What happened at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Fracking?

 

 

On Tuesday, Sept. 23, 3pm, County Board of Supervisors agenda item #30, report on hydraulic fracturing and staff recommendation, was presented to the BOS by the Planning and Building Department.

 

 

This agenda item was in response to the presentation of over 5,000 signatures from the San Luis Obispo community at large on May 20th calling on the BOS to adopt a countywide ban on hydraulic fracturing for the safety, health, environmental and economic well being of the community.

 

 

The Board instructed staff to prepare a report they would use for their response to our petition. Staff instructed to provide Board with;

 

  1. What is hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking)?

 

  1. What is the fracking potential in the County?

 

  1. What are the existing and proposed regulations relating to fracking?

 

  1. What are some of the important environmental issues?

 

  1. What is happening in other jurisdictions?

 

The report was 4 months in the making.

 

 

The chamber was nearly packed. A lot of suits in the room I had not seen before. The presentation took about 20 minutes and was preferenced with what the report WILL and WILL NOT focus on. Hydraulic fracturing is the focus and cyclic steam stimulation, waterflood injection, steam flood injection, acid well stimulation, matrix acidization, and well acidization WILL NOT be discussed.

 

The term hydraulic fracturing aka fracking has up and until this point and as part of the definition of what fracking is included well stimulation techniques in which high-pressure fluid is injected into a wellbore. The fracking technique is commonly applied to wells for shale gas, tight gas, tight oil. The industry claims hydraulic fracturing has been in use in California for over 60 years.

 

 

Since 1978 high-pressure steam injection and cyclic steam injection has been the primary method of extraction at the Arroyo Grande Oil Fields, AGOF. The AGOF is on the Monterey Shale, tight oil, asphalt grade oil is being extracted.

 

Freeport makes the claim it is not hydraulic fracturing and has no plans to do so. That is not to say they won’t if the needs suits them and more than likely given the new patent protected, water intensive, earthquake generating technology unencumbered by cost prohibitive safety and environmental laws and funded yearly by billions of taxpayers dollars, the odds are they will use every loophole handed to them on a silver platter and frack the last drop of oil right out from underneath our feet without so much as a mother may I.

 

And if the oil industry were held to the same standards as all other businesses operating within our jurisdiction hydraulic fracturing, cyclical steam injection, acidizating, high intensity, unconventional, processes would be a crime in violation of the Clean Air, Clean water, Safe drinking water Act and the Community right to know Act. But because they are not held to the same standards and are granted special dispensation VIA the Halliburton loophole to operate independent of the law, the community as it is represented by its governing board, knowingly assumes all the risks and bears all the burden of the industry’s activity to include spills, explosions, fires, leaks, accidents and unintended consequences.

 

 

It would be fair to ask at this point that if Freeport has

no intention of fracking why are they so concerned then with a ban?

 

 

Public comment followed the presentation. There were 52 requests to speak. And in the interest of time, Mr. Gibson offered the following format. One minute, two minute and three minute speakers starting with one-minute speakers. When all the one-minute speakers are finished the next round of speakers will have two minutes and lastly those remaining to speak for 3 minutes will be called from the remaining speaker’s slips.

 

 

With this format everyone is allowed to speak. Very curious why this format was not offered at the May 20th meeting as time was also a factor.

 

 

There was not a single speaker from the Freeport constituency at the May 20th meeting. This meeting however was teeming with very important, high ranking, titles and letters behind their name, persons. Almost like royalty. They seemed to own the room. The impression was somehow their presence projected a sense of greater importance than usual on these proceedings and worthy of special consideration, in the interest of fairness, of course.

 

 

The Board seemed duly intimidated and oddly attentive to the sheer power and force mingling amongst the rank and file and perhaps instinctively knew that limiting this crowd to 5 people and 15 minutes was not an option.

 

 

I am just hazarding a guess here and it may not be significant but it seemed at least 20 of the speakers from Freeport were there as paid employees working on company time. Just comparing loyalty factors here and what motivates people to get involved in local politics. I took time off work. Judy J got out of a sick bed, David K gave up study time. Just saying.

 

I waited to be called for the 3-minute segment about an hour and half into the meeting. I took the last stand on principle, appealing to the board to do the right thing and ban fracking. Foreseeing they might use staff time and expense as an excuse to delay writing a resolution I submitted a draft for their consideration, attached.

 

Listened to the other speakers but then had to take a breather and headed out to the lobby. I left my purse indicating, I hope, that I would be back. I took my water bottle and headed out. There were monitors in the lobby so I could still follow the proceedings. When the speakers finished and the Board was going to make a ruling I elected to remain in the lobby.

 

 

And then something rather odd happened. A man came out looking for me to tell me my keys had somehow got kicked out of my purse into the aisle and I might want to return to retrieve them. And then as if his Good Samaritan act needed justification added he had observed that I often retreat to the lobby so he knew where to find me. That was very odd since this was the first time I choose to leave and wait outside chambers. I thanked him and returned in time to hear the Board’s decision.

 

One by one the Board rendered their reasoning and voted unanimously 5-0 to ignore the beseeching petitioners, community members, organizations and municipalities and do nothing. Wait. Too many other more important things to do. Let’s wait and see what the State does with fracking, was their rationale.

 

Our health, safety, well-being and immediate concerns and fears about water and earthquakes summarily dismissed as unimportant. Clearly the Board regards approving a permit to drill 450 oil wells in our backyard as more important than our immediate need to get inoculated against the ravishes of the greed disease.

 

And no my keys were not in the aisle.

 

 

And yes there is more to come.

 

 

But first, Please, please try to find an hour or two somewhere to help Santa Barbara get Measure P passed. I will send how we can help and all the information immediately in a follow up email.

 

 

Ah, I can feel it, Can you feel it? All the good vibrations? The cosmos are conspiring to shower us with abundance.

 

 

Here is a link to the whole BOS meeting so you can judge for yourself. http://slocounty.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=1875

 

 

Item # 30 starts at 3:00 on the tape.

 

 

 

Have a spectacular week!!!

 

Jeanne

Jeanne Blackwell

jeannewater@gmail.com

SLO Clean Water Action.org

 

Change doesn’t just happen. It starts with an ultimatum and goes from there.

Note:

Approving Freeport would increase their water usage by 300% in a phase III drought alert where everyone is mandated to cut back by 20%. The water is coming from a well taped into the groundwater. On that issue only fracking should be ban in SLO County.  Freeport McRanRo Arroyo Grande Oil Fields usage would amount to over 8 billion gallons of water. How is this o.k? It would be criminal if there was a law against it. But alas our lawmakers are opposed to criminalize using water to manufacturer a toxic waste that is hazardous to every living thing it comes in contact with.

 

 

 

SLO Board of Supervisors issues a gag order on fracking opponents.

BOS meeting 05-20-14Tuesday, May 20, 2014,  San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors Meeting.

Anxiously and proudly the Students against Fracking, Cuesta and Poly coalition, attended their first Board of Supervisors meeting in the middle of mid terms and finals, to deliver 750 signatures calling for a countywide ban on Fracking and about 20 other persons from all over the county and local grassroots organization SLO Clean Water Action using the public form to deliver 3500 plus signatures collected from county residents and farmers,  people across the State and around the world, calling on the BOS to adopt a countywide ban on Fracking.

I was one of the persons representing local grassroots organization SLOCWA standing with the Students against Fracking.  Bruce Gibson, Chairman of the Board, during a recess approached me.  Why me in particular?   I do not know.  He announced that too many people signed up to speak. I didn’t know what that meant.  Did not know there was a limited number of people allowed to speak in the public comment segment. It’s not posted anywhere.  Gibson further announced to me that only 4 people could speak and time is limited to 3 minutes each. I knew about the 3 minutes. I was hearing limited to 4 speakers for the first time. I was stunned to learn this just minutes before we were due to make our presentation.
Again, why was  he giving me this information and not the entire audience?

Coming from the Chairman of the Board I trusted  this change was something of an  official nature and compliance was the only option. There were more than 4 people who had signed up to speak.  I was sure of that. I had no idea what was regarded as “too many.” I begged for more time. I begged that everyone be allowed to speak.  He was insistent, “No”, he repeated.   5 people I begged. 15 minutes I begged.  My hands grasping his in desperation. Please, I pleaded. Reluctantly he nodded and agreed. I thanked him.

I Begged. I  thanked him.  Not a proud moment.

I only know Mr. Gibson as an official.  When he approached us I assumed it was official business and from the request forms we filled out he knew why we were there.  Also, we were all wearing tee shirts espousing to a countywide ban on Fracking.  There were other green tee shirts in the audience and I wondered if they were  presented with the same directive from Mr. Gibson?   And what about all the people who had filled out speaker slips?  Were they all being informed of this sudden change  that only 5 people total were going to be allowed  to speak?

Public comment is an agenda item.  Addition, subtraction, corrections to an agenda item must come in the form of an addendum which must appear with the agenda.  This is how Item # 19 on May 20th appeared on the agenda.

19. The general public comment period is intended to provide an opportunity for members of the public to address the Board on matters within the Board’s purview that are not scheduled on the current agenda. Individuals interested in speaking are asked to fill out a “Board Appearance Request Form” and submit it to the Clerk of the Board prior to the start of general public comment. When recognized by the Chair, each individual speaker may address the Board and is limited to a MAXIMUM of three (3) minutes or a reasonable period of time as determined by the Board Chairperson.

There was no addendum to this Item.

THE BOARD APPEARANCE REQUEST FORM Reads:

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors Welcomes Your Comments

In the interest of time, a MAXIMUM of three (3) minutes will be reserved for your presentation. Please submit this completed form to the Clerk of the Board prior to the item.

It is requested that you remove your hat in the Board Chambers. please remember to turn off your cell phone while in the board Chambers.

Public Comment remarks should be directed to the Chairman and the Board as a whole and not to any individual thereof. No person will be permitted to make slanderous, profane or personal remarks against any individual.

NAME:

AGENDA ITEM:  #19

ISSUE:  Fracking

SIGNATURE:                                                                                           DATE:

— OPTIONAL —

May we have your phone number and/or email in case we have follow up questions?

Please note: This is public information and may be disclosed upon request.

 

Telling us only moments before we were prepared  to make our presentations that a total of  5 speakers were allowed to speak on this agenda item is an addition to item #19. Clearly an addendum was in order. No addendum was posted.

 

When the meeting resumed,  agenda item #19, public comment was introduced,  Mr. Gibson, rather than calling names from the submitted slips as was the usual procedure, he unexpectedly announced that five unidentified speakers will  come forward, state their names  and time starts ticking.  This was unprecedented. A point of order was in order. Where was county council?  Where were the other Board members?

The Supervisors must have known that their constituents from their districts  there to speak had  just been indiscriminately culled by the Chairman of the Board.  Every supervisor must have known that every person who filled out a request to speak form and will not be called,  was served a gag order by the Chair. They had to know this. It is their job to know these things. It is county councils job to know these things and insure proper legal procedure is adhered to. Not a peep from anyone.

The Chairman speaks for all the members. So unless a supervisor objects, county council or Clerk of the Board calls for a point of order to what the Chairman is doing, it is assumed that it meets with their approval. Silence is consent.

We have to trust at this point that what is about to happen is legal and proper.  Since  those put in charge of making and enforcing the law are allowing this to proceed, then it must be legal with consent and with knowledge.

So here is how it all went down. When Mr. Gibson, who had approached us just moments before, looked in our direction and said “speakers step forward” we assumed this was our cue to do what he instructed us to do.

Heidi Harmon opened the comments, followed by 3 students, David Kooi, Cuesta, Andi Fieber and Lucas Carlow, Cal Poly,  spoke elegantly expressing their concerns about their future and the future of our environment while  delivering 750 + signatures from students calling for a ban. I closed by delivering petitions from local farmers and residents, petitions signed by people from across the State and around the world.  Official letters from the Board’s peers, the San Luis Obispo City Council and the Arroyo Grande City Council, calling on the Board of Supervisors to join us in adopting a countywide ban on fracking insuring our health, safety and well-being.  I included a draft response  to our request for their consideration in the interest of saving staff time which always seems a reason  to delay action.

I had tied the petitions up in a gold bow and as I left the podium to deliver it to the Clerk of the Board across the room, when I hit the center of the room,  I turned to the audience and rather triumphantly waved the petitions in the air. The entire room waved back. We are not allowed to clap or make noises in chambers. Raised hands is accepted protocol to show approval. Every hand I could see was raised to the rafters.

Four other people did come to the podium. I honestly do not recall  their names being called.  But if they were, how did that happen? We were told there was only time for 5 speakers.

At the end of ‘public comment’ Mr. Gibson instructed staff to alert Water Resources Board and the Planning Dept. to look into the fracking issue.  I do not think anyone knew what it was he was instructing them to do or how that was going to qualify as a response to join us in adopting a countywide ban on fracking.  Nonetheless, everyone on the board nodded in agreement to Gibson’s instructions. No one objected. Silence is consent.

Gibson estimated that it would probably be several months before anything will get on the agenda.

I don’t think the Board gets it.  I don’t think they were listening. It was like they had their own private agenda they were carrying out independent of what was taking place at the meeting.   Calling on the Water Resources and the Planning Dept was a totally inappropriate response to, ‘will you join us in adopting a countywide ban on fracking?’

I don’t think they got the message that we are TELLING  them we do not want fracking in this county.  And what we were asking from them was a vote to assure us that they  share our vision of a safe, healthy, happy, livable and prosperous future.

Or, maybe they did hear us.  Maybe they did know exactly what we were saying  and they did respond. They responded with a lie. They told us we cannot speak.  They told us they do not want to hear what we want. They told us they do not care.  And how ironic is that?  That is exactly the same message the oil industry has been sending to every community across this land.  We can lie and we don’t care.

I want to thank the Board.  Now, we get it. We get that you don’t care and you can’t be trusted.  And now it is our turn to respond in kind.  We do care. A lot.  And we will make lying, cheating and the stealing  of our natural resources and quality of life a crime in this county.  We will not be silenced. We will prevail.

JEANNE BLACKWELL

 

BOS meeting 05-20-14