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Wed Feb 7 2018 (Updated 02/08/18)
Californians Rally Against Offshore Drilling
Hundreds of Californians rallied against President Trump’s offshore oil leasing plan on February 8 in Sacramento, marching to the plan’s only formal hearing in California. Ahead of the hearing, thousands of Californians rallied in seven cities to oppose Trump’s proposal to open up the Pacific and other U.S. oceans to offshore drilling for the first time in more than 30 years. Rallies were held February 3 in at least seven communities after the federal government ignored requests by California’s congressional delegation and state leaders to hold additional hearings closer to coastal communities threatened by offshore drilling.
An annual census of monarch butterflies overwintering along California’s coast reveals that populations in western North America are at their lowest point in five years, despite recovery efforts. Volunteers with the Xerces Society’s Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count visited more sites this past year than have ever been counted since the survey began in 1997, yet they tallied fewer than 200,000 monarchs. Pismo Beach State Park was down by 38%, a private site in Big Sur was down by 50%, and the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove was down 57%. The few sites in which monarch numbers remained stable or increased compared to 2016, include Natural Bridges State Park, Moran Lake, and Lighthouse Field State Park, all in Santa Cruz County.
Approximately 4.4 million gallons of untreated wastewater flowed into the waters of Monterey Bay through an ocean outfall discharge pipe 2.5 miles offshore, the result of an “equipment control failure” at the Monterey One Water Regional Treatment Plant in Marina on January 19 and 20. In response, the Monterey County Health Department issued beach closures from Moss Landing to Stillwater Cove. All Monterey County Beaches have been posted with a rain advisory due to the current weather. The public is advised not to have ocean water contact for three days after the rain event on January 22. The department warns that contact with contaminated water may cause gastroenteritis and other waterborne illnesses.
Mon Jan 22 2018 (Updated 02/06/18)
California Mobilizes to Oppose Offshore Oil Drilling
On January 4, the Trump administration released a draft five-year plan that would open federal waters in the Pacific Ocean to new oil leasing for the first time in more than thirty years. The plan proposes new offshore drilling in almost all federal waters, including the currently protected Arctic and Atlantic oceans and eastern Gulf of Mexico. Resistance to Trump's plan spread throughout California quickly. Supervisors in San Franciscio and Marin County passed resolutions opposing offshore oil drilling. North coast environmental groups vowed to do everything in their power to fight it. In Santa Cruz and Laguna Beach, environmental groups have planned protest rallies on February 3
Protect Monterey County and its attorneys will appeal the Monterey County Superior Court decision that overturns portions of Measure Z. Last year Monterey County voters passed Measure Z, an initiative that bans hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), prohibits new oil wells and phases out oil-industry wastewater injection wells. The court’s decision leaves the fracking ban in place, holding that oil-industry plaintiffs lack standing to challenge it. However, the decision strikes down the ban on new oil and gas wells and wastewater injection.
On November 29, over a dozen climate justice activists protested Governor Jerry Brown’s speaking appearance at the Metreon in San Francisco as part of the New York Times ClimateTECH summit. They called out the hypocrisy of Brown claiming to be a “climate leader” while he promotes fracking and other extreme oil extraction methods in the state. One of the organizers of the San Francisco protest was twenty-nine-year-old Daniel Gustavo Ilario of Castro Valley, who was in Bonn, Germany as a part of an indigenous delegation and was one of the protestors who interrupted Brown's speech. Ilario is a member of Idle No More San Francisco Bay, an indigenous-women-led climate justice organization.
The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones and other publications have touted Governor Jerry Brown and other state officials as the “resistance” to Donald Trump’s pro-oil industry policies in recent articles, but the reality on the ground is much different. In fact, the oil industry is the single largest corporate lobby in Sacramento — and dominates spending on lobbying every legislative session. Every bill opposed by the oil industry with the exception of one has failed to pass out of the Legislature over the past three years, due to the gusher of Big Oil lobbying money. The oil industry spent more on lobbying in California, $16,360,618, in the first six months of 2017 than was spent by the industry in all of 2016, $16.0 million.
Fri Nov 3 2017 (Updated 11/04/17)
Day of the Dead Action Demands Ban on Chlorpyrifos
Spicing up their press conference with a Day of the Dead theme, health advocates from Fresno, Tulare, and Kern Counties rallied outside the central regional office of the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) on November 1 in Clovis. Their action was part of a continuing campaign to get DPR to urge the state to suspend agricultural use of brain-harming chlorpyrifos. Last May, the deadly pesticide was implicated in a drift incident that sickened dozens of farmworkers near Bakersfield; health advocates say that more than twenty years of research links the pesticide to neurological disorders in children.
Oakland will spend $75,000 on a study to examine the feasibility of establishing a public bank in the city. The impact on the cannabis industry would be huge, because most corporate banks do not conduct business with the cannabis trade even where their operations are legal. Without bank credit card services, business transactions must be conducted in cash. Even filing taxes with the IRS is problematic. Nearly all large corporate banks are involved in unethical practices of one kind or another. A public bank would also allow people of conscience to bank without supporting unconscionable investments.
Late in the evening on October 8, the Diablo Winds blew into Santa Rosa, resulting in five fires. The rapidly spreading fires caused dozens of deaths and burned thousands of homes and other structures to the ground. Beyond those directly effected, the Santa Rosa firestorm, and other fires in the North Bay have polluted the air across the entire region. The elderly and children are at greatest health risk from the smoke of the wildfires in Sonoma, Napa, Yuba and Mendocino Counties. On October 16 a new wildfire started in unincorporated Santa Cruz County, spurring evacuations. Concerns remain about the origin of the fires; one theory being that high winds caused power lines to collapse, raising questions about PG&E's culpability.
Sat Sep 30 2017 (Updated 10/03/17)
Water Protectors Resist Oil Pipeline Construction
The State of Wisconsin has violated the treaty rights of the Anishinaabe by allowing the Enbridge corporation to destroy wetlands, animal habitat, and their sacred rice lakes for a pipeline that the Minnesota Department of Commerce has deemed unnecessary and hazardous. In Cloquet, Minnesota, a growing front line camp of water protectors has become a base for launching nonviolent direct actions intended to shutdown construction on Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline. Every hour protesters stop work costs Enbridge thousands of dollars. This tactic of non-violent direct action is a last resort because the courts and regulatory processes have failed the people and mother earth.
The California Superior Court has ruled that Monterey County’s contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program to kill predators and other native wildlife violates state law. The decision responds to a lawsuit filed by animal protection and conservation organizations. The court concluded that Monterey County violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by failing to analyze the environmental impacts before renewing the controversial program, which has shot, trapped and snared thousands of animals in the county in recent years.
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