Petition to Ban Fracking in California

by Al Miller. A Food & Water Watch email from Adam Scow provided information for this article.

Food & Water Watch ( has formed a new statewide coalition named Californians Against Fracking (CAF) that is working to ban fracking in the Golden State. “Today, [May 30th] the new Californians Against Fracking coalition, which has been endorsed by 100 organizations in California, will deliver over 100,000 petitions to Governor Brown at his offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco. “Today’s launch of Californians Against Fracking is timely. Just this week, behind closed doors, the leadership in the State Assembly watered down a moratorium bill. It’s time to show the Governor and our political leaders that we do not want fracking in California.

Fracking an oil or gas well means injecting millions of gallons of fluid—typically a mix of water, sand and [undisclosed] chemicals—at a pressure high enough to fracture underground rocks and release oil or gas. The practice is leaving a legacy of air and water pollution in communities across the country, and is contributing to global climate change. [There is also some evidence that fracking has triggered earthquakes.]

Now, the oil and gas industry is targeting natural gas fields in the Sacramento Basin and oil fields in the San Joaquin, Santa Maria, Ventura and Los Angeles Basins. If industry succeeds, generations of Californians would pay the environmental and public health costs.

More on what FRACKING is: “Fracking is a form of natural gas drilling that involves the injection of millions of gallons of ‘frack fluid’ [under high pressure] into dense shale rock in order to crack the rock and release the gas. The gas can then be sent to a port to be condensed into liquefied natural gas (LNG) before being exported overseas. ‘Frack fluid’ contains a combination of [undisclosed proprietary] chemicals, water, and sand. After frack fluid is injected into the earth, some of it comes back out in the form of [toxic] wastewater that cannot safely be treated in standard wastewater facilities.

  • Fracking chemicals are toxic and can contaminate water as a result of spills or accidents.
  • Fracking produces hazardous wastewater, which can contain radioactive substances as well as toxic chemicals, making disposal difficult and dangerous.
  • Fracking requires millions of gallons of water, which can deplete local water supplies.
  • Fracking can cause natural gas to migrate into drinking water sources, which can cause houses and wells to explode [and tap water to burn].
  • There have been more than 1,000 documented cases of water contamination near drilling sites around the country.
  • People who live in areas where fracking occurs experience contaminated water, reduced property value, increased truck traffic, loud noise, explosions and even illness.

You can side with the Californians Against Fracking, and common sense, and speak out to protect California from fracking at 

Sign the Petition to let Governor Brown know that you want to BAN FRACKING NOW!

Another Myth Busted

by Al Miller. The Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) E-Newsletter of May 29, 2013 ( provided information for this article.

A new report challenges the longheld popular belief that immigrants are draining resources from the Medicare program. This report shows that documented and undocumented immigrants have paid about $14 billion more annually into Medicare than they have received in benefits.

“This afternoon [May 29th] the prestigious journal Health Affairs published a new study showing that immigrants, particularly noncitizen immigrants, are heavily subsidizing Medicare’s Trust Fund. The article is titled Immigrants contributed an estimated $115.2 billion more to the Medicare Trust Fund than they took out in 2002-09. A complete, online version of the study is available free from Health Affairs.”

Here is the Abstract of the report:

Many immigrants in the United States are working-age taxpayers; few are elderly beneficiaries of Medicare. This demographic profile suggests that immigrants may be disproportionately subsidizing the Medicare Trust Fund, which supports payments to hospitals and institutions under Medicare Part A. For immigrants and others, we tabulated Trust Fund contributions and withdrawals (that is, Trust Fund expenditures on their behalf) using multiple years of data from the Current Population Survey and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. In 2009 immigrants made 14.7 percent of Trust Fund contributions but accounted for only 7.9 percent of its expenditures—a net surplus of $13.8 billion. In contrast, US-born people generated a $30.9 billion deficit. Immigrants generated surpluses of $11.1–$17.2 billion per year between 2002 and 2009 (emphasis added), resulting in a cumulative surplus of $115.2 billion. Most of the surplus from immigrants was contributed by noncitizens and was a result of the high proportion of working-age taxpayers in this group. Policies that restrict immigration may deplete Medicare’s financial resources.

You can get a complete copy of this eight-page study at If you would like a copy, but do not have access to the Internet, contact Al Miller at 510-526-4874 and he will provide one to you.

June Meeting is all about Transportation

by Carla Hansen

The June Club meeting will feature two speakers, Janet Abelson, Mayor Pro Tem of El Cerrito and Rebecca Saltzman, BART Board Director District 3.

Mayor Pro Tem Abelson will address the club about the importance of Transit-Oriented Developments to the effectiveness of transit (pedestrians, busses and light rail), a study about using smart phones to reduce the number of cars on the road by setting up ride sharing and Measure J-funded programs and projects in West Contra Costa County.

Bart Board Director Saltzman will address the Club about potential BART extensions, maintenance of BART trains required to ensure a “state of good repair”, BART cooperation with AC Transit to increase connectivity and State and Federal legislation effecting BART.

Here’s a little more about our June speakers:

Janet Abelson is the current Mayor Pro Tem of El Cerrito. She is the current Chair of both the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) and the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee (WCCTAC). She also represents AD15 as an elected member of the Democratic State Central Committee.

She has also held volunteer leadership roles at a number of agencies including the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, BART, and AC Transit.She has received the California Transportation Foundation “Tranny” Award for her advocacy on behalf of the Bay Area Disabled Community. She is particularly interested in the connection between transportation, land use and the environment. She successfully travels all over the country using public transit and does not possess a driver’s license.

Abelson, the mother of five, has played a volunteer leadership role in education for over thirty years and has received PTA’s Honorary Service Award. As a member of CCTA, she fought for the successful inclusive of the low-income student bus pass program now available in West County through Measure J.

Abelson has an MBA in Management. She is now retired as a systems analyst from UC Berkeley. She met her husband at Berkeley while both were volunteering at a table kicked off campus during the Free Speech Movement. Needless to say, she firmly believes in free speech.

Rebecca Saltzman was elected to the BART Board in November 2012. Director Saltzman represents District 3, which includes parts of Albany, Berkeley, Oakland, San Leandro, unincorporated Alameda County, El Cerrito, Lafayette, and unincorporated Contra Costa County as well as all of Piedmont, Moraga, and Orinda.

Before she was elected, Director Saltzman spent years as a public transit and policy advocate, coalition builder, grassroots organizer, and manager with local, state, and national issue-based organizations. In addition to her service on the BART Board, Saltzman also works as the Government Affairs Manager for the
California League of Conservation Voters, the non-partisan political action arm of California’s environmental movement. In that role, she coordinates Green California, a network of over 90 environmental, public health, and social justice organizations that work together to influence the state legislature and other regulatory bodies to make decisions that protect our air, water, and environment.

Saltzman served as Vice-Chair of the Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee from 2011-2013, where she advised the City of Oakland on pedestrian and bicycle policy and infrastructure. In 2011, Saltzman received the League of Women Voters of Oakland’s Making Democracy Work Award in recognition of her work
and commitment to increasing citizen engagement in local government.

Saltzman graduated with a BA in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in Oakland with her wife Caitlin, and relies on BART, buses, and walking to get around.