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Protecting our Environmental Resources
Updated: 20 hours 38 min ago

Follow the Money: Solano County Supervisors join planners in supporting Caymus winery

Fri, 11/02/2018 - 12:38
Follow the money and weak or no regulations….Solano County wants to be the next Napa despite water resources and traffic gridlock. “We strongly believe the approval of the use permit . . . for a 200,000 gallon winery and related uses will result in significant adverse impacts on the upper Suisun Valley, including the designated Mankas Corner Agriculture Tourist Center, the Suisun Valley Elementary School and to the surrounding rural community where we live,” the appeal document stated.Supervisors join planners in supporting Caymus winery

By

FAIRFIELD — The Solano County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday night denied the appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval of the Caymus Solano Winery, affirming the planners’ decision supporting the project.

Supervisor Monica Brown said she had reservations about the possible negative impacts the project could have on “noise, traffic and the quality of life” of residents in Suisun Valley.

However, she said the winery represents the kind of project the Suisun Valley Specific Plan was established for and said it would be unfair for her to get in the way of that vision.

Valarie Dodini and Mary Browning appealed the decision by the Planning Commission, which approved the project Aug. 3 on a 4-1 vote.

“We strongly believe the approval of the use permit . . . for a 200,000 gallon winery and related uses will result in significant adverse impacts on the upper Suisun Valley, including the designated Mankas Corner Agriculture Tourist Center, the Suisun Valley Elementary School and to the surrounding rural community where we live,” the appeal document stated.

Dodini had asked the board to continue the matter because she was unable to attend the hearing. That request was denied.

We are not against Mr. (Chuck Wagner). We are not against wineries,” Browning told the supervisors.

But she believes the county’s codes and regulations are inadequate for this kind of project – and wineries in general – and urged the board to look at what is happening in Sonoma and Napa counties. She got support from one speaker who said Wagner is moving the bulk of his winemaking operation to Solano County not because of his stated love for the Suisun Valley, but to get away from the problems he faces in Napa County because of allegations of overproduction.

Still, many more speakers spoke of the good character of Wagner, and how the Caymus brand will raise Suisun Valley to a premiere wine region in the future.

The project, with about 60,000 square feet of building space and a capacity to produce 200,000 gallons of wine annually, would be located at 4991 Suisun Valley Road.

It is a project that supporters view as the centerpiece to the Suisun Valley tourism profile.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Butterfly Preserve on the Border Threatened by Trump’s Wall

Fri, 11/02/2018 - 12:18
Nothing but destruction……..immigration numbers way down… Butterfly Preserve on the Border Threatened by Trump’s Wall

By Claire Harbage, NPR

01 November 18

he National Butterfly Center, a 100-acre wildlife center and botanical garden in South Texas, provides a habitat for more than 100 species of butterflies. It also sits directly in the path of the Trump administration’s proposed border wall. The federal spending bill approved in September includes $1.6 billion in 2019 for construction of the wall. In October, the Department of Homeland Security issued a waiver to 28 laws protecting public lands, wildlife and the environment to clear the way for construction to proceed. The planned wall would cut the privately owned National Butterfly Center in two, with as much as 70 percent of its land sandwiched between the wall and the Rio Grande.

“It’s going to be a no-man’s land, Border Patrol’s enforcement zone,” says Marianna Trevino Wright, the National Butterfly Center’s executive director. “They will clear everything. So it’s not like all of this habitat is going to become Garden of Eden, undisturbed. It is going to be eliminated.”

The center, which opened in 2004, is also home to several endangered plants and threatened animals, such as the Texas tortoise and Texas horned lizard.

In July, a group of scientists published a paper outlining the proposed wall’s significant negative impacts on “some of the continent’s most biologically diverse regions.” The border wall would eliminate, degrade and fragment wildlife habitats — for instance, by clearing land, blocking access to water and food, and inhibiting seasonal migrations.

More than 2,700 scientists signed on to the paper and called for the administration to rethink its border tactics. They’ve called for DHS to abide by the environmental laws that are already in place and forgo physical barriers when possible.

The Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act are among the environmental and public health laws that are being waived to speed up the wall-building process.

For its part, the DHS argues in its recent waiver that the Rio Grande Valley section of the border, where the butterfly center is located, is an area of “high illegal entry.”

Since 2013, this sector has seen the highest number of U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions of people crossing illegally or who are inadmissible. In fiscal year 2018, which ended in August, 23,757 unaccompanied minors and 63,278 family units were apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley sector.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and the Animal Legal Defense Fund are suing the Trump administration, arguing that DHS doesn’t have the authority to waive these laws.

However, similar lawsuits have been unsuccessful, and the department has already waived environmental laws in New Mexico and California to facilitate border wall construction.

The National Butterfly Center also filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration in 2017, after Trevino Wright found U.S. Customs and Border Protection contractors beginning to clear brush with chainsaws on the private land.

“Imagine coming home one day, and finding people cutting down your trees, ripping up your fence, and destroying your yard,” says Trevino Wright.

CBP did not respond to NPR’s request for comment, citing the open litigation.

Construction along the border could begin as soon as February 2019. Until then, the butterfly center continues to use its property as though the barrier won’t be built.

That includes developing the land adjacent to the Rio Grande, which would be well on the other side of the planned wall, for recreational activities.

“We have long-term plans for this place,” says Trevino Wright. “We’re not going to just pack up and abandon that.”

 

 

 

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Categories: G2. Local Greens

Activists are not terrorists

Fri, 11/02/2018 - 11:43
“Ag Gag Laws” paid for by the Koch brothers & ALEC to stop the public seeing abuses and bad animal husbandry has been enacted in many mid west states.  PROP 12 will help stop some of the abuses. Farm Bureau stokes the fear…..if you take care of animals you don’t need to worry. This brought to you by the organization that wants children to be apply pesticides and work in the fields long hours(FB wants to repeal child labor laws).

See: House Farm Bill Increases Pesticide Risks to Children

House Farm Bill Increases Pesticide Risks to Children, Farmworkers The House farm bill includes several proposals that would roll back key pesticide protections, putting children, farmworkers, communities and even endangered species at risk. winewaterwatch.org/2018/05/house-farm-bill-increases

 

Game of Chicken  Activists are not terrorists

By

Animal rights activists are protesting on Northern California ranches. Sometimes they go beyond their First Amendment rights and break the law.”

That message was delivered loudly and clearly to nearly 100 people who attended a workshop at Shone Farm in Santa Rosa last week. Called “Beyond the Fence Line” (see “Cage Match,” Oct. 24), the event on Oct. 29 was sponsored by the powerful Sonoma County Farm Bureau. By the end of the afternoon, it was pretty obvious—to some attendees, anyway—that there is anti-activist collusion underway between the Farm Bureau, its friends and allies in the county, and local law enforcement.

Many regional ranchers clearly think that animal-rights activists are a menace to them and to society. The Farm Bureau agrees. The ranchers and the bureau may be well-meaning, but the fiery language used to describe animal-rights activists is likely to widen the divide rather than help residents interested in this issue to come to a common understanding.

For her part, Tawny Tesconi, executive director at the Farm Bureau of Sonoma County, condemned recent protests at local chicken farms as “domestic terrorism.” Brian Sobel, from Sobel Communications, echoed her cry as he too lambasted “domestic terrorists.” Sobel didn’t mean pipe-bomber Cesar Sayoc. And he didn’t mean Robert Bowers, who shot and killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue over the weekend.

Understandably, farmers don’t want protesters to disrupt their livelihood. But it doesn’t help to demonize animal-rights activists as “terrorists.” Nor did it help matters when Troye Shaffer, from the Sonoma County District Attorney’s office, stood at the podium and called the demonstrators “ne’er-do-wells,” a prejudicial statement if ever there was one—especially given the mass arrest of 68 protesters and the fact that, as of last week, the district attorney was still sorting out the charges.

The animal-rights activist group called DxE has made shoppers and eaters aware of factory farming and the inhumane conditions in which animals are raised and slaughtered. One rancher at Shone Farm encouraged everyone “to run clean operations.”

Indeed, more time and money should be spent on running clean operations than on fences, gates, surveillance, arrests and prosecutions, which will only exacerbate an Us vs. Them mentality that already exists—and that shouldn’t. The Farm Bureau and law enforcement officials ought to be accountable to all of us, not to special interests with deep pockets and the ear of local law enforcement. And please, no more inflammatory language.

Jonah Raskin is a frequent contributor to the ‘Bohemian.’

Open Mic is a weekly feature in the ‘Bohemian.’ We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write openmic@bohemian.com

Categories: G2. Local Greens

States Allow For-Profit Pipeline Companies to Seize Private Property

Fri, 11/02/2018 - 11:25
Fossil fuel companies above the law? States Allow For-Profit Pipeline Companies to Seize Private Property

A Bayou Bridge Pipeline construction site in Louisiana’s iconic Atchafalaya Basin, the nation’s largest river swamp. Energy Transfer Partners agreed to halt construction of the pipeline on a parcel of private property this week after a conservation group filed a lawsuit on behalf of a landowner.L’eau Est La Vie Camp

Part of the Truthout Series

Planet or Profit According to Misha Mitchell, an attorney for a conservation group in Louisiana’s ecologically sensitive Atchafalaya Basin, Energy Transfer Partners and other private oil interests broke the law when they began building a section of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline on a parcel of private land in the iconic river swamp without permission from the landowners.

Mitchell filed a lawsuit against the pipeline project on behalf of landowner Peter Aaslestad and his family after construction began on their property in late July, but work continued on the property until Monday, when Energy Transfer Partners struck a deal in a local court with the plaintiffs to temporarily halt construction.

The company must now wait until at least November to finish, when a court will decide whether Energy Transfer Partners has the legal right to “expropriate” the property under state law. Workers have already built much of the pipeline easement on the property after clearing trees and grinding them into mulch. The deal is a setback for the company and a victory for environmentalists, but much of the project is already completed.

Aerial photos show unpermitted pipeline construction on Aaslestad’s property as far back as July 23, but the local police did not show up until the media and environmental activists arrived last month. Unlike Energy Transfer Partners, the activists claimed to have written permission from one of Aaslestad’s co-owners to be on the property, but several were arrested on felony charges and dragged off to jail after resorting to civil disobedience to halt construction.

“Everyone should be concerned that certain people get away with things that others can’t,” said Mitchell. “It’s not an equitable system, and there should be serious spotlight on accountability and compliance with the laws of this state.”

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Friends of Graton formed to oppose industrial cannabis grow

Fri, 11/02/2018 - 10:20

Hello Supporters –

We have a name – Friends of Graton or FOG.

ACTION #3

We suggest emails to support that Sonoma County Regional Park trails be considered as public parks in the cannabis ordinance. Currently, regional park trails, such as the West County Trail (aka Joe Rodota), are considered transportation corridors, not public parks. Lynda Hopkins has already expressed support for this and now we can support her.

Please write to Bert Whitaker, Director of Regional Parks, Bert.Whitaker@sonoma-county.org and Lynda Hopkins, Lynda.Hopkins@sonoma-county.org to request that the cannabis ordinance be amended to ensure setbacks from pot grows and commercial cannabis facilities to regional park trails.

Be concise and clear in your email. Put your most important point in the first sentence. Choose a Subject Line of UPC18-0044/ Trails are Parks to indicate what your email is about. Here are some points you may want to consider in crafting your email.

– All Sonoma County Regional Trails should be classified as “public parks” in the cannabis ordinance, including the West County Regional Trail (aka Joe Rodota,

where a commercial cannabis operation has already been proposed) between Grey St. and Occidental Rd., the most beautiful and un-spoiled stretch of the trail.

-The public uses regional trails as linear parks for recreating outside and enjoying nature. Regional trails are easily accessible and popular.

-Users of the trail are sensitive populations, including, children, families, pregnant women, the elderly and the disabled. These users need to be protected from the negative impacts of pot grows and commercial cannabis operations (crime, odor, security issues, fencing, lighting, loss of view shed, among others).

-Explain how you, your family, and your friends use the trail. Describe how the operation of a commercial cannabis operation or cannabis grow area next to the regional trail will directly affect you.

Thanks again for all the support. We have 300 signatures on our petition and about the same number on our email list.

Anna Ransome

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Resources on cannabis issues for Sonoma County and other jurisdictions

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 10:16
Got something to say about this issue? Contact Information for elected officials:

Sonoma County Supervisors

Susan Gorin, District 1: Susan.Gorin@sonoma-county.org
District Director: Pat.Gilardi@sonoma-county.org

David Rabbitt, District 2: David.Rabbitt@sonoma-county.org
District Director: Andrea.Krout@sonoma-county.org

Shirlee Zane, District 3: Shirlee.Zane@sonoma-county.org
District Director: Michelle.Whitman@sonoma-county.org

James Gore, District 4: James.Gore@sonoma-county.org
District Director:  Jenny.chamberlain@sonoma-county.org

Lynda Hopkins District 5: Lynda.Hopkins@sonoma-county.org
District Director: Susan.Upchurch@sonoma-county.org

Address all Sonoma County Supervisors

Or use the Sonoma County Supervisors Contact Form page

http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Board-of-Supervisors/Contact-Board-of-Supervisors/

Other Sonoma County Officials

Sheryl Bratton, County Administrator: sheryl.bratton@sonoma-county.org

Sita Kuteira, Deputy County Counsel for Cannabis:
sita.kuteira@sonoma-county.org

Tennis Wick, PRMD Director: Tennis.Wick@sonoma-county.org

Permit Resource Management Department (PRMD)
Mail letters to:

Permit Resource Management Department
2550 Ventura Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA, 95403

MEDICAL MARIJUANA AD HOC COMMITTEE
Susan Gorin and Lynda Hopkins as listed above
Mail letters to:

MEDICAL MARIJUANA AD HOC COMMITTEE
575 Administration Drive, Room 100 A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Sonoma County Informational Links:

Final Cannabis Ordinance with Attachments (Ord 6189)(PDF: 1.2 MB)

Final Cannabis Land Use Table(PDF: 223 kB)

Sonoma County Cannabis Program
http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Cannabis-Program/

Sonoma County Cannabis Rules and Ordinances
http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Cannabis/Legislative-Updates/County-Ordinances/

Sonoma County Policy Paper on Cultivation in Rural Residential Areas
http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=2147525193

Sonoma County Zoning Map Viewer
http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/PRMD/Administration/GIS/ActiveMap/

Petaluma Dairy Belt Area Plan
http://www.sonoma-county.org/prmd/docs/divpages/petaluma_dairy_belt_area_plan.pdf

There are a couple sites on the County where you can look up parcels/properties to get some information.

https://common1.mptsweb.com/megabytecommonsite/(S(cbeeeqlffcmgkblsnqapbbgl))/PublicInquiry/Inquiry.aspx?CN=sonoma&Dept=Asr&Site=Public&PG=Search  You can look up by the parcel’s APN or address and get basic info.

http://prmd.sonoma-county.org/permit_history_lookup.aspx?sid=1015  You can review a property by address or APN for it’s permit history.  It will show all recorded violations and current status.

Other jurisdictions Links: Cannabis Law By County:

These laws are in flux and this may not reflect latest regulations
http://cannabusinesslaw.com/california-cannabis-laws-by-county/

What are the marijuana laws in your California city? Explore our database of local cannabis policies

Here’s a look at what’s legal and what’s not when it comes to marijuana in California cities.

Orange County Register 0 Comments
Categories: G2. Local Greens

First Monsanto settlement: Groundskeeper accepts reduced $78 million in Monsanto cancer suit

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 09:47
First of over 8,000 lawsuits on file…… Update Monsanto Trial: Groundskeeper accepts reduced $78 million in Monsanto cancer suit

Emily Sullivan
NPR, November 1, 2018
https://www.npr.org/2018/11/01/662812333/groundskeeper-accepts-reduced-78-million-in-monsanto-cancer-suit

The groundskeeper who won a massive civil suit against Bayer’s Monsanto claiming that the weedkiller Roundup caused his cancer has agreed to accept $78 million, after a judge substantially reduced the jury’s original $289 million award.

Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, a Northern Californian groundskeeper and pest-control manager, was 42 when he developed a strange rash that would lead to a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in August 2014.

His groundskeeper duties included mixing and spraying hundreds of gallons of Roundup, the company’s glyphosate-containing weedkiller product, court records say.

Johnson — now near death according to his doctors — sued Monsanto in June, testifying that the herbicide likely caused his cancer. In August, jurors unanimously agreed and awarded him a total of $289 million, with $250 million in punitive damages and $39.25 million in compensatory damages.

In October, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos slashed the punitive damages when she ruled the ratio between the compensatory damages and the punitive damages must be 1 to 1, reducing them from $250 million to $39.25 million.

“In enforcing due process limits, the Court does not sit as a replacement for a jury but only as a check on arbitrary awards,” she wrote.

Johnson could have demanded a new trial instead of accepting the $78 million.

His attorney disagreed with the judge’s settlement reduction, but Johnson will accept the lower amount in hopes of achieving “a final resolution within his lifetime,” spokeswoman Robin McCall told The Associated Press.

German multinational Bayer acquired Monsanto in June. NPR sent an email requesting comment to Christi Dixon, the head of Global Public Relations with Bayer’s Crop Science Division, but did not immediately receive a reply.

However, in a statement after the August verdict, Monsanto Vice President Scott Partridge said that the company is “sympathetic to Mr. Johnson and his family,” adding that the jury’s decision “does not change the fact that more than 800 scientific studies and reviews … support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer, and did not cause Mr. Johnson’s cancer.”

Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides in the U.S., according to the National Pesticide Information Center, which also says the herbicide has “carcinogenic potential.” According to Reuters, Bayer faces about 8,000 more lawsuits on the herbicide.
Categories: G2. Local Greens

Trump EPA bows to Monsanto, reapproves dangerous, drift-prone pesticide

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 09:40
SWAMP WATCH “The EPA’s own analysis of dicamba indicated that many threatened and endangered species — including birds and mammals — may be harmed by the massive increase in the herbicide’s use. Yet the agency unilaterally decided to ignore these harms instead of consulting with federal wildlife experts.Trump EPA bows to Monsanto, reapproves dangerous, drift-prone pesticide

Published: 01 November 2018

Agency ignores mounting calls to ban dicamba on crops

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it will forgo a ban in favour of minor new restrictions on the pesticide dicamba, which has damaged an estimated 5 million acres of crops, trees and backyard gardens over the past two years. The pesticide will be approved for another two years with the additional restrictions in place. “The Trump EPA’s reckless re-approval of this dangerous poison ignores the facts on the ground and damage across millions of acres,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Simply adding more use restrictions to an uncontrollable pesticide that already comes with 39 pages of instructions and limitations reflects a broken process. Pesticide regulation has been hijacked by pesticide makers.”

The new restrictions tied to the re-approval include a 57-foot buffer around fields where endangered species may be present and limitations on what times during the day the pesticide can be sprayed.

Last year the EPA introduced additional restrictions, vetted and approved by Monsanto, that it hoped would prevent off-target damage. As predicted by independent researchers, those new restrictions were largely ineffective, resulting in damage to an estimated 1 million acres of crops, vegetables, ornamental species and trees by July 15 of this year.

“How many more millions of acres need to be poisoned for the EPA to stand up and finally do its job?” said Donley. “It’s going to take far stronger action to curb dicamba’s well-documented dangers to non-target plants and wildlife like monarch butterflies.”

Highly toxic dicamba products are designed for use primarily on next-generation soybeans genetically engineered to resist what would normally be a fatal dose of the pesticide. The current label for new dicamba products, which lays out the restrictions and directions for the pesticide’s use, takes up 39 pages and more than 16,000 words.

The EPA’s own analysis of dicamba indicated that many threatened and endangered species — including birds and mammals — may be harmed by the massive increase in the herbicide’s use. Yet the agency unilaterally decided to ignore these harms instead of consulting with federal wildlife experts.

Earlier this year a Center report found that more than 60 million acres of monarch butterfly habitat are projected to be sprayed with dicamba by next year. Dicamba can degrade monarch habitat in two ways: by harming flowering plants that provide nectar for adults as they travel south for the winter and by harming milkweed, which, as the only food of monarch caterpillars, is essential for the butterfly’s reproduction.

Monarch butterfly populations have been hard hit by pesticides, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently considering whether to give Endangered Species Act protections to the iconic migratory butterfly.

Source: Center for Biological Diversity
https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2018/dicamba-10-31-2018.php

 

 

FULL STORY & GUEST WEBSITE:
Categories: G2. Local Greens

Europeans join forces to call for higher level of protection from pesticides

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 09:29
GMWATCH Reports: Europeans join forces to call for higher level of protection from pesticides

The current pesticide authorisation system is not fit for purpose, say 118 civil society organisations and 25 experts

European regulators are letting down the citizens of the EU by allowing the use of harmful pesticides in agriculture and public green areas. In addition, the current pesticide authorization system is based on an “unfit for purpose” risk assessment regime that relies on industry-generated toxicity studies and ignores the potential to replace pesticides with non-chemical ecological alternatives.

These are the messages of a manifesto for “rigorous science, safe food, and a healthy environment” published by a new European coalition, Citizens for Science in Pesticide Regulation (CSPR). The manifesto is signed by 118 civil society organisations and institutions – including GMWatch – as well as 25 individual scientists and experts.

The stated purpose of the European pesticide regulation, in force since 2009, is to ensure a high level of protection of human, animal and environmental health. Pesticide products and residues should not be authorised if they are found to have harmful effects on humans, animals, and the environment.

But unfortunately, this is far from the reality, according to CSPR.

“The current pesticide risk assessment procedure is failing us,” said Dr Angeliki Lysimachou, science policy officer at Pesticide Action Network Europe. “The rules are not respected. The whole process is driven by the pesticide industry, which is allowed to assess the safety of its own products, always behind closed doors, and even to design its own testing methodologies. As a result, many tons of harmful pesticides are used in Europe today, in increasing numbers, even when scientific evidence from public research shows they are not safe. This must come to an end.” Major conflicts of interest exist in the pesticides regulatory system. The Monsanto Papers – internal Monsanto documents recently disclosed in cancer litigation in the USA – show how industry can actively subvert science. It is clear that industry must be kept at arm’s length from safety testing, risk assessment and risk management.

The pesticide industry does its own safety testing and is heavily involved in designing the methods for risk assessment. Expert panels of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) continue to include people with financial ties to the agrochemical industry.

Scientific evidence indicates that humans and the environment are not being sufficiently protected from these harmful chemicals. Studies reveal an abnormally high rate of diseases in farming families and residents in agricultural areas, high levels of pesticide residues detected in food and the environment, and the decline of biodiversity and wildlife in proximity to agricultural areas.

Dr Apolline Rogers, a lawyer at ClientEarth, said, “The EU pesticide law already requires these substances to have no harmful effects on humans and animal health – but evidence from the fields proves that it is not respected. The authorities in charge need to remember their obligations under EU law. They must change the way they assess and authorise pesticides to make sure that people and environment are effectively protected.”

The 15-point manifesto calls upon European regulators to urgently reform the current pesticide risk assessment and risk management system. It suggests practical solutions to the major failings in the system. These fall under three sections and can be summarised as follows:

A. Prioritise public health, the environment and sustainable agriculture. Pesticides must be used only as a last resort when all other non-chemical alternatives have been tried and have failed.

B. Ensure that decision makers rely on data that is complete, public, up to date and free from industry bias. Safety testing must be carried out independently of the pesticide industry. Data requirements for pesticides should be updated according to the most recent scientific findings to address human developmental diseases and impact on ecosystems.

C. Enable decision makers, civil society and the scientific community to scrutinise the integrity and effectiveness of European pesticide policy. The results and data from all pesticide safety tests shall be published on the internet in a consistent and searchable format.

The European Commission is currently reviewing pesticides legislation as part of its REFIT programme, the European Parliament has published a series of reports and has set up the PEST Committee to investigate the European Union’s authorisation procedure for pesticides, and the Commission has presented a proposal to increase transparency in European food law.

The full details of the manifesto with all 15 points can be found here: www.citizens4pesticidereform.eu

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Oops! Perry ‘accidentally told the truth’ about dumping nuclear waste in Nevada, roiling Senate race

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 09:19
If their lips are moving….. “Trump has been going around the country this election season making a bunch of likely empty promises, such as claiming he will protect the health coverage of those with pre-existing conditions — even though his administration has been working to kill that provision. Many were skeptical of Trump’s Yucca statement. After all, Trump was the one who proposed reviving Yucca in the first place.” Oops! Perry ‘accidentally told the truth’ about dumping nuclear waste in Nevada, roiling Senate race

 

Trump lies about his plan to flood Nevada with nuclear waste.

Joe Romm Oct 31, 2018, 1:24 pm SHARE

Radioactive waste barrels. CREDIT: Thall via Getty Images Plus. SHARE -->

One thing that unites Nevadans is opposition to President Donald Trump’s effort to turn the state into a huge nuclear waste dump.

That’s why many were surprised when Trump suggested he might abandon that policy after touring the state recently with GOP Senator Dean Heller, who is in a tight reelection race against Democrat Jacky Rosen.

But Trump’s Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, admitted on Friday the administration still supports building the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository outside of Las Vegas.

In doing so, Perry effectively spoiled Trump’s effort to help Heller, as Jon Ralston, editor of the Nevada Independent, explained to Bloomberg: “Poor Rick Perry didn’t get the memo and accidentally told the truth.”

In 1987, Congress designated Yucca Mountain — 90 miles outside of Las Vegas — as the country’s official nuclear repository. Back then, the state had only about 1 million residents (compared to some 3 million today), so it was not only much more sparsely populated, but also had far less political clout to fight the choice.

In 2002, President George W. Bush signed the Yucca Mountain Bill to move the project forward, and in 2006, Bush’s department of Energy proposed a plan to open the facility and start accepting waste in 2017.

But the rapidly growing state did not want trucks and trains bringing in nuclear waste, let alone have a nuclear dump so closed to its biggest and fastest growing city.

In December 2006, longtime Yucca opponent Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) became Senate Majority Leader, and declared, “Yucca Mountain is dead. It’ll never happen.” Barack Obama campaigned on killing the project, and by 2009 it was effectively defunded and moribund. But Trump has now revived the project, putting $120 million dollars in his fiscal year 2019 budget for Yucca. In May, the House voted 340-72 to restart the licensing process for Yucca. Every member of the Nevada congressional delegation, however, opposed the bill.

It’s unsurprising then that Trump made a lot of news when he appears to reverse course and told a Nevada radio station on October 20, “I think you should do things where people want them to happen, so I would be very inclined to be against it.” He added, “We will be looking at it very seriously over the next few weeks, and I agree with the people of Nevada.”

Trump has been going around the country this election season making a bunch of likely empty promises, such as claiming he will protect the health coverage of those with pre-existing conditions — even though his administration has been working to kill that provision. Many were skeptical of Trump’s Yucca statement. After all, Trump was the one who proposed reviving Yucca in the first place.

So it wasn’t entirely a shock when Perry said a week later on October 26, that “yes” the administration still supports opening Yucca. Indeed, Perry pointed out, “I’m making this presumption by looking at a budgeting process and there was money in the president’s budget to manage Yucca.”

 

FULL STORY & COMMENTS
Categories: G2. Local Greens

Just in time for Halloween: Avoid the scariest thing in your Halloween candy

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 15:08
Center for Food Safety team: Avoid the scariest thing in your Halloween candy SHARE THIS ALERT    facebook      twitter

Happy Halloween! It’s that time of year again; a time for you and your friends and family to celebrate the spookiest day of the year by visiting haunted houses, attending costume parties, or trick or treating.

But while your little ghoul’s costume may scare you, your little ghoul’s candy haul at the end of Halloween night shouldn’t, which is why we’re asking the leading candy companies to stop using unlabeled, untested nanotechnology in candy like M&M’s, Kraft Marshmallows, and Hershey’s Chocolate Bars.

Share this: https://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/files/candy-bar-1735659_1920_13246.jpg -->

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Tell Mars: Nano candy is a trick, not a treat

Halloween is right around the corner, and that means it’s time for trick-or-treating fun! What it shouldn’t mean is worrying over whether or not we’re being tricked by candy producers into buying and eating potentially toxic treats.

Unfortunately, many food companies are using unlabeled, untested nano ingredients in their candies. In February, Mars—the largest candy maker in the world—released a statement1 in which it committed to removing artificial colors from its food products over the next five years. But it was not clear at the time whether this included titanium dioxide, one of the most common chemicals used to engineer nanomaterials. Center for Food Safety pressed Mars—the makers of M&Ms, Skittles, Snickers, Starburst, and Twix, among other popular candies—on the issue and the company stated in an email that it is including titanium dioxide among the colorants it will remove from human food products – but has made no such commitment on other nano ingredients.

Nanotechnology is a powerful new tool for taking apart and reconstructing nature at the molecular level – and it has some scary repercussions when used in food products. Nano-scale materials2 are really small, highly reactive particles that can pass into cells and through the body’s blood-brain barrier3 to places in the human body that other materials can’t, and cause more damage when they do. Scientists agree that nanomaterials create novel food safety risks4 that require toxicity testing, yet very little testing and regulation of these new products exists, and consumers have almost no information.

So what does that mean for you or your little ghoul on Halloween? Well, for example, titanium dioxide, one of the most common engineered nanomaterials, is often found in candy (it’s used as a whitener, an anti-caking agent, a “shine” agent, and for texture) – and studies show5 that nano titanium dioxides can cause pathological lesions of the liver, spleen, kidneys, and brain; lung tumors; and inflammation, cell necrosis, and dysfunction in the kidney.

We at CFS are working to get the government to adopt stronger regulations for nanotechnology, especially when it comes to applications in our food supply. And we commend Mars for committing to remove all titanium dioxide from its products. But Mars can and must do better by removing all nano ingredients from its products on a faster timeline.

Tell Mars to speed up its removal of titanium dioxide and to remove ALL nano ingredients from their candy and food products!

In the meantime, we want you to enjoy a Halloween without any nano tricks in your treats! That’s why we created this simple guide to help you say no to nano ingredients in candy this Halloween.

Download the Guide   |   Share the Guide


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Subject: Remove ALL nano ingredients from ALL of your products Your Letter:Grant F. Reid, Chief Executive Officer and Office of the President, Mars:

I am very concerned about nano ingredients in the food and candy I purchase and feed to my family and pets. Scientists agree that nanomaterials create novel food safety risks that require toxicity testing, yet very little testing and regulation of these new products exists, and consumers have almost no information. I was so glad to hear that Mars has committed to remove titanium dioxide from your candy products, but I urge you to speed up your phase-out timeline for titanium dioxide and to remove ALL nano ingredients from ALL of your products. Thank you.

First Name* Last Name* Email*

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1. http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press-releases/4550/top-candy-company-mars-commits-to-phasing-out-harmful-nanoparticles-from-food-products
2. http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/issues/682/nanotechnology/blog/3057/theres-nano-in-our-food-what-you-need-to-know-about-nanotechnology-and-food-safety
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4435026/
4. http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/issues/682/nanotechnology/blog/3656/beware-santa-those-cookies-may-contain-nano-silver
5. http://particleandfibretoxicology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-8977-10-15

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Categories: G2. Local Greens

‘Just Another Totally Normal Day’ in Trump’s Swamp as Interior Secretary Zinke Referred to DOJ by His Own Agency’s Inspector General

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 14:55
SWAMP WATCH With close to a dozen investigations into Zinke including personal enrichment, misuse of taxpayers $, pay back to donors and cronyism, why is he still here?   ‘Just Another Totally Normal Day’ in Trump’s Swamp as Interior Secretary Zinke Referred to DOJ by His Own Agency’s Inspector General

Inspector General Mary Kendall is currently investigating at least three cases of Zinke’s improper use of his political influence—one of which could now result in a criminal probe

by Julia Conley, staff writer

5 Comments

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke could face a criminal investigation after his agency’s own Inspectot General referred a case against him to the DOJ. (Photo: C-Span)

President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice has been tasked with examining evidence of wrongdoing by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, following the referral of one of several probes into the Trump appointee’s conduct by his department’s own Inspector General.

As the Washington Post reported, the development suggests that a criminal investigation into Zinke’s conduct could be imminent—but the exact conduct being examined by the DOJ remains unknown.

The inspector general, Mary Kendall, has opened a number of cases involving Zinke, and it was unclear as of Tuesday afternoon which investigation she has referred to the DOJ.

In June, Kendall began investigating Zinke’s continued involvement in a land development deal in Whitefish, Montana, even after he was appointed Interior Secretary. The deal, involving a retail development, was backed by the chairman of oil company Halliburton—whose business is significantly affected by policies enacted by the Interior Department. Zinke owns several properties near the planned development, according to the Post.

“The American people must be able to trust that Department of the Interior decisions that affect the nation’s welfare on a daily basis are not compromised by individual self-enrichment,” wrote Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), and Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) in a letter earlier this year, urging Kendall to investigate the deal.

Kendall has also probed Zinke’s travel since he took office in March 2017, releasing a report this month showing that ethics officials within his agency had grown concerned over the fact that Zinke’s wife traveled with him on taxpayer-funded trips. The Trump administration is currently searching for its own appointee to replace Kendall, who has worked in the department since 1999.

Another ongoing investigation involving the secretary deals with a casino deal in Connecticut which he stopped from being completed after two Nevada senators lobbied against the project, which had been proposed by two Native American tribes. The casino would have competed with an MGM casino across the state border in Massachusetts, according to the groups that lobbied against it.

The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, which are hoping to reopen a lawsuit against Zinke, argued in a court filing earlier this month that Zinke’s decision not to approve the project was the result of “improper political influence.”

Despite the fact that Zinke’s case has been referred by an official in an independent, nonpartisan position—who has worked in the federal government under Republican and Democratic presidents since 1986—Zinke hastily denounced the investigation as “politically driven” on Tuesday, drawing criticism on social media.

 

 

 

FULL STORY & COMMENTS
Categories: G2. Local Greens

NapaVision 2050:Endorsement: Geoff Ellsworth, Mayor of St. Helena

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 14:45
Wine & Water Watch agrees with endorsement of Geoff Ellsworth for St Helena Mayor and Donald Williams for Calistoga City Council…we need leaders like both of them that do not take corporate money and work for solutions with the entire community.   NapaVision 2050:Endorsement: Geoff Ellsworth, Mayor of St. Helena Napa Vision 2050 endorses Geoff Ellsworth for Mayor of St. Helena. His ongoing work to bring water security and economic balance to the city of St. Helena and to larger Napa County is commendable. He is an uncorrupted advocate for the citizens of his city and of our county.

Candidate Statement: My name is Geoff Ellsworth and I am currently on the St. Helena City Council. l am running for mayor in St. Helena against current Mayor Alan Galbraith because many people in town are unhappy with how things are going in both St. Helena and Napa County. Many people in our residential, agricultural and business communities feel underserved over the last decade of Mr. Galbraith’s involvement in local government. People are looking for a change.

St. Helena deserves proactive, reliable and dynamic leadership from its mayor with a vision for where we need to go and an ability to foresee problems. That has just not been happening here.

Soy Geoff Ellsworth y les aviso de que soy candidato para el puesto de Alcalde de nuestra linda ciudad, cuales votaciones seran durante los proximos meses de Octubre y Noviembre. Actualmente soy miembro del Ayuntamiento. Pase mi niñez y juventud aqui en St. Helena, y quiero ver la misma oportunidad para nuestras futuras generaciones.

I’m running to protect our quality of life, to ensure strong financial oversight that’s been missing here, to protect our water security and environment, and to insist on transparency on all our issues.

Since 2016 we have a more engaged City Council, an excellent new City Manager and a sense that with community involvement we can finally repair the long ignored infrastructure and deferred maintenance. We can protect our water sources, address serious zoning and housing issues, bring downtown revitalization, improve financial oversight, better engage with the County on issues like water that affect us, and be guided by a vision for how St. Helena and Napa County ought to look in 20 or even 30 years.

I am seeking to be elected Mayor in St.Helena to help guide us to these positive outcomes.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

SURFRIDER: We’re on this 12 year old oil spill…

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 14:33
An oil spill that has been leaking millions of barrels into the Gulf of Mexico is on the verge of becoming one of the worst offshore disasters in U.S. history.

Between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day have been spewing 12 miles off the coast of Louisiana since 2004. After damage from Hurricane Ivan, many of the Taylor Energy wells have not been capped and federal officials estimate that the spill could continue through this century! With no fix in sight, the Taylor offshore spill is well on its way to overtaking BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster as the largest ever.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration wants to expand offshore oil drilling to over 90% of our nation’s coastline. From Maine to Florida, California to Washington state, and almost all of Alaska – NO U.S. coastline is currently safe from the impacts of offshore oil drilling.

We must turn our outrage into action. 

Our grassroots, on-the-ground activism has never been more imperative. With your support today, we will protect our ocean from offshore oil drilling.

If we don’t fight, who will?

Taylor Energy denies the actual spill happened and the federal government appears to not have fixed anything because of the cost! With your backing, Surfrider will fight for the hundreds of communities, thousands of businesses, millions of citizens, billions of dollars from tourism and recreation, and the millions of species that rely on our ocean for their survival.

The threat of offshore oil drilling is a scary proposition indeed! I hope you will donate today to help us put a stop to this oil drilling madness.

For clean water and healthy beaches,

Chad Nelsen, CEO
Surfrider Foundation

Categories: G2. Local Greens

A 14-Year-Long Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico Verges on Becoming One of the Worst in US History

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 14:26
A 14-Year-Long Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico Verges on Becoming One of the Worst in US History

By Darryl Fears, The Washington Post

23 October 18

n oil spill that has been quietly leaking millions of barrels into the Gulf of Mexico has gone unplugged for so long that it now verges on becoming one of the worst offshore disasters in U.S. history. Between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day have been spewing from a site 12 miles off the Louisiana coast since 2004, when an oil-production platform owned by Taylor Energy sank in a mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan. Many of the wells have not been capped, and federal officials estimate that the spill could continue through this century. With no fix in sight, the Taylor offshore spill is threatening to overtake BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster as the largest ever. As oil continues to spoil the Gulf, the Trump administration is proposing the largest expansion of leases for the oil and gas industry, with the potential to open nearly the entire outer continental shelf to offshore drilling. That includes the Atlantic coast, where drilling hasn’t happened in more than a half century and where hurricanes hit with double the regularity of the Gulf.

Expansion plans come despite fears that the offshore oil industry is poorly regulated and that the planet needs to decrease fossil fuels to combat climate change, as well as the knowledge that 14 years after Ivan took down Taylor’s platform, the broken wells are releasing so much oil that researchers needed respirators to study the damage.

“I don’t think people know that we have this ocean in the United States that’s filled with industry,” said Scott Eustis, an ecologist for the Gulf Restoration Network, as a six-seat plane circled the spill site on a flyover last summer. On the horizon, a forest of oil platforms rose up from the Gulf’s waters, and all that is left of the doomed Taylor platform are rainbow-colored oil slicks that are often visible for miles. He cannot imagine similar development in the Atlantic, where the majority of coastal state governors, lawmakers, attorneys general and residents have aligned against the administration’s proposal.

The Taylor Energy spill is largely unknown outside Louisiana because of the company’s effort to keep it secret in the hopes of protecting its reputation and proprietary information about its operations, according to a lawsuit that eventually forced the company to reveal its cleanup plan. The spill was hidden for six years before environmental watchdog groups stumbled on oil slicks while monitoring the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster a few miles north of the Taylor site in 2010.

The Interior Department is fighting an effort by Taylor Energy to walk away from the disaster. The company sued Interior in federal court, seeking the return of about $450 million left in a trust it established with the government to fund its work to recover part of the wreckage and locate wells buried under 100 feet of muck.

Taylor Energy declined to comment. The company has argued that there’s no evidence to prove any of the wells are leaking. Last month, the Justice Department submitted an independent analysis showing that the spill was much larger than the one-to-55 barrels per day that the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center (NRC) claimed, using data supplied by the oil company.

The author of the analysis, Oscar Garcia-Pineda, a geoscience consultant who specializes in remote sensing of oil spills, said there were several instances when the NRC reported low estimates on the same days he was finding heavy layers of oil in the field.

“There is abundant evidence that supports the fact that these reports from NRC are incorrect,” Garcia-Pineda wrote. Later he said: “My conclusion is that NRC reports are not reliable.”

In an era of climate change and warmer open waters, the storms are becoming more frequent and violent. Starting with Ivan in 2004, several hurricanes battered or destroyed more than 150 platforms in just four years.

On average, 330,000 gallons of crude are spilled each year in Louisiana from offshore platforms and onshore oil tanks, according to a state agency that monitors them.

The Gulf is one of the richest and most productive oil and gas regions in the world, expected to yield more than 600 million barrels this year alone, nearly 20 percent of the total U.S. oil production. Another 40 billion barrels rest underground, waiting to be recovered, government analysts say.

About 2,000 platforms stand in the waters off the Bayou State. Nearly 2,000 others are off the coasts of its neighbors, Texas and Mississippi. On top of that are nearly 50,000 miles of active and inactive pipelines carrying oil and minerals to the shore.

And the costs are high.

For every 1,000 wells in state and federal waters, there’s an average of 20 uncontrolled releases of oil — or blowouts — every year. A fire erupts offshore every three days, on average, and hundreds of workers are injured annually. BP has paid or set aside $66 billion for fines, legal settlements and cleanup of the 168 million-gallon spill — a sum that the oil giant could, painfully, afford. But many companies with Gulf leases and drilling operations are small, financially at-risk and hard-pressed to pay for an accident approaching that scale. One of them was Taylor Energy. Taylor Energy was a giant in New Orleans.

Owned by Patrick F. Taylor, a magnate and philanthropist who launched an ambitious college scholarship program for low-income students, it was once the only individually owned company to explore for and produce oil in the Gulf of Mexico, according to his namesake foundation.

Taylor made what was arguably his most ambitious transaction in 1995, when he took over an oil-production platform once operated by BP. Standing in more than 450 feet of water, it was about 40 stories tall. Its legs were pile-driven into the muddy ocean floor and funnels were attached to 28 drilled oil wells.

At its peak, the oil company helped make Taylor and his wife, Phyllis, the richest couple in the Big Easy.

That investment was obliterated on Sept. 15, 2004, when Hurricane Ivan unleashed 145 mph winds and waves that topped 70 feet as it roared into the Gulf. Deep underwater, the Category 4 storm shook loose tons of mud and buckled the platform.

The avalanche sank the colossal structure and knocked it “170 meters down slope of its original location,” researcher Sarah Josephine Harrison wrote in a postmortem of the incident.

More than 620 barrels of crude oil stacked on its deck came tumbling down with it. The sleeves that conducted oil from its wells were mangled and ripped away. A mixture of steel and leaking oil was buried in 150 feet of mud.

Less than two months after the storm, Patrick F. Taylor died of a heart infection at 67, leaving a fortune for philanthropy and a massive cleanup bill.

Taylor Energy reported the spill to the Coast Guard, which monitored the site for more than half a decade without making the public fully aware of the mess it was seeing. Four years after the leak started, in July 2008, the Coast Guard informed the company that the spill had been deemed “a continuous, unsecured crude oil discharge” that posed “a significant threat to the environment,” according to a lawsuit between Taylor Energy and its insurer.

Taylor Energy made a deal with federal officials to establish a $666 million trust to stop the spill.

It would be a delicate, risky operation. Taylor and the contractors it hired were asked to somehow locate wells in a nearly impenetrable grave of mud and debris, then cap them. Failing that, it could create a device to contain the leak.

But they were forbidden from boring or drilling through the muck for fear that they would strike a pipe or well, risking the kind of catastrophe on the scale of the BP disaster a few miles south. That precaution slowed the pace of the salvage operation.

“We had no idea that any of that was going on,” said Marylee Orr, executive director of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network.

Taylor Energy spent a fortune to pluck the deck of the platform from the ocean and plug about a third of the wells. It built a kind of shield to keep the crude from rising.

But no matter what it did, the oil kept leaking.

In 2010, six years after the oil leak started, scientists studying the BP spill realized something was amiss with the oil slicks they were seeing.

“We were flying to monitor the BP disaster and we kept seeing these slicks, but they were nowhere near the BP spill,” said Cynthia Sarthou, executive director of the Gulf Restoration Network, which monitors the water from boats and planes.

Satellite images confirmed the oddity.

“It was there all the time, longer than the BP spill,” said John Amos, founder and president of Sky Truth, a nonprofit organization that tracks pollution.

Under the Oil Pollution Act, companies are obligated to report hazardous spills to the NRC, which maintains a database of chemical pollution.

No law compels the companies or the federal government to raise public awareness, but the Clean Water Act clearly calls for citizen involvement.

Environmentalists took Taylor Energy to court. In their lawsuit, the conservationists called the agreement between Taylor Energy and the federal government a secret deal “that was inconsistent with national policy.” That policy, they argued, was made clear in the Clean Water Act, which mandates “public participation in the . . . enforcement of any regulation.” Citizen participation, the act says, “shall be provided for, encouraged and assisted.”

Taylor Energy and the Coast Guard — which is part of a Unified Command of federal agencies that includes the Interior Department, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency — did not live up to the policy. In fact, the public wasn’t made aware of the spill even after a private firm tested fish in the area and submitted an assessment to Taylor Energy in 2009 that said “there is an acceptable risk to humans if fish from the . . . area are consumed.”

“Taylor has failed to provide the public with information regarding the pace and extent of the oil leaks and Taylor’s efforts to control the leaks,” the lawsuit said.

It would take another three years before the government revealed an even deeper truth. Taylor Energy had been playing down the severity of the spill. An Associated Press investigation in 2015 determined that it was about 20 times worse than the company had reported.

Taylor Energy had argued that the leak was two gallons per day; the Coast Guard finally said it was 84 gallons or more, and was almost certainly coming from any of 16 wells.

“There’s a fine for not reporting, but none for underreporting,” Amos said. “If it’s only three gallons a day, who cares, that’s a trivial problem.”

Nearly a decade after the oil platform went down, the government determined that the actual level of oil leaking into the Gulf was between one and 55 barrels per day. Now, the new estimate dwarfs that: up to 700 barrels per day. Each barrel contains 42 gallons.

Despite that finding, NOAA is still in the early stages of a resource assessment of marine life that could explain the impact of the Taylor Energy spill, and is more than three years behind a deadline to issue a biological determination of the BP spill’s impact on marine life.

In July, Earthjustice, a nonprofit legal organization that represents conservation groups, sued NOAA for failing to produce a timely study.

Like Eustis, Amos said Atlantic coast residents should be wary. But in that region, where beaches and tourism enrich nearly every state, distrust over offshore leasing and drilling is bipartisan.

Governors, state lawmakers and attorneys general lashed out at the administration’s proposal. New Jersey passed a law that forbids oil and infrastructure in state waters three miles from shore, crippling any effort to run pipelines from platforms to the shore. Other states passed similar laws.

In the Carolinas, where Hurricane Florence’s winds topped 150 mph and produced a monster 83-foot wave as it neared landfall, governors who represent both political parties implored Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to rethink the plan.

Meanwhile, in the Gulf, Taylor Energy was down to a single employee — its president, William Pecue.

At a 2016 public forum in Baton Rouge, Pecue made the case for allowing the company to walk away from its obligation to clean up the mess. Taylor Energy had been sold to a joint venture of South Korean companies in 2008, the same year it started the $666 million trust. A third of the money had been spent on cleanup, and only a third of the leaking wells had been fixed. But Pecue wanted to recover $450 million, arguing the spill could not be contained.

“I can affirmatively say that we do believe this was an act of God under the legal definition,” Pecue said. In other words, Taylor Energy had no control over the hurricane.

But Ivan was no freak storm.

It was one of more than 600 that have been tracked in the Gulf since records were kept in the mid-1800s, according to NOAA.

Fourteen years after the Taylor spill, and 10 years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the federal government still doesn’t know the spills’ full impact on marine life. And there is no economic analysis showing the value of the oil flowing into the sea and potential royalties lost to taxpayers. Activists also want an analysis to determine if oil is ruining marshland and making its way to beaches.

“Even though oil did not reach a lot of these beaches [during the BP spill], the fact that the public heard about it, it killed the beach economy for quite some time,” Sarthou said. “You don’t want to go to a beach with tar balls or oil washing up.”

At the time, Sarthou was unaware that Garcia-Pineda was conducting a study in the Gulf that would show the spill was far worse than imagined — up to 10 times worse than what the federal government was reporting.

As the saga in the Gulf plays out, wary officials on the Atlantic coast are anxiously watching President Trump’s proposal to offer federal offshore leases.

It would take at least a decade for Atlantic drilling to start. The industry would first want to conduct seismic testing to determine the amount of oil and gas in the ground. Depending on the results, companies would bid for the leases. Interior has yet to approve seismic testing, which some studies say harms marine life, including large mammals such as dolphins and whales.

Oil and gas representatives say energy development off that coast could provide South Carolina with $2.7 billion in annual economic growth, 35,000 jobs and potentially lower heating costs for residents struggling to pay their bills.

During a federal informational hearing in South Carolina to explain the Trump administration’s plan in February, Mark Harmon, the director of a state unit of the American Petroleum Institute, stressed that point. “Ultimately, it means the potential for jobs and reinvestment in the community,” he said.

Once the oil industry gains a foothold in a region, it’s game over, said Chris Eaton, an Earthjustice attorney.

“A major part of the economy starts to change” as jobs with pay approaching $100,000 transform a tourism market to oil. “If it gets going, that train isn’t going to stop,” he said. “Let’s talk about what’s happening in the Gulf before we move into the Atlantic.”

FULL STORY & COMMENTS

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Poll: 71% of independents more likely to support candidate favoring climate action

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 14:16
A ‘jaw-dropping’ 15 million super-environmentalists don’t vote in the midterms Poll: 71% of independents more likely to support candidate favoring climate action And more than two-thirds of voters under 45 are “more concerned about climate change compared to previous elections.” Joe Romm Oct 19, 2018, 9:25 am SHARE

Voters line up to cast their ballots on Super Tuesday, March 1, 2016 in Fort Worth, TX. CREDIT: Ron Jenkins/Getty Images SHARE -->

A new survey finds 7 out of 10 U.S. voters would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports climate solutions.

Self-identified Independents make up the single largest voting block today, comprising a remarkable 44 percent of the electorate, according to Gallup.

And according to a new ecoAmerica survey of 849 voters, 71 percent of Independents would be more likely — with only 14 percent less likely — to vote for the climate-solver candidate. EcoAmerica is a non-profit that helps other groups and companies improve their climate communications and outreach.

7 in 10 voters would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports climate action. CREDIT: ecoAmerica.

7 in 10 voters would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports climate action. CREDIT: ecoAmerica.

The ecoAmerica survey found that an overwhelming 89 percent of Democrats are more likely to support someone who embraces climate action — but also that 46 percent of Republicans share that view.

The ecoAmerica survey found that an overwhelming 89 percent of Democrats are more likely to support someone who embraces climate action — but also that 46 percent of Republicans share that view.

Concern about climate change is rising across the board, reports EcoAmerica, but especially with younger voters. Going into the 2018 election, 59 percent of voters over 45 say they are “more concerned about climate change compared to previous elections” whereas 69 percent of voters under 45 saying they are “more concerned.”

This finding is consistent with polling from February that found millennial voters overwhelmingly support action to fight human-caused climate change.

A ‘jaw-dropping’ 15 million super-environmentalists don’t vote in the midterms EcoAmerica also found that “Independents are siding with Democrats in disapproval of environmental rollbacks of the Trump administration.” Some 64 percent of Independents oppose the rollbacks, as do 86 percent of Democrats.

Interestingly, a poll from Elon University earlier this month suggests that at least in North Carolina, Hurricane Florence had a big impact on Republican views.

While Elon’s April 2017 poll of the Tar Heel state had found only 13 percent of GOP voters thought climate change would negatively impact the North Carolina coast within 50 years, their post-Florence survey found that number had jumped to 37 percent.

North Carolina voters are worried about climate change after Florence Republicans and Democrats want elected officials to do more to tackle extreme weather.

Finally, nearly 16 million super-environmentalists were registered to vote  in the 2014 midterm elections, but didn’t, as ThinkProgress has reported.

So if efforts by groups like Environmental Voter Project to mobilize “the silent green majority” are successful, then we may be entering a period where more and more politicians realize the electoral benefits of embracing climate action.

FULL STORY & COMMENTS

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

NCSFC Citizen Groundwater Empowerment Workshop draft agenda for Nov. 13th.

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 16:48
NCSFC Citizen Groundwater Empowerment Workshop Napa County, November 13, 2018 Citizen Groundwater Empowerment Workshop Presented by The North Coast Stream Flow Coalition & The Nature Conservancy When: Tuesday, November 13, 2018 The North Coast Stream Flow Coalition, NCSFC Where: 1625 Salvador Ave, Napa, Ca partnering with The Nature Conservancy, TNC, to present this one day Citizen Groundwater Empowerment Time: 10am – 3pm Workshop on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 10-3pm. Other: It is critical that we understand our local water resources and how we as local stakeholders in water security . LUNCH WILL BE PROVIDED . Advocate for conservation, protection and sustainability of surface and groundwater for now and for future generations. A recommended donation of $15.00 at the door is requested. We will teach you about the new groundwater legislation Space is limited. To reserve now or if you have questions, call or email how this new law applies to Napa County. Chris Malan North Coast Streamflow Coalition – Chair 707.322.8677 cmalan1earth@gmail.com We are living in critical times with climate change, diminishing natural resources and high demand for water diminishing natural resources and high demand for water that is already over appropriated in California as well as much of the Napa River watershed. For more info visit www.icarenapa.org.p;amp;lt;p class=”noscript”>This app uses JavaScript. Your browser either doesn’t support JavaScript or you have it turned off. To use this app please use a JavaScript enabled browser.</p> Objective : To motivate citizens, including high school and college students, to participate in groundwater planning for the Napa Valley and to give them the tools to participate effectively I. Welcome and Introductions (10:00-10:15) Chris Malan II. Introduction to SGMA: (10:15-10:30) · Why SGMA was developed: groundwater conditions in California’s Groundwater Basins · The results of unregulated groundwater extraction: CASGEM and what it found. III. T he Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and how it works . -Eric Ringleburg of Freshwater Trust, (10:30 – 11:30 (Handout #1) · local control with state-defined requirements, including the role of DWR and SWRCB back-up · SGMA’s definition of sustainable management · “ undesirable results ” after January 1, 2015 · the planning process: water budgets, groundwater models and their limitations · Small Group Exercise : Setting a Minimum Threshold or Understanding Water Budgets IV. Undesirable Results in the Napa Valley and Napa County ’ s response. (11:30 – 12:00) · Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems · Streamflows · Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems · Other undesirable results · The Alternative Plan & why it should be rejected (Handout #2: an action alert inviting folks to comment on the Napa Alternative Plan) LUNCH PROVIDED AND BREAK (12:00 – 1:00) V. How environmental and other stakeholders can effectively participate in Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) development: Advocating for Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs) and surface water environmental flows. (1:00-2:00) Sandi Matsumoto/TNC-Sacramento VI. Strategy for achieving a truly sustainable GSP for Napa Valley. (2:00-2:30) Felice Pace · Brainstorm : How can we assure that Groundwater Management in Napa County is truly sustainable, that is, sustainable without creating or exacerbating undesirable results? · Key Strategies for achieving real sustainability without creating/exacerbating undesirable results: ◦ Participation is critical (including getting high school and community college students, boaters, fishermen, birdwatchers, and other recreational users involved). ◦ Asking the right questions. ◦ Involving supportive professional hydrologists, biologists, fishermen, boaters, etc. ◦ Using your DWR representative, the NCSFC, UCS, TNC and NGO Collaborative resources. ◦ Keeping the SWRCB contact person informed. VII. Discussion, Feedback and Next Steps. (2:30-2:55) Felice Pace and Chris Malan (Suggestions will be captured on a slip chart and the results will be sent to all participants) · What more do citizens need to participate effectively? · What is the most effective strategy to achieve sustainable groundwater management? · What are you willing to do to help? · Next Steps VIII. Closing (2:55-3:00) Chris Malan ​mp;amp;lt;p class=”noscript”>This app uses JavaScript. Your browser either doesn’t support JavaScript or you have it turned off. To use this app please use a JavaScript enabled browser.</p>
Categories: G2. Local Greens

Zombie project lives! Luxury resort and retreat center in the community separator and burned area of Larkfield Wikiup is back!

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 15:09
Greenbelt Alliance, thank you for this alert. We voted overwhelmingly to support community separators last election  cycle. This is an attack on our community values. Zombie project lives! Luxury resort and retreat center in the community separator and burned area of Larkfield Wikiup is back! A public hearing just announced for 1:30 pm on Nov. 7. The developer and planners are trying to sneak it through just before the elections without even notifying Greenbelt Alliance!

Please attend or send an email to oppose and to seek a delay so we all an equal chance to review and comment! See sample email and message below.

  Read more about the luxury resort in the community separator from before the fires here: https://www.greenbelt.org/blog/community-separators-put-test/ Send Email to Chair Don McNair don@macnairlandscapes.com and copy planning consultant Tricia Stevens tstevens@migcom.com; and Supervisor Gore James Gore <District4@sonoma-county.org> Dear Chair McNair,
The proposed new luxury resort and event center on Old Redwood Highway next to Cloverleaf Ranch is in a community separator and burned area. Given this is a controversial project, the public should be given ample time to review and comment, not less than a week’s notice in the middle of the elections for a public hearing on Nov. 7. In any case, the prospect of placing a new visitor-serving event facililty in a community separator in the burned area on the edge of the City of Santa Rosa Urban Growth Boundary is questionable. Please consider the impacts to the community separator, fire survivors, and multiple new projects that have been approved in the area since the project was first proposed. Your name and address. Public notice here: https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Design-Review-Committee/Calendar/Design-Review-Committee-Meeting-November-7-2018/  (Written pre-fire) Posted on June 28, 2017 by Community Separators Put to the Test

Just months after 81% of Sonoma County voters passed Measure K to protect community separators for the next 20 years, a luxury resort is being proposed on the north edge of Santa Rosa in the Windsor-Larkfield-Santa Rosa Community Separator.

Greenbelt Alliance and our allies are concerned that the size and scale of the luxury resort and event center are inconsistent with community separator policies, zoning, and Measure K. It is also in the wrong place because the Windsor-Larkfield-Santa Rosa Community Separator is already compromised by commercial development and sprawl all around it. If allowed, the weddings, dinners, and other special events alone would attract about 16,000-30,000 new visitors per year to the site of an old youth summer camp that has not been operating for years. The developers want to construct a massive new event hall, a large new office, two dozen cabins, a large pool with cabanas, pave over most of a meadow for parking, and convert two residences into vacation rentals.

Community separators do not stop all development and allow farmers to build a barn or even a winery in some cases, as well as letting landowners keep existing land use rights.

Measure K was intended to stop housing tracts, shopping malls, and commercial development—including luxury resorts like this one—from being built in the green buffers between the nine towns and cities in Sonoma County.

Greenbelt Alliance alerted allies and decision makers to this inappropriate development when the Sonoma County Design Review Committee recently gave it a first look. At the public meeting, we explained that the luxury hotel was more in line with commercial, recreational, and visitor serving uses rather than as an existing resource and rural development zone. So either the zoning needs to be changed with a countywide vote per Measure K. Or it needs to be scaled way back to be in line with existing zoning and the intention of community separators.

Also worrisome is that the project site is right next door to the historic and still operating 160-acre Cloverleaf Ranch, where children come every summer to ride horses, go on hayrides, and enjoy low-key outdoor fun. The owners attended the design review hearing and said they were upset about the luxury hotel with its wine and food events and explained how an influx of visitors right on their boundary could impact their camp.

The Design Review Committee provided extensive design comments on conceptual plans but veered away from any comments about the size or scale of the project, saying that will be up to the Board of Zoning Adjustments. That entity will review the luxury hotel and hold a public hearing in four or five months, according to the county planner.

Greenbelt Alliance will continue to watchdog this ill-conceived project as it moves forward to prevent any compromise of the community separator. To stay in the loop, contact Teri Shore.

 

 

Categories: G2. Local Greens

Dust storms in the Yukon

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 09:14
Melting Glaciers Dramatically Alter Canada’s Yukon

Glaciers in Canada’s Yukon territory are melting at an alarming pace, causing bodies of water to dry up and whipping up dust storms in the region, CBC News reported.

Researchers have determined that the rapidly retreating Kaskawulsh Glacier in the Yukon’s St. Elias Mountain region cannot compensate for the volume it is losing now each year.

In the 2018 report, State of the Mountains, experts estimated that the glaciers in the St. Elias Mountains are losing more ice than any other alpine area in the country. The mountain range runs from British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska, and is part of the largest ice field in the world outside of Antarctica and Greenland.

“We as Canadians are stewards of about a third of the world’s mountain glaciers and ice caps, so this is our responsibility,” Glaciologist Gwenn Flowers told CBC.

Flowers said that the Kaskawulsh glacier is losing a half meter (1.6 feet) of ice a year.

“What the glaciers and ice sheets do makes a big difference to global sea levels, and makes a big difference to local environments where they form a water source,” she added. .

After decades of retreat due to climate change, the Kaskawulsh Glacier’s meltwater abruptly switched directions in the first documented case of “river piracy.” For centuries, the meltwater flowed north into the Slims River, but over the course of a few days in the spring of 2016, the water started flowing east into the Kaskawulsh River.

The rerouting of the meltwater dried up the Slims River and cut off the main flow of water to Kluane Lake, exposing sediments and making the area more prone to dust storms. Drivers along the Alaska Highway, which bisects the Slims River valley, often encounter dust storms that obscure the road and slow traffic to a crawl, CBC wrote.

Kluane Lake is the Yukon’s largest lake and borders Kluane National Park and Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

“We’re seeing a 20 percent difference in area coverage of the glaciers in Kluane National Park and Reserve and the rest of the UNESCO world heritage site [over a 60-year period],” Diane Wilson, a field unit superintendent at Parks Canada, told CBC. “We’ve never seen that. It’s outside the scope of normal.”

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Categories: G2. Local Greens

Humanity ‘Sleepwalking Towards the Edge of a Cliff’: 60% of Earth’s Wildlife Wiped Out Since 1970

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 09:06
Common Dreams knock out story:””We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff,” Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF, told the Guardian. “If there was a 60 percent decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China, and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.” Humanity ‘Sleepwalking Towards the Edge of a Cliff’: 60% of Earth’s Wildlife Wiped Out Since 1970

“Nature is not a ‘nice to have’—it is our life-support system.”

by

Julia Conley, staff writer

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Human activity has wiped out 60 percent of animal populations around the world since 1970 according to a new study by the World Wildlife Fund. (Photo: s.imeon/Flickr/cc)

Scientists from around the world issued a stark warning to humanity Tuesday in a semi-annual report on the Earth’s declining biodiversity, which shows that about 60 percent of mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles have been wiped out by human activity since 1970.

“What is increasingly clear is that human development and wellbeing are reliant on healthy natural systems, and we cannot continue to enjoy the former without the latter.” —World Wildlife Fund

The World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Index details how human’s uncontrolled overconsumption of land, food, and natural resources has eliminated a majority of the wildlife on the planet—threatening human civilization as well as the world’s animals. “We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff,” Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF, told the Guardian. “If there was a 60 percent decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China, and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.”

#BREAKING: 60% global wildlife declines show nature needs life support. We’re living beyond the planet’s means and wiping out life on Earth in the process. It’s time for everyone – countries, businesses, consumers – to join the #FightForYourWorld. #LPR2018 https://t.co/kMmqYIkFk1

— WWF UK (@wwf_uk) October 30, 2018

Killer whales were named as one species that is in grave danger of extinction due to exposure to chemicals used by humans, and the Living Index Report highlighted freshwater species and animal populations in Central and South America as being especially affected by human activity in the past five decades.

“Species population declines are especially pronounced in the tropics, with South and Central America suffering the most dramatic decline, an 89 percent loss compared to 1970,” reads the report. “Freshwater species numbers have also declined dramatically, with the Freshwater Index showing an 83% decline since 1970.”

Destruction of wildlife habitats is the leading human-related cause of extinction, as people around the world are now using about three-quarters of all land on the planet for agriculture, industry, and other purposes, according to the report.

Mass killing of animals for food is the second-largest cause of extinction, according to the report, with 300 mammal species being “eaten into extinction.”

“It is a classic example of where the disappearance is the result of our own consumption,” Barrett told the Guardian.

The report stresses a need to that shift away from the notion that wildlife must be protected simply for the sake of ensuring that future generations can see species like elephants, polar bears, and other endangered animals in the wild.

Rather, the survival of the planet’s ecosystems is now a matter of life and death for the human population, according to the WWF.

“Nature contributes to human wellbeing culturally and spiritually, as well as through the critical production of food, clean water, and energy, and through regulating the Earth’s climate, pollution, pollination and floods,” Professor Robert Watson, who contributed to the report, told the Guardian. “The Living Planet report clearly demonstrates that human activities are destroying nature at an unacceptable rate, threatening the wellbeing of current and future generations.”

“Nature is not a ‘nice to have’—it is our life-support system,” added Barrett.

Many scientists believe that studies like that of the WWF demonstrate that a sixth mass extinction is now underway—a theory that would mean the Earth could experience its first mass extinction event caused by a single species inhabiting the planet. The loss of all life on Earth could come about due to a combination of human-caused effects, including a rapidly warming planet as well as the loss of biodiversity.

 

 

 

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Categories: G2. Local Greens

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