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Feature Archives

An oil company with a long history of hazardous spills in California wants state and federal permission to dispose of contaminated waste fluid into an underground water supply in Livermore. The proposal, announced by California's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, seeks to exempt an aquifer in eastern Alameda County from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act on behalf of E&B Natural Resources, the oil company seeking the exemption. State officials are now taking public comments and will hold a January 11 hearing on the proposal.
The California Secretary of State’s Office announced that voters narrowly defeated Proposition 53, an initiative requiring voter approval of revenue bonds over $2 billion. Governor Jerry Brown is celebrating the victory because it would have required a vote on his controversial “legacy” projects, the Delta Tunnels and High Speed Rail. Dan Bacher writes: The results of the Proposition 53 vote are disappointing for those who care about salmon, the Delta and the public trust. However, there is no doubt that if an initiative solely requiring a public vote on the Delta Tunnels had been on the ballot, it would have been decisively approved.
On December 6, the Kern County Board of Supervisors approved Tejon Ranch Company’s disastrous Grapevine project, despite the harm the project will do to wildlife and nearby communities. The 8,000-acre development will straddle the San Joaquin Valley and Tehachapi Mountains and create a new city of up to 12,000 dwelling units and up to 5.1 million square feet of commercial real estate. The project will destroy habitat for the endangered San Joaquin kit fox, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, and threatened San Joaquin antelope squirrel, along with up to 36 other rare and imperiled species.
The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) is not a household name in California and the West, but it should be. WSPA is the trade association for the oil industry and the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying organization in California. It represents a who's who of oil companies including Aera Energy, Chevron, California Resources Corporation (formerly Occidental Petroleum), ExxonMobil, Phillips 66, Shell, Valero and many others. Yet most people — even many environmental activists — have never heard of the organization and the enormous influence it wields over politicians and regulators in the western states.
Sun Nov 27 2016 (Updated 12/01/16)
Standing Rock Solidarity in Northern California
The Standing Rock Sioux Nation called for indigenous nations and others to stand in solidarity as they fight to prevent continued construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in their ancestral lands, especially near the Missouri River. Since federal agencies blocked construction under the Missouri River in early September, police have greatly increased the violence unleashed against the Water Protectors. Hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested and injured by police weaponry. Now, federal authorities are threatening to close the NoDAPL camp by December 5, but protesters promise continued resistance.
Wed Nov 16 2016 (Updated 12/14/16)
Santa Cruz Stands with Standing Rock
Dozens of local supporters of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe gathered at the Town Clock on the evening of November 15 for a loud, raucous and joyous celebration of the NoDAPL Day of Action. Allegra David, an organizer of the demonstration, led the group on short walk to full throated chants of "Water is Life" and "You Can't Drink Oil." The group's spirits were uplifted by the report that the Army Corps of Engineers dealt a blow to the progress of the Dakota Access Pipeline, saying in a letter that more analysis and discussion with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe is needed before construction can take place under the Missouri River.
On November 15, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved legislation prohibiting new fossil fuel leases on city-owned property in an effort to combat climate change. The legislation by Supervisor John Avalos originated with 350 Bay Area analyst Jed Holtzman, who discovered the city was leasing to Chevron an 800-acre property that it inherited in Kern County. City finance officials say converting the property to a solar array could generate more revenue than current oil operations, which net the city about $320,000 annually.