Strategists Work for The Industry, Oppose Fracking Ban

by Leslie Layton

When Robin Cook addressed Butte County supervisors to ask for a 30-day study on a ballot initiative that would ban fracking, she talked convincingly about her concern for her father’s —and the county’s— finances.

“My family owns property that has a capped well,” she told supervisors at their July 29 meeting. “From what we can understand … this would be a takings of our property. The debate today is about the … petition coming before you and whether or not that language is bankruptcy language for this county. Nobody wants to see this county be lost in a big old mess of lawsuits.” read more

Anti-Fracking Ballot Initiative Faces Two-Year Delay

Ballot_Initiative_Opponents 07-30-2014

by Leslie Layton

The grass-roots campaign to ban fracking in Butte County via ballot initiative came to a crashing halt with a July 29 vote by the Board of Supervisors. The supervisors voted, 4-1, in favor of a 30-day study of the initiative rather than to place it on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The board also said it would proceed with work on an ordinance county attorneys are writing that would also ban fracking and that would likely include more detail and definition of terms. That’s been underway since the board’s April 8 meeting, when supervisors voted 4-1 in favor of a county-wide fracking ban. read more

Fracktivists Deliver the Goods

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by Leslie Layton

Some 20 Butte County anti-fracking activists turned their sky-blue campaign t-shirts inside out Thursday to comply with rules against politicking in the clerk-recorder’s office, and delivered boxes of petitions to the Registrar of Voters.

Frack-Free Butte County activists said they collected 9,802 signatures that would qualify an initiative for the Nov. 4 ballot that, if approved by voters, would ban fracking and other unconventional oil and gas-extraction methods locally.

And even though there’s not yet been fracking in Butte County — to anyone’s knowledge — 4th District Sen. Jim Nielsen has been quietly lobbying against a ban. In a letter that was sent to many Butte County Republicans and appears to have been authored by Nielsen, the senator calls the ban an “ill-conceived maneuver meant to be symbolic.” read more

A Bold, Surprising Vote in Butte County

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Butte County Frack-Free Campaign Group - photo by Karen Laslo
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by Leslie Layton

A majority on the Butte County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to draft an ordinance that would ban fracking, a step that could place this county at the vanguard of a grass-roots movement to halt the practice.

In a surprisingly unscripted move, the supervisors voted 4-1 to consider a comprehensive fracking ban after county staffers research how best this can be done. The vote was applauded by dozens of anti-fracking activists, many of whom had spoken in favor of the more moderate measure that was on the agenda — a recommendation the county amend its zoning code to ensure local oversight of fracking projects. read more

California to Experiment with Fracking Regulation

Dave Garcia, who has led the fight against fracking in Butte County, poses near a gas-well pump in the nearby Sutter Buttes, where many wells have undergone hydraulic fracturing.
Dave Garcia, who has led the fight against fracking in Butte County, poses near a gas-well pump in the nearby Sutter Buttes, where many wells have undergone hydraulic fracturing.

by Leslie Layton

CHICO –On a recent summer morning, Dave Garcia, the political chair of the Sierra Club’s Northern California Yahi chapter, occasionally interrupted a tour of gas wells in the Sutter Buttes to point out signs of wildlife: a scampering cottontail rabbit, a vigilant red-tailed hawk or whizzing western kingbirds.

Garcia had brought a pair of journalists here to witness fracking in the Northern Sacramento Valley, something that most Northern Californians probably have no idea is underway in this area. The well sites appear almost deserted—there are no gas flares, no trucks moving huge tanks of water, no towering pump jacks. In fact, rarely were people even seen at these electronically monitored stations. read more

Continuation Schools Struggle to Beat the Odds

Diana Chavez

photo by Leslie Layton

Diana Chavez: “Fair View changed my life around in a lot of ways. I felt people cared about me.”

by Leslie Layton

During her freshman year at Chico High, Diana Chavez ditched all but about 20 days. “We’d go to the mall, do anything to fill up the day,” she said of herself and a friend. “Then we’d go back to school to get picked up.”

Chavez enrolled at Fair View continuation high school in fall 2009 after failing her freshman year classes. There, she was able to make up lost credits and get on track with emotional and academic support from school staff. Chavez will graduate from Fair View May 23 with plans to attend Butte College next fall. read more