Last week the Chief Executive of Occidental Petroleum, a mega-fracker, told analysts and investors if “towns don’t want us there, we won’t be there.” What he failed to mention was they don’t need to fight the local fracking bans popping up all across California; it seems they’ve got the Governor in their pockets doing the dirty work for them.
This is the sad state of affairs in California right now. Our governor, the same Jerry Brown who was once called Governor Moonbeam, appears to have thrown his lot in with the frackers. It’s not hard to guess why: he’s swimming in dirty energy money. Occidental Petroleum alone has supported the governor to the tune of $835,000 since 2006, far more money than any local community group could ever dream of coming up with. Oxy is one of Governor Brown’s largest and most consistent financial supporters — time and again, they are among the most prolific bankrollers of his political campaigns and private initiatives.
As a comparison, $835,000 could have payed for the Governor’s entire salary for four years (a whole term in office) and there would still be $170,000 left over!
Governor Brown’s latest advocacy on behalf of frackers like Occidental came just a few weeks ago in Carson, a city just south of Los Angeles. In March, the Carson City Council rightfully decided to place a 45 day moratorium on new oil and gas production, halting a proposal by Occidental to drill 200 new oil wells in the community.
This, not surprisingly, became a major thorn in Occidental’s efforts to frack in the area, and perhaps around the state. Reports circulated that Carson could become an example other cities might follow leading to a wave of local fracking bans across the state, much to the chagrin of Occidental. In just 45 days, with no small amount of pressure and strong-arming, Occidental — and their friends in Sacramento — were able to turn a unanimous city council decision into a 50/50 split, allowing the moratorium to expire.
What helped clinch the vote was a personal call Governor Brown made to the Mayor of Carson who is also a voting member of the City Council. Read that again: In the final hours before the vote, Big Oil had the Governor of California making personal calls to protect oil and gas interests.
After the vote, Governor Brown made a personal trip to Carson to thank those who helped overturn the fracking moratorium. That’s right, the democratically elected Governor of one of the most progressive states in the country is not just letting fracking happen, he’s actively working to make sure it happens more.
Of course Occidental doesn’t need to fight local fracking bans, the Governor of California is doing it for them.
Now, more than ever, it’s time to push back and demand Governor Brown protect the people of California, not Big Oil and other special interests. He can either stand with us and our communities, or stand with the oil corporations lining his pockets. He can’t do both.