Sunday, June 26, 2016

Arrogance Meets Arrogance: Devil’s Tango at Diablo Canyon

In a lead in to a miss-it-if-you-blink segment of last Wednesday’s Democracy Now broadcast devoted to developments re: Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, Juan Gonzalez announced that “California is going nuclear-free.”

Not so fast, Juan. Hold your horses. And hold on to your PR chops, Amy, before puffing up the sails of the utility in question, namely PG&E, one of the most corrupt corporations on the list, given its institutional track record.

How about asking the tough questions: who makes up this self-appointed “coalition of environmental and labor groups” anyway, the folks who just bought the Brooklyn Bridge from PG&E under a proposed agreement that allows it to delay closure of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant for another 9 years (or 3,264 days—whichever comes sooner)? And why at this particular time?

Snow job, but who’s snowing whom?

The Democracy Now team’s whiz-bang, thank you ma’am interviewee Wednesday morning was Damon Moglen, senior strategic adviser of Friends of the Earth, identified by Democracy Now as one of the group’s “lead negotiators.”

Friends of the Earth stepped in at the 11th hour, after activists, and investigators and lawyers had done all the background heavy lifting—some of it for years—that brought about the conditions for San Onofre, California’s other nuclear power plant, to be shut down. Which would seem to indicate that Friends of the Earth is on a tear to get a piece of the action just when the low hanging fruit is ripe for plucking.

Damon goes on to crow about how this is really a historic agreement (except it’s only a non-binding proposal). Indeed. What else would he say: that it was a sham, that none of ‘the parties’ included major stakeholders, and that their arrogance had allowed them to be richly bamboozled by an even more arrogant corporation that throughout its history has made every effort to disguise just how dirty it likes to play, and whose 2010 concern for the public’s safety resulted in a pipeline explosion that decimated a San Bruno neighborhood, destroyed 35 houses; injured 66 people, some critically, and killed another 8, including Jacqueline Grieg, who—ironies of ironies—happened to work for the California Public Utilities Commission, advocating for consumer rights in the area of natural gas regulations. 

(For More Fun Facts about PG&E, See the section below by Roger Herried, archivist for the Abalone Alliance since 1985. )

Or that their “proposal” just happened to mark an end run, announced as it was a mere five days before the California State Lands Commission (SLC) is to hold a hearing to determine whether a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of Diablo Canyon’s nuclear power plant is warranted before PG&E can get its SLC lease renewed?

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Who is the coalition of the willing that felt invited to dance the Devil’s Tango with PG&E? Besides Friends of the Earth, the “coalition” includes the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Environment California, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245, Coalition of California Utility Employees, and the Alliance For Nuclear Responsibility—six dwarves to PG&E’s Snow White.

What happened to the Seventh Dwarf? How about inviting the major stakeholders, for example: San Luis Obispo’s Mothers for Peace, who since 1973 when they became legally recognized interveners with the U.S. Nuclear Regulation Commission, have been speaking out and pressuring the powers that be (PTB)  to close Diablo Canyon, and who live in Diablo’s backyard, vulnerable to the plant’s periodic radiation releases, who enjoy the classic pattern of cancer clusters found in all populations living in close proximity to nuclear plants, and who will lose their homes, community and livelihoods if Diablo suffers a Fukushima scale event?

The probability of a Fukushima-scale event occurring happens to depend on 1) the ability of the plant to withstand a plus 6.2 Richter earthquake; and 2) a resulting tsunami. The odds are skewed by the fact that Diablo is home to the fifth most embrittled (ie. structurally compromised) reactor in the U.S. and by its location directly above the Pacific Ocean—and that it happens to sit on a web of connecting (and possibly resonating) earthquake faults, a fact PG&E knew as early as the 60s but kept carefully hidden from the public until only recently.

Now why in heaven was the Seventh Dwarf left out? Perhaps because as stakeholders, Mothers for Peace, and all the locals they happen to represent might have balked at waiting another 9 years or 3,264 days—whichever comes sooner (WECS) —before being permitted to exhale.

Eighth and ninth dwarves

The Chumash tribe on whose land Diablo happens to have been constructed is only an inconvenience and of no account.  Appropriation of Indian land represents just one of many chapters in the sordid annals of genocide mediated by the U.S. government/corporate complex that has determined Indian policy throughout American history. 

Originally the plant’s location was a pristine cove where the Chumash periodically dove for abalone. More recently, the Chumash attempted to form a Chumash Heritage National marine sanctuary where the reactor’s once through cooling waters have decimated marine life within a radius of 500 miles.  

But major stakeholders, marine life, along with Mothers for Peace, and the Chumash were somehow not included. The proponents now establishing the Salish Sea marine sanctuary have developed a bill of rights for cetacean non-humanpersons. It’s conceivable that, had all the authentic Diablo Canyon stakeholders, human and otherwise, been included, they might have voiced a certain reluctance to holding their breath for another 9 years, or 3,264 days (WECS)—or when a nuclear catastrophe wrecks a really fine day.

Because nature—and earthquakes—bat last.

What you can do:

Attend the live meeting of the State Land Commission in Sacramento June 28 at 10 AM. at the Holiday Inn Capital Plaza, 300 J Street just east of route 5 and north of the route 80 intersection. Come early to sign up to speak. Google for directions.

•If you are in the San Luis Obispo area, attend the June 28, 10 AM SLC meeting at the Morro Bay Community Center at 1001 Kennedy Way. Join the Mot hers for Peace in a rally at 9 AM. Bring your signs! Come early and sign up to speak.

Write the California Land Commission to order a complete environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) before any new lease is considered in writing at

Sample letter:

Sirs and Mesdames:

I am writing to urge you to observe the law before any new lease for the continued operation of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant is considered by ordering an Environmental Impact Report relating to the continued operation of Diablo Canyon nuclear plant which sits above a network of connecting earthquake faults. Diablo Canyon is home to the fifth most embrittled reactors in the United States. It runs at risk of a Fukushima-type disaster because it fronts the Pacific Ocean at an elevation of only 85 feet. Additionally its 2.4 billion gallons once-through cooling kills at least 1.8 billion (that’s billion) fish every year, according to PG&E’s own calculations.

Thank you very much for your careful attention.

 by Roger Herried - Abalone Alliance Archivist

One might wonder why the name Diablo Canyon? The answer was given to us lobster-skinned newbees a few years back by a Chumash speaker during public hearings that led to PG&E being stopped from doing some of the most destructive sonic testing for seismic analysis ever imagined. The story goes that the very first time the Spanish came to this sacred Chumash cove it was the home to the largest known oak trees anywhere, thousands of abalone - Yes! - just as the Spanish arrived at the site for the first time it was shaken by a strong quake as a portent - whence the Spanish name for the devil originates.   

Thanks to the intervention and wisdom of a few courageous citizens between 1958-63, PG&E had just failed to build its first four-unit nuclear complex at Bodega Bay, less than a thousand yards from the epicenter of the 1906 earthquake. 

The company couldn't be a greater example of Karma that ran over its own dogma when its original formation came a matter of weeks before the 1906 earthquake with the company's gas lines playing a major role in burning down much of San Francisco.  

Could it be that the secret cabal of wealthy Southern Pacific insiders who established PG&E, were dead set on destroying the new city charter which called for public ownership of all San Francisco's water, power, telephone, transit and electric services in order to set their corporate culture in place, and leading to the theft of California's commonwealth?

From PG&E's theft of San Francisco's publicly financed water system at Hetch Hetchy (1925) to the even greater theft of the federally financed Central Valley Project, which included both the massive Shasta and Friant dams (1945), Californians should have ample reason to mistrust a company that has no shame—that is provided that we could find an honest history book!

When confronted with five years of growing opposition to its Bodega Bay nuclear facility, it countered with its own "Tao Effect" claim that the bigger the building, the less likely it would stand a chance of being damaged by a major quake; PG&E even claimed that it could safely build the reactors in downtown San Francisco! 

In the late 70's, had activists not blocked PG&E's plan to build another multi-unit nuclear facility a short distance from the epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, Northern California could have once again have been a victim of PG&E's corporate culture. This company, with its dream of building over 60 nuclear facilities in its service area from Big Sur to Davenport, all represented the very worst that we ever would have grieved over - the loss of the state's gorgeous environmental beauty in the name of development at any cost.  

From beginning to end, Californians have been dealing with the mentality of Jack's beanstalk giant, PG&E's agenda of crushing anyone that dare get in its way.  In 1963, when it realized that a substantial portion of the Sierra Club had come to mistrust the company's agenda at Bodega Bay, it went to the club's board of directors including Ansel Adams and intentionally bribed the club into picking a new site for the company. PG&E intentionally purchased Nipomo Dunes, the most popular hiking spot in the region and threatened to build a nuclear complex there, unless the club came up with an acceptable alternative.  In a page right out of gangster land, PG&E borrowed Frank Sinatra's Leer jet (with Danny Kaye on board as entertainment) to fly the club's board over the Diablo site that the club's top executive's wife just so happened to have hand picked to replace the dunes.   Martin Litton, the only board member who knew anything about the environmental qualities of Diablo that qualified it as a candidate for a state park was away in Europe! To reward her for her efforts, she was elected to PG&E's board.

Last but not least, the club's decision included an order that no Sierra Club chapter would be allowed to use it's name to oppose Diablo Canyon. This would mean that the local chapter would have to create a new organization - the Scenic Shoreline Preservation Conference - to take on the chore of opposing the facility, which it did, until its lawyer was found dead the day after the Los Angeles Times announced the discovery of the Hosgri Fault.  

But the devil is in the details of how Diablo Canyon finally got the permission by the government to go ahead with construction.  PG&E would use the same geologists and consultants it had for Bodega Bay, of whom key members suggested that looking on or off shore for fault lines might scare the public. So no real studies were done. They didn't even bother to find out that in 1925 and 1927 there had been major earthquakes not too far to the south that destroyed a 700-foot-long dam as well as parts of the city of Santa Barbara!

Anybody remember the Watergate Scandal these days when Tricky Dick finally found punk Robert Bork to fire the sitting U.S. Attorney General and the Watergate prosecutor? The twenty-two years it took
finally to open the Diablo facility - with original construction costs ballooning from $350 million to over $5.4 billion with over $7 billion in financing, financing that PG&E could not have afforded. President  Reagan stepped into the breech with a secret $2.2 billion loan through the EPA -  and included its illegal licensing by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) - with the help of Justice Robert Bork of Saturday Night Massacre Fame. In December of 1984 an NRC commissioner released the secret transcripts of how the agency failed to follow the law in licensing Diablo Canyon. The Mothers for Peace challenged the NRC's decision in court, but had no knowledge of its details until the transcripts were made public. To get the legal blessing for its operation, it fell upon the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to decide Diablo's fate.  Using his now infamous claim of not wanting to act as a judicial activist, Bork handed down a ruling that it would not be appropriate to look at the contents of the NRC's transcripts prior to letting the facility go online where it had failed to hold public hearings over evacutation planning. 

What better example of karma could happen to a luckier company than if a few weeks before the facility were to close, a 7.5 earthquake resulted in the loss of all of PG&E's gold, along with the dwarfs that enabled this horrible deal!  

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Is the Public Utility Reform Act of 2016 a Corporate Trojan Horse?

by Roger Herried

Californians could soon experience a retake of the disastrous 2001 Energy Crisis if the public doesn’t get involved in making major changes to the Public Utility Reform Act of 2016 that will be taken up by the State Senate later this June.  This time the implications could go far beyond the state’s electricity infrastructure if the plan to breakup the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) goes ahead!  Mike Gatto’s (Assembly 43rd District L.A.) ACA 11 recently passed the assembly on a 69-11 vote that would break up the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).  If the bill passes the Senate, it would mean that the public could vote this coming November to break up the CPUC as well as removing the protected constitutional status that it gained back in 1878.

Due to recent scandals that have shook the CPUC, such a move to restructure the massive agency that spends $1.4 billion annually to protect consumers appears to be appropriate.  For anyone who has been following what was initially dubbed Peaveygate – when the former President of the CPUC was caught cutting deals for the state’s major IOU (Investor Owned Utility) electric giants – Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) and  Southern California Edison (SCE). The Act’s passage would give the state legislature the power to rip apart the CPUC, even redefining what it could do not just for the state’s powerful electric companies but for many other utilities like phone, natural gas and transit services across California.

Summary of the San Bruno Natural Gas Line Scandal

The San Bruno gas line disaster in 2010, where 8 people were killed, including the CPUC’s department head – Jacqueline Greig who had been actively pushing to deny a $3.6 billion rate increase for PG&E.  The response, which was managed by CPUC President Michael Peevy enraged the city of San Bruno. Her death and that of her daughters at the epicenter of the explosion set off a conspiracy subculture resulting in a story by the Examiner.  Victims and residents impacted by the loss of their homes filed over 70 lawsuits against PG&E,  as further investigations exposed the fact that the company had diverted over $100 million of its safety funds into executive compensation bonuses.  Nearly four years after the explosion, internal documents uncovered Peevy’s close relationship with the company to avoid major fines – even suggest an appropriate amount it should be fined. The scandal would eventually force PG&E to be fined $1.6 billion for the explosion.  PG&E has since launched one of the most extensive public relations campaigns ever seen in the Bay Area with its good neighbor ads seen regularly on every TV channel.  In many of these ads the company appears to promote solar energy development, yet the company actively attempted to kill the state’s Net Metering program that pays solar panel owners for their excess electricity.

Then the state was hit with the massive Porter Ranch Natural Gas Leak that resulted in demands for new CPUC investigations.  This was followed by Governor Brown establishing a new Safety Division within the CPUC.

Summary of the San Onofre Steam Generator Scandal

By 2014, the San Bruno story had been relegated to the back pages until another controversy blew the lid off the CPUC – The San Onofre Steam Generator scandal that led to the June 2013 closure of the 2nd to last nuclear facility in California.

Back in 2005, the CPUC gave the Southern California Edison Company (SCE) permission to spend nearly $700 million for new Steam Generators at San Onofre in a bid to extend the operational lifespan of the twin nuclear-powered units located near active earthquake faults and barely 50 miles from downtown Los Angeles.  In a bid to increase the operating capacity of the units, SCE cut a secret deal with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for the design of the new generators.  The tactic failed. Both steam generators began to leak shortly after their installation (timeline of Steam Generator Failure) in early 2012 soon after they were installed. The half billion dollar disaster and scandals forced SCE to permanently close San Onofre in June 2013.
Rather than follow proper procedures when a major power source fails, the CPUC’s president Michael Peevy, who also happened to be the president of SCE in the 1990’s when the CPUC forced the closure of San Onofre unit 1, refused to start timely hearings into the matter, resulting in major financial benefits to the company.  When he finally did agree to hearings, he cherry picked a former aid as the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to oversee the case.  Half way through the hearings, the major parties magically decided – against concerns of many intervenors – to settle the case, leaving ratepayers holding $3.3 billion of the estimated $4.7 billion closure costs.  (See litigation history of scandal)
But during discovery, documents started to pour out of the CPUC documenting wrongdoing that would reach its peak in early 2015 when the secret illegal settlement meetings held in Poland between Peavy and SCE were leaked.  Criminal investigations were begun forcing Peavy to resign from the CPUC.

Summary of State Lawmaker's Response to the CPUC Scandal

With the threat of an ouster over the explosive e-mail scandal at the CPUC, Peevy announced his resignation on October 9th 2014. It wasn’t long before criminal charges against him were announced. Growing anger at the CPUC including major investigative work done in Southern California included a detailed rundown by the L.A. Times on the CPUC’s recent problems. While the opened up an extensive news feed monitoring the CPUC as well as this author.  Brown’s replacement for Peevy has also run into serious criticism for being too friendly with those he is supposed to regulate.  An example of this cozy relationship was experienced by the author and Silvia Seigel, the founder of TURN, who watched in horror as PG&E’s just retired VP walked by us after his deposition in 1988 with the then CPUC’s president talking about plans for a private barbecue party.

The State Assembly’s Committee on Utilities and Commerce would launch a number of investigative hearings on the CPUC starting in 2015.  The legislature would passed six bills in 2015 calling for modest CPUC reforms, but Governor Jerry Brown vetoed all of them.   The former San Diego city attorney then won a legal decision that Jerry Brown’s emails between him and the CPUC’s Commissioners be released, but Brown used a higher court to quash the lower court’s decision.  In the meantime California Attorney General Harris’ investigation of criminal behavior languished because of her run for higher office. Federal criminal investigations have not gone anywhere either.

The scandals continued to grow as the CPUC hired high priced outside legal services to protect itself, besides failing to answer questions raised by legislative investigators relating to the ten’s of thousands of emails documenting the fact that the CPUC has been captured by the very utilities it has been charged with regulating.  E-mails from CPUC hearings even exposed a serious scandal at Diablo Canyon where the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was caught coaching PG&E on how to overcome major seismic concerns by the agency’s own chief inspector.

Summary of the Public Utility Reform Act of 2016

Mike Gatto (D – L.A.) chairman of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee overseeing the CPUC submitted the legislative bill ACA (Assembly Constitutional Amendment) 11 during the current legislative session what will be known as the Public Utility Reform Act of 2016 if it passes out of the legislature. It passed the Assembly on June 2nd and will have its first hearing in the Senate on June 21st.  The measure will do the following:
“The measure would direct the Legislature to adopt appropriate structures to provide greater accountability for the public utilities of the state and provide the necessary guidance to the commission to focus its regulatory efforts on safety, reliability, and ratesetting and to implement statutorily authorized programs for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.”
And it would do so by:
…”authoriz(ing) the Legislature to reallocate or reassign all or a portion of the functions of the (CPUC) commission to other state agencies, departments, boards, or other entities, consistent with specified purposes.”

The details of a planned amendment to the California State Constitution will require a 2/3rds vote of the public to pass and does not require Governor Brown’s signature to get on the ballot if passed by the senate.

On its face, this bill appears to have honest intentions – to reorganize the CPUC. But if passed this new law would allow the state legislature a blank check to restructure the state’s largest regulatory agency that would open the floodgates to corporate lobbying that could dramatically weaken consumer protections for this agency that has more rules and regulations than the rest of the state government (Index of CPUC’s extensive rules and codes governing California Corporations). There will be immense political and economic pressure brought to bear on the legislature to act against the best interests of consumers that could very well result in deregulation of entire segments of the state’s companies.
It wasn’t long before major conservative institutions like the American Enterprise Institute called for the deregulation of the CPUC.  The focus of the AEI’s oped was the deregulation of the CPUC but also included support for AT&T’s legislative proposal calling for the closure of the state’s copper based phone service that would have dramatic impacts on the 8 million Californians who still rely on the old phone services.  The AT&T legislation, AB 2395 was finally defeated on May 27th as the result of an organized campaign led by numerous consumer groups, the CPUC and every Communication Worker’s of America local union in the state that sent nearly 100 people to Sacramento to oppose the legislation that would have ended all copper-line phone services in the state by 2020. Due to the deregulation of Cell phone services only the city of Los Angeles has started the process of hardening cell tower services against seismic dangers that could exacerbate a major seismic event here like the earthquake that struck the Chinese province of Sichuan that damaged over 2,000 cell towers resulting in poor to missing communication for weeks after that 7.9 quake that eventually killed 88,000 people in
 2008. LA Times

Another op-ed by Forbes Magazine in May started the drumbeat for deregulating the CPUC, also with a focus on deregulating the state’s copper phone services but also bringing up the growing scandal over Uber that has shaken up cab companies in major urban areas.  There can be no doubt the CPUC is having trouble.

But there can also be no doubt that turning over the massive undertaking of restructuring the CPUC to a state legislature that has also been shaken with its own scandals, not to mention what is most likely the largest feeding frenzy of lobbyists the state has ever seen would be ill-advised if there aren’t major public guidelines set in place as to how such a major restructuring should be undertaken.  For anyone familiar with the recent TPP trade agreements, we can be assured that far too many back table deals will be moving forward in terms of how to regulate not just the electric companies but also all the other major areas the CPUC currently manages – all in the name of fairness to the corporate bottom line.

Additional Notes

There isn’t a single soul who has taken on a major corporation using the CPUC intervenor process that doesn’t clearly understand just how unfair the system is to this day.  The CPUC’s own division that is setup to protect consumers from gouging is underfunded, under staffed and in many cases manipulated by the political arm of the agency.  Just as all professional sports franchises are locked down as to how much money can be spent to make competition fair, a similar lid on expenses should be placed on corporate funds that is balanced dollar for dollar with public resources.

Since the CPUC can and does make precedent-setting decisions that can affect the entire nation’s regulatory infrastructure, there are law firms and major industrial associations that routinely monitor the CPUC caseload.  These entities can and do actively help with filings by local IOU’s that already have some of the most powerful law operations in the country when it comes to protecting their own interests.  A good example was the $100 million legal fees PG&E spent  that were used to protect its interests when it went bankrup after 2001. But it is all but clear that the CPUC has become a David vs. Goliath legal battle, with the public clearly getting the raw deal, when any of the regular cases come before the quasi legal Administrative Law Judges who hold hearings within the CPUC process that are then turned over to the political appointees to vote on once the case has been heard.

The historic fact that going back to 1878, the original constitutional action setting up the agency included a mechanism banning all lobbying by the corporations impacted set the ground work for what would become decades of legal warfare that led to the initial expansion of the agency’s powers in 1911.  Sadly,  that progressive reform period was also a Trojan Horse where politically naive state representatives weren’t aware of the agenda that was launched by the National Civic Foundation back in 1907 when it created the cookie cutter legislative package that swept every state but Nebraska, establishing what we know today as the CPUC.  That legislative model took what used to be the legal prerogative of local governments and placed it in the hands of a single statewide commission for all perceived natural monopolies, such as water, phone lines, gas, public transit and electricity and did so at a time when there was a growing nationwide campaign that called the public takeover of the mostly corrupt private companies that charged more and were known to be the root cause of local government corruption nationwide.  This legislation would give the private companies a veneer legitimacy, but would also setup the national expansion of wall street super corporations that would then only have to deal with one regional agency, allowing them to create their giant legal apparatus only focusing on a state regulatory process rather than having to bribe local government boards.

The 1911 NCF legislation set in motion the massive expansion of corporate monopolies that were only checked as a result of President Roosevelt’s national reforms in the 1930’s that have  been attacked or replaced since the 1980’s, bills like Glass Steagal or the 1935 Public Utilities Holding Company Act that was repealed in 2005. Both these bills were originally passed as the result of public outrage caused by major collapses of electric companies during the depression. The late 60s was the era when consumer protection was at its peak. Today, we have watched as legal battles in the U.S. Supreme Court have all but stripped consumers of most protections they once held.  One of the most important of such decisions was the 1986  CPUC ruling that the intervenor/consumer protection group called TURN would be allowed to place short commentary pieces in PG&E’s electric bill that always had its own pro-utility newsletter sent to customers. The Court’s ruling destroyed the nationwide consumer activist movement on the basis of its judgment that the TURN comments would impact PG&E’s right to free speech.  The ruling has since been used by large corporations to mean one dollar one vote in all public forums.  

We have watched for nearly 30 years as energy companies – the dinosaurs that led to the lost of over $17 billion in a single year due to the deregulation of electricity – could very well face broad new challenges that could further cause even bigger issues as state, federal and international programs unfold – any of which could be tossed at the whim of  corporate forces that actively deny such things as Climate Issues, or worse, see the growing development of micro-grids as dangerous. Changes such as new solar technologies could dramatically displace the current way in which we produce energy.
Will the vision to protect the public be up to it, or will huge lobby forces far away for most of us in Sacramento result in major deregulatory forces wining out to the detriment of the public?  

Public Utility Reform Act of 2016 Action Plan

The Public Utility Reform Act of 2016 that passed the Assembly by a wide margin on June 2nd will go to the Senate on June 21st. where it will be submitted to a similar hearing process and possible passage by the end of the summer. As it stands, the bill appears to have good intentions but could unleash a wave of lobbying by corporations like nothing we’ve ever seen before if the public votes to pass this amendment to the state constitution.  It is therefore urgent the bill be refined on what it should or shouldn’t be able to do.

As pointed out in the above notes, the creation of the CPUC has led to a sea change over the last century on how the public receives utility services. In 1911, both Los Angeles and San Francisco had passed city charters calling for public ownership of these services – thus the national legislative package that was rushed through to counter the public ownership movement that was growing dramatically across the United States.  For example the U.S. government broke up the Standard Oil Trust at this time, which today would be smaller in size than PG&E is today.

In essence the Public Utility Reform Act of 2016 will have a larger impact on California than the Wilson administration’s disastrous push to deregulate the state’s electricity that went from 1996-2001 that resulted in at least $17 billion in lost rate payer revenues, besides the one time $28 billion give away to PG&E, SCE and the other smaller private electric companies that all disappeared during the crisis.

Suggestions to the senate on changes to the CPUC should focus on the most controversial parts of the agency:
  • The political Appointment process of Commissioners and their role in influencing the agency’s actions
  • The CPUC’s consumer protection model.  (Division of Ratepayer Advocates) & Intervenors
  • The quasi-legal court model overseen by Administrative Law Judges and the lack of outside oversight
  • The governor of California’s behind the scenes power over Commissioners and funding of the agency
Whether or not the legislature and its politicized position is ideal to investigate the kinds of changes that would actually enhance consumer protections should also be debated.  If California is to really be a leader in the future as a role model for its actions on issues Climate Change – other energy policies or other issues the CPUC currently oversees, its critical that our Senators hear that they are on the hot seat and need to address this issue in far more detail before letting it go before the public.

Stay Tuned for more Things you can do!

Sunday, June 12, 2016



Secretary of State has said the CA Primary hasn't been fully counted and is NOT certified until 7/15/16!!!!!!! To date, they have approx. 3.5 million votes counted out of 18 million registrants!

We recommend that provisional voters and ALL Voters do NOT switch party affiliation until they've proven their vote was counted or else ... lawsuits & civil action will prove that election fraud did occur in CA and across the nation in other states as well.

There are hundreds of professionals battling this 2016 election fraud as we speak. Additionally, many Facebook users and groups across the Internet and elsewhere are urging voters to leave the DEM Party and switch affiliation now to show the Establishment we are finished with a broken system! Still, since Bernie has told us we are going to the DEMOCRATIC National Convention, we will support the #seeyouinphilly movement, online or in-person.

Once again...Counties are attempting to switch Dems and NPPs before provisional ballots are counted in CA!!! Switching Affiliations before the election is certified in order to make votes for Bernie void.

We need to be on top of our info! Please tell all of your CA friends to check the status of their provisional and mail-in ballots here: or here: pass informative and corroborated links on to their friends. If election officials cannot confirm ballot status by July 15th, report it here: and ask questions here


The only way Bernie can get the Democratic nomination is by way of superdelegates.  Many are already pledged to vote for Hillary, but they are allowed to change their vote at the convention in July.  This is how Obama received the nomination 8 years ago; many superdelegates changed their plan and voted for him.

The superdelegates from your state will listen to you. With the link above, one email will reach every Clinton superdelegate from your state. There is a space to put a message of your choice.   You can even write them every week, with a new message.  Urge your friends and neighbors to do the same.

Here is a sample letter- people are welcome to use part or all of it, or design their own.

Dear xx,

As you cast your vote at the Democratic Convention, please consider:

  • Bernie Sanders does better against Trump that Hillary Clinton in poll after poll, and is more likely to win the White House for the Democratic Party.
  • (If your state voted for Bernie)  The majority of voters in our state voted for Sanders; please heed their wishes and cast your vote accordingly.
  • (If your state – eg NY, AZ, CA- had evidence of voter suppression or fraud) Many Bernie supporters did not get their vote counted.  He might well have won if they did.  Do you really want to vote for a candidate who has won by unfair means?
  • Hillary Clinton represents the status quo.  We are in a time of extraordinary challenges, with multiple ecological catastrophes looming.  We need a whole new approach, which the political revolution of Bernie Sanders could provide.  He would open up possibilities of change, which is essential.
  • Bernie’s campaign is built on telling the truth about the hard economic and ecologic realities of our country.  We need a president who can face the truth and work with it.
  • Hillary Clinton is being investigated for using a private, nonsecure email server while Secretary of State.  She even gave the names and schedules of several CIA agents and of the ambassador to Libya, who was killed.
Her disregard for security while holding this key position bodes ill for her ability to make good decisions and safeguard US security if she is elected president.
  • She is also being investigated for racketeering, for using her office to extort money from contractors for the Clinton Foundation.  A person capable of such venality and corruption should not be president.
  • If either of these investigations results in formal charges being brought against Mrs. Clinton, her candidacy would lose credibility.
  • Donald Trump has shown himself to be a vicious campaigner, who goes for the jugular.  Due to the above investigations, Hillary Clinton is extremely vulnerable to his sort of attacks.
  • In contrast, Bernie Sanders has a clean record, with no hint of scandal.  He would be an honest president, who would work for the good of the country, not for his own pocketbook.
  • People under 45 are overwhelmingly for Bernie Sanders.  They are looking at the future, and want a president who can lead the country toward “a future to believe in".   Their wishes should be heeded.  They are the future of the Democratic Party, and of our country.
Please feel free to use part or all of the above sample letter, or write your own. Please forward this newsletter to all your lists throughout the country.

Saturday, June 4, 2016


Sometimes I try to imagine Chief Joseph, whose prophetic powers allowed him to see things hidden to ordinary men, tuning in to the state of life on the planet in the Year of Our Lord 2016: temperatures soaring to 128 degrees in Rajastan, lakes and riverbeds caked and cracking; crops failing in India, Africa, and Vietnam, promising certain famine; plumes of nuclear contamination reaching ever closer to aquifers; the inexorable spread of underground fires near St. Louis reaching the West Lake Land fill nuclear waste burial site; huge swaths of discarded plastics swirling in dead oceans. I wonder how he would feel about terrestrial life, whose existence has lasted 3.8 billion years to be wiped out by the White Man, inventor of superior technologies (starting with the steam engine) in less than 300 years. 

Sometimes I think of Simone Weil, who as a child of six refused to eat sugar because she knew the troops of WWI were denied sugar, and who at the age of 34 refused to eat any more food than what was available to people living in France under Nazi occupation.

What would Western urban life look like if say, for one day, we were to apply the same degree of empathy to our own daily round. We would (for example) have to walk to the nearest public tap; draw water, carry it back home; stretch the quantity of water we drew to include all cooking, and cleaning activities; we would hav e to walk to wherever we needed to go. If our place of work was five miles distant, we would have to leave home at 8 AM to arrive at a punctual 9 AM. If our place of work was ten miles distant, we would have to leave closer to 7; and if our place of work was 20 miles distant, we would have to leave home at 5 AM. We would return after a full day’s work at 10 PM.

To eat, we would have to buy lunch from a pushcart offering hotdogs costing $20.00 a piece. If we packed a lunch, we would have to grow our own food, and bake our own bread, and we would have to do those things only during those hours not part of a regular employment day. 

We would have to meet our obligations the following day regardless of how hungry, and exhausted the business of living the previous day might have left us. 

Now multiply such a life style to last a week. Can you fathom it? You’re still strong, still reasonably game about the experiment, still toughing it out, convinced that you can hack it. Now how about two weeks? How about a month? Still with me? How about a year? Still there?

How about a life time? 

Because that’s how at least half of the people on earth live. And nowadays, with global warming they’re still comparatively well off if their area still happens to be free of flooding, or free of severe drought.

Meanwhile, you have a car. There is adequate public transportation, but you use a car. Is it because you have always had a car? Is it because you earned enough money to afford a car? Is it because you are in a hurry to get where you need to go and want to save one-half hour by not having to take a bus?

Meantime, you retire two to three hours after you can no longer see with natural light. You also operate household appliances, cook using either natural gas or electricity. You use powered devices to entertain yourself, computers, television sets. Most of your energy still comes from burning fossil fuels, which causes freak weather events, such as floods, drought, sea level rise, and fires. And some of that energy comes from nuclear power plants, which generate toxic waste with no known technology to sequester it safely from the biosphere for the next 100,000 years.

Meanwhile you shop.  At the supermarket you get to choose between 18 detergents; 14 brands of ice cream; 24 kinds of breakfast cereal.  At Toys R Us you have to navigate a warehouse full of non-biodegradable plastic toys to provide your children’s birthday gifts. At IKEA you clock the mileage you need to walk between aisles filled with shelves; aisles filled with chairs; with sofas; and whole aisles filled with lamps. At Home Deport, there are so many plumbing appliances, you need to spend at least an hour and a half deciding which one to select.

In Palestine, no cement is allowed in to rebuild whole streets of buildings that have been reduced to rubble.

What would we have to do without to share our present-day apocalypse equitably with the great majority of all the other people living on earth?

How would we have to live to stop the deep insanity of our lives?