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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Eco Watch

Re: “More Tar Sands and Fracked Oil Headed for East Bay

I am the Operations Coordinator at the Chevron Richmond Refinery, part of my job is to figure out what crudes we buy and process. I want to point out that the article inaccurately states that the Chevron Richmond Refinery will process unconventional tar sands. The Richmond Refinery has not processed unconventional tar sands, in fact, the majority of the crude oil we process is from Alaska and the Middle East. It’s also important to note that the Modernization Project will not change this. The project is not about refining heavy crudes or unconventional Canadian Tar Sands and it will not change the basic function of the Refinery.

4 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Thomas Leeds on 02/07/2014 at 1:54 PM

Re: “More Tar Sands and Fracked Oil Headed for East Bay

WesPac/Pittsburg: 242,000 barrels a day on average. Up to 375,000 in a day.

2 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Martin MacKerel on 02/07/2014 at 12:44 AM

Re: “Cities Produce Far Fewer Greenhouse Gases

The matter of Greenhouse gasses is a global issue. If we are to believe the EPA, in 2008, the top carbon dioxide (CO2) emitters were China (23%), the United States (19%), the European Union (13%), India (6%), the Russian Federation (6%), Japan (4%), and Canada (2%) - with others contributing 28% of the total CO2 emissions. While this study is of interest and perhaps controversially biased against suburban communities, the reality remains that even if suburbs were totally eliminated, it would not make much of a difference on a planetary scale.
In 2011 33% of total emissions in the U.S. came from the generation of electricity. This exceeded the 28% contributed by all transportation, and the 30% contributed by industry. The commercial & residential contribution was only 11%. Coal combustion for electrical generation is generally more carbon intensive than burning natural gas or petroleum for electricity. Although coal accounts for about 80% of CO2 emissions from the sector, it represents about 42% of the electricity generated in the United States. About 25% of electricity generated in 2011 was generated using natural gas, and this percentage has grown in recent years. Petroleum accounts for less than 1% of electricity generation. The remaining generation comes from nuclear (about 19%) and renewable sources (about 13%), which includes hydroelectricity, biomass, wind, and solar. Changing from coal to natural gas fueled generation of electricity would totally eclipse any emission reduction measures possibly uncovered by this U.C. Berkeley study. We have an abundance of natural gas and we are too slowly making use of it to reduce emissions and the very cost of generating electricity. We think of electricity as being "clean" but it is the largest gorilla in the room when it comes to CO2 emissions. Those electric cars may seem the answer until one realizes millions upon millions of them might be problematic, without a solution for clean generation of their electrical fuel. Whatever, if the academics at U.C. Berkeley envision a solution with people stacked like sardines in eco-friendly but human stress-inducing urban cell blocks, they had best reassess the nature of the overall society they live in.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by William H. Thompson on 01/16/2014 at 1:40 AM

Re: “Cities Produce Far Fewer Greenhouse Gases

Plus it certainly would help if UC Berkeley and the East Bay Regional Parks, the roadside crews etc. would stop cutting down every tree possible.

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by Bev Von Dohre on 01/15/2014 at 10:30 PM

Re: “Cities Produce Far Fewer Greenhouse Gases

Burning wood and garbage in fireplaces in the Bay Area has to be a serious problem since it causes half the winter air pollution, which has been horrific this year. This is one thing that almost everyone could just stop doing, but they won't, even if people and animals are dying....

Posted by Bev Von Dohre on 01/15/2014 at 10:28 PM

Re: “Cities Produce Far Fewer Greenhouse Gases

This is a study of existing cities. It simply shows that cities that have had the most rapid population growth have both the densest cores and the most sprawl - which is very obvious.

We would get very different results if we studied metropolitan areas that had zoning that both 1) stopped sprawl development and 2) encouraged smart growth. This is the sort of planning that we are supposed to be doing in California under SB375, and this study is not relevant to it.

I mention this point because some people are claiming that this study shows that smart growth does not reduce sprawl. In fact, the study says nothing about a two-pronged smart growth strategy that uses zoning to ban sprawl and to encourage dense growth - which very obviously would reduce sprawl.

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Charles Siegel on 01/15/2014 at 1:25 PM

Re: “An Urban Farm Collaborative Grows in Albany

Check this out Steven, This is the summary of a proposal by Bay Area Coalition for Urban Agriculture from February 1997. That’s 16 years ago by my count.

BACUA, a coalition of more than 30 non-profits and community organizations in the Bay Area, proposes that the University of California enter into a university/community partnership in order to create the world's first university center on sustainable urban agriculture and food systems. The purposes of the Center would be to promote research, education, extension and outreach on the various social, environmental, economic and ecological dimensions of urban farming and sustainable food systems. The expansion of urban agriculture and alternative food systems is a worldwide phenomenon that has caught the attention of policy makers, activists and funders as a new response to issues of food security, economic development, poverty alleviation, urban blight, waste recycling and environmental preservation. The proposed Center would be located at the Gill Tract in Albany and would benefit the university community as well as a diverse array of constituencies in the Bay Area, California, the U.S., and internationally.

This idea is even better today than it was 16 years ago. Even the UN is talking about these ideas today:

Transformative changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems in order to increase diversity on farms, reduce our use of fertilizer and other inputs, support small-scale farmers and create strong local food systems. That’s the conclusion of a remarkable new publication from the U.N. - See more at:

Big changes are on the horizon Steve. It's time to think beyond economics and realize that transformation to sustainable infrastructure is about human survival.

3 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Ryan Geller on 12/22/2013 at 6:35 PM

Re: “An Urban Farm Collaborative Grows in Albany

I've lived near the Gil Track on Cornell Ave for over 20 years, I'm part of the local community and been involved in the evolution of this property from the dilapidated WW2 era student housing that was torn down to Planning Commission's final approval of Sprouts Market.

This is NOT about urban agriculture being taken away from community farmers. The vast majority of folks at the last meeting representing Occupy the Farm only want the land from UC for their needs. They came with no knowledge or participation in the previous years of community planning -- only with demands, protests and insults.

Even this article seems to portray this as a "15 year struggle". That's total B.S. It's an invented debate by the Occupy folks to push their message with support by the media in the last year or so. The vast majority of Albanians want this site to be developed for our community, to support the tax base and provide much needed senior housing and, this does not mean we're not against urban farming.

Yes, a collaboration between UC and local folks for a shared urban agricultural space is great, and the Albany community is for that, but this means shared management and participation between UC, the City of Albany, Albany residents, The Albany Village grad students and the Occupy the Farm folks. NOT dominance and control by Occupy the Farm.

All this rhetoric about about small farmers being pushed off their land, evil UC Berkeley, the USDA creating toxic GMO's is all fabrication NOT related to this project. Learn the facts, participate in local government and not disrupt it. Meet and talk with UC and College of Natural Resources folks and collaborate with them for the future use of the land.

Maybe the Occupy folks can learn something about what REAL community democracy really means and how everyone can be part of it.

9 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Steven Donaldson on 12/22/2013 at 10:02 AM

Re: “An Urban Farm Collaborative Grows in Albany

There are many small family farmers who have been pushed of their land because big ag is able to produce food at extremely cheap prices. Big ag can profit from these extremely cheap prices because they are able to pay extremely low wages to their workers, they are able to externalize the cost of the environmental destruction they cause with their poor practices, they are able to cut corners on quality control because regulatory agencies are unable or unwilling to enforce existing food safety laws. In many cases big ag organizations are able to write the laws that suit them because of their political contributions, undemocratic lobbying practices, and massive campaign spending against popular propositions like California's 37, GMO labeling. Big Ag is also rife with direct government subsidies that encourage the industries' “worst practices”.

Farming and gardening is very popular among young and old, there are many people in this community who have long been denied access to land and would be overjoyed to farm on the Gill tract. Young people are looking for engaging careers with meaningful social and environmental benefits. Rebuilding our agriculture infrastructure into a sustainable, ecological and socially just food system can provide engaging inspiring careers in a variety of fields. And, yes, there is a catch: we have to pay these would be farmers, scientists, engineers, ecologists and health care professionals fairly.

Relying on migrant labor to produce our food at slave wages is morally reprehensible. The people that are now slaving on our corporate farms are refugees of the terrible economic policies that have been imposed by the United States on Central and South American countries. From banana republics of Del Monte, Dole, and United Fruit to the WTO's NAFTA, American corporations are still doing the same thing: destabilizing the economies of third world nations in order to produce an influx refugees who have no other option but to work for slave wages. A new sustainable food system could pay agricultural workers around the world fairly, it could provide exciting, engaging and socially just careers, and it is also the key to resolving our nations health problems.

A network of local urban farms can indeed reduce or completely eliminate the carbon emissions from food transport at least in comparison to say, barging food from China! Organic and permaculture methods can eliminate the use of petroleum dependent fertilization techniques which, by the way, are responsible for the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico and are now causing dangerously high nitrogen levels in the drinking water of families in California's central valley.

Who Pays for this new sustainable food system? I guess we could ask this question about every environmental and social problem that we are facing right now. Who is going to pay to repair our devastated forests so that in 100 years they begin to absorb carbon from the atmosphere at rates that can reverse the current skyrocketing ppm? Who is going to pay to clean up the pacific gyer, you know that island of plastic the size of Texas? Who is going to pay for restoring our oceans' fish populations? Who is going to pay to clean up the oil spills in the Niger Delta? Who is going to pay for the cancer epidemic we are facing because of corporate pollution and super-disasters like Fukushima? Who is going to pay for the damage caused by the ever increasing severe weather and climate instability?

Well, thats a good question.

The answer to that question is the exact answer that corporations and industrialized nations are trying to keep from being expressed at every hoax climate conference they can produce. That answer is the concept of climate debt or ecological reparations. It means that the industrialized nations that have produced most of the human caused excess carbon in our atmosphere that is the cause of global climate instability should pay for the destruction caused by that instability. Simple enough right, big polluters pay for the big destruction they cause. So that's the answer to who pays on the international level, it's us, industrialized nations, the ones that caused the problem in the first place. On the national level we can just pass those costs for damages right on to the corporations that profited from causing that damage. So, yes, yes, lucky that corporate profits are up this year because those tax dodgers can pay the fair wages of the workers at the Gill Ecological Agricultural Center and their health care (which they probably won't need because they will have healthy food). And while we are at it the corporations that have been making obscene profits from environmental destruction and labor abuse can also pay workers a fair wage to clean up and restore the devastated ecosystems around the globe. This is the concept of a restoration economy. An economy where workers get paid well to maintain the ecological systems that allow for human survival on this planet. How's that for an economic model?

1 like, 6 dislikes
Posted by Ryan Geller on 12/19/2013 at 8:54 PM

Re: “An Urban Farm Collaborative Grows in Albany

Ryan, why don't you tell us what all that rhetoric that means practically? Food will be grown, right? Who will grow it? Poor people? How will they be paid? Will they be paid a living wage? Will they get health insurance? How will you distribute the food? By car? If so, how much carbon will that use? Who will pay them? You?
And what about the soil? Is it really as safe as you say it is? Can your provide evidence of your "tests"? And maybe you could tell us more about your economic model. From what I understand, it is somehow related to landless peasants in South America. How is it related?

6 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Dorthy Manser on 12/19/2013 at 6:06 PM

Re: “An Urban Farm Collaborative Grows in Albany

This is the post carbon era. Industrial agriculture is heavily dependent on fossil fuels for transportation and soil fertility. This is a significant problem for global food security. Industrial food safety is also at an all time low because of corporate interference with regulatory agencies and legislation. Labor abuses in which workers toil in unsafe conditions for wages far below the poverty line are commonplace. Extreme and obscene Animal mistreatment is the industry standard. Corporations virulently attack press and activist organizations that attempt to expose the horror of their cruelty.

The development of a sane, sustainable and decentralized food system is long over-due. The real tragedy here is that our institutions of higher learning, in this case the UC, have been privatized and can only produce proprietary schemes to generate corporate profit rather than serving the public good. Universities and intellectual institutions need to fall in line with the mainstream global scientific community and devote the bulk of their resources toward emergency response to the climate crisis.

This article portrays the UC as "coming to the table" with activists and community members but in the context of global climate instability what they are actually offering is woefully insufficient.

Volunteer community activists across the nation are rolling up their sleeves to build a functional agriculture infrastructure. These visionary community groups are underfunded despite the fact that they are using practical, scientifically proven techniques to deal with real world problems. The corporations that the UC panders to, like Monsanto and Cargill, are not interested in this long term view because they cannot extract profit from a decentralized, sustainable food system. The UC and the city of Albany are missing an important opportunity to join with community activists and take a significant leadership role in responding to the global climate crisis.

Now is the time to help climate and social justice activists develop a network of community and family farms that will be a lifeline for current and future generations. Contact the University of California board of regents and tell them to devote the entire Gill Tract to a community led ecological agriculture center that is open to the public for free. Volunteer with Occupy the Farm or the Albany Farm Alliance.

1 like, 7 dislikes
Posted by Ryan Geller on 12/19/2013 at 3:16 PM

Re: “Fukushima Panic

I here I thought that a becquerel was a deep-water fish.

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Estanislao Deloserrata on 12/19/2013 at 6:33 AM

Re: “An Urban Farm Collaborative Grows in Albany

Well, Dorothy, since you are so genuine, why don't you actually respond to my points rather than passing out cheap shots? For instance, what were those tests that were performed on the soil? Who performed them? Will OTF provide a PDF of those results?

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Dorthy Manser on 12/19/2013 at 6:01 AM

Re: “An Urban Farm Collaborative Grows in Albany

If you're going to make up a fake identity to troll with, at least learn how to spell your fake name correctly. Otherwise, this could be described as junk trolling.

2 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Dorothy Bevard on 12/19/2013 at 12:53 AM

Re: “An Urban Farm Collaborative Grows in Albany

Some inspiration for everyone! Farmers in a Dangerous Time: Angela Moran of Mason Street City Farm

1 like, 6 dislikes
Posted by Syd Woodward on 12/18/2013 at 8:08 PM

Re: “An Urban Farm Collaborative Grows in Albany

Let's unpack the dishonesty on display by these "Farmers". A few months ago they said that they occupied the nursery used by U.C and USDA scientists because the part of Gill on which the market is actually going to be built is land that is potentially toxic (when they weren't just lying about where the market was going to be built). Now they tell us that their crack team of experts has determined that it is perfectly safe. But, of course, they won't provide any evidence of that Their "bioremediation" involved sticking a few plants int he ground before they were chased off by the cops. Their "testing" was probably equally sophisticated. Since they obviously had no plans to actually grow and water the plants they stuck in the ground, the whole thing was just fake political theater. They are hoping that the rest of you are too stupid to notice. Junk science, Junk politics, and Junk environmentalism. Pathetic.

8 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Dorthy Manser on 12/18/2013 at 6:56 PM

Re: “An Urban Farm Collaborative Grows in Albany

REAL environmentalist think that we should combine dense urban living with good public transportation and farming on land that can be efficiently farmed. FAKE environmentalists want to play farmer in the city, where expensively treated water can be used to grow micro-greens for Foodies who value their fetishes over reality. Urban gardening is a fine idea. Urban Farming is just stupid.

8 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Dorthy Manser on 12/18/2013 at 6:32 PM

Re: “An Urban Farm Collaborative Grows in Albany

Thank you for your comment about the Albany City Council. The people whom we helped to elect were from several years ago when Gill Tract farm constituents in "Urban Roots", actually thought that Joann Wile and Marge Atkinson were farm supporters and environmentalists. Joanne was even in one of our follow up groups, "Sustainable Albany" and uses it in her resume today.

2 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by J. Hermes-Fletcher on 12/18/2013 at 6:16 PM

Re: “An Urban Farm Collaborative Grows in Albany

You have got to be kidding me. This isn't reporting, it's a press release from Occupy the Farm.

12 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by Dorthy Manser on 12/18/2013 at 11:44 AM

Re: “An Urban Farm Collaborative Grows in Albany

"we got supporters elected to the [Albany] City Council"

Who did you get elected? In the last election, the people running against the development plan finished in the last 2 places.

10 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Alan Eckert on 12/18/2013 at 8:53 AM

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