First-Ever Overall Limit on Oil Refinery Climate Pollution? The Bay Area Could Adopt It

Chevron's Richmond refinery
Chevron’s Richmond refinery

For those concerned about climate change, all eyes are on California as it braces for the Trump era, particularly in the wake of Governor Jerry Brown’s fiery speech to the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco two weeks ago. Within the United States, California might be virtually alone when it comes to enacting and implementing policies to achieve deep greenhouse gas reductions in the next four years.

It is far from guaranteed that these policies will be progressive or adequate, however, partly because Brown himself remains deeply committed to big business-oriented GHG reduction strategies, activists say. Here are two stories that provide background: one and two.

In May, a group of 24 San Francisco Bay Area elected officeholders have a unique opportunity to help set climate policy in a stronger direction. They are scheduled to vote on whether to adopt the world’s first-ever restrictions on overall oil refinery greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, thus preventing increased regional processing of dirtier oils such as Canadian tar sands and Arctic crude. (more…)

“Post-Carbon Radio” Interview

The day after Baby Jesus Day, I appeared on “Post-Carbon Radio” on KMWR Radio in West Marin, along with a 21 year-old senior at Barnard College, a private women’s liberal arts college affiliated with Columbia University in New York City, who has helped lead a fossil fuels divestment campaign. I discussed my research on Bay Area institutions funding the Dakota Access Pipeline and other Big Oil projects.



Marin Hedge Fund is Largest Investor in One of DAPL’s Likely Suppliers

The offices of SPO Partners, the largest investor in prospective DAPL oil supplier Oasis Petroleum, are located in Shelterpoint Business Center along Highway 101 in Mill Valley, CA.

According to Energy Transfer Partners Executive Vice President Joey Mahmoud, nine oil companies have contracts to supply the Dakota Access Pipeline. They all expire on January 1, 2017.

Mahmoud made this assertion in a sworn declaration to the US District Court for Washington, DC this past August 18th.  In oil industry jargon, the pipeline suppliers are known as “shippers.”

If the shippers decline to renew their contracts, in other words, it will significantly add to the financial stress facing the project.

“The long-term transportation contracts give shippers a right to terminate their commitments if DAPL is not in full service per the contract deadline,” Mahmoud told the court. (more…)

North Bay and North Coast First Nations Stand with Standing Rock

Check out my new story in the North Bay Bohemian:

feature-1-82f2659e81cfafaaOn Sunday, Nov. 6, in Redwood Valley, one of two small Mendocino County towns where the Russian River’s headwaters spill from the southern Mendocino Range mountains, cars overflowed the parking lot at the local grange and lined rural East Side Road in both directions. Several hundred people had gathered to listen to activists report back from Standing Rock where they had stood in solidarity with Native American tribes known as Water Protectors who oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline.

One such speaker was Jassen Rodriguez, a member of the Mishewal Wappo, whose ancestral lands include much of Sonoma, Napa and southern Lake counties. He had just returned from a three-week sojourn to Standing Rock.

Rodriguez had stayed at Oceti Sakowin, or Seven Council Fires, an encampment named for the seven bands of the Sioux people where a ceremonial fire has remained burning for many months. Elders at Standing Rock had granted Rodriguez the responsibility of tending the sacred fire on behalf of the entire camp, and he choked back tears as he recounted the experience. Tears also moistened the eyes of many audience members as he spoke.

“It was the greatest honor of my life,” Rodriguez says. “It was an incredible blessing. The entire experience was a spiritual awakening.” Click here to keep reading @ North Bay Bohemian >>

Wells Fargo: Big Oil’s Biggest Banker

Wells Fargo hosts the annual “Wells Fargo Pipeline, MLP, and Utility Symposium,” which connects pipeline builders and pipeline investors.

“Wells Fargo is the US’ most controversy-laden bank of the moment, owing to the revelation that it reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in extra profits by opening roughly two million bogus customer accounts from 2011 to ’15. The fact that it is the Dakota Access Pipeline’s second largest financial backer, with $467 million invested to date, is therefore an attention-grabber in itself.  But Wells Fargo also acts as Energy Transfer Partners’ so-called “administrative loan agent,” the company’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings show, [arguably] giving it a qualitatively greater role in fueling the pipeline than any other bank.”

“Wells Fargo performs all record-keeping associated with all of ETP’s loans, handles the interest and principal payments made in connection with those loans, and monitors their ongoing administration. In other words, all bank financing ETP receives passes through Wells Fargo.” Click here to keep reading @ Counterpunch…

Willits Bypass Opens

willitsbypassimgA parade of classic cars led the way last Thursday afternoon, November 4th, as CalTrans celebrated Opening Day of the Willits Bypass. A bulletin relased by Big Orange’s legendary propaganda shill, Phil Frisbie, Jr., stated that the Chevy Bel Airs and Ford Thunderbirds would be ferrying the likes of Assemblymember Jim Wood and Willits City Councilmember Bruce Burton across Little Lake Valley’s beleaguered wetlands as a representation of “the more than six decades that have passed since the conception of the bypass.” Click here to keep reading @ the AVA >>

Election Day Interview About Dakota Access Funding Pipeline

On Election Day, I was a guest on KPFA Flashpoints, discussing my recent story about Bay Area-based investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline and associated northern plains fracking boom. Check out the interview here. The story deals, in part, with a Marin County hedge fund called SPO Partners that is invested in a North Dakota fracking corporation named Oasis Petroleum poisedelectionday to deliver 50,000 barrels of oil per day to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

As I note in the story, the fourth largest owner of that fracking company is Paulson and Co., a Wall Street firm operated by investment tycoon John Paulson — one of Donald Trump’s core economic policy advisors.  Donald Trump is invested in Paulson’s hedge fund, raising the possibility that Trump himself is invested in a company that will supply oil to the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Greenpeace already revealed much more about Trump’s financial ties to DAPL.

The election results started trickling in almost immediately after that KPFA Flashpoints interview concluded.

Even as I was discussing this celebrity real estate mogul buffoon who had just wrapped up a nativist, closed-borders campaign offering liberation to many deranged aspects of the American psyche, it didn’t seem real that this person was about to become the most powerful political official on earth. The sense that we are locked in a fight for everything that is sacred and precious, even including a planet itself capable of supporting a diversity of life, has grown so much more intense, real and urgent in the hours since.


John Dyson [Heart] Big Campaign Donations

John Dyson, New York private equity manager and North Bay wine guy

Meet John Stuart Dyson, one of Sonoma County’s most politically-active oligarchs.  Dyson, a New York-based private equity manager and former US Senate candidate, has donated the comparatively whopping sum of $35,000 to a Super PAC supporting Lynda Hopkins, a candidate for Sonoma County fifth district supervisor, according to records from the Sonoma County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor.

Dyson is the founder of Millbrook Capital Management, Inc. As with so many other people who derive their fortunes from private equity, hedge funds, credit markets, venture capital, real estate speculation, and all the other games played with billion-dollar pots of money, he is currently a North Bay Area wine guy.  He also owns vineyards in Tuscony and in the southern Santa Clara Valley near Hollister.

Dyson is also a former Deputy Mayor of New York City in the 1990s, appointed to that position by then-mayor and current Donald Trump BFF Rudy Guliani. He had previously been New York Commissioner of Commerce during the creation of the tourism advertising campaign “I [Heart] New York” in the late-’70s.

Dyson’s biggest regional political priority has been to beat back any effort to regulate the almighty grape, including its enormous draw on the battered Russian River. (more…)

The Bay Area’s Money Pipeline to Dakota Access

feature-1-e5ef1afec2e6087cCheck out my new story on Bay Area-based banks and investment firm that are financing the Dakota Access Pipeline and/or fracking companies that are poised to supply the pipeline with crude oil, published by the North Bay Bohemian.  I have another story in the works that focuses specifically on Wells Fargo. Stay tuned.

“Mill Valley’s Shelterpoint Business Center occupies a narrow strip of asphalt between Richardson Bay and Highway 101, roughly five miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. In the back of the office complex stands a tan building with floor-to-ceiling windows that offer sweeping views of Mt. Tamalpais’ grassy southeastern slopes. This is the headquarters of SPO Partners, the North Bay’s largest hedge fund.

“The serene sophistication of this setting belies the nature of SPO Partners’ business. The $5.2 billion investment firm is among the country’s leading financial backers of oil and natural gas fracking. Its web of financial connections tie it directly to the country’s most controversial infrastructure project—the $3.7 billion, 1,134-mile Dakota Access Pipeline—and even Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump’s economic policy team.

SPO Partners is the largest investor in Oasis Petroleum of Houston, Texas, which controls more than 400,000 acres within the Bakken and Three Forks oil basins of North Dakota and Montana. Oasis is working to complete a 19-mile oil transmission system from its North Dakota petroleum handling facility to the Dakota Access Pipeline, thus positioning it to supply roughly one-ninth of the pipeline’s estimated 470,000 barrels of daily crude oil deliveries, records with the North Dakota Public Service Commission show.” Click here to keep reading @ North Bay Bohemian >>


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