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The Trump administration this week granted requests from Gov. Jerry Brown's regulators to exempt three aquifers in California's Kern County from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Approval of these "aquifer exemption" applications by the Environmental Protection Agency gives oil companies permission to dump contaminated waste fluid into these underground water supplies. California officials plan to submit dozens of additional exemption applications for other aquifers across the state, including underground water sources in Alameda, Monterey, Ventura, Kern and other counties.
Mon Feb 13 2017 (Updated 02/14/17)
Marchers in Palo Alto Demand Banks Defund DAPL
Hundreds of demonstrators took their Rolling March and Rally through downtown Palo Alto on February 11. They hit up eight banks that are responsible for helping to fund the Dakota Access Pipeline. Things got started in front of City Hall with a rally featuring indigenous speakers Dr. Maria Michael, Hartman Deetz, and Delphine Red Shirt amongst others. Marchers then made their way to Citibank, Morgan Stanley, Comerica, Bank of America, Union Bank, HSBC, Wells Fargo, and Chase banks. To the end demonstrators cried out "Mni Wiconi - Water is Life!"
Water from Lake Oroville flowed over the emergency spillway at Oroville Dam for the first time in the reservoir's 48-year history after the water level exceeded 901 feet in elevation on February 11. The water slowly began to flow over the concrete weir of the auxiliary spillway, down a hillside and into the Feather River. After saying the situation was stable and public safety was not threatened, state officials reversed course and issued evacuation orders late in the afternoon of February 12. On February 13, state officials would give no timeline on when the 188,000 evacuees can return to their homes.
A diverse array of Sacramento community groups participated in ChangeFest, a climate mobilization rally at the state capitol on January 21 as part of a week of anti-Trump street protests in Sacramento centered around the Presidential Inauguration. Speakers and musicians covered issues ranging from violence against women, to the Driscoll’s boycott in support of indigenous farmworkers in Mexico, to successful campaigns to ban fracking in San Benito and Monterey Counties, to the No DAPL struggle at Standing Rock. ChangeFest took place concurrently with the 20,000-strong Women's March in the Capitol.
President Trump signed executive orders on January 24 to push ahead with the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Both projects sparked widespread opposition and protests, especially because of their risks to water, wildlife, climate and people. On January 27, attorneys representing the first ten water protectors arrested in actions against the Dakota Access Pipeline in early August 2016 renewed their motion for a change of venue, on grounds that the state did not adequately respond to their motion and is not taking basic steps to assess bias among jurors.
Over the past several years, Santa Cruz Fruit Tree Project has been working with the City of Santa Cruz to develop the city's first community orchard. Riverside Community Orchard was launched in early 2015 when more than fifty volunteers came out to plant twelve dwarf apple, pear, and citrus trees along a fence line at Riverside Gardens Park. On Saturday, February 4, the group will break ground on a major expansion of the orchard, planting upwards of twenty more trees across the street, in an open area adjacent to the skate park and ball courts of Mike Fox Park, by the San Lorenzo River levee.
Just months after Monterey County voters approved a ban on underground injection of oil waste, California regulators have announced a plan to turn an underground water supply in the county over to the oil industry for injection of contaminated waste fluid. The proposal — announced by California's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources — seeks to exempt an aquifer that runs under the town of San Ardo from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. A similar aquifer exemption is currently under consideration in Livermore.