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MEDIA ADVISORY: Experts Forum Jan. 26, 2023 at 4 pm EST via Zoom on Public Health and Safety During Decommissioning of Indian Point

INDIAN POINT SAFE ENERGY COALITION (IPSEC) - Thu, 01/19/2023 - 08:20

Media Advisory

Critical Public Health and Safety Impacts of

Decommissioning Indian Point • Expert Forum Series

Contact: 

Ellen Weininger, Grassroots Environmental Education 

(914) 422-3141 (O) or (646) 210-0200 

Judy Allen, United for Clean Energy 

845-528-6643 (H), 914 382-1193 (C) 

What: First in a Series of Public Health and Safety Experts Forums

When: ThursdayJanuary 26, 2023 at 4:00 PM EST 

Where: Zoom Registration: bit.ly/3k9qYIh 

Who: 

• Introduction by New York State Senator Peter Harckham, Chair of the Senate  Environmental Conservation Committee 

• Moderated by Alfred Meyer, Physicians for Social Responsibility – NY 

• Dr. Helen Caldicott, Acclaimed author, Nobel laureate and co-founder of  Physicians for Social Responsibility, discussing nuclear facilities’ impacts on  human health 

• Eric Epstein, Three Mile Island Alert, Inc. discussing independent, state-of-the art, radiation air monitoring around nuclear facilities 

• Diane Turco, Director of Cape Downwinders, Cape Cod, MA, discussing the  release of radioactive wastewater and impacts on her community 

Background: This forum series presents experts in their respective fields addressing  important aspects of public health and safety that should be considered in  decommissioning a nuclear facility and the handling of nuclear waste. 

Holtec International, the owner of the Indian Point nuclear facility conducting  decommissioning operations, is seeking to discharge one million gallons of radioactive  wastewater into the Hudson River from which seven municipalities source their drinking  water and others rely on as a backup source. 

Event Co-Sponsors: Grassroots Environmental Education, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater,  Physicians for Social Responsibility-NY, Safe Energy Rights Group, Sierra Club Atlantic  Chapter, Sierra Club Lower Hudson Group, United for Clean Energy, Upper Nyack Green  Committee, WESPAC.

Suzannah Glidden
United for Clean Energy
(914) 485-1052
suzannahglidden@optonline.net

Indian-Point-Forum-Flyer-finalDownload MEDIA-ADVISORY-final-1Download

The post MEDIA ADVISORY: Experts Forum Jan. 26, 2023 at 4 pm EST via Zoom on Public Health and Safety During Decommissioning of Indian Point appeared first on Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Updated dashboard provides leasing, drilling, and permitting data for federal oil and gas program

Western Priorities - Thu, 01/19/2023 - 07:53

DENVER—The Center for Western Priorities today released an updated leasing and drilling dashboard that provides an at-a-glance look at data related to oil and gas leasing and production on public lands under the Biden administration. Data included in the dashboard show that, while the Interior Department has yet to initiate its promised rulemaking to reform the broken federal oil and gas program, the Biden administration has continued to approve federal drilling permits to the oil and gas industry and is planning to move forward with many new lease sales in 2023. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) brought several important changes to the onshore leasing program last year, including the first increase to the royalty rate for new leases in over 100 years and the elimination of the practice of leasing public lands “noncompetitively” for just $1.50/acre. Now, the Biden administration must do its part to write new, durable rules for the federal oil and gas program that will ensure that management of our public lands better serves taxpayers, communities, the environment, waters, and wildlife. 

The dashboard includes information related to the public land parcels currently being considered for oil and gas leasing in 2023. Although the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will no longer allow individuals or companies to submit lease nominations anonymously following the Inflation Reduction Act’s requirement of a new lease nomination filing fee, the Biden administration is still considering offering for lease thousands of acres that were originally nominated anonymously. Data included in the dashboard show that 60 percent of the nearly 490,000 acres of public lands that are currently being evaluated for lease were anonymously nominated.

In order to take the necessary steps to further limit harmful, speculative leasing in the federal oil and gas program, the BLM must commit to not offering for lease any parcels that were nominated before the IRA brought important, long-overdue changes to the federal leasing system. Before holding the eight onshore lease sales that are slated to be held starting in May of this year, the Interior Department must move forward with its rulemaking. 

The rulemaking is necessary to both respond to its own 2021 analysis which found significant flaws in the leasing program, and to ensure that any future leasing aligns with the reform provisions of the IRA and the corresponding Instruction Memoranda that BLM issued in November 2022. Interior’s November 2021 report noted, for example, the need for the Department to hold oil and gas companies responsible for posting, up front, the full cost required to clean up the wells they drill on public lands, and to prevent leasing on lands that hold valuable resources for conservation and recreation but little to no value for oil and gas.

For more information about how the federal oil and gas leasing system works, please see the introductory text of the dashboard. This section has been updated to reflect all changes made to the federal leasing system by the Inflation Reduction Act. 

The post Updated dashboard provides leasing, drilling, and permitting data for federal oil and gas program appeared first on Center for Western Priorities.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

New report shows public lands gave candidates a winning edge in the 2022 elections

Western Priorities - Thu, 01/19/2023 - 07:26

The Center for Western Priorities released a new report, “Winning the West: Election 2022,” detailing how public lands were a winning issue in the 2022 election and how pro-conservation positions often gave candidates a competitive edge in close races. 

According to the report, candidates like new Congressman Gabe Vasquez in New Mexico highlighted their conservation agendas and records to win close elections against candidates like incumbent Yvette Herrell, who sided more often with oil and gas development.

In the race for Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat, Senator Michael Bennet used recent public lands victories, including President Biden’s designation of Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument, to connect with voters and handily win an election that was expected to be much closer.

Other Western contests saw anti-conservation candidates win by much smaller margins than expected, such as former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who narrowly defeated environmental attorney Monica Tranel for Montana’s open House seat in a race that ended up taking several days to call.

“Looking ahead, the election outcomes serve as clear guidance for President Biden and for members of Congress as they set their respective agendas for the next two years,” said Jennifer Rokala, Executive Director of the Center for Western Priorities. “With dysfunction all but certain to paralyze Congress, the president can use the next two years to build a solid conservation legacy using executive action, which remains overwhelmingly popular with the public. And members of Congress can know that voters see and appreciate their conservation efforts despite gridlock in Congress.”

With a growing outdoor voting bloc and high-profile competitive U.S. Senate races in Arizona, Nevada, and Montana on the ballot in 2024, the Center for Western Priorities will continue tracking the connection between public lands issues and electoral success.

Quick hits Archaeological sites in Grand Canyon National Park at risk from Glen Canyon Dam water releases

Williams-Grand Canyon News

Red states prepare legal challenges to WOTUS rule

E&E News

How far can $25 million go to relocate a community that’s disappearing into Alaska’s melting permafrost?

High Country News

House GOP’s new rules make it easier to sell off public lands, encourage drilling

KUNM

Relocating species is a last resort as climate warms

Associated Press

Utah water policy ‘playing catch up when it should be leading the pack,’ according to new report

Salt Lake Tribune

Authorities don’t know who is shooting free-roaming horses in the Utah desert

NPR

Wyoming outdoor recreation trust fund bill gains toehold in the state House

WyoFile

Quote of the day

We as Americans have a lot of emphasis on our historical records that we maintain in libraries and archives and the tribes traditionally didn’t do that. But these archaeological sites are in a sense the books (of a library). They’re the record of human occupancy in [Grand Canyon National Park] and the history of the tribes. In that respect, it’s important they be maintained as long as possible.”

Helen Fairley, USGS social scientist Picture this @Interior

Fisher Towers National Recreation Trail offers some of the most expansive and striking views of beautiful Utah. The towers, soaring monuments to erosion, are composed of dark red sandstone that rise above the valley like elaborate castle spires. Photo by Thomas Warren

(featured image: President Biden calls to congratulate winners on election night while wearing a Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument hat. Source: @POTUS)

The post New report shows public lands gave candidates a winning edge in the 2022 elections appeared first on Center for Western Priorities.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Central QLD flood exposes flaws with coal mine water release laws

Lock the Gate Alliance - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 16:28

Central Queensland coal mines are releasing billions of litres of polluted water many times saltier than the receiving rivers in the catchment of the Great Barrier Reef, prompting concerns about the ecological health of impacted waterways.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Housing Element Recap: Why CA’s Housing Plans Must Address Climate Change

Greenbelt Alliance - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 14:30

California cities are gearing up to update the Housing Element chapter of their General Plan, which establishes the vision for how each city and county will grow. As the January 31 deadline approaches, Bay Area cities and counties are racing to finalize drafts for approval by the CA Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). 

With every city in California needing to update its Housing Element, more housing will be zoned across the state. This is why building climate-smart housing is crucial to California’s growth. Given the impact this process will have on how the region grows, Greenbelt Alliance has leveraged our Resilience Playbook to advocate for climate SMART—Sustainable, Mixed, Affordable, Resilient, Transit-Oriented—housing policies while working with cities, partners, and local advocates over the last few years to generate the best outcome.

Here is a snapshot of our involvement in the Housing Element process:

Housing Element comment letters submitted: 24
Meetings attended: 74 (approximately)
Number of Jurisdictions that we have weighed in on: 43
Percentage of GA staff who have participated in this process: 80%
Number of certified housing elements in the bay area: 2/101 cities

One of the most impactful actions we can take to reduce GHG emissions at the local level is to build more housing in existing urban areas. Doing so requires integrating climate change solutions into planning processes to address the housing crisis.

That’s why this Housing Element process is a critical moment for environmentalists and housers to come together. Over the last few years, Greenbelt Alliance has been proud to collaborate with environmental partners around the region, including Save the Bay, Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge, Green Foothills, the Sierra Club, 350 Contra Costa, Contra Costa Climate Leaders, Sustainable Contra Costa, Sonoma Ecology Center, and more to ensure that dense housing is built in existing urbanized areas and away from the places most impacted by climate impacts.

But we can’t do this without community participation by those who would be affected most. Over the past 65 years, Greenbelt Alliance has provided several learning and training opportunities in order to bolster community engagement around this process. In 2022, we hosted three webinars on why housing is a climate change issue:

We have also been leading workshops with community partners around the region on related issues. In November, in partnership with Richmond Land, we hosted the second edition of a Housing Elements Advocacy workshop for the residents of North Richmond in preparation for the unincorporated Housing Element draft. By empowering North Richmond residents with tools like the Resilience Playbook, we are encouraged to see the mobilization of advocates who support climate SMART development in their neighborhoods, leading to a more inclusive and resilient Bay Area! 

We’ve articulated why the Housing Element is important to address climate change. Over the last two years, Greenbelt Alliance has attended meetings, met with local staff and elected officials, and reviewed housing elements and their respective Environmental Impact Reports, while providing written and public comments across the region. 

Click on the boxes below to learn about our housing action:

Sonoma
  • Rohnert Park: Attended meetings and spoke at planning commission meetings. Rohnert Park does not yet have a certified Housing Element.  
  • Santa Rosa: Attended city council and planning commission meetings. Santa Rosa does not yet have a certified Housing Element.  
  • City of Sonoma: Attended a housing element workshop. Sonoma does not yet have a certified Housing Element.  
  • Unincorporated Sonoma – County of Sonoma: Greenbelt Alliance was appointed to the Housing Advisory Committee and met regularly throughout the year to weigh in on Housing Element items. We participated in Housing Element community engagement workshops, put out action alerts, and sent this letter in partnership with Legal Aid of Sonoma, Santa Rosa NAACP, Sonoma Valley Housing Group, Generation Housing, Sonoma Valley Collaborative and others. Sonoma County does not yet have a certified Housing Element. 
Solano
  • Benicia: Weighed in on the Benicia Housing Element to assure the concerned City Councilmembers that it was possible to build the amount of housing required without building outside of their Urban Growth Boundaries. We submitted a letter and communicated directly with Councilmembers about this issue. Benicia does not yet have a certified Housing Element but they have maintained their Urban Growth Boundary.
Contra Costa
  • Antioch: Attended public meetings to speak in support of climate-smart housing, reviewed their Housing Element draft, and submitted a letter in partnership with East Bay 4 Everyone, CA YIMBY, and East Bay Young Democrats. Antioch does not yet have a certified Housing Element but we were pleased to see that their draft included housing at an appropriate level of density in many areas and provided policies to affirmatively further fair housing.
  • Clayton: Reviewed the Clayton Housing Element, met with city staff to discuss our comments and submitted a letter. Clayton does not yet have a certified Housing Element.
  • Concord: Attended public meetings, spoke in support of Climate SMART Housing and increased density near the BART stations, and submitted multiple letters. Here is our most recent one submitted in partnership with Sustainable Leaders in Action, Sustainable Contra Costa, Multi-Faith Action Coalition, East Bay 4 Everyone, and Contra Costa Climate Leaders. Concord does not yet have a certified Housing Element.
  • Town of Danville: Attended public meetings and submitted a letter in partnership with Sustainable Leaders in Action, Sustainable Contra Costa, Multi-Faith Action Coalition, East Bay 4 Everyone, and Contra Costa Climate Leaders. Danville does not yet have a certified Housing Element.
  • Hercules: We are actively tracking both the Housing Element and the Safety Element updates. We have submitted multiple letters, spoken at city council and planning commission meetings, and reviewed the housing element draft. Hercules does not yet have a certified Housing Element.
  • Lafayette: Lafayette is a city with high fire severity and needs to densify their downtown core while limiting growth and single family housing in the high fire severity zones. We have attended housing element meetings, spoken at city council and planning commission meetings, and submitted multiple letters, including this one a letter
  • Martinez: Attended city council meetings, met with planning staff, and are following both the General Plan update as well as Housing Element update. Martinez does not yet have a certified Housing Element.
  • Town of Moraga: Moraga is a small town with high fire severity and needs to densify their downtown core while limiting growth and single family housing in the high fire severity zones. We have attended housing element meetings, spoken at city council and planning commission meetings, and submitted three letters related to community engagement, locating housing in wildfire zones, and GHG emissions. Here is our most recent letter with 350 Contra Costa. Moraga does not yet have a certified Housing Element.
  • Oakley: Oakley is a small town on the outskirts of Contra Costa County with major sea level rise concerns. We submitted a letter and spoke with planning staff to encourage them to build infill housing in the existing urbanized areas and away from the shoreline areas at risk of sea level rise. Oakley does not yet have a certified Housing Element.
  • Orinda: Attended public meetings and submitted a letter in partnership with Sustainable Leaders in Action, Sustainable Contra Costa, Multi-Faith Action Coalition, East Bay 4 Everyone, and Contra Costa Climate Leaders. Orinda does not yet have a certified Housing Element.
  • Pleasant Hill: Actively tracking both the General Plan update and Housing Element update. We attended public meetings and submitted a letter in partnership with Sustainable Leaders in Action, Sustainable Contra Costa, East Bay 4 Everyone, and Fresh Approach. Pleasant Hill does not yet have a certified Housing Element.
  • San Ramon: Attended public meetings and submitted a letter in partnership with Sustainable Leaders in Action, Fresh Approach, Sustainable Contra Costa, East Bay 4 Everyone, and SRVCC. San Ramon does not yet have a certified Housing Element.
  • Walnut Creek: Joined public meetings and submitted a letter in partnership with Sustainable Leaders in Action, Sustainable Contra Costa, Multi-Faith Action Coalition, East Bay 4 Everyone, and Contra Costa Climate Leaders. Walnut Creek does not yet have a certified Housing Element.
  • Contra Costa County: We are actively tracking this process closely. We sent initial policy recommendations and recently wrote a coalition comment letter for the draft Housing Element with partners such as Save The Bay, East Bay For Everyone, EBHO, Sustainable Contra Costa, 350 Contra Costa Action, East County Community Leaders Network, 4CL, and San Ramon Valley Climate Coalition. Contra Costa County does not have a certified Housing Element.
Alameda
  • Alameda County: The County just started its study sessions with the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors which we have attended. The County intends to submit a draft Housing Element in late Spring 2023. Alameda County does not have a certified Housing Element. 
  • City of Alameda: Weighed in on this housing element. Alameda DOES have a certified Housing Element
  • Berkeley: Attended city council meetings and spoke in support of single family zoning reform. Berkeley does not yet have a certified Housing Element.  
  • Emeryville: We did not engage in the Emeryville housing element. Emeryville DOES have a certified Housing Element. 
  • Livermore: Attended a housing element workshop. Livermore does not yet have a certified Housing Element.  
  • Newark: Reached out to the city numerous times to inquire about the status of their housing element. We attended a public workshop and provided public comment. Newark does not yet have a certified Housing Element.  
  • Oakland: Joined housing element workshops, spoke at city council meetings, and submitted a letter. Oakland does not yet have a certified Housing Element.  
  • Pleasanton: Reviewed their housing element and submitted a letter with recommendations about their site selections as well as a letter with recommendations about how they should improve their public engagement process in partnership with Genesis and Public Advocates. Pleasanton does not yet have a certified Housing Element.  
  • San Leandro: Attended a housing element workshop and submitted a letter to the City Council. San Leandro does not yet have a certified Housing Element. 
San Mateo
  • Atherton: Attended town council meetings and provided input during public comment, encouraging the adoption of multifamily zoning. Menlo Park does not yet have a certified Housing Element.
  • Menlo Park: Joined both planning commission and city council meetings and made comments encouraging the city to embrace pro-infill and equitable siting policies. Menlo Park does not yet have a certified Housing Element.
  • Unincorporated San Mateo County: Attended both county planning commission and board of supervisors meetings to provide public comment on the element. In partnership with the Housing Leadership Council and Housing Choices, we are leading a coalition to encourage the County to move away from suburban sprawl and inequitable siting policies and toward sustainable, equitable pro-infill policies. As part of the coalition, we attended meetings with staff and supervisors, as well as submitted a letter outlining concerns and suggested changes. Unincorporated San Mateo County does not yet have a certified Housing Element.
Santa Clara
  • Cupertino: Attended multiple meetings, including community stakeholder engagement sessions, planning commission, and city council sessions. We are currently working with community partners to provide feedback via a formal letter. Cupertino does not yet have a certified Housing Element.  
  • Gilroy: Due to concerns about expansion of exurban sprawl, we engaged heavily in Gilroy. This included meetings and communications with council members, as well as a coalition letter in partnership with SV@Home, California YIMBY, and Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Additionally, we have met and communicated with the HCD reviewer assigned to the city to relay concerns about the element. Gilroy does not yet have a certified Housing Element.  
  • Los Gatos: Weighed in via the Santa Clara County Housing Element Equity Advisory Group, of which we are a member, providing direct input to city staff.  Los Gatos does not yet have a certified Housing Element.  
  • Morgan Hill: Provided input at public meetings, as well as communicated with city staff. Morgan Hill does not yet have a certified Housing Element.  
  • Mountain View: Attended both planning commission and city council meetings, and weighed in via meetings with city staff and council members. Mountain View does not yet have a certified Housing Element.  
  • Santa Clara: Attended planning commission and city council meetings, and weighed in via a letter.  We provided additional input directly to city staff during the Housing Element Equity Advisory Group meeting. Santa Clara does not yet have a certified Housing Element.  
  • Sunnyvale: Actively engaged in Sunnyvale, attending stakeholder meetings, planning commission meetings, and city council sessions, and providing input at all opportunities. Additionally, we have sent both individual and coalition letters and met with the HCD reviewer for Sunnyvale to discuss concerns around the city’s parks fee, parking requirements, and density bonus issues.  Sunnyvale does not yet have a certified Housing Element.  
Marin
  • Marin County: Attended a series of housing element workshops related to both the housing element and concurrent safety element update. We also met with County staff to learn more about housing element plans and provided training at Marin Academy High School to share resources with their sustainability students to attend housing-related meetings. We also submitted a letter. Marin County does not yet have a certified Housing Element.  
  • San Rafael: Attended a series of housing element workshops. We spoke with the planner in charge of the housing element and were invited to the housing element monthly round table meetings. We provided resources from the Resilience Playbook to support local staff in drafting their plan. San Rafael does not yet have a certified Housing Element.  
  • Belvedere: Attended meetings and spoke at a city council meeting in support of expanding affordable housing beyond just accessory dwelling units. Belvedere does not yet have a certified Housing Element.

The post Housing Element Recap: Why CA’s Housing Plans Must Address Climate Change appeared first on Greenbelt Alliance.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

The California Builder’s Remedy: What It Is and How It Works

Greenbelt Alliance - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 11:16

If you follow California housing policy (or even just read the news!), it’s likely you may have recently heard about something called the Builder’s Remedy. But what actually is it?

While colloquially known as the Builder’s Remedy, the term is actually a provision of California State Housing Law, more technically known as Section 65589.5(d) of the Housing Accountability Act.

Originally added in 1990, the provision grants a streamlined process to developers in cities that do not have compliant housing elements—the State-mandated blueprint cities must produce to adequately plan for new housing growth. It allows builders to sidestep local zoning rules around things like height and density, letting them create projects that they otherwise could not do under normal circumstances. If cities do not have a certified Housing Element by January 31, 2023, developers will be able to bypass or build outside of existing zoning rules, as long as at least 20% of the units in the proposed housing project are provided at below market rates.

We commonly hear a range of questions about the Builder’s Remedy, so we clarify some of the uncertainties around this legal practice here!

Join us on January 31, at 12 p.m., for a discussion about the Builder’s Remedy with housing leaders from the Bay Area! Sign up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why has no one used the Builder’s Remedy before?

Many changes have been made to California Housing Law in the last several years, making certification much more difficult for cities to achieve, greatly increasing the potential of successfully utilizing this process. While the housing element process was once merely a planning exercise, it is now a serious tool to achieve California’s housing needs.

What specifically does it allow developers to do?

While there are many different facets to it, the Builder’s Remedy itself disallows a city without a compliant housing element from denying a housing project where at least 20% of the units included are provided at below-market rates, regardless of whether or not it complies with local zoning regulations.

When does a city officially become eligible for builder’s remedy projects?

For the 101 jurisdictions within the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), cities and counties without a compliant housing element certified by the California Department of Housing and Community Development will, on February 1, 2023, become eligible for use of the builder’s remedy within their borders.

Does CEQA still apply?

Yes! Importantly, this legal provision does not negate CEQA, so projects must still undergo environmental review and study.

Are there any limitations to the Builder’s Remedy?

Yes! Projects must still comply with building codes and health and safety guidelines, as well as a city’s objective design guidelines. Moreover, as mentioned previously, the HAA does not negate CEQA, so an environmental review is still required. Lastly, Builder’s Remedy projects cannot be proposed on land zoned for resource preservation or agriculture.

How can community advocates use this provision to further SMART—Sustainable, Mixed, Affordable, Resilient, Transit-Oriented—policy goals?

Because the housing element process only occurs once every 8 years, advocates currently have a unique opportunity to pursue badly needed policy changes. The threat of the Builder’s Remedy looms large; through it, advocates can push for (and win!) land use policy changes like density increases and streamlining proposals that will make infill housing easier to build and help combat sprawl throughout the Bay Area and beyond.

Ultimately, we at Greenbelt view the Builder’s Remedy as a tool of last resort. Rather than falling out of compliance and forfeiting their ability to choose how and what gets built within their borders, we strongly encourage cities to instead opt to pursue strong, compliant housing elements that not only satisfy State requirements but create the kind of atmosphere where it is feasible to build the dense infill housing necessary to house our growing population in a sustainable and resilient way.

The post The California Builder’s Remedy: What It Is and How It Works appeared first on Greenbelt Alliance.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Windsor gets taken for a ride by dirty fossil fuel developer

Ontario Clean Air Alliance - Tue, 01/17/2023 - 09:19

Last night Windsor City Council voted 8 to 2 to support Capital Power’s proposal to build a new gas-fired power plant in Windsor. Mayor Dilkens and Windsor City Council chose to listen to a fossil fuel power developer rather than the citizens of Windsor, who reminded them that the city has declared a climate

The post Windsor gets taken for a ride by dirty fossil fuel developer appeared first on Ontario Clean Air Alliance.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

A Tree Called “Burls”

BC Tree Hunter - Mon, 01/16/2023 - 19:07

If you’ve ever spent time with trees, especially those in the vintage category , then no doubt you have seen a burl before. Often presenting as grotesque and unusual masses, at first glance, some are so large and imposing that one would think they must be endangering the health of the tree.

Bulbous, bulging, and twisted in an endless array of configurations, there’s little question that they also add instant character. After all, a heavily burled specimen is certainly a departure from the norm. Most enthusiasts, and even casual observers, have stood in wonder at such trees, trying to imagine what might be the origins of their peculiar contortions.

This is the tree I call “Burls.” Some folks find this giant and believe they have found the Cheewhat Cedar. As compelling as this gnarled veteran is, you’ll need to keep going, as you have a little further to go to see the world champion! “Burls” is truly immense! Just for scale, in this image, check out the size of Colin Spratt  

What causes most burls is not completely understood, but there is evidence to support some of the many theories. They are thought to form as the tree’s response to insects, bacteria, fungi, viruses, mold, and other pathogens. A burl is a basically a tree growth in which the grain has grown in a deformed manner. It normally will be found on the trunk, and most frequently at the base of the tree, but sometimes burls can even be located underground, in the form of rounded outgrowths, or extrusions. Damage from natural injuries, such as splitting, being struck by falling rocks, lightning, or other trees, and even freeze and thaw cycles are also thought to be possible causes. Whatever the reasons, the formation of a burl is definitely one of a tree’s natural defense mechanisms, and likely serves to help protect the tree. Indeed, it’s been shown that removing burls will frequently contribute to a decline in overall health, thus it’s best to let them be (Read another comprehensive explanation from my friend Greg Herringer, a forest technologist, for more information).

So much of this tree is composed of burls that it’s almost mesmerizing to look at

The upper crown of the tree is as improbable as the trunk!….photo by Jon Degner
This was Jon’s first trip to Cheewhat Lake, and he was delighted with his introduction to “Burls”

Now, to return to to the inspiration for this story, that immense western red cedar growing near Vancouver Island’s Cheewhat Lake that I like to call “Burls.” One look at this twisted and gnarled veteran of many centuries and you’ll immediately understand the name is well, self explanatory! It’s difficult to discern just exactly where the burls end and the tree begins, let alone how best to measure and quantify such a natural oddity. On the whole, the tree truly defies description, and that’s what makes it so special! Witness, as well, what it’s like to see it in person, with this short film clip that Greg put together during our recent visit.

Greg and the dogs seen arriving at the tree here. That limb in the foreground is a huge leader that snapped long ago and fell, embedding itself in the earth below

 

Twisted, gnarled, extruded, contorted, and so on. Whatever way you look at it, this is one of the more unusual cedars I’ve ever seen

Thuja plicata are well known for their trademark burls, and most will develop quite a few on their way to reaching advanced age. This particular tree may be well over a thousand years old, and in addition to its “burl complexes” it’s also intertwined with the trunks of several opportunistic western hemlocks. If you look closely, you’ll also see several more hemlock seedlings have germinated on its aging trunk. Typical of ancient cedars, the sharp spikes of multiple leaders rise from its repeatedly broken top, reaching high into the forest canopy above.

Can you see the portal?

It takes a lengthy drive on rough logging roads to reach the Cheewhat Lake Trail from most places on Vancouver Island. Most intrepid visitors who do make the journey are usually focused on getting a look at the Cheewhat Cedar, the largest of its kind. More than one novice has simply followed the trail, come face to face with “Burls,” then incorrectly assumed they have just found the world champion western red cedar. Timely reminder, since that tree lies another fifteen minutes further along the trail, you’ll need to keep on hiking!

Each side of the tree presents a different face, as Jon observes here This image shows you a few of the opportunistic western hemlock seedlings which have taken root among the burls….photo by Jon Degner

Thankfully, since the trees of Cheewhat Lake fall within Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, all are protected from being logged. It’s comforting, at least, to know that if it ultimately perishes, it will do so naturally. Perhaps someday, someone shall find another tree out there that’s even more extraordinary than “Burls,” and if they ever do, I eagerly look forward to the photographs!

——-AUTHOR’S NOTE——-

Though hard to access, the surrounding forests of Cheewhat Lake still hold countless wonders for the aspiring adventurer, if not on marked trails. Should you decide to explore this area further, I do not recommend underestimating the terrain, as off trail travel in the region is challenging. Ideally, it should only be attempted by fit and well prepared individuals who are willing to take all the necessary precautions.

Bushwhacking around Cheewhat Lake can get very rugged in a hurry, so be prepared for plenty of obstructions as you see Colin about to encounter in this photograph!
Categories: G2. Local Greens

Kean’s gas pipeline approval will damage climate, culture, koalas, communities

Lock the Gate Alliance - Mon, 01/16/2023 - 15:52

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean has trashed his government’s vaunted climate credentials and enraged hundreds of farmers with the granting of an authority for Santos’ Hunter Gas Pipeline.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

From new natural gas to potential rate hikes, NC carbon reduction plan meets criticism — News And Observer

NC WARN - Mon, 01/16/2023 - 11:56

By Adam Wagner

The N.C. Utilities Commission’s first-ever plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions caused by generating electricity in the state has been met with widespread criticism.

Environmental groups and solar energy trade associations have argued that the plan unnecessarily limits the amount of new solar energy while allowing Duke Energy to move forward with plans to build new power plants that burn natural gas. Those groups argue that solar represents the quickest, cheapest path for North Carolina to cut its reliance on coal and natural gas to generate electricity.

“North Carolina needs a strong Carbon Plan that lowers electricity bills, reduces health-harming air pollution and achieves the state’s climate targets. Unfortunately, the Commission’s plan does not guarantee those critical goals will be met, leaving the door open to new gas,” Will Scott, the Environmental Defense Fund’s director of Southeast climate and energy, said in a written statement.

Duke Energy, meanwhile, has said the plan represents an “all of the above” approach that will allow it to shift away from coal as a power source in North Carolina while adding natural gas, solar and potentially wind farms.

“We do plan to institute action based on what the Commission issued in their order,” said Kendal Bowman, Duke Energy’s North Carolina state president. “To me, I think that’s the benefit of 951 is this check-and-adjust approach, that you’re coming in every two years and checking and adjusting to make sure you’re on the right path.”

The Utilities Commission did not choose one of the portfolios of generation sources presented by Duke Energy or environmental groups. Instead, it directed the utility to take a number of steps that it says will position Duke to reach the carbon dioxide emission reductions required in 2021’s House Bill 951. That bill directed the Utilities Commission to target a 70% reduction in Duke Energy’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, with the utility reaching net zero by 2050.

To reach that goal, the commission has directed Duke to procure 2,350 megawatts of new solar panels to go online by 2028, required the utility to retire its six remaining North Carolina coal plants by 2035 and required it to extend the licenses at its three nuclear power plants in the state.

The commission is also allowing Duke to procure 1,000 megawatts of battery storage that will draw energy from the electric grid and 600 megawatts that will be paired with solar panels, as well as upgrading the electric grid to connect the new solar panels.

Additionally, the utility is supposed to study the possibility of acquiring and developing areas off the coast for new wind farms, as well as plan for new natural gas-fired power plants

Continue reading

The post From new natural gas to potential rate hikes, NC carbon reduction plan meets criticism — News And Observer appeared first on NC WARN.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Community groups challenge New Acland water licence

Lock the Gate Alliance - Sun, 01/15/2023 - 22:08

The Oakey Coal Action Alliance and Lock the Gate have this afternoon (Monday, January 16) applied for a review of the Palaszczuk Government’s decision to grant New Hope an Associated Water Licence (AWL) for its New Acland Stage 3 thermal coal mine on the Darling Downs.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

House Concert for Sunflower Alliance, January 22

Sunflower Alliance - Sun, 01/15/2023 - 15:26

2023 is kicking in with the usual challenges, and we can already sense the need for a little soul-soothing.  Please join us for a concert of celestial harp and vocal music that reminds us that heaven-on-earth can sometimes be as close as the next musical performance.

Floy Andrews and Maureen Brennan are offering a late … Read more

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Peñasceros Show Up In Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

La Jicarita - Sun, 01/15/2023 - 12:14

“There is no justice, there’s just us.”—Jean Nichols

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Upcoming Water Events/Public Hearings

Restore The San Francisco Bay Area Delta - Sun, 01/15/2023 - 09:33

Wednesday, Jan 18, 12-2 p.m.
EIS Army Corps hearing 

The public draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Delta Conveyance project is available for public review and comment from December 16, 2022 through March 16, 2023.
Draft EIS Public Meeting
Webinar Link Passcode: 026045
Provide your comments here 
DLL-DCP-EIS@usace.army.mil 
Comments due by March 16, 2023
Some talking points from Restore the Delta here.

Wednesday, Jan 18, 6-7 p.m.
Josh Harder Town Hall on Water 

Health Plan of San Joaquin Meeting
The congressman and panelists including Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta will also give a brief overview and then we will head to Q&A and a Call-to-Action.
RSVP online here

Thursday, Jan 19, 10 a.m.
State Water Board Voluntary Agreements Science Report Workshop

Date: January 19, 2023, 10:00 a.m.
Location: CalEPA Building
1001 I Street, Sacramento 
Watch VA Workshop Virtually  
Link to register for Public Comment

Thursday, Jan 26, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Hell or High Water: How Stockton Can Prepare for the Risk of Flood Disaster

This symposium will be led by panelists from local and state government entities, community leaders, flood experts and esteemed researchers who will provide insight on flood management issues, their solutions and will inform the public on what to expect from the capitol regarding investments in flood protection. This event will cover various topics that will explore Stockton’s Growing Flood Risk, Flood Risk from the Community Perspective, The View from the Capitol, and Planning and Building Solutions.
Panelists include Congressman Josh Harder, Stockton City Council Womxn Kimberly Warmsley, UCLA Climate Scientist Daniel Swain, the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency, Restore the Delta, River Partners, Little Manilla Rising and Public Health Advocates.
This will be a one-day virtual event and will take place on January 26th from 5:30
PM to 7:30 PM. We hope to see you there!
Register for Zoom Here

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Volunteer and Celebrate MLK Day with Urban Tilth, January 16

Sunflower Alliance - Sat, 01/14/2023 - 18:40

 Urban Tilth, Richmond’s urban farm, will honor Martin Luther King Jr. on this MLK Day holiday with activities at two locations. Urban Tilth writes:

“The work and dedication to service of Martin Luther King Jr has been a source of inspiration for our work. We look to continue the legacy of his work by … Read more

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Donald Williams Begins Term as New Mayor of Calistoga

Wine And Water Watch - Sat, 01/14/2023 - 18:03
In a too-close for comfort race last November, Donald Williams won Calistoga’s mayoralty by a 27-vote margin. The new mayor advocates for a diverse economy and careful use of our shared natural resources, and often reminds residents and voters that they are the ones who are in charge — elected officials should only keep those …

Donald Williams Begins Term as New Mayor of Calistoga Read More »

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Land Trust of Napa County Announces Agreement to Purchase Walt Ranch

Wine And Water Watch - Sat, 01/14/2023 - 17:41
Over the years, Wine and Water Watch has published a number of articles about the proposed Walt Ranch vineyard conversion, which would have destroyed more than 300 acres of riparian, oak and native grassland habitat for vineyards and more than 14,000 large trees in an area spread out over the ranch’s 2300 acres. In early …

Land Trust of Napa County Announces Agreement to Purchase Walt Ranch Read More »

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Legislature to consider adding environmental rights to the constitution

Montana Environmental Information Center - Sat, 01/14/2023 - 15:33

By Megan Myscofski, Albuquerque Journal SANTA FE — Two lawmakers are looking to add environmental rights to the state constitution through an amendment that, if passed by the Legislature, would be on the ballot in November. Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque, and Rep. Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces, pre-filed a joint resolution that would add the …

The post Legislature to consider adding environmental rights to the constitution appeared first on Montana Environmental Information Center - MEIC.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

2023 XRSFBay In-Person Kick-Off Meeting

XRSFBay - Sat, 01/14/2023 - 12:00
Please join us on Saturday, January 14th for Extinction Rebellion SF Bay Area’s first in-person chapter meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic began. This meeting is open to anyone curious about getting involved in climate action this year, or re-connecting if you have worked with us before. 
Categories: G2. Local Greens

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