notable, as businesses and consumers in California who have long suffered from the yo-yo effect of high gas prices saw the clear opportunity for progress on clean fuels. As a result of the LCFS, companies like Propel Fuels are already seeing their revenues, customers and fuel base double annually, having opened 37 alternative fuel stations throughout California and with plans for 200 more over the next 2 years.
Low carbon fuels are affordable and available today, creating jobs and driving innovation in the state. Despite the facts of this emerging industry, the opposition has engaged in a sophisticated, multi-million dollar campaign to mislead policymakers and the public about the LCFS. Watch a video here, which explains more about this effort.
As a former chamber of commerce executive and the director of a network of more than 1,255 California businesses, I can say with certainty that the business community is counting on a growing, diverse cleaner fuels marketplace that the LCFS sets out to promulgate.
It’s well past time for the oil industry to join automakers, utilities, and other businesses across the state, and return to its earlier position of support for a fuel standard that makes sense for all Californians.
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