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Environment & Forest Defense News

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Just months after Monterey County voters approved a ban on underground injection of oil waste, California regulators have announced a plan to turn an underground water supply in the county over to the oil industry for injection of contaminated waste fluid. The proposal — announced by California's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources — seeks to exempt an aquifer that runs under the town of San Ardo from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. A similar aquifer exemption is currently under consideration in Livermore.
Toxic lead levels are dangerously high in Oakland’s Fruitvale district, which has the highest level of contamination in California and are worse than in Flint, Michigan, according to a national report. Unlike Flint’s contaminated water crisis, which caught national attention in 2015, Oakland’s lead is not in the water system but is coming from old buildings and chipping paint that is getting into the dirt and being tossed up in the wind. The result is that 7.57 percent of children under the age of seven who were tested have high levels of lead in their blood.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released a report last week detailing the 2014 results of their Pesticide Illness Surveillance Program. The report, documenting all reported pesticide-related illnesses from all California counties, shows 20.1% of agricultural pesticide-related illnesses occurred in Tulare County, making it the county with the most agricultural pesticide illnesses in the state. Santa Cruz County came in second with 17.2%. Of the 53 counties with documented pesticide-related illnesses in 2014, Tulare County accounted for over 1 in every 5 cases of poisonings from agricultural pesticides.
In a slap in the face to fishermen, Tribes, environmental justice advocates, conservationists and family farmers, President Obama on December 16 signed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act into law with an environmentally destructive rider sponsored by Senator Feinstein (D-CA) and Congressman McCarthy (R-CA). The controversial rider, requested by corporate agribusiness interests, allows San Joaquin Valley growers and Southern California water agencies to pump more water out of the Delta, driving numerous fish species closer and closer to extinction, according to Delta advocates.
An oil company with a long history of hazardous spills in California wants state and federal permission to dispose of contaminated waste fluid into an underground water supply in Livermore. The proposal, announced by California's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, seeks to exempt an aquifer in eastern Alameda County from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act on behalf of E&B Natural Resources, the oil company seeking the exemption. State officials are now taking public comments and will hold a January 11 hearing on the proposal.
On December 6, the Kern County Board of Supervisors approved Tejon Ranch Company’s disastrous Grapevine project, despite the harm the project will do to wildlife and nearby communities. The 8,000-acre development will straddle the San Joaquin Valley and Tehachapi Mountains and create a new city of up to 12,000 dwelling units and up to 5.1 million square feet of commercial real estate. The project will destroy habitat for the endangered San Joaquin kit fox, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, and threatened San Joaquin antelope squirrel, along with up to 36 other rare and imperiled species.
The California Secretary of State’s Office announced that voters narrowly defeated Proposition 53, an initiative requiring voter approval of revenue bonds over $2 billion. Governor Jerry Brown is celebrating the victory because it would have required a vote on his controversial “legacy” projects, the Delta Tunnels and High Speed Rail. Dan Bacher writes: The results of the Proposition 53 vote are disappointing for those who care about salmon, the Delta and the public trust. However, there is no doubt that if an initiative solely requiring a public vote on the Delta Tunnels had been on the ballot, it would have been decisively approved.
The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) is not a household name in California and the West, but it should be. WSPA is the trade association for the oil industry and the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying organization in California. It represents a who's who of oil companies including Aera Energy, Chevron, California Resources Corporation (formerly Occidental Petroleum), ExxonMobil, Phillips 66, Shell, Valero and many others. Yet most people — even many environmental activists — have never heard of the organization and the enormous influence it wields over politicians and regulators in the western states.
Sun Nov 27 2016 (Updated 12/01/16)
Standing Rock Solidarity in Northern California
The Standing Rock Sioux Nation called for indigenous nations and others to stand in solidarity as they fight to prevent continued construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in their ancestral lands, especially near the Missouri River. Since federal agencies blocked construction under the Missouri River in early September, police have greatly increased the violence unleashed against the Water Protectors. Hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested and injured by police weaponry. Now, federal authorities are threatening to close the NoDAPL camp by December 5, but protesters promise continued resistance.
Wed Nov 16 2016 (Updated 12/14/16)
Santa Cruz Stands with Standing Rock
Dozens of local supporters of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe gathered at the Town Clock on the evening of November 15 for a loud, raucous and joyous celebration of the NoDAPL Day of Action. Allegra David, an organizer of the demonstration, led the group on short walk to full throated chants of "Water is Life" and "You Can't Drink Oil." The group's spirits were uplifted by the report that the Army Corps of Engineers dealt a blow to the progress of the Dakota Access Pipeline, saying in a letter that more analysis and discussion with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe is needed before construction can take place under the Missouri River.
On November 15, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved legislation prohibiting new fossil fuel leases on city-owned property in an effort to combat climate change. The legislation by Supervisor John Avalos originated with 350 Bay Area analyst Jed Holtzman, who discovered the city was leasing to Chevron an 800-acre property that it inherited in Kern County. City finance officials say converting the property to a solar array could generate more revenue than current oil operations, which net the city about $320,000 annually.
Voters in Monterey County, California's fourth-largest oil-producing county, passed Measure Z to ban fracking and other dangerous extraction techniques. The measure won with more than fifty-five percent of the vote, despite supporters being outspent thirty to one by oil companies, including Chevron and Aera Energy. Measure Z also phases out toxic wastewater injection and prohibits new oil wells in the county. "David beat Goliath in Monterey County's stunning victory against oil industry pollution,” said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity.
Sun Oct 30 2016 (Updated 11/05/16)
D is for Dilemma in Santa Cruz County
Big money is being spent to influence the outcome of Measure D on the November Santa Cruz County ballot. Unlike political offices, campaigns for ballot measures have no limit to the amount of money that can be contributed. There is no restriction on the source of contributions, so special interests from outside the County can buy influence in our local ballot measures. This week, The No on D group, Widening Won't Work, has organized two public demonstrations in front of two of the major corporate donors to Measure D, Granite Rock Construction Company and Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
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Amount of Intense Earthquakes Increases in the USGS Full Data 1983 – 2016 Zbigniew Charnas (2 comments) Saturday Dec 31st 1:07 AM
EPA Report Confirms Threat Posed By Fracking via Sierra Club Monday Dec 19th 6:47 PM
Hwy 17 Wildlife Tunnel in Sight: Land Trust Completes Funding for Land Protection via Land Trust of Santa Cruz County Monday Dec 19th 6:20 PM
GAG Group Declares WOD Ras Ramsay Tuesday Dec 13th 10:34 AM
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CA Transportation Commission Commits $3.1 Million for Land Trust’s Hwy 17 Wildlife Crossing via Land Trust of Santa Cruz County Friday Oct 21st 9:35 PM
Fracking and measure Z AutumnSun Friday Oct 21st 11:05 AM
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