You are here

Wine And Water Watch

Subscribe to Wine And Water Watch feed
Protecting our Environmental Resources
Updated: 1 hour 36 min ago

The Napa Planning Commissio n raises the stakes

8 hours 43 min ago

The Planning Commission vote tomorrow raises the stakes.

Important Planning Commission meeting to approve the Watershed Protection Ordinance tomorrow –
9am Wednesday, February 20 Dear friends and supporters of Measure C,

As many of you know, the County has drafted a watershed protection ordinance.  This is a direct result of our efforts, and the prospect of a new initiative in 2020 if the proposal fails to greatly curtail the crude and primitive practice of clear-cutting forests.
Read more detail here: http://bit.ly/2tupzOP

The Planning Commission vote raises the stakes.  Tomorrow, it decides whether to approve the weak draft ordinance as is or send it back to the Board of Supervisors with a strong ordinance that makes a difference.
Read more detail here: http://bit.ly/2trwIPY

What can we do?  Make your voice heard.
Come to the Planning Commission meeting scheduled TOMORROW – 9am Wednesday, February 20.

Several key areas that need strengthening:

Tree retention requirement  

The county’s proposed 70% retention of tree canopy cover, minimum, is utterly unacceptable.  Our position is 90%, achieved in combination with further important protections that need strengthening, below:

3:1 tree removal mitigation  

The county’s proposed mitigation on slopes >30% is unacceptable.  This practice has been described as “double-dipping.”  Allowing preservation on steeper slopes that are already protected might help facilitate mitigation, but it frustrates the primary goal – limiting the clear cutting of Napa’s forests.  Preservation needs to take place on developable land, outside of already protected steeper slopes, and outside of already protected stream and wetland setbacks.

Definition of “vegetation canopy cover”  

The proposed definition considers canopy cover as the continuous, collective cover of a grouping of trees.  But it does not consider single trees as part of the canopy cover.  This is unacceptable, as it does not address oak woodlands where there is not a closed canopy.  State law (AB 242, Thomson, 2001) addresses oak ecosystems whereby an “oak woodland” is defined as an oak stand with >10% canopy cover or that may have historically supported >10% canopy cover.  By using this definition, single oaks would be counted as part of the canopy cover.

Stay involved.

You can send comment letters to planning commissioners and copy the Board of Supervisors:

https://www.countyofnapa.org/1449/Planning-Commission https://www.countyofnapa.org/2116/Board-of-Supervisors

Check out our Facebook page!

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Trump Administration Says It Will Rescind $929 Million In Funds For California High-Speed Rail | HuffPost

8 hours 47 min ago
“Bully in Chief”, “Don the Con” at it again… “This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won’t sit idly by,” Newsom continued. “This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it.”  Trump Administration Says It Will Rescind $929 Million In Funds For California High-Speed Rail | HuffPost The announcement comes one day after California joined a 16-state lawsuit challenging the president’s emergency declaration to fund a border wall. By Antonia Blumberg

The U.S. Transportation Department on Tuesday said it intends to terminate an agreement that would have granted nearly $929 million in federal funds for California’s ambitious and controversial high-speed rail project.

The department said it had determined that the California High-Speed Rail Authority had “materially failed to comply with the terms of the agreement” and had “failed to make reasonable progress on the project.”

The department also said in a statement it was “actively exploring every legal option to seek the return from California of $2.5 billion in federal funds.” It is unclear whether the department has legal recourse to do so.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) responded by accusing President Donald Trump of “political retribution” after California was joined by 15 states in a lawsuit on Monday challenging the president’s declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“It’s no coincidence that the Administration’s threat comes 24 hours after California led 16 states in challenging the President’s farcical ‘national emergency,’” Newsom said in a statement. “The President even tied the two issues together in a tweet this morning.”

Trump referenced California’s high-speed rail in a tweet on Tuesday about the laws.

“This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won’t sit idly by,” Newsom continued. “This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it.” 

In a letter to Brian Kelly, the rail authority’s chief executive officer, Federal Railroad Administration official Ronald Batory referenced Newsom’s Feb. 12 State of the State address.

In the address, Newsom confirmed his plans to scale back the high-speed rail project, which was expected to take passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in less than three hours. The project has been repeatedly delayed since construction started in 2015, under then-Gov. Jerry Brown, after costs doubled from initial projections, private investment failed to materialized and public support for the project deteriorated.

Newsom said he planned to refocus the high-speed rail project to link Merced and Bakersfield, a Central California route that by car can take up to three hours. Newsom made his plans clear during his gubernatorial campaign last year.

“I know that some critics will say this is a train to nowhere, but that’s wrong and offensive,” the governor said in his address. “The people of the Central Valley endure the worst air pollution in America, as well as some of the longest commutes. And they have suffered too many years of neglect from policymakers here in Sacramento. They deserve better.”

 

FULL STORY & COMMENTS

Categories: G2. Local Greens

WWW meeting notes on Land Use policies in Sonoma County

9 hours 2 min ago
WWW meeting notes on Land Use policies in Sonoma County. Thank you Judith for some great notes. When scoping meetings for the General Plan and Local Coastal Plan start we will notify everyone and have a follow up meeting/forum on with information and actions by topics. In great appreciation for all the wonderful community minded people who showed up on a drizzly day.  

 

Wine and Water Watch – February 16, 2019 Forum

 

MAC – Municipal Advisory Committee for Coast (March 7th @ Bodega Bay Grange)

 

Laura Waldbaum: Cannabis Update – from Env Rep to Cannabis Advisory Group

Requires two licenses 1) State and 2) Sonoma County.  Sonoma claimed categorial exemption from CEQA – just do case by case for each project – no cumulative impact. 

Resources and status of activities are available at  SonomaCounty.ca.gov/Cannabis  (or contact the Cannabis Hotline 707.565.2420 or Cannabis@Sonoma-County.org . This is intended to be a “one-stop shop” where people can get up to date information and to check whether there is a permit for a specific property by Parcel number or street address. 

Water Use:  Up to 6- 15 gal/day at maturity … at 6 gal/day a 1 acre grow with 1 plant per 8 sq ft = 32,670 gallons/day or over 5 M gallons in 5 months (.05 cfs) Hydrology reports are standardized – and provide very little sight specific information – do not look at contained aquifer…

See County Website for regulations – Ordinance and what is allowed

  • NOW a 10-acre min – 600-foot setback from schools – trail system added to Park Setback, now exceptions allowed
  • Zoning/ Admin permit (smaller grows) and Use Permit
  • Is not agriculture – no right to farm: Federally illegal and additional impacts
  • Setbacks 1000 feet
  • Hydrology report and water use self-monitored – (if they do not increase water use in water scarce area)
  • SWRCB Waste Discharge General Order or Waiver – must maintain instream flows and “may” impose groundwater restrictions under certain circumstances

 

Cannabis Advisory Group: Two residents and one environmentalist – the rest are industry members with significant influence on the Ordinance and lack of enforcement

 

Sonoma County: by 2019: 39 Use Permits issued – with most being Zoning/Administrative Permit: Only 5% approaching Hearing stage and 20 % are in process. Still many illegal grows – neighbor complaints only lead to land use fines, and continue to allow the growing

700-900 Cannabis complaints filed at the County – Phase I – September 2018 revisions /
Phase II plan to amend Ordinance (on hold)

     Penalty Relief Program – Start 2017: 332 growers continued growing: June 2018 144 had not even applied for permit vs. have had completed permit.  DID NOT work out well only about 60-70 in Penalty Relief:  Allows illegal growers to continue growing until they get their Use Permit.

     Healdsburg grow:  Taking out 2 acres of grapes and putting in 1 acre cannabis: Will need to go through the Conditional Use Permit process

 

Other Bay Area Counties:  Statewide only 14 Counties allow cannabis/ 11 with outdoor grows – Sonoma County is “Permissive County” – only Bay Area County that allows outdoor grows (NMFS working to protect certain watersheds, like Mark West Spring

 

Robert Guthrie – Save our Sonoma Neighborhoods.com (SOS): Sebastopol area – organized to help neighborhoods work through permit issues/Ordinance

  • Any AG or Resource land use category (LIA,LEA, DA, plus Industrial Commercial zones – can be right across your fence line under an Admin Permit (10,000 sq foot max) for 1 acre need 10 acre min
  • Setbacks: Outdoor 100 feet to property line – 300 feet to the house/ Indoor cannabis can be 10 feet from property line or house/ with parking, break area where smoking allowed and bathrooms right on the fence line
  • No well setbacks – fertilizer and pesticides etc can migrate into confined aquifers
  • Setbacks for creeks and park lands: Indoor can be right up to property lines – still have water and wastewater contamination issues

 

Ernie Carpenter:  General Plan County 2020 (Update to 1989 and 2008 plan) Subscribe to General Plan Update on County website (10 elements)

  • Large lot zoning with Acreage Min (Parcel specific) is key to keeping ag viable in County (done in 1989): 9 sub-areas developed (Coast – Sebastopol – etc: allows for more specific plans)
  • City centered growth – City and County need to work together – and village sewer capacity and water capacity must be updated
  • Some GP elements are OPTIONAL: Ag Resources (Ag promotion events allows commercial use in ag zones): Air, Transportation, Public Infrastructure: NEED to protect wooded areas and ensure fire safety and ability
  • MANDATORY elements: Housing (important City/County meetings related to housing – cannot build to accommodate all needs) and Zoning, Open Space (community separators), Public Safety, Transit,
  • Glossary – definitions that are specific enough to allow enforcement. Devil is in the details on definitions. 

Zoning Ordinance must be brought up to date to match new GP:  Only covers discretionary projects

 

Rue Furch: Water Resources Element (process 2002-2008 was last update) Federal, State, County and City levels all regulate water use

 

(Urban Growth Boundaries, Statewide Conference on Responsible Water Use)

  • Water Element is not Mandatory: Had a CAC in In 2002 – the County did not know if it had enough water to support the amount of housing and growth projected – important for economic and agricultural stability, address groundwater
  • Got definitions of watershed boundaries/ groundwater and surface water interactions/ increased protection for Riparian areas (Riparian Ordinance)
  • Santa Rosa Basin has fees for Well Owners – Agriculture and Rural Residential and Municipal groups to pay fees ($12-26 per Residential Well)
  • County is “streamlining” this 2020 update – limit what can be addressed

o   Goals, Objectives and Policies:  After each element, there is a list of Programs that are meant to be done to implement the GP

o   Scoping Session – identifies new information that must go into GP

o   Update Water Availability Zones – where and supply of groundwater and contained aquifers – identifies Class I,II,III – type of hydrology studies

 

CA Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA): 3 Basins for Med Risk: Santa Rosa Plain, Petaluma Valley and Sonoma Valley

  • Each Basin has a governing board- geologically and culturally the basins are different
  • 2019-2021 Write the Sustainability Plan

 

Local Coastal Plan:  5-year Plan: County is planning to issue a DRAFT in April 2019: Then hold public meetings in Coastal Area

First “MAC/LCP” meeting on March 7th, Bodega Bay Grange at 530pm

  • Cannot be inconsistent with GP, yet is not a part of GP – needs to be stand alone document as it is unique to Coastal Area (Required under Coastal Act) – most of elements are the same as the General Plan
  • Sonoma has the longest coastline of all coastal areas in CA: Seal level rise, public access, Ag resources (risk the County will open up the coast to wineries, tasting rooms and event centers) , water quality and Resource Management

 

Tom Conlin:  Greenhouse Gas and Climate Change: Climate denial is something that we are all doing – even in CA’s unique form of Climate denial

  • PG&E is bankrupt – 1st major corporation to be put out of biz by climate change
  • Spread of wildfires in US: States and local land use must look at where we can build

o   Wealthy can self-insure and 3rd party wildfire defense services

  • Sonoma County – 50K homes in fire hazard severity zone / 11K in moderate zone: Yet still are approving the rebuilding of houses in the fire hazard areas (Wild-Urban Interface)
  • Climate Change goals set at international and national levels: Plans are there – why are we not implementing these plans: Sonoma County is doing better than most: 53% are private cars/truck transportation, then GHG from buildings: 40% fewer cows and outsourcing our garbage dump to outside county created a small dip
  • Climate Action Plan 2020: was not implemented: could have been used as checklist to comply with GHG analysis:  Production of wine and tourism trips were the areas where we weren’t addressing GHG – lawsuit: Raise issue of tourism travel and long term GHG issues

 

Annie Dobbs Kramer: North Bay Organizing Project – Environmental and Social Justice:  Shared values around housing (place for shelter), immigration/deportation and environmental justice

  • Rights of Nature Framework: right of the ecosystems to grow and thrive
  • Climate Change is a result of our extractive economic system – need a new economic paradigm and address cultural strategy of working with youth
  • Want Initiative on ballot in 2020 (water, pesticides, forest health)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

WWW Annual Sonoma County Land Use Policy Meeting

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 20:23
On February 16, 2019 the community came together for an open, fact filled discussion on land use policies. Sonoma County planners are rewriting the General Plan for 2020, still tweaking cannabis regulations, winery event regulations (postponed) and the Local Coastal Plan due this spring. These policies will affect the county for generations to come. Speakers included Laura Waldbaum, Robert Guthrie, Ernie Carpenter, Rue Furch, Tom Conlon and Annie Dobbs-Kramer. These speakers have decades of experience in our county on land use policies. The event was free.

Wine & Water Watch is a Sonoma County Tomorrow group.

 

 

How to get involved now for optimum input and what we need to watch for.  “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” Equality and many voices will make our county great.

 

 

Graton Community Club

8996 Graton Rd Graton, CA.

February 16, 2019 1pm-3pm

ERNIE CARPENTER BIO: Fiscal conservative and social liberal.

Ernie Carpenter received his BA from San Francisco State and Master of Social Work at Berkeley in 1969. Ernie has lived in Sonoma County since 1969. He is a psychiatric social worker and an original Social Advocates for Youth staff. Ernie served on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors 1981-1997 representing the West Sonoma County. He is a former Coastal Commissioner, Planning Commissioner, Supervisor and current muckraker. He has an ongoing interest in progressive drug policies and government and currently works as a consultant on environment and government.

 

DOWNLOAD ERNIE’s PRESENTATION >>

 
 
 
 

RUE FURCH BIO:Rue has worked for years with local farm groups, seeking to protect family farms. She was Project Manager for the Sonoma County Farmlands Group and has worked with the California Association of Family Farmers. She was a leader of the Santa Rosa and Sebastopol Urban Growth Boundary campaigns, which fought to protect agricultural land from city sprawl.Her belief in neighborhood-friendly planning led to involvement in Courtside Village, the first Santa Rosa mixed use development to create a complete community of homes, shops, and parks. She also worked with the Santa Rosa Neighborhood Coalition, Concerned Citizens for Santa Rosa and the Sonoma County Community Foundation Advisory Committee. She was a moderator of the Marin-Sonoma County Transportation Committee and a member of the Hwy. 101 Corridor Advisory Committee.

Rue has served as a county planning commission for 16 years and has a reputation for doing her homework and asking tough questions. She was appointed by two West County supervisors, and has twice been the Commission’s chairperson. She recently chaired a statewide conference on responsible water use and succeeded in prioritizing water resources in the county’s new general plan. Among her many awards,

Rue was named California Woman of the Year by the state Assembly, 2006 Upstream Swimmer Award by Sonoma County Conservation Action, Environmentalist of the Year by the Sonoma County Conservation Council, County Planning Commissioner of the Year by the California County Planning Commissioners’ Association and received the Agent of Change Award from Concerned Citizens for Santa Rosa.

 

DOWNLOAD RUE’s PRESENTATION >>
 
 
 
 
 
 

LAURA WALDBAUM BIO: Laura Waldbaum in an environmental activist. For the past 20 years she has been working to implement changes to County policies and influence land use decisions to protect fish habitat in the Mark West Creek Watershed. She has been involved with litigation opposing several County land use decisions, has served on the County’s “working group” to modify the Vineyard & Orchard Site Development Ordinance and is currently a member of Sonoma County’s Cannabis Advisory Group representing the environment. 

 

 

 
 
DOWNLOAD LAURA’s PRESENTATION >>

 
 
 

Robert Guthrie spoke on the work of Save Our Sonoma Neighborhoods.

DOWNLOAD ROBERT’s PRESENTATION >>

 
 

Tom Conlon is an applied anthropologist and an expert in energy-efficiency social marketing. His clients have included Southern California Edison, the California Energy Commission, the Electric Power Research Institute, and The World Bank (Jamaica). He is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz and Sonoma State University, and has founded several ‘green’ businesses, including one acquired by Autodesk in 2008. A Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology, Tom represented District 1 on the Sonoma County Climate Action 2020 Stakeholder Advisory Group, and he has served on the boards of other local organizations including the Economic Development Board’s Business Environmental Alliance, the Rotary Club of Sonoma Valley, and Transition Sonoma Valley. In the late 1980’s he helped initiate the Organic Market News and Information Service and early drafts of the California Organic Foods Act (1990). Tom provides strategic, technical, and website support to Wine and Water Watch.

 

DOWNLOAD TOM’s PRESENTATION >>
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

Annie Dobbs-Kramer: 

Community Organizer | North Bay Organizing Project (NBOP)

Annie Dobbs-Kramer is a community organizer with the North Bay Organizing Project in Sonoma Country California. She has been organizing for the last 9 years. Her work centers on the intersection between environmental and social justice organizing to build deep democracy in our communities. The main focus of her organizing is creating space for women to empower themselves.

NBOP is an grassroots, multi-racial, and multi-issue organization comprised of over 20 faith, labor, environmental, student and community-based organizations based in Sonoma County. In this conversation we will learn about their campaign, Roots, Roof, and Refuge, and why they created the women-led Justice for the Environment Taskforce to embark on a campaign for the Rights of Nature.

The Rights of Nature identifies ecosystems and natural communities not merely as property, but as entities that have an independent right to exist and flourish. Laws recognizing the rights of nature thus transform the status of natural communities and ecosystems from things to be owned into rights-bearing entities with privileges that can be enforced by people, governments, and communities.

Annie spoke “no net” (i.e., w/o any slides).

 

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Dogwood II was defeated in court, but here comes Dogwood III.

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 09:11

Dogwood II was defeated in court, but here comes Dogwood III.

Rick and Jeanne Jackson

Gualala, CA, United States

Feb 16, 2019 —

Friends of Gualala River, and their allies, once again recently prevailed in court. The timber harvest plan called Dogwood has been found twice to fail to meet California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements for failing to evaluate project alternatives with less environmental impacts. FoGR also won on the lack of a Cumulative Impact study.

Dogwood III is just as flawed as its predecessors. It lacks even the most basic survey information on seasonal wetlands – the floodplain of the Gualala River.  It also lacks scientific information on rare plants and protected wildlife species such as steelhead trout. The floodplain of the Gualala River is too important to the health of this already deemed impaired river. Logging of redwoods trees in the floodplain will do great harm.

We ask that this Timber Harvest Plan, Dogwood THP 1-15-042 SON, be subject to greater review. We request Dogwood be elevated for policy-level review by the CAL FIRE headquarters Board of Forestry.

What can you do to help? Please email Santa Rosa CAL FIRE before Feb. 21, 2019 with your comments. Tell them in your own words why you are against logging in the floodplain. Whether it be the fish, the wildflowers such as Coast Lilies, the wildlife such as Western Pond Turtles and CA Red-legged Frog, tell them why this special place we call the Magical Forest shouldn’t be logged. Ask CAL FIRE to elevate Dogwood for a policy level review. Email CAL FIRE at this address: santarosapubliccomment@fire.ca.gov

Thank you for caring. Jeanne Jackson p.s. The photo with this update is a redwood tree marked for logging in Dogwood.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Winery issues don’t need more committees

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 09:02
Kicking the can down the road again…… “It is troubling, however, that after over five years of pushing the county to complete these standards, which were required as part of the 2008 General Plan, it is now considering the formation of another committee. Work has already been done by county officials during the Winery Working Group discussions of 2015. And, in 2016 the planners held workshops, study sessions with supervisors and developed various policy options.” 

Winery issues don’t need more committees 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Winery issues don’t need more committees 

Editor,

As a resident of the Westside Area, identified by the county as an area of tasting room concentration, I am concerned by the suggestion in your February 2nd article, that local citizen advisory committees may be tasked to develop guidelines for winery entertainment and hospitality services in rural areas.

Thankfully, Supervisor Gore, along with Supervisors Gorin and Zane who are also concerned about such concentrations, recognizes that we should not have rural roads turning into “strip malls” of tasting rooms. The county must address the cumulative impacts to road safety, rural character and quality of life from this over concentration, particularly on Westside Road where millions of dollars of bicycle tourism are also at risk. Forming a citizen committee is not a silver bullet to solve these land use issues. Legally it is the county’s job to develop and approve ordinances, standards, and regulations. Since 2014, the public, industry and other groups have provided input for such standards, just as they have for the county’s deliberations on other regulations. Formulation of standards, however, is complex involving traffic, noise, legal and other technical analyses that are best left to professional planning staff. Most community representatives lack the time and expertise to conduct such an effort.

Once the county implements guidelines, it will be easier for the public, planning staff and commissioners, or even advisory committees to evaluate such projects against the standards.

Supervisor Rabbitt rightfully acknowledged the public’s concern that things need to move faster. It is troubling, however, that after over five years of pushing the county to complete these standards, which were required as part of the 2008 General Plan, it is now considering the formation of another committee. Work has already been done by county officials during the Winery Working Group discussions of 2015. And, in 2016 the planners held workshops, study sessions with supervisors and developed various policy options. 

Before the county creates another layer of bureaucracy with more committees, the staff should finish its work, hold hearings to gather input from stakeholders, and make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.

Marc Bommersbach

Categories: G2. Local Greens

National emergency dashes hopes for 5 ecologically sensitive sites spared by the spending bill

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 09:50
National emergency dashes hopes for 5 ecologically sensitive sites spared by the spending bill “The exemption in the spending bill will not likely save us in a state of emergency situation.” E.A. Crunden Feb 15, 2019, 11:51 am

SHARE

62-year-old Luciano Guerra stands on the banks of the Rio Grande in the National Butterfly Center, a private sanctuary for butterflies in southern Texas. CREDIT: Maren Hennemuth/picture alliance viaA spending bill allotting money to President Donald Trump’s border wall efforts shields five major ecologically or economically sensitive landmarks along the Rio Grande in Texas from any construction, including the National Butterfly Center and a beloved state park. But residents worry that a national emergency would make no such accommodations, once more imperiling vulnerable ecosystems on the border.“We are very concerned about the state of emergency declaration,” said Marianna Treviño-Wright, the executive director of the National Butterfly Center. The center, located near the border city of Mission, Texas, has emerged as a major opponent of the wall, which would put the vulnerable animals and wildlife it protects in danger.

Thursday night momentarily brought the center some relief, when Congress moved to avert a second partial government shutdown. Lawmakers passed a 1,159-page spending bill containing more than $1.3 billion for the president’s wall, albeit not the $5.7 billion initially requested. The amount contained in the spending bill allows for 55 barriers based in the Rio Grande Valley — directly threatening state landmarks.

But Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) said last-minute language added to the bill shielded five Texas landmarks. Along with the National Butterfly Center, exemptions are included for Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, home of the World Birding Center, and the historic Catholic chapel La Lomita.

But those efforts could be for naught. On Friday morning, Trump declared a national emergency to build the wall, announcing that he would divert funds from military construction projects in order to erect the immense barrier.

“I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster,” said Trump, addressing reporters in the Rose Garden.

A butterfly sanctuary in Texas is going to war with Trump over the border wall

While the decision is likely to face an outpouring of legal opposition, it has left the border in a state of unease, especially at places like the National Butterfly Center.

The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, already exempted through last year’s budget, was also spared, along with land meant to house a commercial spaceport for the company SpaceX.

“This is a big win for the Rio Grande Valley,” said Cuellar in a statement. “I worked hard to include this language because protecting these ecologically-sensitive areas and ensuring local communities have a say in determining the solutions that work for them is critical.”

“This is unchartered [sic] territory in the United States, where a president usurps power and does an end run around Congress in order to advance his authoritarian plan,” said Treviño-Wright in an email to ThinkProgress on Friday morning.

Removing tree canopy destroys the watershed, depleted groundwater and raises temperatures.

Even the spending bill was largely considered unacceptable to many border communities. While the five areas shielded through Cuellar’s efforts saw relief, other parts of the border were far less lucky.

Rev. Roy Snipes, the parish priest at La Lomita, told the Texas Tribune that being spared “would be the answer to our prayers” but that “our poor neighbors wouldn’t be spared.”

A number of lawmakers rejected the spending bill for similar reasons, including Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) who said in a statement that the wall would spur “55 miles of havoc through the Rio Grande Valley,” prompting a “no” vote from the Austin-area congressman. El Paso Rep. Veronica Escobar (D) similarly voted “no.”

Thousands of scientists and researchers have expressed concern about the wall’s likely impacts on the environment and public health, in addition to broader humanitarian worries.

In Texas alone, the Trump administration waived 28 laws to build the wall, including the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Moreover, similar sweeping efforts are ongoing elsewhere in states like California, and opponents have yet to see much success challenging them in court.

The spending bill remains a source of concern for border communities, many of whom have expressed unhappiness with congressional Democrats for giving the president any funding for the wall. That funding also only runs until September, meaning that any relief is already short-lived.

But a national emergency means that even exempted areas could find themselves back on the frontlines of Trump’s beloved project far sooner than that. Trump offered no indication during his comments on Friday morning as to whether some areas might be spared the barriers.

That could imperil places like Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, which the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has long cautioned could shutter over wall construction. TPWD has previously warned a wall would “bifurcate the park” and leave it unable to perform its basic functions.

In response to a request for comment from ThinkProgress, TPWD Press Office Manager Steve Lightfoot commended Cuellar’s “hard work and persistence” to secure protections for the park.

“Native habitats cover only about 5 percent of the Lower [Rio Grande Valley], and special places like Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park offer critical habitat and refuge for hundreds of species of birds, plants, and butterflies that are found in no other place outside the region,” Lightfoot said, while declining to discuss the national emergency’s implications for Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. With their fate in limbo, morale is running low in some of the border’s most treasured areas, not least of all at the National Butterfly Center. On Friday, Treviño-Wright expressed pessimism over the fate of the beloved wildlife preserve. “The exemption in the spending bill will not likely save us in a state of emergency situation, nor does it provide any guarantee for 2020,” she said, “when another budget battle for border wall will likely put us back on the table.”

FULL STORY

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Fox News’ Sean Hannity dictated Trump’s national emergency plan — and his next demands are even more frightening

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 09:42
Definition of tyranny (Collins): A tyranny is a cruel, harsh, and unfair government in which a person or small group of people have power over everyone else. Fox News’ Sean Hannity dictated Trump’s national emergency plan — and his next demands are even more frightening

by Cody FenwickFebruary 15, 2019 written by February 15, 2019

AddThis Sharing Buttons

Share to FlipboardShare to More1.1K Fox News host Sean Hannity published an op-ed on Wednesday laying out exactly how he thought President Donald Trump, to whom he serves as an informal adviser, should move forward… Fox News host Sean Hannity published an op-ed on Wednesday laying out exactly how he thought President Donald Trump, to whom he serves as an informal adviser, should move forward with congressional border security negotiations: Step one: The president signs the deal, and uses the $1.375 billion as a downpayment for the wall. Step two: President Trump has identified some $900 million for additional construction that is already available for the administration’s discretion. That would bring the pot to about $2.3 billion. Step three: This needs to happen simultaneously, and it has the president declaring a national emergency. This is the time. And on Friday, Trump followed the instructions obediently, suggesting Hannity’s influence over the White House could be near-absolute.

In light of that fact, Hannity’s other recent demands are even more terrifying than Trump’s national emergency gambit, which is likely to fail.

As Media Matters for America documented Friday, another of the Fox News host’s major priorities for the newly confirmed attorney general, William Barr, is the prosecution of Trump’s enemies.

On Thursday night, just hours after the Senate confirmed Barr, Hannity crowed, “My sources telling me tonight things are happening as we speak.” The Fox host went on to detail numerous purported crimes he said had been committed by 10 “deep state actors,” including former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

“Over the next year with a brand new attorney general, William Barr, this country — we’ve got to decide,” Hannity concluded. “You want to save the United States? You want to be a constitutional republic? You want equal justice under the law? Do you want a dual justice system, or do you want America to be handed off to your kids and grandkids as a banana republic?

Later in the program, Gregg Jarrett, the Fox legal analyst whose role at the network is to explain why the president and his team did not break the law but all of his critics did, claimed that “more than a dozen” Obama-era officials had committed crimes and that Barr “should haul them all in front of a federal grand jury.”

“What about Hillary? Does she get held accountable?” Hannity asked. “They should reopen the investigation; it was a fraud,” Jarrett responded.

Barr is generally well-respected in conservative legal circles despite some of his controversial actions taken the last time he was attorney general. Assuming he is who these legal experts think he is, he would be unlikely to pursue Trump and Hannity’s wildly illiberal agenda of going after the president’s enemies through prosecution.

However, there are reasons to be concerned about Barr’s integrity. He chose to take a job under Trump, knowing full well what that would mean. And prior to getting the job, he circulated a memo to the administration outlining problems he had with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that many argued was severely flawed, showing a willingness to pander to the White House. During his confirmation hearing, Barr also suggested he shared concerns about baseless right-wing conspiracy theories, showing significant failures of judgment.

And on Thursday night, Matt Schlapp, the husband of a Trump aide, tweeted out that with a Barr in place, Mueller would soon be gone. So there remain many reasons to worry about the new attorney general’s integrity — and to worry that he might be willing to take marching orders from Sean Hannity.

FULL STORY & COMMENTS

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Shollenberger Shindig Feb. 25: Party for the Park

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 09:18

Shollenberger Shindig Feb. 25

SHOLLENBERGER SHINDIG 5!
MONDAY FEB 25
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
5-8:30 PM RIVER FRONT CAFE
224 B St. Petaluma

SHOLLENBERGER SHINDIG 5!
MONDAY FEB 25
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
5-8:30 PM RIVER FRONT CAFE
224 B St. Petaluma MUSIC:
Benedettiville Show for Kids
Gabby LaLa solo sitar/ukulele
HillWilliams Band PARTY FOR THE PARK !
Wine, Beer & Appetizers
SAVE SHOLLENBERGER PARK

LOCAL MUSIC!  SILENT AUCTION
FARMHOUSE WINE  & LAGUNITAS BEER

BUY YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE

MUSIC:
Benedettiville Show for Kids
Gabby LaLa solo sitar/ukulele
Hill Williams Band PARTY FOR THE PARK !
Wine, Beer & Appetizers
SAVE SHOLLENBERGER PARK

LOCAL MUSIC!  SILENT AUCTION
FARMHOUSE WINE  & LAGUNITAS BEER

BUY YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE
to guarantee admission
General  $20      VIP   $100

At the Mail Depot (Cash only) OR
ONLINE:  saveshollenberger.com  PayPal/Visa

Thank you to our UNDERWRITERS! We appreciate your support!

Cline Cellars
Lagunitas
ChromaGraphics
Keller Estate

Chris and Lisa Dobson
OutWest
Jonas Philanthropies
O.W.L. Foundation
Petaluma Wetlands Alliance

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Our “presidents” gift to populace: Trump plans to spend the next year making everything we do — from eating to driving to working — more dangerous: report

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 09:14
GOP abdicating their Constitutional responsibilities: “The bottom line: This concentration of power in the executive branch is part of the reason Republicans have invested so much in confirming new judges. In a world of government by executive order, Congress loses its relevance and judges become the surest check on an overreaching executive.Trump plans to spend the next year making everything we do — from eating to driving to working — more dangerous: report


17 Feb 2019 at 19:11 ET

According to acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump intends to spend the next year deregulating as much as possible. From chemicals in drinking and shower water to what is sprayed on the food Americans eat, or into the air they breathe, Trump intends to stop protecting people from it.

The announcement came as a “blunt” message to Cabinet secretaries, Axios reported Sunday. A senior White House official and another source briefed on the private conversation; both confirmed the “highest priority.”

“We knew there was one thing we could do without legislation,” the senior official told Axios. The measure of a Cabinet secretaries’ performance will be tied to the regulations they’ve unmade. “Dereg is going to be top of the list.”

Trump’s crusade to deregulate has already caused an outbreak of childhood cancers in one Indiana town. The Indy Star reported on heartbroken moms and their strive to uncover the source of their childs’ deaths. “Unfortunately we received results that provide us with validation we didn’t necessarily want,” said Stacie Davidson. Her 14-year-old stepson, Zane Davidson, is now in remission after fighting a rare form of leukemia for three years.

Axios explained that Trump has worked to use his executive powers to circumvent the House and Senate, leaving checks and balances up to the courts. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been fighting tooth and nail to get as many of Trump’s right-wing judges confirmed on as many courts as possible.

Trump’s “agencies are sweeping away regulations, including the most aggressive gutting of environmental regulations since at least President Reagan, and maybe ever,” Axios reported.

Read the full report at Axios.

Shortly after becoming President Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney conveyed a blunt message to several Cabinet secretaries. According to a senior White House official with direct knowledge and another source briefed on the private conversations, Mulvaney told the Cabinet officials that their “highest priority” over the next year would be deregulation.

What they’re saying: “We knew there was one thing we could do without legislation,” the senior official told me. When Mulvaney sits down with the president to discuss the Cabinet secretaries’ performance, the official said, “Dereg is going to be top of the list.”

Show less

Why it matters: Trump relishes using the power of the presidency to do whatever he can without Congress.

  • Trump made his most dramatic use of executive power on Friday by declaring a national emergency so he could circumvent Congress and spend billions of dollars for his wall.

This is the latest piece of a trend that may define the modern American presidency. Obama used executive power without apology when Congress blocked his agenda in the latter years of his presidency. And George W. Bush enthusiastically pushed the boundaries of presidential power.

  • Trump has looked for creative ways to use executive power to advance his agenda. His shock-and-awe series of executive orders early in his presidency resulted in protracted court battles, some of which he won.
  • His agencies are sweeping away regulations, including the most aggressive gutting of environmental regulations since at least President Reagan, and maybe ever. 

Behind the scenes: More than half a dozen current and former White House officials told me that after they passed their big tax bill last Congress, a broad consensus emerged: Trump wouldn’t get anything else big through Congress before his re-election bid.

  • Trump appears to share that view. Since the tax bill’s passage, he has focused on issues where Congress has little power, including foreign policy and trade.
  • While Congress can block his trade deal with Canada and Mexico, the Trump administration has made clear they won’t need the Hill’s signoff for the China talks. But there’s a trade-off for his legacy: The next president will be able to unilaterally undo any China agreement — just like Trump reversed Obama’s Iran deal.

The bottom line: This concentration of power in the executive branch is part of the reason Republicans have invested so much in confirming new judges. In a world of government by executive order, Congress loses its relevance and judges become the surest check on an overreaching executive.

FULL STORY

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Republicans stand between two-thirds of working poor and a raise, this week in the war on workers

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 14:08

Republicans stand between two-thirds of working poor and a raise, this week in the war on workers

in the war on workers Laura Clawson Daily Kos Staff Saturday February 16, 2019 · 3:55 PM PST

Every year it feels like this must be it: the low-hanging fruit and some of the pretty damn high-hanging fruit have been picked when it comes to raising state minimum wages, and momentum is surely going to grind to a halt. Somehow, it doesn’t. Already in 2019, New Jersey has passed a $15 minimum wage bill and the Illinois legislature has done the same, with new Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritztker expected to sign. (The two states’ laws are different, but the end point is $15.)

But the place we never see any progress is where it would affect the most people. The federal minimum wage last rose in 2009, to $7.25 an hour, and congressional Republicans were in a position to block further increases for the rest of Barack Obama’s presidency. Now, Republicans in Congress and the White House stand in the way of a non-poverty level minimum wage. Democrats have introduced a $15 minimum wage bill, but until Democrats take the Senate and the White House, it’s not going anywhere.

Let’s talk about what that $15 minimum wage bill would do, though, because Republicans should have to face consequences for their actions, and working people should know what Republicans are doing to them. Here’s the bottom line, from the Economic Policy Institute: “All told, raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would directly or indirectly lift wages for 39.7 million workers, 26.6 percent of the wage-earning workforce.” The average worker who would be directly affected—that is, who would get a raise because they earned less than the new minimum wage—would get an extra $4,000 in pay if they work all year. The workers who would get raises would be disproportionately women, disproportionately people of color, and more than half would be between the ages of 25 and 54. The impact on black workers would be especially pronounced: 38.1 percent of black workers would get a raise, compared to 23.2 percent of white workers. Across the board, “Two-thirds (67.3 percent) of the working poor in America would receive a pay increase if the minimum wage were raised to $15 by 2024.” Republicans always claim to value work, but they are dead set against two-thirds of the working poor getting a raise.

Seems interesting that billionaires need more money and because of that they get a tax cut.  If billionaires need more money then certainly someone making poverty level wages definitely needs it.

FULL STORY

Best comments:

raymichael

February 16 · 04:32:26 PM

Seems interesting that billionaires need more money and because of that they get a tax cut.  If billionaires need more money then certainly someone making poverty level wages definitely needs it.

PadreMellyrn

February 16 · 04:41:10 PM

Never let it be said that Republicans stand for the American People or a working Economy. They would rather shoot themselves on 5th street, than to acutally pass a bill or law that would benefit the American worker and thus the economy itself. They can not get it through their heads that “uber-riche” by themselves will not, and can not keep the economy flowing.  You would think after two centuries of history showing otherwise, they would get that the Economy Works when the People work.

Maybe if we put it into a analogy that they can understand:
When the Money is sitting in a bank in a billionaires account, it is like the Electricty in a battery; e.g No flow, no power = no work.

When the money flows through the system, “Flow and  Power equals work”

You can’t drive the drive the car if the flow of electricity is only one way, to the battery.

TexasTom

February 16 · 09:52:31 PM

Republicans always claim to value work

Of course they value work…they just don’t think that the benefits of that work should accrue to those who are performing the work.

VillaininChief

February 17 · 09:30:20 AM

keeping people poor and uneducated is a feature of the Republican party not a bug, it’s easier to control people when they are poor and uneducated. I live in the south and people wear their stupidity like a badge of honor

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

With Americans Outraged Over Trump’s ‘Power Grab Based on Lies,’ 230+ President’s Day Protests Planned Across the Country

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 13:52
The GOP Senate abdicated their Constitutional responsibilities and duty to the US citizens to give more power to Trump. VOTE THEM OUT “President Trump’s declaration is an undemocratic power grab based on lies. There is no national emergency at the border and no need to waste billions of dollars on a racist border wall,” said Greenberg in a statement. “But the problem is not just Trump, it is also a Republican party that enables his every move. Indivisible stands with immigrant communities and will continue to pressure members of Congress to do their job and put an end to Trump’s reckless actions.” With Americans Outraged Over Trump’s ‘Power Grab Based on Lies,’ 230+ President’s Day Protests Planned Across the Country

“With his #FAKENationalEmergency, Trump is testing what he can get away with. We need to push back HARD.”

by Julia Conley, staff writer More than 230 events protesting President Donald Trumps’ national emergency are planned for President’s Day, Monday, February 18. (Photo: @indivisiblefrr/Twitter)

As of Sunday morning, more than 240 demonstrations in cities and towns across the country are planned for Monday, February 18, with more than 10,000 Americans prepared to protest President Donald Trump’s admittedly-fake national emergency, and Republicans for their support for his actions.

After Trump’s press conference Friday morning, progressive groups including MoveOn, United We Dream, Indivisible, and CREDO Action set to work organizing demonstrations against what CREDO co-director Heidi Hess called “an unconstitutional power grab that threatens our democracy and escalates Trump’s attacks on immigrants, communities of color, Muslims and Black and Brown people.”

Within 24 hours Americans had RSVP’d to more than 175 President’s Day protests, with the number exploding again by Sunday.

Emma Einhorn, campaign director for MoveOn, said the enthusiasm reflected the American public’s widespread opposition to Trump’s anti-immigration agenda.

“The American people demanded a course correction in the 2018 election, and poll after poll reaffirms a majority want to build an America that welcomes immigrants and people seeking asylum,” said Einhorn. “MoveOn’s millions of members have continued to act alongside immigrant communities by taking hundreds of thousands of actions, including opposing Trump’s Muslim Ban, defending immigrants who Trump put into risk of deportation by ending DACA and TPS, and standing with all immigrants facing deportation.”

Leah Greenberg, co-founder of Indivisible, shared a link to a map of all the protests that are currently planned across the country and information on how Americans can organize their own actions if there isn’t one planned in their area already. Many of the events will be held at noon local time.

“President Trump’s declaration is an undemocratic power grab based on lies. There is no national emergency at the border and no need to waste billions of dollars on a racist border wall,” said Greenberg in a statement. “But the problem is not just Trump, it is also a Republican party that enables his every move. Indivisible stands with immigrant communities and will continue to pressure members of Congress to do their job and put an end to Trump’s reckless actions.” This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License FULL STORY
Categories: G2. Local Greens

‘No One Should Be Surprised’: After Long Career Stiffing Workers, Trump Blocks Back Pay for Federal Contractors

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 13:40
His golf resorts have been busily firing illegal workers that have worked there for years with no immigration status checks. Talk about a hypocrite….. ‘No One Should Be Surprised’: After Long Career Stiffing Workers, Trump Blocks Back Pay for Federal Contractors

Lack of back pay for low-wage contractors also called a “policy and political failure” for Democratic leaders, who were accused of failing to publicly fight the president’s cruelty

by Jake Johnson, staff writer6 Comments

Trump at the future site of Trump Tower in 1980. (Photo: Ted Horowitz/Corbis/Getty Images)

As a real estate mogul, Donald Trump was notorious for swindling low-wage workers out of pay.

So—as economist Robert Reich put it—”no one should be surprised” that Trump is continuing this cruel practice as president, this time by reportedly refusing to sign any government funding deal that includes back pay for the estimated 580,000 federal contractors who were furloughed or forced to work without pay for over a month due to the shutdown.

“Just in case you need more evidence that Donald Trump doesn’t care about American workers, he views giving back pay to federal contractors like custodians and food service workers as a dealbreaker
—Rep. Mark Pocan

“I’ve been told the president won’t sign that,” Sen. Roy Blunt told ABC News, as Democrats made a last-minute push on Wednesday to attach back pay for contractors to the bipartisan federal spending package. “I guess federal contractors are different in his view than federal employees.”

Unlike government employees, who are typically guaranteed compensation for lost pay following shutdowns, federal contractors are usually denied back pay because they work for third-party companies.

In response to Blunt’s comment, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)—who, along with Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), has been pushing for back pay for contractors—declared on Twitter, “It

Artwork designed by
PolitiClothes.com
Los Angeles, CA

would be cruel and unnecessary to block back pay for federal contract workers who lost more than a month of wages and are still behind on bills due to President Trump’s shutdown.”

But late Wednesday night, just hours after Blunt’s remark, the final text of the spending agreement was made public—and its sprawling 1,768 pages does not include back pay for federal contractors.

“Just in case you need more evidence that Donald Trump doesn’t care about American workers, he views giving back pay to federal contractors like custodians and food service workers as a dealbreaker,” said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “This is egregious. Especially since he is the reason they didn’t get paid.”

But while Democrats worked behind the scenes to include back pay for contractors in the final spending agreement—which is expected to receive a vote before the full Congress as early as Thursday—analysts argued that Democratic negotiators and leaders share some of the blame for failing to publicly fight for some of the most vulnerable workers in the country.

“Letting Republicans anonymously kill back pay for federal contractors in some backroom seems like a policy and political failure for Democrats.”
—Matt Fuller, Huffington Post

“Demanding pay for the 500,000 federal contractors who were locked out of work for 35 days seems like one of those things Democrats could take to the American people and shame Trump and other Republicans into doing the right thing,” wrote Huffington Post reporter Matt Fuller. “[L]etting Republicans anonymously kill back pay for federal contractors in some backroom seems like a policy and political failure for Democrats.”

While the agreement doesn’t include back pay for contract workers, it does include over $1.3 billion in funds for fencing and barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border and money for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—concessions by Democrats that rights groups have decried as deeply harmful to immigrant communities.

“Trump threatened to shut down the government again unless Congress gave him and his deportation force more cash to execute their racist vision of mass deportation, and while Democrats gave him the money, immigrant families will pay the price,” Greisa Martinez Rosas, deputy executive director of United We Dream, told The Intercept.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

 

FULL STORY

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Coalition for a Better Sonoma County Annual Fundraiser

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 13:22
Congratulations to Sonoma County Tomorrow’s  Warren Watkins and our parent organization!  Coalition for a Better Sonoma County Annual Fundraiser

Join us at our Annual Fundraiser on
Thursday, April 5th, from 5:30-7 p.m.
At the Petaluma Sheraton, 745 Baywood Drive, Petaluma, California 94954
We will welcome our special Guest
Tom Torlakson
State Senator and Candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction
And will honor our first Lifetime Member – Rick Thomas – who came through for CBSC at a critical point last November.
Donation: join our sponsor list, or $30/person ($20 for seniors/students)
Many sincere thanks to those of you already sponsoring the CBSC annual fundraiser on April 5th! There’s still time to sponsor this event:
Sponsor Levels: $3000 (lifetime member), $1000 (20 tickets), $500 (8 Tickets), $250 (4 tickets), $150 (2 tickets) and $100 (1 ticket)
We hope to see you on April 5th. Thank you for your support!
Thank you to our current sponsors for their support:
Lifetime Member: Rick Thomas
Platinum: Carpenters Local 751 • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 551 • Northbay Central Labor Council • Painters & Allied Trades District Council 16 • Plumbers Union Local 38 • Sheet Metal Workers Local 104
Gold: Assemblywoman Patty Berg • Senator Pat Wiggins • Sonoma County Conservation Action
Silver: Assemblywoman Noreen Evans • Tim Smith, Rohnert Park City Councilperson • Pam Torliatt, Mayor, Petaluma • Teresa Barrett, Petaluma City Councilperson • Susan Gorin, Santa Rosa City Councilperson • Sarah Glad Gurney, Sebastopol City Councilperson • Debora Fudge, Windsor Town Councilperson • Concerned Citizens for Santa Rosa • Operating Engineers, Local 3, District 10 • Sonoma Mendocino Lake Building Trades • Anne-Therese Ageson • Terry Price • Cindy Thomas • Greg Young
Copper: Mike Reilly, Supervisor • Veronica Jacobi, Santa Rosa City Councilperson • Robin Goble, Windsor Town Councilperson • Nick Caston, Santa Rosa Planning Commissioner • Sonoma County Conservation Action PAC • Michael Allen • Lois Brown • Guy Conner • Bill and Lucy KortumWarren Watkins
Michael Allen, Co-Chair/Rick Meechan, Co-Chair
The Coalition for a Better Sonoma County
1700 C Corby Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95407
www.bettersonoma.com
707-679-6783 (Guy Conner)

Working to make Sonoma County better by supporting candidates for local office who pledge to fight for worker’s rights, for the environment, for representation for all in local government and for affordable housing for people of all income levels. Thanks to Peeter Vilms for allowing CBSC to use his photo of Sonoma County.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Friends Of Graton #17 update: Cal Fire must do more to protect rural residents

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 13:15
OPINION
Cal Fire must do more to protect rural residents

By Deborah A. Eppstein and Craig S. Harrison
Feb. 8, 2019 Updated: Feb. 8, 2019 6:36 p.m.

In November, the world watched with horror as residents of Paradise tried to escape from an oncoming
wildfire on clogged roads, some so desperate that they abandoned their vehicles and fled on foot. The
state can do more to reduce the risk from wildfires. The California Department of Forestry and Fire
Protection should enforce its firesafe road regulations to stop new development in fire-prone areas and
better enable emergency access and evacuation.

Cal Fire regulations require minimum standards for development in State Responsibility Areas that are
accessed by long, narrow and often dead-end roads. Standards include minimum 20-foot-road widths,periodic turnouts, no one-lane roads unless no more than half a mile long and connect with a two-lane road at both ends, and dead-end roads only if 20 feet wide and no more than 1 mile long.

Many rural California homes are surrounded by vegetation and at the end of narrow roads, making them tough to protect against fire.

The state has minimum requirements for road widths and turnarounds but doesn’t enforce them, leaving the decision to
counties. periodic turnouts, no one-lane roads unless no more than half a mile long and connect with a two-lane
road at both ends, and dead-end roads only if 20 feet wide and no more than 1 mile long.

Thirty years ago, in an instance of prescience, the Legislature became concerned about development in
fire-prone locations. It directed the Department of Forestry to issue regulations to require firesafe roads
for development. And it did so in 1991. But where we live, Sonoma County has chosen to exempt from
the state regulations most roads built before 1992. This decision irresponsibly allows new development
in most of rural Sonoma County in remote fire-prone areas. Yet a 1993 opinion by the attorney general
clearly says that state law pertains to all roads, not just those built after 1992.

Sonoma County’s approach may be rare, but Cal Fire should ensure that its firesafe road regulations are
properly applied throughout the state. Our lawyer, Kevin Block, a land use attorney, has informed
Sonoma County that any permits issued in violation of Cal Fire standards are invalid, but what is Cal
Fire doing about this?

Our interest began when Sonoma County started allowing commercial cannabis cultivation in
unsuitable rural areas, impacting residents and attracting growers from Los Angeles, San Francisco and
Sacramento counties, as well as from out of state. But the regulations govern all new development in
State Responsibility Areas, including new homes and wineries.

Counties may have their own standards, but they must be at least as stringent as the Cal Fire rules.
Sonoma County has allowed inappropriate cannabis cultivation projects for two years under its
amnesty (“penalty relief”) program on roads that do not even approach meeting state regulations.
These include at least five dead-end roads over 1 mile long, some of which are under 12 feet wide. How
can a one-lane or dead-end road provide the same degree of emergency access and evacuation as a twolane
road? The October 2017 fires burned through many of these areas and destroyed homes. This is not
a theoretical issue.

PG&E has declared bankruptcy because it may be liable for damages caused by large destructive fires.
But some of the blame also lies with county governments that allow development in remote areas with
inadequate roads. PG&E is obligated to service those areas once a county allows development, but
should the county allow development there at all?

In December, retiring 30-year Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott suggested that California consider going
beyond the firesafe regulations to ban new home construction in all areas prone to fires. Why does Cal
Fire look the other way when some counties exclude most pre-1992 roads from its regulations and issue
development permits on unsafe roads?

Deborah A. Eppstein is a scientist and a retired biotech entrepreneur. Craig S. Harrison is a retired
lawyer. Both live near Santa Rosa in unincorporated Sonoma County.
©2019 Hearst

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Investigation: Clorox Selling Pool Salt Made From Fracking Wastewater

Sat, 02/16/2019 - 09:09
“Starting in 2015, before it was possible for Eureka to use the salt byproduct for pools, they sold over 4,000 tons of feedstock to Cargill. The radioactive material in fracking wastewater, such as radium-226, can be 1000 times or greater than what’s considered safe for drinking water. But discussion about fracking and radioactivity rarely makes the national press. A recent article in the Washington Post covering New Mexico’s idea to make fracking wastewater useable for agriculture failed to even mention a potential for radioactive constituents.” “

Investigation: Clorox Selling Pool Salt Made From Fracking Wastewater

Posted on:

Thursday, February 14th 2019 at 2:30 pm

Written By:

Joshua B. Pribanic

You might be shocked to learn that a Clorox product used to treat swimming pools came from fracking wastewater.

Public Herald has discovered that Eureka Resources, a company based in Pennsylvania, has been treating wastewater from shale gas development — a.k.a. “fracking” — and packaging the crystal byproduct as “Clorox Pool Salt” for distribution since 2017.

 

 

The way it works is fracking wastewater gets trucked to Eureka Resources where it’s treated and turned into salt. From there, workers at the facility package the salt into Clorox bags and pallet them for shipment.

While Eureka uses Clorox packaging, and trades in Clorox products, they never deal directly with Clorox. The bags are palleted for an unnamed third-party distributor to be sold to regional stores like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowes.

Eureka Resources stands by their product safety, citing its own four-step patented treatment system that involves pretreatment, distillation, crystallization and dewasting. The company has operated since 2008 in Pennsylvania, currently with two treatment facilities: one in Williamsport and the Standing Stone Facility in Wysox who produces the pool salt.

Eureka states the Standing Stone facility is “capable of producing clean distilled water, concentrated brine, dry sodium chloride (NaCl) salt and approximately 30% calcium chloride (CaCl)” out of water that contained carcinogens, trade-secret chemicals, heavy metals, and high levels of radioactive material.

Eureka Resources Standing Stone Facility in Wysox, Pa. © Public Herald

Starting in 2015, before it was possible for Eureka to use the salt byproduct for pools, they sold over 4,000 tons of feedstock to Cargill.

The solids leftover after wastewater treatment, often referred to as sludge, are hauled to area landfills that can accept radioactive waste.

Once the wastewater is treated the state no longer recognizes the remaining water as waste. It can then be discharged into a waterway with an NPDES permit from the EPA. According to Eureka’s 2018 records at Standing Stone, the company discharged 18,281,676 million gallons into the Susquehanna River watershed, for 36,044,422 treated gallons of wastewater.

After treatment, Eureka’s salt is still considered a residual waste by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (PADEP) WMGR123 permit to operate a waste facility. In 2016, after a “torturous process,” DEP granted Eureka special permission through this permit to package the salt for commercial use. Across Pennsylvania, DEP manages 71 WMGR123 permits, as of spring 2018, with 34 of them active in some form.

Jerel Bogdan, Vice President of Engineering at Eureka Resources, in an interview with Public Herald, stated Eureka’s patented system is “the only one in Pennsylvania that has proven and demonstrated to the DEP that our technology can generate dewasted water. To our knowledge there is no one else in North America who’s able to do that with oil and gas brines.”

The state’s exclusive agreement with Eureka ensures the salt is screened four times a year for radioactivity. Those quarterly tests have detected radioactive compounds in the salt at levels below background conditions. (There’s no screening daily or for each new shipment.)

The radioactive material in fracking wastewater, such as radium-226, can be 1000 times or greater than what’s considered safe for drinking water. But discussion about fracking and radioactivity rarely makes the national press. A recent article in the Washington Post covering New Mexico’s idea to make fracking wastewater useable for agriculture failed to even mention a potential for radioactive constituents.

A fracking wastewater storage pond in Pennsylvania Gamelands. © Joshua B. Pribanic for Public Herald

Given this knowledge, the Clorox pool salt packaging is not labeled to inform a consumer [e.g. WARNING: this salt is a byproduct of fracking wastewater and handled in a facility that processes radioactive waste.]

That concerns Dr. Daniel Bain, a research professor at University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Geology and Environmental Science who studies radioactivity. “I’d want to see some screening being done to know if Technically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM) is being detected,” Bain told Public Herald. TENORM is used to describe enhanced radioactivity coming from fracking wastewater.  TENORM is created when naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) is released and concentrated by human activity, as is the case for wastewater produced by hydraulically fracturing shale deposits for oil and gas.

“I would assume the TENORM would be taken out of the salt,” said Bain, who doesn’t expect the Clorox product to exceed radioactive limits. “But all it takes is a little glitch in the process and you can have a dirty salt at some point,” i.e. salt with TENORM.

Bogdan says any “glitch” is closely monitored and fixed to prevent dirty salt from getting on the market.

When asked whether he would be agreeable to labeling the product, Bogden responded “I would have no problem if that disclosure was asked of us. I don’t entirely disagree with that…If I didn’t have a set of data that is as bullet-proof as possible I would think differently.

“When our salt is analyzed…our salt is indistinguishable from any other commercially saleable sources of salt,” Bogdan added.

Clorox hasn’t returned a request for comment. Their 2018 shareholder report on corporate responsibility fails to mention “product safety” or how the company oversees the source material for its products. (Clorox is listed to have earned $6.1 billion in revenue for 2018.)

Pennsylvania is the second largest natural gas producing state in the United States, which is the largest producer of natural gas in the world. The “Smoking Gun” report series digs deep to expose specific stories of DEP conduct. Is your energy coming from the shale fields of Pennsylvania? Stay tuned – Subscribe to Public Herald’s reports.

For more about fracking in Pennsylvania watch Public Herald’s feature documentary TRIPLE DIVIDE REDACTED. 

Related GreenMedInfo articles: 

Joshua B. Pribanic is an investigative journalist, photographer, artist and filmmaker who co-founded Public Herald (est. 2011), a nonprofit for investigative journalism, and co-directed the recently acclaimed documentary TRIPLE DIVIDE. He currently operates as the Editor-in-Chief for Public Herald in Pittsburgh’s historic Paramount Film Exchange building.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

Internal Site Commenting is limited to members.
Disqus commenting is available to everyone.

To comment:
Categories: G2. Local Greens

As debate rages on border wall funding, construction is already beginning

Sat, 02/16/2019 - 08:50

“To the delight of activists and lawyers, language in the budget bill bars the construction of fencing at several local landmarks – like the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, the historic La Lomita chapel and the National Butterfly Center — but it’s unclear whether that protection extends to any construction funded through Trump’s emergency declaration.”

As debate rages on border wall funding, construction is already beginning

written by February 16, 2019

Krista Schlyer saw the arm of a yellow excavator emerge from the treetops in La Parida Banco National Wildlife Refuge on Thursday morning. Soon, this tract will be bisected byroughly 30 feet of concrete and steel fencing.

In the past week, the conservation photographer and writer has walked past the land multiple times and glimpsed the heavy machinery — but it was never moving. On Thursday morning, as she approached the site, she saw roughly a half dozen vehicles from local law enforcement agencies and Border Patrol surrounding the site.

“It’s really frustrating that taxpayer dollars are being used to build this,” she said. “But taxpayers can’t see the results of what they’re doing.”

On Friday, President Trump said he will declare a national emergency to pump more than $6 billion into constructing more of his long-promised border wall, on top of the $1.375 billion authorized by Congress as part of a budget compromise to head off another government shutdown. To the delight of activists and lawyers, language in the budget bill bars the construction of fencing at several local landmarks – like the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, the historic La Lomita chapel and the National Butterfly Center — but it’s unclear whether

Dictator wannabe.


that protection extends to any construction funded through Trump’s emergency declaration.

Meanwhile, excavators have already begun to clear land for what’s seen as the first phase of the president’s border barrier: 33 miles of steel fencing in the Rio Grande Valley, including 25 miles in Hidalgo County and another 8 miles in neighboring Starr County, that Congress and the president approved last year at a cost of $641 million.

The government has sent letters requesting the right to survey nearly 600 private properties set to fall in the fence’s path — step one in the eminent domain process that allows the government to seize private land. Some landowners have granted temporary entry, but others have gone to court to stop the surveys.

Last fall, Nayda Alvarez received a letter from U.S. Customs and Border Protection asking for the right to survey her family’s land, an 8-acre plot in Starr County speckled with mesquite and cacti, but she didn’t grant access. Now, CBP is preparing to sue her in federal district court to gain access. (The agency notified her of this by letter in early January.)

Alvarez, who says she has never seen undocumented immigrants cross the Rio Grande near her property, painted her roof with the words “No Border Wall” in protest.

On Sunday, she stood in an alcove on the banks of the river that she calls her “little paradise” where her family would barbecue on Easter Sundays and go fishing during Lent.

“Do you see a crisis?” she said, looking toward the river.

Also in the path of the new fencing is the 154-year-old Eli Jackson cemetery, an acre-wide resting place for at least 150 people, including many of the indigenous and Mexican descendants of former slave owner Nathaniel Jackson. Now, the cemetery’s graves may be uprooted to make way for the border fence. A group of about 10 to 15 activists and their allies have camped out on the property for about a month, a diverse crew that includes Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe members, activists who protested the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016 and other locals and allies. At the heart of their camp — called the “Yalui village,” which means butterfly in the Carrizo/Comecrudo language — a sacred fire burns day and night.

The cemetery is where 62-year-old Adelina Yarrito last saw her father’s body before he was buried. Next to her father, Yarrito’s great-uncle Daniel and great-grandmother Silveria lay buried.

“If you don’t have respect for the dead, you don’t have respect for no one,” she said.

The Carrizo/Comecrudo tribe isn’t recognized by the federal government, but Juan Mancias, the tribal leader, says his forefathers have been in the area for centuries. In addition to the cemetery, Mancias said he’s concerned about the peyote, an important religious and medicinal plant for many indigenous tribes, that grows along the banks of the river, including areas where the fence is slated to be built.

“This is stolen land. And rent’s due,” Mancias said. “The land doesn’t belong to anyone; We belong to the land.”

(Left) Gina Wisdom, Juan Mancias, Adelina Yarrito and Cecilia Gonzales (left to right) at the Eli Jackson Cemetery in San Juan. (Right) Surveyor’s stakes mark the path of future border fencing in Mission, Texas. Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune.

Further down the river, the National Butterfly Center and La Lomita chapel have been spared from the fence for now, but are still watching what’s happening in Washington closely.

The butterfly center went to court to stop the fence, arguing that it would cut the center off from as much as 70 percent of its land and threaten native wildlife, including birds, plants, and 237 butterfly species.

After Congress passed the compromise Thursday that barred fence construction through the center, a judge for the U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C. dismissed the center’s 2017 lawsuit against the federal government. But Marianna Treviño-Wright, the center’s director, said they are concerned that Trump’s emergency declaration could still threaten the center.

“We will be exercising every option at our disposal to counter this illegitimate state of emergency,” she said.

 

FULL STORY & COMMENTS

Categories: G2. Local Greens

TVA rebuffs Trump, votes to close coal plants

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 15:55
“ “Trump’s EPA has moved to ease environmental rules governing water pollution, air pollution, and carbon dioxide restrictions, but the efforts have given little respite for the coal industry. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 20 coal plants representing 16 gigawatts of capacity closed last year, which was second only to 2015 for coal retirements….” TVA rebuffs Trump, votes to close coal plants Scott Olson/Getty Images

Energy & Environment

TVA rebuffs Trump, votes to close coal plants

02/14/2019 01:31 PM EST

Updated 02/14/2019 03:14 PM EST

A federally owned utility dealt another blow to President Donald Trump’s effort to revive the coal industry, voting on Thursday to close two coal-fired power plants despite the president’s urging to keep one of them running.

The vote by the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority to close the Paradise #3 plant in Kentucky and Bull Run plant in Tennessee makes them the latest casualties to the coal industry that has seen hundreds of power generators retires in recent years because of competition from cheaper power sources, including natural gas and renewable energy.

TVA CEO Bill Johnson told board members at a Thursday meeting that neither of the plants were financially viable, since they rarely operated and that they sometimes lost money even when producing power.

“What this decision is not about: It is not about coal,” said Johnson, who is retiring in May. “This decision is about economics.“ Four of the seven current TVA board members are Trump appointees.

Trump has vowed to be a champion for the coal industry, and once bragged “we’re bringing it back fast,” as he slashed Obama administration regulations coal companies blamed for choking off their business.

But the closure of coal-fired power plants has continued unabated, and even Trump’s tweet on Monday calling for TVA to give “serious consideration” before decidind to retire the Kentucky plant didn’t help save it. That call was echoed by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who asked the utility’s board to save — or at least postpone its decision on — the plant, which employs 131 people.

So far, 47 coal-fired power plants have announced their retirements or closed since Trump took office, according to the Sierra Club, and more are expected in coming years.

The demise of the plant — as well as the Bull Run plant, which TVA also voted to shutter — isn’t good news for two staunch Trump allies, coal magnate Bob Murray, founder of Murray Energy, and Joe Craft III, CEO of Alliance Resource Partners.

Both were big donors to Trump’s campaign and inauguration — Murray gave $100,000 to Trump’s PAC and $300,000 to Trump’s inauguration, while Craft gave $1 million to the inauguration committee, according to OpenSecrets.org. Both companies have supplied coal to the two plants.

“They can’t be happy that the one thing they wanted has been stymied,” an energy industry lobbyist said of the coal industry. “I know that the White House is going to try to do everything it can to mollify them because it hasn’t been able to give them the coup de grace.”

Trump’s EPA has moved to ease environmental rules governing water pollution, air pollution, and carbon dioxide restrictions, but the efforts have given little respite for the coal industry. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 20 coal plants representing 16 gigawatts of capacity closed last year, which was second only to 2015 for coal retirements,

“I consider Trump’s promise to save coal as kind of the snake oil political promise designed to pray on people’s fears about our changing energy economy,” said Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Program. “The reality is we make decisions at the state and local levels, but we don’t make them in Washington, D.C. Whether he was aware of that when he ran for president, I don’t know, but he has run smack into that realty.”

FULL STORY

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Center for Biological Diversity: NO BORDER WALL

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 15:43
“Now Donald Trump wants a wall across the entire 2,000-mile border. Trump’s wall would harm border communities, perpetuate human suffering, destroy thousands of acres of habitat and halt the cross-border migration of dozens of animal species. In fact, as revealed in the Center’s 2017 report A Wall in the Wild, 93 threatened, endangered and candidate species would potentially be affected by construction of a wall and related infrastructure spanning the entirety of the border. Center for Biological Diversity: NO BORDER WALL NO BORDER WALL More than 650 miles of barriers already exist along the border. These walls, fences and barriers cut through sensitive ecosystems, disrupt animal migration patterns, cause catastrophic flooding, and divide communities and tribal nations.

Now Donald Trump wants a wall across the entire 2,000-mile border. Trump’s wall would harm border communities, perpetuate human suffering, destroy thousands of acres of habitat and halt the cross-border migration of dozens of animal species. In fact, as revealed in the Center’s 2017 report A Wall in the Wild, 93 threatened, endangered and candidate species would potentially be affected by construction of a wall and related infrastructure spanning the entirety of the border.

This is a looming tragedy for the region’s diverse wildlife and people, as well as its rugged and spectacular landscapes. We’re fighting in the courts, in Congress and in our communities to stop Trump’s cynical attack on our beautiful borderlands.

 


Take our pledge to fight Trump’s border wall today. 

 

With headquarters near the border in Tucson, Arizona, the Center has worked to preserve and protect the remote beauty and amazing biodiversity of our borderlands for decades. We’ve been fighting against border militarization — including the border wall — since the late 1990s, using litigation to block unlawful border policy, grassroots lobbying to stop legislation that would exacerbate environmental damage, and creative-media and public-education campaigns to get out the truth about the real impacts of the hugely expensive, largely ineffective and environmentally devastating border wall.

We currently have three lawsuits in play on the border wall. In April 2017 the Center partnered with U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva in filing suit seeking a thorough analysis of the environmental impacts of border-security policy, including the border wall, under the National Environmental Policy Act. Another suit challenges the Trump administration’s waiver of more than three dozen environmental, public-health and tribal-sovereignty laws in order to rush border-wall construction. And a third suit seeks to force the administration to release documents regarding its border plans, thus far withheld from the public.

In May 2017 the Center partnered with the Tohono O’odham tribe in Mexico to file an endangerment petition for El Pinacate and Gran Desierto Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, just south of the border in the state of Sonora. A wall in that area would block cross-border migration of endangered Sonoran pronghorn and restrict access for the Tohono O’odham people, who travel across the border regularly for traditional and ceremonial purposes.

In July 2017 the House of Representatives approved the Trump administration’s $1.6 billion budget request to expand the U.S.-Mexico border wall, ignoring threats to protected wildlife refuges and border communities. Since then, the administration has been slowly moving forward with its plans —  and waiving dozens of laws along the way.

No Border Wall Resolution Campaign

The Center has helped launch a campaign to pass resolutions in states, cities and counties across the United States opposing the border wall, with 36 passed so far. Many of these resolutions contain provisions for jurisdictions to divest from companies that agree to design or build the wall. Numerous local governments have enacted No Border Wall Resolutions. If you’re an elected official or representative of a community or organization who’d like to get involved in our campaign to pass No Border Wall resolutions across the country, please contact Laiken Jordahl.

BACKGROUND ON THE BORDERLANDS

Joining the United States and Mexico, our borderlands to the south comprise one of the biggest ecosystem complexes in North America, with some of the least populated areas and the most important wildlife habitats remaining on the continent. This border region is host to a diverse array of threatened, endangered and rare species — including the Sonoran pronghorn, lesser long-nosed bat, Quino checkerspot butterfly, cactus ferruginous pygmy owl, and larger predators like jaguars, Mexican gray wolves and ocelots — and it contains millions of acres of public lands, such as Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Big Bend National Park, Coronado National Forest and Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge.

In the mid-1990s the U.S. federal government launched a strategy of militarization in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands that continues to this day. First the areas around ports of entry in El Paso, San Diego, and other urban areas along the border were hardened and walls were erected using solid steel panels from Vietnam War–era landing mats. This had the predictable effect of forcing undocumented migrants out into more remote areas to cross the border, where many died in harsh conditions. More than 7,000 people have died crossing the border in the past 20 years. Documents show that migrant deaths were a foreseen consequence of a conscious strategy to increase the difficulty and dangers of crossing the border as a deterrent to migrants.

The strategy of pushing migrant traffic into wild areas did not work to stem the flow of undocumented immigration — but it did vastly increase the amount of environmental damage it was causing, as both the flow of migrants and the resulting border-law-enforcement activities were pushed into formerly untrammeled sites.

Thousands of Border Patrol agents began driving off-road in remote areas, creating thousands of miles of new roads in designated wilderness and critical habitats for endangered species. As detailed in the Center’s A Wall in the Wild report, more than 2 million acres of designated critical habitat exists within 50 miles of the border and is in danger of being degraded and destroyed by the construction of a wall and related enforcement activities along the border.

In 2005 the U.S. Congress passed a clause in the REAL ID Act, which granted the secretary of Homeland Security the authority to waive any and all laws with regard to constructing walls and roads along the border. More than three dozen environmental, public-health and tribal-sovereignty laws have since been waived using this authority, resulting in hundreds of miles of additional border barriers and roads being constructed with little or no environmental review. The Trump administration has already used this authority three times to rush border-wall construction, most recently in January 2018 in New Mexico.

The results of these waivers have been predictable. Without the thorough analysis of environmental impacts normally required by law, new border infrastructure has been constructed in ill-advised locations with poor engineering — resulting in massive flooding, erosion, and millions of dollars of damage to private property and public lands alike.

 

SPREAD THE WORD: Make sure your anti-wall posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram include the hashtag #NoBorderWall. RELATED CAMPAIGNS
Trump Lawsuit Tracker
Trump Action Toolkit
Sonoran Desert
Mojave Desert 
Borderlands and Boundary Waters
Sky Islands Conservation 
International Program

SPECIES
Jaguar
Mexican gray wolf
Ocelot
Mexican spotted owl
Mexican bobcat
Quino checkerspot butterfly
Chiricahua leopard frog
Cactus ferruginous pygmy owl
Southwestern willow flycatcher
Desert pupfish
Desert kit fox 

MEDIA
Press releases
Search our newsroom

DOCUMENTS AND PUBLICATIONS
January 2019 comments against proposed border wall construction in San Diego
• Center report: A Wall in the Wild
July 2017 FOIA request
June 2017 lawsuit and July lawsuit expansion
June 2017 notice of intent to sue over species threats


Contact: Laiken Jordahl

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Social Inequality: Whatever You Paid to Watch Netflix Last Month Was More Than It Paid in Income Taxes All Last Year: $0

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 11:19
Today we had news Amazon not only paid NO taxes but got Millions in rebates……. “When hugely profitable corporations avoid tax, that means smaller businesses and working families must make up the difference. ”   Whatever You Paid to Watch Netflix Last Month Was More Than It Paid in Income Taxes All Last Year: $0

“Netflix posted its largest-ever U.S. profit in 2018­­—$845 million—on which it didn’t pay a dime in federal or state income taxes,” writes ITEP senior fellow Matthew Gardner. In fact, the streaming giant received a $22 million return.

by Jon Queally, staff writer Netflix CEO Reed Hastings delivers a keynote address at CES 2016 at The Venetian Las Vegas on January 6, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images) Netflix CEO Reed Hastings delivers a keynote address at CES 2016 at The Venetian Las Vegas on January 6, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

 

Whether you paid $8.99 for basic, $12.99 for standard, or splurged for the $15.99 premium package so you would have the privilege of watching endless streaming shows and movies on Netflix last month, a new analysis shows you still paid much, much more than the company paid in federal and local income taxes for the entire year.

“When hugely profitable corporations avoid tax, that means smaller businesses and working families must make up the difference.” —Matthew Gardner, ITEP senior fellow. According to Matthew Gardner, senior fellow at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), “The popular video streaming service Netflix posted its largest-ever U.S. profit in 2018­­—$845 million—on which it didn’t pay a dime in federal or state income taxes.”

Not a dime. Not one penny.

“In fact,” noted Gardner in a blog post on ITEP’s website on Tuesday, “the company reported a $22 million federal income tax rebate.” So even if you paid Netflix nothing last month because you chose not to subscribe—or maybe you were enjoying an introductory free-month trial—you still didn’t make out better than the online giant.

Citing the specific impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which the Republicans in Congress passed and Trump signed into law in December of 2017, Gardner explains that because companies are finally releasing their complete 2018 earnings reports—which Netflix did last month—the public is finally getting a look at just how well some of the nation’s most profitable corporations are making out.

While GOP leaders like former House Speaker Paul Ryan sold the bill to the voting public by promising lower corporate rates would be offset by the closure of loopholes, Gardner says Netflix is a test case for how bogus those promises were. “Many corporations are still able to exploit loopholes and avoid paying the statutory tax rate,” he explains, “only now, that rate is substantially lower.”

He continues:

Netflix’s tax avoidance should come as no surprise to those who followed the debate leading up to the passage of the new tax law: A 2017 ITEP report identified Netflix as one of 100 profitable Fortune 500 corporations that paid a 0 percent federal income tax rate in at least one profitable year between 2008 and 2015. In fact, Netflix did it twice, and paid an average tax rate of 13.6 percent over the eight-year period, meaning that the company sheltered more than half of its profits from the 35 percent federal income tax rate in effect at the time.

Leading up to the 2017 tax battle, the hope of reformers was that Congress would take a fiscally responsible approach and weed out loopholes that made Netflix’s tax avoidance possible. Instead,  GOP leaders who championed the law and President Trump chose to focus on cutting the corporate tax rate as far as possible—from 35 to 21 percent—while leaving in place special breaks and loopholes.

“Netflix appears to be every bit as unaffected by corporate tax laws now as it was before President Trump’s ‘reform,'” Gardner concludes. “This is especially troubling because Netflix is precisely the sort of company that should be paying its fair share of income taxes. With a record number of subscribers, the company’s profit last year equaled its haul in the previous four years put together. When hugely profitable corporations avoid tax, that means smaller businesses and working families must make up the difference.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don’t survive on clicks. We don’t want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can’t do it alone. It doesn’t work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do.

$15$27$50 $100$250Other Share This Article
Categories: G2. Local Greens

Pages