Newsletter #29 Lot of Good News

Obama vetoes Keystone XL. This is certainly a step in the right direction towards a brighter, safer future. And perhaps has thrown the oil industry a little off its game thinking they had this pipeline thing in the bag. Lord knows they spent enough money buying up votes. I guess they hadn’t taken into account the human factor and people power. It helped that Obama was listening and had the courage to do the right thing by the people.

We can expect that the oil industry will do whatever it takes to move that oil, if not below the ground then above. Either way, above or below the risk factors are the same and the answer is still no.

Mesa Refinery Watch is the local group here opposing the expansion of the Nipomo spur to accommodate the above the ground Canadian tar sands oil. And the thing is the San Luis Obispo county destination is pivotal to all the communities in California where these oil trains will be passing through at the rate of 20,800 cars a year.

Without a destination point they have no reason to come here. Communities all along the route are contacting our Board of Supervisors.

San Jose wrote our Board of Supervisors calling on them to deny the expansion. City of Davis sent 15,000 letters and emails to the SLO BOS. San Luis Obispo City Council called on the Board of Supervisors to consider the safety and well being of all inhabitants within their jurisdiction and to make that the deciding factor.

And the Council also appealed to Cal Poly President Armstrong to send a letter to the Board on behalf of the Cal Poly community which is well within the ‘blast zone’. Cal Poly students are also collecting signatures from students, professors, faculty calling on President Armstrong to appeal to the Board of Supervisors to do the right thing and keep this community safe and sound. Maybe Alumni would like to speak up about these trains passing within feet of a packed stadium on game night or parents of students housed within feet of the tracks.


I think SLO City Council showed real leadership and despite any other issue you may or may not have with the Council this one deserves a letter of appreciation. Letting our governing Boards know when they do the right thing might encourage them to continue to seek this kind of approval.

Community Strategy Meeting on the threat of oil trains in San Luis Obispo.


When: Wednesday, March 4th 7-9pm

Where: SLO Library 995 Palm Street




A tie for First


Governor Brown received a

Legal Petition Urges Gov. Brown to Impose Emergency Fracking Moratorium After
Oil Waste Illegally Dumped Into California Aquifers

150 Community, Environmental and Health Groups Press Governor for Urgent Action Amid Revelations of Aquifer Contamination, Benzene in Fracking Wastewater

Filed under the Administrative Procedure Act. He has 30 days to respond. Courts do not take kindly to being ignored so we can expect an answer. Maybe this is what our Board of Supervisors needs to get their attention and prompt a response to the 89,000 people that are calling for an ban on exempted oil companies that refuse to comply with the Clean Air, Clean Water and Clean Drinking Water Act, Community Right-To-Know Act and the mother of all exemptions Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 which was created to specifically guarantee cradle to grave oversight and enforcement of all hazardous waste. With exemptions in place we have zero protection from and accountability of hazardous waste.

And let’s not forget the documented cases and testimony from the health community, doctors and nurses, speaking to the health issues caused by chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects and used with impunity by exempted oil drilling operations.

Our governing Board seems uninterested in the health and safety issues of Fracking willing to leave the matter to be decided by the Department of Oil, Gas, Geothermal Resources and a flawed new law, SB4.

Even though DOGGR, has admitted they are under staffed, lack funding resources and can not monitor the industry properly to insure our safety, health and well being. Still our Board puts all their trust in them with a wait and see what happens agenda.

The EPA is threatening to seize control of the states regulating of the waste-injection wells, (which is exactly what the Arroyo Grande Oil Fields are permitted to do and asking to expand the practice 3 fold) a job it turned over to California officials because the EPA admitted they didn’t have the resources to monitor and enforce the Clean Drinking Water Act, so it exempted the oil industry to avoid scrunity and turned the job over to the States in 1983.

The State dropped the ball from the get go and now 30 years later the EPA is forced to take a look at the program because of persistent and numerous complaints from ranchers and farmers of contaminated State water resources. No surprise really that the investigation showed there was no program in place, no records of monitoring because there was no monitoring and now it is a big bureaucratic nightmare unraveling years of everyone following the leader doing highly skilled duck and cover maneuvers.


The facts are the water is contaminated and toxic to all living things. The EPA gives orders to fix it. And there’s the crux of the matter. How do you bring something back to life once it has been lethally injected? You don’t because you can’t. Prognosis: You have to live with it as best you can. What does that mean? Don’t use the water. And the substitute for water is?

So, here we are in a very unique position of deciding our destiny. We have before us an historical accounting of events with a beginning, middle and end. We can see how this story of public trust water ends and decide right now if we want to change the ending or let history repeat itself.

Changing the ending to insure our water is safe and to prevent lethal contamination is to prohibit exempted entities from using our limited, non renewable groundwater and aquifers as a vehicle for removing toxic embedded fossil fuels cohabiting with latent radioactive and other hazardous materials.

So, what is our Board of Supervisors going to do? We have asked repeatedly for an affirmation of their commitment to maintaining and providing a safe, healthy, livable and economically prosperous community. The have repeatedly declined to commit.

Real leadership takes courage, integrity and is not afraid to do the right thing.


SLO Clean Water is on this legal petition calling on Gov. Brown to affirm his leadership role. And this petition was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and comes on the heels of the largest anti fracking gathering in history in Oakland on Feb. 7 in attendance a bus load of caring, concerned, committed and determined people taking a stand for a safe, healthy environment for generations to come. A very proud moment indeed.




The Federal Communications Commission voted 3 to 2 to reclassify broadband as a utility — and ban slow lanes on the Internet!

The FCC passed net neutrality rules based on the strongest legal authority—Title II of the Telecommunications Act—to protect the internet from corporate privatization.
Reclassifying broadband wasn’t even on FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s radar as recently as 9 months ago. As the Huffington Post just reported, “a few months ago, such rules were considered a pipe dream of net neutrality advocates.” This was a concerted effort by groups and individuals that surprised the heck out of the powers that be that thought they had this one in the bag too. Looks like we are redefining “the powers that be” and that would be us.




Report: Solar Is Cheaper Than the Grid in 42 of the 50 Largest US Cities

If Solar is cheaper, safer and we can make the switch today because of new businesses and technology right here in our own backyard then what’s the problem? The problem is if we switched to solar and put solar panels on every available already existing rooftop, parking structure, etc using a feed in tariff, we wouldn’t need to take up beautiful, pristine open spaces to plant these panels and we would have more energy than we know what to do with. Germany did it. And they have more energy than they know what to do with. Nice problem to have.

And do you know what kind of jobs this would create? Safer, cleaner, creative, innovative, jobs. The Sky is the limit. The panels need to be lighter. I’m sure if we put our minds to it we could make that happen.


Since Diablo only supplies 7% of the energy we need a smooth transition with a community choice energy program offering alternative sources from already existing wind, solar, thermal businesses offering wholesale prices. Community Choice Energy headed up by SLO Clean Energy has laid all the ground work for us to make this transition. Plans are on the SLO City Council’s desk just waiting for their approval. Moving ahead.

Marin County is enjoying 80% lower rates and 50% greener energy sources. Sonoma County in the works, Richmond in Costa County also distancing themselves from dead end fossil fuel energy sources and looking to a cleaner, brighter future. Just saying folks we have everything we need right here in our own backyard to keep this place golden. Solidarity is the key. We are all in this together.


Then there is the wind tree. I would like to plant one of these at the Grange to light up the grange sign and it doesn’t need water or fertilizer.



Soiree at on Steynberg Gallery Sunday March 8

This is an opportunity to meet Ken Haggard who developed the Frieze and has given so generously of his time and talent to the Grange.

Soiree, Sunday, March 8 at Steynberg’s Gallery, 1531 Monterey
7/7:45 wine and cheese, 7:45/9 discuss

Ken Haggard, Solar architect Great example of being the change you want to see.

The Frieze at the SLO Grange Hall: “Architectural Arts Develops Aesthetics Institutional History with a Program for Renewal”

The soiree will be Ken Haggard speaking on the Frieze at the SLO Grange Hall. This talk will describe the use of architectural arts to focus on institutional history, mythology, and formalization of a process of renewal for this modern green grange.

Ken Haggard is a local green architect who, with Polly Cooper, operates the San Luis Sustainability Group. Ken is also author of several books on architectural theory, history of architecture of SLO County, and Passive Solar Architecture.

And finally,

Little piece in the Trib about  “How the word ‘fracking’ is used as a political scare tactic”

Response didn’t make it in the trib but did make the website. Could elaborate a little more too.


Happy March.






Jeanne Blackwell

SLO Clean
The safety of the people is the supreme law. Bacon’s Max. in Reg. 12; Broom’s Max. 1.  Prevention is better than cure. Co. Litt. 304.  “In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” — George Orwell.







My response to Op Ed “How the word ‘fracking’ is used as a political scare tactic”

How the word ‘fracking’ is used as a political scare tactic

BY JOHN Peschong  John Allan Peschong served in President Ronald Reagan’s administration and as a senior strategist for the campaigns of President George W. Bush. He is a founding partner of Meridian Pacific Inc., a public relations and affairs company, and serves as chairman of the San Luis Obispo County Republican Party. His column appears twice a month in The Tribune, in rotation with liberal columnist Tom Fulks.

 Special to The Tribune February 22, 2015

​That is a great headline Mr. Peschong. Got my attention. As a mom and concerned citizen who loves living here I can agree that word ‘fracking’ can be very scary.

Having raised 3 kids in what can be a very scary world I found educating myself with facts along with some good old fashion common sense was a great antidote for scary. And while we may agree or disagree on opinions, facts speak for themselves.

So, I want to make sure I understand the premise you are presenting here and what I am hearing is, ballot measures written to prevent harm are dishonest and deeply flawed.   That is very interesting. I was not aware of that fact.  I was of the opinion that laws were mainly written to insure the safety, health and well being of individuals and the community they share in common with each other.

Our legal system based on your premise then must be fatally flawed as it is inundated with laws that prohibit harmful behavior.

There are guns laws, wash your hands laws, workplace ladder laws, stop sign laws, food handling laws, electrical wiring laws, house building laws, business license laws, chemical handling laws, air and water pollution laws all written with the intent of preventing harm and keeping us safe and healthy.

​You mentioned ‘fracking’ bans in particular in cities and counties across California as being dishonest and deeply flawed based on the fact that no ‘fracking’ was taking place there.

This is not to say it couldn’t and if the opportunity presented itself more than likely would, if there was not a law preventing it.   As for here in SLO the industry has stated they have no intention of fracking in Price Canyon or Huasna.

Of course that is not to say they couldn’t change their mind and without a ban there is nothing to prevent them from doing it.

My confusion on this issue is, if there is no intent to frack here what is all the fuss about a ban on something you have no intention of doing? Unless of course you do intend to frack in which case your opposition makes more sense.

I also appreciate your concern about the cost of an election. It would be costly if we had to go to an election but the Board of Supervisors could offset that cost by just signing the measure into law once it is certified by the county clerk.

The cost of an election however would pale in comparison to the cost of a cleanup of an industry that has a history of accident, spills, explosions, fires, human and environmental violations.

Richmond CA is a good example. The Chevron Refinery fire that killed 8 people displaced and disrupted 15,000 lives and was subject to what you have referred to as the best laws in the country.

Two years down the road people are still struggling to recover costs and damages caused by the ‘accident’ as Chevron denies any wrongdoing or liability, responsibility for harm and damages the fire and explosion caused.

Chevron was cited after the fact for 3,700 violations of the best regulations in the county. The best laws in the country are useless if they are not enforced.

Chevron made $26 billion that year, paid out about 2 million in fines and settlement, drop in the bucket. It cost the city 6.1 million dollars in lost tax revenue from destroyed homes and businesses. I wonder if that includes cost of repairs to the infrastructure?

A special election would cost about $70,000. Still it pales in comparison to what it cost to partner up with an business that refuses to assume any of the liabilities for its operation and shows utter contempt  disrespect and disregard for the safety, health and well being of others.

I will have to respectfully disagree with you and your colleagues, Mr. Peschong but I think New York has the best Fracking laws in the country not California.

San Luis Obispo ban ‘fracking’ in 1986, city ordinance 17.92.020 well before the colloquial term ‘fracking’ was in use nonetheless I don’t see any rigs in SLO.  Flawed and dishonest ordinance?

On the subject of definitions I have found the oil industry the primary source of most of the confusion. They keep saying they have been fracking for decades.  And then they say no fracking is going on.

So which is it?   You really can’t have it both ways.

Perhaps one of your own put it best and we can use his definition.   “Fracking and drilling are not the same thing,” said University of Houston engineering professor Michael Economides, who consults for drillers on fracturing. “We drill wells. Then we frack.”   Yup its the same.

Confusion begets the oil industry. They are champs at ambiguities. Classic case in point. The Halliburton Loophole.

Definition of a Loophole.

A loophole is an ambiguity or inadequacy in a system, such as a law or security, which can be used to circumvent or otherwise avoid the intent, implied or explicitly stated, of the system.  A flaw.

What this means is the oil industry is granted a pardon, special dispensation,  from any wrongdoing or harm to our air, water, drinking water, flora fauna, as a result of their extreme, unconventional, enhanced, well stimulation, oil extraction process, aka ‘fracking.’

I am sure a person of your experience and influence can understand how a mother such as myself concerned first and foremost for the safety, health and well being of her family and every mother’s child for generations to come could trust a entity that used all its power and influence to get themselves exempted from all the things I hold precious, a safe place to call home.

I can’t begin to understand the complexities, absurdities, intricacies of a highly specialized and confounding political system that we are living in today. I leave that up to the experts such as yourself.

What I do want is to be able to do is keep my promise to my kids and grand kids and leave them a future I can be proud of, safe clean water, fresh air and healthy soil. All the ingredients needed for a prosperous and abundant life.

In all of my research on this issue of fracking, Mr. Peschong, I have not been able to find one single solitary contribution to those ends.

I agree with all those little cities and towns, counties and communities, States and countries that have passed and are in the process of passing bans and moratoriums on a industry that seems to operate counter intuitive to common sense and logic. On this we may disagree and that is o.k.

Jeanne Blackwell

The safety of the people is the supreme law. Bacon’s Max. in Reg. 12; Broom’s Max. 1.  Prevention is better than cure. Co. Litt. 304.  “In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” — George Orwell.