Legislative Democrats Force Businesses to Waste Money in Hiring Process

You are a bank and need new tellers. You put an ad in the paper and 50 people show up for the job. You interview them, have them fill out an application and have Human Resources explain the pay and benefit package. You determine to hire five of them—then after all of this you are allowed to ask about their criminal history—maybe an embezzlement or two? How much money was wasted by the firm in the process because a Democrat wants to give a criminal the right to apply for a job handling money, working with children or working at a gun range? But, they could always sell “medical” marijuana.

““If a person can’t find a job, the odds increase dramatically that the person is simply going to return to what they were doing before,” says Dickinson. “They’ll end up offending again and in all likelihood returning to incarceration.”

They still won’t get the job—but it will cost business more money to find out. Must be the global warming that causing Democrat legislators lose their common sense.

Jobs vs Occupy

 

California Law Bans Criminal Background Question On State Job Applications

Max Pringle, CPRN, 7/11/14

State and local agencies in California can no longer ask about a job applicant’s criminal background on the initial job application. It’s a new state law that takes effect this month.

Supporters of AB 218 say more than 20 percent of California adults have an arrest record. They say job seekers who answer “yes” to the question “have you ever been arrested” on an application, usually get no further in the hiring process. Assemblyman Roger Dickinson authored the law. He says it could help the state reach its prison population reduction goals.

“If a person can’t find a job, the odds increase dramatically that the person is simply going to return to what they were doing before,” says Dickinson. “They’ll end up offending again and in all likelihood returning to incarceration.”

Agencies are still allowed to conduct background checks later in the hiring process. The law exempts jobs involving public safety and children.

Will Catholics Rebel Against California Catholic Churches Housing/Hiding Illegal Aliens Imported by Obama?

The Catholic churches in California are being paid by the Obama Administration to house and hide criminals, drug dealers, gangsters, terrorists and disease carriers from foreign countries. Wonder if the Churches will be cleaned after hundreds of these young people go through the facility? I also wonder if donations to the church will be down, along with Sunday and week day Mass attendance?

Obama doesn’t want churches to speak out about same sex marriage, abortion or other moral issues—but has no problem using churches to promote the importation of illegal aliens. Churches need to stop facilitated the collapse of education, health care and the Rule of Law..stick to ethics, theology and morality—leave the corrupt politics to Obama.

AG Holder Drug Cartels

Feds Ask Churches To House Migrant Families

Neil Munro, Daily Caller, 7/11/14

The Department of Homeland Security has asked Catholic churches in California to temporarily house and feed groups of Central American migrants until 2016, according to an official at the diocese of San Bernardino.

But any unpaid cooperation is legally questionable, because it may be intended to bypass Congress’ authority to fund — or to not fund — federal agencies’ new practice of distributing the flood of migrant families to homes across the country.

The department “has reached out to the diocese and the bishop, and asked us to shelter families in transition,” Maria Christina Mendez, at the Office of Hispanic Affairs, told The Daily Caller. The services would be needed for the next 18 months, “or longer,” she said.

In response, the diocese has offered to let family groups of migrants stay at its buildings for up to three days, while they are being relayed by federal immigration agencies to cities and towns where they want to live, she said.

“Some of them are going to the East Coast, some of them are going all the way up north,” she told The Daily Caller.

The illegal inflow includes at least 100,000 people since October. Many are in so-called “family units” of adults and children.

At least 50,000 migrants are unaccompanied youths and children, many of which are being sent by smugglers — dubbed “coyotes” — to their parents who are illegally living in the United States. Roughly half of the youths are males who say they are aged between 14 and 17. These youths and children are not being sent to the Catholic diocese.

So far, one convoy of family groups has been sent to the diocese, said Virginia Kice, western region communications director at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The transfer of migrants into California has been suspended following public protests in Murrieta, Calif., she said.

The diocese has offered to shelter and feed the migrants at some of its facilities, including a convent and a school, Mendez said.

“None of them are going to stay more than 72 hours, we’ve been told,” she said.

The diocese’ activities were exposed only after parishioners called into Rush Limbaugh’s radio show to protest the bishop’s agreement to provide shelter to the families for DHS.

“They have made the decision that they’re going to absorb the immigrants that are coming through because the federal government called the bishop’s office on Monday,” said one of the parishioners, named Ann. “The church will reimburse us for any out-of-pocket expenses and we were told not to talk to anybody about it, especially the media.”

They were told to be silent to prevent any local protests, Ann said. “They don’t want a lot of people there at the churches when they busload these mothers and children,” said Ann.

Americans in several states — including California, Michigan and Virginia — have successfully protested and blocked the administration’s effort to transport the illegals to new homes.

The church’s provision of free services to DHS — and its reported offer to pay homeowners for services given to DHS — however, are also potentially illegal.

Federal law, dubbed the Anti-Deficiency Act, prevents government agencies from taking free services from people or private organizations, because that would allow the agencies to bypass congressional power of the purse.

“We reached out … to a number of community and faith-based groups several weeks ago,” Kice said. “They could serve an an invaluable intermediary in the process. … Our goal was simply to mitigate the impact on the migrants, to try to make their transition easier.”

Union Blackmail of Wal Mart in Atascadero Fails

For years unions have demanded that more than 1.4 million Americans be unemployed. They demand that you pay higher prices for food and apparel. They demand that 1.4 million Americans either pay bribes or lose their jobs. Unions want workers to show up at work when they say so, not when Wal Mart says. Unions want to own the paycheck of 1.4 million Americans—that is how many people work at Wal Mart.

Unions blackmail city councils into trying to stop the permitting of new facilities—either give in to the union or we will steal from workers and use that money to defeat you at your next election. Harassment, corruption, bullying, threats and theft—the hallmark of unions demanding to own America. In Atascadero the people and council told the unions to pound sand and get out of the way of freedom.

“A lawsuit aimed at keeping a Walmart from being built in Atascadero was shot down Tuesday by California’s Second District Court of Appeals in Ventura.”

walmart

Union Blackmail of Wal Mart in Atascadero Fails

Group loses lawsuit to stop Walmart from being built in Atascadero

By Randol White, KCBX, 7/10/14

A lawsuit aimed at keeping a Walmart from being built in Atascadero was shot down Tuesday by California’s Second District Court of Appeals in Ventura.

The Atascadero City Council had approved the project two years ago. However, members of a citizens group called Save Atascadero were concerned over the project’s Environmental Impact Report.

Tom Comar, the group’s spokesperson, says the group will not seek any further legal matters on the issue at this time.

“I just think that we’ve been through two court hearings, and I don’t think the California Supreme Court will pick it up,” said Comar.

Comar added that another reason the group won’t pursue the matter is because new laws took effect this year in California requiring large stores to include solar panels on their roofs.

Arnold Caught Promoting Crony Capitalism With Tax $$

Several years ago, the professional fondler and amateur Governor wanted to help his buddies. He promoted a ballot measure for stem cell research—though private firms were already doing this work. It turns out, as expected, it was just an effort by crony capitalists to play on the sympathies of the public to get their hands on $6 billion of YOUR money—for their gain.

“In 2013, the Los Angeles Times reported on a study of the Prop. 71 spending by the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences:

After 17 months of deliberation, the panel, which was chaired by Harold Shapiro, a former president of Princeton University, concluded that the CIRM board members were saddled with ‘almost unavoidable conflicts of interest, whether actual or perceived.’ That’s because by law, 23 of the 29 members must be representatives of California institutions eligible for CIRM grants or of disease advocacy groups with their own interest in steering money toward their particular concerns.”

arnold schwarzenegger reaper

 

 

Profiting from stem-cell public-private partnership

By John Seiler, Calwatchdog,   7/12/14 

While governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger loved to tout “public-private partnerships”; another phrase for which is “crony capitalism.”

One such partnership he backed was Proposition 71 back in 2004, which allocated $3 billion to fund stem-cell research. Except that, with interest, the payback amount to taxpayers is $6 billion. Those were the years when Arnold, who was elected to get control of the “crazy deficit spending,” as he called it, instead went on a wild spending binge, for which we’re still paying through tax increases.

In 2013, the Los Angeles Times reported on a study of the Prop. 71 spending by the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences:

After 17 months of deliberation, the panel, which was chaired by Harold Shapiro, a former president of Princeton University, concluded that the CIRM board members were saddled with ‘almost unavoidable conflicts of interest, whether actual or perceived.’ That’s because by law, 23 of the 29 members must be representatives of California institutions eligible for CIRM grants or of disease advocacy groups with their own interest in steering money toward their particular concerns.

Now this, which the U-T reported on July 9:

The former head of California’s stem cell agency, which is handing out $3 billion of voter-approved funds for research, has joined the board of a major grant recipient one week after leaving his post.

Alan Trounson, the former president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, has joined the board of StemCells Inc., the recipient of $19.4 million from the agency.

The agency has been grappling with potential conflicts of interest, some of which are built into its governance under Proposition 71, approved by voters in 2004. CIRM paid $700,000 for a report last year making recommendations on how to mitigate conflicts.

Trounson’s move has reignited debate over the issue.

“The announcement raises serious and obvious concerns on a number of fronts,” Chairman Jonathan Thomas wrote to his colleagues on the CIRM board. “Under state law, however, it is permissible for Dr. Trounson to accept employment with a CIRM-funded company. Nonetheless, state law does impose some restrictions on Dr. Trounson’s post-CIRM employment activities.

Actually, this is just the typical government-crony capitalist “revolving door.”

Back in 2004, I wrote several editorials for the Orange County Register against Prop. 71, warning that this would happen. The voters instead decided, as his slogan put it, to “Join Arnold.”

Too bad we can’t just repeal everything he did in his seven years as governor.

McMorris: Industry Critics: UC Berkeley Playing Host to Union-Funded Activist Research

Did you know that radical unions operate as an extension of UC Berkeley? Did you know the unions use the name of this once great university to create “studies” backing Michelle Obama intrusion into your kitchens and school lunches? In their own words, this is NOT about quality food, it is about unions controlling the menu’s for Americans, what farmers are allowed to grow and the food served by restaurants. This is how a totalitarian nation operates—crony capitalists and unions owning the policy makers.

“In order to address the pressing information needs of this movement, the FCWA is proposing the creation of the nation’s first Food Labor Institute,” she said in a proposal emailed to Berkeley staffers in October 2011. “Our Food Labor Institute would conduct and coordinate research and policy analysis […] as a way to inform these growing campaigns, as well as policymakers, the press, and the public.”

college graduate student education

 

Industry Critics: UC Berkeley Playing Host to Union-Funded Activist Research

Food Labor Research Center funded by union-backed groups to produce pro-labor studies, according to critics

BY: Bill McMorris, Washington Free Beacon, 7/9/14
A coalition of foundations and union front groups is funding an academic post at the University of California at Berkeley for a prominent labor activist, according to documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Saru Jayaraman, executive director of the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), a worker center that aims to organize food service employees, founded Berkeley’s Food Labor Research Center in 2012. The center, which is sponsored by the university’s Labor Research Center, conducts research into working conditions and public policy as it relates to the food business.

According to a proposal outlining the project, Jayaraman’s vision of the center was as political as it was academic. She hoped to use the center to produce studies that would bolster the Food Chain Workers Alliance (FCWA), a coalition of unions and labor activists. ROC is a member of that group.

“In order to address the pressing information needs of this movement, the FCWA is proposing the creation of the nation’s first Food Labor Institute,” she said in a proposal emailed to Berkeley staffers in October 2011. “Our Food Labor Institute would conduct and coordinate research and policy analysis […] as a way to inform these growing campaigns, as well as policymakers, the press, and the public.”

Berkeley professor Steven Pitts, a member of ROC’s board of directors, worried that the center would be “a potential resource drain on the Labor Center budget” and could create a conflict of interest.

“I think it is important to assure the Labor Center that this initiative is fully self-sustaining,” he wrote in an Oct. 17, 2011 email. “Second, the Labor Center would need to be clear about where the line is drawn between Saru, Labor Center staff working on food labor issues, and Saru, [executive director] of ROC.”

Jayaraman sought to address the issue by drawing a university paycheck funded by ROC supporters for part-time work, while relying on ROC directly for the other half of her salary. She exceeded expectations, collecting $157,500 from various foundations, including a $5,000 donation from the FCWA, for ROC. Berkeley agreed to pay her $39,600 for the fall semester.

Katie Quan, a senior labor specialist at the Labor Center who helped arrange the appointment, said in a Free Beacon interview Free Beacon that the public university does not pay any part of Jayaraman’s salary and that the use of grants from outside sources to fund positions is common practice in higher education.

“A confluence of shared interests led to her affiliation,” she said, adding that the university has taken extra steps to establish “a firewall between the activism and the research.”

“Saru is an activist, but she’s also a scholar… the pieces produced by the research center are of rigorous academic quality,” Quan said. “The Labor Center has a number of people who have had histories as union organizers and staff positions in worker centers, so this is a point we make clearly.”

Neither Jayaraman, nor Pitts returned requests for comment.

Labor watchdogs dispute the notion that Jayaraman’s academic work can be separated from her activism. Mike Paranzino, spokesman for ROC Exposed, an industry group, said that Jayaraman is using the academic appointment to give her research the appearance of objectivity.

“This gives her credibility that she otherwise wouldn’t have as someone with a vested interest and a clear agenda,” Paranzino said in an interview. “These documents show how a public university is using its good name and academic reputation to advance the union agenda.”

Jayaraman’s most recent academic work demonstrates the blurred lines of her partnership with Berkeley.

In June, she published “Shelved: How Wages and Working Conditions for California’s Food Retail Workers have Declined as the Industry has Thrived,” which found that wages had fallen 25 percent for grocery store workers, despite 2 percent growth in the industry. The FCWA “provided primary research support” for the study, which was commissioned by the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

“Saru’s work can be of a general nature researching, say, the relationship between different entities in the food supply chain or wage levels of workers. All of that is considered bona fide research,” Quan said of the firewall between activism and academics. “What it cannot do is be directly advocating for something related to a campaign.”

The first page of the study appears to breach the firewall.

“The report calls for a two-pronged strategy to arrest and reverse these trends: support for unionization, and public policies that support livable wages and benefits,” Jayaraman writes. “This strategy would promote the creation of good jobs in the food retail sector and help build long-term prosperity for California’s families and communities.”

The report was commissioned by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and was met with widespread media coverage. A Los Angeles Timesstory identified Jayaraman as a “researcher at the UC Berkeley Food Labor Research Center,” while making no mention of her work with ROC or her career as a labor activist.

Glenn Spencer, a vice president at the Chamber of Commerce’s Workforce Freedom Initiative, said that the nature of Jayaraman’s appointment hurts the credibility of the center’s research.

“ROC received more than $6 million in foundation grants just from 2009-2012. Buying their own program at a university would be an interesting way to put that money to use, although the credibility of any research that came out of it would be questionable,” he said.

The establishment of the Food Labor Research Center is not Jayaraman’s first interaction with Berkeley. She outlined ROC’s strategy to organize workers at a symposium sponsored by the Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law and the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal in April 2005. The primary tactic, she said, is conducting public protests and shaming campaigns against restaurants that “[send] a signal to the rest of the industry.” The second component is less visible, but just as necessary.

“Two, doing research and policy work to lift consciousness and create a culture of organizing among workers,” she said.

Ryan Williams, spokesman for Worker Center Watch, said that Berkeley has given Jayaraman the platform to put that plan into action.

“Labor bosses are simply trying to install a puppet who can produce dishonest and inaccurate information with the Berkeley imprimatur that will be used to push their agenda,” he said. “This is nothing more than an elaborate shell game, and it is disgraceful that a public university like Berkeley would be willing to compromise its integrity to help Big Labor.”

 

Obama Makes Border Patrol High Paid—Nannies

We have over 21,000 border guards. Of that, 70% has been taken from the border and are used as baby sitters for the criminals, terrorists and disease carriers Obama is importing into the United States. In reality, the Commander in Chief is the first President to invade his own country and used government employees to perform the crime. Now he wants another $4 billion so these criminals can get attorneys, though they will never show up for their deportation hearings in 2-5 years—by then they will be students at UCLA, with good jobs and a drivers license—those paying for this will be jobless, part time workers at best. Isn’t America great!

When will Congress close this down—stop passing any bills until the border is secure? Stop approving any Obama appointees till these 52,000 have been shipped home—or at least put into camps in one State, rather than redistributed around the nation—to set up terror, crime and drug dealing cells.

“In this regard, it is noteworthy that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson, when interviewed July 6 on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, repeatedly demurred when pressed by frustrated host David Gregory to say whether or not all — or indeed any — of the unaccompanied alien children (UACs) would ever be returned.”

janet napolitano immigration

Analysis of the Supplemental Budget Request

A peek at what’s behind the White House’s border “surge”

By Dan Cadman, Center for Immigration Studies, 7/10/14

 

On July 8, the White House submitted its emergency budget request to the House of Representatives (which holds the “power of the purse” under our Constitution) to deal with the “humanitarian crisis” on our southern border.

The budget request, which totals $3.7 billion, immediately drew flack from many representatives who called it a blank check. Responding in the media, White House Director of the Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz said that Congress cannot have it both ways: criticizing the administration while withholding the funding to effectively handle the crisis.

Having studied the request, it seems clear to me that it is the White House that wants it both ways.

In this regard, it is noteworthy that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson, when interviewed July 6 on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, repeatedly demurred when pressed by frustrated host David Gregory to say whether or not all — or indeed any — of the unaccompanied alien children (UACs) would ever be returned.

Johnson did say that, “With regards to adults who are bringing their children, we’re bringing on additional detention capacity. We’re turning that population of people around quicker.” But nothing in either the specifics of the budget request, or what fragmentary statistical information the government has released about adults who have arrived as a part of the surge, shows even that statement to be true.

While administration leaders publicly claim they are working to effectively stem the tide of arrivals and ensure their speedy removal, everything about the budget request suggests this is more about resettlement, prolonging removal proceedings into infinity, and then quietly letting the tens of thousands of most recent arrivals recede into the woodwork of society to join the more than 840,000 aliens who are already fugitives from immigration courts around the country.

Reciting the entire litany of questionable items that pop out at me when I read the request is beyond the boundaries of a blog. But here are a few of the things that garnered my attention and concern:

  • Of the $3.7 billion being requested, fully $1.8 billion (about 49 percent of the total) is for resettlement costs to be appropriated to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — not just for the UACs, but for entire family units, including adult men and women. There is no reason to think that the accommodations will be temporary, insofar as the funds include authorization “for acquisition, construction, improvement, repair, operation, and maintenance of real property and facilities.”
  • There is a “general provision” in the request which, under the guise of limiting reprogramming or reallocating of funds once appropriated, in fact gives the administration the right to move as much as 30 percent of the monies around as they choose. (Past history suggests that such reprogramming is usually limited to 10 percent of appropriated funds, unless specifically approved by Congress.)
  • The Department of Justice (DOJ) would be given $15 million to hire attorneys to defend the UACs against deportation in removal proceedings before an immigration judge. An additional $1.1 million would be given to DOJ for “immigration litigation attorneys” who, presumably, would assist alien adults in their proceedings. It is clear that such litigation attorneys are not prosecutors, who are called “trial attorneys” and work for DHS, not DOJ. In essence, Congress is being asked to approve the executive branch’s violation of the law. Section 292 of the Immigration and Nationality Act specifically prohibits representation of aliens in immigration proceedings at government expense.
  • Much of the so-called “enforcement” portion of the budget is not truly geared toward removal; rather, it is a recouping of costs for temporary detention and subsequent transporting of aliens (including adults) to facilitate their resettlement and relocation by HHS. (It is noteworthy that, according to a leaked Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Intelligence document, fully 47 percent of the arrivals are adults, who should be subjected to expedited removal, not to relocation and resettlement.)
  • A meager $109 million is being requested to facilitate anti-smuggling investigative efforts, which, according to Secretary Johnson’s statements and testimony in other venues, are supposed to be one of the crown-jewels in his 14-point plan to stem the surge. In any case, such efforts are destined to limited success. This is because the United States has very little influence over ineffectual or corrupt police and military services in the source and transit countries, to ensure that they root out criminal gangs responsible for the smuggling. On the U.S. side, the ones responsible for predicating the effort through contact with, and payment to, the gangs are often the parents or other relatives of those being smuggled and, rather than investigate and prosecute such individuals to the full extent of the law, the government instead acts as the ultimate delivery agent, passing along the smuggled-but-apprehended alien to the people who paid to have him or her smuggled. And at the border proper, the ones who act as the guides for groups being smuggled are low-level nothings; the equivalent of mules. They are easily replaceable and their capture disrupts nothing.

So the government takes a hands-off approach to the UACs being smuggled, and after a few days of detention and make-work processing, passes them over to the ones who initiated the venture; it then takes a hands-off approach to the people who want to take possession of the ready-for-release smuggled UACs and families (even if those people are themselves illegal aliens). It’s a closed circle of illogic. Little will come of any anti-smuggling program, except to permit the secretary to say he’s fulfilling his 14-point plan. Perhaps that is why the administration isn’t spending much more than chump change on the effort.

It’s no wonder that many in Congress are balking at being asked to go along with such a Potemkin village approach to the problem, one that the White House saddled itself with by reason of its fecklessness where respect for the rule of immigration law is concerned.

 

San Diego Gas and Electric: Fewer Workers—Many More Drones

Another company found a way to lower its pay roll, lower the money for ObamaCare and other benefits, have fewer unionized workers, create a more collegial organization—use drones to look for gas leaks and problems instead of humans. Drones will now do the work of humans, in a small pilot program for San Diego Gas & Electric. Once finished, this project will expand—and to other companies as well. As long as government and unions make it uneconomical to keep a company open and running smoothly, robots and drones will replace people.

Will union members tell the union to take a hike? Will young people tell Democrats don’t do us any favors by raising the minimum wage and keeping them unemployed longer? Will people of color stop their self-appointed leaders from using them as bait for greedy contracts and political donations?

Cheaper, more efficient and does not strike, “Once the technology is tested, and if it proves effective, SDG&E may then seek FAA approval to use the aircraft more broadly in the field for inspections. SDG&E inspects more than 26,000 miles of transmission and distribution power lines for safety and compliance purposes and to make sure the grid is running smoothly and effectively.”

drone

 

SDG&E Gets Green Light to Test Small Drones in East County

Posted by Chris Jennewein, Times of San Diego, 7/11/14

San Diego Gas & Electric announced Friday that it is the first utility in America to receive Federal Administration Approval to test the use of small, unmanned aircraft to monitor electric and gas lines .

The FAA granted a Special Airworthiness Certificate allowing the utility to research, test and train flight crews on the unmanned aircraft system, or UAS, in a sparsely populated airspace in east San Diego County.

The FAA certificate for SDG&E is significant because the agency has approved only very limited commercial use of unmanned aircraft as it works to develop comprehensive regulations by Sept. 30, 2015.

“The unmanned aircraft system provides us with another tool in our electric and gas operations tool chest,” said Dave Geier, SDG&E’s vice president of electric transmission and system engineering. “This versatile technology would allow us to improve our response to emergency situations such as fires, as well as complete aerial inspections in remote areas that are otherwise difficult to access, and locate the cause of power outages faster.”

Measuring 16 inches in diameter and weighing less than a pound, these small devices use a camera to inspect utility equipment and relay live images back to the controller. The UAS can examine infrastructure in areas that are off-limits to helicopters or difficult to access by road or other means.

Once the technology is tested, and if it proves effective, SDG&E may then seek FAA approval to use the aircraft more broadly in the field for inspections. SDG&E inspects more than 26,000 miles of transmission and distribution power lines for safety and compliance purposes and to make sure the grid is running smoothly and effectively.

 

California’s New Fracking Regulations Delayed Half a Year

Fracking has been going on in California for at least one hundred years. In that time not a single complaint, incident or problem. In fact, a couple of years ago Guv Brown was asked about fracking in California and he did not know it was happening—that is how big a deal it was. All of a sudden Luddites and crony capitalists (friends of Obama wanting tax dollars for phony solar efforts like Solyndra) made fracking into the AIDS of our time. Though nowhere in the country it has been a problem, the Left sees oil as a sign of freedom—and that cannot be allowed.

California is at least a year away from full scale fracking—while Texas and North Dakota are drying up all the nations’ available drilling rigs—making the legalization of fracking in California a moot point.

“In addition to getting a permit for fracking from the Department of Conservation, oil operators will be required to write a groundwater monitoring plan that specifies how they’ll test water quality if they drill in an area with usable groundwater. The requirement was prompted by concerns that fracking could contaminate groundwater supplies.

The groundwater monitoring plans must be approved by water regulators with the State Water Quality Control Board. That agency is currently developing the criteria to judge the plans with, but it has until July 1, 2015 to create them.”

Photo courtesy of Lyndi&Jason, flickr

Photo courtesy of Lyndi&Jason, flickr

 

California’s New Fracking Regulations Delayed Half a Year

Lauren Sommer, KQED Science, 7/11/14

California’s new regulations for hydraulic fracturing will be delayed by six months, after state legislators approved a bill in late June authorizing the change.

The wide-reaching regulations were scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2015. Now, the regulations will begin on July 1, 2015, though the Department of Conservation must still finalize them by the end of this year.

State regulators say the change will help align the efforts of two agencies that are writing the new fracking regulations. The deadlines for the agencies were spelled out in SB 4, a bill the State Legislature passed in 2013.

In addition to getting a permit for fracking from the Department of Conservation, oil operators will be required to write a groundwater monitoring plan that specifies how they’ll test water quality if they drill in an area with usable groundwater. The requirement was prompted by concerns that fracking could contaminate groundwater supplies.

The groundwater monitoring plans must be approved by water regulators with the State Water Quality Control Board. That agency is currently developing the criteria to judge the plans with, but it has until July 1, 2015 to create them.

“To me, it’s a logical matching up of a couple deadlines,” says Jason Marshall of the Department of Conservation.

“If this hadn’t been pushed back, my department would have been getting applications for well stimulation,” he says. “And the operator would have gone to water board to get the plan approved and the water board would have said ‘You need to wait six months, because we don’t have criteria developed yet.’”

Under temporary fracking regulations now in place, oil operators must submit groundwater monitoring plans, but currently they’re approved by oil and gas regulators under a set of more minimal requirements.

“There is groundwater monitoring going on right now, but is it to the full degree that it will be in July (2015)? Probably not,” Marshall says.

Environmental groups have mixed feelings about the timeline change.

“There was 50 years of non-regulation, and it’s an extra six months,” says Bill Allayaud of the Environmental Working Group. “It’s not the most desirable thing, but we are getting relatively good public disclosure about fracking for the first time.”

Hollin Kretzmann, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, says no regulation can ensure fracking is safe and he’d prefer to see it halted altogether in California. Nonetheless, he says the final regulations do include important rules that will now, unfortunately, also be delayed. Those include a requirement that oil operators monitor seismic activity during fracking and must stop operations if there’s an earthquake registering 2.0 or greater.

Kretzmann says it’s unusual for temporary regulations to be in place for so long. “It’s confounding that their so-called emergency regulations will now be in effect for 18 months,” he says. “Under California law, the limit for emergency regulations is 12 months, so they had to make a statutory exemption.”

Getting Rid of the “Magic Wand”

The bill that approved the delay—what lawmakers call a trailer bill—made another change that some environmentalists are cheering.

Under SB 4, the fracking regulation bill, oil and gas regulators had so-called “magic wand” power to decide on the level of environmental review a fracking operation must undergo. Several environmental groups pulled their support for the bill when that provision was added.

“The (oil and gas) supervisor would have been able to waive environmental review based on prior environmental reviews,” Allayaud says.

California oil and gas regulators are currently reviewing the potential impacts of fracking statewide in an environmental impact report. Environmental groups expressed concerned that regulators would cite this broad statewide review as an adequate basis for granting fracking permits, as opposed to requiring a more site-specific review.

Now, under the new provision approved in late June, the level of environmental review will be decided on a case-by-case basis as permit requests come in, says the Department of Conservation’s Jason Marshall. “It’s going to depend on where in the state you’re talking about,” he says. “We have wildly differing amounts of information about the impacts.”

Other agencies will also be able to weigh in on environmental impacts, under the new language. “The change makes clear that there is still opportunity for other agencies or local governments to conduct their own environmental review or impose mitigation measures,” says Kretzmann.

Environmental groups say they’ll be watching closely. “There are still going to be some questions down the road,” Allayaud says.

 

High-speed rail goes for second segment –still can’t afford first segment

Great news for crony capitalists and attorneys. The broke Board of the High Speed Rail Authority has authorized a second segment of the train from nowhere for nobody—a train for which there is not a dime—only borrowed money from the State of California to pay for attorneys. For the sake of politics, to get the support of Los Angeles politicians not smart enough to understand what “broke” means” they are getting a sham map to see where a train would go if they had the money, if they had an EIR, if they win all of their court battles and the State doesn’t shut them down before vendors with contracts sue to own the Authority.

Why is California in a Depression? We loan money to folks that could not beg a dime on the street. “The money would come from the cap-and-trade program that effectively charges industries for excessive greenhouse gas emissions, as set up two years ago by the California Air Resources Board.” That is $250 million a year, which would pay off the system in 272 years, plus interest. Anyone do a common sense test on these folks?

Photo courtesy of Jon Curnow, flickr

Photo courtesy of Jon Curnow, flickr

High-speed rail goes for second segment

By Kathy Hamilton, Calwatchdog,   7/11/14

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is floating a new idea: Start a second high-speed rail segment, but this time fund it using cap-and-trade dollars. The project would stretch from Burbank to Palmdale in the northeast section of the Los Angeles basin.

The money would come from the cap-and-trade program that effectively charges industries for excessive greenhouse gas emissions, as set up two years ago by the California Air Resources Board. In the California budget for fiscal year 2014-15, which began on July 1, the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown authorized $250 million of cap-and-trade funds for high-speed rail this coming year and 25 percent of anticipated revenues in future years.

The new leadership in the Legislature, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, both hail from Southern California. So it makes political sense to build the second segment in the Southland while the Initial Construction Segment is being completed from Bakersfield to Madera.

But there are problems with the second segment:

  • It doesn’t connect to the Bakersfield-to-Madera section

  • There still isn’t money for that Initial Construction Segment, let alone a second segment.

  • Each segment must stand on its own and be approved by the Legislature after the CHSRA submits a funding plan, as explained by CHSRA Chairman Dan Richard at the 34 minute mark of his testimony on this YouTube of his March 13, 2012 testimony.

So while cap-and-trade funds are a possible source to fund this new segment, it’s a shaky one as $250 million a year is only a fraction of what could easily exceed $7 billion for this segment, let alone the $68 billion needed for the full CHSRA project, at least according to official estimates.

Bottom line: There just isn’t enough money to do anything big, quickly.  

Legislature

Given that the CHSRA first has to submit a plan for the second segment that the Legislature must approve, here’s the question: Will the Legislature feel this funding source is adequate to approve the segment? All environmental work on the second segment won’t be finished until summer of 2015.

Even if that happens, there are more problems.

Normally, $2.7 billion in state bond funds from Proposition 1A would be used for this project, but they are currently frozen due to a court actions, as CalWatchdog.com has reported.

Court actions are unpredictable. But until they are resolved, the bond money cannot be used.

Until then, cap-and-trade is all the CHSRA has, as no federal dollars or private investments have come forward. (See page 15 in the Legislative Update for approximate costs for each segment.)

Before the CHSRA can spend a dime of cap-and-trade auction revenue, the state first must fulfill a federal obligation to match federal spending in the Central Valley segment.

Originally, those matching funds were supposed to come primarily from bond money – which is frozen in court, at least for now.  So cap and trade, considered a backstop after Prop. 1A passed in 2008, has become the only game in town.

Finally, in addition to the $250 million from cap and trade, the state’s fiscal year 2013-14 budget loaned $500 million of cap-and-trade auction revenues to the general fund.

Senate Bill 862 required that, when the loan is repaid, $400 million would go to the high-speed rail project. If that happens, the CHSRA will have no trouble meeting its obligations.

Kathy Hamilton is the Ralph Nader of high-speed rail, continually uncovering hidden aspects of the project and revealing them to the public.  She started writing in order to tell local communities how the project affects them and her reach grew statewide.  She has written more than 225 articles on high-speed rail and attended hundreds of state and local meetings. She is a board member of the Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail; has testified at government hearings; has provided public testimony and court declarations on public records act requests; has given public testimony; and has provided transcripts for the validation of court cases. 

 

California Farmers: Profits made by Selling Water Not Growing Crops

The drought is real, the water shortage is due to government policy. Since the first year of Jerry Brown as governor in 1975, we have not built a single new water storage facility. Though the voters gave billions for dams, the environmentalists and courts, with the manipulation of politicians voted for dams but instead bought up land, created wetlands and prime acreage laying fallow. Some private land owners with water rights are selling their water for a profit—which would not be so high if government had not limited available water in the first place.

To answer this, Democrats want the State to “manage” all groundwater—in others words the political system will control California water—and decide, based on politics and friendships, who gets water and who needs to leave the State.

“Nine water districts north of Sacramento are planning to sell 26 billion gallons of water, about as much as San Francisco uses in a year. Farmers would fallow crops or would pump and use groundwater instead, freeing up their water in rivers and making it available for buyers down south.

Ten water districts in the San Joaquin Valley would purchase the water, which is about half as much water as they’d tried to arrange to purchase in the transfer earlier this year. The deal is expected to cost $72 million.”

Water

 

As Water Prices Soar, Some Profit From California’s Drought

Lauren Sommer, KQED Science, 6/23/14

Farmers who lack water in California are facing a tough summer ahead, but for those who do have water, it can be a windfall.

Water is hitting record prices on the open market, prompting some farmers to pump groundwater and sell it — what some call “groundwater mining.” With groundwater already at record-low levels in parts of the state, concerns are rising that these water sales, known as water transfers, may put pressure on California’s overtaxed aquifers.

In other water deals, farmers are selling the water they get from reservoirs or rivers and are using groundwater instead to irrigate their fields, known as “groundwater substitution.”

More than 60 billion gallons of groundwater are being proposed in water sales this year – either sold for profit or substituted for water sold for profit, according to a KQED analysis of documents filed with state and federal agencies.

Drawing the Battle Lines

In May, Anthea Hansen took the podium at a crowded Merced County Board of Supervisors meeting, knowing she was facing a tough crowd.

“I’m sorry to bring this issue to your board and cause such a ruckus,” she said.

‘We’re in crisis mode. I have trees I need to keep alive.’– Anthea Hansen, Del Puerto Water District

Hansen is the general manger of the Del Puerto Water District, which serves about 45,000 acres of farmland on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, an hour south of Stockton. But here she was, 50 miles away in Merced, telling the board why she needs to buy groundwater to save her district’s crops and orchards.

“We’re in crisis mode,” she said. “I have trees I need to keep alive. We don’t need large quantities of water to do that. If that doesn’t happen, the trees are gone.”

Like many water districts with the lowest-priority rights, “junior” water rights, Del Puerto’s normal water supply has dried up this year. Water levels in the federal reservoir system, known as the Central Valley Project, are too low to meet demand.

So, Hansen worked out a deal with two ranchers in Merced County. They would pump up to seven billion gallons of their groundwater, put it into canals, and sell it to Hansen’s farmers over two years.

“This is common practice,” Steve Sloan told the Merced Board of Supervisors at the same meeting. He’s one of the ranchers who stands to make millions from the deal. Under California’s system of water rights, he owns the groundwater under his property.

“Water exchanges, water transfers have been done for over 30 years,” Sloan said. “This is how we survive collectively as an ag industry in California.”

Some of Sloan’s neighbors don’t see it that way.

“I’m within about a five-mile radius of where they’re going be doing the pumping. So, obviously I’m concerned,” Mike Gallo told the board. Gallo runs a farming operation near Sloan’s. “What’s gonna happen when you take this much water out of an aquifer? We’re on the same aquifer. I don’t know what it’s going to do.”

Billy Grissom, a farmer and cattle rancher who owns property near Sloan’s, also objected to the water sale. “Water underground should not be sold for monetary gain,” Grissom said. “When the water is gone, all the farming is gone.”

“We’re doing extensive monitoring,” Sloan responded. “We don’t want to damage the aquifer. We don’t want to damage our neighbors.”

The Bureau of Reclamation is reviewing the water transfer because the water would move through federal infrastructure. In a preliminary report, the agency found there would be no significant environmental impact, though groundwater levels could be drawn down. While Merced County supervisors are also looking into the water transfer, they have little influence over the deal.

Water Sales as Lifeline

“The water transfer market is the only way we’re surviving right now,” said Lon Martin, assistant general manager of the San Luis Water District, another Central Valley district that has a zero water allocation this year.

‘Water underground should not be sold for monetary gain.’– Billy Grissom, Farmer and Rancher

Martin is walking among hundreds of uprooted almond trees near Los Banos; the orchard was ripped out because of the drought.

“We hope that we don’t see any more of this,” he said. “Depending on the ability of the water district to bring water supplies — if we’re not successful with that, we may see more orchards taken offline.”

Martin says in a dry year like this one, there are fewer water transfers than usual, but one of the few large deals going through may help the trees in his district.

Nine water districts north of Sacramento are planning to sell 26 billion gallons of water, about as much as San Francisco uses in a year. Farmers would fallow crops or would pump and use groundwater instead, freeing up their water in rivers and making it available for buyers down south.

Ten water districts in the San Joaquin Valley would purchase the water, which is about half as much water as they’d tried to arrange to purchase in the transfer earlier this year. The deal is expected to cost $72 million.

“There are literally people with no water on their account, so this represents the only lifeline they have this year,” said Ara Azhderian, water policy administrator with the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, which negotiated the water transfer for the San Joaquin Valley water districts.

Legal Challenge

“California has neglected its groundwater,” says Barbara Vlamis, director of AquAlliance, a non-profit focused on the Sacramento watershed. Her group is suing to stop the water transfer over groundwater concerns.

“You’re putting an added stress on the groundwater basin,” Vlamis said. “In the last year alone, there have been wells in Glenn County that have dropped 32 feet. Nineteen feet in Butte County.”

Vlamis says the problem is that groundwater isn’t regulated in California, so state and federal agencies don’t have a full picture of the impact transfers can have.

“It’s shoddy,” she said. “The agencies that are so casual about moving water out of here need to truly analyze what they’re doing to this region.”

The legal challenge has raised anxiety levels for districts that were counting on purchasing the water.

“It’s a huge cloud of uncertainty,” Azhderian said. “You’ve got growers that not only have their livelihoods and farms at risk, but they have then dipped into stressed financial resources to make this transfer happen.”

Rise of California’s Water Market

“Water transfers are a way of making water available to people that don’t have old, senior water rights,” said Ellen Hanak, senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

Water transfers in California first emerged during the 1976-77 drought. “The idea was to stretch the available supplies and do the least economic harm,” Hanak said. “It made sense to allow the market signals to work and allow people to lease that water to folks that were able to pay more for it.”

Drought Watch 2014. Keep Up With All Our Drought Coverage.

Water transfers have since become commonplace. Earlier this year, Governor Jerry Brown ordered state agencies to speed up their environmental review of water transfers to help with the drought.

As groundwater levels dropped dramatically in the Central Valley, concerns have emerged about any added pressure to pump.

The San Joaquin Valley has experienced the highest levels of groundwater overdraft, but there’s also increased pumping in the Sacramento Valley, generally perceived to have plenty of water.

“You’re seeing an expansion of orchard crops, including in places that did not used to be irrigated,” Hanak said, “and it’s relying on groundwater.”

The concerns over using groundwater in water transfers tie into larger challenges California is facing in monitoring and managing its underground reservoirs, Hanak said.

“The state will look carefully at a transfer to make sure that you aren’t selling water out of a river or lake that someone downstream of you would be using,” she said. “But because California does not have statewide regulation of groundwater, the state doesn’t have the possibility of easily making that assessment about groundwater use.”

Some counties have taken matters into their own hands and have passed rules that effectively ban the sale of groundwater outside county lines. In Merced County, where controversy over the groundwater sale continues, county supervisors have said they’re looking into that policy.