Environment

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Supes Order More Environmental Study for Phillips 66 Refinery Expansion

by Jean Tepperman
Wed, Jun 4, 2014 at 11:51 AM

Contra Costa residents and environmentalists fighting pollution from oil refineries scored two wins at the board of supervisors yesterday. On a proposal by Phillips 66 for a new project at its Rodeo refinery, supervisors voted to send the proposal back for another round of environmental review. And they moved toward adopting new, stronger requirements as part of the county’s Industrial Safety Ordinance.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Big Oil Killed Fracking Ban

by Ari Nussbaum
Tue, Jun 3, 2014 at 2:02 PM

A proposed ban on fracking failed to gain passage in the state Senate twice last week, disappointing environmental activists across the state. The bill, SB 1132, would have placed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and acidization, which are well-stimulation techniques linked to air pollution, water contamination, and earthquakes. Environmental activists credit the bill’s failure to big oil’s aggressive lobbying; the coalition Californians Against Fracking estimated that groups such as the Western States Petroleum Association, which represents oil and natural gas interests, spent several million dollars lobbying against SB 1132 and previous moratorium proposals.

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Monday Must Reads: State Senate Votes to Raise Minimum Wage to $13 by 2017; Legislature Kills Fracking Ban and GMO Labeling

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jun 2, 2014 at 9:49 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The state Senate approved legislation that would raise the minimum wage in California from $8 an hour to $13 an hour by 2017, the LA Times$ reports. The bill, authored by Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco, would increase the minimum wage to $11 an hour on January 1, 2015, and then to $12 an hour the following year, before rising to $13 on January 1, 2017. The minimum wage would then increase each year thereafter based on the cost of living. The legislation is now in the Assembly.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fracking Ban Legislation Headed for California Senate Floor Vote This Week

by Ari Nussbaum
Tue, May 27, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Late last week, the state Senate Appropriations committee approved a statewide moratorium on fracking, sending Senate Bill 1132 to the senate floor for a vote this week. The bill cleared the committee in a 4-2 vote just days after the estimate of extractable oil in the Monterey Shale was reduced by 96 percent from 13.7 billion barrels to 600 million.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Californians Overwhelmingly Support a Ban on Fracking

by Ari Nussbaum
Thu, May 22, 2014 at 3:14 PM

A new poll shows that a super-majority of California residents — 68 percent — say they support a ban on fracking in the state. Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial oil- and natural gas-extraction method that involves shooting massive amounts of water and toxic chemicals into the earth. It’s been linked to groundwater and air pollution and to causing earthquakes. The new survey was published earlier this week by public policy opinion research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, or FM3. Of the 807 California voters who were polled over the phone at random, 68 percent suppored a moratorium on fracking, with 45 percent of respondents stating that they “strongly” supported it.

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Thursday Must Reads: Ex-Cop Who Killed Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Still on Oakland’s Payroll; Tea Party Gubernatorial Candidate Still Leads Among Republicans

by Robert Gammon
Thu, May 22, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The FBI agent who shot and killed a Boston Marathon bombing suspect in 2013 is a former Oakland cop who is still collecting a disability pension from the City of Oakland, the Boston Globe reports. Oakland city officials say they are investigating why FBI agent Aaron McFarlane is still receiving $52,000 a year from the city when he had retired from OPD on disability. After retiring, MacFarlane then passed the FBI’s stringent physical tests before the agency hired him. Then last year, MacFarlane fatally shot Ibragim Todashev, a friend of bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, during an interrogation in which Todashev allegedly confessed to helping Tsarnaev pull off the bombing. In Oakland, MacFarlane had been repeatedly disciplined for police misconduct and was accused by a prosecutor of lying under oath.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wednesday Must Reads: LAO Says Brown Is Overestimating Costs, Too; Feds Say Most of California’s Shale Oil Reserves Area Not Recoverable Via Fracking

by Robert Gammon
Wed, May 21, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office said Governor Jerry Brown’s administration is underestimating the costs of the Medi-Cal expansion under Obamacare by about $300 million, the LA Times$ reports. Late last week, the LAO also concluded that the governor is seriously underestimating tax revenues — by about $2.5 billion. The LAO came to a similar conclusion last year — and was proven right, while the governor’s projections turned out to be wrong. The LAO’s forecasts mean that the state has about $2.8 billion more funds available in its budget next year than the governor projects.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: Jack London Condo Towers Plan Goes to Planning Commission; Brown’s Rhetoric on Climate Change Heckled

by Robert Gammon
Tue, May 20, 2014 at 9:27 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A proposal to build to two condo towers — one 26 stories tall, the other, 17 — in Oakland’s Jack London Square is scheduled to go before the city’s Planning Commission this week, the Trib$ reports. The plan, which would add 665 housing units to the area, appears to have widespread support in City Hall, but some local residents say the towers would be too tall and would block the waterfront. Under the proposal, Ellis Partners, a private developer that controls Jack London Square, would construct a 17-story tower at the corner of Broadway and Embarcadero, and a 26-story building near Harrison and Alice streets.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

East Bay Oil Refinery Protest Draws About 100 Demonstrators

by Jean Tepperman
Mon, May 19, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Accompanied by a four-kayak flotilla and a fifth-generation Martinez resident on horseback, about one hundred environmental activists marched seven miles from Martinez to Benicia on Saturday to protest the local toxic pollution and global climate impact of Bay Area oil refineries. The march was spearheaded by a Bay Area group affiliated with Idle No More, an organization of Canadian First Nations people fighting development of the tar sands oil fields in Alberta and other environmentally destructive projects on their traditional lands.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: Economic Recovery Skips Low- and Middle-Income Workers; Melting Antarctic Ice Sheet Can’t Be Stopped

by Robert Gammon
Tue, May 13, 2014 at 9:46 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The economic recovery is largely bypassing low- and middle-income workers, whose wages remain well below what they were before the Great Recession, the Sacramento Business Journal$ reports, citing a new study from the California Budget Project (via Rough & Tumble): “The median hourly wage for a low-income worker in 2013 was $10.90, more than 5 percent below the inflation-adjusted, pre-recession level. The median wage for middle-income people, $19.10 an hour, is also just over 5 percent lower than the pre-recession level.” Wages for higher-income earners, by contrast, have returned to pre-crash levels.

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