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Citing concerns about water use and contamination, a Monterey County Superior Court judge has ruled that San Benito County unlawfully approved a dangerous new oil-development project near Pinnacles National Park that could result in hundreds of wells being drilled in important agricultural and wildlife habitat in the Salinas Valley watershed. As the judge’s ruling notes, “There are numerous opportunities for toxic spills to occur that the County has apparently not contemplated.”
Rallies have been held around the world in opposition to Israel's recent air strikes on Gaza and the collective punishment carried out against the Palestinian people living there and in the West Bank. In Northern California, demonstrations have been held in Fresno, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Salinas, and Santa Cruz. According to the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC), as of July 27, 860 Palestinians, including whole families, have been killed since July 8. 47 Israeli soldiers, most of whom were invading Gaza at the time of their death, have been killed by Palestinian resistance, and two Israeli civilians were killed by Palestinian shells.
In response to pressure from conservation groups, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced an area closure for the swordfish drift gillnet fishery in the Pacific Ocean off California from July 25 through August 31 to prevent entanglements and drownings of endangered loggerhead sea turtles. This year’s El Niño conditions, warmer than normal waters, attract the endangered loggerhead sea turtles to the nutrient-rich waters where the deadly fishery operates.
This is the first time the conservation area has been closed since it went into effect over a decade ago. Today’s action came after the Center for Biological Diversity
, and Turtle Island Restoration Network
called upon NMFS earlier this month in a letter urging them to implement this important closure. “We are glad to see that Pacific loggerhead turtles are now protected in California’s coastal waters,” said Todd Steiner, a biologist and executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network. “But enough is enough. It’s time for California to follow the lead of Washington and Oregon, and close this deadly fishery to protect not only sea turtles, but also whales, dolphins and sharks regularly killed by this fishery.”
NMFS is required by law to close the more than 25,000-square-mile Pacific Loggerhead Conservation Area to protect the sea turtles during June, July and August when an El Niño event is occurring or forecasted. The seasonal closure protects loggerhead sea turtles that follow warmer waters off California in search of their preferred prey, pelagic red crabs. Although NMFS implemented the conservation area and drift gillnet prohibition almost two months late, conservation groups commend the agency for taking the proper steps to ensure protection of endangered loggerhead sea turtles as the fishery picks up in mid-August. The swordfish drift gillnet fishery operates from May 1 to January 31, but over 90 percent of the fishing occurs from August 15 through January 31.
Previous Coverage: Whales and Sea Turtles Win One: No Driftnet Expansion in California
In response to the decision from Sonoma County district attorney Jill Ravitch's decision not to prosecute Erick Gelhaus, the Sheriff's Deputy that killed 13-year-old Andy Lopez, protesters assembled in Santa Rosa on July 12 and marched through the downtown streets. The group stopped in intersections to trace themselves in chalk as a reminder that an innocent boy was killed. After the official march was declared to be over, many continued to march in an act of civil disobedience towards Highway 101, where they blocked an off-ramp and all three northbound lanes of traffic, causing a response from riot police.
On June 30, the United States Supreme Court denied the petition for review filed by the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, a private business that has been operating in the Point Reyes National Seashore. The company sued the Interior Department in December of 2012 after former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar decided to let their 40-year lease to expire on its own terms. This decision affirms the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal's denial of the Company's preliminary injunction lawsuit. Environmental groups now hope the Department of the Interior will set in motion a timeline for the company to remove its oyster operation from Drakes Estero.
The U.S. Forest Service is proposing to log 661 million board feet of timber in the area burned by the Rim fire last summer in California’s Stanislaus National Forest. The new proposal, issued as part of a draft environmental impact statement, would sell almost four times the timber volume sold by the Forest Service in the entire state of California in 2013. It would ignore longstanding rules protecting old-growth trees and destroy habitat for roughly 60 percent of imperiled black-backed woodpeckers.
"It’s little more than an excuse to cut old trees in forests that would otherwise be protected," said Randi Spivak of the Center for Biological Diversity. "Decades of science have shown the importance of preserving burned areas for wildlife like black-backed woodpeckers and the function of these complex ecosystems. Throwing that away to make the timber industry happy is shortsighted.”
The forests in the Rim fire area continue to thrive: Hillsides are now covered with blooming flowers and plants, birds are feeding off of the dead trees, new conifers are sprouting, and deer and other wildlife thrive.
Read More |
Center for Biological Diversity |
See Also: New Report: Logging Would Impede Rim Fire's Benefits for Wildlife, Water, Forest
Lawsuit Launched to Protect Rare Black-backed Woodpeckers in California, Oregon, S. Dakota
New Study: Sierra Forest Fire Severity Is Not Increasing
In a move that stunned but was welcomed by long-time opponents, the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) suspended the permit for the Caltrans Willits Bypass on Friday, June 20. The project has been highly contested, with Native American involvement and over 50 arrests last year. “This appears to be the first time ACE has ever pulled a permit on an approved project under construction,” said Ellen Drell, co-founder of the Willits Environmental Center, one of the project’s opponents.
California is experiencing a serious drought and the media is filled with recommendations about how to save water: Switch to dry landscaping; don't run water when you are shaving or brushing your teeth; install low-flow showerheads; and don't wash your car. All those ideas would help, but much less than people think.
According to a 2012 report by the Pacific Institute, only 4% of California's water is used by individuals. An astounding 93% of California's water goes to agriculture; and most of that 93% is misused or wasted. Humans drink less than one gallon of water per day. A cow drinks 23 gallons per day — and we have 5.5 million of them.
Low-flow showerheads help save much less water than people think. Most people shower once a day and use an average of 14 gallons of water. You could save more water by reducing your beef intake by one pound than by not showering for six months!
Read More |
"California's Water Footprint" report by the Pacific Institute
Residents and representatives of community organizations in Santa Cruz rallied outside of the court house on May 14 to voice their strong opposition to the Governor's May revise budget, which calls for an increase in spending for jail and prison expansion. According to Californians United for A Responsible Budget (CURB), spending on corrections in the state will rise 2.9%, and total spending on prisons will top $12 billion if the budget revision is adopted. Similar rallies were also held in San Francisco, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and San Diego.
A new report documents, for the first time, widespread pesticide use near California schools, including in Monterey County. Many of the pesticides profiled are used in large amounts and linked to impacts on children’s health and learning. A coalition, which includes Californians for Pesticide Reform and the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, has called for reforms in addressing pesticide use to protect children in Monterey County.
California is a state where many powerful corporate interests are based, ranging from corporate agribusiness in the San Joaquin Valley to the computer and technology industry in the Silicon Valley, but none are more influential in state politics than the oil industry. Stop Fooling California recently released a chart revealing that the oil industry, including the Western States Petroleum Association, Chevron, BP and other oil companies, spent over $56.63 million on lobbying at the State Capitol in the five years from 2009 through 2013.
This money amounts to an average of $471,000 for each California
Senator and Assemblymember, according to the organization (http://www.stopfoolingca.org
), "an online and social media public education and awareness campaign
that highlights oil companies’ efforts to mislead and confuse
Californians." The money spent by Big Oil on lobbying has apparently been a very good
investment, since the industry was able to make sure that the only
fracking legislation passed by the Legislature and signed by the
Governor last year was Senator Fran Pavley’s SB 4, the“green light for
fracking bill." SB 4 is an ominous piece of legislation that will
result in the expansion of hydraulic fracturing in Kern County,
coastal areas and offshore waters.
Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying group in California, placed first in "The Big Oil Dirty Dozen” with $23,987,896 spent on lobbying in Sacramento from 2009 through 2013. The organization spent $5,331,493 in 2009, $4,013,813 in 2010, $4,273,664 in 2011, $5,698,917 in 2012 and $4,670,010 in 2013.
Read More |
Western States Petroleum Association spent $1,456,785 in 3 months |
Rachel Lederman and Jacob Crawford write:
The Oakland Police purchased PDRDs (Personal Digital Recording Devices) following the videotaped murder of Oscar Grant on January 1, 2009. Although Grant was murdered by a BART officer, there was fallout in the streets of Oakland against OPD, which has been unable to bring its police force under control despite its 2003 agreement to a federal court monitored consent decree. Oakland was one of the first agencies to implement PDRDs, so our experiences here should be instructive for those calling for PDRDs in other large urban areas where there is an entrenched police culture of racism and impunity.
In his most recent, January 2014, quarterly report, the court appointed Independent Monitor of the OPD found that “The matter of the proper use of the Department’s PDRDs remains a concern. In too many instances, there are questions about the measure to which personnel throughout the Department understand the use, review, and utility of these devices.” While there had been some improvement in the past six months over previous years, “recent assessments of force cases revealed several serious incidents in which officers – who were in a position to obtain evidence of the facts and circumstances surrounding the use of force – did not have or activate their PDRDs.”
Moreover, even when they are used, the chest cam doesn’t show close proximity physical encounters between an officer and victim, allowing the officer to supply his own narration, such as yelling “Stop resisting” while pummeling a person, or turning the camera on and stating that she smells marijuana or that he has just seen the person drop something that might be drugs, to justify a search, arrest or brutality. And officers are able to turn the cameras on and off at will, thus editing on the fly. Since, absent lawyers and major effort and expenditure, the videos are only accessible to the police and not the public, they effectively turn primarily into tools for the police to collect evidence against the public and combat the public’s videotaping of the police, by creating their videos from the law enforcement point of view videos.
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 in the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary and along the California coast because it would significantly raise the risk of capture and drowning of endangered whales, sea turtles and dolphins.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (the Council) called for immediate action to: 1) impose strong whale protections regulations on the driftnet fleet that expired in January 2014, and to 2) test lower bycatch fishing gears for catching swordfish. But the Council failed to take direct action to remove driftnets from the California coast, though the gear is banned in Oregon and Washington.
Not long ago, an estimated 16 endangered sperm whales died in the California driftnet fishery. Last season at least one gray whale and two short fin pilot whales perished in the driftnets, according to preliminary observer data.
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.
State Senators Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) have introduced legislation that would impose a moratorium on fracking and acidization in order to protect California’s air and water from pollution caused by this form of oil and gas extraction. The bill was introduced as California reels from a record drought and Governor Jerry Brown continues to support the expansion of fracking in California and the construction of the peripheral tunnels under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).
Senators Mitchell and Leno's bill, SB 1132, faces an uphill struggle. All but one fracking bill, including fracking moratorium legislation, failed to pass through the Legislature last year due to intense lobbying by the Western States Petroleum Association and oil companies. The only fracking bill to pass through the legislature and be signed by the Governor in 2013 was Senator Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 4, legislation that gives the green light to fracking in California. 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.
“A moratorium on fracking is especially critical as California faces a severe drought with water resources at an all-time low,” said Senator Mark Leno. “We are currently allowing fracking operations to expand despite the potential consequences on our water supply, including availability and price of water, the potential for drinking water contamination and the generation of billions of barrels of polluted water.
The United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced on February 7 its decision to maintain the classification of the Light Brown Apple Moth as a quarantine-significant pest. Eradication programs relating to the moth have been of particular concern to those in California, where large residential areas in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties were sprayed aerially with pesticides in 2007.
8PM Friday Sep 12
This is the Girl