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Center Column Archives
On March 14, farmers and neighbors of the Gill Tract turned out to disrupt business as usual at a local Sprouts supermarket. Activists, a brass band, and a large delegation of workers from the Fast Food Workers Union converged on Sprouts in Walnut Creek, holding a sit-in to block the main entrance to the store and rallying around a 600-pound stump that had been recently cut down by contractors preparing for the construction of Sprouts at the Gill Tract. One week later, Sprouts management sent protestors legal documents suggesting that the parking lot in front of their Petaluma store was not a "free speech" zone.
On March 12, the Pit River Tribe and their Native American and environmental allies optimistically left the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco following oral arguments in their long legal battle to protect the Medicine Lake Highlands from geothermal destruction and desecration. The Pit River people, the lead defendants in the case, are fighting in court to defend the Highlands, known to them as “Saht Tit Lah," an area that has been used for healing, religious ceremonies and tribal gatherings for thousands of years.
Early in the morning on February 26, sixty trees were cut down on the southern acreage of the Gill Tract. The UC’s move to begin clearing the way for their proposed housing and shopping complex came as a shock to farmers and neighbors, as there is an active lawsuit on appeal in the county courts, contesting the development’s detrimental environmental impact. Knowing the community would mobilize to defend the trees, the UC cut down the trees with lightening speed. The last trees were in the process of being destroyed at 9am, as farm supporters arrived.
Flowback fluid from fracked oil wells in California commonly contains dangerous levels of cancer-causing chemicals, a new analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity has found. Benzene levels over 1,500 times the federal limits for drinking water were found in fracking flowback fluid tests dating back to April 2014 obtained and analyzed by the Center. Benzene in excess of federal limits was found in 320 tests, and chromium-6 was detected 118 times. Both chemicals can cause cancer.
On February 7, thousands of people from across the state took to the streets of Oakland to call on Governor Jerry Brown to protect Californians from dangerous oil activities that harm the state's water, health and communities. The day before, on February 6, about seventy activists blockaded the entrances to the California State office building in San Francisco in support of a state-wide ban on fracking.
Santa Cruz County is drafting new regulations for medicinal cannabis patients and providers. These new rules have the potential to turn large numbers of patients and providers into criminals and drastically roll back decades of progress won by cannabis activists. In letters to the Board of Supervisors, medicinal cannabis patients and cultivators are expressing their desire for "more effective, more sensible, and more just solutions" regarding a policy on medicinal cannabis cultivation and distribution.
At least 145 of America's last wild, migratory bison have already been captured inside Yellowstone National Park's Stephens Creek bison trap this week as a result of the park and other entities working under the controversial Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP). They intend to kill upwards of 900 of the gentle giants under the guise of population control and "disease risk management."