Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wednesday Must Reads: LAO Says Brown Is Overestimating Costs, Too; Feds Say Most of California’s Shale Oil Reserves Area Not Recoverable Via Fracking

By Robert Gammon
Wed, May 21, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office said Governor Jerry Brown’s administration is underestimating the costs of the Medi-Cal expansion under Obamacare by about $300 million, the LA Times$ reports. Late last week, the LAO also concluded that the governor is seriously underestimating tax revenues — by about $2.5 billion. The LAO came to a similar conclusion last year — and was proven right, while the governor’s projections turned out to be wrong. The LAO’s forecasts mean that the state has about $2.8 billion more funds available in its budget next year than the governor projects.

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2. Officials with US Energy Information Administration have concluded that almost all of the oil trapped in California’s massive shale deposit is not recoverable via fracking or acidization methods, the LA Times$ reports. The federal government’s conclusion means that the Monterey Shale deposit, once thought to have about 13.7 billion barrels of oil that could be extracted via fracking and acidization, actually only has about 600 million barrels that can be recovered by those methods. The federal government’s conclusion is good news for environmentalists who feared that a massive fracking boom would take place in California, much like it has in North Dakota and Texas.

3. The County of Santa Cruz, meanwhile, became the first in the state to ban fracking, which involves shooting massive amounts of water and toxic chemicals into underground shale deposits in order to release otherwise trapped oil and natural gas, KQED reports.

4. The Richmond City Council moved forward with a ballot measure plan that would raise sales taxes by one-half percent to generate funds for road repairs, the CoCo Times$ reports.

5. BART has agreed to pay a total of $175,000 to five men who were handcuffed and detained while a transit agency cop shot and killed Oscar Grant in 2009, the Trib$ reports.

6. State regulators are attempting to seize control of Alameda Alliance for Health, an Alameda County agency that serves as an health insurance provider for 200,000 East Bay residents enrolled in Medi-Cal, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. State officials contend that the county agency has been mismanaged, but local officials argue in court that the state has overreacted to problems that are being fixed.

7. A federal appellate court has ruled that the identity of donors to Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage measure, must remain public, the Chron reports. Prop 8 backers had sought to purge state records of the donors’ names because they say the contributors have been harassed because of their donations.

8. And a group of former professional football players has sued the NFL, contending that the league routinely overprescribed painkillers to keep injured players on the field, the Chron reports. Many retired players are now suffering from health problems related to painkiller use and the lack of proper medical treatment.

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