Environment

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: State Water Bond Deal Blocked in Senate; NTSB Cites Pilot Error In Deadly Asiana Crash

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Jun 24, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A proposal to place a $10.5 billion water bond on the November ballot failed to garner enough votes in the state Senate because Republicans want a greater share of the measure’s revenues to be spent on new dams and expanded reservoirs, the SacBee$ reports. Bond measure proposals require a two-thirds vote from the legislature, meaning that the water bond must have some GOP support. The current proposal would replace another $11.1 million bond measure that is already slated for the ballot, but is unlikely to be approved by state voters.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thursday Must Reads: Oakland Council Votes to Ban Oil-By-Rail Shipments; Anti-Tunnels Activists Gear Up to Fight Water Bond

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland City Council voted this week to ban train shipments of crude oil, coal, and petcoke within city limits, the East Bay Citizen reports. The legislation is advisory, because only the federal government has the power to regulate the nation’s railways. But environmentalists hope that if enough cities oppose oil-by-rail shipments, it could prompt the feds to tighten regulations. Concerns over crude oil trains have heightened since one exploded in Canada last year, killing 47 people. Coal shipments, meanwhile, worsen air pollution. The council also urged the city to divest from publicly traded fossil fuel companies.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: OPD Makes More Progress on Reforms; SoCal Lawmakers to Take Control of Legislature

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Jun 17, 2014 at 9:51 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland Police Department has achieved its highest-ever level of compliance with federally mandated reforms, the Trib$ reports, citing a new report from Court Monitor Robert Warshaw, who also is the compliance director of the department. Warshaw credited Police Chief Sean Whent for the department’s progress, noting that OPD is in compliance with all but six of 51 of the mandated reforms stemming from the infamous Riders scandal. Warshaw, however, cautioned that OPD still has work to do, and expressed concern about a recent department report that showed Oakland police officers are still disproportionately targeting African Americans in car stops and searches.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

UC Berkeley Hosts Panel Tonight on Bee Declines and Our Food System

by Sam Levin
Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 12:38 PM

My recent feature, "What's Poisoning the Bees," investigated the role of pesticides in the dramatic losses of honeybees in the United States. The declining health of bees not only poses a threat to the livelihood of commercial beekeepers across the country, but could also have a significant impact on our food system. That's because bees are critical pollinators that are responsible for roughly one-third of all food we eat — almonds, apples, blueberries, alfalfa that dairy cows depend on, and much more. Tonight, a number of experts on bees and pesticides are coming together at UC Berkeley to discuss the threats facing bees and what this means for our food supply. For those interested in pollinators and pesticides, the conversation today will be a good opportunity to hear from experts in the field, including several featured in my story.

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Monday Must Reads: Lawmakers Reach Budget Compromise; Government Refuses to Disclose Oil-By-Rail Shipments

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Democratic lawmakers reached a budget compromise with Governor Jerry Brown that includes funding for preschool programs for all low-income four-year-olds and overtime pay for in-home aides who care for the elderly and disabled, the Mercury News$ reports. However, the budget deal also includes demands of fiscal prudence by the governor, including funding a so-called rainy day reserve. In addition, one-quarter of the state’s cap-and-trade revenue will help fund high-speed rail, while a third will go to the construction of affordable housing near major transit hubs.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Oakland Moves Forward on Fossil Fuel Bans

by Jean Tepperman
Wed, Jun 11, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Two Oakland City Council committees unanimously approved measures yesterday that would, in different ways, combat the harm being done by fossil fuels to the City of Oakland and to the planet. The Council Public Works Committee passed a proposal to ban the shipment of coal through the city and the Port of Oakland and to oppose the shipment of crude oil on railroad tracks through Oakland. And the council Finance Committee approved a measure that would remove city funds from investments in fossil fuel companies and urge public retirement funds and other local communities to do the same.

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Wednesday Must Reads: Teachers’ Union Vows to Appeal Tenure Ruling; EBMUD Hikes Water Rates, Again

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Jun 11, 2014 at 9:56 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The California Teachers Association (CTA) is vowing to appeal a Los Angeles judge’s ruling that declared the state’s teacher tenure laws to be unconstitutional, the Chron reports. The teachers’ union contends that Judge Rolf Treu overlooked the importance of safeguarding academic freedom and that teachers should not be subjected to "the whim and caprice" of employers. But Treu ruled that the state’s cumbersome laws for firing teachers makes it nearly impossible to get rid of bad instructors — and that children in schools in low-income neighborhoods are being disproportionately harmed by the current system.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

AG Kamala Harris Criticizes Chevron’s Richmond Refinery Expansion Plan

by Jean Tepperman
Tue, Jun 10, 2014 at 10:12 AM

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has joined Richmond residents and environmental organizations in sharply criticizing plans for a proposed expansion of Chevron’s Richmond oil refinery. In a ten-page letter to the City of Richmond planning department, Harris detailed criticisms of the city’s Draft Environmental Impact Review (EIR) of the project, which was released in April. The EIR is based on plans and information Chevron submitted to the city.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Monday Must Reads: Voluntary Water Rationing Isn’t Working; Caltrans Lied About Bay Bridge Cost Overruns

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Voluntary water rationing isn’t working in the Bay Area, as residents continue to soak their green lawns and hose down their vehicles, despite the record drought conditions, the Chron reports. Earlier this year, Governor Jerry Brown asked state residents to voluntarily cut water usage by 20 percent — but most areas of the region are falling far short of that request. As a result, water agencies may have to implement water rationing or levy stiff penalties against heavy water users.

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Legislators Who Voted Against Fracking Ban Pocketed Oil Industry Cash

by Ari Nussbaum
Fri, Jun 6, 2014 at 2:32 PM

Still wondering why the state legislature last week killed a proposed moratorium on fracking even though 68 percent of Californians support the idea? Perhaps it has to do with pay-to-play in Sacramento. According to an analysis by the nonpartisan, Berkeley-based Maplight.org, state senators who voted against the fracking ban legislation — SB 1132 — received, on average, fourteen times as much money from the oil industry in campaign donations during the past four years as those who voted in favor of the ban — a whopping $25,227 versus $1,772. 

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