LONG BEACH— On Tuesday, the state’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources conducted a workshop at the Long Beach Airport Hotel to help oil companies obtain federal exemptions to the federal Safe Water Drinking Act.
California regulators admitted in February that more than 2,000 illegal injection wells have been permitted to dispose enhanced oil recovery fluids into underground sources of drinking water; out of another 500 permits for oil and gas waste disposal wells that admittedly violate federal and state law, only 23 wells have been shut down.
After getting caught failing to adhere to federal and state law in their permitting process, California’s oil and gas regulators scheduled Tuesday’s “aquifer exemption” workshop to teach their clients in the oil industry how to coordinate with local water boards, state government, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency to continue dumping toxic fracking wastewater into protected aquifers.
About a dozen active and awake individuals also attended Tuesday’s “Toxic Dumping for Dummies” class. As the presenter at the podium droned on about “EPA Aquifer Exemption Criteria,” one woman stood up from her banquet table to declare:
“I just have to say one thing. This is backwards. It was just announced in the news that industry injected 2,500 wells illegally... Shouldn't you be having a workshop on how to stop that instead of how to get around, to get exempt from these regulations?"
The presenter responded, “Actually, we have a compliance agreement with EPA that we will discuss that we will discuss as part of the presentation. I really would prefer that people not interrupt the presentation. This is not about having a protest when we’re trying to get something accomplished.”
At this point, another woman entered the room waving two bottles of brown liquid. “I actually brought some poisoned water to show everyone what we’re going to be exposed to and forced to drink if this poisoning of our water by our regulators continues.”
Approaching the podium and handing out the poisoned water, she asked, “Would you feel like drinking this water?”
“Excuse me, ma’am, we will have…” the official attempted to explain.
“Excuse me. Try this water and tell us if you feel like drinking the water that you are polluting for our children, and for us, and that you have been allowing for so long!”
Two women walked to the front of the conference room to unfurl a banner bearing the message, “Gov Brown: Stop Letting Big Oil Poison Our Water,” as a chorus of voices from the audience cheered, “This needs to stop!”
A tall man in a business suit and glasses next stood up and sternly declared, “You are regulators. You are have violated your mission. We hereby serve you your pink slip.” Striding to the front of the room with a pink piece of paper, he was joined by other voices in unison:
“We, the people of California, fire you from your post. Shame on you for colluding with Big Oil to poison our aquifers. In this year of record drought, in this era of a warming climate, it is reprehensible that you are teaching them how to exploit our law to poison our water!”
“Our aquifers are not toxic waste dumps!” came a shout from the back of the room. At this point, a dozen voices broke out in unison:
“One, we are the people!
Two, you can’t ignore us!
Three, we will not let you
poi- son our water!”
This chant continued for nearly three minutes, during which time hotel officials entered to tell the banner-carriers and pink-slip server standing at the front of the room that they needed to leave. The hotel employees could been seen gesturing frantically at the front of the room, but what they were saying could not be heard over the incredible volume of the protest chant.
After the hotel officials left the conference room, and the presenters conferred in small groups, one protestor started a new chant of “Shame on you!” answered by a call of, “the regulators!”
As two uniformed police officers entered the front of the conference room via a side emergency exit door, the chant changed to, ““Ban fracking now!”
The law enforcement officers stood at the center aisle of the conference room and waved all the standing, chanting protestors in single file out the door. All the while they sang,
“Water can’t be poisoned for private wealth
We will fight for our children’s health!”
One man in a grey suit admonished the California state officials at the podium as he filed past, “Greedy bastards!”
On the sidewalk, the group continued to chant “Shame on you! We’ll be back!”
After the room quieted inside, one conference attendee remarked, “They take our water seriously!”
The man delivering the presentation responded, “So do we, we take your water seriously, too.”
Sidewalk pleas from the people included, “Governor Brown, It’s Not Too Late! Protect the Water of Our State!” and “Keep the Poison Off Our Land! Governor Brown, Take a Stand!”
[VIDEO LINK 10:47]
Livestream undercover workshop video by People’s Media http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/60318395
[VIDEO LINK 5:34]
California Regulators hold an Aquifer Exemption Workshop in Long Beach CA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVZV-dxM_HE&feature=youtu.be
[VIDEO LINK 2:33]
RALLY - Stop Letting Big Oil Poison Our Drinking Water! - Long Beach, CA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcEWxiYHkUI&feature=youtu.be