California Governor Jerry Brown Backs Fracing, Taking Heat From Environmental Activists

California Governor Jerry Brown Backs Fracing, Taking Heat From Environmental Activists

The strange politics of the Golden State take an odd twist over the quest for oil
by John Pendleton  |   Tuesday, March 11, 2014
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According to the United States Census Bureau, there are nearly 314 million people in America. More than twelve percent of them, just over 38 million persons, live in California. Texas and Alaska are bigger in terms of land mass, but in politics, votes are what counts, not acreage.

That's why what happens in California politics often makes headlines across the country.

Hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracing" is the technology that has powered much of the oil and gas boom that has transformed the economic landscape of America. Texas, North Dakota and a handful of other states have seen their economies transformed by the wealth fracing brings, but that hasn't been the case in California.

It's not that California doesn't have oil, there's plenty of it both onshore and offshore. The obstacle has been California's politics. Environmental "activists" have fought tooth and nail to stop any new drilling efforts, especially those that involve fracing.

California's Governor, Edmond "Jerry" Brown Jr., has been a Democrat for his entire life, just like his father, Edmond Brown Sr., who was also Governor of the state (from 1959 to 1967). The Democratic Party has dominated California politics for decades and Jerry Brown Jr. was widely expected to win easily in his bid for an unprecedented fourth term as Governor.

Brown is now facing a serious threat to his ambitions from within his own party. For a liberal politician who was known as "Governor Moonbeam" during his first two terms as Governor (1975–1983), Brown should be coasting to the finish-line. Instead, he is taking serious heat from "environmentalist" Democrats.

Oil experts have estimated that fracing could unlock the 1.54 billion barrels of oil believed to lie beneath California's Central Valley.

Brown sees that oil as the solution to the state's perpetual budget woes. He believes that the oil revenues the state would earn would give California a taste of the riches North Dakota is enjoying. The environmentalists are furious with him about his support last year for a senate bill that allowed fracing to continue while the state launched a study of its environmental risks.

At the recent California Democratic Party convention, Governor Moonbeam was heckled throughout his speech. Some delegates shouted "Ban fracking!" while others held up signs declaring "Another Democrat Against Fracking." The state party's platform now calls for a fracing moratorium which is directly opposed to Brown's position.

It's impossible to underestimate the entertainment value of the coming battle between one of America's most experienced and knowledgeable politicians and the environmental activists who control his party's purse strings. In the meantime, in the absence of a moratorium, it's "Drill Baby Drill."

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Greig Grey | Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Great article John! Very insightful and well written.
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