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G2. Local Greens

Stop CA Fossil Fuel Production: Grassroots Leaders Meeting January 26

Sunflower Alliance - Fri, 01/13/2023 - 18:16

Join the Last Chance Alliance for a look ahead at 2023 priorities and strategies for the statewide grassroots movement to stop fossil fuel production in California. We won a big victory with the  new law banning new drilling permits near “sensitive areas” like neighborhoods and  schools. This year we have defend that victory and push … Read more

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Support Indigenous Resistance to Logging Sacred Forest, January 25

Sunflower Alliance - Fri, 01/13/2023 - 17:37

Logging in the Jackson State Demonstration Forest is destroying mature redwoods and desecrating indigenous land.  Learn about the threats—and how you can help—from Pomo Tribal Elder Priscilla Hunter and the Coalition to Save Jackson State Forest.

The logging is taking place even as the Pomo people are negotiating with the state based on Governor Newsom’s… Read more

Categories: G2. Local Greens

The Perils of Methane and Promise (?) of Hydrogen, January 24

Sunflower Alliance - Fri, 01/13/2023 - 16:44

At this online “Climate Action Party,” Jim Walsh of Food and Water Watch will join Robert Howarth of Cornell University to unpack the hype, exploring possible benefits and harms of the ways hydrogen is being proposed as a climate “solution.” And to outline the ways methane poses a serious threat to the planet.

Event host … Read more

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Proposed Consent Decree in Texas v. New Mexico Water Lawsuit

La Jicarita - Fri, 01/13/2023 - 15:32

In 2013 the State of Texas filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court alleging that New Mexico violated its obligations to the Rio Grande Compact by permitting groundwater pumping and other diversions in New Mexico below Elephant Butte Reservoir that depleted water intended for use in Texas. After a year of negotiations, with the U.S. as an intervener in the case (Elephant Butte Reservoir is a federal reclamation project), the proposed settlement agreement between the parties to the Compact—Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas—was just released to the public. The Special Master in the case, Judge Michael Melloy, ordered that the proposed Consent Decree be made public while waiting approval by the Supreme Court.

MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT OF THE JOINT MOTION OF THE STATE OF TEXAS, STATE OF NEW MEXICO, AND STATE OF COLORADO TO ENTER CONSENT DECREE SUPPORTING THE RIO GRANDE COMPACT November 14, 2022.

The Decree is 77 pages long, but in about 10 pages (29-38), it essentially “specifies procedures to ensure the proper apportionment of Rio Grande water between Texas and New Mexico below Elephant Butte Reservoir and quantifies New Mexico’s obligation to deliver water to Texas.” What is called the Effective El Paso Index establishes the annual amount of water that New Mexico must deliver. The Decree stipulates that the annual release from Caballo Dam will be used to determine New Mexico’s obligation to deliver water to Texas at the El Paso Gage (USGS 08364000), a stream gage very near the New Mexico-Texas state line, instead of where it’s currently measured upstream at Elephant Butte Reservoir. The Decree mandates that measures must be taken if New Mexico fails to deliver the Index’s obligated amount of water (or if the amount of water at Caballo falls below a certain amount).

Michael Hamman, New Mexico’s newly appointed State Engineer, submitted a letter of support of the Consent Decree that he believes ensures New Mexico’s Compact apportionment of water but that also offers possible procedures that can be implemented if the state is required to reduce depletions from aquifers connected to the Lower Rio Grande. These may include:

• acquisition of water rights and their permanent retirement (this was implemented on the Pecos River to meet its decree requirements with Texas);  

• employ temporary fallowing of land to reduce groundwater withdrawals;

• implement conservation measures with both municipalities and users in the Lower Rio Grande;

• import water to the Lower Rio Grande; and

• as last resort, implement priority administration as specified in the Active Water Resource Management (AWRM).  (This is a ruling that will allow an appointed water master to implement an administrative priority cut-off date.)

Because of the drought and climate crisis we’re currently navigating, some of these procedures are already being deployed along the entire Rio Grande to meet delivery requirements and will no doubt be deployed to meet the terms of this Decree at some point in the future.

 The many other pages of the Consent Decree are devoted to providing background to the case and then arguing that it doesn’t “Affect the United States Substantive Rights,” as the U.S. has nothing to do with the apportionment of water below Elephant Butte Reservoir, doesn’t own an apportionment of water, and that the decree won’t create any new legal obligations for the U.S. As mentioned above, the U.S. became an intervenor in the lawsuit because, as its request for intervention claims, “groundwater diversions in the Lower Rio Grande intercept Rio Grande Project [Elephant Butte Irrigation District] water, reduce Project efficiency, violate provisions of Reclamation law, and violate the Compact.”

This, of course, brings to mind that the Lower Rio Grande Adjudication, which La Jicarita has covered extensively since 2009, remains extant. This is a case in which the State of New Mexico and the U.S. Government have to determine the amount of water rights the feds own in the Rio Grande Project, or Elephant Butte Irrigation District. The fundamental issue of first priority rights was at stake in this very contentious adjudication, but the claimants have been stymied throughout the entire process. This is the last paragraph of the 2013 La Jicarita article, credited to the attorney for one of the claimants:

“If the pre-1906 Claimants are correct, that their appropriation of all the flood waters of the Rio Grande has a priority date of 1893, then all persons claiming later rights are affected by this adjudication, including water rights claimants with later priority dates throughout the entire stretch of the Rio Grande. This Court probably cannot meet its obligation to adjudicate all the rights of the claimants without considering all priority claims on the river.”

I went to the Lower Rio Grande Adjudication OSE website to see that the latest files were dated December 13, 2022. Hopefully, the involvement of the U.S. in the Rio Grande Compact Consent Decree won’t  delay the process as it has the Lower Rio Grande Adjudication. This is the last paragraph of the Decree:

“Because this litigation has persisted for nearly a decade, negotiations lasted over one year, and all interested parties participated in good faith, the Consent Decree is presumptively valid and the United States cannot meet its heavy burden in opposing the Decree. Therefore, this Court should approve the Consent Decree on the basis of its procedural fairness.”

Categories: G2. Local Greens

A Faked Kidnapping and Cocaine: A Montana Mine’s Descent Into Chaos

Montana Environmental Information Center - Fri, 01/13/2023 - 15:28

By Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times The Signal Peak Mine was embroiled in a web of criminal activity. Now, environmental groups want to shut it down. Just before 2 a.m. on April 18, 2018, Amy Price, the wife of the coal executive Larry Price Jr., called the police in Bluefield, Va., to report her …

The post A Faked Kidnapping and Cocaine: A Montana Mine’s Descent Into Chaos appeared first on Montana Environmental Information Center - MEIC.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Take Action to Prevent Oil & Gas Leasing Along Utah’s White River

Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance - Fri, 01/13/2023 - 14:32

The White River has been called a “floater’s and paddler’s paradise.” Meandering through the high desert of the Colorado Plateau in eastern Utah before joining the Green River, its deep canyons, soaring cliffs, rocky ridges, and unique geological features provide stunning vistas for those lucky enough to visit the area.

But now, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is preparing to sell several oil and gas leases along the scenic White River, as well as on BLM-identified lands with wilderness characteristics in the wild Book Cliffs.

Oil and gas development in this region would replace the scenic beauty, quiet stillness, and intense night skies with the sights and sounds of industrial development. It would also further exacerbate the climate crisis.

The BLM is accepting public “scoping” comments on this new proposal through Thursday, January 19th. Please take action to protect this special place.

Click here to tell the BLM: No new drilling along Utah’s White River! (follow the “Participate Now” buttons to enter your comment).

White River. © Ray Bloxham/SUWA

The White River landscape is one of the few remaining undeveloped stretches of public land in the Uinta Basin—a region that suffers from some of the worst air quality in the nation due to the more than 10,000 existing oil and gas wells drilled to date.

The BLM’s move to lock up even more public land for oil and gas development is short-sighted and irresponsible. There is no legal mandate to offer these leases—the agency has broad discretion not to lease public lands for development—and there is no need to sacrifice Utah’s remarkable wild places for fossil fuel extraction.

In fact, Utah, like most western states, has a surplus of BLM-managed lands that are under lease but not in development—with only 42 percent of Utah’s total leased land currently in development.

Please take a moment to tell the BLM that the White River is too special to drill.

Thank you for taking action!

The post Take Action to Prevent Oil & Gas Leasing Along Utah’s White River appeared first on Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Episode for January 13, 2023

Allegheny Front - Fri, 01/13/2023 - 13:11

State regulators call out the conventional oil and gas industry for a widespread failure to comply with Pennsylvania environmental regulations. And, an art exhibit aims to give trees the legal tools to protect themselves. Plus, we go forest bathing in Frick Park to improve our mental and physical health. News about a proposed new federal limit for soot and an investigation into a Christmas Day natural gas explosion.

The post Episode for January 13, 2023 appeared first on The Allegheny Front.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Another call for earlier ban on flaring in oil and gas fields

DRILL OR DROP? - Fri, 01/13/2023 - 12:52

Routine flaring on oil and gas fields should be banned by 2025, a review of the government’s net zero strategy has concluded.

In a key recommendation, the author, the Conservative MP Chris Skidmore, said:

“Industry should accelerate the end to routine flaring from 2030 to 2025.”

This is the second report this month to call for a ban on flaring in the next two years. A cross-party report by the House of Commons environmental audit committee made the same recommendation on 5 January.

Mr Skidmore was commissioned by the former prime minister, Liz Truss, to review UK proposals to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Last year, the government accepted a ruling by the High Court that its net zero strategy was unlawful. The landmark judgement agreed with arguments by Friends of the Earth, ClientEarth and Good Law Project that the strategy failed to show how the UK’s legally-binding carbon budgets would be met.

Mr Skidmore said today that the UK had successfully started to replace fossil fuels with greener, cleaner alternatives.

But he said the country was falling behind on some targets and needed a new approach. Delaying climate action risked damaging UK economic prospects, he said:

“to reach net zero we need to go even faster on making changes to the power and fuels we use – and make sure the UK benefits from growth in these new technologies. Rolling out these technologies will require a step change in how we approach energy security, infrastructure, and supply.”

The review ran to 340 pages and had 129 recommendations.

It said flaring was responsible for 22% of carbon emissions on oil and gas fields. About 70% of oil and gas field emissions were from powering equipment on platforms, it said.

The offshore industry published a Methane Action Plan in 2021 to reduce emissions and flaring. This committed the industry to a 50% methane emission reduction by 2030, compared with 2018 levels. Shell has committed to zero routine flaring by 2025.

The Skidmore report said:

“We recommend that industry follows suit”.

It said the industry regulator, the North Sea Transition Authority should improve transparency on progress against the emissions and flaring targets at a company level by the end of this year.

The review made no specific reference to onshore oil and gas. But it also called on the government to:

  • Ensure all new oil or gas fields were designed for conversion to electrification
  • Ensure that Climate Compatibility Checkpoint in oil and gas licences was an effective tool to shape policymaking
  • Consider requiring fossil fuel producers to meet a 10% target for carbon storage by 2035
  • Include a net zero fund for clean offshore technologies in the 2023 consultation on long-term tax treatment for the North Sea
  • Publish a strategy by the end of 2024 to include roles and responsibilities for electrification of oil and gas infrastructure, including planning process, timetables and regulation

The report says the UK must “double down on production of renewables, nuclear and hydrogen and other low carbon fuels to give our future energy system a homegrown, secure platform”. But it added:

“in the short term we still need oil and gas to secure our energy independence and as transition fuels towards 2050.”

It predicted the UK would continue to be dependent on gas for heating buildings and marginal power production. Demand for fossil fuels would fall in some parts of the economy, such as surface transport, the report said. But demand could rise in other parts, such as petrochemicals. The report concluded:

“That is why, only when absolutely necessary for security, we need domestic production and storage of fossil fuels to reduce our vulnerability to international oil and gas imports.”

It said replacing imported LNG (liquified natural gas) with domestically-sourced gas did not have to come at the cost of meeting UK carbon budget targets. Gas from the UK continental shelf could create less than half as much greenhouse gas as imported LNG, the report said. But it added:

“we must do more to make the extraction of oil and gas cleaner. Importing gas via pipeline from Norway produces a lower average emissions intensity than UK domestic production. We must therefore find ways to make extraction as clean as possible and avoid stranded assets.”

The review also called for planning rules to be scrapped for roof-top solar panels and it recommended the phase out of gas boilers by 2033, two years earlier than planned.

Reaction

The campaign group, Client Earth, said:

“Last year the High Court ordered the UK government to strengthen its net zero plans after our legal win. This review further confirms that it must set out more ambitious climate policy that goes further and faster in cutting energy costs and emissions.”

The shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, said:

“This underlines the Tory dither and refusal to tackle the climate crisis or boost our energy security. And it reveals the failure to grasp the opportunities for good, new jobs across Britain. Only Labour can deliver a fairer, greener future for Britain.”

The Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, said:

“This Net Zero Review must spell an end to government’s current approach of ducking, dodging and delaying action. That means turbo-charging onshore wind and solar, with solar panels on every new roof – and it means locking out climate-wrecking fossil fuels for good.”

Doug Parr, chief scientist of Greenpeace UK, said there was a strong overall message in the review:

“We’re in a different era from 2010s. UK faces bigger economic risks from getting left behind than going too fast. China, US, EU are in a clean tech race. Join in or get squashed.”

Friends of the Earth said:

“The idea that climate action and economic growth are at odds is seriously outdated. It’s time for the government to wake up and act! A green transition is vital for the future of our planet, and for our economy too.”

WWF UK said:

“Chris Skidmore’s comprehensive review makes it clear that meeting climate targets is the key to our future prosperity. The government must accept the recommendations of the review & begin the real work to deliver on its climate promises.”

Categories: G2. Local Greens

DEP issues scathing report on the conventional oil and gas industry

Allegheny Front - Fri, 01/13/2023 - 12:48

DEP calls out the industry as having "a culture of noncompliance as an acceptable norm."

The post DEP issues scathing report on the conventional oil and gas industry appeared first on The Allegheny Front.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Carnegie International project seeks legal personhood for a tree

Allegheny Front - Fri, 01/13/2023 - 12:17

The black gum tree on Pittsburgh's North Side is like any other tree, but one day it could take you to court.

The post Carnegie International project seeks legal personhood for a tree appeared first on The Allegheny Front.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Pa. natural gas plant explosion under investigation in Washington County

Allegheny Front - Fri, 01/13/2023 - 11:20

The Christmas Day explosion at Energy Transfer's Revolution Cryo plant caused a fire to burn for most of the day, venting gases and flames.

The post Pa. natural gas plant explosion under investigation in Washington County appeared first on The Allegheny Front.

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League Leads Rally to Stop Willow in Washington, D.C.

Alaska Wilderness League - Fri, 01/13/2023 - 10:10

On January 10, Alaska Wilderness League led environmental, Indigenous, and climate activists at a rally outside the White House calling on the Biden Administration to reject the proposed Willow oil development in Alaska’s western Arctic.

Dozens of protesters gathered with signs, banners and chants to take climate action now and stop Willow. In addition to the demonstration, participating organizations have collectively delivered more than 120,000 comments of concern to the White House from people around the country opposed to the Willow development. 

Currently under review by President Biden, the massive Willow oil and gas project would emit 287 million metric tons of carbon pollution, bulldoze through critical wildlife habitats in the nearby town of Nuiqsut, disrupt migratory paths of caribou and many other species and endanger the food security of communities that depend on subsistence resources.

“This is a make-or-break moment for President Biden on climate,” Kristen Miller, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League, said in a press release. “Willow poses a clear and present danger to climate security and biodiversity resources and will impact all Americans. Alaska’s Arctic cannot afford to sacrifice the critical wildlife and subsistence resources – or to bear the risk to our climate that Willow would cause. The President can show true climate leadership by stopping Willow before it’s too late.”

“Because of the location and the nearness to Teshekpuk Lake and the nearness to the ocean, this will affect the caribou and their migration around the lake,” said Nuiqsut Mayor Rosemary Ahtuangaruak.

Rosemary Ahtuangaruak, Mayor of Nuiqsut, speaking to a reporter

“Today’s rally is a demonstration of the hundreds of thousands of people from across the country that have spoken out against Willow over the last few months,” said Monica Scherer, director of outreach, at the rally. “We are seeing new organizations and individuals join the effort to stop Willow every day, and we will continue building on the momentum from today to assure the Willow project does not move forward.”

“The Willow project would be built on my traditional homelands of the Iñupiat in the Arctic,” said Sonia Ahkivgak, social outreach coordinator at Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic (SILA). “We’re far too along in the climate crisis to continue investing in fossil fuel infrastructure, especially one that would lock us into extraction for another 30 years.”

Alaska Wilderness League will continue to work with our partners in Alaska and around the country to ensure a thriving Arctic for generations to come. 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Windsor City Council can stop Capital Power’s proposed new polluting gas plant

Ontario Clean Air Alliance - Fri, 01/13/2023 - 09:46

Capital Power is proposing to build a new 100-megawatt (MW) gas-fired power plant in Windsor. This plant will affect local air quality and contribute to skyrocketing greenhouse gas emissions from the Ontario power sector. Under the Ford government’s current plan, greenhouse gas pollution from Ontario’s gas-fired power plants will soar by more than 300%

The post Windsor City Council can stop Capital Power’s proposed new polluting gas plant appeared first on Ontario Clean Air Alliance.

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MEIC’s Weekly Legislative update – Jan. 12, 2023

Montana Environmental Information Center - Fri, 01/13/2023 - 09:30

This week, we talk about energy, land use, and Constitution bills. It’s only week two, but there’s a lot going on! Catch up here. *Correction: SB 170 should be HB 170*    Links shared during this call: MEIC Bill Tracker: www.meic.org/bill-tracker/#/bills State Energy Policy bill: https://leg.mt.gov/bills/mca/title_09… MEIC events: www.meic.org/events

The post MEIC’s Weekly Legislative update – Jan. 12, 2023 appeared first on Montana Environmental Information Center - MEIC.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Judges dismiss challenge to $1.15bn UK investment in Mozambique gas scheme

DRILL OR DROP? - Fri, 01/13/2023 - 09:06

The Court of Appeal has rejected a legal challenge to UK government investment of $1.15bn in a liquified natural gas project in Mozambique.

Friends of the Earth campaigners outside the Royal Courts of Justice for the initial hearing in March 2022.
Photo: Friends of the Earth

The case, brought by Friends of the Earth, was dismissed in a written ruling today.

Friends of the Earth described the decision as “very disappointing” and said it was considering an appeal.

The Mozambique funding was one of the largest single financing packages ever offered by the government’s export credit agency, UKEF, to a foreign fossil fuel project.

The project involved deep-water gas production about 50km off the coast of northern Mozambique, along with onshore gas processing facilities.

It had been estimated that the total lifetime emissions for the new gas field, to be operated by Total, would be 4.5bn tonnes of greenhouse gases. This is more than the combined annual emissions of all 27 EU countries.

The investment was approved in June 2020 by the then international trade secretary, Liz Truss, and the then chancellor, Rishi Sunak. It was opposed on environmental grounds by the then business and foreign secretaries (Alok Sharma and Dominic Raab).

Six months later, in December 2020, the then prime minister, Boris Johnson, announced the UK would end direct government support for overseas fossil fuel projects.

Friends of the Earth argued in court that investing in the project was not compatible with UK obligations under the Paris climate agreement, which sought to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

The organisation also said UKEF should have calculated the the carbon emissions that would result from burning gas produced by the project, known as scope 3 emissions. These emissions should have been evaluated against available carbon budgets and global climate goals, it said.

The government argued that the Paris Agreement had not been incorporated into UK law. It also said the Mozambique project would be “economically transformative” for the country. It would help Mozambique to alleviate poverty, improve food security, invest in green energy and become more resilient to climate change.

When the case was heard at the High Court, one judge supported the Friends of the Earth case, while the other dismissed it. Details

The appeal court judges said today the Paris Agreement did not give rise to domestic legal obligations. Their ruling said:

“The court cannot and should not second guess the executive’s decision-making in the international law arena where there is no domestic legal precedent or guidance”.

The ruling also rejected the argument that it was irrational “to take the funding decision without quantifying the Scope 3 emissions”. The ruling said:

“The project was going ahead whether or not UKEF contributed to its financing. The decision was, therefore, not one that could have reduced or avoid the project’s scope 3 emissions.”

Friends of the Earth’s international climate campaigner, Rachel Kennerley, said:

“This extremely disappointing judgment doesn’t alter our firm belief that the UK government should not be supporting the Mozambique gas project, or any fossil fuel project at home or abroad.

“The climate crisis is intensifying with record-breaking heat waves and devastating floods and droughts, and countries like Mozambique are at the forefront of these impacts.

“The UK government should be helping poorer nations develop their huge renewable energy potential, not backing a massive gas development that’s fuelling violence and instability and will inevitably intensify the climate emergency we are in.

“We urge the government to end its support for this development. Rishi Sunak wants the UK to be seen as a world leader in fighting the climate crisis, but support for the gas development in Mozambique, and new coal and oil extraction at home, is completely undermining this.”

Daniel Ribeiro, campaigner at Friends of the Earth Mozambique, said:

“Today’s ruling is bad news for the people of Mozambique impacted by this project and everyone globally suffering climate impacts.

“It’s time to end the UK government’s bankrolling of destructive, colonial fossil fuel extractivism overseas and perpetuating decades of human rights and environmental abuses in countries on the frontlines of the climate crisis.”

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Election Reflections (Part I): Is Corporate-Free Too Easy?

Richmond Progressive Alliance - Thu, 01/12/2023 - 19:03

By Shiva Mishek

In this recent election cycle, the Richmond Progressive Alliance used a simple question to decide whether we would endorse local candidates: would the candidate commit to running a corporate-donation-free campaign? This question has been the bedrock of our organization since its founding in 2004.

But is it too basic a boundary issue?

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Multigenerational Housing: Building Family-centered Homes

Greenbelt Alliance - Thu, 01/12/2023 - 16:49

Multigenerational housing, also known as shared or intergenerational housing, is an increasing trend across the US, having quadrupled in number since the 1970s, according to this Pew Research. This means that, for over 59 million Americans, the household includes multiple generations living under one roof, such as grandparents living with their adult children and grandchildren, or unrelated individuals of different ages sharing a home. 

Financial burdens, changes in demographics, the rising cost of living, and the Covid-19 pandemic have accelerated this process, often translating into overcrowded homes that were initially designed for a nuclear family or a smaller unit. Most of our housing stock hasn’t been historically designed for multiple generations under the same roof. 

Climate Benefits of Multigenerational Housing

There are many familial benefits of multigenerational living—grandparents can take care of grandchildren, children can keep an eye on their aging parents, and young adults can save money while starting out in their careers.

This housing arrangement can also have a wide range of climate and economic benefits, including: 

  1. Energy efficiency: Multigenerational housing can help to reduce energy consumption by allowing individuals to share common spaces, appliances, and utilities. This can lead to lower energy bills and a smaller carbon footprint.
  2. Transportation: Multigenerational housing can reduce the need for long commutes and car ownership by increasing density near transit areas in currently single-family home zones. This can have a positive impact on air quality and greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Land use: Multigenerational housing can help to preserve green space and prevent sprawl by allowing individuals to live closer together and share resources.
  4. Sustainable building practices: When building or retrofitting multigenerational housing, it is possible to use sustainable building practices and materials, such as energy-efficient appliances, low-Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) paints, and insulation made from recycled materials.
The Problem: They Don’t Build Them Like They Used To

However, most housing is not built for multiple generations to cohabitate. According to the 2021 American Community Survey (ACS), 69.3% of America’s occupied households are single-family homes.

Nothing represents this concept as well as suburbs. The post-WWII years saw low vacancy rates, high rents, and overcrowding as soldiers returned home. Dissatisfaction fueled policymakers to find solutions, ultimately leading to an explosion of new housing thanks to the Federal Housing Agency (FHA) through its low-interest construction loans to builders, the mortgage insurance program, and long-term low-interest rate mortgages. In the book Crabgrass Frontier, Kenneth Jackson noted that the FHA and Veteran Affairs (VA) loans were preferential to the suburbs using requirements for standard setbacks, building materials, and lot sizes meant most urban and dense units didn’t qualify.

Now, it’s common for discourse around new housing development to be consumed by the height, size, and “character” of new buildings as well as how many units we can fit into a parcel. And yet, we don’t often hear how many single-family homes these days are large enough to fit multiple units. For example, in Tracy, in San Joaquin County, older single-family homes used to be 800-900 sq. ft, whereas more recently, in the Tracy Hills development, they can be up to 5,000 sq. ft. A house that size could fit four units rather than one. 

At Greenbelt Alliance, we advocate for Climate SMART—Sustainable, Mixed, Affordable, Resilient, Transit-Oriented—developments to be both affordable and climate-resilient. Much of our housing advocacy is geared toward multifamily apartment buildings and condominiums. That’s why, in this new scenario, we need to advocate for diversification in types of housing within urban boundaries that allow us to safely accommodate this growing trend of multigenerational housing for those who want it. 

So, How Can We Build More Multigenerational Housing?

Diversification and allowing for different types of housing are key for mid and long-term solutions.

As families continue to grow in California, they will have additional tools to modify their properties to fit their household style. Chief among them is the new Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) laws and the $100 Million CalFHA grants for ADUs. Ryan O’Connell, the founder of the company and website How To ADU, noted that despite these new tools and resources, constructing an ADU is still prohibitive. It’s imperative that cities make it as easy as possible to permit and build. For O’Connell,  families should think of this process as a marathon rather than a sprint. As California continues to provide communities with more tools to adapt their neighborhoods, we will see a shift from car-centric, single-family home developments to family-centered designs where multiple generations can live and thrive.

Another great way to offer more options that suit different living arrangements is moving away from a detached single-family home monopoly and offering more Missing Middle Housing options, such as duplexes or triplexes. Among the financial benefits of this type of housing is price affordability by design, reduced transportation costs, reduced land costs, and smarter land use, and they provide a lower entry point for acquiring housing. Meanwhile, the social and health benefits that these designs incentivize are walkable neighborhoods with retail nearby and more space to develop parks and maintain open spaces where neighbors can recreate by themselves and with their children. 

A report by AARP and Opticos Design found multiple benefits of Missing Middle Housing. These housing types, especially duplexes to sixplexes, can be used for multiple generations. Many older family members who bought cheaply in the suburbs and are on a fixed income, now find themselves stuck in place. The high value of their homes often isn’t sufficient to downsize in an amenity-rich area. A wide range of building types with 2-6 units would easily increase density while providing seniors, workers, young people, and families alike with smaller units they could afford. 

Investing in Missing Middle Housing is one way to revitalize neighborhood commercial areas. It allows customers to live nearby shops and retail and provide more potential workers for downtown office areas (even if they only go a few times a week). Missing Middle Housing designs are also a great way to build multifamily homes without significantly demolishing or changing the building profile. It also provides an opportunity to retrofit the building with newer energy-efficient technology and shared utilities. This is by no means a panacea but it can transform communities by starting with the family unit and designing cities for the human and family scale.

In the post-Covid world, investing in diverse types of housing that embrace different types of living arrangements, such as multigenerational housing, can have economic benefits beyond the home itself. To unlock this potential, cities across the state will need to embrace new state laws—such as SB 9, SB 897, and AB 916—which make building it easier to build. 

The post Multigenerational Housing: Building Family-centered Homes appeared first on Greenbelt Alliance.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

EPA’s proposed air quality standards aren’t strong enough, Pittsburgh advocates say

Allegheny Front - Thu, 01/12/2023 - 08:28

Advocates want tougher air quality protections, especially for Mon Valley residents impacted by industrial pollution.

The post EPA’s proposed air quality standards aren’t strong enough, Pittsburgh advocates say appeared first on The Allegheny Front.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

BLM Preparing to Sell Oil and Gas Leases Along the Banks of Utah’s White River

Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance - Thu, 01/12/2023 - 08:19

Leasing Proposal Threatens Scenic River Landscape, “Paddler’s Paradise”

For Immediate Release

Contact:

Landon Newell, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801.428.3991, landon@suwa.org

John Weisheit, Living Rivers and Colorado Riverkeeper, 435.260.2590, john@livingrivers.org

Salt Lake City, UT (January 12, 2023): The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is preparing to sell several oil and gas leases along the scenic White River in northeastern Utah, as well as on BLM-identified lands with wilderness characteristics in the wild Book Cliffs. These wild and undeveloped lands provide outstanding opportunities for hiking, camping, rafting, hunting, and other quiet recreation.

The White River is a “floater’s and paddler’s paradise” in eastern Utah that meanders through the high desert of the Colorado Plateau before reaching its confluence with the Green River. It is one of the few remaining undeveloped stretches of public land in the Uinta Basin, a region that suffers from some of the worst air quality in the nation due to the more than 10,000 existing oil and gas wells drilled to date.    

“The White River is too special to drill,” said Landon Newell, Staff Attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “Development of these leases will destroy the unique characteristics that make the river so special, while also exacerbating the climate crisis and threatening important fish and wildlife habitat. The BLM’s move to lock up more public land for oil and gas development is short-sighted and irresponsible—there is no legal mandate to offer these leases.”

White River. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA

The White River region’s deep canyons, soaring cliffs, rocky ridges, and unique geological features provide stunning vistas for those lucky enough to visit the area. But oil and gas development in this region will replace the expansive vistas, quiet stillness, and intense night skies with the sights and sounds of industrial development.

“This stretch of the White River remains unaffected by the sights and rotten egg odor of hydrogen sulfide associated with oil and gas operations in the Uinta Basin,” said John Weisheit, a professional river guide in eastern Utah and a representative of Living Rivers and Colorado Riverkeeper. “Aside from the health issues this presents for me and my companions, the sight, smell, and sounds of development foul the experience of enjoying these beautiful public lands. Drilling along the White River is not a wise use for this shared public asset.”

“There is a dangerous myth that the Tavaputs Plateau is an area with low scenic value and therefore worth sacrificing for short-term profit,” said Lauren Wood, owner and river guide at Holiday River Expedition and representative of Green River Action Network. “As someone who operates a rafting business in this region, I can assure you that whoever peddles that lie has never experienced the area the way I and tens of thousands of my guests have. The White River not only provides a scenic family-friendly wilderness experience, its flows are part of our region’s lifeblood. Protecting it from these destructive and irresponsible leases must be a priority if we intend to have intact ecosystems and a livable climate to share with our kids and grandkids in the challenging years to come.”

“With its large riparian forests, unique scenery, and outstanding opportunities for solitude, the White River offers an increasingly rare recreational experience,” said Cody Perry with Rig to Flip. “At a time when demand for river permits far outpaces the available supply, the White River will almost certainly see rising popularity in coming years. Oil and gas wells dominate the region, except for this thin strip along the river. For too long the BLM has failed to protect this outstanding landscape or honor the objectives set forth in the White River Special Recreation Management Area. Prioritizing fossil fuel development in this sensitive riparian corridor is not only shortsighted, but an abandonment of the agency’s multi-use mission.”

There is no need to sacrifice Utah’s remarkable wild places for oil and gas leasing and development. Utah, like most western states, has a surplus of BLM-managed lands that are under lease but not in development—with only 42 percent of its total leased land in development. There were approximately 2.5 million acres of federal public land leased for oil and gas development at the close of BLM’s 2021 fiscal year. (see here—follow hyperlink for “Documents (.zip)” and then select “Table2_AcreageInEffect”). At the same time, oil and gas companies had less than 1.07 million acres of those leased lands in production (see here—follow hyperlink for “Documents (.zip)” and then select “Table6_AcreageOfProducingLeases”).

The agency’s proposed parcel list includes 13 leases covering approximately 16,619 acres of federal public land in Utah. The BLM is accepting public comment on its proposal through January 19, 2023 (more information is available here). 

Photographs of the White River are available here.

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The post BLM Preparing to Sell Oil and Gas Leases Along the Banks of Utah’s White River appeared first on Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Turning to Forests for Better Health

Allegheny Front - Thu, 01/12/2023 - 08:15

People are finding that forests are good medicine. To improve health, one local therapist is taking groups 'forest bathing' in Frick Park.

The post Turning to Forests for Better Health appeared first on The Allegheny Front.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

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