As Governor Brown prepares to host a global climate summit in San Francisco, more and more Californians are realizing that his energy policies are thoroughly weak, and the wrong example for the rest of the country and the world to follow. And so, at his upcoming climate summit in San Francisco, we and our allies will be protesting and not celebrating him.
Whereas Donald Trump unabashedly celebrates the fossil fuel industry, Brown warns the public about climate change but then refuses to embrace the policies required to address the crisis. He has instead cut deals with the industry behind closed doors, endorsing weak regulations that allow oil and gas companies to drill and frack unabated, and pump dangerous levels of pollution into our air and water.
Here are five of the worst ways in which Brown has failed California:
Expanded Fossil Fuel Extraction
Under Governor Brown’s watch, fracking and extreme oil and gas extraction have expanded across California, including offshore fracking, which threatens the state’s iconic shoreline. While he has been vocal in opposing Donald Trump’s offshore drilling plan, Governor Brown has quietly rolled out the red carpet for oil and gas interests in California, authorizing hundreds of offshore wells. (Back in 2011, he fired two top state officialsafter oil and gas companies complained that they weren’t getting their drilling permits approved fast enough.)This silly hypocrisy ignores the inherent risks and hazards of all oil and gas extraction, plain and simple.
Contaminated Drinking Water
Besides being a threat to the climate, drilling across the Central Valley is contaminating drinking water supplies. Alarmingly, California has authorized the injection of toxic drilling waste directly into water aquifers. While this is devastating for people who have had their drinking water poisoned, there are national implications to contaminating water in the Central Valley of California. According to the State of California 16 billion gallons of waste water are used to irrigate food crops each year. Crops sprayed with this toxic waste are shipped around the country – some are actually considered organic.
Pro-Industry Climate Policy
Governor Brown’s approach to greenhouse gas pollution in California is pro-industry, not pro-climate. Studies show that the state’s carbon cap-and-trade program,which lets industry pay to pollute, hasn’t reduced emissions and has actually worsened pollution problems in low-income communities. Not only that, the updated cap-and-trade plan prevent local regulators from enacting polices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, gives tax cuts to corporations, funnels money to factory farms, and allows polluters to avoid emission reductions through offset technicalities.
Refused to Shut Down Aliso Canyon Gas Field
Gov. Brown refuses to shut down the disaster-plagued Aliso Canyon gas field in Los Angeles. Everyday families in the San Fernando Valley experience nasty health problems including bleeding, rashes, nausea and headaches from Aliso Canyon’s toxic leaks. A health survey found cancer causing chemicals such as uranium and benzene in children’s hair and urine samples. Meanwhile, Brown’s sister has made millions as a board member of Sempra, which owns the field.
Pushed for More Dirty Energy in the California Grid
Finally, shockingly, Gov. Brown is ready to give Trump new power over California’s energy future. Brown is pushing legislation (AB 813) that would eliminate California's authority over its own power grid and replace it with a multi-state Western regional operator, thereby legally empowering Trump’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to determine the type of energy – fossil fuels or clean, renewable energy – California utilizes. Blinded by his faith in markets, Brown is teaming up with billionaires and the folks who orchestrated the Enron energy crisis to push this foolish bill through the legislature.
With only a few months left in office, this is Governor Brown’s last chance to change course and put the interests of public health, the environment and our climate above those of the fossil fuel industry. The Brown’s Last Chance campaign, endorsed by more than 800 organizations, is demanding that Brown finally curtail the fossil fuel industry by stopping all new projects in California.
Unless Governor Brown changes course dramatically soon, we will be greeting him in the streets of San Francisco in September.