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Protecting our Environmental Resources
Updated: 13 hours 32 min ago

‘Fox & Friends’ Tells Viewers Now Is The Time To ‘Buy A Gas Guzzler’

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 11:45
Insanity: ‘Fox & Friends’ Tells Viewers Now Is The Time To ‘Buy A Gas Guzzler’

“that’s terrible advice,” said one energy expert.

By Sara Boboltz

Gas is cheap! According to AAA, we rang in the new year with the lowest fuel prices since 2016 ― the national average stands at $2.25.

What to do with all those savings? Pour them right back into your shiny new gas-slurping land yacht like it’s 2004!

At least that’s what “Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy told the approximately 1.6 million viewers of the nation’s most popular morning news program in a bonkers Friday morning segment alongside auto expert Lauren Fix.

If your heads in the sand you know what’s showing. Australian climate change protest.

“Buy a gas guzzler!” Doocy said excitedly, adding that “some of the hottest cars and SUVs of 2019 use a lot of gas.”

Fix then showed off four vehicles that get a paltry 16 MPG: the 2019 Cadillac CTS-V, Dodge Challenger Hellcat, Toyota Land Cruiser and Chevrolet Suburban. A fifth vehicle, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG, will transport you just 14 miles on one gallon of precious fuel.

Luke Tonachel, the director for clean vehicles and clean fuel at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told HuffPost that Doocy’s reasoning doesn’t fly.

“That’s terrible advice,” Tonachel said in an email. “Obviously, the more gas your car or truck guzzles, the more you’ll pay. And a spike in gas prices could happen anytime, certainly within the lifetime of a new vehicle.” According to the Environmental Protection Agency, transportation accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the country ― 28 percent ― due to the amount of fossil fuels burned by our cars, trucks and planes. 

“Automakers are making more efficient and higher performing vehicles every day, and one of the best things drivers can do for the environment and their pocketbooks is buy a car that goes further on a gallon of gas ― or a watt from the electric cord,” Tonachel added.

In short, all these low gas prices mean you could save money and  help the environment by refusing to swap out your car for a gas guzzler.

FULL STORY & COMMENTS
Categories: G2. Local Greens

The debate goes on….locals post on Waccobb.net

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 11:37
Wine & Water Watch supports common sense regulations that protect the environment and communities. Local opinions on the cannabis debate from Waccobb.net , the West County blog, let’s keep talking….

karenm97

Thread: Huge industrial cannabis proposal near Graton

(I haven’t read the whole text of the piece Dorothy posted) I think it’s important to point out that state-level
“legalization” and the incumbent “regulation” such as California’s – which requires all those expensive permits that not everyone has a trust fund or extensive network to crowdfund from – is not the same as federal decriminalization, which would lead to solutions such as lowered prices=less incentive to steal or commit other crimes against growers, and more importantly, more funding and approval of studies that would address a lot of different components to cannabis and their effects. This piece seems to focus on few studies that are only about THC. Sure, some people can’t handle THC and that’s terrible, but there are many benefits to cannabidiol that I don’t see mentioned, and CBD consumption is a huge part of the cannabis/hemp markets.

The stats about hospitalizations due to mental health crises allegedly brought on by cannabis use are ridiculous because nothing is mentioned about all the health, mental health, and social problems caused by alcohol users. Those problems affect millions. I volunteered as a medical interpreter at a hospital and interpreted for a guy who had alcohol poisoning. It was so gross. It’s pretty rare for someone to OD on cannabis, and for some it can lead to psychosis (including in people who have had that condition previously).

I didn’t see any clear stats about the violent crime in the Emerald Triangle being linked to cannabis. I have seen articles about how crime decreased in Colorado in the years after legalization there.

This quote is ridiculous because it does not address the decreases in opioid use that have been observed in states that have legalized cannabis (you can google “decreased opioid use and cannabis” for some article about that) : ” As Americans consider making marijuana a legal drug , it would be wise to remember the choices that fueled the devastating opioid epidemic. Decades ago, many of the same people pressing for marijuana legalization argued that the risks of opioid addiction could be easily managed.”

There’s also no citation of the advocacy by the pro-cannabis people for opioid use. One must be aware that there are groups that advocate decriminalization of all drugs, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

In sum,WHATEVER.

Start a cohousing community in a more rural area if you’re so worried about your neighborhood.

Dorothy F. Thread: Huge industrial cannabis proposal near Graton

Today’s New York Times has an editorial by Alex Berenson with the caption “Don’t ignore the Risks of Pot”. (‘What advocates of legalizing marijuana don’t want you to know’) This article sheds light on previous studies and medical research into effects of causing and/or increasing risk of psychosis and schizophrenia, which studies were done by respected medical researchers. Further in his article, Berenson states “before recreational legalization began in 2014, advocates promised that it would reduce violent crime. But the first four states to legalize -Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington – have seen sharp increases in murders and aggravated assaults since 2014, according to reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Police reports and news articles show a clear link to cannabis in many cases.” These are important considerations for our neighborhoods

luke32 wrote: Interesting piece from The Atlantic https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine…-crime/576391/

“Legalizing pot was supposed to reduce crime, or so advocates argued. The theory was simple: As cannabis buyers beat a path to the nearest dispensary, the black market would dry up, and with it the industry’s criminal element. Indeed, a study recently published in The Economic Journalfound that after medical marijuana was legalized in California, violent crime fell 15 percent.

Talk to authorities in California’s Emerald Triangle, though, and a different story emerges. This 10,000-square-mile area (which includes Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity Counties) by some estimates grows 60 percent of the country’s marijuana. Ben Filippini, a deputy sheriff in Humboldt, told me that ever since California’s 1996 medical-marijuana initiative, violent crime in his jurisdiction has increased: “People are getting shot over this plant. All legalization did here was create a safe haven for criminals.” When I asked Trinity County’s undersheriff, Christopher Compton, what’s happened since a 2016 initiative legalized pot in the state, he said: “We haven’t seen any drop in crime whatsoever. In fact, we’ve seen a pretty steady increase.” Compton’s counterpart in Mendocino, Matthew Kendall, agreed: “We’re seeing more robberies and more gun violence.”

What’s going on? One factor is that legalization has led to a boom in the weed business, thereby increasing the supply of two things that tempt would-be thieves: the crop, and the cash it generates. The latter is particularly abundant, because while some credit unions and regional banks have begun accepting marijuana money, the big ones don’t. Cannabis is still illegal under federal law, and executives fear being charged with money laundering.

A second factor: California may have legalized pot, but not all growers want to be legal. Out of some 32,000 farmers in the region, only about 3,500 had applied for a license by the end of 2017. Some insist that complying with regulations is too costly. Others are evading taxes. Running an illegal “grow,” however, leaves them especially vulnerable to “dope rips” (theft of processed marijuana), precisely because thieves know such farmers will be unwilling to file a police report. Criminal syndicates, which are involved in many of these thefts, resell much of the plunder out of state.

Which brings us to a third factor: The post-legalization boom has led pot prices in California to plummet, and increased the incentive to sell the product out of state. A pound of marijuana that in 2015 went for $1,200 in-state sells today for just $300. In New York City, though, California weed fetches up to $3,000 a pound. Until marijuana is legalized nationally, such price discrepancies will surely remain, and criminal gangs will find their way to the Emerald Triangle.

For now, as thefts grow more brazen, many farmers are employing new security measures. Some use a company called Hardcar Distribution to carry their cash—and their harvest—in armored vehicles operated by teams of armed military veterans. Others are converting dollars into bitcoin or precious metals. “I watch Breaking Bad and Ozark for tips,” one pot grower told me. “It’s like educational TV.”

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Talking to Children About Climate Change

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 11:23
Children need to know this. They need to know that, whatever is happening in Washington, there are countless other people working tirelessly to reduce the impact of climate change. They need to know that people are putting money into this, and they are putting heart into this. They are offering their creativity, innovation, and hard work to make things better.” The Most Helpful Thing To Tell Your Kids About Climate Change Now

  • by Lisa BennettI was driving my son home from school last month when he grabbed my phone to Google something and announced:“Neil de Grasse Tyson says it’s too late to solve [recover from] climate change.”

    “What?” I said with a mix of incredulity and anxiety. “That’s ridiculous.”

    “It’s Neil de Grasse Tyson,” my 13-year-old responded matter-of-factly.

    Point taken: I’m not a world-famous astrophysicist, bestselling author, and popular TV host.

    But I am a mother. And as a mother, I know that messages like these, absent a larger context, are not good for our children—especially given the frighteningly fierce hurricanes we’ve witnessed over the past several months and the frighteningly fierce wildfires that are raging here in northern California where I live.

    So how do we talk with children about climate change now that the evidence of it is too dramatic to miss? Here are five things I’ve found helpful to keep in mind.

    1. Reframe the question.

    “Can we stop or solve climate change?” is not a helpful question. We know it’s happening, and we know it’s likely to get worse. It’s a moot point. Worse, it’s a dispiriting one.

    Stephen Colbert expressed this in a conversation with Al Gore this summer when he said: “I know a lot of young people who are feeling somewhat hopeless about this. They read articles in magazines or see interviews on TV and hear it is too late.”

    So instead of discussing whether we can solve climate change, consider reframing this question to: “What can we do to offset climate change?”

    This question prompts real answers: divest from fossil fuel interests, put solar on your roof, save energy, cut down on your meat consumption, support a price on carbon, vote people out of office who turn a blind eye to climate change, protest the Administration’s championing of the fossil fuel companies that have created this crisis.

    2Provide positive examples.

    If you or your children rely only on the news, especially in this year of bad news, you will miss out on all the good work being done to address climate change.

    Consider, for example, the leadership being shown by the nation’s mayors, businesses, foundations, scientists, churches and synagogues, and communities that are working both to accelerate the transition to clean energy and develop resilience in anticipation of sea level rise and other impacts of climate change.

    Children need to know this. They need to know that, whatever is happening in Washington, there are countless other people working tirelessly to reduce the impact of climate change. They need to know that people are putting money into this, and they are putting heart into this. They are offering their creativity, innovation, and hard work to make things better.

    3. Infuse children with radical hope about their future.

    The reality of the state of the world today is tough for parents to grapple with. But it’s more than tough for kids—it’s wrong.

    Our kids deserve to be fiercely hopeful about their future. They deserve to be inspired about the boundless creativity of innovators and problem-solvers. They deserve to be supported in the flowering of their own brilliance. And they deserve to be excited about good things ahead — things in the works, and things not yet considered.

    As Mary Robinson said in a TEDWomen interview last month: “When we think about innovation, we usually focus on technology…Perhaps we should be more focused on innovation in terms of global governance.”

    For example, she suggested, what if we represented the interests of future generations in decision-making? On a national level, Wales and Hungary have already led the way in this. Imagine if more followed.

    4. Remember that doing something is the best medicine.

    It is easy to feel dwarfed by climate change and think that there is nothing we can do that is truly up to the challenge at hand. Yet this too leads nowhere good.

    We need to remind ourselves that taking any action is better than no action—practically, morally, and psychologically. So if you want to encourage your children to keep moving in a positive direction, encourage them to join you in doing something to help.

    5. Model the qualities your children need.

    The reality is that there are people in positions of great power today who unconscionably appear to think less about the future well being of our children and grandchildren (not to mention their own) than they do about money and power.

    We must be the counter to these wholly inadequate models for our children. Equally importantly, we must show our children a better way to be in the world by demonstrating courage, compassion, and resilience.

    To be fair, I think Neil de Grasse Tyson would agree with all this. And his comment on CNN did appear to come in response to an understandable frustration with politicians who disregard science and block the progress we need to be making on this issue.

    There are, after all, realistic solutions to the climate problem, as Justin Gillis wrote in an excellent recent primer in The New York Times. But we need to act on them—yes, urgently.

    So, no, my son, it’s not too late. It’s never too late to make things better.
Categories: G2. Local Greens

Swamp Watch: House Democrats Release Sweeping Legislation to Drain the Swamp

Sat, 01/05/2019 - 12:55

House Democrats Release Sweeping Legislation to Drain the Swamp

 

Unlike President Donald Trump’s campaign trail vow to “drain the swamp” that never came to fruition—in fact, he has somehow managed to make Washington even swampier—House Democrats on Friday officially introduced sweeping legislation that progressives celebrated as a plan to actually confront the deep-seated corruption that has long pervaded the American political system.

Formally titled the For the People Act—or H.R. 1—and sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), the far-reaching bill would promote public financing of elections, reduce the influence of corporate dark money, strengthen ethics and financial disclosure rules, and bolster voting rights, which are under severe attack from the Republican Party, the Trump White House, and the right-wing Supreme Court.

“Everything in H.R. 1 is a no-brainer for anyone who actually cares about American democracy,” Morris Pearl, chair of the Patriotic Millionaires, said in a statement applauding the new legislation.

“It’s time to unrig our broken political system,” Pearl continued. “Our political leaders have been most responsive to the interests of their wealthy donors for too long while the needs of normal Americans go unaddressed. Before we can fix any of our other issues we need to put power back into the hands of the people, and H.R. 1 is an important, necessary first step to getting there.”

Progressive groups echoed Pearl’s praise for H.R. 1, describing the plan as an urgent and necessary solution to the corruption that has distorted America’s democratic process for decades.

In a tweet, Indivisible hailed the legislation as “a robust, comprehensive democracy reform package.”

In an op-ed for The Hill on Thursday, Sarbanes and Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) laid out the three central components of H.R. 1:

  • First, we will rein in the influence of big money in our politics. That means bringing more transparency to our campaign finance system and empowering everyday Americans with a powerful new system that rewards and amplifies small donors.
  • Second, we will make sure that public servants actually serve the public, not use their office for personal gain. That means strengthening ethics across all three branches of government, ending the revolving door in Washington and reining in lobbyists.
  • Third, we will protect every citizen’s right to vote. That means promoting national automatic voter registration, expanding early and absentee voting, building the case to restore the Voting Rights Act, ending voter roll purging, safeguarding our election infrastructure from foreign attackers and cracking down on partisan gerrymandering.

As Sarah Jones of New York Magazine pointed out on Thursday, a chief benefit of H.R. 1 is that it goes beyond addressing the widespread and open corruption of the Trump White House and strikes at more systemic issues that far predate the billionaire real estate mogul president.

“H.R. 1 isn’t just about Trump, or the well-established discrepancy between his campaign rhetoric and his actions as president,” Jones wrote. “For Democrats, the bill is also an exercise in identity formation, a way to preview a corruption message that goes beyond superficial anti-Trumpism by incorporating a real critique of power in Washington.”

If passed, H.R. 1 would form a matching system in which eligible congressional and presidential candidates would receive $6 in public funds for every $1 raised from small donations. Such as system, argued Jones, would have a transformative impact on the way political campaigns operate.

“Public financing for elections would make candidates less reliant on major donors and corporate money, a problem that did not originate with Trump’s fateful campaign announcement,” Jones argued.

Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at New America, agreed with this assessment, writing for Vox, “Anything that takes members of Congress away from the gamut of lobbyist-sponsored fundraisers and cold-calling wealthy people and puts them in the living rooms of more representative groups of constituents would be a major game-changer for the kinds of concerns that filter up to lawmakers as top priorities.”

Pearl of Patriotic Millionaires concluded that H.R. 1 offers necessary and bold solutions to a system that has been held captive by those with the deepest pockets.

“It not only works to remove dark money from our political system to ensure every American has the same political power as millionaires like me, it also strengthens our democracy by making it easier to vote, limiting gerrymandering, and cracking down on corruption,” Pearl said.

FULL STORY AND COMMENTS
Categories: G2. Local Greens

Volunteers needed rain or shine: Forest Unlimited Tree planting this sunday

Sat, 01/05/2019 - 12:31

Forests Unlimited could use some volunteers for their annual native tree planting of 1,400 trees on Sunday January 6th. Please contact Harlie Rankin for directions and info. Here is your chance to make a difference.

When: Saturday, January 5th and Sunday, January 6th

 

Where: We will be shuttling to Wildwood Conservation Foundation. Please RSVP to receive more details.

 

Why: To protect, enhance, and restore the watersheds and forests of the North Bay! Harlie Rankin <harlierankin@gmail.com>

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Fighting wildfire from the inside out

Fri, 01/04/2019 - 12:10
Great Article posted by Forest Unlimited.Cutting roads through our natural treasures so the timber industry can take more trees won’t significantly reduce the danger to Paradise or other towns like it. And the industry wants large, old-growth trees more than the younger ones even though old trees are more fire resistant.” Fighting wildfire from the inside out

By Karin Klein Special to The Sacramento Bee

December 19, 2018

 Authorities estimate it will cost at least $3 billion to clear debris of 19,000 homes destroyed by California wildfires last month. State and federal

disaster relief officials said Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, that private contractors will most likely begin removing debris in January from Butte, Ventura and Los

Angeles counties and costs are likely to surpass initial estimates.

In the wake of the Camp Fire, I’ve been reading about the work of wildfire scientist Jack Cohen. During his many years with the U.S. Forest Service, Cohen  studied which houses in fire-prone areas tend to burn and which survive. His work is deeply respected and several of his videos are on YouTube. They should be required viewing for anyone living in a wildfire zone.

To his surprise, Cohen found that the houses closest to catastrophic blazes often withstood the fires even when those farther away burned. It often

wasn’t the approaching flames that threatened houses the most. The bigger danger, it turns out, were the thousands of small embers, called firestarters,

that blew off of fires and traveled for miles on the wind. The discovery led to experiments in which mockups of houses were blasted with showers of

firestarters in order to study their vulnerabilities. Cohen found that houses’ immediate surroundings were more important than the condition of the

surrounding forests. Conventional wisdom tends to focus on clearing brush. But wood decks, wood siding and vents through which embers can enter

attics and crawl spaces all are serious vulnerabilities. “Uncontrolled, extreme wildfires are inevitable,” Cohen says. But destroyed communities are not.

Some of Cohen’s discoveries have reached homeowners. People know the old woodshake roofs are fire disasters in waiting. But do they know Spanish

tile roofs can provide shelter for embers under their curves? Do they know vents covered with finemesh screens can prevent embers from entering

crawl spaces and attics? Have they considered replacing wood decks with cement patios? Richard Halsey, director of the California Chaparral Institute,

suggests reversing the way we think about wildfire. Instead of focusing on backcountry wildfires, Halsey suggests Californians take steps to protect

individual lives, houses and  communities. People and policymakers — including Cal Fire — are still worried about giant walls of forest fire when they

need to think about protection against tiny embers. Our biggest weapons are expansive green parks, wide streets bordering communities and houses

built to withstand embers. He points to San Diego County, where a developer was persuaded to locate a golf course between houses and an adjacent

wilderness area.

Donald Trump talked nonsense about rakes, but California isn’t doing much better. Newly passed legislation would devote a significant portion of a billion dollars over five years to thinning forests and clearing brush. Cutting roads through our natural treasures so the timber industry can take more trees won’t significantly reduce the danger to Paradise or other towns like it. And the industry wants large, old-growth trees more than the younger ones even though old trees are more fire resistant. Cutting brush brings another set of questions. What exactly is brush? Studies have found invasive annual grasses that quickly dry and burn in unpredictable patterns are a bigger fire threat than evergreen chaparral, which is native to the state. Policymakers should be helping  homeowners protect their homes from embers and installing roof sprinklers fed from reliable water sources, such as swimming pools or community water tanks. Firefighters in Paradise saved the lives of about 150 people by having them huddle together in the middle of a parking lot. Instead of expecting people to evacuate on a couple of crammed roads, leaders should build parks with big lawns and maintain large parking lots where residents could ride out the fire if necessary.

Firestorms are no longer an aberration. They’re our future for some time to come, no matter how meaningfully we attempt to turn the tide

on greenhouse gases. Gov. Jerry Brown was willing to take major steps to combat climate change, but the policy shifts needed to improve communities’

fire resilience will require even bolder commitments.

It’s time for smart planning based on science rather than outmoded concepts of how fire works.

Karin Klein is a freelance journalist in Orange County who has covered education,

science and food policy. She can be contacted at karinkleinmedia@gmail.com. Follow

her on Twitter @kklein100.

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

SONOMA COUNTY CLIMATE ACTIVIST NETWORK Feb. 4th, 7-9pm

Fri, 01/04/2019 - 10:59

Sonoma County Climate Activist Network

SONOMA COUNTY CLIMATE ACTIVIST NETWORK – SoCo CAN!

Monday, February 4, 7-9 PM

Peace & Justice Center, 467 Sebastopol Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95401

Climate activist groups and individuals working together to address and reverse climate change. We meet on months with a 5th Monday (except Dec. 31), 7-9 PM at the Peace & Justice Center, 467 Sebastopol Ave., Santa Rosa 95401.

more  •  facebook  •  map  •  contact us  •  phone: 707-877-6650

Categories: G2. Local Greens

The Swamp Watchers: Western Values Project

Thu, 01/03/2019 - 10:43
THE SWAMP WATCHERS: Western Values Project

About Us: We bring accountability to the national conversation about Western public lands and national parks conservation – a space too often dominated by industry lobbyists and their allies in government.

A majority of folks who live in the Rocky Mountain West strongly believe in balancing resource development with protecting our Western way of life.

It’s why businesses locate here, people visit from around the world, and why millions choose to call the region home. Westerners want and expect our public lands to support good-paying jobs, provide world-class recreation and tourism opportunities, and support healthy, thriving communities – a mix only possible when our communities, government, business and industry strike the right balance between resource development and conservation.

Founded in 2013 and based in Helena and Whitefish, Montana and Washington, D.C., Western Values Project brings transparency to the public lands debate. Our research team investigates the connections between powerful special interests and the politicians they seek to influence, with the intention of holding public lands decision makers at every level of government accountable. When we find evidence of corruption and other wrongdoing that jeopardizes our outdoor heritage, we inform the public to hold our elected officials accountable.

Western Values Project is a project of New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity fiscal sponsor that provides administrative support to hosted projects — an umbrella organization that provides administrative support to non-profit advocacy organizations. Our work is backed by organizations and individuals across  America that support a responsible approach to managing our nation’s public lands.

If you have any questions or need to get in touch with us, please email info@westernvaluesproject.org or directly contact members of our team. Sign up for action alerts, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

The Facts About

Western Values Project aims to provide members of the media, policy makers and the public with an honest, accurate and rhetoric-free source of information about energy development on public lands.Read More

Blog Releases

December 18, 2018 by

Five Questions Trump’s Interior Secretary Nominee Needs to Answer The American Public Deserves to Know How Their Public Lands, National Parks and Wildlife Will be Managed

As former scandal-plagued Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke resigns, due to pressure from the White House and President Trump to avoid being fired, rumors as to who will be the next Secretary of the Interior are swirling.

While many believe the natural progression is for Trump to appoint the conflict-riddled Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt, other names have started to surface. The American public deserves answers from Trump’s eventual replacement to some critical questions about public lands and the Interior Department:

Will the nominee oppose to the sale and/or transfer of public lands?
  • President Trump’s son, Don Jr., urged his father to nominate Ryan Zinke as Interior Secretary in large part because Zinke claimed to oppose the sale and/or transfer of public lands. Still, some Interior bureaus have recommended the disposal or sale of public lands under Zinke’s tenure. Any potential nominee should clarify the administration’s position and come out strongly against the sale and/or transfer of public lands and focus on increasing public access to those lands.
How will the nominee end the culture of corruption that permeated Interior under Zinke? Will they rid the department of the conflicted political appointees Zinke hired and replace the industry representatives he appointed to boards?
  • Scandals, corruption and special interests favors were hallmarks of Zinke’s tenure, with many of his political appointees and board appointments coming from special interest backgrounds as documented on www.departmentofinfluence.org. The next Interior Secretary must work with Congress to do ensure Zinke’s and Trump’s political appointees aren’t doing special favors for their former employers while holding those who have accountable in order to restore the American people’s trust in the country’s largest land managing agency.
Will the nominee run a transparent, accountable Interior Department and solicit public input on departmental decisions?
  • Zinke made the promise to be transparent but then made decision after decision behind closed doors often in an apparent attempt to exclude the public. In order to ensure decisions include the public with ample notification and participation that weighs public sentiment, any nominee should immediately review all instructional memorandums and/or agency rules issued during Zinke’s tenure that shut the public out of public land, wildlife and national park decisions.
Will the nominee restore science-based decisions that honor long-standing relationships and agreements without handing over America’s public lands to special interests? Will the nominee commit to restore and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and end Zinke’s harebrained efforts to reorganize the department and privatize our national parks?
  • Funding for the most critical public access and parks fund, LWCF, expired under Zinke’s leadership, losing some $192 million for parks and public access so far. The next secretary must commit to getting this legislation passed and permanently funded so the program does not lapse again. They should also commit to ending any national parks privatization schemes Zinke had in the works and halt department reorganization plans until a thorough analysis is done on any potential efficiencies that would be gained with the consultation of Congress.

There will much more clean-up to do after former Secretary Ryan Zinke rides his horse into the sunset, but getting a potential nominee to answer these urgent questions and promise to adhere to their answers is a good start to repairing the public’s trust in the Department of the Interior.

Read the Post

Categories: G2. Local Greens

‘Swamp Creature’ Takes Interior Department Reins From Ryan Zinke

Thu, 01/03/2019 - 10:13
SWAMP WATCH: “He has so many potential conflicts that he carries around a list of former clients and is barred from participating in decisions affecting them, The Washington Post reported in November.” ‘Swamp Creature’ Takes Interior Department Reins From Ryan Zinke Zinke resigned Wednesday amid a flurry of scandals. David Bernhardt, the agency’s No. 2 and a former energy lobbyist, has stepped in as acting secretary. By Chris D’Angelo

David Bernhardt, the Interior Department’s No. 2 official and a former fossil fuel lobbyist, took over Wednesday as acting secretary after the resignation of scandal-plagued agency chief Ryan Zinke.

With Democrats on Thursday taking back control of the House of Representatives — and the powerful subpoena authority that comes with it — they have vowed to investigate Zinke’s conduct and policy decisions.

Zinke, a former Montana congressman and Navy SEAL, faced nearly 20 federal investigations. Several are ongoing, and one has been referred by Interior’s internal watchdog to the Justice Department for possible criminal violations. He has maintained he did nothing wrong and blamed his departure on “vicious and politically motivated attacks.”

By midday Wednesday, his Twitter profile read “former secretary.” In a farewell message posted to the social media site, he said it was a “high honor to serve @POTUS & the American People.”

“We’ve restored public lands ‘for the benefit & enjoyment of the people,’ improved public access & shall never be held hostage again for our energy needs,” Zinke wrote.

Trump has not nominated a permanent replacement, as he said he would do in a post to Twitter last month. But several names have surfaced as contenders for the role, including Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and outgoing Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.). Whoever Trump taps must be confirmed by the Senate.

Before being sworn in at the Interior Department on Aug. 1, 2017, Bernhardt, a Colorado native, worked for eight years at the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, where he lobbied on behalf of oil, gas, mining and agricultural interests. He also previously served as a top Interior official under former President George W. Bush, leading an attempt to open Alaska’s pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development. (Last month the Trump administration took a significant step toward its goal of allowing drilling in the refuge, which Zinke said “stands out among the most impactful” Interior accomplishments in terms of “bolstering America’s economic strength and security.”)

The Senate confirmed Bernhardt as Interior’s deputy secretary in July 2017. Before his confirmation hearing, 150 conservation groups signed a letter opposing his nomination, citing his ties to the industries he is now charged with regulating and labeling him “a walking conflict of interest.”

He has so many potential conflicts that he carries around a list of former clients and is barred from participating in decisions affecting them, The Washington Post reported in November.

As Interior’s deputy secretary, Bernhardt met on several occasions with lobbyists for MGM Resorts International, the casino-resort giant that his longtime former employer represents, as HuffPost previously reported. The ethics agreement he signed last year bars him from participating in matters involving Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.

Last year the Interior Department blocked a proposed casino partnership between two Connecticut tribes. The project would have been competition for an MGM casino in nearby Springfield, Massachusetts, and the company lobbied against federal approval. Interior’s decision is under investigation by the agency’s inspector general.

Bernhardt played a key behind-the-scenes role in many regulatory rollbacks during Zinke’s tenure, as Mother Jones highlighted in an October profile. Those efforts include a plan to dismantle Obama-era protections for the greater sage grouse, a move that would open up millions of acres of the declining game bird’s habitat to energy and mineral development. Bernhardt is also leading a charge to revise the Endangered Species Act, one of America’s bedrock conservation laws. The proposed changes would make it easier to remove recovered species from the protected list and would change how federal agencies go about designating habitat as critical to the long-term survival of species.

After news of Zinke’s resignation, the liberal environmental group Western Values Project launched a website detailing Bernhardt’s work with special interests. In an accompanying statement, the nonprofit’s executive director, Chris Saeger, called Bernhardt the “ultimate DC swamp creature.”

“The bottom line is that Bernhardt is too conflicted to even be Acting Secretary,” Saeger said.

Bernhardt represented Interior at Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting at the White House, sitting directly next to Trump.

FULL STORY & COMMENTS
Categories: G2. Local Greens

New York Times: Now for the Hard Part: Getting Californians to Buy Legal Weed

Thu, 01/03/2019 - 09:57
Wine & Water Watch supports sensible regulations that protect the quality of life for all and protection of the environment. Sonoma County: Thomas Fuller, San Francisco Bureau Chief, has written another article for the New York Times. It is the number 8 story in the evening digital edition. See the link below. Supervisor Hopkins is again quoted and the owner, Jigar Patel, of NorCal Cannabis in SR featured. Now for the Hard Part: Getting Californians to Buy Legal Weed

In California, around $2.5 billion of legal cannabis was sold in 2018, half a billion dollars less than in 2017 when only medical marijuana was legal.CreditCreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

By Thomas Fuller

    • Jan. 2, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO — A billion dollars of tax revenue, the taming of the black market, the convenience of retail cannabis stores throughout the state — these were some of the promises made by proponents of marijuana legalization in California.

One year after the start of recreational sales, they are still just promises.

California’s experiment in legalization is mired by debates over regulation and hamstrung by cities and towns that do not want cannabis businesses on their streets.

California was the sixth state to introduce the sale of recreational marijuana — Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington paved the way — but the enormous size of the market led to predictions of soaring legal cannabis sales.

Instead, sales fell. Around $2.5 billion of legal cannabis was sold in California in 2018, half a billion dollars less than in 2017 when only medical marijuana was legal, according to GreenEdge, a sales tracking company.

“There are definitely days that I think that legalization has been a failure,” said Lynda Hopkins, who is on the board of supervisors in Sonoma County, which took a lead in licensing marijuana businesses but became embroiled in disputes over regulations and taxes, not to mention angry residents who did not want cannabis grown in their neighborhoods.

The easy part of legalization was persuading people to vote for it, industry analysts say. The hard part, now that it’s legal, is persuading people to stop buying from the black market.

In Colorado and Washington licensed sales soared after legalization. One crucial difference with California is its massive surplus — the state produces far more pot than it can consume.

The tons of extra cannabis continue to leach out across the country into states where it is legal.

“The bottom line is that there’s always been a robust illicit market in California — and it’s still there,” said Tom Adams of BDS Analytics, which tracks the cannabis market. “Regulators ignored that and thought they could go straight into an incredibly strict and high-tax environment.”

The most recent official estimates of California’s cannabis production, a report published a year ago by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, showed the state producing as much as 15.5 million pounds of cannabis and consuming just 2.5 million pounds.

California’s surplus — equal to 13 times Colorado’s total annual production — is smuggled eastward, especially across the Rockies and Mississippi where the wholesale price is as much as three times as high.

Cannabis Benchmarks, a company that tracks marijuana prices, reported at the end of December that the average price of regulated cannabis in California was $1,183 a pound, compared with $3,044 in Illinois, $3,072 in Connecticut and $2,846 in Washington, D.C.

Supporters of legalization long ago acknowledged the problems of California’s surplus and said it would take years to address.

In an interview in 2016, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who takes office as governor next week, estimated that 85 to 90 percent of the cannabis that California produced was exported. “It’s a very serious issue,” he said, “and it’s going to create a dynamic where the black market will likely persist in a very stubborn way.”

The distinction between legal cannabis businesses and scofflaws is about to become much sharper. The loosely regulated system of medical cannabis cooperatives that has existed for two decades will be illegal after Jan. 9. This gives law enforcement more clarity.

Jonathan Rubin, the head of Cannabis Benchmarks, says market forces — low prices and extreme competition — will also force many smaller California marijuana companies out of business.

This is straining another promise made by proponents of legalization: that small producers would be protected.

Jigar Patel, president of the Norcal Cannabis Company, in a grow room at facilities in Santa Rosa, Calif.CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times Jigar Patel, president of the Norcal Cannabis Company, in a grow room at facilities in Santa Rosa, Calif.CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

“The icon for cannabis is going to become the Marlboro Man,” Ms. Hopkins, the Sonoma County supervisor, said referring to the symbol of the tobacco industry, to which critics often compare the cannabis business. “In California we’ve done what we always do — regulate, regulate, regulate, which ultimately gives significant advantage to large companies with significant economies of scale.”

The popular image of California’s marijuana growers may still be hippies hiding out in the forests of Humboldt County but increasingly the reality is more like the operations of NorCal Cannabis Company in Santa Rosa, north of San Francisco.

The company has converted what was a semiconductor factory into a cannabis production operation where employees walking down antiseptic hallways wear latex gloves and supervise an Israeli-style irrigation system and a $1 million air filtration system. Next door is a company that makes coatings for aircraft cockpit gauges.

Legalization has been liberating for big players like NorCal Cannabis.

“This is our coming-out party,” said Jigar Patel, the president of the company, who toured the complex in a white lab coat. “It’s waking up and doing what you love without wondering if the man is behind you.”

But for hundreds of other smaller producers the paperwork alone has been enough to put them out of business. A cannabis producer must submit applications to as many as five state agencies, including obtaining a certificate to ensure they are able to use a scale.

Lori Ajax, the head of California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control who is sometimes called the state’s cannabis czar, described 2018 as “rough” both for the regulators and the industry.

Her office is planning a public information campaign to try to persuade consumers to stop buying illegal pot.

“We have to get more consumers buying from the licensed market,” she said.

Legalization was promoted as helping to end the war on drugs. But Ms. Ajax says California has no choice but to “step up” enforcement of cannabis scofflaws.

“As a state we have to get more aggressive,” she said.

With less than two dozen enforcement officers, she will need help from other government agencies.

Ms. Ajax said she was encouraged by the “surge” of applications by cannabis businesses at the end of 2018. The Bureau of Cannabis Control has issued 2,500 temporary licenses. Yet this is still a fraction of the tens of thousands of cannabis businesses in the state.

Mr. Adams of BDS Analytics says 2018 was a year of “constantly diminishing forecasts” of cannabis sales. But he and others believe the legal market can only grow, especially after the disputed decision by Ms. Ajax’s office to allow cannabis delivery services to operate across the state — even in areas where local municipalities have chosen to ban pot businesses.

Increased sales could push tax revenue closer to the forecasts on the 2016 ballot, which predicted revenue would reach the “high hundreds of millions of dollars to over $1 billion annually.”

Through September, Sacramento has collected only $234 million in cannabis taxes. Colorado, with a population half the size of Los Angeles County, collected around the same amount last year. Gov. Jerry Brown, who leaves office Jan. 7, described cannabis revenue as unreliable in a recent interview with The New York Times.

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Friends of Graton: FOG UPDATE #16

Thu, 01/03/2019 - 09:44
FOG UPDATE #16 We received this email recently from Supervisor Hopkins regarding the BOS hearing on 12/11, where the West County and Joe Rodota trails were designated as parks. The conditions where the 1000′ setback to parks could be lessened are outlined below. Even though each application will be decided on a case-by-case basis, all three of these criteria must be met, and that would be a very high bar for an applicant. We are feeling hopeful that the setbacks will be difficult to reduce and that the two trails will enjoy the protections of a 1000′ setback. In the text below, mixed light cultivation = greenhouses. Anna Ransome for Friends of Graton (FOG)

Thank you for your correspondence with our office concerning the issue regarding setbacks from trails managed by the Regional Parks Department.  I appreciate the time that you took to express your concern, and want to update you on the Board’s actions.

The Cannabis Land Use Ordinance requires that outdoor and mixed light cultivation operations be setback at least 1,000 ft. from public parks. Originally, staff had interpreted this setback to be only from federal recreation areas, and state, regional, community, and neighborhood parks. When the Board of Supervisors first discovered that staff’s interpretation did not include Class I bikeways, which are generally owned, operated, or managed by the County’s Regional Parks Department and used similarly as other types of parks by the community, the Board directed staff to align the County’s interpretation with the Board’s intent. On December 11, the Board adopted a resolution to resolve the ambiguity in the ordinance language and officially clarify its legislative intent to create a setback from all of these different parks to protect sensitive populations, environmental resources, and the public’s use and enjoyment of such environmental resources.

The Board has clarified that all outdoor and mixed-light cannabis cultivation operations must be setback at least 1,000 feet from all parks including existing Class I bikeways, such as the Joe Rodota Trail and the West County Trail, unless a use permit is obtained. To qualify for a reduced setback from a public park, any current or future applicant must design their project or amend it to show that an “equivalent separation exists due to topography, vegetation or slope, that no offsite impacts will occur, and that the cannabis operation is not accessible or visible from the park.” These determinations will be made by the Board of Zoning Adjustments on a case-by-case basis and be dependent on the specifics of the proposed project and its surrounding environment.

 

My apologies if you receive duplicates of this message.  We had such a large volume of correspondence on this issue, and many of our constituents wrote more than once!

 

Best regards, 

Lynda Hopkins

Fifth District Supervisor

575 Administration Dr 100A

Santa Rosa, CA  95403

 

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Categories: G2. Local Greens

Trump has a story of how his presidency’s going. Here’s what the numbers say.

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 11:09
Environment and social justice facts 3.9 million: Number of children without health insurance 3.3 million: The number of acres of conserved land for which Trump eliminated protections 78.6: Lower life expectancy 2.7 percent: Greenhouse gas emissions saw their biggest jump worldwide in 2018

 

Trump has a story of how his presidency’s going. Here’s what the numbers say. It’s not pretty. Ryan Koronowski Twitter Dec 26, 2018, 9:00 am According to Donald Trump, who was elected president just over two years ago, his administration is among the greatest in history, with the greatest economy in American history and a nation finally respected again. As he told Bob Woodward this summer, “nobody’s ever done a better job than I’m doing as president.”The United Nations could not hold back a laugh in September when Trump said in a speech: “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”

This lofty rhetoric certainly seems farcical as 2018 draws to a close with government (controlled by the president’s party) shut down, markets in free-fall, and allies abroad fearing an increasingly unpredictable president.

With such a schism in reality — between the president and his supporters who think things are going fine and critics alarmed by each new tweet and headline — numbers are often helpful to get some objective truth.

Here is the truth of how the Trump administration is doing, looking at the numbers.

$55.5 billion: Highest trade deficit in a decade

Trump said the trade deficit would drop like never before:

“The trade deficit was only $84 billion when Bill Clinton was first inaugurated. So, we’ve taken from $84 billion, which is a lot of money, to now $800 billion. And going up, going fast unless I become president. You will see a drop like you’ve never seen before. You have never seen before.”

Despite Trump’s singular focus on trade, America is importing more goods, while exporting less, than it ever has. The federal government announced earlier this month that America’s trade deficit hit $55.5 billion in October, rising almost a billion dollars from September. This is a ten-year high. Rising imports for goods were the main driver — that month’s trade deficit in goods hit $76.9 billion.

3.9 million: Number of children without health insurance

When MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough asked candidate Trump in 2017, “So all Americans will get health care of some sort?” Trump said:

“We’re going to take care of them. We’re going to take care of them. We have to take care of them. Now, that’s not single payer. That’s not anything. That’s just human decency.”

The reality is much darker.

For the first time in almost a decade, the rate of uninsured children in the United States increased, according to a study from Georgetown’s Center for Children and families. The report found that 276,000 more kids didn’t have coverage in 2017 than in 2016, raising the total to 3.9 million. That’s 5 percent of all people under the age of 18, compared to 4.7 percent the year before.

This is an unprecedented increase in how many kids don’t have health insurance, after years of rising coverage rates thanks to bipartisan efforts to expand Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Trump administration has been chipping away at the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid access (through work requirements). The increase in states that did not expand Medicaid was nearly triple the rate in states that did expand.

0: miles of new border wall

Trump has said multiple times that he has already begun constructing his border wall, despite constant fights with Congress to appropriate the money to his administration.

“A lot of the wall is built,” he said this month in the Oval Office. “It’s been very effective.”

However, the Department of Homeland Security admitted last week that no new wall has been constructed on the border under Trump. There has been some replacement and maintenance work done on existing areas of fencing, but zero miles of new wall have been completed in the Trump administration. This lack of new construction angers Trump’s archconservative allies, and the wall’s existence or nonexistence does absolutely nothing for border security. Trump’s inability to realize his most famous campaign promise also reveals the absurdity of his claim of doing a better job than any other president.

3.3 million: The number of acres of conserved land for which Trump eliminated protections

Trump said:

“We’re going to conserve our beautiful natural habitats, reserve, and so important, we’re going to take care of those habitats. We’re going to take care of our reserves. And we’re gonna take such great care of our resources. Our resources are vital. We’re gonna take care of those resources.”

Yet according to a report by the Center for American Progress, the Trump administration cut protections for Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments, affecting almost 2 million acres of land. (Disclosure: ThinkProgress is an editorially independent news site housed at the Center for American Progress.)

He also signed legislation opening up 1.5 million acres in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration. This paired with some additional public lands changes implemented by the Interior Department adds up to 3.3 million acres which lost protections — the largest such action in the nation’s history.

27 percent: World’s confidence in American leadership at historic low

Trump routinely says that America is more respected now than in the past:

“We are respected again, I can tell you that. We are respected again. A lot of things have happened. We’re respected again.”

But in October, a Pew survey found that 70 percent of people across the globe said they lacked confidence in Trump’s ability to do the right thing in world affairs, while 27 percent had confidence in him.

This is a change from President Obama’s rating of 64 percent at the end of his presidency, with 23 percent having no confidence. Trump’s foreign policy has been marked by erratic diplomatic moves and rhetoric, broken treaties, and the humanitarian crisis at the border.

45 percent: Highest opposition to Supreme Court nominee

Trump said his second nominee to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, was the most deserving person in the country: “There is no one in America more qualified for this position, and no one more deserving.”

Judge Brett Kavanaugh became Justice Kavanaugh in October despite having the largest percentage of Americans opposed to his confirmation of any nominee since polling on this topic began. By the end of his confirmation process, 45 percent of Americans did not want the Senate to confirm him to the Supreme Court, compared to 46 percent who supported him. Kavanaugh’s views on choiceguns, and the environment placed him far outside the mainstream of America, and the way he responded to several women’s allegations of sexual assault further sullied his reputation.

Trump has also nominated more unqualified lower court judges than anyone in recent history. That’s six judges — four district and two appellate — who have earned “not qualified” ratings from the American Bar Association.

This compares to zero from the Obama administration, one from the George W. Bush administration, three from the Clinton administration, and none from George H.W. Bush’s administration. Four of Trump’s not qualified nominees have been confirmed.

15.4: Gigawatts of capacity in coal plant retirements — a record

Trump said during the campaign he would revitalize the coal industry:

“Coal is coming back. Clean coal is coming back, 100 percent… We’re going to bring the coal industry back 100 percent.”

Trump may have said he was bringing the coal industry back, but two years in, the industry is still on a steady decline. Over the last three decades, the coal industry lost around 100,000 jobs, and the last two years have barely moved the needle.

Demand for coal is also not rising — a recent report found that in 2018, more coal-fired electricity generation capacity will be shut down than ever before — 15.4 gigawatts, to be precise.

78.6: Lower life expectancy

Trump said, simply, as a candidate:

“If I win, all of the bad things happening in the U.S. will be rapidly reversed!”

Here’s one statistic that has not improved since he took office. In 2017, life expectancy fell a tenth of a year to 78.6 years, partially due to trends like a rising suicide rate and the opioid crisis.

2.7 percent: Greenhouse gas emissions saw their biggest jump worldwide in 2018

Trump said in 2015:

“And you know what I want to do? I want really immaculate air.”

But the air is not getting cleaner.

After years of relatively small growth, global greenhouse gas emissions rose steeply from 2017 to 2018. Last year saw the United States announce it was withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, which attempted to set the world on a course to emit less rather than more. President Trump began the process in 2017 to pull America out of the agreement, which is the furthest the globe has been able to go on cutting back emissions to date. 17 investigations

It’s not just the Mueller investigation — there are actually 17 total investigations targeting Trump and his businesses, according to a count that appeared in Wired.

The special prosecutor is looking at Russian 2016 election interference, WikiLeaks, Middle Eastern influence, Paul Manafort, Trump Tower Moscow, obstruction of justice, and inappropriate contact between Russia and the Trump campaign as well as the Trump transition team.

There are several other investigations into the Trump Organization, the Trump Inaugural Committee, SuperPAC funding, foreign lobbying, by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. And several other state attorneys general are investigating other parts of the Trump galaxy.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Opinion, workers rights, capitalism and the 99%

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 10:49
The top 20 percent of U.S. households own nearly 90 percent of the country’s total equity, according to their calculations. But those households account for a hair under 40 percent of total consumer spending. The bottom 80 percent of the country owns just 10 percent of the equity but spends 60 percent of the money.

Survival and profits

EDITOR: Is 2019 the year we awaken to the fact that it is immoral to destroy resources we all need for survival for personal profits?

We are all part of the community of life; humanity is one single family of being.

Earth-system science tells us that humanity, the economy and natural resources operate as a single interdependent system. And that system is in serious trouble. Our actions have consequences. The time has come to examine those consequences and take the action required to leave our grandchildren a climate system capable of sustaining human life.

The time has come to change the narrative we tell ourselves. The story of predatory capitalism that we have been telling ourselves is neither factual nor sustainable.

Predatory capitalism is based on the exploitation of others and infinite growth on a planet with finite natural resources. Humanity is walking a path to societal collapse unless we change our system to operate in balance with nature.

We cannot deplete our natural resources without destroying ourselves. The time has come to dissolve the conflicts between us and unite based on our need to prolong our survival by living in compatibility with the processes of nature.

G. SHIRLEY

Santa Rosa

Study: Corporations loot workers

Data shows price hikes sent 3% of US household income to the wealthy

By

CHRISTOPHER INGRAHAM

WASHINGTON POST

In 2016, U.S. companies’ pursuit of bigger profits through higher prices transferred three percentage points of national income from the pockets of low-income and middle-class families to the wealthy, according to new research on market concentration and inequality. The study, forthcoming in the Oxford Review of Economic Policy, examines how growing corporate power, particularly in industries dominated by shrinking numbers of huge companies, effectively “transfer[s] resources from low-income families to high-income families.”

In the latter part of the 20th century, the share of U.S. households owning some form of stock rose dramatically, from only 32 percent in 1989 to about 52 percent in 2001. That shift was driven largely by a decline in defined-benefit pension plans and the rise of the 401(k) retirement account. As a result, the traditional line between shareholders and consumers has become blurrier than ever. That’s led a number of economists to declare that what’s good for shareholders is also, by definition, good for the middle class.

“In a world where individuals or households can be both consumers and shareholders, the impact of market power on inequality depends in part on the relative distribution of consumption and corporate equity ownership across individuals or households,” according to the team of researchers behind the new study.

The researchers use data from the federal Survey of Consumer Finances and the Consumer Expenditure Survey to calculate the distribution of stocks and business equity and of total consumer expenditures. They find that corporate equity is much more unequally distributed than expenditures.

The top 20 percent of U.S. households own nearly 90 percent of the country’s total equity, according to their calculations. But those households account for a hair under 40 percent of total consumer spending. The bottom 80 percent of the country owns just 10 percent of the equity but spends 60 percent of the money.

That means it’s nearly impossible for the typical U.S. family to make up for higher prices via the performance of their stock portfolio. When prices rise, low and middle-class families pay. Wealthy families profit.

The researchers also calculate how much household income is transferred from the poor and middle class to the wealthy solely because of powerful companies’ price hikes. They find monopolistic pricing takes a bite out of every income group’s share of national income, with the notable exception of the top 20 percent, whose incomes rise.

In effect, companies are using market power to extract wealth from poor and middle-class households and put it in the pockets of the wealthy, to the tune of about 3 percent of national household income in 2016.

The implication of these findings is that antitrust enforcement has potential to fight rising inequality by reducing the ability of large companies to set high prices that primarily benefit the wealthy.

Conversely, the findings suggest a recent lapse in that enforcement is contributing to the growing gap between the rich and poor.

 

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

170 Million in U.S. Drink Radioactive Tap Water. Trump Nominee Faked Data to Hide Cancer Risk.

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 10:04
2018 Victories: We forced this candidate to withdraw…thanks EWG

EWG Tips: Protecting Your Water from Radioactivity

  1. EWG’s Tap Water Database displays the results of utility tests for radioactivity between 2010 and 2015. Small water systems aren’t required to test for radioactivity as frequently. If your water provider is not listed, contact the utility for records of recent testing. If you drink well water, your county health department should be able to inform you if they detect radioactive elements in any wells in your area. Get your well water tested if there is any indication of radioactivity in your region.
  2. If radiation is detected in your water, consider buying a water filter. Radiation can be difficult to remove, and the type of filter you need will depend on the form of radioactivity detected. Radon and tritium volatilize from hot water, making bathing a greater source of exposure than drinking water. EWG’s water filter guide includes filters certified to remove radium. Activated carbon technology works best to reduce radon and strontium, and reverse osmosis may be the most effective technology for uranium.
  3. Check on radon. If you live in a region with radon in soil or rock, you likely have greater exposure to radon from indoor air than drinking water. A simple multiple-day air sampler kit can help you identify whether or not you have elevated levels of radon in your house. If so, consider installing a mitigation system in your basement or crawl space. The EPA’s radon program offers advice about regions of the country with elevated radon levels, and mitigation strategies.
170 Million in U.S. Drink Radioactive Tap Water. Trump Nominee Faked Data to Hide Cancer Risk.

UPDATE: On Feb. 4, the White House withdrew Kathleen Hartnett White’s nomination to head the Council on Environmental Quality. A new nominee has not been named.

Drinking water for more than 170 million Americans contains radioactive elements at levels that may increase the risk of cancer, according to an EWG analysis of 2010 to 2015 test results from public water systems nationwide.

Radiation in tap water is a serious health threat, especially during pregnancy. But the Environmental Protection Agency’s legal limits for several types of radioactive elements in tap water are badly outdated. And President Trump’s nominee to be the White House environment czar rejects the need for water systems to comply even with those outdated and inadequate standards.

The nominee, Kathleen Hartnett White, former chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, admitted in a 2011 interview that the commission falsified data to make it appear that communities with excessive radiation levels were below the EPA’s limit. She said she did not “believe the science of health effects” to which the EPA subscribes, placing “far more trust” in the work of the TCEQ, which has a reputation of setting polluter-friendly state standards and casually enforcing federal standards. Last month, after Hartnett White again admitted to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee she knew the TCEQ had ignored the EPA’s radiation regulations, her nomination was sent back to the White House. But on Jan. 8, the White House renominated her, setting up another confirmation vote before the committee, and then by the full Senate.

EWG’s Tap Water Database compiles results of water quality tests for almost 50,000 utilities nationwide. EWG also mapped the nationwide occurrence of radium, the most common radioactive element found in tap water. From 2010 to 2015, more than 22,000 utilities serving over 170 million people in all 50 states reported the presence of radium in their water.

To see radium and other contaminants in your water system

Search EWG’s National Drinking Water Database using your zipcode:

Radioactive elements enter groundwater from natural deposits in the earth’s crust, and the levels can be higher when uranium mining or oil and gas drilling unearth these elements from the rock and soil. They produce radiation called “ionizing” because it can release electrons from atoms and molecules, and turn them into ions.

The EPA has classified all ionizing radiation as carcinogenic. There is clear evidence that high doses of radiation cause cancer in various organs. The probability of developing cancer decreases with lower doses of radiation, but it does not go away.

The developing fetus is especially sensitive to ionizing radiation. At doses higher than are typically found in drinking water, radiation has been shown to impair fetal growth, cause birth defects and damage brain development. But there is no evidence of a dose threshold below which a fetus would be safe from these effects.

Six radioactive contaminants were included in EWG’s Tap Water Database, including radium, radon and uranium. By far the most widespread are two isotopes of radium known as radium-226 and radium-228, which contaminate tap water in every state. The EPA does not have a separate legal limit for each isotope, only for the combined level of the two.

From 2010 to 2015, 158 public water systems serving 276,000 Americans in 27 states reported radium in amounts that exceeded the federal legal limit for combined radium-226 and radium-228. But federal drinking water standards are based on the cost and feasibility of removing contaminants, not scientific determinations of what is necessary to fully protect human health. And like many EPA tap water standards, the radium limits are based on decades-old research rather than the latest science.

The EPA’s tap water limits on the combined level of the radium isotopes and the combined level of alpha and beta particles were set in 1976. They were retained in 2000, when the uranium standard was established.

To more accurately assess the current threat of radiation in U.S. tap water, we compared levels of the contaminants detected by local utilities not to the EPA’s 41-year-old legal limits, but to the public health goals set in 2006 by the respected and influential California Office of Environmental Hazard Assessment.

California public health goals are not legally enforceable limits, but guidelines for levels of contaminants that pose only a minimal risk – usually defined as no more than one expected case of cancer in every million people who drink the water for a lifetime.

California has separate public health goals for radium-226 and radium-228 that are hundreds of times more stringent than the EPA limit for the two isotopes combined. The EPA standard for radium-226 plus radium-228 is 5 picocuries per liter of water. The California public health goal for radium-226 is 0.05 picocuries per liter, and for radium-228 it is just 0.019 picocuries per liter. The lifetime increased cancer risk at the EPA’s level is 70 cases per 1 million people.

California has the most residents affected by radiation in drinking water. Almost 800 systems serving more than 25 million people – about 64 percent of the state’s population – reported detectable levels of radium-226 and radium-228 combined.

Texas has the most widespread contamination. More than 3,500 utilities serving more than 22 million people – about 80 percent of the state’s population – reported detectable levels of radium-226 and radium-228 combined.

See states with the most widespread contamination and cities with the highest levels of radium in drinking water.

But while Kathleen Hartnett White was chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality from 2003 to 2007, the state regularly and deliberately lowered the levels of radiation in tap water it reported to the EPA.

A 2011 investigation by KHOU-TV of Houston unearthed TCEQ emails documenting the deception. Instead of reporting the levels measured in laboratory tests, TCEQ would first subtract the test’s margin of error. Because TCEQ’s falsifying of data made it appear that the system met EPA standards, the system did not have to inform its customers that their tap water contained dangerous levels of radiation.

How dangerous?

In 2001, TCEQ reported to top state officials – including Hartnett White and then-Gov. Rick Perry, now Trump’s energy secretary – that some types of radiation in the tap water of some Texas communities posed an increased lifetime cancer risk of 1 in 400. The EPA’s increased lifetime cancer risk for five types of radioactive elements ranges from 2 to 7 in 100,000.  But the practice continued until 2008, after an EPA audit caught the state cooking the books.

In a 2011 interview with KHOU-TV, Hartnett White defended the deception, saying the EPA’s standards were too protective and that it would cost small communities millions of dollars to comply. She said TCEQ continued its practice instead of challenging the federal rules in court because it would be “almost impossible” for the state to win:

As my memory serves me, [subtracting the margin of error] made incredibly good sense … We did not believe the science of health effects justified EPA setting the standard where they did … I have far more trust in the vigor of the science by which TCEQ assesses, than I do EPA.

KHOU investigative reporter Mark Greenblatt pressed Hartnett White: “But what if you’re wrong? What if you’re wrong and EPA’s right about there being a danger?”

“It would be . . . it would be regrettable,” she replied.

In October, Trump nominated Hartnett White, now a fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which coordinates environmental policy for all federal agencies. One of its major responsibilities is “to develop and recommend national policies to the President that promote the improvement of environmental quality and meet the Nation’s goals.”

In November, in her confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, she characterized TCEQ’s falsification of data as “one of these technical issues” and declared: “I would never, ever tell staff to underreport health hazards.”

In her written responses to follow-up questions from the committee, Hartnett White said she was “aware of the EPA’s interpretation of its rule,” but that she did not “recall EPA telling TCEQ during my tenure there that TCEQ’s methodology was not legal.” But KHOU’s investigation documented that in June 2004 the EPA warned the TCEQ if it did not stop the falsification, the federal agency could take over regulation of the state’s water systems.

The Environment and Public Works Committee voted along party lines to send Hartnett White’s nomination to the full Senate. But on Dec. 21, Senate Democrats refused to vote on the nomination before the end of the 2017 legislative session. On Jan. 8 the White House renominated her without comment. She will now face a second confirmation vote before the committee before a vote by the full Senate.

Installing a head of the Council for Environmental Quality who deliberately falsified data to get around federal regulations is an egregious betrayal of public trust. The fact that her deception left people at a serious risk of cancer makes it even more alarming.

The Senate should reject Hartnett White’s nomination. The EPA must also tighten its legal limits for radioactive contaminants and require more extensive radiation testing and better disclosure – including making sure that rogue state regulators like Hartnett White don’t try to hide risks.

You can read more about the health risks posed by radioactivity in drinking water in EWG’s Tap Water Database radiation report.

 

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Did you get a Christmas present?

Tue, 01/01/2019 - 11:31

And he froze federal workers pay for next year…..

Here Are the Gifts Trump Is Giving His Billionaire Buddies on Christmas

By Bernie Sanders, Bernie Sanders’ Facebook Page

25 December 18

 

“Show me the money.”

ere is what Donald Trump is doing for the American people on Christmas:

Give a $3.7 billion tax break to Wells Fargo – a bank that is closing 800 branches.

Take away paychecks of some 800,000 workers by shutting the government.

Give $1.4 billion tax break to the Koch brothers.

Take away $1.40 meals from 755,000 hungry, unemployed Americans.

Give Pfizer a $26.5 billion tax cut after it increased the price of life saving drugs.

Take away healthcare from 13 million Americans by gutting Obamacare.

Give Walmart a $2.2 billion tax break after it laid off thousands of workers.

Take away $1.1 billion a year in overtime pay from 12.5 million workers.

Our job: End the 40-year war on the working class and the poor and create an economy that works for all of us, not just those on top.

 

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Growing a Napa Progressive Alliance

Tue, 01/01/2019 - 11:17
Keep the momentum going. Groups are set up all over California. Please consider volunteering. Growing a Napa Progressive Alliance

January 5, 4-6 p.m.
Universal Unitarian Church
1625 Salvador Ave., Napa

californiaprogressivealliance.org

OUR GOALS Working shoulder to shoulder, we will support the people’s struggles, to organize progressive coalitions, promote new policies, and mobilize all Californians of good will, regardless of party affiliation, who are willing to transform our state. What Do We Believe?

The California Progressive Alliance (CPA) is a statewide independent volunteer network of progressive individuals, groups, and organizations united by our shared belief that a better California is possible by reclaiming our government from the corporate interests that have overshadowed the voice of the people. Together–regardless of party affiliation or no party affiliation–we seek to (1) elevate progressive ideas throughout the state, (2) promote the creation of local political alliances and people-powered coalitions to enact progressive change in local government, (3) support corporate-free progressive candidates and progressive issue-based electoral campaigns, and (4) wield our collective power to lobby the state legislature on current and future legislation, as well as research and write new model legislation.

We define “progressive” as anything or anyone that has a predilection for the poor, the working class, and for historically marginalized communities, and that works to actively elevate, and not further harm, these communities. This applies to issues, individuals, organizations, legislation, and overall narrative.

We define “corporate-free” candidates as those taking no corporate or business money, including no money from LLCs, LLPs, or small businesses. While we support business and entrepreneurship–especially small independent businesses–and their right to make a decent profit, we believe that money from business accounts should not be a part of our electoral and political process. We strongly denounce corporate PACs and are unwavering in our belief that corporations are not people. At the same time, we maintain that unions and non-corporate PACs are “corporate-free” because they are made up of people fighting for individual rights, protections, and social benefits, rather than for business profits.

Interim Steering Committee
Gayle McLaughlin (Chair)
Parker Mankey (Treasurer)
Marc Bender
Leslie Simon
Lauren Steiner
Ankur Patel
Melanie Liu
Adriel Hampton
Socrates Cruz
___
Paul Kilkenny (Asst. Treasurer)

Categories: G2. Local Greens

FOG: Friends of Graton Update # 15

Tue, 01/01/2019 - 10:48
FOG: Friends of Graton Update # 15

A Letter to the Editor in the Press Democrat, Friday 12/28/18:

An unhealthy business

EDITOR: For the majority of voters, Proposition 64 was meant to decriminalize marijuana use and possession, not promote a massive new marijuana industry with hundreds of manufacturing operations throughout Sonoma County. Notably, both Napa and Marin counties aren’t following such destructive and ill-conceived policies.

Sonoma County government is complicit in being a promoter of this unhealthy drug business, which endangers residents in multiple ways. One of the many poorly conceived public policy issues is inappropriate land use, including environmental harms.

The majority of voters here are overwhelmingly opposed to large-scale commercial marijuana production facilities placed all over our beautiful lands and next door to our homes. These are drug production sites, many with unsafe electrical wiring, and they’re being placed on narrow winding roads in wildfire-prone lands. These operations, with their noxious fumes, are being allowed in family neighborhoods, some 300 feet from a child’s bedroom.

Only a new team of supervisors can redirect this misguided ship. Hopefully, our 2020 supervisor candidates will recognize that the future of Sonoma County ought not be sold out to a small number of mostly outside drug industry investors with zero interest in our neighborhoods, our environment or our public health and safety.

MOIRA JACOBS

Santa Rosa

and from the Atlantic Monthly:

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/01/california-marijuana-crime/576391/

Anna Ransome

for Friends of Graton (FOG)

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Categories: G2. Local Greens

HAPPY NEW YEARS

Mon, 12/31/2018 - 11:04
QUOTES TO START THE NEW YEAR:  

Thanks Brian!

“It doesn’t matter where you came from. All that matters is where you are going.”- Brian Tracy “Think big and don’t listen to people who tell you it can’t be done. Life’s too short to think small.”- An Awesome Quote by Tim Ferriss “The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it.” – Chinese Proverb “Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson “Develop an attitude of gratitude this year, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.”- New Year’s Quote by Brian Tracy

Categories: G2. Local Greens

New York Times Editorial: Trump Imperils the Planet

Mon, 12/31/2018 - 10:52
“The idea that sustainability may be a necessary condition of future economic growth appears never to have crossed their minds.

 

Trump Imperils the Planet

By Editorial Board, The New York Times

28 December 18

Endangered species, climate change — the administration is taking the country, and the world, backward.

t’s hard to believe but it was only three years ago this month — just after 7 p.m., Paris time, Dec. 12, to be precise — that delegates from more than 190 nations, clapping and cheering, whooping and weeping, rose to celebrate the Paris Agreement — the first genuinely collective response to the mounting threat of global warming. It was a largely aspirational document, without strong legal teeth and achieved only after contentious and exhausting negotiations. But for the first time in climate talks stretching back to 1992, it set forth specific, numerical pledges from each country to reduce emissions so that together they could keep atmospheric temperatures from barreling past a point of no return.

Two weeks ago, delegates met at a follow-up conference in Katowice, Poland, to address procedural questions left unsettled in Paris, including common accounting mechanisms and greater transparency in how countries report their emissions. In this the delegates largely succeeded, giving rise to the hope, as Brad Plumer put it in The Times, that “new rules would help build a virtuous cycle of trust and cooperation among countries, at a time when global politics seems increasingly fractured.”

But otherwise it was a hugely dispiriting event and a fitting coda to one of the most discouraging years in recent memory for anyone who cares about the health of the planet — a year marked by President Trump’s destructive, retrograde policies, by backsliding among big nations, by fresh data showing that carbon dioxide emissions are still going up, by ever more ominous signs (devastating wildfires and floods, frightening scientific reports) of what a future of unchecked greenhouse gas emissions is likely to bring.

Wells Griffith, Mr. Trump’s international energy and climate adviser, managed in one quote to summarize the dismissiveness of the American delegation and its fealty to the president’s apparently unshakable conviction that anything that helps the environment must inevitably hurt the economy. “The United States has an abundance of natural resources and is not going to keep them in the ground,” he said. “We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice their economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability.” The administration is full of zero-sum philosophers like Mr. Griffith. The idea that sustainability may be a necessary condition of future economic growth appears never to have crossed their minds.

Further depressing the proceedings were recent defections and political troubles in countries that, along with the United States, had been expected to lead the way to a low-carbon energy future. Germany, which long ago walked away from carbon-free nuclear power, is having a hard time cutting back on coal because of political opposition. In Australia, a prime minister was kicked out of office because he wanted to reduce the use of coal, which Australia produces in abundance. China, despite admirably aggressive investments in wind and solar power, has yet to get a firm grip on its emissions from coal-fired plants. The new president-elect of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, not only named an outspoken climate-change denier as his foreign minister but also, reversing his predecessors’ policy, pledged to open up the Amazon to mining and farming. This will threaten biodiversity in one of the world’s great rain forests while crippling its ability to act as a sink for carbon emissions.

No country’s backsliding, of course, compares with Mr. Trump’s. Determined to demolish President Barack Obama’s entire climate strategy, Mr. Trump has in the past year replaced Mr. Obama’s clean-power plan, which was aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, with an essentially useless substitute that would emit 12 times the pollution envisaged by the Obama plan. He has proposed weakening a major Obama regulation requiring automakers to nearly double the fuel economy of passenger vehicles by 2025. (This rollback, The Times reported this month, came after a lot of whining by oil interests, not, as one might suspect, from the auto companies, which had accepted the challenge.) And the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department have taken multiple steps to roll back Obama-era efforts to control emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more powerful than carbon dioxide. These three programs formed the basis of Mr. Obama’s pledge at the 2015 Paris meeting to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
The health and environmental effects of the Trump rollbacks, as documented by a Times investigation published this week, are far-reaching and potentially devastating.

This holiday season has brought more gifts to fossil fuel interests; every day is Christmas Day for the likes of Murray Energy and Exxon Mobil. This month, the E.P.A. proposed killing an Obama rule that would effectively block the construction of new coal-fired power plants. The Interior Department relaxed restrictions on oil and gas drilling in areas inhabited by the sage grouse, a threatened bird. Also in December, the department released an environmental-impact statement that would open all or part of the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to leasing and exploration. The area had been off limits to drilling for decades until Congress, late last year, approved an amendment sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, to open it up.

All this is fundamentally Mr. Trump’s doing. A series of early executive orders established the pro-fossil fuel policy framework; Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator, and Ryan Zinke, the interior secretary, filled in the details. Mr. Pruitt has left Washington and Mr. Zinke is in his final days, both finishing under ethical clouds. They will deserve, along with Mr. Trump, history’s censure for doing virtually nothing to move to a more responsible energy future — and for not doing so at just the moment when the world needed the kind of leadership that Mr. Obama and his secretary of state, John Kerry (and Bill Clinton and Al Gore before them), tried to provide.

The numbers are not great. The goal in Paris was to keep warming from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels, and if possible to hold the line at 1.5 degrees, thresholds that scientists deemed unacceptably risky. Delegates knew that even if every country managed to fulfill its individual pledges, the world would be on pace for 3 degrees of warming in this century. So they agreed to tighten the targets as time went on, but instead they’ve slid backward. Many large emitters are not on track to meet their self-imposed goals. That includes America, despite the retirement of many coal-fired plants in favor of cleaner natural gas, the increasing cost competitiveness of renewable fuels like wind and solar power, and the valiant efforts of states like California to sharply reduce their own emissions and lead where Mr. Trump will not.

The bottom line, according to the Global Carbon Project, is that after three years in which emissions remained largely flat, global levels of carbon dioxide increased by 1.6 percent in 2017 and are on pace to jump by 2.7 percent this year. Some scientists have likened the increase in emissions to a “speeding freight train.” That has a lot to do with economic growth. It also has a lot to do with not moving much faster to less carbon-intensive ways of powering that growth. Or in Mr. Trump’s case, moving in the opposite direction.
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Tag: #GreenhouseGasEmissions #GlobalWarming #UnitedStatesPoliticsAndGovernment #UnitedNationsFrameworkConventionOnClimateChange #AlternativeAndRenewableEnergy #EnvironmentalProtectionAgency #MurrayEnergyCorp #UnitedNations #Obama,Barack #Pruitt,Scott #Trump,DonaldJ #Zinke,Ryan(1961-) #Alaska #California #Katowice(poland) #Paris(france)

 

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Categories: G2. Local Greens

Malware attack disrupts delivery of L.A. Times and Tribune papers across the U.S.

Sun, 12/30/2018 - 10:46
Attack from outside the US: “We believe the intention of the attack was to disable infrastructure, more specifically servers, as opposed to looking to steal information,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly. The source would not detail what evidence led the company to believe the breach came from overseas.” Malware attack disrupts delivery of L.A. Times and Tribune papers across the U.S. What first arose as a server outage was identified Saturday as a malware attack, which appears to have originated from outside the United States and hobbled computer systems and delayed weekend deliveries of the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers across the country.

Technology teams worked feverishly to quarantine the computer virus, but it spread through Tribune Publishing’s network and reinfected systems crucial to the news production and printing process. Multiple newspapers around the country were affected because they share a production platform.

The attack delayed distribution of Saturday editions of the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union Tribune. It also stymied distribution of the West Coast editions of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, which are printed at the Los Angeles Times’ Olympic printing plant in downtown Los Angeles.

By Saturday afternoon, the company suspected the cyberattack originated from outside the United States, but officials said it was too soon to say whether it was carried out by a foreign state or some other entity, said a source with knowledge of the situation.

Foreign cyberattack hits newspapers: Here is what we know » FULL STORY

 

 

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