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
Add to Briefcase
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 »
A CANDIDATE TO BE ‘PROUD’ OF
Chicago Tribune Endorses Gary Johnson
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

No matter that his recall of foreign leaders leaves something to be desired, Gary Johnson is the choice of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board. The editors argue that Donald Trump couldn't do the job of president, while hitting Hillary Clinton for "her intent to greatly increase federal spending and taxation, and serious questions about honesty and trust." Which leaves them with Johnson. "Every American who casts a vote for him is standing for principles," they write, "and can be proud of that vote. Yes, proud of a candidate in 2016."

FUNERAL FOR ISRAELI LEADER
Obama Compares Peres to ‘Giants of the 20th Century’
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Speaking at the funeral of former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, President Obama "compared Peres to 'other giants of the 20th century' such as Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth who 'find no need to posture or traffic in what's popular in the moment.'" Among the 6,000 mourners at the service was Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Obama called Abbas's presence a sign of the "unfinished business of peace" in the region.

Source:
THE QUESTION
How Many New Voters Does the Clinton Campaign Aim to Register?
2 hours ago
THE ANSWER

Three million—a number that lays "bare the significant gap between Donald Trump’s bare-bones operation and the field program that Clinton and her hundreds of aides have been building for some 17 months."

Source:
“STANDING FOR PRINCIPLES”
Chicago Tribune Endorses Johnson
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

In a somewhat shocking move, the Chicago Tribune has endorsed Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson for president, saying a vote for him is one that voters "can be proud of." The editorial barely touches on Donald Trump, who the paper has time and again called "unfit to be president," before offering a variety of reasons for why it can't endorse Hillary Clinton. Johnson has been in the news this week for being unable to name a single world leader who he admires, after earlier this month being unable to identify "Aleppo," a major Syrian city in the middle of the country's ongoing war.

Source:
NEVER TRUMP
USA Today Weighs in on Presidential Race for First Time Ever
16 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump." That's the message from USA Today editors, who are making the first recommendation on a presidential race in the paper's 34-year history. It's not exactly an endorsement; they make clear that the editorial board "does not have a consensus for a Clinton endorsement." But they state flatly that Donald Trump is, by "unanimous consensus of the editorial board, unfit for the presidency."

Source:
×