Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

September 20, 2013
California fracking bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown

JV_061013_FRACKING 214.JPGAfter publicly endorsing the measure to ease its passage in the Legislature, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill establishing a permitting system for hydraulic fracturing in California, the governor's office announced this afternoon.

Brown took the unusual step of declaring his support for the bill with final legislative votes still pending, and on Friday he followed through by signing Senate Bill 4, by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills.

In a signing message, Brown said he would seek additional "clarifying amendments" to the legislation and would direct the California Department of Conservation "to develop an efficient permitting program for well stimulation activities that groups permits together based on factors such as known geologic conditions and environmental impacts, while providing for more particularized review in other situations when necessary."

Fracking, the shorthand name for hydraulic fracturing, extricates energy locked in underground formations with a pressurized blast of sand, chemicals and water.

In addition to mandating permits for new fracking wells, the bill strengthens groundwater monitoring while requiring energy companies to notify neighboring communities when they plan to frack and to release more information about the chemicals they use. Energy companies fought Pavley's attempt to win more disclosure, saying the recipe for the particular mix of fracking chemicals they use qualify as trade secrets worthy of protection.

Several Democratic lawmakers authored bills this session to regulate fracking. But while the governor's signature would appear to mark a major victory for environmental groups, prominent California environmental advocates -- a list of groups that includes the Natural Resources Defense Council and the California League of Conservation Voters -- abandoned the bill as it headed toward a final vote in mid-September.

Late amendments weakened the bill unacceptably, environmentalists said, diluting language intended to ensure new wells go through adequate environmental review. While oil industry representatives had said the regulation is unnecessarily burdensome, environmentalists said it would give oil companies nearly unfettered freedom to drill.

Brown has a tenuous relationship with environmentalists, which his signature on the fracking bill is only likely to strain further.

PHOTO: Fracking wells run day and night off Jack and Shafter Roads in Shafter, California on June 10, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Jose Luis Villegas.

September 20, 2013
UPDATE: Sacramento County Democratic official resigns over tweet

SocialMediaTeens.jpgUPDATE 3:58 p.m.

A Sacramento County Democratic Party official has resigned over an offensive tweet that involved a fellow Twitter user's children.

Tempers flared Friday as House Republicans voted to defund President Barack Obama's signature health care law, which led to some questionable Twitter decisions.

Amanda Carpenter, a speechwriter for Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, tweeted to urge Republicans on. Then Allan Brauer, communications chair for the Democratic Party of Sacramento County, lashed out with a response involving Carpenter's kids.

That didn't sit too well with Twitter users, who raised a chorus of condemnations. The exchange made it to the website of the National Review and to the Drudge Report, both prominent conservative outlets.

"Publicly wishing death on a mother's children for her political views is an utterly unacceptable tone in partisan discourse," Sue Blake, chair of the Sacramento County Republican Party, wrote in an email to The Bee. "I ask that my counterparts in the Sacramento Democrat Party repudiate this type of rhetoric and immediately separate themselves from these kinds of partisan attacks on women.

Brauer ultimately apologized, writing to Carpenter that "I am truly sorry for my tweet" and "Your kids are not fair game." Carpenter accepted his apology.

But it did not end there. In an email, Democratic Party of Sacramento County chair Kerri Asbury said the party had sought and accepted Bauer's resignation.

"The comments by our volunteer communications chair are appalling and inexcusable," Asbury wrote. "No matter what our political disagreements may be, wishing harm is never an acceptable response during heated public debate or any other time."

Here is the original exchange:

PHOTO: A view of an iPhone in Washington on May 21, 2013, shows Twitter and Facebook apps, among others. The Associated Press/Evan Vucci.

September 20, 2013
AM Alert: How have political changes affected California?

RB_Capitol_Dome.JPGRedistricting, term limits, top-two primaries: These are among the reforms California has enacted over the last few years to make its political system less partisan and more accountable. Today, some prominent experts will look at how those changes have affected the state's political dynamics and will consider what comes next.

Speaking at the event will be former lawmaker Sam Blakeslee, founding director of Institute for Advanced Technology & Public Policy; John Cox, chairman of the Rescue California Educational Foundation; Phillip Ung, of California Common Cause; and Christopher Weare of the University of Southern California's public policy school.

Former Fair Political Practices Commission chair Dan Schnur will be moderating, so we're going to go ahead and say a ban on fundraising while the Legislature in session may be a discussion topic. At Mulvaney's from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

VIDEO: Another session finished, another missed opportunity to address California's pension issues, Dan Walters says.

2014 WATCH: In case you needed verification that former Republican congressman Doug Ose is gunning for the 7th Congressional District seat currently held by freshman Democratic Rep Ami Bera of Elk Grove, Ose is holding a $250-minimum barbecue fundraiser in Wilton this Sunday.

CELEBRATIONS: We have a few this weekend. Today, Assemblyman Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, turns 48 (naturally, he's throwing a Brian Dahle for Assembly 2014 birthday bash fundraiser).

On Sunday we have two: Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, celebrates his 42nd and Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, rings in his 63rd year.

September 20, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Teacher pension plans may punish California

Once again, Dan says, the Legislature adjourned without tackling the huge deficit in California's teacher retirement system.

Have a question you'd like Dan to answer? Post it on our Facebook page.

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.


Capitol Alert Staff

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee.

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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