The new fracking moratorium for Santa Cruz County will protect our homes, farms and water supply. (Photograph: Kenn Reiller).
Santa Cruz County Moves to Adopt Fracking Moratorium
On September 9th, 2013 the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors took a vote to move forward with a moratorium on all oil or gas development in the County. In October, after the necessary public noticing period had passed, the Board put a moratorium in force for all the unincorporated areas of the County. This begins the process of amending the Santa Cruz County General Plan to establish a moratorium on Fracking.
Sierra Club California and various Sierra Club Chapters from the Ventana Chapter south to the Angeles Chapter are organizing to confront the environmental threats posed by this new oil drilling technology. In the Monterey Shale "tight oil" or shale oil is the target of the fossil fuel industry, rather than natural gas. A "well stimulation" technique called acid stimulation is likely to be the extraction method of choice for the oil industry in the Monterey Shale. Acid stimulation is intended to chemically melt rock when it is combined with the high-pressure hydraulic fracturing techniques that began to be widely used in the 1990s. Contrary to oil industry public relations, Fracking is a new technology with a relatively short track record. Many problems have been exposed. Once the international price of oil rises again, drilling in the Monterey Shale is likely to increase rapidly unless our local governments act to prevent it... [more]
Rafael Payan, Executive Director of the Monterey Peninsula Park District. (Photographer: Stef Pummel)
Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District
Chapter members on the Infamous marathon hike of the entire 24-mile Pine Ridge Trail in the Ventana Wilderness led by leader Esperanza Hernandez this month.
Hiker Julio Ponce drew this sketch of the Pine Ridge Trail Hike as thank you to leader Esperanza!
In a hard fought legislative victory for conservation activists in Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, Assembly Bill AB 904 will not apply to these counties or to Marin County. Activists with the Ventana and Loma Prieta Chapters of Sierra Club, the Committee for Green Foothills, a member of the Sempervirens Fund Board and several mountain neighborhood groups and agencies worked very hard and were finally successful in excluding this law from applying to the coast ranges from Marin south to Watsonville. There is little commercial timber logging in the coast-ranges south of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The Santa Cruz Mountains have the most intense intermix of logging zoned land and residential home properties in the entire State of California. This was the issue that helped the activists fighting this bill to finally convince enough legislators to agree to exclude this area. Sadly this law could not be stopped for the sake of the rest of California's forests, despite strong efforts by Sierra Club CA and several Northern CA environmental groups. A representative of the Ventana Chapter, Kevin Collins, traveled to Sacramento twice to lobby in the State Capitol against this bill, as did several other local activists... [more]
|Chapter members Nikki Nedeff and Terry Hallock enjoying the views from Cone Peak. Kudos to Mike Heard of the Ventana Wilderness Alliance trail crew for clearing this spectacular route to the Ventana Wilderness second highest peak.|
By Justin Ebrahemi
From September 18 to 22, Sierra Club delegates from across the country gathered in San Francisco for the annual Board of Directors meeting and Banquet. Executive Director Michael Brune invigorated the Council of Club Leaders and Board of Directors with an inspirational speech about overcoming the war on pessimism in the environmental community.
Citing the recent passing of SB 4 (which the Club opposed -see article below), the bill that convolutes the future of hydraulic fracking in California, Brune attributes Governor Jerry Brown's action to the cynical ideology that we cannot curb environmental ruination. "The collective negativity on climate change hurts us. We're justified in being alarmed in the fate of our planet, but we shouldn't stop there…the pessimism stifles our ambition, muzzles our desires to do things."
Michael Brune went on to establish a resolute mission statement for the Sierra Club: a 100% clean economy that uses energy that is completely safe, sustainable, and carbon-free. Earlier this year, Brune met with President Obama on climate change. It is significant to note that the President is justifiably proud that generation of renewable energy from wind and solar doubled during his first term and he has now committed to seeing it double again.
Drawing on this commitment from the President, Brune continued his speech by stating that by 2030, it is important for the Sierra Club to be leading advocates for cuts in the use of oil by half and to cease the production of new fossil fuel projects. He responded to environmental cynicism with clear reasons to be optimistic, citing that the price of wind energy has dropped by 90% in the past decade, and the price of solar declined 80% in the past three years.
Indeed, the weekend hosted an array of positive thinking in the war against pessimism. One example was Kathy Lacey's incredible story of the Terrapin Nesting Project, where she saved the endangered Terrapin Turtle population after the destruction of their Jersey Shore habitat following Hurricane Sandy.
What began as a solitary movement progressed into a community coalition of hundreds of volunteers, who moved eggs from their former beach habitat, which was further threatened by raccoon predation, to an enclosed sandy area. Lacey aptly won a Special Achievement Award.
Chapter delegates and board members reinforced the significance of Sierra Club's grassroots activism. Chris Thomas introduced an innovative online module to build grassroots movements. By applying Facebook, the module uses a simple interface to localize issues and help interested users launch events. Users will be able to track campaigns with a live feed. This brilliant concept is expected to stimulate young new members to help in the fight for a sustainable future.
The Club further introduced a Diversity Inclusion Plan which aims to increase ethnic and age diversity within membership and volunteerism.
As a personal note, this meeting reinvigorated my passion for a sustainable future and proved that the Sierra Club is at the forefront of the green movement. Meeting with dozens of fellow delegates, I witnessed cultural and political diversity amongst us; however, under the banner of The Sierra Club, we all came together for a fight against climate change. I felt an intense privilege to be within the nucleus of environmental change, as I anticipate amazing things occurring for a greener tomorrow.
On September 11, the weak hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" bill SB 4, Senate Legislation by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills and Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced passed the Assembly with 46 votes. Earlier this month, several consumer and environmental groups including Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch and Center for Biological Diversity called for Senator Pavley to withdraw this hopelessly compromised bill.
Although well-meaning, SB 4 does not provide the disclosure needed for Californians to protect their environment and public health from fracking impacts. Moreover, recent amendments adopted on September 6, will make it hard for Californians—or local and state agencies—to oversee and control fracking's negative impacts until 2015. This could encourage a rush of new fracking well construction with no oversight... [more]
On August 2, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that it would halt two hydraulic fracturing leases for oil drilling on federal lands managed by their Hollister BLM office and covering several counties including Monterey. This decision came in the wake of a legal victory earlier this year in a suit brought by Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), which challenged the BLM's decision to auction off about 2,500 acres of land in Monterey County to oil companies. The BLM has now further agreed to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate the effects and risks of fracking in the Monterey Shale, a region stretching from Ventura to Santa Cruz Counties... [more]
Early this month, three formal settlement agreements regarding the new Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project (MPWSP) were filed by California-American Water Company (Cal-Am) with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Cal Am is seeking a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) before the CPUC.
Sierra Club has been engaged in legal action to protect the public trust resources of the Carmel River since 1991 when represented by attorney Larry Silver, the Club filed a complaint with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) protesting Cal Am's continued over drafting of the Carmel River. After years of legal wrangling the SWRCB issued a Cease and Desist Order in 2009... [more]
In early July, Judge Harold Kahn of the Superior Court in San Francisco decided in favor of Security National Guaranty (SNG) in its litigation against the California Coastal Commission for denying their proposed mega resort a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) in 2010. The Monterey Bay Shores Eco-Resort has plans for 341-unit mixed use development on thirty nine acres of fragile coastal dunes west of Highway 1. The entire site is sensitive habitat area and supports threatened and endangered species such as the Smith's blue butterfly, Monterey spine-flower (shown here) and nesting western snowy plover. For over twelve years, Ventana Chapter has opposed this project and retained attorney Larry Silver to represent us as intervenors in all litigation related to this case... [more]
Assembly Bill AB 904 has passed out of the California State Assembly to the Senate. The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water hears this bill on June 25.
Sierra Club California and several chapters including Ventana have written letters strongly opposing AB 904. This legislation would radically change and, in some cases virtually eliminate state supervision of commercial timber logging on private lands in California.
This bill, introduced by Assemblymember Wesley Chesbo (D-North Coast), expands a specific type of logging permit that is now available to landowners who do not also operate log mills. AB 904 expands this permit from a size of 2,500 acres of forest land, to an astonishing 15,000 acres or 23.4 square miles of land. These permits to log, called "Working Forest Management Plans" (WFMP) are permanent and transferable in perpetuity to all succeeding landowners, forever... [more]
By Rita Dalessio
Ventana Chapter will be working to protect the federally listed threatened Pacific Coast western snowy plover as plans are developed for a sustainable Monterey Peninsula desalination plant.
Proposals for a new Regional Water Project for Monterey Peninsula are currently undergoing review by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and other agencies. Next steps could be a search for a suitable location for desalination test wells along the coast. Under consideration is a portion of the Cemex sand mining property in Marina... [more]
For over 22 years the Ventana Chapter has been litigating on behalf of the public trust resources of the Carmel River. We have been represented by attorney Larry Silver, and consulted with hydrologist and fishery biologist Dr. John Williams.
Following years of futile negotiations, in March 1991, Sierra Club filed a complaint with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) protesting California American Water's (CAW) continued over drafting of the Carmel River. Our complaint alleged that CAW's pumping from the Carmel River's subsurface flow was without lawful right and that its water diversions threatened the survivability of the local steelhead population (Oncorhychus mykiss). During twelve days of hearings by SWRCB, Sierra Club presented scientific evidence that CAW's diversions were unlawful and that CAW was producing water from the Carmel River alluvium without a permit from SWRCB. Sierra Club also showed that these practices were damaging the public trust resources of the Carmel River... [more]
The California Department of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) has recently come under fire for its lack of regulation of "fracking," the process of hydraulic fracturing, an oil and natural gas extraction technique that involves injecting a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and assorted chemicals into the ground. In October 2012, Sierra Club and Earth Justice sued DOGGR to block approval of new oil and gas wells because State regulators have allegedly failed to consider or adequately analyze risks of fracking. This year the agency held five state-wide hearings to receive public input on a "discussion draft" report on proposed regulations. The final hearing was held in Monterey. Chapter members joined a group of about 70 participants from Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties to voice concerns about fracking in the 1750 square mile area which contains Monterey shale... [more]
by Rita Dalessio
The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD) has been rescuing young Carmel River steelhead (Oncorhychus mykiss) from the drying lower Carmel River as part of an annual program to preserve local stocks of the threatened fish since 1989. Every spring or summer, beginning at the Highway 1 Bridge, District staff follow the retreating river upstream and remove fish from pools before they dry up. The rescued fish are either transported to upstream portions of the Carmel River with proper habitat conditions or to the District's Sleepy Hollow Steelhead Rearing Facility (SHSRF) if river habitat is not available. Fish are reared there until the river flows again in late fall or winter... [more]
In the wake of a landmark legal victory against fracking on public lands, Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed a new lawsuit on April 18 challenging the auction of an additional 17,000 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acres in Monterey, San Benito, and Fresno counties for drilling and fracking.
The lawsuit of which the Ventana Chapter is a sponsor, says the government did not fully consider the dangers fracking poses to watersheds, endangered wildlife and air quality before auctioning off the leases in December... [more]
On April 7, Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) won a challenge to Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) September 2011 mineral lease sale, which leased roughly 2700 acres for oil and gas development in Fresno and Monterey counties.
Federal Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal granted the Club’s motion for summary judgment on the primary issue, which was that BLM failed to consider the effects of fracking.
The potential consequences of this ruling are very significant, as Monterey County is believed to have one of the largest deposits of shale oil in the nation.
In issuing his ruling, the judge stated that fracking both makes oil and gas production more likely, and it increases the risk of oil and gas production that does occur... [more]
By Justin Ebrahemi
Ventana Chapter Executive Committee members this month met with California State University Monterey Bay's new president, Dr. Eduardo Ochoa for a friendly introduction to the region. The president, originally from Buenos Aries, Argentina has worked as an engineer, academic administrator, and Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education in the Obama Administration... [more]
By Mary Pendlay
The fine yellow dust that settles everywhere on our Peninsula in March is a sign of spring, the Monterey Pine, in its native forest atop Jacks Peak, admits it is the guilty party. This year is no different for the growing trees, except that much has happened; although, not in the forest, but outside of it.
Two years ago Monterey County Parks entertained the idea of considering a zipline in the 960 acre forest of Jacks Peak Park. Local hikers and environmental groups rushed to the meetings which quickly made clear Jacks Peak Park is a passive recreational area designed for walks, picnics, exploring and many other quiet activities. The views of Point Lobos and the Santa Lucia Mountains serve as a backdrop to the many plants, birds and animals that thrive in an undisturbed environment, which is the expressed purpose of the Park... [more]
The Chapter, working with other groups has submitted comments on the US Forest Service notice of intent (NOI) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) associated with the proposed Strategic Community Fuelbreak Improvement Project.
We are concerned that the Proposed Action states that the construction of wilderness portions of the fuelbreaks would utilize motorized equipment (chain saws). A determination of the need for administrative action and the appropriate minimum tool or activity is dependent upon the findings of a Minimum Requirements Analysis (MRA) according to the Wilderness Act of 1964. Until an MRA is completed, it appears premature to select chain saws as the minimum tool... [more]
Thanks to the hard work of Congressman Sam Farr, in January Pinnacles National Monument was upgraded to National Park status by President Obama. Officials on Monday, February 11, celebrating America's 59th National Park included Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Congressman Farr and California Secretary of Resources John Laird. Nearly 400 people including many Chapter members and National Sierra Club Parks Committee member Vicky Hoover attended this momentous occasion... [more]
Responding to the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) released by the City of Sand City for a proposed 342-room hotel on 26 beachfront acres, the Chapter retained attorney Larry Silver and Coastal Ecologist and Botanist Peter R. Baye, Ph.D to submit comments.
The project description is described in two phases. The first phase would be a 139-room hotel and parking garage; the second phase would include a 203-room hotel, two restaurants, a 19,700 square foot restaurant and a Tapas Bar, a 16,800 square foot conference center, a 14,000 square foot spa as well as a juice bar, wine center and parking. There would be a total of 639 parking spaces... [more]
The Chapter has voted to grant the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District (MPRPD) $175,000 from the Marina Coastal Habitat Protection, Conservation, and Restoration Trust Fund to restore coastal habitat at the Marina Dunes Preserve adjacent to Marina State Beach.
The Chapter Marina Committee consists of Natalie Zayas, Scott Waltz, and Steve Zmak who work with the City of Marina (the trust fund administrator) on reviewing grant applications for the trust fund as well as coastal land use issues... [more]
Update: President Obama signed this bill into law on Thursday, January 9, 2013.
The bill, HR 3641 passed the US Congress in July and the US Senate in December. This legislation elevates the 26,000 acre Pinnacles National Monument into a National Park. This will be the 59th National Park created by Congress and the first since 2004.
This unique landscape full of soaring rock spires and crags so moved President Theodore Roosevelt that he named the area a National Monument in 1908. The area draws its name from the volcanic spires that were formed by the eruption of the Neenach Volcano over 23 million years ago... [more]
Sierra Club, Earth Justice and other environmentalists are suing California oil and gas drilling regulators over hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”. On October 16, California Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) was sued by the Sierra Club and other groups seeking to block approval of new oil and gas wells because regulators have allegedly failed to consider or adequately analyze risks of fracking. The Club sued to force the State to conduct more environmental review as required by CEQA before permitting fracking. Currently the State regularly approves permits for wells without any environmental analysis, tracking or monitoring of public health from fracking by excluding such projects from review.
The lawsuit seeks a court order prohibiting approval of new wells until the state evaluates the risks of fracking which is a highly controversial and dangerous drilling method linked to water contamination and other issues throughout the United States.
Monterey and San Benito Counties have had several exploratory tests for fracking. Upon learning of the lawsuit, Monterey County Supervisor Dave Potter stated: “I applaud the Club’s actions. I am firmly against fracking in Monterey County and agree there are still too many unanswered questions about the impacts to water quality and the environment, with too little oversight at the state and federal levels.” As Chair of the Legislative Committee for the Board of Supervisors, Potter has requested legislative priorities to deal with the concerns about fracking including potential impacts to the environment, clean air and clean water.
Make a contribution to the Sierra Club today - stop fracking in Monterey County!
Your local Sierra Club Chapter and Group needs financial support to carry on our fight to protect the spectacular coast, valleys, and mountains.
We cannot fight for endangered and at risk wildlife without money. We cannot save precious forests, mountains, watersheds, and open spaces without money.
We know that you care about the environment from your membership in the Club. Now we need your help.
Much of the work of the Club consists of non-glamorous, roll-up-your-sleeves labor. Volunteers study EIRs and make comments; activists get government staff reports and keep tabs on proposed developments and policy changes; sometimes the Club files suit.
Please help us continue to protect and preserve the Central Coast. To make a donation please send a check made out to ‘Sierra Club’ to
Sierra Club Ventana Chapter, P O Box 5667, Carmel, CA 93921-5667
Contributions to the Sierra Club are not tax deductible. To send tax deductible contributions, which mainly support legal actions when they become necessary, make your check out to ‘Sierra Club Foundation’ instead.