Environment

Monday, February 9, 2015

Thousands March Through Oakland to Ban Fracking

by Sascha Bos
Mon, Feb 9, 2015 at 10:09 AM

KELLY JOHNSON
  • Kelly Johnson
On Saturday, an estimated eight thousand protesters gathered in Oakland to march against hydraulic fracturing – possibly the largest-ever anti-fracking demonstration in the nation. 

Hydraulic Fracturing — fracking — is a process that uses highly-pressured streams of water and chemicals to break up rock, releasing oil and natural gas. Fracking causes earthquakes, taints groundwater, and pollutes the air. The goal of the march was to ban fracking statewide, as New York did in December. Some protesters carried signs thanking New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo for the ban, and urging Jerry Brown to follow his example. 

Many protesters also expressed frustration and anger over Brown's decision to support fracking in California. "He lives right over there in the Oakland Hills. Let's send Jerry Brown a message!" one speaker said. Speakers acknowledged Brown's role in upcoming climate talks in Paris and hoped that he would take a stand against fracking in his own state before attending the talks as a supposed climate leader. 

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

In Photos: The Bay Area's Dungeness Crab Trade

by Bert Johnson
Wed, Jan 14, 2015 at 12:28 PM

For this week's feature story, Shell-Shocked, photographer Bert Johnson followed the path of the Bay Area's favorite crustacean from the rough sea near Half Moon Bay, to working docks along San Francisco's Embarcadero, and finally to the kitchen of Camino, in Oakland's Grand Lake district. The hardest part was deciding which photos to print. Since there were so many to choose from, here are some of the outtakes.
The cold coastal waters of Northern California pose a challenge during crab season, which brings rough weather to the region.
  • The cold coastal waters of Northern California pose a challenge during crab season, which brings rough weather to the region.
On days when swells are high, fewer fishermen go out to check their crab pots.
  • On days when swells are high, fewer fishermen go out to check their crab pots.
If bad weather persists, the biodegradable ropes that hold a pot closed will disintegrate, allowing the catch to escape.
  • If bad weather persists, the biodegradable ropes that hold a pot closed will disintegrate, allowing the catch to escape.
feature_crabfishing_marcalley_creditbertjohnson-15.jpg
Alley's boat, the Ronna Lynn, is much smaller than most commercial fishing craft.
  • Alley's boat, the Ronna Lynn, is much smaller than most commercial fishing craft.
Marc Alley, a veteran crab fisherman.
  • Marc Alley, a veteran crab fisherman.
Wholesale facilities, like this one owned by Monterey Market at Pier 33, have large seawater tanks for crab storage. Each of these can hold 1,000 pounds of crab and there are three onsite.
  • Wholesale facilities, like this one owned by Monterey Market at Pier 33, have large seawater tanks for crab storage. Each of these can hold 1,000 pounds of crab and there are three onsite.
San Francisco's Pier 45, located next to Fishermen's Wharf, is still an important stop for commercial crab vessels like this one.
  • San Francisco's Pier 45, located next to Fishermen's Wharf, is still an important stop for commercial crab vessels like this one.
Alley says the advantage of his boat's size is increased speed and maneuverability, which allows him to fish in worse weather than larger boats. Here, his deckhand watches for buoys that mark the location of pots.
  • Alley says the advantage of his boat's size is increased speed and maneuverability, which allows him to fish in worse weather than larger boats. Here, his deckhand watches for buoys that mark the location of pots.
Local restaurants that specialize in Dungeness crab prepare the delicacy in a variety of ways. At Camino, they are seasoned and roasted over coals.
  • Local restaurants that specialize in Dungeness crab prepare the delicacy in a variety of ways. At Camino, they are seasoned and roasted over coals.
Dungeness crab's popularity is justly deserved, but its fame comes at the price of artificially limited availability.
  • Dungeness crab's popularity is justly deserved, but its fame comes at the price of artificially limited availability.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Must Reads: A’s Owner Softens on Lease Deal; Six Californias Campaign Accused of Lying to Voters

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A’s co-owner Lew Wolff softened his stance on a proposed lease deal at the Coliseum, saying that his staff would seriously consider modifications made to the lease by the Oakland City Council this week, the Trib$ reports. Wolff had said previously that he would reject any changes to the pact. He attributed his change of heart to a phone call he received from Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, who is also a mayoral candidate. "Just based on her asking me alone is enough for me to tell [team President] Mike [Crowley] and the guys to look hard at it," Wolff said.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: Berkeley Moves Forward on Cellphone Warning Labels; Centrist Democrats Seek to Delay Cap and Trade

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 9:55 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Berkeley officials are moving forward with a proposal that would make Berkeley the first city in the nation to require retailers to put warning labels on cellphones about the dangers of radiation exposure, the Chron reports. Researchers are becoming increasingly convinced that radiation from cellphones could put users at higher risk of getting brain cancer. But the cellphone industry, which beat back a similar proposal in San Francisco, is expected to try to block Berkeley’s plan. Berkeley Councilmember Max Anderson is pushing the proposal, which is expected to go before the city council this fall.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Must Reads: Obesity Costs Alameda County Billions Each Year; Weak El Niño Not Expected to Relieve Drought

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 9:41 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Health-care costs and lost worker productivity related to obesity costs Alameda County more $2 billion a year, the Trib$ reports, citing a new report commissioned by the county’s Health Committee. According to the report, nearly 70 percent of seniors are overweight or obese in the county, as are more than half the adults and about a third of the children. Sugary drinks are the primary cause for the high rates of obesity, according to the report.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: Oakland Council Wants to Keep Negotiating with A’s; Oyster Farm Wants to Keep Operating Until December

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 9:27 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland City Council members want to keep negotiating with the A’s in an effort to get more favorable lease terms at the Coliseum, the Chron reports. The Coliseum Authority voted last week to approve a new ten-year deal with the A’s, but it includes several costly concessions. The authority made its decision after the A’s and Major League Baseball threatened to let the team leave Oakland. City officials plan to meet later this week with A’s ownership to outline their concerns about the lease, which must be approved by the council to go into effect.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Monday Must Reads: Homicides Plummet Throughout Bay Area; Nearly 80% of State Now Under Extreme Drought

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 9:13 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The homicide rate dropped 22 percent during the first six months of 2014 compared to the same period last year in the fifteen largest cities in the Bay Area, the Chron reports. And homicides are down 31 percent compared to the same period in 2012. The city of Richmond has experienced the steepest declines in homicides, and is on track to beating last year — which was the lowest in three decades.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Must Reads: Supreme Court Denies Oyster Farm Appeal; Oakland Housing Prices Continue to Soar

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The US Supreme Court today refused to hear an appeal filed by Drakes Bay Oyster Company, thereby upholding lower court rulings that ordered the controversial oyster farm at Point Reyes National Seashore to close, the Chron and AP report. The high court’s decision also affirms one made in 2012 by then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who decided to let the oyster farm’s lease expire to make way for the first federally protected marine wilderness on the West Coast. Today’s decision means the oyster farm has no more legal appeals of Salazar’s ruling.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Toxic Pesticides Discovered in "Bee-Friendly" Garden Plants Sold at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart

by Sam Levin
Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Bees in the United States are dying at alarmingly high rates each year, and the devastation extends beyond the operations of commercial beekeepers. The declining health of bees is also raising concerns about potential consequences for our food system given that honeybees in particular are responsible for pollinating roughly one-third of all food that we eat. While there has been significant debate about the causes of this crisis, a growing body of research suggests that toxic pesticides widely used in agriculture have played a key role in bee losses — a topic which I explored in my recent cover story, "What's Poisoning the Bees."

A new study authored by a number of Berkeley-based experts, however, suggests that the poisonous pesticides aren't just a problem in agriculture. The toxic chemicals, they reported, are widely found in plants sold at major garden centers around the country — even ones marketed as "bee-friendly."

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Thursday Must Reads: A’s Jump Gun on Lease Deal; Minimum Wage Hike Dies in State Legislature

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland A’s co-owner Lew Wolff announced yesterday that the team had agreed to a ten-year lease extension at the Coliseum, but city and county officials said the deal was not yet complete and that both sides were still negotiating, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. Wolff also told Major League Baseball about having a deal, even though it’s not finalized. Wolff also indicated that the team is interested in pursuing a new ballpark on the Coliseum site.

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