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Protecting our Environmental Resources
Updated: 6 hours 25 min ago

Interactive cancer maps

Sat, 04/21/2018 - 10:27

Click to access below or cut and paste to use https://statecancerprofiles.cancer.gov/map/map.withimage.php?99&001&001&00&0&01&0&1&5&0#results

Ineractive cancer maps now available…

Interactive Maps

Interactive Maps Data Options Area:— choose area —US by stateUS by countyAlabama countiesAlaska Boroughs and Census AreasArizona countiesArkansas countiesCalifornia countiesColorado countiesConnecticut countiesDelaware countiesDistrict of ColumbiaFlorida countiesGeorgia countiesHawaii countiesIdaho countiesIllinois countiesIndiana countiesIowa countiesKansas countiesKentucky countiesLouisiana parishesMaine countiesMaryland countiesMassachusetts countiesMichigan countiesMinnesota countiesMississippi countiesMissouri countiesMontana countiesNebraska countiesNevada countiesNew Hampshire countiesNew Jersey countiesNew Mexico countiesNew York countiesNorth Carolina countiesNorth Dakota countiesOhio countiesOklahoma countiesOregon countiesPennsylvania countiesPuerto RicoRhode Island countiesSouth Carolina countiesSouth Dakota countiesTennessee countiesTexas countiesUtah countiesVermont countiesVirginia countiesWashington countiesWest Virginia countiesWisconsin countiesWyoming counties Data Group:— choose data group —Cancer RatesDemographic DataScreening & Risk Factors Topic:— choose topic —Colorectal ScreeningDiet & ExerciseSmokingWomen’s HealthVaccines Cancer:

— choose cancer —All Cancer SitesBladderBrain & ONSBreast (Female)Breast (Female in situ)CervixChildhood (Ages <15, All Sites)Childhood (Ages <20, All Sites)Colon & RectumEsophagusKidney & Renal PelvisLeukemiaLiver & Bile DuctLung & BronchusMelanoma of the SkinNon-Hodgkin LymphomaOral Cavity & PharynxOvaryPancreasProstateStomachThyroidUterus (Corpus & Uterus, NOS)

Statistic:

— choose data type —IncidenceMortality

Race/Ethnicity:— choose race/ethnicity —All Races (includes Hispanic)White (includes Hispanic)   White Hispanic   White Non-HispanicBlackHispanic (any race)Amer. Indian / AK NativeAsian / Pacific Islander Sex:— choose sex —Both SexesMalesFemales Age:— choose age group —All Ages<5050+<6565+ Year(s):— choose year —Latest 5-year average Map Options Interval Type:Quantiles (rankings)Equal Interval (values) Number of Intervals:45678910 Color Scheme:Red-Yellow-Blue (Div)Brown-White-Blue/Green (Div)Red-Orange-White (Seq)Blue-Green-Yellow (Seq)

    -->

    &amp;amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;amp;gt;Please note that not all combinations of parameters will produce results. &amp;amp;amp;lt;a href=”/datanotavailable.html”&amp;amp;amp;gt;Click here for details.&amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;

    Categories: Food and Farming

    GM Watch

    Sat, 04/21/2018 - 10:19
             GM Watch State of California, Center for Food Safety win appeal over listing of glyphosate as probable carcinogen A California Appellate Court has sided with the State of California and Center for Food Safety (CFS) in affirming that Monsanto’s glyphosate pesticide can be listed as a probable carcinogen under Proposition 65. Monsanto’s lawsuit challenged the 2015 announcement by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) that it intended to list glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide, Roundup, under California’s landmark Proposition 65. Proposition 65 requires the State to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. Inside Monsanto’s day in court: Scientists weigh in on glyphosate’s cancer risks Plaintiffs in 2,400 lawsuits in the US are suing to hold Monsanto accountable for their cancers, which they believe were caused by exposure to the company’s Roundup herbicide. The plaintiffs are seeking financial settlements that could amount to billions of dollars – wiping out the $2.8 billion in revenue that Monsanto expects to make from Roundup this year alone. In San Francisco, US District Judge Vince Chhabria has been deciding whether or not scientific experts in these trials were using sound methods to reach their conclusions, and which experts could be called to testify during the upcoming federal trials.

    From cdpr.ca.gov

    Glyphosate herbicide tied to shorter pregnancies More than 90 percent of pregnant women in an Indiana study had glyphosate in their urine, and higher concentrations were associated with earlier deliveries. This article from Reuters covers research reported by GMWatch a month previously. US: High-fibre gene-edited wheat cleared for commercialisation The USDA has determined that a wheat cultivar that’s gene-edited for higher fibre content doesn’t need to undergo the deregulatory process for GMOs because it’s not a potential plant pest. Steve Mercer, vice president of communications for US Wheat Associates, an export organization, said the wheat is “not anywhere close to commercialisation”. GMWatch advises vigilance. Glyphosate and neonics impair learning in bees Hive-bound young honey bees are being poisoned by glyphosate weedkiller and insecticides gathered by their foraging hive mates, according to new research. The paper demonstrates that glyphosate and neonicotinoid insecticides adversely affect memory, taste and smell in young bees – the very senses and skills required by worker bees for nectar foraging. Glyphosate and a hidden epidemic A survey of human urine samples shows that exposure to potentially health-threatening levels of glyphosate has escalated over the past 20 years. Glyphosate use in the agricultural sector rose a massive 300-fold from 1974 to 2014 and nearly 67% of total agricultural glyphosate use in the US since 1974 occurred in the period 2005–2014, when GM crops became widespread. Effects of glyphosate exposure may include increased cancer and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Yet regulators are turning a blind eye, writes Prof David Schubert. Canadian wheat exports to Italy slump over glyphosate fears

    In Italy, the world’s largest pasta maker has cut back Canadian imports of durum wheat – a key ingredient in pasta – because of consumer concerns about the use of glyphosate herbicide.

    Trade agreements remove the right of EU member states to introduce bans on glyphosate EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has reportedly confirmed to French EU parliamentarians that trade agreements such as CETA and Mercosur would remove the right of member states to introduce bans on glyphosate.
    Categories: Food and Farming

    Forestville large winery proposed: PLP17-0054. Traffic is currently cumulatively significant

    Fri, 04/20/2018 - 10:44
    Note: this intersection has been the site of numerous accidents over the years. Adding more traffic without a full season traffic relevant study is derelict. Please comment to Ms. Daniel if you have concerns. To  georgia.mcdaniel@sonoma-county.org

    Dear Ms. McDaniel:

    It has come to my attention that a large winery is proposed in Forestville on Trenton Road  near this dangerous intersection.  (Laguna, Trenton, and River, And Healdsburg Trenton Road).  Adding traffic to an already very hazardous situation would result in adverse impacts cumulatively and individually significant.  The steep hill adds to the traffic hazard and cannot be mitigated.

    Speed limit is 55. But folks sometimes go faster.

    These pictures and video clips represent pretty much  typical traffic at this complicated and well used intersection.   Sometimes, however the traffic is worse.

    Will a controlled signal be required?  If so, this information must Noticed to the affected and interested public in order to properly receive information upon which to base a decision to approve or disapprove this project

    Please add this and the  following photos and video clips to the administrative records in the his case.

    Thank you.

    K. Burr
    Forestville

    Categories: Food and Farming

    Pesticide Map Shows How Much Poison is Sprayed in CA Towns

    Fri, 04/20/2018 - 10:08
    California is the only state that has a Department of Pesticide* Regulation that tracks the use of glyphosate and other pesticides/herbicides. That map was recently shared with me by a supporter for glyphosate-free grape growing. Click here for one of the most disturbing maps you will ever see, especially if you live in California. The California wine regions are recorded to have between 79,000-189,000 pounds of glyphosate sprayed in their communities every year. Pesticide Map Shows How Much Poison is Sprayed in CA Towns

    Posted by Zen Honeycutt 2651.40GS on April 13, 2018

     

    Have you ever seen workers on the side of the road with a metal sprayer, dousing the landscaping with some unknown liquid? Or a truck with a tank of liquid driving slowly along the sidewalk spraying a jet stream of liquid all over the roadside or sidewalk? Or how about a farmer in a field on a tractor spraying the crops? Ever wonder what they are spraying?

    It’s not water. And it’s not harmless. They are most likely spraying a glyphosate-based herbicide, such as Roundup or Rodeo.  You may even have a bottle of these herbicides in your garage to spray in your own backyard. Glyphosate-based herbicides are the most popular, and insidiously harmful, herbicides and desiccants (drying agents) in the world.  Over 9.4 million tons of these herbicides are recorded to have been sprayed globally.  80% of GMOs—genetically modified crops—are engineered to withstand glyphosate-based herbicides.

    California is the only state that has a Department of Pesticide* Regulation that tracks the use of glyphosate and other pesticides/herbicides. That map was recently shared with me by a supporter for glyphosate-free grape growing. Click here for one of the most disturbing maps you will ever see, especially if you live in California. The California wine regions are recorded to have between 79,000-189,000 pounds of glyphosate sprayed in their communities every year.

    *The term pesticide is accepted by the industry to include pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and rodenticides.

    Farmers, landscapers, and consumers had been told in the early 1970’s by Monsanto and our EPA, that the most widely used herbicides, specifically the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup, was safe back. However, the parameters used to come to this conclusion were misleading in many ways. To name a few:

    1. The EPA does not have proof that the final formulation of glyphosate-based herbicides are safe. This is because the EPA does not require long-term animal studies** with blood analysis on the final formulation of Roundup, glyphosate-based herbicides, or any herbicide/pesticide. Only one ingredient—in this case glyphosate, is required to have studies presented that are short-term or long-term but with no blood analysis. This policy is incomplete and misleading. A consumer, farmer, or landscaper would assume that the bottle of Roundup, as it sits on the shelf, has been safety tested and is safe to use, but it is not. The co-formulants have been shown to be 1000X more toxic (meaning immediate harm) and glyphosate has been shown to be insidiously harmful (meaning causing long-term harm such as non-alcoholic liver disease over time).
    2. The combinations of multiple pesticides have not been tested. Many landscapers or farmers are encouraged to use multiple pesticides to prevent pest and weed resistance. The use of these chemicals in combination has not been studied, nor is it required to be studied by the EPA to determine safety. A mixture of dozens of chemicals clearly has a different effect than a single chemical.  That is basic third-grade science. Do you remember the baking soda and vinegar experiment that creates the foamy volcano? What happens when a combination of over fifty chemicals are used on our food or feed crops? The farmers and manufacturers can’t and won’t tell us. WE are the experiment…and I don’t like the results I am seeing—1 out of 2 children in America have a chronic illness—do you?
    3. The pesticides often do not dry, wash, or cook off, or biodegrade as we have been lead to believe. Glyphosate especially had been claimed to biodegrade (and that claim had to be removed), to “be as safe as table salt.” Bottles of Veggie Wash in produce aisles lead the consumer to believe that he or she could simply spray veggies or soak them in vinegar and water and they would be free of chemical residues and safe to eat. This is not true. Glyphosate does not wash off.  Glyphosate goes into the cells of the plant and we consume it along with the produce. The EPA allows glyphosate residues on about 158 food and feed crops, far above the levels that have been shown to destroy gut bacteria (the stronghold of the immune system) and cause liver disease.
    4. Dose does not make the poison in the case of pesticides.  It is a common misconception that a small amount of glyphosate herbicides or any pesticide is not harmful to humans or pets. This is not true. Studies have shown glyphosate herbicides (and many pesticides) to be endocrine disruptors, which means that nano amounts can be even MORE harmful to pregnant mothers and babies because the tiny amounts can interfere with estrogen levels and disrupt or halt the development of the fetus. In America, we have 50% more babies that die on the first day of life than all of the industrialized nations combined. We can help prevent this tragedy by not buying Roundup (use alternatives instead), buying organic food, and asking our community officials to use alternatives!

    There are many reasons that the amount of pesticide use shown in this mapping tool, or any amount for that matter, is not safe.  There are hundreds of studies that prove the lack of safety. Many of these studies can be found on www.momsacrossamerica.org/data, www.BeyondPesticides.org, or www.Panna.org. Serious health issues linked to or shown to be directly caused by glyphosate-based herbicides include cancer, birth defects, shortened pregnancies (which can lead to miscarriages, infant death or developmental delays), liver disease, weakened immune systems, organ damage, and many more. Many other chemicals used on our non-organic food crops such as dicamba, 2,4-D, atrazine, chlorpyrifos, along with others have been shown to be toxic or harmful.

    What can we do?  We can get glyphosate and toxins OUT of our communities!

    RSVP to go to a local Earth Day Event or post your own, and get a code for a free box of flyers. Print out our sign up sheet, bring a clipboard and gather contact information from locals who agree that they do not want harmful chemicals sprayed in their neighborhoods.

    Go to our Toxin Free Town Campaign page and all the information you need to speak to your city council, home owner’s association, local farmers, or neighbors about why it is important to discontinue the use of glyphosate-based herbicides and all toxins, and use alternatives instead.

    Send a comment to the EPA to revoke the license of glyphosate TODAY! On Earth Day ask your neighbors to send their comments to the EPA! The EPA is currently reviewing glyphosate and may re-register its use for another 15 years. Please let them know this is unacceptable. The EPA has encouraged us to comment to them as much as possible. MAA has been told by an insider that EPA members are receiving death threats. We believe that the chemical companies are asserting enormous pressure on the EPA to re-register glyphosate.  Glyphosate-based herbicides alone create billions of dollars in sales each year for these chemical companies. Please comment and remind the EPA that we support them and we need them to do their jobs.  It is their mandate to protect the American people, not the profits of chemical companies.

    The good news is that when you eat organic, pesticides can be eliminated from the body within a week or two. Many moms report that their children and families get remarkably better and recover from health issues when they eat organic foods and avoid GMOs and harmful chemicals. Many moms also report that their towns have stopped spraying toxic pesticides/herbicides, their local farmer has switched to organic farming, and their schools no longer use glyphosate…all because someone like you simply asked them to.

    Please, join us on Earth Day to raise awareness, ask people to comment to the EPA, and speak up to have your community stop spraying glyphosate-based herbicides and other toxins. You can do it! We need your help!

    ** We are not pro-animal studies. We are simply pointing out that the EPA’s own standard of long-term animal testing with blood analysis as a means to determine the risks to humans that cannot otherwise be detected, unless humans are studied, (which is not allowed) is lacking. In addition, if testing pesticide safety on humans is not allowed—why are these pesticides allowed to be in our food?

     

    Categories: Food and Farming

    EPA could OK pesticides without endangered species review under proposed farm bill

    Fri, 04/20/2018 - 10:01

    “……..their designated critical habitats,” the report said, adding that species and their prey that live in shallow waters close to pesticide use sites are expected to be most at risk.

    “It’s a poison-pill rider in the most literal and unfortunate way,” said Jordan Giaconia, federal policy associate for defense at the Sierra Club. It takes just one harmful chemical to be injected into the ecosystem to cause widespread damage, he said. “The ramifications are pretty far reaching.” 

    Some types of protected salmon, butterflies and all kinds of pollinators could be harmed by toxic pesticides applied without proper review, advocates worry.

    But Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee see the language as a “common sense reforms” to an “onerous and conflicting” consultation process that needs to be modernized, according to a summary provided by the panel’s majority.

    EPA could OK pesticides without endangered species review under proposed farm bill

    Published 7:18 pm, Tuesday, April 17, 2018

    WASHINGTON — A provision in the 2018 farm bill would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to approve pesticides without undertaking reviews now required to protect endangered species.Environmental groups say the provision is an “unprecedented” attack that could have lasting ramifications for ecosystems across the nation.

    The bill would allow the EPA to skip consultations with agencies that include the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service, which oversee the implementation of Endangered Species Act protections.

    “This removes the requirement to bring in the expert agencies,” said Lori Ann Burd, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s environmental health program.  She said it would gut

     

    In a December 2017 report, the National Marine Fisheries Service said pesticides like chlorpyrifos, malathion, and diazinon threaten a number of marine animals, including some that are protected, as well as the predators that prey on them.

    She said it would gut protections for endangered species.

     

    “Current application rates and application methods are expected to produce aquatic concentrations of all three pesticides that are likely to harm aquatic species as well as contaminate their designated critical habitats,” the report said, adding that species and their prey that live in shallow waters close to pesticide use sites are expected to be most at risk.

    “It’s a poison-pill rider in the most literal and unfortunate way,” said Jordan Giaconia, federal policy associate for defense at the Sierra Club. It takes just one harmful chemical to be injected into the ecosystem to cause widespread damage, he said. “The ramifications are pretty far reaching.”

     

    Some types of protected salmon, butterflies and all kinds of pollinators could be harmed by toxic pesticides applied without proper review, advocates worry.

    But Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee see the language as a “common sense reforms” to an “onerous and conflicting” consultation process that needs to be modernized, according to a summary provided by the panel’s majority.

    “We’re trying to streamline that process,” House Agriculture Chairman K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, told reporters. “EPA doesn’t have the resources to do a species-by-species deal, so we’re trying to figure out a way to protect species, but also being able to get the crop protection things (pesticides) in place. The current system works to the advantage of people who don’t want anything to happen.”

    Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., did not respond to a request for comment.

    The committee is scheduled to mark up the bill on Wednesday.

    If the bill passes with the pesticide provision, it would be a victory for agriculture trade groups that have pushed hard in recent months for the language to be included in the five-year farm bill, and for chemical manufacturers like Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co. that have petitioned for less-stringent pesticide regulations.

    More than 60 agriculture groups in January wrote a letter urging Agriculture Committee leaders to include the provision in the bill, saying the current review and permitting requirements are “redundant” and provide no additional environmental benefit, but instead impose additional costs on farms and businesses.

    Environmentalists, however, see parallels between the language in the measure, the lobbying efforts by the chemical industries and actions of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

    The Center for Biological Diversity said the provision “essentially codifies” a request by Dow Chemical for Pruitt to ignore the harmful effects of pesticides on endangered species and to gut their protections.

    In April 2017, Wiley Rein LLP, a law firm that represents several chemical companies, including Dow AgroSciences LLC; Makhteshim Agan of North America Inc., also known as Adama; and FMC Corp., wrote to the Trump administration asking it to disregard an EPA report that had concluded that certain pesticides would be harmful to imperiled species. The letter was sent to the Commerce Department, the EPA, the Interior Department and the Agriculture Department.

    The EPA in January 2017, at the end of the Obama administration, released a report that found that pesticides like chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion could harm endangered species near and around where they were applied.

    In March 2017, under the newly confirmed Pruitt, the EPA scuttled a process initiated by the Obama administration to ban the use of chlorpyrifos, a known neurotoxin that has been found to be harmful to farmworkers and has been linked to development issues in newborn babies. The pesticide, which is banned for residential use and on tomatoes, is still widely used in farming of other vegetables and fruits.

    “This is a pretty unprecedented attack on the Endangered Species Act. It’s unfortunately not surprising,” Giaconia said of the farm bill provision. “It falls in line with Scott Pruitt’s efforts to undermine scientifically based environmental protections.”

    According the Center for Biological Diversity, the Endangered Species Act has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of species under its protection.

    00:0001:2401:24 01:24

    Now Playing: Report: Despite Denials, EPA Head Scott Pruitt Reportedly Directed Staff to Approve Raises for Top Aides

    Amid a growing firestorm swirling around EPA head Scott Pruitt, new reporting claims Pruitt actually instructed his staff to award hefty raises to two of his top aides. Nathan Rousseau Smith has the story.

    Media: Veuer

    In a December 2017 report, the National Marine Fisheries Service said pesticides like chlorpyrifos, malathion, and diazinon threaten a number of marine animals, including some that are protected, as well as the predators that prey on them.

    Categories: Food and Farming

    Colorado Communities File Lawsuit Against Oil Giants for Climate Change Costs

    Thu, 04/19/2018 - 11:18
    With government essentially being run by special interests (SCOTUS “money is free speech”), communities take the battle for truth and transparency to the courts. Oil companies knew about their impacts for decades but instead of pushing for environmentally sound energy, they chose to fight and pollute.

    Suncor and Exxon have known about the costly consequences of fossil fuel use for more than 50 years. Yet they continued to promote and sell their products, while recklessly deceiving the public and policymakers about the dangers.

    In the past year, nine coastal communities in California and New York filed climate lawsuits against fossil fuel companies. This is the first such lawsuit in Colorado—or anywhere in the U.S. interior—aimed at holding fossil fuel companies accountable for paying their fair share of the costs of climate change.

       Colorado Communities File Lawsuit Against Oil Giants for Climate Change Costs Costs of climate change impacts estimated to top one hundred million dollars by 2050. Location: Boulder, Colorado

    April 17, Boulder, ColoradoToday, the Colorado communities of Boulder County, San Miguel County, and the City of Boulder—with legal support from EarthRights International, the Hannon Law Firm, Niskanen Center, and other co-counsel—filed a lawsuit against Suncor and ExxonMobil (“Exxon”), two oil companies with significant responsibility for climate change. The communities have demanded that these companies pay their fair share of the costs associated with climate change impacts so that the costs do not fall disproportionately on taxpayers.

    Climate change affects fragile high-altitude ecosystems and hits at the heart of these communities’ local economies, affecting roads and bridges, parks and forests, buildings, farming and agriculture, the ski industry, and public open space. Adapting to such a wide range of impacts requires local governments to undertake unprecedented levels of planning and spending. Over the next three decades, these communities will face at least one hundred million dollars in costs to deal with the impacts of climate change caused by the use of fossil fuel products like those made and sold by Suncor and Exxon.

    Suncor and Exxon have known about the costly consequences of fossil fuel use for more than 50 years. Yet they continued to promote and sell their products, while recklessly deceiving the public and policymakers about the dangers.

    In the past year, nine coastal communities in California and New York filed climate lawsuits against fossil fuel companies. This is the first such lawsuit in Colorado—or anywhere in the U.S. interior—aimed at holding fossil fuel companies accountable for paying their fair share of the costs of climate change.

    Statements

    “Climate change impacts are already happening and they are only going to get worse. In fact, Colorado is one of the fastest warming states in the nation. Climate change is not just about sea level rise. It affects all of us in the middle of the country as well.” – Elise Jones, Boulder County Commissioner

    “We are a small rural county dependent on tourism and farming and ranching. A natural disaster here could wipe out our reserves. Unabated fossil fuel production is already impacting our climate. These changes will grow more intense over time.” – Hilary Cooper, San Miguel County Commissioner.

    “Our communities and our taxpayers should not shoulder the cost of climate change adaptation alone. These oil companies need to pay their fair share.” – Suzanne Jones, Mayor, City of Boulder

    “For over 50 years, Suncor and Exxon have known that fossil fuels would cause severe climate impacts. To enhance their own profits, they concealed this knowledge and spread doubt about science they knew to be correct. Now, communities all over this country are left to foot the bill.” – Marco Simons, EarthRights International

    “Future generations and those least responsible for causing climate change will bear the brunt of the impacts. We need to shift the costs back to these companies that have profited off their demands for unabated pollution in the face of global climate destabilization.” – Micah Parkin, 350 Colorado

    “The fossil fuel industry has normalized oil and gas in our lives while concealing the dangers. It’s time for a cultural shift. In the future, when we talk about ‘energy,’ we should be referring to renewable energy, not fossil fuels.” – Rebecca Dickson, Sierra Club

    “For hundreds of years, the common law has insisted that people who damage property should be held liable for their actions, and this case seeks no more than to protect property rights and the rule of law.” – David Bookbinder, Niskanen Center

     

    Background

    For years, these three Colorado communities have taken action to reduce their own carbon footprints. All three have adopted ambitious CO2 emission reduction targets, passed budgets for climate work, conducted greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories, and established incentive programs for residents. Despite these efforts, taxpayers already face the rising costs of adapting to a changing climate.

    Suncor and Exxon are two of the world’s largest contributors to climate change and have been particularly active in Colorado. Fossil fuel combustion accounted for nearly 80 percent of all GHG emissions between 1970 and 2010.

    • Exxon is the largest investor-owned fossil fuel producer in history. Suncor is one of the world’s largest independent energy companies. Both are active in Colorado.
    • Suncor’s U.S. operations are based in Denver, Colorado; the company supplies about 35 percent of the state’s gasoline and diesel fuel demand. Suncor and Exxon work closely together in Colorado to market and sell fossil fuels.
    • The two companies jointly own the majority of Syncrude Canada Ltd., one of the largest developer of Canada’s tar sands.

    Together, Suncor and Exxon are responsible for billions of tons of CO2 emissions. Their future carbon footprint is likely to be enormous, as well: both companies plan to expand fossil fuel production through tar sands, fracking, and other means.

    For more than 50 years, these oil companies have known about the harm that their products would cause to communities, but have chosen to continue business as usual. These companies have long known about the risks of their own activities. In 1968, industry scientists warned them that “significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000” due to rising GHGs, and that “the potential damage to our environment could be severe.”

    By the 1970s, Suncor and Exxon knew with high certainty that their products were dangerous and that inaction would cause dramatic, even catastrophic, changes to the climate. Exxon even took measures to protect itself from climate change: for example, the company adapted its own facilities to protect from sea level rise.

    Consequently, Boulder County, San Miguel County, and the City of Boulder have partnered together to represent communities on the Front Range and the Western Slope and require these companies to help pay for the costs of climate change on local communities in Colorado. Because of the magnitude of the financial impacts, these communities feel like they have little choice but to bring this litigation on behalf of their residents.

    In addition to EarthRights International, the plaintiffs are represented by David Bookbinder, Chief Legal Counsel of the Niskanen Center, and Kevin Hannon of the Hannon Law Firm LLC.

    Contact:

    Barb Halpin, Public Information Officer, Boulder County, bhalpin@bouldercounty.org, 303-441-1622
    Ben Irwin, Deputy Director of Communication, City of Boulder, irwinb@bouldercounty.org, 303-441-3155
    Amy Markwell, Attorney, San Miguel County, amym@sanmiguelcountyco.gov, 970-728-3879
    Valentina Stackl, EarthRights International, valentina@earthrights.org, 202-466-5188 x100

    Categories: Food and Farming

    Tensions heighten over Shasta Dam

    Wed, 04/18/2018 - 10:28
    The Trump administration is “pretty clearly setting up an attempt to override state law to build this project,” said Doug Obegi, a water lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. “It hits the holy trinity of destroying Native American sacred sites, violating state law and harming fish and wildlife.” Acting under this new authority, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke put Shasta at the top of his list. McCarthy then inserted the $20 million that Zinke requested for Shasta in a catch-all spending bill that Congress passed last month. John Laird, California’s secretary of natural resources, asked that lawmakers not pursue the project, “which disregards California law, and instead work with the state” on other water measures the state views as more worthy. Tensions heighten over Shasta Dam White House, Congress side with California growers, but state opposes project intended to meet water needs By Carolyn Lochhead

    redf Huffamn

    WASHINGTON — Congress and the Trump administration are pushing ahead with a plan to raise a towering symbol of dam-building’s 20th century heyday to meet the water demands of 21st century California — a project backed by San Joaquin Valley growers but opposed by state officials, defenders of a protected river and an American Indian tribe whose sacred sites would be swamped.

    The fight is over Shasta Dam, at 602 feet the fourth-tallest dam in California and the cornerstone of the federal Central Valley Project, which provides water to cities and farms throughout the state. One of its biggest customers is the Westlands Water District in the arid western San Joaquin Valley, which distributes water to numerous large farms.

    With enthusiastic support from Westlands, the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress want to raise the dam 18½ feet to store more water and guard against losing farmland to future droughts. Some farmers in the valley received no water at all from the Central Valley Project for two straight years during the five-year drought that ended with the winter of 2016-17.

    Proponents also argue that raising Shasta would aid salmon runs decimated by its original construction in the 1940s, by storing more cold water to help the remaining downstream fish survive.

    Last month, Congress gave the $1.3 billion project a $20 million cash infusion for design and other preliminary work, and the Interior Department declared that construction would start next year.

    The project has been on the boards for years, but President Barack Obama’s administration shelved it because it would flood part of the McCloud River. California law protects the river as wild and scenic because it sustains “one of the finest wild trout fisheries in the state.” Congress would have to declare in separate legislation that federal interest in raising the dam supersedes the state’s authority.

    The Trump administration is “pretty clearly setting up an attempt to override state law to build this project,” said Doug Obegi, a water lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. “It hits the holy trinity of destroying Native American sacred sites, violating state law and harming fish and wildlife.”

    The resurrection of the Shasta project was made possible by a 2016 law sponsored by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. It instructed the interior secretary to take the lead on recommending water storage projects and moving ahead on dam building throughout the West.

    Feinstein and McCarthy’s bill was added as a rider to broad water legislation over the opposition of former Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who spent her last moments in office trying to block it.

    Acting under this new authority, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke put Shasta at the top of his list. McCarthy then inserted the $20 million that Zinke requested for Shasta in a catch-all spending bill that Congress passed last month. John Laird, California’s secretary of natural resources, asked that lawmakers not pursue the project, “which disregards California law, and instead work with the state” on other water measures the state views as more worthy.

    Dam proponents argue that the McCloud River would suffer no major harm. They say only two-thirds of a mile of the river would be inundated, and then only in wet years.

    The added storage would provide water not just to farms in the San Joaquin Valley, but also to Bay Area cities that rely on Shasta water, they argue.

    “Enlarging Shasta Dam will provide water supply, water quality and fishery benefits,” said Tom Birmingham, general manager of the Westlands Water District.

    Westlands supports raising the dam “for the simple reason that it is the most cost-effective surface water storage project currently being evaluated in the state,” Birmingham said.

    Raising Shasta Dam is indeed among the cheapest of the four big dam projects that the state and federal governments have examined for California. All are so expensive that officials think two at most could be built.

    The California Water Commission blocked Shasta from receiving any of the $2.7 billion in funding under Proposition 1, a ballot measure voters approved in 2014 to increase the state’s water storage. The commission is considering three other big dam projects among 11 water storage proposals. All would be in competition with Shasta for federal dollars.

    Shasta provides 40 percent of the Central Valley Project’s reservoir capacity. Raising it would enlarge its maximum level by 634,000 acre-feet, or about 13 percent.

    But that figure exaggerates how much water raising the dam would deliver. Reservoirs don’t always fill, and most of the available water is already captured by the existing dam. The federal Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the dam, estimates that raising Shasta Dam would increase water deliveries by 51,300 acre-feet a year on average, and less during droughts.

    “So it’s not a very good deal, which is why these projects have not gone anywhere,” said Ron Stork, senior policy advocate for the environmental group Friends of the River, which opposes the project.

    Raising the dam also would inundate most of what remains of the sacred sites of the Winnemem Wintu tribe, whose lands were flooded when the original dam was built, said tribal Chief Caleen Sisk. The tribe, which once numbered an estimated 14,000 people, is down to 126 members. Sisk said many of them live in Redding or Sacramento because their ancestral land was flooded and its fish runs blocked by the dam. The sacred sites include dance grounds, healing rocks and pools in the river. “These all have significant spiritual reverence to the Winnemem people,” Sisk said. Raising the dam “is going to flood out what we have left,” said Gary Mulcahey, a tribe member. “People are waiting with a finger on the trigger to file a lawsuit as soon as any decision is made.”

    California Democrats said the $20 million being spent on construction planing is a waste of taxpayer money because the project will never get state permits to begin pouring concrete. But Congress has the right to preempt state law, and ultimately it could be up to the courts to decide whose authority prevails on the Shasta project.

    “There are people who are opposed to any project that will help sustain irrigated agriculture, particularly on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley,” West-lands’ Birmingham said. “Environmental groups can and will file lawsuits for many often spurious reasons. Whether they win those is another question.”

    Westlands bought the 3,000-acre Bollibokka Fishing Club along the McCloud River in 2007 in anticipation of raising the dam, paying $35 million for the property. It contains many Winnemem Wintu sites and would be inundated by the dam raising.

    In a congressional hearing last month, Zinke assured Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, who opposes the project, that none of the $20 million Congress approved will be spent buying the property from Westlands.

    Westlands isn’t the only district that would welcome the Shasta expansion. The San Luis and Delta Mendota Water Authority, which supplies water to Santa Clara County, told federal officials that it wanted to share the cost of raising Shasta dam. Doing so would provide a critical state partner for the project.

    Seven environmental groups shot off a warning letter to the agency, saying water districts are agencies of the state and are banned from participating in a project that “violates California law.”

    “It would have been nicer to see a letter coming that’s more, ‘Let’s have a dialogue and sit down and figure out are there paths forward,’ instead of thinly veiled threats to sue people,” said Cannon Michael, chairman of the San Luis and Delta Mendota agency.

    Michael said the dam has to be raised not just to help farms, but also fish.

    Although dams are the chief culprit behind the calamitous decline of the state’s native fish species, three-quarters of which are threatened, the Bureau of Reclamation argues that dams can help fish by mimicking nature’s springtime influx of cold water into rivers and streams. Providing cold water to salmon has become one of Shasta reservoir’s key functions, and the bureau lists helping fish as one of the main benefits of raising the dam.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service disagreed, saying in documents obtained by environmental groups that the benefit to fish was “not substantial” and that further restricting the Sacramento, McCloud and Pitt rivers that flow into the reservoir would inflict more damage.

    Michael said climate change is making it harder for both fish and farms to survive, and that raising Shasta Dam would help both.

    “We know climate change is going to make it almost impossible for (freshwater) fish to survive in the Sacramento River as the temperatures continue to warm,” he said. Dam operators are “taking the lion’s share of Shasta for cold water, and it still doesn’t appear it’s going to be enough if we continue with climate change.”

    There is one dam-raising project that has drawn enthusiastic backing from environmental groups: expansion of the Los Vaqueros reservoir near Livermore. It promises to be a source of water for San Joaquin Valley wildlife refuges that often go dry in drought years.

    “The wildlife refuges in the San Joaquin Valley never receive all the water they need to support Pacific Flyway birds and other wetlands creatures,” said Rachel Zwillinger, water policy adviser for the environmental group Defenders of Wildlife.

    Opponents of raising Shasta Dam fear it will divert money from such projects.

    “This project was dead,” said Stork of Friends of the River. “Some people were thankful for that because their project then has a chance for more money.

    “Then the election happened.”

    Carolyn Lochhead is The San Francisco Chronicle’s Washington correspondent. Email: clochhead@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @carolynlochhead

     

    Categories: Food and Farming

    Environmentalists and Farmers Seek Court Decision Halting Use of Dow’s ‘Agent Orange’ Pesticide

    Wed, 04/18/2018 - 10:09
    More than half a million people submitted comments to EPA urging the agency to reject Dow’s plan to sell Enlist Duo. U.S. National Cancer Institute scientists highlighted 2,4-D specifically as associated with a two- to eight-fold increases in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization classified 2,4-D as a possible carcinogen to humans and glyphosate as a probable carcinogen to humans.

    “EPA’s decision to allow 2,4-D threaten farmers, farmworkers, rural communities and consumers. With this decision causing a predicted massive increase in use—as much as a seven-fold increase by 2020—the agency is violating any reasonable risk standard, given the productivity and profitability of sustainable organic practices,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides.”

    Late Wednesday, a coalition of environmental organizations and farmers represented by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Earthjustice filed new legal papers in federal court seeking the reversal of Scott Pruitt and the Trump Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of Dow Chemical’s toxic pesticide, Enlist Duo. The novel pesticide is a combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D, to be sprayed over the top of corn, cotton and soybeans that are genetically engineered by Dow with resistance to both pesticides.

    “Our filing reveals that EPA approved Enlist Duo despite its significant harms to health, environment, farms, water, and endangered species,” said Sylvia Wu, CFS attorney and counsel for the coalition. “EPA’s job is protecting the environment, human health, and farmers, not blindly do the bidding of pesticide companies. The court must stop its use.”

    In early 2017, EPA dramatically expanded approval of Enlist Duo use to 34 states and for use on cotton, only one year after a court sent back EPA’s previous approval. The two chemicals in Enlist Duo do more damage when used together than the net damage they do when used separately.

    “EPA has put human health, neighboring crops, and the survival and recovery of hundreds of endangered species at risk by recklessly putting a potent and toxic pesticide on the market without the data or expert review the law requires,” said Paul Achitoff, Earthjustice attorney and counsel for the coalition. “We, and the law, demand much more from the agency created to protect our health and environment than bowing to chemical industry pressure.”

    Dow markets Enlist Duo and its companion Enlist crops as a quick fix for the “superweeds” epidemic created by prior genetically engineered “Roundup Ready” crops, genetically engineered to withstand what would otherwise be a toxic dose of the herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup. Repeated use of Roundup on these crops has resulted in the proliferation of glyphosate-resistant superweeds which now infest over a hundred million acres of U.S. farmland. These superweeds now require an even more toxic combination of herbicides, like Enlist Duo, to take them out, driving a dangerous spiral of increasing weed resistance and pesticide use. The U.S. Department of Agriculture conservatively estimates that use of Enlist Duo on U.S. corn and soybean will increase the use of 2,4-D by 200 to 600 percent.

    Jim Goodman, an organic dairy and beef rancher from Wisconsin and board president of National Family Farm Coalition, one of the petitioners in the case, commented, “2,4-D is a possible carcinogen, an endocrine-disruptor and a herbicide that is very drift prone and persistent in the environment. The combination of 2,4-D and glyphosate in Enlist Duo is a recipe for disaster. It may control Roundup-resistant weeds, but only for a while, and at what cost to the health of farm workers, consumers and the environment?” Denise O’Brien, an Iowa farmer and board president of the Pesticide Action Network, emphasized EPA’s responsibility to protect rural communities. “By continuing to cave to the pesticide industry’s every wish, EPA is abandoning its duty to protect the health of our rural communities and our farmers’ livelihoods from these toxic, drift-prone chemicals.”

    More than half a million people submitted comments to EPA urging the agency to reject Dow’s plan to sell Enlist Duo. U.S. National Cancer Institute scientists highlighted 2,4-D specifically as associated with a two- to eight-fold increases in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization classified 2,4-D as a possible carcinogen to humans and glyphosate as a probable carcinogen to humans.

    “EPA’s decision to allow 2,4-D threaten farmers, farmworkers, rural communities and consumers. With this decision causing a predicted massive increase in use—as much as a seven-fold increase by 2020—the agency is violating any reasonable risk standard, given the productivity and profitability of sustainable organic practices,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides.

    Spraying Enlist Duo over millions of new acres will also contaminate waterways and important wildlife habitats. Monarch butterfly populations have declined due to the loss of their milkweed host plants, which glyphosate kills. The Endangered Species Act requires federal agencies to ensure its actions to not jeopardize the existence of any endangered species. EPA admitted its approval could harm hundreds of endangered species, including the whooping crane and Indiana bat, but still failed to comply with the ESA.

    “EPA’s hasty approval of this dangerous pesticide cocktail will cause severe harm to human health and the environment unless we are able to stop it with this lawsuit,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Its rush to do the bidding of pesticide companies shows that the EPA is prioritizing corporate profits over their duty protect us from harmful toxins.”

    The plaintiff coalition is Center for Food Safety, Center for Biological Diversity, Beyond Pesticides, Pesticide Action Network North America, National Family Farm Coalition, and Family Farm Defenders, jointly represented by legal counsel from Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice.

    Categories: Food and Farming

    YES on Measure D…helicopters in Napa for the rich?

    Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:50
    PROPERTY VALUES
    All known nuisances must be disclosed upon the sale of a home. The California Land Use Manual provides a disclosure form specifically for the proximity of an airport or heliport. According to a report by Randall Bell, MIA, Certified Instructor for the Real Estate Appraisal Institute, commissioned by the Supervisors of Orange County (CA), the average home value diminution in the proximity of an airport is 27.4%. For smaller airports and weighing loss of value according to decibel (db) levels, such diminution is between 16.4% and 29.0% for noise levels above 35db. Napa County deems 55db an acceptable threshold. Measure “D” will protect all property values”.

    NAPA VISION 2050 IS SPONSORING MEASURE “D” (HELIPORTS) IN THE JUNE 2018 ELECTION.

    WHAT MEASURE “D” DOES

    PRIVATE HELIPORTS
    Private use helicopter landings and take offs to and from residences will increasingly impact the Napa valley quality of life. Measure “D” will stop private heliports, noise pollution and accidents and helicopter taxi services as in other communities which failed to do so in time.

    While we value property rights we must respect those of our neighbors who are entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of their properties. Such relations are those we have come to treasure in the Napa valley. An environment free of neighborhood helicopter nuisance will continue to keep our county unique and protect our property values.

    Wealthy residents who can afford a helicopter may use our two airports in Napa and Angwin.

    HELICOPTER LANDINGS AT VINEYARDS
    Current County Code permits landings at vineyards “for direct agricultural production such as aerial spraying and frost protection”. This provision has been abused by transporting consultants, executives, investors and visitors.

    Measure “D” continues to allow landings at vineyards in support of aerial direct agricultural activities but only if they are unavoidable as in case of emergencies or for landing personnel which are essential to the conduct of such direct aerial agricultural activity. Equipment and supplies may be picked up at our two public airports before takeoff.

    CRASHES
    Per the 2015 1st International Helicopter Safety Symposium, helicopter crashes are more than 40 times those of fixed wing aircraft.

    In the U.S. alone, there were 18 civil helicopter crashes in 2017 with 31 fatalities and in the first 60 days of 2018 already, 6 crashes with 19 fatalities. Many more crashes occurred with no fatalities starting fires and causing collateral damage on property below.

    Per the FAA Analysis of Helicopter Mishaps at Heliports, 37% of all crashes occur within 1 mile. Spreading private heliports throughout the county increases risk and is bad policy.

    Measure “D” restricts takeoffs and landings to our two public use airports which are better equipped to handle crashes in their immediate vicinity where they most occur.

    PROPERTY VALUES
    All known nuisances must be disclosed upon the sale of a home. The California Land Use Manual provides a disclosure form specifically for the proximity of an airport or heliport. According to a report by Randall Bell, MIA, Certified Instructor for the Real Estate Appraisal Institute, commissioned by the Supervisors of Orange County (CA), the average home value diminution in the proximity of an airport is 27.4%. For smaller airports and weighing loss of value according to decibel (db) levels, such diminution is between 16.4% and 29.0% for noise levels above 35db. Napa County deems 55db an acceptable threshold. Measure “D” will protect all property values.

    ADMINISTRATIVE ECONOMY
    One single application for a private heliport at the Palmaz home at the end of Hagen Road has consumed 20% of the Planning Commission’s annual public hearings and over 1,100 hours of county staff. The entire neighborhood spent over 3,000 hours attending these hearings and thousands of dollars in reviewing and preparing documents in defense of their properties and their quality of life, all because a single person wishes to fly a helicopter for recreational purposes a mere 10 miles from the Napa airport.

    Measure “D” will allow the Planning Commission and staff to devote more time to more important issues for the health and welfare of the county’s residents.

    GRANDFATHERING
    Measure “D” will not take effect until after it is approved by the voters. All permitted, existing private airports and heliports are grandfathered.

    EMERGENCY HELICOPTER LANDINGS
    Emergency, fire and law enforcement helicopters may land anywhere, any time.

    INITIATIVE – TEXT to read heliport initiative.

    Categories: Food and Farming

    Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles

    Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:40
    Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles

    Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident. The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles.

    The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug.

    The international team then tweaked the enzyme to see how it had evolved, but tests showed they had inadvertently made the molecule even better at breaking down the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic used for soft drink bottles. “What actually turned out was we improved the enzyme, which was a bit of a shock,” said Prof John McGeehan, at the University of Portsmouth, UK, who led the research. “It’s great and a real finding.”

    The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans. But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process.

    “What we are hoping to do is use this enzyme to turn this plastic back into its original components, so we can literally recycle it back to plastic,” said McGeehan. “It means we won’t need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.”

    About 1m plastic bottles are sold each minute around the globe and, with just 14% recycled, many end up in the oceans where they have polluted even the remotest parts, harming marine life and potentially people who eat seafood. “It is incredibly resistant to degradation. Some of those images are horrific,” said McGeehan. “It is one of these wonder materials that has been made a little bit too well.”

    However, currently even those bottles that are recycled can only be turned into opaque fibres for clothing or carpets. The new enzyme indicates a way to recycle clear plastic bottles back into clear plastic bottles, which could slash the need to produce new plastic.

    “You are always up against the fact that oil is cheap, so virgin PET is cheap,” said McGeehan. “It is so easy for manufacturers to generate more of that stuff, rather than even try to recycle. But I believe there is a public driver here: perception is changing so much that companies are starting to look at how they can properly recycle these.”

    Quick guide What are PET plastics?

    PET – or polyethylene terephthalate – is the most common plastic used for soft drinks bottles. This is because it is lightweight, shatterproof, easy to mould and colour and cheap to produce. The key raw material is oil. PET in a different form is also used in clothing, where it is called polyester.

    The estimated recycling rates for PET bottles vary significantly around the world, from 31% in the US, to 48% in Europe, 72% in Japan and 90% in India, where rag pickers collect the bottles to sell to waste traders. Deposit return schemes are very successful in some countries. But, globally, many bottles end polluting the environment.

    PET bottles that are recycled have to be cleaned, sorted by colour, then shredded and dried to produce PET flakes. These can then be used to make new plastic but, due to impurities, it is not usually possible to make new, clear PET bottles. Instead, recycled bottles are mostly used to make polyester fibres.

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    The new research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, began by determining the precise structure of the enzyme produced by the Japanese bug. The team used the Diamond Light Source, near Oxford, UK, an intense beam of X-rays that is 10bn times brighter than the sun and can reveal individual atoms.

    The structure of the enzyme looked very similar to one evolved by many bacteria to break down cutin, a natural polymer used as a protective coating by plants. But when the team manipulated the enzyme to explore this connection, they accidentally improved its ability to eat PET.

    “It is a modest improvement – 20% better – but that is not the point,” said McGeehan. “It’s incredible because it tells us that the enzyme is not yet optimised. It gives us scope to use all the technology used in other enzyme development for years and years and make a super-fast enzyme.”

    Categories: Food and Farming

    Battle for Napa Valley’s future: Proposed curb on vineyards divides county

    Mon, 04/16/2018 - 14:37
    We support Napa Measure C. “Measure C, the Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative, on a mail-in ballot to be tallied June 5, seeks to curb further vineyard development to preserve the streams, oak trees and natural habitats on the Napa Valley hillsides.” Battle for Napa Valley’s future: Proposed curb on vineyards divides county

    April 8, 2018 Updated: April 16, 2018 12:11pm

    Fifty years ago Monday, Napa County passed an ordinance that has defined the course of its history and, one could argue, determined the history of California wine.

    The Napa Valley Agricultural Preserve, passed by the Board of Supervisors on April 9, 1968, resolved to protect the valley’s most precious resource: land.

    Here, land holds an extraordinary potential for producing fine wine grapes, and Napa residents wanted to protect it from strip malls and subdivisions. Agriculture, which in Napa means viticulture, was declared the “highest and best use” of this unique, unmatched slice of earth. 

     

    Now, a half century later, Napa has arrived at another turning point, this time with a June ballot initiative that could alter the course of its history again.

    Measure C, the Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative, on a mail-in ballot to be tallied June 5, seeks to curb further vineyard development to preserve the streams, oak trees and natural habitats on the Napa Valley hillsides. It’s a proposal that has bitterly divided the valley.

    Its supporters, led by local environmentalists Mike Hackett and Jim Wilson, believe that after 50 years of unbridled success, the profit-hungry wine industry has brutally exploited the landscape. In the name of growing grapes, too many trees have been cut down, too much water contaminated. Measure C would mandate that vineyards have larger setbacks from streams and would set a hard limit on further deforestation.

    The measure’s opponents, on the other hand, argue that it would undermine the one thing that has kept Napa Valley beautiful and made it prosperous: agriculture.

    The harsh tenor of the debate over Measure C, however, has made it clear that much more than trees and streams are at stake. At its core this battle is between dueling visions for what Napa Valley should be — visions of preservation versus development, of stasis versus growth.

    “This is the next step for the next 50 years,” Hackett says. “If the initiative doesn’t pass, we’re lost.”

    That assessment finds a strange echo in the words of a Measure C opponent, Dario Sattui, owner of V. Sattui and Castello di Amorosa wineries: “If this initiative passes, it will be the beginning of the demise of the wine industry in Napa County.”

    If the 1968 Ag Preserve’s objective was to protect Napa Valley for agriculture, the question, it seems now, is: Does Napa need protection from agriculture?

    *

    Randy Dunn embodies the case for Measure C and its environmentalist supporters. The winemaker and owner of Dunn Vineyards has lived on Howell Mountain, in the small Napa County town of Angwin, since 1978, making some of the region’s most distinctive and celebrated wines. In recent years, as Howell Mountain has become one of Napa’s most sought-after terroirs and more vineyards have been planted, Dunn has become the mountain’s self-appointed steward.

    “We’ve got too much vineyard development already,” says Dunn. “What happens to the fish in the streams when you’re sulfuring the vineyards? And the critters in the woods?” Chemicals used in farming, he points out, trickle into the Howell Mountain tributaries that feed Lake Hennessey, a major source of county drinking water.

    In February, Dunn was part of a group of high-profile vintners including Andy Beckstoffer, Robin Lail, Beth Novak Milliken and Warren Winiarski who publicly expressed their support for Measure C in a letter to the Napa Valley Register newspaper. “Enhancing oak woodland protections is not anti-agriculture,” they wrote. “Rather, it is pro-responsible and sustainable agriculture, pro-water security, pro-community, and pro-climate. Our county’s Agricultural Preserve depends on a healthy watershed.”

    To these vintners, Measure C’s provisions are modest: New vineyards must be kept at least 25 feet away from streams, and only 795 acres of oak trees in land zoned as agricultural watershed may be removed in order to plant vineyards. After the 795-acre limit is reached, permits will be required to cut down any more oaks.

    Hackett contends that 5,000 new acres of grapevines could be developed before the tree-cutting limit is reached, an amount the county Planning Commission estimates will take until 2030 to plant.

       

     

    Dunn is so passionate about the preservation of his hillside that in 2006, he donated $5 million and helped raise $20 million more to acquire Wildlake, a 3,000-acre property on Howell Mountain. The property was then donated to the Land Trust of Napa County, ensuring that it will never be developed. Wildlake remains pastoral and, Dunn emphasizes, helps protect Bell Canyon Creek, which provides drinking water to the city of St. Helena.

    It’s because of Dunn’s investment in Wildlake that one proposed vineyard development bothers him in particular. Adjacent to Wildlake is a 40-acre parcel purchased six years ago by Mike Davis, a former technology entrepreneur who owns Davis Estates, a winery in Calistoga. Davis wants to plant a vineyard there. He’s submitted a permit application to put in 10 acres of vines, which would require cutting down some oak trees.

    Photo: John Storey / Special To The Chronicle 

    Winemaker Randy Dunn, shown with his dog Dominga at the Wildlake Nature Preserve, has become the steward of Howell Mountain.

    After all that Dunn has done to keep Wildlake wild, the idea of any deforestation right next door is hard to swallow.

    “It’s a one-way street,” Dunn says — once open land has been developed, it can never be regained. “That’s why we can’t just sit back and do nothing. This is about setting an example for the rest of the world.”

    For Dunn and those in favor, Measure C is about fulfilling the legacy of the Ag Preserve: taking a stand to keep Napa bucolic. No one understands this better than Winiarski, the founder of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, who actively campaigned for the Ag Preserve in 1968 and is now campaigning for Measure C.

    “It was easier in 1968 to think about agriculture as a favorable alternative to housing development,” Winiarski says. “But agriculture at its current rate is unsustainable, because the resources of this valley are not endlessly exploitable.

    “Agriculture is the highest and best use,” he continues, “only if it’s qualified.”

    Many others in the wine industry oppose Measure C just as fervently.

    “I get upset knowing that we, as growers and vintners, are being cast as offenders,” says Chuck Wagner, owner of Caymus Vineyards. “We are the essence of why the valley is beautiful, and why it’s been kept and improved over the years.”

    All of the major trade organizations, including the county Farm Bureau and the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, are against Measure C, contending that it is “anti-ag.” And to be anti-ag, they say, is to be anti-Napa.

    “Already Napa County has some of the strictest environmental regulations in the country, if not the world,” says Farm Bureau policy director Ryan Klobas. The additional regulations proposed by Measure C are excessive, he says. “We’re concerned about the costs to small family farms.”

    The Napa Valley Vintners, the county’s winery association, worked with Hackett and Wilson last year to draft Measure C, and initially expressed support. But in January the association issued an official statement against it, explaining that “the majority of input the board received from NVV members conveyed opposition.”

    The plan could bring about too many unintended consequences, opponents argue. What about Measure C’s exception for cutting down trees near houses? Does that mean everyone will build mansions on the hillsides instead of vineyards? October’s wildfires, too, have factored heavily in the debate. Didn’t the vineyards serve as firebreaks much more effectively than trees?

    But the core argument in opposition to Measure C, like the argument in favor of it, harks back to the Ag Preserve. “We have two choices: either the way of sustainable agriculture or the way of development,” says Sattui. “Agriculture as defined by the Ag Preserve is the highest and best use of land in Napa County. We’re not going to go back to the way of wild animals.”

    Davis, the vintner who hopes to plant next to Wildlake, emphasizes that his land is zoned for agriculture, just like Dunn’s main property. He’s all for Dunn’s decision to put Wildlake into the Land Trust, but says, “At what point does their preserve stop, and agriculture take effect?

    “If the other vintners feel so strongly,” Davis continues, “then why don’t they take out their vineyards and plant trees instead?”

    So it goes in Napa Valley these days: “Vote No” and “Vote Yes” signs anchored to front lawns, debates at public forums, letters to the editor.

    But what if the fate of Napa Valley has already been sealed, and this ballot initiative has little power to change it?

    It might surprise the visitor who drives up the Silverado Trail and sees only an endless succession of grapevines, but vineyards make up just 45,000 acres, or about 9 percent, of Napa County’s total land. If the Planning Commission’s projection of 5,000 additional vineyard acres by 2030 proves correct, that would bring the percentage of vineyards to just 10 percent. Parks, open space, rural lands and grazing land make up about 80 percent of the county.

    So it’s not as if Napa is running out of land in a literal sense.

    And yet it’s nearly impossible to plant a new vineyard here today.

     

    Categories: Food and Farming

    AB 2545, another bad water bill that needs to be stopped

    Mon, 04/16/2018 - 14:21

    OPPOSE AB 2545           Department of Fish and Wildlife: lake or streambed alteration agreements: definitions.

    Would redefine “river” and “stream” to exclude smaller streams (ie Class III streams) from DFW jurisdiction for LSA review and permitting. A recipe for increased impacts in small headwaters streams.

    “River” and “stream” mean a body of water that flows at least periodically or intermittently through a bed or channel having banks and supports fish or other aquatic life. This includes watercourses having a surface or subsurface flow that supports or have supported riparian vegetation.

    This Bill removes California Department of Fish and Wildlife  authority  to protect aquatic resources in Class III streams (streams with a bed and bank – but are ephemeral)
    Thus, Ag operations could fill or dam these streams at will.

    This is exactly the same language in a bill that was killed last year – AB 947.

    The stream definition proposed by AB 2545 would limit CDFW’s protective oversight to only those streams that support aquatic life.  By redefining streams as only those waterbodies that support aquatic life, AB 2545 functionally eliminates protection of streams that lack fully aquatic life but that support semi-aquatic amphibians and reptiles, non-aquatic terrestrial species like birds or the desert tortoise, and many non-riparian native plant communities that depend on intermittent and ephemeral streams and stream processes for their habitat and continued survival. Ephemeral and intermittent streams – regardless of whether they support fully aquatic life – are critical parts of the stream network and contribute to the ecological health and sustainability of the entire watershed.  These streams are often source areas or major tributaries to perennial streams and contribute to the overall hydrological function and health of a watershed. They also provide a wide array of ecological functions including forage, cover, nesting, and movement corridors for terrestrial wildlife.

      By eliminating protections for streams lacking aquatic life but critical to the overall watershed function and water quality of the entire stream network, AB 2545 would functionally eliminate CDFW’s mandate to protect all streams and the fish and wildlife that depend on these ecosystems.  Please call or paste and MAIL THE SAMPLE LETTER BELOW: To: California State Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, (916) 319-2092. 1020 N Street, Room 164 Sacramento CA 95814  Subject:  Oppose AB 2545
 
  Dear Members of the State Assembly Committee on Natural Resources:  We urge you to oppose AB 2545 because this bill seeks to change California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) lake or streambed alteration (LSA) agreements by redefining the DFW permitting authority to exclude smaller Class III streams (ephemeral watercourses that do not support fully-aquatic organisms) from its jurisdiction for LSA review and permitting.  Class III watercourses comprise the greatest areal percentage of every watershed, and therefore the Class III streams’ chemical and biological interactions govern the functioning and health of its whole watershed. 
  We are especially concerned about preserving healthy ecosystems, and so supports watershed restoration and protection as part of the careful oversight of all public trust resources—especially small watercourses critical to maintaining streamflow, groundwater recharge, wetlands, and other sensitive ecosystems. We oppose AB 2545 because it seeks to remove DFW authority for protecting aquatic resources in Class III streams with a bed and bank, but which are ephemeral. The proposed AB 2545 stream definition would limit CDFW’s protective oversight to only those streams supporting “fully-aquatic” life—excluding streams that support semi-aquatic amphibians and reptiles, non-aquatic terrestrial species like birds, reptiles and amphibians, and many non-riparian native plant communities that depend on intermittent and ephemeral streams and stream processes for their habitat and continued survival. Whether or not Class III ephemeral and intermittent streams support fully-aquatic life, they are critical elements of every stream network and contribute to the ecological health and sustainability of the entire watershed. Class III streams are the source areas of, and tributaries to, perennial streams. They support the overall hydrological functions and health of a watershed, and provide a wide array of ecological functions, including forage, cover, nesting, and movement corridors for terrestrial wildlife, plus percolation zones for groundwater.  By eliminating protections for streams critical to the overall watershed function and water quality of the entire stream network, AB 2545 would actually would eliminate CDFW’s mandate to protect all streams and the fish and wildlife that depend on these ecosystems.  Please protect our watersheds by eliminating AB 2545.  
    Categories: Food and Farming

    OPPOSE AB 2889, action to save our forests from loggers.

    Mon, 04/16/2018 - 14:07

    “The Greatest Threat to Our Planet Is the Belief That Someone Else Will Save It”

    AB 2889 takes alot of transparency out of timber harvesting by throwing out CEQA review, takes public feedback away permanently, literally no oversight of timber harvesting plans and we, as environmentalists will never be able to stop or object to a timber harvest plan. THINK COASTAL LOGGING!!!! Please send or copy the letter below. Letters have to be addressed and are the best option. If you are wondering how to make an impact below is the order of preference for getting your letter recorded and read. Thanks to all who take action to save our forests, biodiversity and watersheds.   

    In general, the order of influence by members of the public is:
    – in person meetings, then direct phone calls
    – personal letters (not form letters)
    – emails (not form emails)
    – actual, live-signed petitions
    – form letters and emails
    – internet petitions and electronically generated form letters.

    “The Greatest Threat to Our Planet Is the Belief That Someone Else Will Save It”

    Subject:  Oppose AB 2889

    April 16, 2018

    Dear Representatives:

    California State Assembly Committee on Natural Resources 1020 N Street, Room 164 Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 319-2092.

    Assembly Member Jim Wood State Capitol P.O. Box 942849 Sacramento, CA 94249-0002 https://a02.asmdc.org/

    Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife Legislative Office Building 1020 N Street, Room 160, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 319-2096

    Senator Mike McGuire State Capitol 1303 10th Street, Room 5061 Sacramento, CA 95814   senator.mcguire@senate.ca.gov

    Dear Members of the State Assembly Committee on Natural Resources:

    We ask you to oppose AB 2889 for numerous reasons.

    The Timber Harvest Review process (a Certified Regulatory Program and mandated by the Forest Practice Act and Rules) is a tedious and complicated process.  CalFire makes every effort to comply with their responsibility under the Forest Practice Act and Forest Practice Rules to assure compliance with the Act and other State Code.  The requirements for filling a complete plan are well spelled out in the Act and the Rules.    Review of the Forest Practice Act and Forest Practice Rules would reveal the inappropriate intent of AB 2889.  Every section of AB 2889 is included in the Act and The Rules – except for Item No. (5).  Item No. (5) is inconsistent with the Act and the Rules and if approved would subvert the Act and The Rules where the Rules (and Certified Regulatory Program) require that the multi-agency Review Team (after acceptance for filing) complete a first stage paper review (First Review where questions and information is asked), an in- field review (Pre-harvest Inspection where in-field observations may lead to agency concerns in Reports to the File, questions and recommendations), and Second Review Meeting (where the issues are discussed and CalFire applies mitigations to the plan and if the plan is substantially changed  – the plan is re-circulated).

    This is all part of a mandated process (including late information which may be added to the plan file by federal responsible agencies). The language in section number (5) of AB 2889 subverts this process – which is mandated by the Act and the Rules and CEQA.

    Additionally, there are other activities, including inspections (for Water Code or Basin Plan compliance, of Fish and Game Code compliance, or ESA compliance, and/or project review for consistency with documents filed with CalFire.  These additional requirements may require the submission of additional information (which AB 2889 would interrupt).   AB 2889 (Timber Harvesters Bill of Rights) is not only unnecessary, it is a distraction and direct threat to the appropriate management and administration of the intent of the Forest Practice Act, Forest Practice Rules under CEQA, and the application of Cal Water Code, and California Fish and Game Code by CalFire and Review Team Agencies (CalFire, Regional and State Water Board, and Department of Fish and Wildlife).  Finally, the language of the AB2889 is not consistent with language in the Forest Practice Rules necessary to carry out the intent of the Act which includes recovery of timberland productivity, forest and water quality resources. Review of the Rule language indicates that the AB 2889 language that limits requests for additional information is in conflict with the Forest Practice Rules (and other California Code) where the rules recognize circumstances that require the need to review additional information to protect the resource and make determinations of compliance with California Code.

    We urge you to oppose AB 2889.

    Sincerely,

     

    Additional background information:

     

    SECTION 1.

      Section 4592.5 is added to the Public Resources Code, to read:

    4592.5.

     (a) This section shall be known as the Timber Harvester’s Bill of Rights.

    (b) The department shall implement a Timber Harvester’s Bill of Rights to ensure the uniform and efficient implementation of processes and procedures regulating the filing, review, approval, required modification, completion, and appeal of decisions relating to timber harvesting plans. The bill of rights shall comply with all of the following requirements:

    (1) A person submitting a timber harvesting plan to the department shall have the right to assistance provided by the department and the board regarding the regulatory and permitting requirements applicable to timber harvest plans. The board shall make an ombudsperson available to work with and assist persons intending to file a plan at each location where the department accepts those plans for filing, review, and approval.  Why do trained foresters need an ombudsperson to help them navigate what they should already know.  Cafire responds to RPFs who submit incomplete and inaccurate   plans with a list of what needs to be fixed.  They do not tell them how to fix it – as these are issues (subordinate to the Forest Practice Rules, Water Code, and Fish and Game Code) that the RPF must assess and address in the plan  (as per the requirements of the Forest Practice Rules.   It is not  Calfire’s job (or the State’s job) to write plans for an RPF or a landowner. Their certainly are budget impacts

    (2) A person submitting a timber harvesting plan shall have the right to access all clearly written guidance documents prepared by the department that explain the regulatory process. In this connection, the department shall publish a list of all information required in a plan, using the rules of the board and an explanation of the criteria used to determine whether the information contained in a plan is adequate.  This is currently in place.  All information required in a plan is so stated in the Forest Practice Rules – and – RPFs are supposed experts and knowing the rules. The State should not be writing plans for the RPF.

    (3) A person submitting a timber harvesting plan shall have the right to a timely determination under Section 4582.7 and any relevant administrative regulations. The department shall promptly notify a person submitting such a plan regarding whether it is accurate, complete, and in proper order.  This is in place – however negotiations and help for the RPF may take  some time to resolve   issues due to the nature of passing information back and forth  between agencies and allowing time for response.  Not allowing such time for communication and responses – puts more pressure on all parties and may force Calfire to reject incompetent plans outright.

    (4) The department shall provide information to explain the meaning of the terms “accurate,” “complete,” and “in proper order” when used in connection with any determination regarding the completeness or sufficiency of a timber harvesting plan.  Do those words not have accepted meanings.  Maybe the Board of Foresty should clarify definitions in the Forest Practice Rules.  However, the rules are clear on the need for completeness and accuracy of plan submission.  Calfire only returns, or holds up plans, for clarification of issues  of missing and inaccurate information

    (5) A person submitting a timber harvesting plan shall have the right to know the basis for any determination that a plan is deficient and to understand what further information is needed to make a plan complete. After a plan is accepted as complete, the department and any other public agency that participates in the review of a plan shall not request any new or additional information that was not specified prior to the filing of an accepted plan. Not allowing Review Team agencies is a huge problem and subverts the intent of the Forest Practice Act, Cal Water Code, and Cal Fish and Game Code  to address resource issues (forest productivity,  water quality, species protection, etc) w information is the basis of the ACT. Limiting this is contra to the intent of the FPA and managing the State’s Forests and Water Quality Values.Also – the Review Team may need new and or additional information in the performance of their responsibility or in compliance with other State Code

    (6) A person submitting a timber harvesting plan shall have the right to a timely decision on the approval of the plan, and the department shall comply with any time periods set forth for the review and approval of any plan as prescribed in statute or any relevant administrative regulations.  The department can just reject plans that are not in conformance. Is that what they want?

    (7) If a timber harvesting plan is returned to a person without a determination that it is accurate, complete, and in proper order, the director shall provide the ombudsperson and the person submitting the plan with information about what is needed to make the plan complete, and the ombudsperson shall assist the person in completing the plan.  Back to ombudsperson – RPFs are supposed to be trained in how to assess THP conformance to the rules.

    (8) The department shall provide a person submitting a timber harvesting plan with information on the designated lead agency that the person shall work with to comply with any plan requirements prescribed in this division or any relevant administrative regulations.  this is confusing as to the intent or to actual desired outcome. Calfire is the lead agency – then their is the Review Team which includes Calfire and participating agencies (RB, CDFW, Coastal Commission – if in The Coastal Zone, Geologic Survey).

    (9) A person submitting a timber harvesting plan shall have the right to know who will be reviewing the plan and to be provided with information on the estimated time for completion of the full plan review process.  Calfire provides this information – and it is noted on the PHI – all external agency/Review Team  participants – when an RPF calls or writes Calfire on issues – the responsible parties at Calfire are evident and noted.

    (c) For purposes of this section, “plan” or “timber harvesting plan” includes all forms or documents required to be submitted to the department for review, including, but not limited to, timber harvesting plan documents, modified timber harvesting plans, nonindustrial timber harvesting plans, timber harvesting plan exemptions for the harvesting or removal of Christmas trees, dead, dying, or diseased trees, fuelwood, or split products, fire hazard trees within 150 feet of a residence, or substantially damaged timberland, any public agency exemptions, private and public utility exemptions, timberland conversion permits, and notices of emergency timber operations.

    Categories: Food and Farming

    “Sustainable” Sonoma?

    Sat, 04/14/2018 - 11:36
    Who would you trust to tell the truth, an industry group that sets up their own “certifiers” from the industry they are supposed to be certifying or real third party certifiers that have been professionals for decades? The “Sustainable Sonoma” signs you see all over the county are anything but. ”  Some of the worse pesticides used and banned in other countries are being used in our vineyards. Some of the bad offenders have “Sustainable Sonoma” signs proudly displayed. California Sustainable Organic Biodynamic Pesticide restrictions Very limited Extensive Same as organic Enforcement Industry group National Organic Program (USDA) Demeter USA (nonprofit) Self assessment Yes No – inspected No – inspected Aspirational self assessment Yes No No Transparency Limited Yes – audit trail, audited by NOP annually Yes – audit trail; accountable to Demeter International (in 44 countries Political influence Yes Yes (animal welfare example) None
    Categories: Food and Farming

    Dynamic Trio, biodynamic wines

    Sat, 04/14/2018 - 11:15
    Pesticide Action Network (PAN) has documented that wine grapes use more chemicals than any other California crop (cdpr.ca.gov).  Sonoma County acreage of third party certified organic wines is 2.4%, Napa 9% and Mendocino 23%. Asthma, leukemia, cancer, autism on the rise due to chemical use, please support the wineries who are actually trying to protect their neighbors. 2015 Data from DPR

    Sonoma County/Wine Grapes Pounds Applications Acres Red Used on more than 10% of Sonoma vineyards Bird and Bee Toxins Boscalid 9,233 1,941 36,322 Chlorantraniloprole 107 70 1,252 Imidacloprid 2,641 416 8,251 Carcinogens (Possible + Probable) Buprofezin 734 48 1,312 Glyphosate 74,281 Oxyfluorfen 7,354 713 8,991 Pendimethalin 8,410 335 3,706 Neurotoxins Chlorpyrifos 797 7 819 Glufosinate-Ammonium 4,119 392 5,985 Reproductive and Developmental Toxins Mancozeb 2,816 156 1914 Dynamic Trio

    Bonterra’s biodynamic wine program adheres to a standard

    by

    April 10, 2018

    To your vocabulary of biodynamic wine— which may include such loosey-goosey phrases as “ultimate organic” and far-out sounding practices like applying “preparation 501” according to the “cosmic calendar”— add these two sexy terms: “compliance” and “auditing.”

    Whatever else one may say of biodynamic winemaking, its certified practitioners adhere to a standard you can depend on. “We’re audited every year,” says Bonterra director of organic and biodynamic winemaking Jeff Cichocki. “It’s a definable method of making wine.”

    Speaking on the phone in between trade calls in the New York City market, which is currently the hotbed of the natural wine movement, Cichocki contrasts the winery’s approach with the “natural” category: “It’s open to interpretation and opinion, and people’s definitions are all quite different.”

    Bonterra is a division of Hopland-based Fetzer Vineyards, which was purchased in 2011 by Chilean wine giant Concha y Toro, and has been a leader in organic grape growing for 30 years. Just 5 percent of the Bonterra program is also biodynamic, producing three vineyard-designated wines in tribute to the holistic farming practice’s goal of a closed-loop system.

    “And that’s a goal, it’s not an absolute,” says Cichocki. “We strive to get there—it’s challenging, as any farming can be.” In winter, for instance, Bonterra rotates up to 3,000 head of sheep through the vineyards to maintain weeds and grass while also depositing fertilizing manure, but harvesting doesn’t have to be jeopardized if strictly following to the cosmic calendar might do so. “You can use common sense and logic.”

    The Demeter Association, which certifies biodynamic farms and producers in the United States, is flexible, providing two standards for wines that bear their certification mark on the back label, one in combination with the words “biodynamic wine” on the front label, the other with the words “made with certified biodynamic grapes.” Bonterra chooses the latter, as it allows adjustments and additions for greater flexibility in winemaking. Both allow added sulfites, albeit at a lower maximum than conventionally produced wine.

    Only dusted with oak aroma, as if by a warm hint of springtime oak pollen, Bonterra’s 2015 Roost Blue Heron Vineyard Mendocino County Chardonnay ($40) is a dry, medium-bodied Chard with a lemon merengue tang that keeps richer, butterscotch flavors in check.

    Their 2013 McNab ($50) is a serious Cabernet-based blend to please any pencil-chewing claret lover, while the 2013 Butler Red Blend ($50) also suggests a big Cab—you might not guess this stygian purple, cassis-like wine is 80 percent Syrah. Revealing a blackberry pastille to pretty up its charred beef note on the second day open, this wine proves dynamic, yet solid.

    Categories: Food and Farming

    Two vampire dam projects could suck up all the water bond money you voted for during the drought

    Sat, 04/14/2018 - 10:55
    “To fit on the crowded river, the new reservoir would be squeezed so tightly between another reservoir downstream and a hydroelectric plant upstream that some of the hydroelectric powerhouses would be inundated⁠. The Temperance Flat design alludes to mitigating the loss, but the new configuration would still reduce the state’s hydroelectric capacity.

    Environmentalists and scientists contend that Temperance Flat would also obliterate habitat for native fish populations and hamper an ongoing project downstream to restore salmon. Local Indian tribes object to it because it would flood more than 150 Native American archaeological and historical sites. And it would destroy one of the last remaining free-flowing reaches of the river, where rafters and kayakers ride rapids.”

    Two vampire dam projects could suck up all the water bond money you voted on during the drought

    By Jacques Leslie

    Apr 12, 2018 | 4:00 AM

    Spurned dam projects are called vampires⁠ because they so often rise from the dead. The term perfectly fits two hoary, misguided proposals under consideration in California as a result of passage of Proposition 1, the 2014 bond measure that set aside $2.7 billion for new water storage.

    In May, the California Water Commission will begin to choose among 11 projects that have applied for the funding, including the undead dams.

    The biggest boondoggle before the commission is Temperance Flat, the latest iteration of a six-decade-old project that would add a 10th dam to the all-but-emptied San Joaquin River. The state Water Resources Control Board has already deemed the San Joaquin “fully appropriated,” which means that in most years all its water is allocated, chiefly to farmers. As a result, except in extremely wet years, Temperance Flat’s large reservoir would capture very little water.

    To fit on the crowded river, the new reservoir would be squeezed so tightly between another reservoir downstream and a hydroelectric plant upstream that some of the hydroelectric powerhouses would be inundated⁠. The Temperance Flat design alludes to mitigating the loss, but the new configuration would still reduce the state’s hydroelectric capacity.

    Environmentalists and scientists contend that Temperance Flat would also obliterate habitat for native fish populations and hamper an ongoing project downstream to restore salmon. Local Indian tribes object to it because it would flood more than 150 Native American archaeological and historical sites. And it would destroy one of the last remaining free-flowing reaches of the river, where rafters and kayakers ride rapids.

    The fish, cultural artifacts and recreational opportunities all have significant worth, but the project’s benefit-cost analysis shamelessly assigns them no value in order to arrive at the conclusion that the dam would provide net environmental and recreational benefits — and even then the ratio is nearly a wash. Take the lost fish, artifacts and recreation into account, and the project doesn’t come close to penciling out.

    The second vampire project, the Sites Reservoir in the Sacramento Valley, was first proposed more than half a century ago. It at least would have the advantage of being an offstream reservoir — two large dams and up to nine small ones would be built to hold diverted Sacramento River water within what is now a large, shallow valley. Because the reservoir isn’t on the river itself, where it could block fish and sediment migration, the project wouldn’t be as environmentally destructive as Temperance Flat, but it would further deplete the Sacramento, jeopardizing already critically endangered salmon.

    The California Department of Fish and Wildlife recommended two years ago that Sites backers should agree to fill the reservoir only in very wet periods, when river flows surpass minimums set aside to protect salmon. But the proponents, about 30 regional and local water agencies, ignored the recommendation. In January, Fish and Wildlife concluded the project would reduce survival of salmon and other native fish.

     

    That’s a crucial finding, because Proposition 1 requires that projects must show net environmental benefits (among other public goods) to be eligible for funding. Doug Obegi, a senior water attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, told me a smaller reservoir that would divert less water might meet that requirement, but what has been proposed instead “would be devastating for the state salmon fishery and the environment.”

    It’s no coincidence that Temperance Flat and Sites are the two most expensive storage projects under consideration. Large dams come with steep price tags — so high, in fact, according to a 2014 Oxford University study of 245 dam projects, that even without considering dams’ usually extensive environmental and social damage, “the “construction costs of large dams are too high to yield a positive return.”

    Nevertheless, California dam proponents want state taxpayers to pay about half of Temperance Flat’s projected $2.7-billion cost and a third of Sites’ whopping $5.2-billion outlay — each project would use up at least half of all the funds voters set aside for water storage in Proposition 1.

    Contrast those numbers with the cost of San Diego’s proposal before the Water Commission, a $1.2-billion recycling project to clean, store in an offstream reservoir and eventually reuse wastewater now being dumped into the ocean. According to the city, its Pure Water program, which is already under way, will create a double benefit — reducing ocean pollution while increasing water supply. And taxpayers are being asked to foot just $219 million of the cost.

    Big dam proponents, including many Central Valley farmers, often complain that California hasn’t enlarged its water storage capacity since 1978⁠, when the New Melones Dam on the Stanislaus River was completed, but that’s a myth. A peer-reviewed study in a journal devoted to Sacramento-San Joaquin River scholarship found that storage capacity has increased more than 4.6 million acre feet⁠, since 1980, surpassing the capacity of Lake Shasta, the state’s largest reservoir. The increase, however, has been achieved without building new dams. Instead, it has come about with smart projects like San Diego’s that are smaller, cheaper, decentralized, close to end-users, and environmentally beneficial.

    Dams are an old-fashioned brute-force solution to problems that can be addressed now with far less expense and environmental disruption. The Water Commission ought to acknowledge that reality by putting a stake through the Temperance Flat Dam and Sites Reservoir.

    Jacques Leslie is a contributing writer to Opinion.

    Categories: Food and Farming

    Is Your Produce Sprayed With This Toxic Pesticide?

    Fri, 04/13/2018 - 08:36
    Mother Jones reports: Is Your Produce Sprayed With This Toxic Pesticide? How about your wine? Gallo sprayed large amounts of chlorpyrifos around Two Rock, Sonoma County, five Sonoma management companies are among the few remaining users in the state to use highly toxic fungicide Manzcozeb. That “certified sustainable” wineries have not stopped using the worst chemicals since there are no restrictions in Sonoma’s “sustainable” standards. UPDATED: Trump’s EPA Just Greenlighted a Pesticide Known to Damage Kids’ Brains EPA chief Scott Pruitt hails the move as a return to “using sound science in decision-making.”

    EPA director Scott Pruitt signed an order denying the agency’s own proposal to ban chlorpyrifos, according to a Wednesday afternoon press release. “We need to provide regulatory certainty to the thousands of American farms that rely on chlorpyrifos, while still protecting human health and the environment,” Pruitt said in a written statement. “By reversing the previous Administration’s steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making – rather than predetermined results.”

    By Friday, President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency will have to make a momentous decision: whether to protect kids from a widely used pesticide that’s known to harm their brains—or protect the interests of the chemical’s maker, Dow AgroSciences.

    The pesticide in question, chlorpyrifos, is a nasty piece of work. It’s an organophosphate, a class of bug killers that work by “interrupting the electrochemical processes that nerves use to communicate with muscles and other nerves,” as the Pesticide Encyclopedia puts it. Chlorpyrifos is also an endocrine disrupter, meaning it can cause “adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects,” according to the National Institutes of Health.

    Major studies have found strong evidence that low doses of chlorpyrifos inhibits kids’ brain development, with effects ranging from lower IQ to higher rates of autism.

    Major studies from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the University of California-Davis, and Columbia University have found strong evidence that low doses of chlorpyrifos inhibits kids’ brain development, including when exposure occurs in the womb, with effects ranging from lower IQ to higher rates of autism. Several studies—examples here, here, and here—have found it in the urine of kids who live near treated fields. In 2000, the EPA banned most home uses of the chemical, citing risks to children.

    Stephanie Engel, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina and a co-author of the Mount Sinai paper, says the evidence that chlorpyrifos exposure causes harm is “compelling”—and is “much stronger” even than the case against BPA (bisphenol A), the controversial plastic additive. She says babies and fetuses are particularly susceptible to damage from chlorpyrifos because they metabolize toxic chemicals more slowly than adults do. And “many adults” are susceptible, too, because they lack a gene that allows for metabolizing the chemical efficiently, Engel adds.

    But even after banning chlorpyrifos from the home, the EPA allowed farms to continue spraying it. While US farmers eased up on it in recent years, they’re still using quite a bit, mainly on corn and soybeans in the Midwest and on fruit, vegetable, and orchard crops in Washington, California, and the Southeast. About a fifth of all the chlorpyrifos applied on US farms happens in California. There, the main target crops are alfalfa, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, tomatoes, and strawberries.

    In October 2015, after a review spanning more than a decade, the EPA concluded that exposure to chlorpyrifos posed an unacceptable risk to human health, both from residues on food and in drinking water, and proposed a new rule that would effectively ban farm use of it. The agency also expressed concern about “workers who mix, load and apply chlorpyrifos to agricultural and other non-residential sites and workers re-entering treated areas after application.”

    The EPA then dragged its feet on finalizing the rule; but in August 2016, a US Federal Appeals court demanded that a decision be made by March 31, 2017, chastising the agency for its “continued failure to respond to the pressing health concerns presented by chlorpyrifos.”

    A few months after that order, of course, Trump won the presidency, and so his EPA team will make the final decision on chlorpyrifos. Uh-oh. Trump often trumpets his own hostility to regulation and has backed it up by proposing a 31 percent cut in the EPA’s budget. Before taking office, Trump looked to Myron Ebell of the hyper-libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute to lead the EPA’s transition. Ebell focuses mainly on denying climate change and promoting fossil fuels, but as I noted in November, CEI runs a website, SafeChemicalPolicy.org, that exists to downplay the health and ecological impacts of pesticides.

    Trump’s pick to lead the EPA, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, is a non-scientist with little track record in assessing the health risks posed by chemicals. But he does hew to Trump’s general hostility to regulation. At his confirmation hearings, Pruitt couldn’t name a single EPA regulation he supports, and he even declined to say whether he’d finalize the EPA’s proposed ban on asbestos.

    It would be highly unusual for the EPA to backtrack on a decision to ban a chemical after so strongly signaling that it would—but “all bets are off with this administration,” said one pesticide policy expert.

    Meanwhile, Dow and the pesticide industry trade group CropLife America are pushing the EPA to backtrack on the chlorpyrifos ban. “The court ordered EPA to make a final decision on the petition by March 31, 2017, but did not specify what that decision should be,” Dow noted in a November 10 press release urging the agency to maintain the status quo.

    Dow AgroSciences’ parent company, Dow Chemical, has also been buttering up Trump. The company contributed $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee, the Center for Public Integrity notes. In December, Dow Chemical Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris attended a post-election Trump rally in the company’s home state of Michigan, and used the occasion to announce plans to create 100 new jobs and bring back another 100 more from foreign subsidiaries. Around the same time, Trump named Liveris chair of the American Manufacturing Council, declaring the chemical exec would “find ways to bring industry back to America.” (Dow has another reason beside chlorpyrifos’ fate to get chummy with Trump: its pending mega-merger with erstwhile rival DuPont, which still has to clear Trump’s Department of Justice.)

    Kristin Schafer, policy director for the Pesticide Action Network, says it would be highly unusual for the EPA to backtrack on a decision to ban a chemical after so strongly signaling that it would. (PAN is one of the advocacy groups that sued the EPA way back in 2007 over its previous lack of action on chlorpyrifos.) But she added that “all bets are off with this administration.”

    She pointed out that the EPA and Dow have been battling over the chemical since the Clinton administration. Back in 1995, the agency fined the company $732,000 for failing to disclose more than 100 reports of chlorpyrifos poisoning. “These reports are particularly important,” the agency complained, because chemicals enter the marketplace without any human testing, and poisoning notices “may document effects not seen in animal studies, or indicate areas which warrant further research.” Most of those alleged poisoning incidences involved exposure in the home—chlorpyrifos was then the most-used household and yard insect-killer. By 2000, as noted above, the EPA had seen fit to ban most home uses of the insect killer.

    In an analysis of the risks posed by chlorpyrifos released in November 2016, the EPA crunched data on residues found in food and compared them to the levels at which the chemical can harm the most vulnerable populations: kids and women of child-bearing age. The results (found on page 23 of the EPA doc) are startling. Natural Resources Defense Council researchers turned them into this handy graphic:

    NRDC

     

    It would be quite something for the Trump administration to dismiss such overwhelming evidence from EPA scientists and continue allowing chlorpyrifos to be sprayed on crops with few restrictions. But he has already displayed a willingness to trash the agency’s rule-making process to placate his Big Ag supporters.

    Categories: Food and Farming

    Booze industry on steriods

    Thu, 04/12/2018 - 15:11
    You think traffic is already gridlocked in this area? You haven’t seen anything yet! With Tennis Wick (Sonoma county head Permit Sonoma) already admitting the county is letting the wineries write their own event/tasting room ordinance (Northbay Biz Journal), neighborhoods are just collateral damage to our supervisors. Hey supervisors have you ever tried to get through Hwy 116 and Occidental Road? It’s normal to have 30 or more cars stacked up at the light. Why were current traffic studies (10 years old) not done? Parking in Graton? Cows in Berkeley? On Tap: A brewery in Graton and a winery near Sebastopol

    A resurrected Sebastopol winery and tasting room and a new Graton brewery and beer garden are among applications now on the drawing boards at the Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department.

    The former Best Family Winery project, a controversial idea approved several years ago near the corner of Occidental Road and Highway 116, has been taken over by Walt Wines, the renowned pinot noir and chardonnay producer based in Sonoma.

    Walt is in the process of getting final redesign review for the previously approved 30,000 square-foot winery and tasting room building on 7.6 acres where the Best Family project was first proposed 10 years ago. The project still comprises a winery with a maximum annual production of 26,500 cases and a public tasting room open seven days a week for retail sales and tours.

    The vested permit allows a dozen annual marketing dinners or lunches with a maximum of 40 guests per event plus participation in four industry-wide promotional events with up to 150 guests, according to the Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department (now called Permit Sonoma).

    The Walt redesign “maintains the butterfly garden, roof mounted solar panels, water conservation measures and oak trees,” said the project proposal reviewed last month at PRMD. The redesign still needs a final county design review approval, said Permit Sonoma spokeswoman Chelsea Holup.

    Since taking over the project, Walt Wines representatives have met with neighbors including the Concerned Citizens for Responsible Land Use who filed a lawsuit eight years ago over the environmental impacts of the former Best Family Winery project. The suit was settled with an agreement that limits total annual wine production, lowers building heights and increases the number of new trees to be planted to screen the site from neighbors and the traveling public on Highway 116, a designated scenic highway.

    The Walt project goes beyond those agreements in mitigating environmental impacts, said Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins’s District Director Susan Upchurch. The new project is expected to break ground this summer, said Upchurch.

    “It’s very beautiful,” said Upchurch.

    Meanwhile, down the road in Graton, a proposed expansion by Purple Wine + Spirits at the corner of Graton Road and Bowen Avenue would add a taproom and beer garden that would convert approximately 7,000 square feet of Purple Wine’s existing office space into a brewery and beer garden open to the public, directly across the street from an entrance to the West County Trail.

    Graton neighbors are expected to raise environmental issues regarding increased traffic and noise along Bowen Avenue as well as potential environmental impacts to Atascadero Creek wetlands that runs along the west side of the property.

    The project is now in “the very early stages” of applying for a use permit and no public hearing is yet scheduled before county Planning Commissioners, said Upchurch.

    Purple Wine’s proposed taproom and beer garden, called “Knuckle Junction,” would relocate 47 administrative employees to Santa Rosa, reducing the total number of employees on the Graton site to 74 full-time workers, according to the Purple’s application to PRMD. The taproom and beer garden are expected to serve an average of 50 to 60 customers at a time during peak hours, according to the Purple Wine application. Special events with live music and amplified sound are also part of the proposal.

    Founded by Derek Benham in 2001, Purple Wine + Spirits produces branded wines “as well as custom and private label wines for major U.S. and International retailers and restaurateurs,” says the company’s website.

    According to the website, the Graton-based enterprise has satellite wineries in American Canyon and the Russian River Valley, with sustainability, water and energy conservation key principles guiding product development.

    In 2014, Benham broke ground on a new distillery in Graton called Graton Distilling Company that produces small lot, artisanal spirits. The company portfolio includes brands such as Avalon, Raeburn, Four Vines, Lucky Star, Cryptic, Flint & Steel and Calista.

     

    Categories: Food and Farming

    Sonoma County Supervisors: Times up to fulfill your promise on Winery Event Ordinance

    Thu, 04/12/2018 - 11:08
    Letting the wine industry write their own ordinances? “In the March feature article in the North Bay Biz), Director Tennis Wick is candid about the County delaying the Winery Event Ordinance — requiring that the three over-concentrated areas set up committees, heavily weighted to wine industry representation, to write their own regulations!”

    From our friends at Preserve Rural Sonoma County

    We are asking you to join us for an urgent and coordinated lobbying effort. It’s time for the Board of Supervisors to fulfill their promise to develop a Winery Event Ordinance. County staff completed significant work in 2015 and 2016, including Supervisor briefings, but in 2017 our professional planners’ work was stopped. Meanwhile, the County continues to permit more event centers and facilities, while dragging their feet on addressing issues and impacts through an Ordinance.

    This Ordinance is important for all neighborhoods – countywide.  For those of us facing expansion of highly commercial hospitality and entertainment uses into rural areas, continuing to wait for definitions and standards that prevent additional areas from enduring cumulative impacts is not acceptable.

    Time is of the essence – please send your letters within the next few weeks if possible, on your organization letterhead, in an email to the Board of Supervisors  The County is approving some of the most impactful projects in the areas of concentration prior to the development of the Ordinance, setting precedents that increase the impacts from hospitality uses, with no cumulative impact analysis.    

    For example, in March, the Supervisors approved modifications to a hotel/resort use permit in Sonoma Valley, and on April 24th Supervisors will review an Application on a sub-standard section of West Dry Creek Road requesting 40 event days and twice daily food pairing – generating approximately 10,000 vehicle trips annually, in addition to baseline winery and tasting room traffic.

    If high levels of visitation are considered “protective measures in areas of concentration,” think what levels will be proposed in other rural areas!

    In the March feature article in the North Bay Biz (attached), Director Tennis Wick is candid about the County delaying the Winery Event Ordinance — requiring that the three over-concentrated areas set up committees, heavily weighted to wine industry representation, to write their own regulations!

    We are doubly concerned about the integrity of the public process – it appears that the staff work and community input to the 2015-2016 County’s required process for Ordinance development have been removed from their website and public hearings are no longer scheduled.

    The County is responsible to the entire community when it comes to public safety, environmental protection and quality of life concerns. Blatantly ignoring public input and due process by turning the responsibility to write standards and criteria over to industry-dominated committees is not acceptable and does not fulfill their governmental function.  

    Please join us in implementing the following plan:

    1.    As a concerned environmental or community group, please review the attached sample letters, and determine the talking points that are important to you.  Then, write a letter from your organization’s perspective or as an individual to all our Supervisors. It’s time to demand they stop putting wine industry profits ahead of their responsibilities to the public.  

    2.    To gain the maximum impact, please schedule your email letter to land in the Supervisors’ inbox by the week of April 23rd. Please bcc PRSC when you send your email. 

    preserveruralsonomacounty@gmail.com

    SAMPLE LETTERS TO CUT AND PASTE:

    Thank you for your help and support!
    Below are four sample letters to choose from to send to the Board; you can edit, adapt or send as is to the Board of Supervisors and cc: Tennis Wick at Permit Sonoma,  please bcc: preserveruralsonomacounty@gmail.org! (Please send as a pdf on your letterhead, or use your logo in the email if possible!)
    BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
    Shirlee.Zane@sonoma-county.org
    David.Rabbitt@sonoma-county.org
    Lynda.HopkinsA@sonoma-county.org
    Susan.Gorin@sonoma-county.org
    James.Gore@sonoma-county.org
    cc: Tennis.Wick@sonoma-county.org
    bcc: preserveruralsonomacounty@gmail.com

    SAMPLE LETTER 1
    To the Board of Supervisors: (list of emails here)
    RE: Winery Event Ordinance is a Priority
    We are writing to request that you set a priority for the Permit Department to complete work on the Winery Event Ordinance that was approved in October 2016, and slated for adoption 6 months later.  The integrity of the public process must be restored.  The Permit Department staff and Planning Commission have primary responsibility for writing clear definitions and land use standards that meet the County’s obligation to protect the peace, safety and well being of residents.
    For example, the shift to industry ‘self-regulation’ through the citizen advisory committee structure in Dry Creek Valley has resulted in guideline recommendations based on Vintner Organization definitions that actually increase food service and levels of daily visitation over current levels, with no analysis of the negative impacts.
    Land use conflicts must be resolved by County officials; the responsibility should not be handed to the industry to write their own definitions and guidelines. The Board of Supervisors were elected to represent and protect all residents of Sonoma County, not just the special interests of the wine industry.
    Respectfully yours,
    __________Name and name of group

    SAMPLE LETTER 2
    RE: Blatant Disregard for 2015-2016 Public Processes
    Our organization, _____________, is writing to remind the Board of Supervisors that conflicts between developers and local communities often are due to the lack of clear standards and guidelines that balance development needs with protection of the rights of all land owners.
    The General Plan directs the County to solve the underlying problems of tasting room and event over concentration, cumulative impact and loss of rural character.  Significant citizen input was provided through the Winery Working Group process, public hearings and Staff Briefings for Planning Commissioners and Supervisors.  Yet, the Ordinance develop process seems to be going nowhere while the County continues to approve projects.
    The County has approved nearly 500 wineries, more and more being approved in rural neighborhoods — impacting traffic, road safety, noise and water supply while intensifying the strain on County Sherriff’s office and CHP services.
    We are concerned that the Board has taken the responsibility to develop a balanced Winery Event Ordinance away from County Staff, disregarding the staff work and public process completed to date. Now, the County is requiring local committees to develop their own standards; putting important technical land use work in the hands of inexperienced people and committee members from the wine industry with inherent conflicts of interest.
    It’s time for the County staff to write standards, criteria, and definitions with observable criteria for meaningful enforcement in a form that complies with State law and well-established practices for Ordinance development.
    Respectfully yours,   __________Name and name of group
    SAMPLE LETTER 3
    RE: County Approvals Create More Cumulative Impacts
    We understand that Staff is focused on processing permits in areas devastated by October’s fires. Yet, we don’t understand why the County staff has time to continue processing discretionary Use Permit Applications, while simultaneously claiming lack of resources to develop standards for new and modified winery and tasting room use permits.
    Instead of resolving the problems associated with cumulative impacts through an Ordinance, approval of new projects, absent meaningful definitions and standards to address impacts, is spreading road safety impacts and creating new “areas of potential concentration” in other rural communities.
    Impacts are compounded by a lack of monitoring or enforcement of event center uses and visitation levels. Let’s follow the Napa model that requires limits and annual reports on levels of visitation, with periodic audits for compliance. Permit Sonoma recently hired more enforcement officers – let’s put them to work to ensure all uses, activities and events at winery facilities have been specified in their Use Permit and assessed as to impacts.
    Decisions on discretionary Use Permit applications must be placed on hold until the County completes the Winery Event Ordinance. It’s time to get the countywide Ordinance development process back on track.  We need definitions, with observable criteria for monitoring and enforcement, as well as standards to prevent new areas of concentration.
    Respectfully Submitted,
    Your name and name of group
    SAMPLE LETTER 4
    RE: Where is the Staff work tasked and budgeted by the Supervisors?
    It has come to our attention that Permit Sonoma removed documents related to the Winery Working Group and the Supervisor actions relating to the Winery Event Ordinance, and its underlying regulations from its website. This material and the databases related to County winery approvals should be reposted.
    In October 2016, the Supervisors tasked Permit Sonoma as follows:
    “The Board of Supervisors hereby directs staff to prepare a draft ordinance … to clarify the definition of events and food service and to require cultural event permits for industry-wide events ….  The Board of Supervisors further directs staff to develop standards and siting criteria for events in areas of local concentration, for adoption either as part of the Zoning Code or as a separate guidelines.”
    Now, Permit Sonoma staff has communicated (Wick, March North Bay Biz article) that community groups must develop their own standards. It is an outrage that the task for developing county regulations is handed over to groups where the wine and real estate industries have a veto over any meaningful regulations.
    The Permit Sonoma staff should immediately reassert is jurisdiction and responsibility for developing standards, criteria guidelines and enforceable definitions in an Ordinance, with zoning code proposals for public review.
    The County cannot delegate its statutory obligation for creating an Ordinance, with meaningful planning guidelines to non-professional committees. The government has a responsibility to regulate – no industry will elect to regulate itself.
    Enough!
    Respectfully yours,
    __________Name and name of group

    Categories: Food and Farming

    Press Release: Colombia Supreme Court Rules that Amazon Region is “Subject of Rights”

    Thu, 04/12/2018 - 10:50

    Press Release: Colombia Supreme Court Rules that Amazon Region is “Subject of Rights”

    The Rights of Nature Movement Continues to Advance through Lawmaking and Court Decisions

    Updated April 6, 2018

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Mari Margil
    mmargil@celdf.org
    www.celdf.org

    MERCERSBURG, PA, USA:  Today, the Colombia Supreme Court of Justice issued a decision declaring that the Amazon region in Colombia possesses legal rights. The case was filed on behalf of twenty-five Colombian youth, accompanied by the organization Dejusticia, who sued for their environmental rights against the Colombian government.

    The Court declared that the “Colombian Amazon is recognized as an entity, a subject of rights” which include the right to “legal protection, preservation, maintenance and restoration.” The Supreme Court’s decision builds on the precedent set in November 2016, when Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled that the Atrato River possessed legal rights to “protection, conservation, maintenance, and restoration.”  The Supreme Court refers to the 2016 decision in its ruling. The Colombia Supreme Court ruling focused on the devastating impacts of deforestation and climate change on the Amazon, and the need to make significant change in how the region is protected.

    In making its finding that the Amazon has rights, the Court cited the Constitutional Court’s 2016 opinion, in which that court wrote that it was “necessary to take a step forward in jurisprudence” to change the relationship of humankind with nature before “before it is too late or the damage is irreversible.”

    The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) – with its International Center for the Rights of Nature – has been at the forefront of the movement to secure legal rights of nature, partnering with communities, indigenous peoples, and governments in developing the world’s first Rights of Nature laws.

    Transforming nature from being treated as property under the law, to be considered as rights-bearing – and thus in possession of legally enforceable rights – is the focus of the growing Rights of Nature movement.

    Throughout history, women, indigenous peoples, and slaves have been treated as property under the law, without legal rights.  Legal systems around the world today treat nature as property, and thus right-less.  Under these systems, environmental laws regulate human use of nature, resulting in the decline of species and ecosystems worldwide, and the acceleration of climate change.

    The first law was passed in Tamaqua Borough, Pennsylvania, in the United States, in 2006.  Today, dozens of communities in more than 10 states in the U.S. have enacted Rights of Nature laws.  CELDF assisted in drafting the first Rights of Nature constitutional provisions, which are part of the Ecuador Constitution of 2008.

    Mari Margil, CELDF’s Associate Director who heads the organization’s International Center for the Rights of Nature explained, “The Court’s decision is an important step forward in moving to legal systems which protect the rights of nature.”

    She added, “The collapse of ecosystems and species, as well as the acceleration of climate change, are clear indications that a fundamental change in the relationship between humankind and the natural world is necessary.  We must secure the highest legal protections for nature through the recognition of rights.”

    About the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) & the International Center for the Rights of Nature

    The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund’s mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature.  CELDF’s International Center for the Rights of Nature is partnering with communities and organizations in countries around the world to advance the rights of nature.

    Today, CELDF is partnering with communities, indigenous peoples, and organizations across the United States, as well as in Nepal, India, Australia, and other countries to advance rights of nature legal frameworks.

    Categories: Food and Farming

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