Dec 19, 2012

The Brown administration has drawn up California's first rules governing the practice of hyrdaulic fracturing -- or "fracking," as it's commonly known -- in which companies inject chemicals into the ground to free up gas and oil deposits.


From the Mercury News' Paul Rogers: "In recent years, fracking has made headlines in New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and other states, as energy companies have used new technologies to produce huge amounts of natural gas, creating jobs and lowering natural gas prices considerably."


"The practice even has an environmental benefit: By making natural gas cheaper, it has led utilities to use less coal, reducing global warming and soot emissions."


"But critics have raised concerns about fracking chemicals polluting groundwater, along with widespread disruption to rural property owners from huge rigs and loud industrial equipment. A documentary film, "Gasland," further increased concerns when it showed tap water so polluted near one fracking area that it caught fire.

The oil industry on Tuesday said the California draft rules were a good start."


Speaking of the environment, for some 13 years California has been putting together protections for undersea sanctuaries and the end is in sight.


From the LAT's Kenneth R. Weiss: "Surviving budget cuts, mobs of angry fishermen and death threats, California officials today completed the largest network of undersea parks in the continental United States — 848 square miles of protected waters that reach from the Oregon state line to the Mexican border."


"The final segment of marine reserves, along the state's north coast, becomes official today. Its 137 square miles of protected waters reflect an unusual agreement reached among Native American tribes, conservation groups and fishermen to preserve tribal traditions while protecting marine life from exploitation."


"All told, the dozen-year effort has set aside 16% of state waters as marine reserves, including 9% that are off-limits to fishing or gathering of any kind."


The reaction to the horrific killing of children in Connecticut continues: In California, which has the nation's most restrictive gun laws, officials are proposing new curbs.


From the Chronicle's Wyatt Buchanan: "On Tuesday, one Democratic lawmaker said he will propose a bill to require Californians to obtain a permit and undergo background checks before purchasing any ammunition in the state. Another said he will introduce a measure to require annual registration and background checks for every gun owner. And a Republican lawmaker said he wants to bar gun ownership permanently for anyone deemed by a court to be a danger to others because of mental health problems."


"In addition to changes in law, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer has called on the state's public employee retirement programs - which wield enormous investment power - to examine their holdings and divest in companies that make guns that are illegal in California."


"Lockyer sits on the boards of both the California State Public Employees' Retirement System and the California State Teachers' Retirement System. The teachers' retirement system said Tuesday that officials had begun a review."


Despite a widening concern over guns, interest in weapons has never been higher, according to a report out of the Inland Empire.


From the Press-Enterprise's Janet Zimmerman: "From October to November, background checks required for gun purchases in California jumped 27 percent, from 89,164 to 113,832, according to FBI records. Though the checks don’t necessarily translate into gun sales, the number was the second-highest month since the FBI began publishing data in 1998."


"Raahauge said it was reminiscent of a similar run on guns in 1994, before then-President Bill Clinton signed into law a 10-year assault weapons ban.

“When Clinton was president, they said Clinton sold more guns than anybody. He ain’t did anything compared to what Obama has sold,” Raahauge said. “I guess people believe he wants to take their guns.”


"Gun owners and dealers said they fear that banning one type of gun would lead to laws against other types of weapons and their right to bear arms will be trampled."


Meanwhile, California voters approved Proposition 36, which overhauls California's "three-strikes" law, but local authorities are balking.


From Michael Montgomery at California Watch: "State inmates serving life terms are starting to file resentencing petitions with local judges following the passage of Proposition 36, the ballot measure that overhauls California's controversial three strikes law. But opposition from local prosecutors and other factors could limit the number of qualifying inmates who actually get released."


"Scott Thorpe, CEO of the California District Attorneys Association, said his organization is recommending that district attorneys file subpoenas for the prison records of inmates seeking a resentencing hearing so they can scrutinize everything from the offenders’ health and psychological profile to their participation in rehabilitation programs."


“We’re arguing that everything should be taken into consideration,” he said. “If they haven’t taken advantage of programs that were available to them, we’re saying that’s a relevant fact in determining whether this is a responsible person to go out into society."



Get the daily Roundup
free in your e-mail

The Roundup is a daily look at the news from the editors of Capitol Weekly and
Privacy Policy