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Protecting our Environmental Resources
Updated: 20 hours 40 min ago

Science, Facts don’t matter to Interior Department, they don’t want you to see what they are destroying

Thu, 10/25/2018 - 17:19
Protecting campaign donors and the 1% elites, our government does not want you to have any information on what and how bad their political donors are screwing our public lands and destroying our environment and health. Destroying records on mining, oil, extraction of resources and more leaves us in the dark so they can continue to pillage, poison and make even more profit with no clean up costs or liability. ALERT From a Government Librarian:
I wanted to alert you to a very disturbing thing happening in the National Archives world that may severely impact research, especially historical and scientific research. The Dept of interior is asking for permission to destroy records about oil and gas leases, mining, dams, wells, timber sales, marine conservation, fishing, endangered species, non-endangered species, critical habitats, land acquisition, and lots more. Basically records from every agency within the Interior Department, including the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Geological Survey, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and others.  This is all content that would normally go to NARA for collection and preservation. This is disturbing;  this administration is basically just destroying records so they’ll never be accessible.

There’s an October 29 deadline for comment to NARA:   request.schedule@nara.gov /// fax: 301-837-3698 /// NARA (ACRA), 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park MD, 20740-6001. (Be sure to say that you’re referring to DAA-0048-2015-0003.)  Please forward to your networks and researchers who may be effected.

More information:  https://altgov2.org/doi-records-destruction/

NARA’s appraisal memo   https://altgov2.org/wp-content/uploads/DAA-0048-2015-0003_Appraisal_Memo.pdf

This is tragic and terrible.

james
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Stanford University
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Important Meeting: Cannabis Advisory Group meets TODAY 3-5pm at Permit Sonoma

Wed, 10/24/2018 - 10:22
This is an open meeting unless noted Cannabis Advisory Group meets Wednesday at Permit Sonoma 3-5pm (Hopkins & Gore will attend for 20-30 minutes in beginning of meeting )  NOTE UPDATED LOCATION: Permit Sonoma Hearing Room 2550 Ventura Avenue, Santa Rosa CA 95403 3:00 p.m. Call to order Announcements Item #1- Staff Updates 1. Staff Presentation 2.Questions for staff 3.Public Comment 4.Advisory Group Discussion and Recommendations Item #2- Approved Ordinance Updates and Impact on Existing Applications 1.Staff Presentation 2.Questions for staff 3.Public Comment 4.Advisory Group Discussion and Recommendations Item #3- Sonoma County Food Action Plan- Goals, Process, Outcomes and Lessons for the Cannabis Program 1.Presentation 2.Questions 3.Public Comment 4.Advisory Group Discussion and Recommendations Public Comment for Items Not on the Agenda Closing Remarks Open Meetings: Except as expressly authorized under the Ralph M. Brown Act (the State’s local agency open meeting law), all meetings of the Cannabis Advisory Group are open to attendance by interested members of the public. Public Comments: Any member of the public may address the Group during designated Public Comment periods noted in the Agenda. There are Speaker Request forms provided, if you wish to comment, please fill one out and submit to staff prior to the start of the meeting. Please note that Group members are unable to answer questions or respond to comments but you may speak to Group members after the meeting. If you wish to speak to a specific topic listed in the provided Agenda, please limit your comments to that specific topic under discussion by the Group. When filing out the Public Speaker Request form, check the appropriate box listed, if the topic you wish to comment on is in Item #1 of the Agenda, check the Item #1 box, and so on. Disabled Accommodation : To Request an Accommodation: If you have a disability and require a sign language interpreter, assistive listening device, material in an alternate format, or other accommodation to attend, please contact Ms. Jo Ann Barker at (707) 565-1925 at least 72 hours prior to the meeting in order to facilitate arrangements for accommodation. ​ Sonoma County Cannabis Advisory Group Agenda Date: August 22, 2018 Page 2 Public Transit Access to Glaser Center 545 Mendocino Avenue Santa Rosa CA: Sonoma County Transit: Routes 30, 44, 48, 60, 62, 64; Santa Rosa City Bus Route 14; Golden Gate Transit: Route 80. (707) 543-3333. Transit Information: (707) 576-RIDE or 1-800-345-RIDE

Helping Russia, killing US citizens: Asbestos Imports Surge as Trump White House Moves to Keep Deadly Carcinogen Legal

Wed, 10/24/2018 - 10:18
Killing US citizens……Russia is worlds largest asbestos exporter.

” New data revealed that asbestos-related deaths now total nearly 40,000 annually, with lung cancer and mesothelioma being the most common illnesses in association with the toxin. That number could rise if new asbestos-containing products make their way into brand new buildings.”

Also see: It’s a swamp thing: Toxic Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency moves to allow asbestos back into manufacturing Toxic Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency moves to allow asbestos back into manufacturing Make no mistake about it, hardworking people will die as a result of this decision. If you want to put cancer-causing asbestos back into some manufacturing, Donald Trump… Read more Asbestos Imports Surge as Trump White House Moves to Keep Deadly Carcinogen Legal New government data: asbestos imports rise 2,000 percent between July and August

WASHINGTON – Asbestos imports to the U.S. soared by nearly 2,000 percent between July and August, according to federal import data analyzed by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and Environmental Working Group.

According to the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce, in August alone, the U.S. imported 272 metric tons of asbestos, compared to 13 metric tons in July.

The striking increase is a major indicator that industry is not concerned about President Trump and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) taking any steps to ban or even reduce the use and import of asbestos.

As the U.S. Geological Survey reported, the only remaining user of raw asbestos in the U.S. is the chlor-alkali industry, which uses it to make semipermeable asbestos diaphragms needed in the manufacturing of chlorine and sodium chloride.

The EPA was given new powers to ban and restrict dangerous substances like asbestos when Congress passed legislation in 2016 overhauling the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA.

Asbestos is one of the first 10 substances the EPA is assessing for safety following the updates made to the revamped chemicals law. Although the EPA has not yet made a decision about the safety of asbestos under the new TSCA, recent actions by the Trump administration lay the groundwork for the agency to find that asbestos is safe and should remain legal.

Last week, the White House released its Fall 2018 deregulatory agenda, further indicating that Trump’s EPA, under acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, has no plans to implement a ban of asbestos.

The last asbestos mine in the U.S. closed in 2002, forcing the chlor-alkali industry and other users to rely on imports.

In 2017, all of the asbestos imported into and used in the U.S. came from Brazil. Between January and August of this year, the industry spent nearly $1 million to import 555 metric tons of asbestos from Brazil and Russia. Last year, the U.S. imported more than 341 metric tons of asbestos, and 2018 imports are expected to double.

Lobbyists from the American Chemistry Council, working on behalf of the chlor-alkali industry, are now pushing the Trump administration for an exemption from the new chemical safety law that would allow it to continue to import and use asbestos just as it does today.

Analysis of federal data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that asbestos-triggered diseases kill an estimated 15,000 Americans a year. A recent study led by Jukka Takala, president of the International Commission on Occupational Health, found that the death toll from asbestos exposure may be much higher, at nearly 40,000 Americans a year and more than 255,000 a year worldwide.

“It is clear that under the Trump administration, U.S. asbestos imports and use are not decreasing. The science is irrefutable, there is no safe level of asbestos exposure or controlled use.  Clearly, the chlor-alkali industry is lobbying for another exemption.” said Linda Reinstein, president and co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.

“It is appalling that unlike more than 60 nations around the world, the U.S. not only fails to ban asbestos, but allows imports to increase,” Reinstein said.  “Americans cannot identify or manage the risks of asbestos.  The time is now for the EPA to say no to the asbestos industry and finally ban asbestos without exemptions.”

“If virtually anyone other than Donald Trump were president, EPA would be following the law and moving to ban asbestos to protect public health,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “When most people learn that asbestos remains legal even after it’s claimed the lives of countless Americans, they’re shocked. And when the public finds out the Trump administration is actively working to keep it legal, they are furious.”

Earlier this year, ADAO and EWG discovered that Russia’s largest asbestos producer, with close ties to Vladimir Putin, is wrapping its products in packaging adorned with President Trump’s image. The company posted on Facebook a photo of pallets of asbestos with this caption:

Donald is on our side! … He supported the head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, who stated that his agency would no longer deal with negative effects potentially derived from products containing asbestos. Donald Trump supported a specialist and called asbestos “100% safe after application.”

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, in 2016, roughly 95 percent of the asbestos imported into the U.S. came from Brazil, with the rest coming from Russia.

But in November 2017, Brazil joined more than 60 other nations and banned asbestos. Brazil’s ban, which will be in full effect soon, leaves Russia, Kazakhstan and China as the world’s dominant asbestos producers. With Brazil poised to no longer provide the vast majority of asbestos to the U.S., Russia and Kazakhstan could fill the void.

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Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don’t survive on clicks. We don’t want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can’t do it alone. It doesn’t work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Won’t Exist.

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The mission of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment. EWG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 1993 by Ken Cook and Richard Wiles.

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Trump picks former Monsanto executive to lead U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Wed, 10/24/2018 - 09:55
SWAMP WATCH: The Center for Biological Diversity highlighted the fact that Skipwith has been working in the Trump administration since April 2017. During this time, the department has had a bulls-eye on protections for migratory birds, endangered species, and national monuments. “Skipwith will always put the interests of her old boss Monsanto and other polluters ahead of America’s wildlife and help the most anti-environmental administration in history do even more damage,” Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said Tuesday in a statement. Mark HandTwitter Oct 23, 2018, 5:20 pm Trump picks former Monsanto executive to lead U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
President Trump on Monday nominated Aurelia Skipwith to be director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. CREDIT: DOI SHARE -->

President Donald Trump announced late Monday that he intends to nominate a former agrochemical industry official to lead the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

The selection of Aurelia Skipwith, who worked at Monsanto for six years, to head FWS carries on a Trump administration trend of filling top environmental regulatory positions with officials from companies regulated by the agency. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Skipwith’s duties will include enforcing federal wildlife laws, protecting endangered species, managing migratory birds, and conserving and restoring wildlife habitat.

Environmental and conservation groups largely condemned Skipwith’s nomination, noting that she spent the past year and a half at the Interior Department helping to oversee the administration’s dismantling of wildlife and national monument protections.

Skipwith worked for seed and pesticide giant Monsanto from 2006 to 2012, finishing her time at the company in its corporate affairs department. Skipwith currently serves as deputy assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks at the Interior Department, where she is responsible for the protection of lands and water in national parks and the wildlife refuge system.

“Ms. Skipwith’s nomination is business as usual for an administration that has sought to reward its allies at the expense of public lands and wildlife,” Chris Saeger, executive director of the Western Values Project, said Tuesday.

In a statement, Saeger alluded to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s recent announcement that the department would make a “grand pivot to conservation.”

“If appointing a darling of corporate special interest to become the country’s top wildlife manager” is what Zinke intended with his announcement, Saeger said, “then it’s clear he was never serious to begin with.”

The Center for Biological Diversity highlighted the fact that Skipwith has been working in the Trump administration since April 2017. During this time, the department has had a bulls-eye on protections for migratory birds, endangered species, and national monuments.

“Skipwith will always put the interests of her old boss Monsanto and other polluters ahead of America’s wildlife and help the most anti-environmental administration in history do even more damage,” Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said Tuesday in a statement.

Monsanto was one of almost two dozen major corporations that bankrolled Trump’s inauguration festivities. The company reported giving $25,000 to the inauguration committee.

From June 2017 to August 2018, when he left the Interior Department, Greg Sheehan served as deputy director of the Fish and Wildlife Service and acting head of the agency. Jim Kurth currently serves as deputy director “exercising the authority of the director.”

Skipwith has a master’s degree in molecular genetics from Purdue University and a law degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Prior to joining the Trump administration, Skipwith worked as assistant corporate counsel and regulatory affairs coordinator for Alltech Inc., a Kentucky-based company that develops agricultural products for use in livestock and crop farming. According to her LinkedIn page, she also served as co-founder and general counsel of AVC Global, an “agricultural value chain platform.” She is the first African American ever to be nominated to head FWS.

“She has helped lead some of my top priorities for getting more people to enjoy our public lands, like expanding access for hunting and fishing, recognizing National Urban Refuge Day, and designating sites on the African American Civil Rights Network. I look forward to her speedy confirmation,” Zinke said Tuesday in a statement.

Under current U.S. law, the Center for Biological Diversity said a president cannot appoint a person to run FWS unless the person is “by reason of scientific education and experience, knowledgeable in the principles of fisheries and wildlife management.” Skipwith’s nomination breaks with decades of tradition from presidential administrations of both parties “in that she has neither education nor experience in fisheries and wildlife management,” the environmental group said. Interior official involved in shrinking national monuments quits to join oil giant BP

In spring of 2017, FWS ended the first nationwide biological reviews that assessed the impacts of pesticides on endangered species. In August, it reversed a 2014 decision prohibiting bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides and genetically modified, pesticide-resistant crops on national wildlife refuges.

Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall welcomed Skipwith’s nomination as director of the FWS. “We hope this nomination moves forward quickly,” Hall said Tuesday in a statement.

FULL STORY & COMMENTS

Want judges that will protect the environment and social justice issues?

Wed, 10/24/2018 - 09:44

http://politics.voxpublica.org/2018/…udicial-races/

The site lists brief reasons for each of their recommendations below.

Here are their recommendations:

Carol Corrigan, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court: Undecided

Leondra Kruger, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court: YES

James Humes, Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal 1st Appellate District, Division 1: YES

Sandra Marguiles, Associate Justice, Court of Appeal 1st Appellate District, Division 1 : NO

James Richman, Associate Justice, Court of Appeal 1st Appellate District, Division 2: NO

Marla Miller, Associate Justice, Court of Appeal 1st Appellate District, Division 2 : NO

Peter John Siggins, Associate Justice, Court of Appeal 1st Appellate District, Division 3: YES

Alison Tucher, Associate Justice, Court of Appeal 1st Appellate District, Division 4: YES

Jon Steeter, Associate Justice, Court of Appeal 1st Appellate District, Division 4 : YES

Barbara Jones, Associate Justice, Court of Appeal 1st Appellate District, Division 5: YES

Will Parrish, local journalist

Wed, 10/24/2018 - 09:03
Will Parrish our Northern California journalist is asking for help with his important work. Please visit his website and support truth in journalism. Will works for environment, social justice, indigenous rights and more. We’re very proud of you WIll! An Invitation to Support My Work Dear friends, readers, supporters:

In the right hands, journalism is one tool to bolster struggles for liberation.  I do this work because I believe in the possibility of better worlds.  I also do it because I have a burning desire to help those worlds to be born. In the past 18 months, I’ve been fortunate to accomplish more as a journalist that ever before.  My work is being published by a few of the US’ most widely-read news outlets. Looking ahead, I’ve never been more excited about any stories than ones on which I’m currently working.

The kind of journalism I do — hard-hitting, long-form investigative reporting — takes time and resources. It entails filing Freedom of Information Act requests (which often cost money), combing through stacks of public records, cultivating and maintaining relationships with sources, scanning news and social media outlets, and being on the ground as stories unfold. As a freelance reporter, it also requires finding a home for my stories once they are developed. I typically fund my own research and investigations, re-investing whatever fee I received from the last article as an advance on the next.

I’m grateful that, for the last few years, I’ve been able to meet all of these expenses — as well as living expenses — through the money I’ve earned from journalism.  But unfortunately, I am now in a difficult situation.  Partly owing to unforeseen costs, including costs associated with caring for a loved one who needed full-time support, I don’t currently have enough money to complete my biggest ongoing investigations. This situation has started to derail my work.  And that’s why I am turning to you for support.

In roughly the next three weeks, I’m aiming to raise at least $3,300 from donations to my PayPal account, Venmo, or through checks mailed to my home address. If you are interested in contributing via personal check, please hit reply to this e-mail.

As you know, I would not be asking for your support if it were not truly important. And if I had better options than this e-mail appeal, I would not be writing it.  On the other hand, I feel blessed to be able to call on you as my friends, family, and supporters. I am so grateful to have you.

I would like to offer a summary of some of my recent accomplishments, in case it helps you with your decision about whether to donate.

Recent Accomplishments
  • I’ve begun contributing to The Guardian, one of the world’s five most widely-read newspaper web sites. Both of my published articles to date have ranked among the Guardian-US edition’s 10 most widely-read stories on the day of their publication.
  • In May 2017, I co-authored a story for The Intercept detailing how mercenary forces hired by the corporation behind the Dakota Access Pipeline used tactics imported from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan against the indigenous-led water protector movement at Standing Rock.  Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, who featured the story on her program, described it as “an explosive new investigation.”  Voters in The Intercept’s year-end readers survey voted it the year’s number-one “most essential” story of 2017.  Here was the official announcement:

    Numerous Standing Rock activists used it to defend themselves against outrageous criminal charges, helping ward off convictions and jail sentences.  Here’s one example.  It is also playing a role in a lawsuit filed two days ago by indigenous water protectors, as well as a more significant role in a separate, ongoing civil rights lawsuit brought by multiple individuals who sustained injuries when police sprayed down water protectors with hoses amid sub-freezing temperatures and shot them with concussion grenades. And it caused TigerSwan, the mercenary corporation at the center of our reporting, to get in legal trouble.

  • Northern California is where I live, where I started this work, and a region where I have waged various battles.  I still publish stories of local importance whenever I can.  One such story is “Living on Ohlone Land,” an in-depth feature on indigenous Chochenyo Ohlone people’s work toward cultural survival and renewal in the California East Bay Area.
  • A Dec. 2017 story I wrote for The Intercept on the federal prosecution of Oglala Lakota water protector Red Fawn Fallis (pictured) provided one of the most detailed accounts of COINTELPRO-style disruption of a US-based grassroots activist’s life, and broader political movement of recent years.  The story was a product of nine months of research, requiring multiple trips to North Dakota and dozens of Freedom of Information Act requests to accomplish.
  • In March 2018, I published revelations concerning politically-motivated policing of anti-racist activists in Charlottesville during the run-up to the infamous August 2017 “Unite the Right” rally.  This story, which drew on numerous documents I obtained from Freedom of Information Act requests, helped put the police’s horrifying failures on that tragic day in a new context. Several anti-racist activists in Charlottesville have cited this article as one of the most well-researched and significant stories in the wave of reporting following the ‘Unite the Right’ rally.
  • Last year, Energy Transfer Partners and Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Mark Kaswoitz, filed a federal conspiracy and racketeering lawsuit against Greenpeace, Earth First!, Red Warrior Camp, and other named parties.  It is a clear effort to neutralize environmental activists and drive a wedge between indigenous people and other earth defenders.  My Intercept co-authors and I published a detailed investigation concerning the underhanded tactics Energy Transfer Partners used to collect evidence for this lawsuit – fake social media accounts, debunked right-wing talking points, infiltration of protest camps by paid operatives, etc.  The environmental groups and individuals targeted by ETP and Kasowitz have since used our articles as a significant source of information to defend themselves against these charges.
If you would like to explore my work further, check out my web site. I am connected to those of you on this mailing list in various ways.  Some of you are current friends of mine. Some are friends from a previous phase of my life.  Some of you signed up when I made a public presentation.  Some wandered onto my web site and signed up for this list by entering your e-mail address.

Regardless of how we are connected to each other, I appreciate your attention to this e-mail. And I ask that you never hesitate to let me know if I can be there for you in any way.

Again, I’ll list the ways to donate to me:

  • My PayPal account is here or at this URL – https://www.paypal.me/WParrish185.
  • My Venmo is here or at this URL – https://venmo.com/Will-Parrish-4.
  • And, again, you can send me a check by replying to this e-mail and inquiring about my address.
Writing to you from beautiful Santa Cruz, and wishing you a colorful, happy autumn wherever you may be, I am, Sincerely yours, Will Parrish Will Parrish
www.willparrishreports.com
http://www.twitter.com/willparrishca

‘The Guy Who Defended Company That Caused Worst Oil Spill in US History’ Just Confirmed to Head DOJ’s Environmental Division

Tue, 10/23/2018 - 09:49
SWAMP WATCH ‘The Guy Who Defended Company That Caused Worst Oil Spill in US History’ Just Confirmed to Head DOJ’s Environmental Division

“Clark’s blatant hostility toward environmental protection is good news for polluters, but awful news for the rest of us.”

by Jessica Corbett, staff writer

U.S. Coast Guard crews work to put out a fire during the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.) joined with Senate Republicans on Thursday to confirm Jeffrey Bossert Clark—a climate-denying former attorney for the fossil fuel industry—to lead the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

“The guy who defended the company that caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history is not likely to aggressively go after corporate environmental outlaws.”
—Ken Cook, EWG

“Clark’s blatant hostility toward environmental protection is good news for polluters, but awful news for the rest of us,” warned Environmental Working Group (EWG) president Ken Cook. “The guy who defended the company that caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history is not likely to aggressively go after corporate environmental outlaws.”

The new assistant attorney general’s nomination has been stalled for more than a year due to concerns about his history as a lawyer. Clark has represented B.P. in lawsuits that stemmed from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in suits attacking the U.S. government’s authority to craft regulations that aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

In his new post, as E&E News reports, “Clark will lead the federal government’s litigation positions in cases dealing with pollution control laws, public lands, natural resources, wildlife, and tribal issues.” Jeffrey Wood—who worked for Attorney General Jeff Sessions when he was a senator for Alabama—has been running the division during the lengthy confirmation process.

“[Clark] is a favorite of the Federalist Society, having chaired that group’s environmental law and practice group. But his nomination is strongly opposed by groups that care about protecting the environment,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told The Hill. “He is exactly the wrong person to be in this job of enforcing regulations to protect our environment.”

Although Clark’s challenges to climate science and U.S. environmental regulations have raised alarm among Democratic lawmakers and environmental advocates, this won’t be his first time working in the division. During the George W. Bush administration, Clark spent four years as the division’s deputy assistant attorney general, according to InsideClimate News. Critics warn that Clark will continue the Trump administration’s pro-polluter agenda, which has cast aside scientific research and public health concerns to serve the the interests of the fossil fuel and chemical industries. “Clark’s appointment is a doubling down on the administration’s strategy of retreating from the future and branding America as a petrostate while China steals our global energy, economic, and moral leadership, and the rest of the world moves forward,concluded environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License Share This Article

Cannabis Advisory Group meets Wednesday at Permit Sonoma

Tue, 10/23/2018 - 09:37
This is an open meeting unless noted Cannabis Advisory Group meets Wednesday at Permit Sonoma 3-5pm (Hopkins & Gore will attend for 20-30 minutes in beginning of meeting )  NOTE UPDATED LOCATION: Permit Sonoma Hearing Room 2550 Ventura Avenue, Santa Rosa CA 95403 3:00 p.m. Call to order Announcements Item #1- Staff Updates 1. Staff Presentation 2.Questions for staff 3.Public Comment 4.Advisory Group Discussion and Recommendations Item #2- Approved Ordinance Updates and Impact on Existing Applications 1.Staff Presentation 2.Questions for staff 3.Public Comment 4.Advisory Group Discussion and Recommendations Item #3- Sonoma County Food Action Plan- Goals, Process, Outcomes and Lessons for the Cannabis Program 1.Presentation 2.Questions 3.Public Comment 4.Advisory Group Discussion and Recommendations Public Comment for Items Not on the Agenda Closing Remarks Open Meetings: Except as expressly authorized under the Ralph M. Brown Act (the State’s local agency open meeting law), all meetings of the Cannabis Advisory Group are open to attendance by interested members of the public. Public Comments: Any member of the public may address the Group during designated Public Comment periods noted in the Agenda. There are Speaker Request forms provided, if you wish to comment, please fill one out and submit to staff prior to the start of the meeting. Please note that Group members are unable to answer questions or respond to comments but you may speak to Group members after the meeting. If you wish to speak to a specific topic listed in the provided Agenda, please limit your comments to that specific topic under discussion by the Group. When filing out the Public Speaker Request form, check the appropriate box listed, if the topic you wish to comment on is in Item #1 of the Agenda, check the Item #1 box, and so on. Disabled Accommodation : To Request an Accommodation: If you have a disability and require a sign language interpreter, assistive listening device, material in an alternate format, or other accommodation to attend, please contact Ms. Jo Ann Barker at (707) 565-1925 at least 72 hours prior to the meeting in order to facilitate arrangements for accommodation. ​ Sonoma County Cannabis Advisory Group Agenda Date: August 22, 2018 Page 2 Public Transit Access to Glaser Center 545 Mendocino Avenue Santa Rosa CA: Sonoma County Transit: Routes 30, 44, 48, 60, 62, 64; Santa Rosa City Bus Route 14; Golden Gate Transit: Route 80. (707) 543-3333. Transit Information: (707) 576-RIDE or 1-800-345-RIDE

Judge Upholds Landmark Monsanto Verdict, But Slashes Punitive Damages by $211 Million

Tue, 10/23/2018 - 09:26
Judge Upholds Landmark Monsanto Verdict, But Slashes Punitive Damages by $211 Million

While Dewayne “Lee” Johnson and his lawyers consider whether to accept a lower amount or move forward with a retrial, they called the new ruling “a triumph for our legal system”

by Jessica Corbett, staff writer

A California judge on Monday upheld a verdict against Monsanto but slashed the $289 million the company had been ordered to pay. (Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr)

A judge in California on Monday upheld a landmark verdict in a case brought by a terminal cancer patient who successfully argued his illness resulted from his exposure to Monsanto’s weedkiller RoundUp, but slashed the damages the agrochemical giant was originally required to pay from $289 million down to just $78 million and said she would order a retrial if former groundskeeper Dewayne “Lee” Johnson rejects the payout.

“The evidence presented to this jury was, quite frankly, overwhelming… We are happy the jury’s voice was acknowledged by the Court, even if slightly muted.”
—Johnson’s team

Jurors had come forward to demand that San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos respect their historic verdict, issued in August. The judge had been considering a request for a retrial from Monsanto, but decided (pdf) instead to cut the punitive damages from $250 to $39 million.

A spokeswoman for Johnson, a 46-year-old father of three who is battling non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and his lawyers told NBC News, “Although we believe a reduction in punitive damages was unwarranted and we are weighing the options, we are pleased the court did not disturb the verdict.” They have until Dec. 7 to make a decision.

While Johnson’s team considers their next move, critics of Monsanto—which recently merged with the German pharmaceutical company Bayer and ditched its name—celebrated that Bolanos upheld the verdict. :

While Monsanto maintains that its herbicides “are safe when used as directed,” the state of California and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)—a branch of the World Health Organization (WHO)—have classified glyphosate, RoundUp’s active ingredient, as a probable human carcinogen. Despite that designation, U.S. and European regulators still allow farmers to use the world’s most common herbicide.

“The evidence presented to this jury was, quite frankly, overwhelming. And, as we saw in recent days, this jury was intelligent, diligent, and followed the letter of the law. We are happy the jury’s voice was acknowledged by the Court, even if slightly muted,” Johnson’s team added. “We are still reviewing whether we will accept the proposed remittitur or retry the punitive damages. That said, today is a triumph for our legal system.”

Bayer, meanwhile, said in a statement that the judge’s ruling was “a step in the right direction, but we continue to believe that the liability verdict and damage awards are not supported by the evidence at trial or the law and plan to file an appeal with the California Court of Appeal.”

No matter the ultimate outcome, Johnson’s case was the first to go to trial and opened the door for other cancer patients seeking to hold Monsanto accountable. In July, even before the initial verdict, a federal judge ruled that hundreds of similar cases could proceed to trial. According to U.S. Right to Know, some 8,000 plaintiffs have alleged in state court that the company’s products have made them sick.

“I hope [Monsanto] gets the message that people in America and across the world are not ignorant. They have already done their own research,” Johnson told the Guardian late last month. “I’m hoping that it snowballs and people really get the picture and they start to make decisions about what they eat, what they spray in their farms.”

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

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Napa seminar Wednesday: PG&E Will be Taken Care of, Who Will Take Care of You?

Tue, 10/23/2018 - 08:54
Background: California lawmakers pass bill on PG&E wildfire liability PG&E Will be Taken Care of, Who Will Take Care of You?

Cal Fire determined that PG&E equipment started the Atlas and Nuns Fires and has referred the investigation to the Napa County District Attorney’s office for violations of state code.

·         A number of major insurance companies have filed lawsuits against PG&E for losses from the 2017 firestorms.

·         Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties have filed lawsuits against PG&E for losses from the 2017 firestorms.

·         And now, the California Legislature has passed a law to help PG&E recoup their liability costs.

Big insurance companies will be taken care of.

County governments will be taken care of.

Even PG&E, who is at fault for the fires, will be taken care of.

So the question is: who will take care of you?

If you lost a home or a business in the fires that swept through Napa County last year, you have legal rights, you have recovery options and you have a legal team with the national strength, local talent, insurance expertise, and financial resources necessary to take on a corporate giant like PG&E and win.

Please consider attending our confidential, no – obligation, office hours Wednesday October 24th anytime between 10 AM  and Noon to speak with our former state Assemblymember and Senator, attorney Noreen Evans about your legal rights and options, the case against PG&E, and how the legal team of Watts Guerra/ Mauro Archer & Associates can help you in your recovery.

You didn’t deserve to lose so much in last year’s preventable fires, but you do deserve a great legal team to help you recover.

Meet with Napa’s former state Senator and attorney Noreen Evans

Wednesday, October 28th, 2018

10AM-Noon 

Workmix Napa

950 Randolph Street, Napa 94559

Call (707)237-2445 to RSVP or simply show up anytime during our office hours. Visit PGELawsuit.com for more information.

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ADVERTISEMENT: John Cox of the Law Offices of John Cox is the attorney responsible for this advertisement. 

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Voter scams by right wingers

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 10:37
We know how important judges are to our environment. Kavanaugh case in point where he votes against the environment close to 100% of the time. Note a new Tea Party website that has gone national to confuse voters who are researching judges for their ballots. Be aware of this site and others. Do not trust sites until you have done research. Look at Reddit or similar. VOTE, it’s your duty and right. Here is the site: https://judgevoterguide.com/ .

From REDDITT:

Warning: The site “Judge Voter Guide” claims to be non-partisan, but is owned and maintained by religious right-wing politician Craig Hueypolitics 35 points 9 comments submitted 4 days ago by wompaone1 to r/California

The site https://judgevoterguide.com/ poses as a non-partisan guide to “cut through the rhetoric, election propaganda and biased media coverage of the campaigns. This guide ranks every aspect of a candidate’s record according to cases, judicial philosophy, experience, integrity, and commitment to the community.”

It is run by Craig Huey, who is an American Republican Party politician (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craig_Huey) and has written articles criticizing the “media freak-out over the Trump-Putin Summit“, Deep State bureaucrats and their alleged climate change agenda, and blaming the Clinton administration for the 2008 financial crisis. He’s been on Fox News and is currently selling a book on Amazon called “The Deep State“.

Decent guides to the candidates and the propositions on the ballot are available here

 

 

 

 

Court Issues Temporary Restraining Order Protecting Sonoma County Neighborhood

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 09:58
Supervisors, looks like you are going to have to deal with conflict in our neighborhoods until you get these regulations done sensibly. Kicking the can down the road with citizen advisory groups won’t work this time. You let the wine industry run rampant in our neighborhoods, are you trying to do the same here?   Court Issues Temporary Restraining Order protecting Sonoma County neighborhood against illegal Cannabis tourism A group of Sonoma County residents has filed a lawsuit to shut down an illegal pot grow and cannabis tourism operation in the Purvine Road neighborhood. The suit alleges that the unlicensed grower is transforming a peaceful stretch of the Petaluma Dairy Belt into an unlawful cannabis event venue, corporate retreat and cannabis tourism destination. Petaluma, CA, October 20, 2018— PETALUMA, California, October 19, 2018 – A group of Sonoma County residents has filed a lawsuit to shut down an illegal pot grow and cannabis tourism operation in the Purvine Road neighborhood. The suit alleges that the unlicensed grower is transforming a peaceful stretch of the Petaluma Dairy Belt into an unlawful cannabis event venue, corporate retreat and cannabis tourism destination.

SOS, Save our Sonoma County Neighborhoods, No Pot on Purvine, Leslie Lane, and Cougar Lane and other groups have formed in the county to try and get sensible regulations. Sonoma County has the most liberal “regulations” in the Bay Area according to ABAG.

The grow, located at 334 Purvine Road, has been operating without a permit since 2017. According to neighbors, tourists regularly visit the property on “

cannabis experience tours, ” arriving on buses to view the cannabis operation and eat and relax at picnic tables in the cannabis field. Neighbors also object to steps by the owners to turn the property into a cannabis event venue and retreat. Group dinners, featuring cannabis -infused food and cocktails, are hosted in a barn which the owners renovated for that purpose. The property is advertised online, for a minimum fee of $8,000, as a “private retreat” for up to 250 guests, with overnight accommodations and event -related offerings, such as furniture rental, staff and catering. Neighbors are asking the court to halt these activities as illegal under both state and local law. Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the San Francisco -based property owner and cannabis operator, Petaluma Hills Farm, LLC and Sonoma Hills Farm, LLC; their owners and officers; and the cannabis tour operator, The Sonoma County Experience, LLC. Yesterday, October 18, the court issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the defendants from cultivating cannabis without a license and permit; hosting cannabis events or engaging in cannabis promotional activities; sponsoring non-cannabis events without an event permit; and operating the property as a vacation rental or bed and breakfast. A further hearing in the case is set for November. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are residents of Purvine Road and a neighborhood advocacy group, No Pot on Purvine. Phoebe Lang, one of the plaintiffs, said the neighbors took legal action when it became clear that their once -quiet neighborhood was under at tack. “We cherish the beauty and tranquility of rural Sonoma,” she said, “and will fight to preserve our peaceful way of life. Purvine Road is no place for tour buses full of party-goers.” Britt Christiansen, another plaintiff, added, “I want to raise my family in the country, not next to an event center and tourist stop. I love the fresh air and quiet evenings. I love knowing all my neighbors. All that will be lost if the cannabis tourism operation at 334 Purvine Road continues.” Attorney Kevin Block of Block & Block LLP is representing the neighbors. “None of my clients is against legal cannabis,” he said. “But illegal cannabis, and cannabis tourism, are a different kettle of fish. Illegal operators must be shut down in order for legal operators to succeed. And the ban on cannabis tourism should be kept in place until the County can thoroughly study its detrimental neighborhood and environmental impacts.” “We will be filing a code enforcement complaint with Sonoma County shortly,” Block continued. “The County has tools and resources that are not avail able to my clients as private citizens. We want and expect the County to be our full partner in ending the illegal activity on Purvine Road.” Contact Information Block & Block LLP Kevin Block 707 246 9013 Contact kb@winelawyers.com http://www.winelawyers.com Link to complaint, press release and photographs: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zdd09xvq3rebuom/AACcuE5B1Vh98UPkjTDhmzVCa?dl=0

Trump admin. wants to make it easier to frack and mine in national forests

Sun, 10/21/2018 - 15:56
Trump admin. wants to make it easier to frack and mine in national forests

“Instead of weakening protections, Trump should clean up the mess the mining industry has already left behind in our forests.”

Ashley Curtin / NationofChange / News Report – October 16, 2018

The Trump administration announced a move to make it easier to frack and mine in national forests. But conservation groups argue that it would endanger climate, wildlife and watersheds, EcoWatch reported. Open to public comment, the Center for Biological Diversity said that “More fracking and mining, with fewer safeguards, would be disastrous for national forests and watersheds.”

“Pushing new fossil-fuel development in our national forests ignores the alarm bells that world climate scientists rang loudly last week,” Taylor McKinnon, a public-lands campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “National forests and public lands are where we should stop fossil-fuel expansion first.”

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, national forests in the U.S. – besides wilderness areas and national monuments – “contain 1.8 billion barrels of oil and 24 trillion cubic feet of natural gas,” EcoWatch reported. And EcoWatch reported that if proposed Forest Service oil and gas rule-making was approved, it would “produce 2.4 billion tons of greenhouse gas pollution,” which is the “equivalent of annual emissions from 601 coal-fired power plants.”

While the Bureau of Land Management is known for pushing policies justifying it as “critical minerals,” conservation groups are calling on the department to “improve transparency and public involvement in decisions about drilling, fracking and mining in national forests,” EcoWatch reported.

“Instead of weakening protections, Trump should clean up the mess the mining industry has already left behind in our forests,” McKinnon said.

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Sonoma County Superior Court rules in favor of Friends of Gualala River’s second lawsuit over the “Dogwood” floodplain timber harvest plan

Sun, 10/21/2018 - 15:50
Sonoma County Superior Court rules in favor of
Friends of Gualala River’s second lawsuit over the
“Dogwood” floodplain timber harvest plan

Media Release
October 19, 2018

Sonoma County Superior Court once again has ruled in favor of Friends of Gualala River (FoGR) in its lawsuit against CAL FIRE’s approval of logging of coastal floodplain redwood forest in hundreds of acres of the Wild and Scenic Gualala River. The controversial “Dogwood” timber harvest plan (THP) proposed by Gualala Redwoods Timber LLC has been opposed by public protests, petitions, and litigation since 2015.

On October 16, 2018, Judge René Chouteau concluded that the second Dogwood THP failed to meet California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements for evaluating project alternatives with less environmental impact, and for assessing cumulative environmental impacts to the river, forest and floodplain, in addition to those from the Dogwood THP itself.

FoGR, Forest Unlimited, and California Native Plant Society previously sued CAL FIRE over similar environmental review flaws in the first Dogwood THP (1-15-042), and prevailed in case SCV 259216, requiring CAL FIRE to revoke the permit to log “Dogwood” in March, 2017. The applicant, Gualala Redwoods Timber (GRT), resubmitted the logging plan with minimal corrections, and CAL FIRE again approved it over major public opposition on March 30, 2018. FoGR again sued over the same basic flaws in CAL FIRE’s environmental review process for “Dogwood II” in case SCV 262241.

In agreement with legal precedents, the Court stated in “Dogwood II” that it is “absolutely clear” that THPs must be functionally equivalent to Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs). THPs must meet the same fundamental standards of CEQA with regard to evaluation of alternatives that reduce impacts to the environment, which the Court reaffirmed is “one of the most important functions of an EIR.” The Court ruled that CAL FIRE’s position on THP requirements for alternatives analysis was incorrect, and its discussion of alternatives for Dogwood simply presented no information, analysis, or explanation of how it reached its conclusions in rejecting all alternatives as infeasible. FoGR argued that CAL FIRE uncritically accepted the prejudicial arguments of the applicant, Gualala Redwoods Timber, in rejecting alternatives without analysis.

Once again, the Court ruled that CAL FIRE failed to assess cumulative environmental impacts to the Gualala River and its watershed in accordance with requirements of CEQA. The basic flaw in CAL FIRE’s analysis was a lack of a reasoned discussion for the basis of its conclusions, the Court ruled, consistent with FoGR’s position that CAL FIRE jumped to conclusions of “no impact” without evidence or accounting for other impacts from past or future logging and land and water uses.

With regard to specific flaws in CEQA-equivalent analysis of rare plants, “wetlands,” and steelhead trout and coho salmon, the Court applied legal standards that “do not focus on the ‘correctness’ of a report’s environmental conclusions, but on agency (CAL FIRE) findings that are presumed to be supported by substantial evidence – the minimum requirement for CEQA compliance. On these issues, the Court gave weight to the “expertise” of findings and approvals from other state agencies (California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, Regional Water Quality Control Board), and the adequacy of “expertise” of registered professional foresters.

CAL FIRE, formerly known as the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, is governed by the Board of Forestry, which is composed of members drawn from among timber industry, forestry, and environmental professionals. It has a reputation of substantial influence from the industry it regulates.

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

Jeanne Jackson, natural history author of “Mendonoma Sightings” and a leader in FoGR’s opposition to Dogwood, emphasized the implications of the Court’s decision regarding alternatives: “The Gualala River is the only river in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties that has not protected its mature redwood floodplain forests. Judge Chouteau asked why the alternative of conservation sale of this unique area’s sensitive habitats wasn’t considered to comply with CEQA,” she said. “GRT’s attorneys’ answer was that the owner wants to log and isn’t interested in fair market value prices for the land. The river needs its floodplain protected. GRT owns almost 30,000 acres of timberland in the Gualala River watershed. The floodplain forest in “Dogwood,” less than 400 acres, deserves to be protected from harm.”

Contact:

Edward Yates, Friends of Gualala River’s attorney, 415.990.4805

For more background information on the Dogwood THP lawsuit, visit:www.GualalaRiver.org 90-100 year old redwood tree marked for cutting in Gualala River floodplain; photo credit: copyright © 2016 Mike Shoys, used with permission. Copyright © 2018 Friends of the Gualala River, All rights reserved. 
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Gualala,   CA   95445

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Partisan SCOTUS: Supreme Court halts landmark youth climate change lawsuit

Sat, 10/20/2018 - 10:09
Partisan games: SCOTUS halts discovery in lawsuit to appease Trump administration climate deniers and cover for fossil fuel industry… Supreme Court halts landmark youth climate change lawsuit Chief Justice John Roberts gives the Trump administration another win. Frank Dale Oct 20, 2018, 11:50 am SHARE

A view of the Supreme Court of the United States on June 26, 2017. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images) SHARE -->

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts brought a temporary halt late Friday to a landmark climate change lawsuit that was set to begin later this month. President Donald Trump’s Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to stop the lawsuit in a filing on Thursday. Roberts approved the request on Friday even though the US high court in a unanimous ruling in July had said that the case could proceed.

Twenty-one children and young adults sued the federal government in August 2015, alleging the government had failed to protect them from the impacts of climate change.

Here’s what’s at stake for the 21 kids suing the Trump administration over climate change

ThinkProgress’ Kyla Mandel explained the basis for the case.

The lawsuit uses a legal theory known as atmospheric trust litigation, which argues the government must hold certain common elements such as rivers or shorelines, and in this case, the atmosphere, for public use. By failing to protect and preserve a clean atmosphere for future generations — by promoting fossil fuels, for instance — the lawsuit argues that the government is violating its obligation to the public trust.

Now, Roberts has halted discovery and the trial “pending a response to DOJ’s stay request, which is due by 3p Wednesday,” per BuzzFeed News’ Chris Geidner, who noted the timeline for the lawsuit is now unclear. Trump, who once bizarrely claimed “global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” accused scientists of having a “political agenda” while discussing climate change during an interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes that aired last weekend.

 

FULL STORY

Oil industry gets aggressive in fight over Colorado ballot measure to protect public from drilling

Sat, 10/20/2018 - 09:30
Oil company’s profits more important than children’s health? Oil industry gets aggressive in fight over Colorado ballot measure to protect public from drilling Outcome of vote to increase buffer zone between homes and drill sites expected to be extremely close. Mark Hand Twitter Oct 19, 2018, 1:56 pm Notable Coloradans such as former star Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway and former U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton have appeared in television advertisements financed by the oil and gas industry to oppose a grass roots-driven ballot initiative — known as Proposition 112 — that would expand the buffer zone between homes and drilling sites.

In the latest development in the ballot initiative battle, the oil industry is bringing in celebrities to push back on the popular grassroots initiative. Individual natural gas companies are also spending huge sums of unregulated money on anti-proposition television advertisements.

“Given Elway’s past forays into politics, his presence alone suggests that he’s probably advocating for something bad,” the sports news website Deadspin reported Thursday. “That the ad itself contains nothing that could even charitably be described as ‘information’ beyond one suspiciously precise figure on Jobs Somehow Destroyed By Proposition 112 does nothing to assuage that suspicion.”

The Colorado ballot initiative would expand the buffer zones between homes and industrial oil and gas facilities. As with other ballot initiative attempts in the past, Colorado’s anti-fracking activists are sending the oil and industry into a frenzy, despite the relatively modest nature of the proposition.

If the proposition passes, it would give residents the peace of mind of knowing they will be safer from potential blasts and further away from the noise and odors that come with drilling operations. And it would allow the industry to continue drilling in less populated areas.

Study shows oil and gas industry wields ‘meta power,’ but Colorado residents are fighting back The industry has so far raised $30 million to defeat the measure, about 40 times the money that environmental groups have raised. But Proposition 112 is far from radical. It doesn’t call for banning fracking in Colorado. The measure would simply keep new wells farther away from homes and schools, expanding the distance from a 500-foot minimum to 2,500 feet.

Yet, the industry’s efforts to defeat Proposition 112 are moving into the realm of dirty politics. Westword reported Thursday that in a last-ditch attempt to defeat the measure before November 6, natural gas giant Noble Energy is blanketing Colorado television with election-focused political ads that it claims are outside the purview of all state campaign-finance laws.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision weakened regulation of federal campaign laws, but it preserved state statutes that require direct election expenditures to be disclosed. Noble Energy’s advertisements explicitly urge Coloradans to vote against the ballot measure, but the company has declared that such ads are not governed by state campaign-finance or disclosure laws, according to Westword.

FULL STORY

What could possibly go wrong: Trump orders quicker environmental review of California water projects

Sat, 10/20/2018 - 09:15
Just another campaign rally/show to help flailing GOP candidates running for reelection…..it’s all about the optics…….”Legal experts say that any attempts by the Trump administration to skirt state environmental regulations could run afoul of a 1978 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case that pitted California against the Central Valley Project.” Trump orders quicker environmental review of California water projects

 

By Oct 19, 2018 | 3:25 PM

The intake channel at the C.W. “Bill” Jones Pumping Plant in Tracy. The federal plant sends water south to San Joaquin Valley farmers. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times) President Trump on Friday directed federal agencies to speed up their environmental review of major water projects in California and to develop plans to suspend or revise regulations that hamper water deliveries.

The directive will have little immediate practical effect. But it comes a bit more than two weeks before a midterm election in which some Central Valley Republicans are in close races to hold on to their congressional seats.

Railing against environmental regulations that have hurt water deliveries to the valley is a perennial GOP battle cry — and one that could give a political boost to Republican incumbents. But the presidential memo also illustrates the legal constraints that prevent the federal government from single-handedly sending more water to San Joaquin Valley growers.

The memo sets 2019 deadlines for the U.S. Interior and Commerce departments to issue updated environmental rules that govern water exports from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta — the center of California’s sprawling water supply system.

The review of export limits under the Endangered Species Act started under the Obama administration, which signaled that the protections could grow more restrictive because populations of imperiled fish continue to plummet.

Federal biologists could retreat from that, loosening export limits when they issue the new rules next spring. But if they do, the action will inevitably be challenged in the courts, which blocked a similar effort by the George W. Bush administration.

California’s massive federal irrigation system, the Central Valley Project, must also adhere to rules next spring. But if they do, the action will inevitably be challenged in the courts, which blocked a similar effort by the George W. Bush administration.

California’s massive federal irrigation system, the Central Valley Project, must also adhere to state environmental regulations and water rights permits.

In tweets this summer, Trump echoed farmers’ protests that water flowing to the sea is wasted. In one tweet that was quickly condemned by state officials, Trump incorrectly claimed that water that had been “diverted into the Pacific Ocean” was inhibiting efforts to fight Northern California wildfires.

The Trump administration signaled that it was wading into California water politics in August.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke ordered the Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees the Central Valley Project, and other Interior agencies to develop an “initial plan of action” that would — among other things — maximize water deliveries, streamline federal environmental reviews of project operations and prepare “legislative and litigation measures” to increase deliveries.

The efforts have been led by Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former partner in one of the nation’s top-grossing lobbying law firms, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. There, he represented the politically influential Westlands Water District, which would be among the chief beneficiaries of improved deliveries to south-of-delta Central Valley Project customers

In a briefing on Friday’s directive, Bernhardt said it could be the single most significant action a president has taken on Western water in his lifetime.

The memo, which Trump signed on a trip to Arizona, also sets a 2019 deadline for environmental reviews of the Klamath Project, which delivers water for irrigation in Oregon and Northern California.

Five Republican congressmen from the Central Valley — House Majority leader Kevin McCarthy, David Valadao, Devin Nunes, Jeff Denham and Tom McClintock — watched as Trump signed the memo after a fundraising lunch in Scottsdale.

Trump then handed the pen to Nunes, who for years has introduced legislation attacking the federal Endangered Species Act. Several of his proposals have passed the House only to die in the Senate.

“This will move things along at a record clip,” Trump told the group. “And you’ll have a lot of water. I hope you’ll enjoy the water you’ll have.”

McCarthy, casting the signing as another promise kept by Trump, said the order could increase deliveries to the Central Valley by more than a million acre-feet. He gave no details as to how.

Three valley Republicans are facing serious challengers, although Denham, of Turlock, is the only incumbent polling behind his Democratic challenger. Josh Harder, a former venture capitalist, has a 5-point lead among likely voters in California’s 10th Congressional District, according to a recent poll conducted by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies. The race is listed as a “Republican toss-up” by the nonpartisan political handicapper Cook Political Report.

As water exports from the delta increased in recent decades, populations of migrating salmon and delta smelt — a finger-sized fish found only in the delta — plummeted. That has triggered endangered species protections under state and federal law that periodically limit the intake of the government pumping plants that divert supplies to San Joaquin Valley fields and Southland cities.

State water quality standards also mandate that a certain level of fresh water flows through the delta to keep salt water from the San Francisco Bay away from the delta pumps.

Legal experts say that any attempts by the Trump administration to skirt state environmental regulations could run afoul of a 1978 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case that pitted California against the Central Valley Project.

The high court found that, under the 1902 Reclamation Act, federal irrigation projects in the West must conform to state laws.

Kate Poole, an attorney with the environmental group the Natural Resources Defense Council, has waged numerous legal battles to uphold Endangered Species Act protections in the delta. She saw more politics than policy in the memo.

“We cannot comment on campaign stunts,” she said after reviewing Trump’s directive.

FULL STORY

Local Fury and Health Concerns as Japan Plans to Dump a Million Tons of Radioactive Fukushima Water Into Ocean

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 09:45
In the United States, it is a different story. It is a public health issue and not a personal health issue. What that means is that we will never know who is the individual who got cancer from Fukushima. But we can be sure that the radiation did reach here and that there will be an increase in cancers, especially on the West Coast where the Rocky Mountains stopped most of the radiation and deposited it on the ground.

Read more: http://naturalsociety.com/fukushima-nuclear-disaster-health-united-states-citizens/#ixzz5UOchUWrb
Follow us: @naturalsociety on Twitter | NaturalSociety on Facebook

Local Fury and Health Concerns as Japan Plans to Dump a Million Tons of Radioactive Fukushima Water Into Ocean

One nuclear specialist argued that the Japanese government’s reported plan “cannot be considered an action without risk to the marine environment and human health”

by Common Dreams Jake Johnson, staff writer 27 Comments

“The government is running out of space to store contaminated water that has come into contact with fuel that escaped from three nuclear reactors after the plant was destroyed in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck northeast Japan,” the Telegraph reported. (Photo: AP)

In a move that has sparked outrage from local residents and dire health warnings from environmentalists, the Japanese government is reportedly planning to release 1.09 million tons of water from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean despite evidence that it contains “radioactive material well above legally permitted levels.”

While both the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco)—the company that runs the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant—have claimed that radioactive material in the water has been reduced to indetectable amounts and that only “safe levels of tritium” remain, documents obtained by the London-based Telegraph suggest that the cleaning system being used to decontaminate the water “has consistently failed to eliminate a cocktail of other radioactive elements, including iodine, ruthenium, rhodium, antimony, tellurium, cobalt, and strontium.”

“The government is running out of space to store contaminated water that has come into contact with fuel that escaped from three nuclear reactors after the plant was destroyed in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck northeast Japan,” the Telegraph reported. “Its plan to release the approximately 1.09 million tons of water currently stored in 900 tanks into the Pacific has triggered a fierce backlash from local residents and environmental organizations, as well as groups in South Korea and Taiwan fearful that radioactivity from the second-worst nuclear disaster in history might wash up on their shores.”

One document the Telegraph obtained from the government body charged with responding to the 2011 Fukushima disaster reportedly indicates that the Japanese government is perfectly aware that the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) is failing to eliminate radioactive materials from the water stored at the Fukushima site, despite its claims to the contrary.

Last September, the Telegraph notes, “Tepco was forced to admit that around 80 percent of the water stored at the Fukushima site still contains radioactive substances above legal levels after the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry held public hearings in Tokyo and Fukushima at which local residents and fishermen protested against the plans.”

Shaun Burnie, a nuclear specialist with Greenpeace, argued that even so-called “safe” levels of tritium are harmful to humans and marine life.

“Its beta particles inside the human body are more harmful than most X-rays and gamma rays,” Burnie told the Telegraph, adding that there “are major uncertainties over the long-term effects posed by radioactive tritium that is absorbed by marine life and, through the food chain, humans.”

The Japanese government’s reported plans to release the water into the Pacific despite these warnings “cannot be considered an action without risk to the marine environment and human health,” Burnie concluded.

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Logging on Dogwood 2 shut down again.

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 09:08
Friends of the Gualala River (FOGR) haae gone to court and once again prevailed in shutting down plans by  CalFire and Gualala Timber’s THP (Timber Harvest Plan). In a 24 page decision, the judge has halted plans to log along the floodplains of the Gualala River. Summary of the actions coming soon! Thank you FOGR for all your time and money saving this last jewel along the scenic and severely impacted river due to past logging. Numerous rare and endangered species including plants have been saved for now.  

Response from Coastal Action Group: More work to do! Problems – with the Gualala “Victory”. I am not jumping for joy over this “Victory”.  Yes,  FoGR prevailed on some issues and may live to fight another battle.   The battle of “Dogwood” is not over.

If you look at the case,  we did not prevail on major (pertinent issues) – the need for appropriate botanic surveys and protection of endangered plants.  We also lost on the wetland issues, GHG effects, and salmonid protections.

So… where have we prevailed – Cumulative Watershed Effects analysis were the THP failed to disclose the analytic rout to the conclusion that continuing effects from harvest operations are not significant,  and that the plan did an inadequate job of considering the full range of Project Alternatives. 

It should be obvious that the two areas the Court found inconsistent with statute can easily be remedied.  GRT will  get this work done and resubmit this plan and it will be approved and there will be no case – unless:

FoGR can be inventive and dogged in the pursuit of issue that must be addressed in the new CWE analysis that will be presented.

The Plan, “Dogwood” proposes timber harvest operations in a migrating stream channel in a watershed that is impaired by sediment and temperature.  The plan preparer must present analysis and conclusions related to the potential impact of these operations and related remedies.
Thus:  all relevant information and methodology related to this issue must be presented.  This includes consideration, and analysis of the following:

 

Calfire, or the RPF, must supplement the information provided in the THP “when necessary to insure that all relevant information is considered.”  See – 14CCR section 898.  Does this mean that Calfire should independently assess the cumulative impact analysis in the plan? And/or or should Calfire supplement analysis with information in Calfire’s possession  –  which , in this case should include Calfire’s own methodology for the management of timber harvest in flood plans -” FLOOD PRONE AREA CONSIDERATIONS IN COAST REDWOOD ZONE”. See  14 CCR Section 896 (a) and (b).  ”RPFs are expected to submit sufficient information  to support their findings if significant issues are raised  during [Calfire’s] review of the THP” In  the case of Dogwood – this information/methodology and analysis should be applied.

And:

Section 898 has been amended to require specific evaluation for cumulative impacts that may occur in waterbodies listed under section 303 (d) ( California’s  List of Water Quality Limited Segments). When any waterbody, or portion thereof, listed under section 303 (d) is located within or downstream  of a proposed timber operation, the RPF must assess “ the degree to which the proposed operations would result in impacts that may combine with existing listed stressors to impair a waterbody’s beneficial uses, thereby causing a significant  adverse effect on the environment.”  The plan submitter must provide feasible mitigation measures to reduce any such impact to a level of insignificance. This, when applied to FRP 916.9 (a) (1) indicates that the plan submitter must show how the plan meets any  approved TMDL – with mitigation factors that are feasible.

The suggestion is to attempt to introduce appropriate methodology in the standard of review for assessing these operations.  In Dogwood – Calfire, and the RPF, did not use Calfire’s own methodology in assessment of operations and related CWE – nor – did they present lucid and comprehensive of cumulative sediment production.

Additionally, in the review of future THPs in the Gualala – it would be good if more work – including consultation with Tom Lippe, Sharon Duggan , and your attorney – on how to make arguments on GHG issue work for us.  This is an area, if pursued, may provide benefits in the comment on future timber harvest plans.

If FoGR intends to be successful in addressing forestry issue in their chosen watershed, every GRT THP should be addressed.  There is some momentum associated with this Court action.  Now  this momentum needs to be used.

 

Alan Levine
Coast Action Group
Affiliate of Redwood Coast Watersheds Alliance

Marijuana is emerging among California’s vineyards, offering promise and concern

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 08:58

Marijuana is emerging among California’s vineyards, offering promise and concern

By Scott Wilson
October 14

Marijuana is emerging among California’s vineyards, offering promise and concern
John De Friel, CEO of Raw Garden, at his cannabis farm in Buellton, Calif., this month. The farm sits among cabbage patches and wineries in Santa Barbara County, where agriculture is being reshaped by legalized marijuana. (Philip Cheung for The Washington Post) By Scott Wilson

Scott Wilson

Senior national correspondent focusing on California and the West Email Bio Follow

October 14

SANTA YNEZ VALLEY, Calif. — It is the fall harvest here in this fertile stretch of oaks and hills that produces some of the country’s best wine. This season, though, workers also are plucking the sticky, fragrant flowers of a new crop.

Marijuana is emerging among the vineyards, not as a rival to the valley’s grapes but as a high-value commodity that could help reinvigorate a fading agricultural tradition along the state’s Central Coast. Brushed by ocean breeze, cannabis has taken root, offering promise and prompting the age-old question of whether there can be too much of a good thing.

Cannabis has been fully legal in California for less than a year, and no place is generating more interest in it than the stretch of coast from Monterey to here in Santa Barbara County, where farmers now hold more marijuana cultivation licenses than in any other county.

The shift in legal cultivation patterns is coming at the expense of the remote Emerald Triangle, the trio of far-northern California counties where an illegal marijuana industry has thrived for decades. The Central Coast is not growing more marijuana than the Emerald Triangle, but it could be on track to grow more legally, if trends hold.

“We’re nearly right in between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the two big consumer hubs,” said John De Friel, whose 17-acre Raw Garden Farm and seed lab sit among cabbage patches and wineries. “We really didn’t foresee how advantageous that would turn out to be.”

The regulated California cannabis market is a $4 billion-a-year industry, a boon to the local tax base and to a generation of entrepreneurial farmers more schooled in the agricultural sciences than in the dark arts of deception.

But legalization already is reordering the business and geography of cannabis cultivation, pushing crops into places they have never been. The new cultivations are challenging long-held beliefs in some conservative communities, including this one, where a rural libertarian streak is confronting a crop still stigmatized despite its legality.

The novelty of cannabis here also is a benefit. In northern California, the marijuana industry’s decades-old outlaw culture has proved a major obstacle to transforming the black market into a legal one. With so much lower-cost, unregulated marijuana on the market there, farmers complying with the stiff, expensive new regulations are struggling to make it into the light.


Cannabis buds dry on racks at Vertical cannabis farm in Buellton. (Philip Cheung for The Washington Post)

Here, along the Central Coast, growers complying with the licensing process are having an easier time without a thriving black market as competition. California farmers have only until the end of the year to meet the licensing and regulatory requirements — a process that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars — or face the law.

While expensive, the commercial logic to get legal is undeniable. In approving recreational marijuana use in November 2016, California voters vastly expanded the legal market, which previously was accessible only to the roughly 200,000 residents with medical marijuana cards. Now, marijuana can be sold to the entire drinking-age population of the nation’s most populous state.

The initiative allowed counties and cities to make their own rules, including outright bans on sale and cultivation. As a result, hundreds of potential growers are still “jurisdiction shopping,” trying to find counties with the lowest cannabis taxes, the right climate, an experienced labor force and a favorable location.

Santa Barbara County set its tax on cannabis revenue at 4 percent, the lower end of the scale, hoping to attract farmers to a place where many agriculture jobs have been lost to the economics of free trade.

The approximately 330 acres under cannabis cultivation here is a tiny fraction of the land devoted to vineyards, which once helped replace a declining beef and dairy cattle industry in the valley.

But government officials and growers acknowledge that more cannabis will come, in part because the “Santa Barbara brand built by its pinot noirs could help sell the locally grown product to new consumers.

Just how much more is a concern to some government officials, all of whom see the need for new crops to boost the tax base but worry whether marijuana in the county’s northern hills and southern greenhouses will change the local culture.

Excerpt:

” Cannabis has been fully legal in California for less than a year, and no place is generating more interest in it than the stretch of coast from Monterey to here in Santa Barbara County, where farmers now hold more marijuana cultivation licenses than in any other county. The shift in legal cultivation patterns is coming at the expense of the remote Emerald Triangle, the trio of far-northern California counties where an illegal marijuana industry has thrived for decades. The Central Coast is not growing more marijuana than the Emerald Triangle, but it could be on track to grow more legally, if trends hold.

“We’re nearly right in between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the two big consumer hubs,” said John De Friel, whose 17-acre Raw Garden Farm and seed lab sit among cabbage patches and wineries. “We really didn’t foresee how advantageous that would turn out to be.””

Full article here

 

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