Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

July 22, 2015

Calif Gov gushes about 'fighting climate change' at Vatican as he fracks Calif

Photo: Governor Brown delivers remarks at Vatican climate change symposium. Photo courtesy of Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
Jerry Brown gushes about 'fighting climate change' at 
Vatican as he fracks California

by Dan Bacher
Censored News 

In yet another carefully choreographed photo opportunity to tout his "green" image while he promotes the expansion of fracking, Governor Jerry Brown today urged the world's mayors to "light a fire" and "join California in the fight against climate change." 

Brown was speaking on the first day of the Vatican's symposium on climate change and modern slavery hosted by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences. 

"We have fierce opposition and blind inertia," Brown claimed. "And that opposition is well-financed, hundreds of millions of dollars going into propaganda, into falsifying the scientific record, bamboozling people of every country. We have to fight that propaganda and overcome the inertia and the tremendous opposition." 

"Mayors, you are at the bottom of this power chain and you have got to light a fire. We have to join together. We have to make a change. It's up to us to make it happen," Brown said. 

The Vatican's symposium aims to drive awareness, dialogue and action at the local level on climate change and modern slavery – two interconnected issues highlighted in the pope's recent encyclical, according to an announcement from the Governor's Office. 

Governor Brown will address the symposium again during tomorrow's program. 

You can expect the mainstream media and some corporate "environmental" groups to gush over Brown's grandstanding at the Vatican with little critical analysis of the Governor's actual environmental record, a toxic legacy that I have documented in article after article. 

Fortunately, faith leaders from Brown’s home state and environmental experts introduced a critical note to the narrative about Brown's visit to the Vatican when they commended the Pope for his leadership and urged him to take this opportunity to call on Brown and other leaders to ban fracking and take every possible measure to protect "our climate." 

“We in the faith community applaud Pope Francis for highlighting the moral imperative of addressing climate change and protecting creation, and appreciate that he is bringing leaders like Jerry Brown to the Vatican to highlight the issue,” said Rev. Ambrose Carroll, a senior pastor at the Church by the Side of Road in Oakland, Calif., and a member of Faith Against Fracking. “We hope he will be able to get Governor Brown to see the indisputable incompatibility of his attempts to fight climate change while enabling the worst climate polluters to continue fracking.” 

“As Pope Francis meets with leaders from around the world on climate change, we applaud his efforts to make environmental stewardship a priority of the Catholic community and commend his willingness to speak up about our moral imperative to protect the planet,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Europe. 

“Among the Pope's guests this week is California Gov. Jerry Brown, an American politician who, despite having done much to further the global conversation on climate change, continues to put his own state's environmental and public health at risk by supporting the expansion of fracking and other extreme oil drilling. We urge Pope Francis to send a clear message to Brown and other elected officials that fracking—in California, in Europe, or elsewhere—has no place in his vision for a greener planet," emphasized Hauter. 

Latino communities in California, who disproportionately live near fracking and other extreme oil drilling sites in the state, on Monday sent a letter to Pope Francis asking him to intercede on their behalf and protect residents from fracking, according to Californians Against Fracking. (

"As the defender of all that is moral and good, we ask that you intercede on our behalf due to the suffering we are facing as a result of Governor Brown’s support of these practices," the letter stated. "In our communities, the oil and gas industry is using dangerous extraction methods like fracking next to our schools and in our backyards, and it is contaminating our air and our water, and making us sick. Because of fracking, our communities are suffering." 

The group said more than 60,000 children in California attend school within one mile of a stimulated oil well – of which 60 percent are Latino. Statewide, Latino students are nearly 19 percent more likely than non-Latino students to attend a school within a mile and a half of a stimulated well. Last week, a Kern County family sued Governor Brown claiming that the new fracking regulations do not protect the health of Latino public school children. (

In his recent encyclical on climate change Pope Francis said, “Many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, simply making efforts to reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change. However, many of these symptoms indicate that such effects will continue to worsen if we continue with the current models of production and consumption…We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil, and to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay.” (

More than a dozen countries in Europe, including Italy, Germany and France, have banned or placed a moratorium on fracking. In the United States, a number of states including New York and Maryland have moved to halt the practice - but not Jerry Brown's California, supposedly a "green" state. 

An independent study released by the California Council on Science and Technology earlier this month confirmed that fracking and other methods of oil development in the state are harmful to human health, air quality and the state’s vulnerable water supply. 

There is little doubt why Governor Brown is such a fervent backer of extreme oil extraction in California; the oil industry is one of the biggest and most faithful contributors to his campaigns. 

On September 20, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 4, an odious piece of legislation that creates the infrastructure for the expansion of fracking in California.'' Before Brown signed the bill, he had received millions in donations from Big Oil, according to Robert Gammon's East Bay Express article published on October 2, 2013. (

"Before Jerry Brown signed legislation last month that promises to greatly expand fracking in California, the governor accepted at least $2.49 million in financial donations over the past several years from oil and natural gas interests, according to public records on file with the Secretary of State's Office and the California Fair Political Practices Commission. Of the total, $770,000 went to Brown's two Oakland charter schools — the Oakland School for the Arts and the Oakland Military Institute. The other $1.72 million went to his statewide political campaigns for attorney general and governor, along with his Proposition 30 ballot-measure campaign last year," said Gammon. 

Jerry Brown's support of fracking is just one of the multitude of terrible environmental policies that he has embraced. Since I am the only reporter, that I am aware of, who has investigated the environmental record of Jerry Brown as a whole, I encourage other journalists also to investigate his real environmental record. 

His environmentally destructive policies include promoting carbon trading greenwashing; rushing the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the Delta tunnels; driving Delta smelt and salmon to the edge of extinction; campaigning for the Prop. 1 water grab; and forging ahead with the oil industry lobbyist-overseen Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create deeply-flawed "marine protected areas." 

For more information about Governor's real environmental record, go to: 

While Jerry Brown's call to "light a fire" on the climate change issue as he promotes fracking and other anti-environmental policies has ignited criticism and protests by environmentalists, the Pope's failure to respond to American Indian activists' call to not canonize Fr. Junipero Serra has also spurred events and ceremonies throughout the state. 

The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band held a ceremony at Mission San Juan Bautista on Saturday, July 11, seeking to reverse his decision on behalf of their ancestors. Canonization critics point out that the 21-mission system begun under Serra enslaved, brutalized and forcibly converted Indians to Catholicism. (

Governor Brown's Remarks 

The full text of the Governor's remarks is below: 

Thank you. I think I’ll take as my text – if I may – some words of Saint Paul to the Galatians, “God is not mocked for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” And what Saint Paul said in reference to God we can also say about God’s creation. We have heard what we’re doing to that creation, what a trillion tons of CO2 and other greenhouse gases will do. And that text that God is not mocked is not susceptible to compromise, to regrets. It’s inexorable, it’s absolutes. We have to respond and if we don’t, the world will suffer. We will all suffer. In fact, many people – millions are suffering already.

Now, to change the world from a fossil fuel based culture is not easy, but there are plenty of examples where it’s happening. So, I can bring you the example of California, which for many years has been taking on serious environmental challenges. California is now deriving 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources and in that source we don’t count nuclear or hydro. Secondly, we have the most efficient buildings, because of our building regulations, in the entire country. As a result, California citizens have saved tens of billions of dollars in energy bills. The same is true for our appliance standards, the most efficient in the country. As far as automobile pollution, we have very strict tailpipe emissions standards. And as a result and because of some changes in Washington, those standards are now adopted as the national standard of America. And that source of pollution is going down, not fast enough but steadily. We also have 40 percent of the electric cars in the United States.

But we’re not stopping there. We also have a commitment. And my commitment is to increase the renewable portfolio to 50 percent of the electricity consumed, 50 percent. And, at the same time, reduce petroleum in cars and trucks by 50 percent in the next 15 years. That’s quite a challenge, but it can be done. The California economy has steadily reduced its greenhouse gas emissions, particularly on a per capita basis, but its economy is growing over the last decade faster than the economy of the United States as a whole. So, there are ways that we can not mock creation or the laws of nature, but live within them. We have to get on the side of nature and not abuse it or go against it.

Pope Francis spoke about the abuse of goods. And what our modern world has seen and has enjoyed is the good of petroleum. We are a petroleum culture. We got here by means of petroleum, on airplanes and cars. Our clothes, the food deliveries, it’s all based on petroleum. So, it’s not a bad, it’s a good. But it becomes a bad when used at the point that seven billion people now have over a billion cars with the coal plants, the oil and the gas. So, we have to make a transition because goods become bads when they are abused and go beyond a certain threshold.

We know the problem. Yes, there are uncertainties, but we don’t even know how far we’ve gone or if we’ve gone over the edge. There are tipping points, feedback loops. This is not some linear set of problems that we can predict. It requires that we imagine down the road in the future and then react.

But right in the middle of this problem we have fierce opposition and blind inertia. And that opposition is well-financed, hundreds of millions of dollars going into propaganda, into falsifying the scientific record, bamboozling people of every country. Television stations, political parties, think tanks, PhDs, university personnel, they form a group of people that is attempting to put a cloud of doubt and uncertainty over the clear science that you heard earlier this morning. So, we have to fight that propaganda and overcome the inertia and the tremendous opposition.

Now, how are we going to do that? First of all, we are going to have to set a clear goal. And that goal is almost unimaginable. One-third of the oil that we know exists as reserves can never be taken out of the ground. Fifty percent of the gas can never be used and over 90 percent of the coal. Now, that is a revolution. That is going to take a call to arms.

And if you look at our national leaders, we’re not going to get there. Mayors, you are at the bottom of this power chain and you’ve got to light a fire if I may use that metaphor – in terms of climate change, it’s probably the wrong one. But we have to join together. It’s not going to happen. We’re not on the road to avoiding the catastrophes that climate change entails, so we have to make a change. This is a real conversion. Using the word transformation – that’s a big word, I don’t like to use it. It’s very hard to transform. I once entered the Jesuit seminary and our goal was to become perfect, a life of perfection. I can tell you, it’s very hard. You don’t get perfect and at the end of the day you don’t feel very transformed. But in this case, we may not transform our being, but we are going to have to transform our use of the goods in the world, namely petroleum. And we can do it.

I ask you to join with California and 19 other states and provinces to make a commitment to live within the no more than two degrees, to get us down to two tons per person. We can do that. By the way, the United States is over 20 tons per person. California, we’re at 12, so we’re a little better. But that’s because we have a lot of sun and we have a very benign climate. But we are suffering in the Southwest from drought and the ravages of climate change already. But keeping it under two is the goal. In Vietnam they only use one and a half tons per person. India is maybe two. So the developed world has put in most of the carbon and we’re going to have to take most of it out. It’s a big challenge. It’s not politics as usual. It’s not going to happen unless major changes happen.

And for the Holy Father to issue that encyclical that’s a change. The role of nature, the interconnectedness of all beings, these are ideas that while implicit, have never been so clear as they have been made in this encyclical. So, let’s take some inspiration from the Holy Father. Let’s take inspiration from ourselves, but don’t be in any way confident or complacent. We have a big mountain to climb. We have very powerful opposition that, in at least my country, spends billions on trying to keep from office people such as yourselves and elect troglodytes and other deniers of the obvious science.

So, that’s all I have to say. When I look at it – I could quote an Italian, by the way, who said – I shouldn’t quote him because he’s the founder of the Italian communist party. But he said, “Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.” And if we really sense our collective power we can exercise the political will to reverse the trends we’re on and to turn a new chapter in human history and live in compatible ways with other beings, with ourselves, and protect the most vulnerable. And do the right thing.

By the way, the church is not trying to become scientists. The pope isn’t a scientist, but he’s got scientists. And the Pontifical Academies have laid it out pretty clear, so it’s up to us to make it happen, the mayors and the governors. But I’m not counting on the presidents and I’m not counting on any Republican Congress in Washington. So, it’s up to you guys and you ladies. Thank you very much. 

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