The Backdoor Bid to Ban Fracking

A cadre of Democrats is banking on a key personal tie to shut down the drilling process.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 30: A protestor holds a sign during a demonstration against fracking in California outside of the Hiram W. Johnson State Office Building on May 30, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Dozens of protesters with the group Californians Against Fracking staged a protest outside of California Gov. Jerry Brown's San Francisco offices demanding that Gov. Brown ban fracking in the state.
National Journal
Patrick Reis
See more stories about...
Patrick Reis
Nov. 15, 2013, 9:32 a.m.

In polit­ics, it’s not what you know, it’s whom you know.

That’s the lo­gic a group of polit­ic­al in­siders are bank­ing on in a push to ban frack­ing in Cali­for­nia, a state that ap­pears on the pre­cip­ice of a frack­ing boom.

A co­ali­tion of former ad­visers to Demo­crat­ic Gov. Jerry Brown is pre­par­ing to send its old boss a let­ter ask­ing him to im­pose a statewide morator­i­um on frack­ing un­less a string of sci­entif­ic stud­ies on the drilling’s en­vir­on­ment­al con­sequences can be stud­ied.

“As you read this, the oil in­dustry is act­ively ex­plor­ing the Monterey Shale and us­ing un­con­ven­tion­al, un­tested, and in­cred­ibly dan­ger­ous ex­trac­tion tech­niques to squeeze more dirty oil out of Cali­for­nia,” the ad­visers write.

The group is head­lined by Wendy Wend­landt, former na­tion­al or­gan­izer on Brown’s 1992 pres­id­en­tial cam­paign, and Mi­chael Kieschnick, one of Brown’s former eco­nom­ic ad­visers. In an email ob­tained by Na­tion­al Journ­al, the duo claim to have more than a dozen former Brown ad­visers on board.

The in­siders may have a dir­ect pipeline to Brown, but — bar­ring a rad­ic­al de­par­ture in policy — their let­ter is not go­ing to con­vince the gov­ernor to ban frack­ing.

But it does un­der­score a con­tinu­al ten­sion with­in the Demo­crat­ic Party over frack­ing, for­cing its vari­ous fac­tions to pri­or­it­ize between the in­creased rev­en­ue it brings to states against the en­vir­on­ment­al risks — and con­tro­versy — of a massive, and rap­id, ex­pan­sion of fossil fuels.

Thus far, Brown ap­pears to be seek­ing a middle ground.

The gov­ernor signed a com­pre­hens­ive frack­ing policy in­to law in Septem­ber and is cur­rently over­see­ing key pro­vi­sions in that law that are set to go in­to ef­fect at the start of 2014. The law re­quires drillers to dis­close more in­form­a­tion about their frack­ing prac­tices, and it calls for a study of its en­vir­on­ment­al con­sequences, but it fell far short of the bind­ing reg­u­la­tions green groups were push­ing for.

What We're Following See More »
DOWN TO THE WIRE
Sanders Looks to Right the Ship in Indiana
15 hours ago
THE LATEST

Hillary Clinton may have the Democratic nomination sewn up, but Bernie Sanders apparently isn't buying it. Buoyed by a poll showing them in a "virtual tie," Sanders is "holding three rallies on the final day before the state primary and hoping to pull off a win after a tough week of election losses and campaign layoffs." 

Source:
‘SPOOKED’ IN NORTH DAKOTA
Cruz Delegates Having Second Thoughts?
20 hours ago
THE LATEST

As unbound delegates pledged to Ted Cruz watch him "struggle to tread water in a primary increasingly dominated by Trump, many of them, wary of a bitter convention battle that could rend the party at its seams, are rethinking their commitment to the Texas senator."

Source:
MORE PRESSURE ON CONGRESS TO ACT
Puerto Rico to Default on Payment Today
20 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The confrontation between debt-swamped Puerto Rico and its creditors is intensifying as the U.S. territory will default on payments due Monday, deepening the island's financial crisis and placing additional pressure on Congress to intervene." The amount of the default is estimated at $422 million.

Source:
A RARE KIND OF REBUKE
Leading Republicans Would Say ‘No Thanks’ If Asked to Be Trump’s VP
23 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Nikki Haley. Jeb Bush. Scott Walker. Lindsey Graham. John Kasich. The list is growing ever longer of Republicans who say they wouldn't even consider becoming Donald Trump's running mate. "The recoiling amounts to a rare rebuke for a front-runner: Politicians usually signal that they are not interested politely through back channels, or submit to the selection process, if only to burnish their national profiles."

Source:
NEW WSJ/NBC/MARIST POLL
Trump Decisively Ahead in Indiana
23 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump holds a 15-point lead over Ted Cruz in the potentially decisive May 3 presidential primary race in Indiana, according to results from a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll. Trump gets support from 49 percent of likely Republican primary voters — followed by Cruz at 34 percent and John Kasich at 13 percent. If that margin in Indiana holds on Tuesday, Trump would be on a glide path towards obtaining the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the Republican nomination on a first ballot at the GOP convention in July."

Source:
×