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Protecting our Environmental Resources
Updated: 16 hours 37 min ago

Trump’s Attack on the Clean Water Act Will Fuel Destructive Pipeline Boom

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 10:17
SWAMP WATCH Trump’s Attack on the Clean Water Act Will Fuel Destructive Pipeline Boom


December 9 2018, 6:00 a.m.

A new water rule that will strip federal protections from an estimated 60-90 percent of U.S. waterways will dramatically ease restrictions on how polluting industries do business.

According to the rule, which is due out next week, streams that don’t run year-round and many wetlands will no longer be subject to the Clean Water Act. As a result, a wide range of industries — including agriculture, mining, waste management, chemical companies, real estate development, and road construction — will be free to pollute, reroute, and pave over these waterways as they see fit. But oil and gas transport companies may benefit most from the imminent shift.

When the rule takes effect, pipeline construction projects that are currently required to undergo months, or even years, of scrutiny from water experts in order to minimize their environmental impact will be allowed to speed forward. For energy companies that have been pushing for exactly these changes for years, the new rule may be well worth the wait.

ONEOK headquarters in Tulsa, Okla.

Image: Google Maps; Screenshot: The Intercept

A Pipeline Bonanza

The energy company ONEOK should have applied for permits to work on its Arbuckle II pipeline by now. The $1.3 billion project, which will transport natural gas liquids 530 miles from the company’s supply basins in Velma, Oklahoma, to its storage facilities on the Gulf Coast of Texas, will cross dozens of waterways in both states. According to factsheets on its website, ONEOK was supposed to have begun construction in both Texas and Oklahoma and has submitted applications for water permits required for this work during 2018.

As of Friday, however, the company hadn’t submitted any applications for the permits required to build its pipeline across waterways, according to the Army Corps of Engineers offices in Tulsa, Fort Worth, and Galveston, which are responsible for permitting pipelines under the Clean Water Act.

Brad Borror, a communications manager at ONEOK, said the company was not delaying its projects. “We’re still going to go through that process and confident in our timeline,” said Borror.

But if ONEOK and other companies currently constructing pipelines do fall behind on their permits, they may ultimately come out ahead. The Trump administration rollback of water regulations will allow ONEOK and other companies involved in the energy pipeline boom now underway to simply bulldoze through waterways that are currently protected without any environmental scrutiny at all.

The Trump administration’s rule will replace an Obama-era regulation known as the Waters of the United States rule. According to leaked talking points about the replacement rule, it will exempt seasonal waterways and wetlands that are not connected by surface water to permanent water bodies from regulation. The change will allow the Arbuckle II and other pipelines now in the works to advance more quickly — and with far fewer environmental protections.

The oil and gas industries have been pushing for years for these same changes. The Waters Advocacy Coalition, an umbrella organization of 48 industry trade groups, has spent more than $1 million since 2007 lobbying to limit federal water protections. The group’s members include the Association of Oil Pipe Lines, the American Gas Association, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Independent Petroleum Association of America, according to comments that the group filed with the EPA in 2017.

The 2015 WOTUS rule aimed to settle long-standing conflicts between industry and regulators over which waterways are protected by the Clean Water Act. Almost since that federal statute went into effect in 1972, industries have been fighting to limit its reach. Still, for decades, the law was widely seen as protecting the great majority of the country’s waterways, both big and small.

That began to change after a 2001 Supreme Court case that dealt with whether ponds on an abandoned mining site were subject to federal water protections, said Jon Devine, director of federal water policy at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The decision was narrow, about whether certain isolated water bodies could be protected based on their use by water fowl, but there was a lot of language that expressed doubt about the proper scope of the law,” said Devine. “And industries jumped on that, and challenges sprang up across the country.”

Though some environmentalists felt it didn’t go far enough to protect water, the 2015 rule pushed back slightly against some of the incursions that industry campaigns had made on federal water protections. Now in effect in 22 states, and held up by court challenges in the others, the rule increased the waters covered by the Clean Water Act by 3-5 percent and clarified that rivers, streams, and wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act even if they run for part of the year or depend on rain to flow.

The Trump rule, which will be subject to public comment before it’s finalized, will reverse those expansions in federal water protections and go further by stripping protections from many wetlands. The change will likely have the most dramatic effect in Alaska and the arid west, which, depending on the wording of the rule, may see up to 90 percent of its waterways lose federal protection.

Downed trees on Peters Mountain in Monroe County, W.Va., on March 15, 2018, cleared to make way for the Mountain Valley Pipeline route.

Photo: Erica Yoon/The Roanoke Times via AP

A Sledgehammer to Clean Water Act

Pipeline companies are currently required to either get approval for the crossing of every waterway, or in cases when they can show that a project will have only minimal impact on the environment, apply for a nationwide permit that allows them to avoid scrutiny of each individual crossing.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will carry fracked natural gas 600 miles from the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia through Virginia to North Carolina, recently had its national permit suspended due to concerns about its impact on a West Virginia waterway. The new regulations will likely cut the number of permits required for the project in half, according to an analysis by the Southern Environmental Law Center.

A joint effort of Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, and Southern Company Gas, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (together with a much shorter pipeline that will supply natural gas to customers) will cross waterways in 1,699 places. At least half those waterways flow only during the wet seasons or after rainstorms and therefore would no longer require permits after the new rule is in place.

The new rule will increase the environmental threats posed by the Atlantic Coast and other pipeline projects, according to Geoff Gisler, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, which has filed numerous challenges to the pipeline.

“This is a sledgehammer to the Clean Water Act,” Gisler said of the new rule. “Out of all the anti-environmental attacks we have seen from this administration, this may be the most far-reaching and destructive.”

Dozens of other pipelines now in the planning phase could also see the number of permits required for their projects reduced. Fifty-four natural gas pipeline projects, including the Atlantic Coast, were approved in U.S. in the past two years, and 36 more projects are currently pending, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Three new oil pipeline projects have recently been announced, and five, including the Keystone XL, are in development.

FULL STORY
Categories: G2. Local Greens

Today is Human Rights Day.

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 10:06

I started this work because I was tortured, because I had to, because I felt that inside me.

– Ka Hsaw Wa, ERI Co-Founder and Executive Director.

Today is Human Rights Day, which commemorates the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This day is more important than ever because protecting the earth has become one of the most dangerous professions. Last year, over 200 people were killed for defending their earth rights.

Around the world, brave activists–earth rights defenders–are protecting their communities’ most precious natural resources from the world’s most powerful governments and corporations.

Earth rights defenders need you.

These activists face corrupt governments and billion-dollar companies, only to be threatened with violence for their activism.

Defenders need your support to ensure their safety and protection in 2019. Together, we can train earth rights defenders around the world, help protect them from threat, and provide access to legal defense and safety.

Please consider making a gift to EarthRights International this holiday season to ensure that defenders can continue their work in 2019 without fear of persecution and harm.

 

 

Thank you for being with us!

In Solidarity,

Katie Redford

Co-founder and Director

Categories: G2. Local Greens

A 31% Increase In Number Of California Wineries Makes Financial Success That Much Harder

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 09:58
“Rabobank cites a report that 3,540 bonded wineries operated in California in 2011 but within five years, the number of wineries had risen 31%, to 4,653. A majority of these wineries are small, with an eye toward visitors to their tasting rooms. Not only competition, but the recent spate of raging wildfires have tamped down visitor traffic. Rabobank cites 39% of wineries surveyed that focus on DtC indicated sales have declined rather than increased as one might expect. That’s not because there had been fewer DtC sales; it’s because the number of  California wineries competing for consumer dollars keeps growing.A 31% Increase In Number Of California Wineries Makes Financial Success That Much Harder

 

Thomas Pellechia Contributor

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Food & Drink Experienced independent writer with a background in the wine industry. Tweet This

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The global investment firm Rabobank November 2018 Wine Quarterly included a few important takeaways from the Wine Industry Financial Symposium held this autumn in Napa, California. 

In its introduction to the report, the bank got my attention with this about California: “Wineries of all sizes need to find new owners.”

Rabobank was not recommending California wineries sell out to investors, or to anyone else for that matter. The bank was talking about the need to create a sense of brand ownership by the consumer. To back up the premise, Rabobank says, “The strength of the economy, strengthening direct-to-consumer (DtC) sales, and ongoing premiumisation [sic] create a strong foundation for future growth.”

According to the bank, the urgency of addressing the way consumers view a winery can be found in one word: competition. With hundreds of thousands of wine brands spanning the globe, competition is fierce, whether through the three-tier distribution method or through Direct-to-Consumer (DtC) sales, and for wineries large or small. Rabobank says 58% of large wineries and 40% of small wineries claim “…brand proliferation as a drag on revenue and profitability.”

FULL STORY
Categories: G2. Local Greens

Ramey appeal hearing and the industrialization of ag lands for alcohol TODAY!

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 09:16

Today, the geologically unsound Ramey caves and massive expansion including VIP tasting rooms comes in front of the Board of Supervisors today.

Warren Watkins representing Healdsburg Citizens for Sustainable Solutions, Maacama Watershed Alliance, Forest Unlimited, Sonoma Coast Rural Preservation, thank you for supporting community over profit. 73. 1:40 P.M. – Appeal of a Use Permit approval for a new winery, wine cave, tasting rooms, marketing accommodations, and events, and industry wide events (Ramey Winery); located at 7097 Westside Road, Healdsburg. PRMD File No. UPE14-0008: Conduct a public hearing and at the conclusion of the hearing, adopt a Resolution denying the appeal and upholding the Board of Zoning Adjustment’s decision to approve the Use Permit for a 60,000 case winery, a new wine cave, conversion of an existing historic hop kiln building to a public tasting room and conversion of an existing historic hop baling barn to a reserve tasting room with a two-guest room marketing accommodation unit on the upper floor, 20 agricultural promotional events per year, and two industry wide event days per year on 75 acres. Appellants: Warren Watkins representing Healdsburg Citizens for Sustainable Solutions, Maacama Watershed Alliance, Forest Unlimited, Sonoma Coast Rural Preservation, and Todd Everett. Project Applicants: David and Carla Ramey on behalf of Ramey Vineyards LLC. (Fourth and Fifth Districts)
Categories: G2. Local Greens

Nextdoor neighbor thread on cannabis grow

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 13:16

Hi Everyone,

I am responding to multiple people here for efficiency and also in one thread to keep things simple (I hope). I’ve had a hard time getting this message to post for some reason.

Joseph – Thank you. I think that productive dialogue is the most important thing, regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen. I appreciate your comment.

Barbara – Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I really appreciated what you shared and the way you communicated your thoughts – well received! I would love nothing more than to have the trails be part of the parks if the parks were protected from toxic spray on agricultural land. I wish I were optimistic about such a move, but I think that would be a battle that we would lose as this is strongly defended under the federal law and the right to farm and the amount of acreage effected would be much more than the small parcel at the end of Railroad/Edison St. I’ve not heard of anyone being able to overcome this hurdle.

Bess/Kip – I am sure that some people have reactions to smells from cannabis, just as many people are allergic or have reactions to molds, dust, pollen, etc. What I don’t get is how this outweighs the fact that all humans (and animals) have detrimental health effects from the pesticides, fungicides and herbacides being sprayed on non-organic agricultural land, including the parcel at the end of Railroad/Edison when it was a pumpkin farm. Should we to knowingly harm everyone to avoid causing reactions for a small minority? Anna highlighted the issue to this list a few months ago about what the pumpkin farmer was spraying on the fields, her note is below for more info:

Carcinogens sprayed on Sonoma County ag lands per California Department of Pesticide Regulations.

> 1a Pesticide and fungicide use article with local references
> Fri Sep 14, 2018 7:47 am (PDT) . Posted by: “Anna Ransome”
> https://winecountrygeographic.blogspot.com/2018/09/the-dark-side-of-sonomas-sustainability.html?m=1
> This article has a link to a list of who is using a deadly carcinogenic fungicide called Mancozeb. To quote, “Pesticide Action Network classifies Mancozeb as a Bad Actor – i.e. seriously bad stuff – and a carcinogen, developmental and reproductive toxin, and a probable endocrine disruptor. It’s highly toxic to fish. The National Academy of Sciences urged the EPA to ban it starting in 1987, calling it one of the most potent carcinogens in agriculture.)”
> https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NrkrVSscBwRczwzp9eQZ6vwUtVRnrV7g/view?usp=sharing
> Scroll down in above link to find our local pumpkin grower, Michael Gutzman, at #s 108-119. In 2017, 126 pounds were applied on the parcels along the West County Trail between Grey St. and Occidental Rd. I witnessed the spraying myself. Have you or your family members eaten or handled these pumpkins and winter squash?
> The reports aren’t in for 2018, but they were spraying again this year.
> We are surrounded by Dutton vineyards that were sprayed in 2017, but the article indicates that they stopped using it that year. The 2018 records should reveal any local usage whenever they are available.
> Anna

It is a serious concern to me what has been and will be sprayed on those fields because my house is a few hundred feet from the edge of the parcel, many of you are even closer. Shouldn’t we be talking about this? I agree that there are folks who have negative reactions to the smell of cannabis, but there is little question that we all have health consequences to the use of harmful pesticides, fungicides and herbicides being used, whether we are aware of it or not – even the ones that are perfectly legal to use under the right to farm.

Chris Getchell – You mention that Graton would be better without this proposed development. Can you elaborate on this? Do you have any opinions or concerns on the use of toxic herbicides, fungicides and pesticides on this parcel and how that impacts the trail? Regarding the traffic, buildings, etc. – I will say again that my understanding of the CUP process involves public feedback and input and we as a community have a right to address our concerns and ask for what we want. These issues can be addressed in the CUP process (if we ever get back to it). If you don’t want buildings, tell the owners you don’t want buildings. If you don’t want 30 parking spaces then how many are acceptable? “None” is not a fair answer, but there can be compromise and dialogue. In my opinion I believe it is better to try to negotiate this project to become something that is acceptable rather than take the risk of returning to some commercial agriculture farm that is in fact harming all of us legally.

Change can be difficult, I often find myself resistant to it in different areas of my life but I do try to embrace it and try to keep an open mind whenever possible. My belief is that many years from now we will be looking at open fields of cannabis with no fencing and no issues just as we see vines everywhere. Right now that is tough to picture or imagine, but I believe that is where we are headed – and I could be wrong. I would really love to hear from people what their feelings are about the use of harmful chemicals bordering our community and the trail. Maybe the majority of people are not concerned about this issue, but I’d love to hear what people think..

The reality remains, we have a say in what evolves in this cannabis project, but for commercial agriculture we have no say. Why not take advantage of the opportunity in front of us and see if the owners are willing to negotiate on the sticking points that people have? I have talked to numerous people and I keep hearing, “I have no issues with the cannabis, that doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is …..” What bothers me is the use of toxic chemicals on the edge of our neighborhood that negatively effect the health of everyone living here and every single person that uses the trail. Does this bother anyone else?

Thanks,

Chris

Categories: G2. Local Greens

FOG UPDATE #13 – Supervisors Hearing Tips for Tomorrow

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 13:06
From ANNA RANSOME: FOG UPDATE #13 – Supervisors Hearing Tips for Tomorrow Hello Supporters,
Hopefully you have sent emails to the supervisors to support the designation of the Joe Rodota and West County Trails as parks. There is still time and all the information is available in FOG Update #12, including the emails for the district aides who will facilitate your emails being viewed before the hearing.

A few tips about the hearing tomorrow at 8:30 am at the Board of Supervisors hearing room, 575 Administration Dr., Santa Rosa:

  • This hearing agenda item is only about the trails/parks issue. If speakers address the proposed Loud Enterprises/Jackalope project, they will be cut off by the chairman. There is a packed agenda and they will not tolerate anything off-topic, which also includes any other proposed cannabis projects or other aspects of the Cannabis Ordinance.
  • I will be the only speaker who will be representing FOG. Right after I thank the supervisors at the beginning of my talk, I will ask that all present who support a parks designation for the West County and Joe Rodota Trails stand up. Please listen for this cue and be prepared to stand up. They will allow me more time to speak if they see that I speak for many.
  • There is a new security screening process for the chambers, and this will likely slow things down. Go early if you want a seat inside. Don’t bring any metal through the screening area if you can avoid it.
  • There is a sometimes annoying public comment period, which if you have never witnessed it, is a lesson in democracy. You may hear about UFO’s, Hillary Clinton contrails and various conspiracy theories. Bring reading material. Just thank your lucky stars you don’t have to hear it every week as the Board does.
  • If you feel that you have to speak, make it brief and provide the clerk with 8 copies of your presentation for the record.
Thanks for all the support during this two month process. We don’t know how this hearing is going to affect the Graton proposal, so stay tuned for an update when we have any information.

Anna Ransome for Friends of Graton (FOG)

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Categories: G2. Local Greens

Neonics Pesticide Replacement Found to be Equally Dangerous to Bees

Sun, 12/09/2018 - 11:17
Neonics Pesticide Replacement Found to be Equally Dangerous to Bees

Read more: http://naturalsociety.com/neonics-pesticide-replacement-found-equally-dangerous-bees-5714/#ixzz5ZDRLodzx
Follow us: @naturalsociety on Twitter | NaturalSociety on Facebook By Julie Fidler

A chemical touted as a safer replacement for bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics) has similar harmful effects, researchers in the U.K. have discovered.

Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides intended to protect crops from pests by blocking receptors in the insects’ brains, paralyzing and killing them. Even small doses of neonics can cause bees to struggle with navigation, hunting for food, reproduction, and their ability to form new colonies.

As a result of neonics’ effects on pollinators, the European Union (EU) banned the outdoor use of 5 neonicotinoid products in April 2018. Canada began phasing them out on August 15, 2018. However, in the United States, neonics are still widely used.

Due to the development of neonicotinoid resistance among some insects, scientists in recent years have turned to sulfoximine as a replacement. This group of insecticides act on the same class receptors in the insect brain but can safely avoid the enzymes that make some insects resistant to neonics.

Sulfoximine has been approved by regulatory bodies in China, Canada, Australia, and the U.K. [2]

Recently, scientists studied the effects of sulfoxaflor – a member of the sulfoximine class of chemicals – on bumblebee colonies and found that it reduced the number of worker bees in the colony and, eventually, the number of offspring the colony produced.

Study author Harry Siviter, from Royal Holloway, University of London, said:

“Our results show that sulfoxaflor can have a negative impact on the reproductive output of bumblebee colonies under certain conditions.”

Sulfoximine was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Obama Administration. Initially, the rules governing the pesticide’s use were fairly loose, but a court decision vacated the initial approval in favor of more stringent restrictions to protect bees.

It cannot be sprayed on plants that attract bees until they have finished blooming, it is illegal to spray the insecticide on a select number of blooming plants, and it can’t be sprayed on any plants grown for seed.

For the study, researchers exposed bumblebee colonies to doses of sulfoximine similar to those they would be exposed to after the insecticide is applied to crops, and compared their health to those of colonies that were not exposed.

It was clear that the bees had suffered as a result of sulfoximine exposure when individuals from colonies exposed as larvae started to emerge as adults, but fewer worker bees emerged.

Furthermore, 9 weeks after the bumblebees were exposed, exposed colonies produced 54% fewer new queens and males – the only bees that reproduce. The authors wrote in the report that this suggests sulfoximine could significantly impact successful reproduction among bumblebee colonies. [1]

Study author Dr. Ellouise Leadbeater of Royal Holloway, University of London, said:

“Our study highlights that stressors that do not directly kill bees can still have damaging effects further down the line, because the health of the colony depends on the health of its workforce.” [2]

More importantly, the study shows that replacing one toxic insecticide with another is not the answer to protecting crops from pests.

The study is published in the journal Nature.

Sources:

[1] Science Magazine

[2] EcoWatch

Post written byJulie Fidler:

Read more: http://naturalsociety.com/neonics-pesticide-replacement-found-equally-dangerous-bees-5714/#ixzz5ZDRa2n7r
Follow us: @naturalsociety on Twitter | NaturalSociety on Facebook

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Sierra Club news: Dogwood & Zero Waste in Sebastopol

Sun, 12/09/2018 - 11:09

‘Dogwood’ Timber Harvest Plan Rejected for Gualala River Floodplain

Sonoma County Superior Court sided with the Friends of Gualala River on Oct. 16 in its fight against logging hundreds of acres of the Wild and Scenic Gualala River floodplain. Sierra Club Redwood Chapter contributed financially to the successful lawsuit. The controversial “Dogwood” timber harvest plan has been the subject of public protests and litigation since 2015.

This ruling may put the issue to rest, as Judge René Chouteau concluded that the timber harvest plan failed to meet California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements for evaluating project alternatives with less environmental impact, and for assessing cumulative environmental impacts to the river, forest and floodplain.

This is the second lawsuit on the “Dogwood” plan. In 2017, Friends of Gualala River, Forest Unlimited, and California Native Plant Society successfully sued CAL FIRE, which approved the timber harvest plan, over similar environmental review flaws. CAL FIRE was required to revoke the permit to log “Dogwood,” but the applicant, Gualala Redwoods Timber, resubmitted the logging plan with minimal corrections. On March 30, 2018, CAL FIRE again approved the logging plan, despite major public opposition. FoGR again sued over the same basic flaws in CAL FIRE’s environmental review process.

In this decision, the court agreed with legal precedents and stated it is “absolutely clear” that timber harvest plans must be functionally equivalent to Environmental Impact Reports and meet the same fundamental standards of CEQA with regard to evaluation of alternatives that reduce impacts to the environment, “one of the most important functions of an EIR.” The court also ruled that CAL FIRE failed to assess cumulative environmental impacts to the Gualala River and its watershed in accordance CEQA, and the agency jumped to conclusions of “no impact” without evidence or accounting for other impacts from past or future logging and land and water uses.

FoGR is seeking reform of CAL FIRE’s timber harvest plan procedures and documents so that they actually function as efficient equivalents of CEQA Environmental Impact Reports that focus on significant environmental impacts and solutions in the public interest, not just private interests of the timber industry applicants. FoGR and its broad coalition of public citizens and organizations will continue to pursue conservation of the unique Gualala Redwood Floodplain Forest, including full consideration of alternatives that protect the most sensitive extensive wetland and floodplain habitats.

– FROM FRIENDS OF GUALALA RIVER

Sebastopol passes Zero Waste Resolution: Ambitious goal of Zero Waste by 2030

The following is a press release Leslie Lukacs, chair of the Zero Waste North Bay group, prepared for the Press Democrat. It is an update on the Sebastopol City Council adoption of the Zero Waste Resolution accepted by the Sonoma County Waste Management Association. Lukacs summarizes the steps the city council is taking to begin to put the resolution into action. If any Sierra Club members in Sebastopol want to become involved with the city council’s zero waste efforts, contact Theresa Ryan at theresa411@comcast.net. Windsor is the next city council the Zero Waste North Bay group will approach about adopting a Zero Waste Resolution.

–THERESA M. RYAN, SONOMA GROUP EXCOM

During the October 16th Sebastopol City Council meeting, the passing of the Zero Waste Resolution was moved to vote by Councilwoman Una Glass, seconded by Councilwoman Sarah Glade Gurney and passed unanimously.

 

For more Redwood Chapter information: http://www.sierraclub.org/redwood

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Styrene Deemed “Probably Carcinogenic to Humans” by the IARC

Sun, 12/09/2018 - 10:52
Styrene Deemed “Probable Carcinogenic to Hymans” by IARC
Changed from “possibly carcinogenic to humans”
By Mike Barrett

For the last 4 decades, scientists have been calling for styrene, a chemical found in Styrofoam cups and packaging, to be studied further to determine if it causes cancer. Now, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), styrene is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” [1]

Styrene was previously classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Research shows that workplace styrene exposure doubles the risk of leukemia, and increases the risk of a certain type of nasal cancer by 5 times. [2]

Read: Styrene and Formaldehyde Use Causing Health Complications

Most people come into contact with the chemical through cigarette smoke, air pollution, printers, or photocopiers. The authors of the announcement, which will be published as a Monograph, said exposure to styrene at work is a global problem. [1] [2]

A team of 23 scientists hand-picked by the IARC looked at the records of more than 70,000 people who worked in the Danish plastics industry between 1968 and 2011. The team also reviewed evidence from animal studies on the health risks of styrene exposure. [1] [2]

Professor Henrik Kolstad of Aarhus University in Denmark said:

“The most recent styrene study shows the risk of acute myeloid leukemia, a rare form of leukemia, is doubled.

Out of the more than 70,000 people included in the research project, we found 25 cases of acute myeloid leukemia, where you would statistically expect to find 10.”

Read: Disposable Coffee Cups & Containers Found to Harbor Carcinogens

The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that 19,520 new cases of acute myeloid leukemia will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2018, and the disease is expected to kill 10,670 people. [3]

The study also found a 5-fold increase in the risk of sinonasal adenocarcinoma, a nasal cancer, among study subjects who were exposed to the chemical while working in the plastics industry. [2]

In addition to Styrofoam, styrene is used in synthetic rubber, some insulation materials, disposable cutlery, plastic packaging, and fiberglass plastic.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has warned that people may be exposed to small amounts of styrene if it gets into food packaged in polystyrene containers, including Styrofoam.

The researchers also looked for potential links between styrene exposure and Hodgkin lymphoma, and T-cell lymphoma, but did not spot the same link.

Sources:

[1] Science Daily

[2] Daily Mail

[3] American Cancer Society

Post written by

Read more: http://naturalsociety.com/styrene-deemed-probably-carcinogenic-humans-by-iarc-1461/#ixzz5ZDL68VYR
Follow us: @naturalsociety on Twitter | NaturalSociety on Facebook

 

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Feds Investigating Millions Of Fake Messages Opposing Net Neutrality: Report

Sun, 12/09/2018 - 10:43
Is your favorite environmental or free press site slow to view? Net neutrality, it affects us all and is a form of censorship when abused. “Of the 22 million messages sent last year to the FCC website, nearly 21 million were bots, organized campaigns or fakes, including many using stolen identities, according to a Stanford University study. Some campaigns also involved fake, automated comments, though others were legitimate…..” Feds Investigating Millions Of Fake Messages Opposing Net Neutrality: Report FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai conceded that 500,000 fake comments urging the death of the popular system came from Russian emails. By Mary Papenfuss The Justice Department is investigating possible criminal activity linked to millions of fake or duplicated messages — many from Russian email addresses — sent to the Federal Communications Commission opposing net neutrality, Buzzfeed reported Saturday.

Of the 22 million messages sent last year to the FCC website, nearly 21 million were bots, organized campaigns or fakes, including many using stolen identities, according to a Stanford University study. Some campaigns also involved fake, automated comments, though others were legitimate. Talk show host John Oliver notably encouraged viewers to back net neutrality, triggering a deluge of comments that the FCC falsely claimed helped trigger a shutdown of its website, according to the study.

Of the total estimated 800,000 unique comments sent, 99.7 percent supported net neutrality and opposed a controversial push by the Trump administration’s commission head Ajit Pai to terminate net neutrality. Pai recently admitted that Russia meddled in the system and acknowledged that 500,000 of the suspect comments were linked to Russian emails.

The FBI subpoenaed at least two organizations for information linked to the messages just days after New York state did so for details from 14 groups in October for its own probe, sources told Buzzfeed. Massachusetts and the District of Columbia are supporting the New York probe, Buzzfeed reported.

The FCC was inundated with the fake comments as the commission debated dumping net neutrality, which had barred all internet service providers from blocking, slowing down, or charging extra for certain content.

Net neutrality is hugely popular with the American public, according to several polls. The FCC voted late last year to terminate it, which paves the way for corporations to sharply increase consumer rates if users want to maintain the same internet speed for all content.

The FCC has stonewalled requests by the media — and the New York state attorney general — to release information concerning the fake messages.

FULL STORY & COMMENTS

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Sonoma County Advisory Group AGENDA: December 12th Meeting

Sat, 12/08/2018 - 10:33
Some important land use decisions are being made by the group. Please review their objectives below and speak up if you have input.  Sonoma County Cannabis Advisory Group

Agenda

Meeting Date December 12, 2018

 

NOTE UPDATED LOCATION: Permit Sonoma Hearing Room

   2550 Ventura Avenue, Santa Rosa CA 95403 

3:00 p.m. Call to order 

Announcements

Item #1- Cannabis Program Goals and Objectives Discussion

  1. Staff Presentation
  2. Questions for staff
  3. Public Comment
  4. Advisory Group Discussion and Recommendations
  5.  

Public Comment for Items Not on the Agenda 

Closing Remarks  

Open Meetings: Except as expressly authorized under the Ralph M. Brown Act (the State’s local agency open meeting law), all meetings of the Cannabis Advisory Group are open to attendance by interested members of the public.

Public Comments:  Any member of the public may address the Group during the designated Public Comment periods noted in the Agenda.  There are Speaker Request forms provided, if you wish to comment, please fill one out and submit to staff prior to the start of the meeting.  Please note that Group members are unable to answer questions or respond to comments but you may speak to Group members after the meeting.

If you wish to speak to a specific topic listed in the provided Agenda, please limit your comments to that specific topic under discussion by the Group.  When filing out the Public Speaker Request form, check the appropriate box listed, if the topic you wish to comment on is in Item #1 of the Agenda, check the Item #1 box, and so on.

Disabled Accommodation: To Request an Accommodation: If you have a disability and require a sign language interpreter, assistive listening device, material in an alternate format, or other accommodation to attend, please contact Ms. Jo Ann Barker at (707) 565-1925 at least 72 hours prior to the meeting in order to facilitate arrangements for accommodation.

Public Transit Access to Glaser Center 545 Mendocino Avenue Santa Rosa CA: Sonoma County Transit: Routes 30, 44, 48, 60, 62, 64; Santa Rosa City Bus Route 14; Golden Gate Transit: Route 80. (707) 543-3333. Transit Information: (707) 576-RIDE or 1-800-345-RIDE

Overview of Proposed Cannabis Program Framework
A General Plan is a broad planning guideline to a city’s or county’s future development goals and provides policy statements to achieve those development goals. Each city and county adopts and updates their General Plan to guide the growth and land development of their community, for both the current period and the long term.  To help guide the Cannabis Advisory Group in our discussions about the future of the Sonoma County Cannabis Program, the staff and the Co-Chairs are proposing using a similar hierarchy structure used by the General Plan. The hierarchy and definitions are outlined below along with DRAFT examples in italics provided for clarity and to stimulate discussion.  At the December 12, 2018 Cannabis Advisory Group will begin populating the table on page two and replacing the draft examples.

Element Purpose- Statement of what is covered in each Element, essentially the scope.
Draft Example-The Economic Vitality Element focuses on the creation of sustainable economic growth of the Cannabis Industry and its positive impacts on the economy on Sonoma County.
Goal: A general statement of a desired end toward which an effort will be directed. There is one overarching goal for each element.
Draft Example- Foster a healthy diverse and economically viable cannabis industry that contributes to the local economy.
Objectives: A specific detailed statement of a desired future condition toward which the County is committed and progress is ideally measurable.  There can be multiple objectives
Draft Example –Encourage the creation of high paying jobs within in the cannabis industry
CAG Recommendations and Actions: Specific statements that guide decision making in order to achieve a goal or objective.
Example -Establish database which tracks the number of jobs and employee wages for permitted cannabis businesses. Community Compatibility

  Economic Vitality Environmental Impact Land Use Public Safety Develop ways to increase the community compatibility through awareness, education and regulations.

  The Economic Vitality Element focuses on the creation of sustainable economic growth of the Cannabis Industry and the positive impacts on the economy on Sonoma County. Address the environmental impacts of the cannabis industry and preservation of natural and scenic resources. Guide growth, development, and land use decisions associated with the Cannabis Industry. Protect public health and safety of Sonoma County residents through regulations and enforcement.     Goal:

      Goal:

Foster a healthy, diverse, and economically viable cannabis industry that contributes to the local economy.     Goal:

      Goal:

      Goal:

           Objectives:

           Objectives:

1.       Encourage the creation of high paying jobs within in the cannabis industry

2.       Employment numbers…

3.          Objectives:

           Objectives:

           Objectives:

           Recommendation/Action              Recommendation/Action:

 

Establish database which tracks the number of jobs and employee wages for permitted cannabis businesses.  

Recommendation/Action:              Recommendation/Action:              Recommendation/Action:

 

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Friends of Graton Update 10 Tuesday December 12th, 9am Board of Supervisors Action

Sat, 12/08/2018 - 10:18

If you have not written to your Supervisors yet, here is a tip. Since it is getting close to the hearing on Tuesday, December 11 at 9 am, emails can still be sent to the Supervisors, but it would be best to send copies to their district aides to be sure they don’t get lost in less urgent communications.

Please share widely and plan to attend the hearing on Tuesday. It will be quite lively.

Please CC the aides below when emailing the Supervisors. I’ve included the Supervisor’s emails for your convenience.

James Gore: James.Gore@sonoma-county.org
Jenny.Chamberlain@sonoma-county.org
Susan Gorin: Susan.Gorin@sonoma-county.org
Pat.Gilardi@sonoma-county.org
David Rabbitt: David.Rabbitt@sonoma-county.org
Andrea.Krout@sonoma-county.org
Shirlee Zane: Shirlee.Zane@sonoma-county.org
Michelle.Whitman@sonoma-county.org
Lynda Hopkins: Lynda.Hopkins@sonoma.county.org
Susan.Upchurch@sonoma-county.org

Anna Ransome for Friends of Graton (FOG)

FOG Update #10

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Napa County Fwd: Planning Committee decision re the American Canyon Commercial Solar Project by Renewable Properties (the Developer)

Sat, 12/08/2018 - 10:12
Right idea, wrong place? Napa County:  Planning Committee decision re the American Canyon Commercial Solar Project by Renewable Properties (the Developer)

Dear Neighbors:

Today the Planning Commission delivered a serious setback.  At the Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday, 12/5/2018, they voted to pass the American Canyon Commercial Solar project despite overwhelming evidence that this precedent setting project in the AG Watershed would put the rest of the valley in jeopardy.  This opens the door to Commercial Renewable Energy projects in the AG Watershed.

We believe that we need to appeal this decision.  We have 10 days to file the appeal notify the County Planning Department that we intend to file the appeal and 10 days after that to file the appeal.  We have a core group who are willing to do the work.  Napa Vision 2050 is providing substantial assistance with advice and guidance.

I will describe the situation and how this occurred.  First, however, I need to ask for your help.  We need financial assistance.  To date a small group of 4 have shouldered the financial cost and we have been contributing personally as well.  We have spent hundreds of hours on meetings and research and lobbying.  We are happy to do that.  This is our neighborhood and we need to protect it.

Please email me with your pledges $.  We are asking for your intent to donate at this time since we do not have the requisite account in the name of the group as of yet.  We also want to be sure we get the support we need from local groups before we go this route.

Till then,  we are asking for your commitments.  We can use whatever you can afford…$50—$1,000 and more.  We currently expect expenses to be around $10,000 to $15,000.  The funds would be used only for fees, legal assistance and to print and distribute information to the community.

Please respond with your Pledges by this coming weekend if possible.

Our description of what occurred:

Planning staff and the Developer, used a section of the Napa County General Plan which notes that a “Utility” is an approved use within the AG Watershed.  In other words, power generation is an approved use in AG Watershed zones.  When this was put into zoning and the General Plan in the ‘60s, this referred to PG&E and the narrow corridors they were putting in for their power poles and power lines.  At that time, renewable energy, its footprint and its impact on the land were not in play.   Based on adopting this interpretation, staff advised the Planning Commission that they could approve such a project as the 18 acres of solar in American Canyon…despite it being in the AG Watershed, because it is an approved use…without limits.  In other words, they classified the American Canyon Commercial Solar Project, a private deal between Renewable Properties…the Developer and MCE a non-profit entity, as the equivalent of a public utility like PG&E.

This project covers 85.7% of the parcel. It is 18 acres of commercial solar project on a 21 acre parcel.  No other use in the County is allowed such large coverage of a parcel.  In effect this approval is unique in that it gives the project and the Developer unlimited unregulated and extreme freedom to determine their own coverage.  Napa County does not have rules and regulations for commercial solar projects such as this one.

This means that the next developer can come in and demand the same treatment.  The County opens itself up to liability.

We have been working to convince the County to put regulations in place to guide and govern commercial renewable energy projects BEFORE approving any such project.  The Planning Manager estimated that it would take 6 months to do this.  Despite this relatively short timeline, Commissioners Whitmer, Mazotti and Hansen voted to approve the project without this condition.  Commissioners Gallagher and Cottrell saw the jeopardy and raised the concerns we have been expressing and voted against the project.  They were outnumbered.

In the same meeting on the 5th, further in the agenda, all the commissioners had a discussion and agreed that we need regulations.  They requested that the Board of Supervisors provide direction.  The bottom line is that all see the validity of our concerns, however, the three Commissioners were willing to compromise all standards, the General Plan and the AG Watershed (which we all have fought for decades to preserve) to push this project through.

We need your support to put in a final effort to save our AG land.  Please pledge generously.

We will put in the effort..research…meetings…presentations….feet on the ground.  If any of you can help with some of the effort…let us know.

 Many thanks in anticipation of your support.

My best, Eileen

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Current bilingual Opening at Sonoma Ecology Center

Sat, 12/08/2018 - 10:05
Current bilingual Opening at Sonoma Ecology Center This is a great opportunity at the Sonoma Ecology Center. There are a few grants that will support outreach to disadvantaged communities in Sonoma Valley about challenges to the local watershed and community health. They are looking for a smart, well-organized outreach coordinator who is bilingual and bicultural to do this work.

SONOMA ECOLOGY CENTER

Beautiful. Sustainable. Sonoma.

WATERSHED OUTREACH COORDINATOR (BILINGUAL)

Classification: Reports to:

Non-exempt Director of Development

Full-time (32-40 hours per week)

Wage range: $22-$25 per hour

Who We Are:

Sonoma Ecology Center is a 27-year-old nonprofit with a mission to work with our community to identify and lead actions that achieve and sustain ecological health in Sonoma Valley. We are respected throughout the North Bay and beyond for our contributions to important initiatives in land, water, biodiversity, and climate. Each year, we provide in-depth environmental science instruction to over 1200 students, manage over 4,000 acres of public and private land including Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, raise thousands of native plants and restore critical native habitat, and provide research and technical support on timely issues affecting the region. We have over 20 professional staff and manage numerous large grants and contracts, often in partnership with other nonprofits and agencies that, by working together, significantly leverage our work and impact.

Position Summary:

We are seeking bilingual candidates who are committed to inspiring a diverse community to appreciate and improve their local environment. This position is a key component of the SEC’s Community Engagement Team, which is supervised by the Director of Development. The Bilingual Coordinator will be primarily responsible for managing, planning, and leading community-based projects including workshops and public events; preparing and distributing outreach materials; and serving as a liaison between SEC and the community at large, including the underserved population. The Watershed Outreach Coordinator will also collaborate with project managers to satisfy the deliverables of specific grants and initiatives. One must be passionate and highly motivated, have strong attention to detail, and can execute defined projects efficiently and promptly.

Integrated Regional Water Management Plan – Disadvantaged Community (IRWMP DAC) Program Coordination (40%)

 Coordinate with partner organizations to develop joint marketing materials, plan events, gather data and submit reports

 Create surveys written in English and Spanish

 

 Conduct community needs assessments through well-organized listening sessions, meetings, public forums, and through surveys

 Create a means to track attendance

 Collate and assess identified issues that are important to the community

 Obtain landowner permission when required

 Lead bilingual site visits

 Orchestrate presentations, using maps, data, and other outreach materials to communicate with diverse audiences, including Spanish materials

 Reconvene partner organizations to discuss identified issues

 Provide actionable input on possible solutions

 Report on needs assessment results and next steps

 Work with GIS Manager to integrate maps and data results into reports and presentations

 Collect mandatory waiver and release forms

Other Community Outreach and Volunteer Coordination (40%)

 In conjunction with our Restoration and Research project managers, plan and execute community volunteer events. Such as, watershed cleanups, tree planting days, water quality testing, and vegetation management

 Train volunteers, provide tools, and safety equipment when needed

 Reach out to local businesses to procure donated refreshments

 Set up and break down refreshment table

 Ensure all volunteers sign a waiver and release before performing any work

 Collect, track, and manage volunteer event data, so that we can affirm the positive effects of our community engagement

 Conversely, evaluate events that do not live up to expectations and identify areas for improvement

 Work with the Volunteer Coordinator to pursue businesses with community service initiatives

 May directly supervise up to 15 volunteers. Larger groups will have additional SEC staff

 Always represent SEC in a professional and positive manner

Administration and Other Responsibilities (20%)

 Track budgets, write reports and satisfy grant/contract requirements

 Identify funding opportunities and work with Grants and Planning Manager to generate proposals

 Submit volunteer data to Volunteer Coordinator

 Summarize and report outcomes to program and project managers

 Accurate time management and time tracking

Please Note:

The responsibilities and the percentage of time will vary from week-to-week depending on programmatic needs and funding sources. One must be flexible and open to change as these responsibilities may change over time.

Qualifications and Abilities:

 Bilingual, culturally aware, and keenly sensitive to the needs of diverse communities

 College degree, preferably in communications or environmental science or 2 years of relevant work experience

 

 Experienced public speaker, undaunted by diverse and passionate audiences

 Grant management experience, including writing proposals and budgeting, is a plus

 Skilled in Microsoft Office Suite, primarily PowerPoint, Word, and Excel

 Experience as a Community Organizer or Community Group Spokesperson is a plus

 Knowledge of and enthusiasm for the Sonoma Valley Watershed

 Maintain positive relationships with numerous stakeholders, including governmental agencies, other nonprofits, community groups, educators, landowners, and volunteers

 Ability to collaborate with SEC staff to successfully carry out cross-programmatic outreach and events

 Willing to ask for help

 Ability to remain calm under challenging circumstances

 Communicative, collaborative, collegial, polite, and outgoing

 Must be able to pass DOJ/FBI background check as well as a DMV check

 Valid driver’s license and must maintain at least the minimum of personal auto insurance and has a reliable vehicle

Physical Demands and Work Environment:

Work will be performed both in the field and in the office. In the office, one will use a computer, phone, copier, and may sit for long periods of time. Fieldwork will include bending, stooping, kneeling, wading, and standing for long periods of time. One may be exposed to the inclement weather during workdays. Educational and outreach work will be performed in classrooms, community centers, offices, etc. require lifting folding tables (40 lbs.), and boxes containing outreach materials (10 lbs.), and setting up pop-up tents.

Evening and weekend work is required for public meetings, volunteer days, and other community outreach efforts.

All qualified applicants will be given equal consideration without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, breastfeeding, veteran, military status, genetic information, and marital status or familial status.

Benefits:

After successful completion of the 90-day introductory period, full-time employees are offered the following:

Eligibility to enroll in one of two Kaiser Permanente health insurance plans, of which, SEC pays half of the employee’s premium (not that of dependents), paid holidays, vacation accrual, sick accrual, and the ability to enroll in a self-funded TIAA 403(B) account.

How to Apply:

Please send your cover letter, resume, and three references, to Celina Briggs, Human Resources Specialist, humanresources@sonomaecologycenter.org, preferably in one PDF document. No phone calls, please.

If you need assistance in the application process or during the interview process, please contact the Human Resources Department. We will try to provide reasonable accommodations when considered appropriate.

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

YES We Can! Rights of Lake Erie: One Step Closer to the Ballot, One Step Closer to Recognition

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 09:52
Community unites to fight off the polluter agenda and clean, healthy water….. Rights of Lake Erie: One Step Closer to the Ballot, One Step Closer to Recognition The Great Lake may become the 1st recognized ecosystem in the U.S. with rights to exist and flourish

 

CONTACT:
Tish O’Dell, Ohio Community Organizer
440-552-6774
tish@celdf.org

TOLEDO, OHIO:  On Tuesday, December 4, the Toledo City Council voted unanimously to place the proposed Lake Erie Bill of Rights law onto the ballot for a vote in February.

The Lake Erie Bill of Rights is the first proposed law to advance in the U.S. that specifically focuses on a distinct ecosystem, securing the Lake’s rights to exist and flourish.

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) assisted Toledoans for Safe Water to draft the Lake Erie Bill of Rights.  Beginning in 2006, CELDF has assisted the first communities in the United States, and the first country – Ecuador – to develop rights of nature laws. They are the first such laws in the world.

Lake Erie, one of the five Great Lakes, has suffered from significant pollution, agricultural runoff, and other industrial activities, which have caused severe impacts on water quality and the health of the lake ecosystem. “The Lake Erie Bill of Rights will be the first law in the U.S. to recognize rights of an ecosystem,” explained CELDF organizer, Tish O’Dell, “it’s refreshing to see an Ohio city leading the way for change instead of staying with the status quo.”

Markie Miller, organizer with the local community group, Toledoans for Safe Water, congratulated the City Council on moving the measure forward, stating, “The people of Toledo came together to propose this law, and we thank the City Council for providing an opportunity for the people to vote.”

Rights of Nature Laws

Today, Ecuador and Bolivia have national laws in place, and Colombia and India courts have recognized rights of rivers and other ecosystems.  Local laws have been established in Brazil, and a campaign launched earlier this year to secure rights of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

With mounting environmental crises, there is a growing shift toward rights of nature laws, under which human activity must not affect the ability of an ecosystem to exist and thrive.

By contrast, conventional environmental laws authorize the use and exploitation of nature, such as laws which legalize fracking, mining, and drilling.  Under these laws, nature is treated as property without even basic rights to existence or well-being.

In its 2016 decision securing rights of the Atrato River, Colombia’s Constitutional Court explained that in light of growing environmental crises, it is necessary to protect the rights of nature, writing that such a change is needed before “it’s too late.”

Ohio Communities Part of Growing Movement Ohio residents are advancing Community Rights and Rights of Nature as part of the broader Community Rights movement building across the U.S. Local communities and state Community Rights Networks are partnering with CELDF to advance and protect fundamental democratic and environmental rights. They are working with CELDF to establish Community Rights and the Rights of Nature in law, and prohibit fracking, factory farming, water privatization, and other industrial activities as violations of those rights. Communities are joining together within and across states, working with CELDF to advance systemic change – recognizing our existing system of law and governance as inherently undemocratic and unsustainable. Ohio joins state Community Rights Networks in Oregon, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, where residents are advancing Community Rights state constitutional amendments. Additional Information

For additional information regarding petitioning communities, contact CELDF at info@celdf.org. To learn about the Ohio Community Rights Network, visit ohiocrn.org. To learn about the Community Rights Movement, visit www.celdf.org.

About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit, public interest law firm providing free and affordable legal services to communities facing threats to their local environment, local agriculture, local economy, and quality of life. Its mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature.

 

Featured image: Sea breeze by Mark K, Flickr Creative Commons.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

‘Brutal news’: global carbon emissions jump to all-time high in 2018

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 09:38
Luxembourg / Country becomes first to make all public transport free

‘Brutal news’: global carbon emissions jump to all-time high in 2018 Rapid cuts needed to protect billions of people from rising emissions due to increase in use of cars and coal

@dpcarrington

Almost all countries are contributing to the rise in emissions, with China up 4.7%, the US by 2.5% and India by 6.3% in 2018. Photograph: Michel Euler/AP

Global carbon emissions will jump to a record high in 2018, according to a report, dashing hopes a plateau of recent years would be maintained. It means emissions are heading in the opposite direction to the deep cuts urgently needed, say scientists, to fight climate change.

The rise is due to the growing number of cars on the roads and a renaissance of coal use and means the world remains on the track to catastrophic global warming. However, the report’s authors said the emissions trend can still be turned around by 2020, if cuts are made in transport, industry and farming emissions.

The research by the Global Carbon Project was launched at the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, where almost 200 nations are working to turn the vision of tackling climate change agreed in Paris in 2015 into action. The report estimates CO2 emissions will rise by 2.7% in 2018, sharply up on the plateau from 2014-16 and 1.6% rise in 2017.

Almost all countries are contributing to the rise, with emissions in China up 4.7%, in the US by 2.5% and in India by 6.3% in 2018. The EU’s emissions are near flat, but this follows a decade of strong falls.

“The global rise in carbon emissions is worrying, because to deal with climate change they have to turn around and go to zero eventually,” said Prof Corinne Le Quéré, at the University of East Anglia,who led the research published in the journal Nature. “We are not seeing action in the way we really need to. This needs to change quickly.”

At a rally on Tuesday, President Donald Trump is expected to unveil a plan that would provide notable regulatory relief to the coal industry. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

The current Paris agreement pledges from nations will only limit global warming to 3C, while even a rise of 1.5C will be disastrous for many people, according to the world’s scientists.

Le Quéré said: “I hope that by 2020, when [governments] have to come back with stronger commitments, we will then see a turning point.”

The International Energy Agency’s data also shows rising emissions in 2018. Its executive director, Fatih Birol, said: “This turnaround should be another warning to governments as they meet in Katowice this week.”

“Every year of rising emissions puts economies and the homes, lives and livelihoods of billions of people at risk,” said Christiana Figueres, at the Mission 2020 campaign, who was the UN climate diplomat overseeing the Paris agreement. “We are in the age of exponentials,” she said, with renewable energy and electric cars expanding rapidly, but with the extreme weather impacts of climate change doing the same. “We have to ensure it is the solutions exponential curve that is going to win the race.”

Prof David Reay, at the University of Edinburgh, UK, said: “This annual balance sheet for global carbon is comprehensive and scientifically robust. Its message is more brutal than ever: we are deep in the red and heading still deeper. For all our sakes, world leaders must now do what is required.” Harjeet Singh, at ActionAid International, said news of the emissions’ rise should galvanise those at the climate summit: “There’s way too much complacency in the air at these talks.”

The “dark news” of rising emissions is merging with two other alarming trends, according to Prof David Victor, at the University of California, San Diego, in an article with colleagues also published in Nature on Wednesday.

Falling air pollution is enabling more of the sun’s warmth to reach the Earth’s surface, as aerosol pollutants reflect sunlight, while a long-term natural climate cycle in the Pacific is entering a warm phase. Victor said: “Global warming is accelerating. [These] three trends will combine over the next 20 years to make climate change faster and more furious than anticipated.”

The Global Carbon Budget, produced by 76 scientists from 57 research institutions in 15 countries, found the major drivers of the 2018 increase were more coal-burning in China and India as their economies grew, and more oil used in more transport. Industry also used more gas. Renewable energy grew rapidly, but not enough to offset the increased use of fossil fuel.

“There was hope China was rapidly moving away from coal power, but the last two years have shown it will not be so easy to say farewell quickly,” said Jan Ivar Korsbakken, at the Centre for International Climate Research in Norway.

Pinterest The last two years have shown it won’t be easy for China to say farewell to coal use quickly, according to Norway’s Centre for International Climate Research. Photograph: Andy Wong/AP In the three years since the Paris agreement was signed, financial institutions have invested more than $478bn in the world’s top 120 coal plant developers, according to a report by the NGOs Urgewald, BankTrack and partners. Chinese banks led the underwriting of coal investments, while Japanese banks led the loans, the NGOs found. World Bank to invest $200bn to combat climate change Read more

In the US, emissions rose as an unusually cold winter and hot summer boosted demand for both heating and cooling in homes. But it is expected that emissions will start to decline again in 2019, as cheap gas, wind and solar continue to displace coal – coal use has dropped 40% since 2005 and it is now at its lowest level since 1979.

The global rise in emissions, even in rich, developed nations, is very concerning, said Antonio Marcondes, Brazil’s chief negotiator at the UN summit: “Emission reductions are like credit-card debt: the longer they are put off, the more expensive and painful they become.”

Brazil reached its 2020 emissions targets early, but fears of a rise in deforestation under the new president, Jair Bolsonaro, could reverse this. But Le Quéré is optimistic that the rapid global rises seen in recent decades will not return: “This is very unlikely.” In these critical times …

… help us protect independent journalism at a time when factual, trustworthy reporting is under threat by making a year-end gift to support The Guardian. We’re asking our US readers to help us raise one million dollars by the new year so that we can report on the stories that matter in 2019. Small or big, every contribution you give will help us reach our goal.

The Guardian’s editorial independence means that we can pursue difficult investigations, challenging the powerful and holding them to account. No one edits our editor and no one steers our opinion.

In 2018, The Guardian broke the story of Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook data breach; we recorded the human fallout from family separations

 

 

FULL STORY

Categories: G2. Local Greens

State Senator Mike McGuire steps up to the plate

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 09:29
Dear Neighbor,

Americans can only speculate why President Trump often shows stronger allegiance to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and Russia’s Vladimir Putin than to America’s own best interests.

After two years into this presidency, it’s time to put this speculation to bed and bring to light any conflicts of interest that could drive an American president into the arms of a foreign power.

That’s why I, along with State Senator Scott Wiener, have reintroduced legislation that would require all presidential candidates to release their tax returns prior to being placed on the California ballot. Tax returns, which are signed under penalty of perjury, would reveal the kinds of financial entanglements that lead to such serious conflicts of interest.

Voters not only deserve full disclosure of their leader’s tax returns, they should be entitled to them. If President Trump had released his tax returns, we would know why he’s ignoring his own intelligence agencies and snuggling up to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who has been linked to the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

Transparency is a nonpartisan issue. A poll released this week showed 63 percent of Americans believe Trump’s tax returns should be released. And the Presidential Tax Transparency bill was last passed by the legislature with Republican and Democratic support in 2017.

It’s time to make President Trump’s tax returns public. We will keep you posted on our progress and let you know how you can help. Thank you!

Warmest regards,

Senator Mike McGuire

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

California mandates solar on new houses

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 09:25
California mandates solar on new houses

 California becomes the first state to mandate solar panels on all new homes. The requirement goes into effect in 2020:

“These provisions really are historic and will be a beacon of light for the rest of the country,” said Kent Sasaki, a structural engineer and one of six commissioners voting for the new energy code. “(It’s) the beginning of substantial improvement in how we produce energy and reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.”

The new provisions are expected to dramatically boost the number of rooftop solar panels in the Golden State. Last year, builders took out permits for more than 115,000 new homes — almost half of them for single-family homes.

The estimated cost added for the average new home is $10,000, with $1,500 of that going for improved energy efficiency. That upfront costs will be paid for by lower utility bills over the life span of the solar panels.

 

 

 

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Dow knew decades ago that this chemical damaged kids’ brains.

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 09:55
Dow knew decades ago that this chemical damaged kids’ brains. Organic Consumers Association: NEW STUDY Dastardly Dow

We’ve known for a while that Monsanto buried the truth about Roundup weedkiller, by ignoring concerns by its own scientists. Now it seems Dow Chemical Co. has been using the same playbook.

Dow (renamed DowDuPont after its 2017 merger with DuPont) likely knew for decades that its widely used chlorpyrifos insecticide is harmful to humans—especially children and developing fetuses. But the company hid that information from regulators, both in the U.S. and EU, according to a new study, published in the journal Environmental Health.

The revelation comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is duking it out in the legal system over a court ruling that the agency finalize a ban on chlorpyrifos that was proposed under the Obama administration, but overturned after Trump took office. On September 24, the EPA—the agency charged with protecting us from environmental contaminants—asked the courts to re-hear the case. In the meantime, in California alone, 800,000 acres and on dozens of crops continue to be doused with a pesticide that Beyond Pesticides describes this way:

A neurological toxicant, chlorpyrifos damages the brains of young children: impacts of exposure, even at very low levels, include decreased cognitive function, lowered IQ, attention deficit disorder, and developmental and learning delays.

Read ‘Did Dow Chemical Fake Safety Studies on Brain-Damaging Chlorpyrifos?’
Categories: G2. Local Greens

Napa County takes first step to rein in wineries that break the law

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 09:48

In recent years, industry opposition has been bubbling up, especially over greater traffic on Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail. In June, local voters narrowly rejected an amendment that would have limited vineyard development on hills and mountains to provide greater protection to the environment.

Sonoma County officials are paying close attention to the actions in Napa and the board of supervisors here intends to tackle winery tourism issues in 2019.

Napa County takes first step to rein in wineries that break the law

(1 of ) Marisa Spencer, left, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Madlyn Oltman of Charleston, West Virginia, taking selfies near a vineyard at Cuvaison Estate Wines in Napa before the start of the Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon held on July 19, 2015. (Photo: Erik Castro/for The Press Democrat) prev next

Napa County takes first step to rein in wineries that break the law

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BILL SWINDELL THE PRESS DEMOCRAT | December 4, 2018, 4:41PM  After years of wrangling, Napa County took a first step to better police its more than 500 wineries with an updated code enforcement program approved by its board of supervisors on Tuesday. The board by a 4-0 vote approved a resolution that would revamp the county’s winery enforcement program that has been criticized as ineffective and having no teeth for violators. For example, county officials found in 2014 that almost half of the wineries audited did not comply with code requirements, such as exceeding their production or visitor limits.

The vote comes with increasing backlash to the wine sector that wields considerable political influence through the Napa Valley Vintners trade group and as the dominant economic driver in the county of more than 140,000 residents.

In recent years, industry opposition has been bubbling up, especially over greater traffic on Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail. In June, local voters narrowly rejected an amendment that would have limited vineyard development on hills and mountains to provide greater protection to the environment.

Sonoma County officials are paying close attention to the actions in Napa and the board of supervisors here intends to tackle winery tourism issues in 2019.

The main provision of the Napa County resolution would require all wineries in unincorporated areas to file annually their overall production and grape souring data to the county to see if the numbers are the same as the ones they report to federal and state authorities. Also, wineries with outstanding code violations each year would have until the end of March to resolve their problems or apply for a new permit. In addition, temporary winery event permits would need to be submitted 90 days in advance instead of the current 60-day rule.

There are now 38 open investigations for winery code violations in Napa County, said David Morrison, director of the county’s planning, building and environmental services department.

During the debate, Minh Tran, Napa County’s CEO, said his team was looking to ensure vintners that violate the law in the future will pay a steeper price.

“We are looking at making the penalty harsher and more severe,” Tran said.

A community task force was formed in 2015 to come up with recommendations that could be implemented in an attempt to balance the growth of the wine industry with concerns of residents. The code enforcement piece is the first part to go in front of the Napa supervisors to be followed with other efforts on traffic congestion and environmental impact — issues that may prove harder to resolve.

“This is simply step one,” County Supervisor Belia Ramos said. “There will be other policies.”

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