Steve Pleich writes:
There has been much discussion over the last several months concerning the wisdom of having a fully functional Needle Exchange Program in our community. Many have expressed doubts about the public health benefits of such a program, but a clear-eyed and dispassionate analysis of those benefits has been subsumed by an overriding public safety concern.
Hundreds of indigenous people from California and across the country gathered with a crowd of over 4,000 activists at the State Capitol in Sacramento on March 15th. They demanded that Governor Brown ban fracking, the environmentally destructive oil extraction practice that pollutes groundwater, rivers and oceans.
In a victory for ocean wildlife, federal fishery managers in Sacramento on March 13 decided not to expand driftnet fishing into protected sea turtle habitat along the California coast because it would significantly raise the risk of capture and drowning of endangered whales, sea turtles and dolphins. But the Pacific Fishery Management Council failed to take direct action to remove driftnets from the California coast, though the gear is banned in Oregon and Washington.
This month's Bike Party theme in Santa Cruz was pie and pajamas. A colorful group gathered for pie at the Bike Church and then rode off into the sunset together on March 14 for Pi Day (3.14). Unlike the world-famous critical-mass bicycle rides, which are more political in focus and sometimes confrontational, Bike Party aims for a festive and friendly ride. The Santa Cruz Bike Party is gaining popularity and part of a larger movement, with the San José Bike Party being the most famous.
The Center for Biological Diversity reached a settlement agreement on March 11 with the California Department of Parks and Recreation that will substantially increase protections in the Santa Cruz Mountains for the marbled murrelet, an endangered seabird that nests in old-growth forests. The settlement requires the agency to reduce dangers posed by visitor trash, which harms murrelets by unnaturally increasing the abundance of predators that eat eggs and chicks.
On March 1, urban farmers demonstrated at Sprouts grocery chain locations in Petaluma, Fremont, Sunnyvale, and Mountain View. The farmers oppose plans to develop the Gill Tract. Boycott Sprouts is asking shoppers to patronize other stores until Sprouts backs away from the development deal. On March 5, the Albany City Council approved paving six acres of the Gill Tract. In response to the council's vote, Occupy the Farm has called for a rally on March 12
A new state bill that would impose a moratorium on fracking has been introduced as California reels from a record drought. The intention of the bill is to protect California’s air and water from pollution caused by this form of oil and gas extraction. SB 1132 calls for a moratorium on all forms of "extreme well stimulation," including hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and acidization until a comprehensive, independent and multi-agency review exploring the economic, environmental and public health impacts is complete.