Brea Chamber Attacks Resident’s Request For Public Meeting.

ChamberChamber board member John Koos, relying entirely upon misinformation and paranoid speculation, lashed out at residents asking Council to hold a town hall style meeting to get public input on an Environmental Advisory Board (see request here).

Instead of contacting the residents to better understand the objectives behind their year long discussions with Council, the Brea Chamber jumped to the false conclusion that the advisory board would be another layer of codes and regulations adding to the overwhelming state and federal oversight already choking the business community.

Had the Chamber spent more than two minutes Googling for information totally unrelated to the topic at hand… had the Chamber not employed a Ready! Fire! Aim! strategy… had the Chamber made any attempt to approach the residents with their concerns… the unfortunate foot-in-mouth comments from Mr. Koos and subsequent embarrassment would likely have been avoided all together.

Who is really being served?

There are 11,000 active business licenses in Brea, 5,000 of which are Brea based. The Chamber boasts a membership of roughly 400 businesses of which, they’ve admitted, perhaps 80 face environmentally based regulations and state or federal agency oversight.

That is 1.6% of Brea based businesses, 0.6% of all business serving Brea. Remind me again who the Chamber represents?

Where there is risk there must be choice.

chamberNo one disputes that there are numerous and varied environmental risks at play in Brea every day. From which industries, in what measure and how great a threat is anyone’s guess. No one at city hall has been able to adequately quantify it.

On one side of the scale we have 80 businesses, on the other 40,000+ residents. Tell me, which way do you see the scale tipping?

Does the Chamber have a right to advocate for it’s members? Of course. Should the other 10,920 businesses have an opportunity to wade in on the matter? Of course. But I can think of 40,000+ reasons to maintain a practical balance when weighing opinions.

What is an Environmental Advisory Board?

After months of going back and forth with Mayor Simonoff, Mayor Pro Tem Marick, other Council members and City Manager Bill Gallardo clearly the advisory board was not going to be a policy making body. All concerned agreed that there are more than enough regulations already.

Though the residents group was launched a year and a half ago to investigate local concerns about fracking, their mission expanded to include all areas of environmental concern. Public health and safety and good stewardship of our air and water emerged to become the central issues.

The deeper the inquiry the more it was discovered how little Brea really understood regarding it’s rights and responsibilities under the laws already in existence. The Environmental Advisory Board was conceived as a think tank tapping Breans with deep experience in environmental sciences and practices.

One concept proposed is for a seven member board including one nominee offered by each councilmember and two At Large positions… one filled by a representative (oddly enough) of the Brea Chamber and the other a command staff officer of the Brea FD.

The residents group has expressed a strong, nonnegotiable objection to the board becoming a vigilante group targeting the oil and gas industry. Also, careful guidelines will be required to avoid appointment as political spoils and block any threat of mission creep as well.

A simple request, a town hall meeting.

As expressed in their formal request to Council, the group believes it is time to move the discussion beyond the persistent lobbying of a grassroots special interest group and to open it up to a community wide conversation. It is the only way to ensure that the majority’s view is the one addressed by Council in reaching a final decision.

The repeated suggestion that “staff has been instructed to get answers to Council questions,” given the lengthy report already provided to Council and the discussions that have followed, are clear indicators that some councilmembers are suffering from analysis paralysis.

The next step just isn’t that difficult or complicated, regardless of uninformed kneejerk reactions like that from the Brea Chamber.

Council should ask the City Manager to find an appropriate opportunity in the near future to schedule a public meeting… just like the one on the downtown parking structure and the upcoming Notice of Public Hearing on Water Rates (218 requirement) to discuss tiered water rates.

 

True Or False, Council Understands Fracking?

False.

At Tuesday’s study session, Council member Simonoff asked for the Linn Energy presentation to be pulled from the agenda because equal time had not been extended to the resident’s group to put their counterpoint and concerns on the table. Simonoff’s request was dismissed.

Alejandra CrespoDuring Matters from the Audience, Brea resident Alejandra Crespo chastised the Mayor reminding him of his campaign promises and his failure to deliver upon them.

She reminded the Mayor of the promise made by City Manager Tim O’Donnell over a month earlier, to put fracking on the agenda so she and her citizens group could present their position to Council.

She added, “This likely impedes our First Amendment rights… our right to have equal time.” To read Alejandra’s full comments, click here.

anthony_xA dozen other speakers added their personal apprehensions about the increasing fracking in Brea. The only speaker in support of fracking was, Anthony Thomas, Director of Government Affairs for the California Petroleum Industry Association (CIPA).

This is a trade association of crude oil and natural gas producers, royalty members (Brea maybe? We received $350,000 in oil royalties last year), service and supply companies. Who invited Mr. Thomas, an oil lobbyist splitting his time between Los Angeles and Sacramento, and how much credence should we give his remarks?

Setting the stage.

mario_xMario Maldenado, the newly hired assistant to the City Manager, was handed the thankless task of opening the presentation. Charactering the presentation as a “fact finding endeavor” turned out to be a stretch given how few facts were actually shared.

Of the five oil companies operating in Brea (Linn Energy, LLC, Aera Energy, Breitburn Energy PartnersCooper & Brain, and Thompson Energy) all but Linn denied fracking locally. 

jennifer_xJennifer Hefner, also a Brean, well aware of the history of catastrophic accidents and pollution costs associated with energy production, joined many of her neighbors concerned about the effects of increased fracking in Brea and sat through last Tuesday’s presentation to Council by Linn Energy. Here is her firsthand reaction.

“Mayor Murdock, admitting he knew little about fracking, decided to use Tuesday’s meeting (07/15/14) to let Linn Energy representatives offer the oil and gas industry’s spin on the growing debate over health, safety, environmental and possible seismic risks.

I sat watching this disgusting display wondering why the Mayor does not care about the citizens of the community. After all, isn’t he part of this community? Murdock got elected mostly because our children, mine included, received swim lessons under his watch.

brett_xWe’re at another sink or swim moment. Do I dare put my children’s safety in his hands again? Absolutely not.

The Mayor, admittedly ignorant on the subject of fracking, turned his back on those of us who have invested countless hours studying this issue in great detail.

Instead he gave Linn Energy the opportunity to spin the issues in their favor. Linn’s objective was clearly to lull Council and Breans into a false sense of security.

I emailed Murdock and the other Council members three months ago, just after the earthquake, asked them about these issues. Not one even had the courtesy to acknowledge receipt of my email… let alone respond. Murdock has done a great disservice to those he was elected to represent and, quite possibly, infringed on our rights in the process.”

The cast of characters.

trent_xTrent R. Rosenleib, is a petroleum engineer and Assett Manager, Linn Engineering. He has a lengthy background in the Oil and Gas industry. He came to Linn from Berry Petroleum Company via Linn’s acquisition in December of last year and operates from Linn’s Bakersfield office.

Juan Chacon, Linn Engineering petroleum engineer.

dave_xDave Quast, California Director of Energy in Depth, a research and education program of the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the California Independent Petroleum Association (likely the connection to Anthony Thomas).

Mr. Rosenleib and Mr. Quast share a common objective, to promote, propagandize, defend and protect the oil and gas industry from all who would impede it’s progress. Their presentations were laced with well parsed language designed to dodge direct questions, mask facts in language purposed to confuse the uninitiated and invent new language to hide the real risks of fracking.

One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.

christine_xWhen asked, point blank, about wells being fracked up to twenty times, the response was, “It is only done once.” However he admitted that, routinely, a high pressure injection of large amounts of acidized water are reinjected back into wells to unplug blockages and revive wells back into full production.

They like to call that routine maintenance but it’s fracking… pure and simple. They also admitted that this is usually done every 2 to 3 years for the life of the well.

council_xIf fracking is defined as a single fracture of deep shale, that would put the question to bed.

But when highly toxic fluid is repeatedly injected under high pressure, retrieved and recycled year after year, under the guise of routine maintenance, their answer is false.

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck… it’s a duck! Wells can be fracked up to 20 times during their lifespan. Own it!

And this begs the subsequent questions, how is this toxic hazardous waste handled between fracks? How is it moved? Where is it stored?

And, what’s really getting pumped in?

brett-christineAgain, to give us a false sense of comfort, we were shown a few household cleaning products as examples of fracking fluid ingredients.

Truth? Fracking fluid, mostly what they refer to as brackish produced water, is adulterated with variety of chemicals—among them methanol, formaldehyde, ethylene glycol, hydrochloric acid, and sodium hydroxide. Yeah, I’ll wager you don’t have any of that stuff hanging around under your sink.

Rosenleib said if you want to know what chemicals are being used, go to the new website FracFocus Chemical Disclosure Registry. Now we can get the info we want! False. The site is only populated with data for Kern County and there is no indication when Orange County data will be added.

Did the well Stearn 168 spring a leak?

Stearn 168 (API No. 04-059-06923), on Monday, February 10, 2014, experienced a drop in pressure and upon investigation it was reported that there was a hole in the casing. When your blood pressure suddenly drops there is a distinct possibility you’re bleeding out. What really happened at Stearn 168? Was there any contamination? Where can we go to get answers to these questions. DOGGR? False. Try it for yourself.

If your curiosity is peaked, here’s more.

garcia_xHere are five articles that, if you’re serious about understanding this “risk resistant” side of the discussion… click away.

We’re all interesting in seeing the US become energy independent, but at what cost?

Fracking on the fringes of Orange County, with little oversight.

(08/29/13) – California Department of Oil, Gas & Geothermal (DOGGR) spokesman Don Drysdale, told the OC Weekly that while fracking regulations are currently being crafted in California, there is little oversight of the practice.

Fracking waste is contaminating California aquifers.

(07/18/14) – In June 2011, the EPA conducted a review of other aspects of California’s injection well program and found enforcement, testing and oversight problems so significant that the agency demanded California improve its regulations and warned that the state’s authority could be revoked. California has not yet completed its review of its underground injection program, according to state officials.

Pennsylvania appeals court affirms city rights.

(07/17/14) – A Pennsylvania appeals court issued a split decision on the state’‍s oil and gas law, affirming the rights of municipalities to regulate the location of oil and gas development.

One million gallons of fracking brine spill near reservation water supply.

(07/11/14) – Fracking brine is the much toxic unwanted byproduct of the fracking process, the sludge left after the job’s done, and it’s laced with mystery toxins the public is not allowed to know anything about.

Groundwater Contamination Due To Fracking Flowback.

(06/26/14) – Research has shown 10 to 40 percent of the water and chemical solution mixture injected at high pressure into deep rock strata, surges back to the surface during well development.

markman_xThis is a risk v. reward situation and as the article about city rights above suggests, Brea does have options. City Attorney Markman even went so far, in response to a question from Roy Moore, to say that given proof of injury the City could say no to fracking.

To make an intelligent decision, we all need to understand the full extent of the risks produced by fracking. We should not let the oil and gas industry, like big tobacco, like big banking, like big pharma, get away with virtually zero effective oversight and disclosure.