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.
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.