California Gov. Jerry Brown wants President Barack Obama to permanently ban new offshore oil and gas drilling in the state – except of course, on Brown’s personal land.
In an attempt to lock in environmental protections before President-Elect Donald Trump takes office in January, Brown sent a letter this week to the president saying that allowing any new oil and gas drilling would be detrimental to climate change goals and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
President Barack Obama last month released a plan to ban any new drilling off the coasts of California, Oregon or Washington until 2022.
A six-year ban on oil and gas drilling wasn’t enough for California Gov. Jerry Brown, who will be gone from the Governor’s office in 2018.
Brown’s latest ploy is another in a long line of maneuvers to set California apart from the rest of the country on climate change policy, and is an end-run at Trump, who has said he plans environmental policy roll backs at the Environmental Protections Agency.
Brown’s demand was announced at the luxurious and historic Hotel del Coronado, near San Diego, where he and other government and nonprofit leaders launched the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification. The alliance, made up of California, Oregon, Washington, France, Chile and numerous environmental groups, plans to fast track environmental regulations to fight against “ocean acidification.”
“The health of the ocean is at great risk,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. “The food security of the planet is at risk. Whether my grand kids can fish for salmon when they grow up is at great risk.”
Brown said he didn't know if Trump would have the authority to overturn a permanent prohibition. “I’m not waiting for what Washington may or may not do,” Brown said. “I’m doing whatever I can for the resources of California, and any other state or country that will join with us. This is not about politics. It’s about survival within the lifetime of the people of this room.”
Brown’s Go-It-Alone Plan
This isn’t Gov. Jerry Brown’s first scheme to set California apart from the rest of the nation on energy policy.
June 30, 2008, the governors of Alaska, British Columbia, California, Oregon, and Washington signed the Pacific Coast Collaborative Agreement, amounting to a ‘compact,’ which is prohibited between states without Congressional approval.
In October 2013, Gov. Brown, together with the Governors of Oregon and Washington and the British Columbia Premier, signed the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy, “to align climate change policies and promote clean energy.” The Pacific Coast Collaborative links with the West Coast Infrastructure Exchange (WCX), a compact between California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, formed in 2013 to promote “the type of new thinking necessary to solve the West Coast’s infrastructure crisis.” The WCX was also linked to the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative.
“California isn’t waiting for the rest of the world before it takes action on climate change,” said Gov. Brown said in 2013. “Today, California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia are all joining together to reduce greenhouse gases.”
This scheme was made possible with funding from “major environmental donors,” billionaires Tom Steyer and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Brown’s Rogue “Air Resources Board”
In 2012, Brown’s California Air Resources Board, with help from the Democratic Assembly Speaker, figured out a way to exempt itself from the state’s open meeting act.
Government Code 11120, the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, is explicitly exempted in the language of a 2012 budget trailer bill authored by then-Assembly Speaker John Perez a Democrat from Los Angeles.
Tasked with overseeing climate change policy and improving California’s air quality, the California Air Resources Board operates like no other state agency. The rogue agency conducts its business in private, without the scrutiny of the public it is accountable to, despite legislative and public outrage over the shroud of secrecy.
This devious legislative trick specifically exempted CARB from open meeting rules in California’s cap-and-trade auctions.
The 2012 legislative cover-up allowed the CARB’s newly created Western Climate Initiative, Inc., the corporation created by California Air Resources Board to manage the cap and trade auctions and proceeds, to manage carbon-trading auctions without any public scrutiny.
However, WCI, Inc. was formed in Delaware and is not subject to California state open meeting or sunshine laws, leaving many to assume the only reason to register the corporation in Delaware is the lack public or legislative scrutiny on any of their meetings or actions.
Don’t Frack California
Gov. Brown and fellow state legislative Democrats have operated a sort of shadow government in California when it comes to climate change laws and policy. And in doing so, now are attempting to preempt President–elect Trump by getting Obama to sign a permanent ban on oil and gas exploration in California. And they have plenty of help.
In March, more than 30 climate scientists sent a letter the federal government demanding to continue the moratorium on fracking in federal waters off the California coast, and to prepare a environmental impact statement for the fracking technique, claiming fracking is environmentally destructive.
A Little Local History
Ironically, Gov. Jerry Brown found himself embroiled in his own scandal in 2014 when he was caught directing state oil and gas regulators to research, map and report back oil drilling and mining potential at the Brown family's private property in Colusa County, in Northern California.
The personal request from the governor produced a 51-page historical report and geological assessment, plus a personalized satellite-imaged geological and oil and gas drilling map for the area around Brown's family ranchland near the town of Williams, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Another California Compact
This isn’t the first such illegal compact in California. The California Air Resources Board, a state agency, entered into a compact with Québec to carbon trade. The Air Resources Board original plan was to create a giant climate change coalition with other states and provinces from which carbon trading and taxing would emanate. But one by one, states dropped out, citing the difficult economy and cost to manage such a program. California instead “linked” with Québec, illegally, for cap and trade carbon auctions.
Whether it’s the irrational demand to end oil and gas exploration in California, illegal compacts with other states, illegal treaties with foreign countries, or even the illegal use of state resources on his personal land, Gov. Jerry Brown has never let the law get in the way of his plans.
Katy Grimes is an investigative journalist and longtime political analyst based in California.