Former MLPA chair says hydrofracking is 'safe for California'

By Dan Bacher Catherine Reheis-Boyd, who served as the chair of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiati...

By Dan Bacher

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, who served as the chair of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, proclaims the "glories" of hydrofracking in her December 10 letter in the Sacramento Bee entitled "Hydraulic fracturing is safe for California."

Her letter responds to a Bee editorial on December 7, "Rules on oil and gas fracking are way out of wack."

"The editorial inaccurately implies that hydraulic fracturing projects have been approved in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), suggesting that environmental regulation has been inadequate," said Reheis-Boyd.

"Hydraulic fracturing has been employed in California for 60 years and there has never been evidence that it has caused harm to water supplies or the environment," she claimed. "As president of the Western States Petroleum Association, I can state that members remain committed to producing safe, reliable California energy supplies while continuing to protect the environment and public health."

Reheis-Boyd has apparently never watched Gasland, the Sundance winning documentary that reveals the environmental devastation caused by hydraulic fracturing.

When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country Fox calls "Gasland."

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly called "fracking," is a controversial procedure used by drillers in California to extract deposits of oil and gas from depleted wells or from geologic formations where conventional drilling is ineffective, according to a news release from a coalition of environmental groups including the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice, Earthworks, Environmental Working Group and Sierra Club California.

These organizations went to court on October 16 to force the agency responsible for regulating the oil and gas industry to abide by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the state’s foremost law that protects public health and the environment.

"Hundreds of thousands to millions of gallons of water are mixed with toxic chemicals and injected down each well at high pressure, fracturing the underground rock formation to force the oil or gas to flow to the surface," the groups stated. "The Western States Petroleum Association estimates that more than 600 California wells were fracked in 2011 alone; fracking has been used in California for more than 50 years. Fracking is also associated with large releases of methane, a potent greenhouse gas."

Reheis-Boyd has been a relentless lobbyist for offshore oil drilling, the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the expansion of hydro fracking and the evisceration of environmental laws in her role as president of the Western States Petroleum Association.

As MPLA Blue Ribbon Task Force Chair, she oversaw the creation of alleged "marine protected areas" on the South Coast that fail to protect the ocean from oil spills and drilling, pollution, military testing, wind and wave energy projects and all other human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

After kicking fishermen off vast areas of Southern California waters starting on January 1, 2012, this strange type of "marine guardian" has been in the mainstream media regularly extolling the "virtues" of plundering public trust resources to benefit the big oil companies.

It is beyond shameful that state officials and MLPA Initiative advocates embraced her questionable role in creating alleged "marine reserves" on not only the South Coast, but on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

On June 6, Natural Resources Secretary John Laird celebrated the California Fish and Game Commission’s adoption of regulations for so-called "marine protected areas" on the North Coast created under Schwarzenegger’s Marine Life Protection Act Initiative.

“This is a great day for California’s ocean and coastal resources,” gushed Laird. “As promised, we have completed the nation’s first statewide open coast system of marine protected areas, strengthening California’s ongoing commitment to conserve marine life for future generations.”

Laird, like Reheis-Boyd, is a curious type of “environmental protector." He presided over a massive fish kill in the Delta pumps in 2011, spurred by record water exports to corporate agribusiness and southern California, and is a steadfast promoter of the peripheral canal or tunnel, a project that will hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and a myriad of other species.

Read Reheis-Boyd's full letter, go here.

Read more about Reheis-Boyd's role in corporate greenwashing here.

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