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Updated: 2 weeks 11 hours ago

Martinez Refinery Under Investigation After Toxic Thanksgiving Fallout

Thu, 03/09/2023 - 12:36
Martinez Refinery Under Investigation After Toxic Thanksgiving Fallout sf-liana Thu, 2023-03-09 12:36 By Jonathan Bash and Rebecca Barrett

Last Thanksgiving, while gathered for their special meal, Martinez residents shared more than just turkey with their friends and family. Unknowingly, families across the area were doused in an extra-large helping of toxic heavy metals. 

Without notifying residents or authorities—as required by law—the Martinez refinery released more than 20 tons of “spent catalyst” across a six-hour period, sprinkling aluminum, barium, chromium, nickel, vanadium, zinc and other toxic heavy metals over the town and into the lungs of feasting families. The short-term side effects of inhaling these heavy metals are nothing to be grateful for: coughing, a sore throat, and difficulty breathing are all costly impacts of this type of pollution.

In lieu of any word from the refinery, Martinez residents turned to Facebook to ask about the dust covering their cars and other surfaces. People contemplated the possibility that it was connected, but there had been no official announcement. In fact, the refinery waited a full two days to inform county staff of the release.

According to Contra Costa Health Services, this action was likely in violation of state law and county policy. Refinery staff are required to report the release via the county’s Community Warning System, giving residents the opportunity to take steps to protect vulnerable residents by remaining inside or leaving the area. 

After the release, the refinery put out questionable information on social media, minimizing the health impacts of their actions and describing the dust as “naturally occurring materials.” The only remediation the company offered to residents was free car wash vouchers that could be used to wash off the “non-toxic” white ash on local vehicles. Lab tests on the dust, however, suggested that it was in fact toxic, noting elevated levels of heavy metals. Consequently, car wash staff and other members of the public may have been exposed a second time as they washed their cars and other surfaces, aerosolizing the heavy metals. 

In response to the original release, the case has been referred to Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton who has begun an independent investigation in partnership with a citizen oversight committee. More information about the investigation is available at

Sierra Club members who live in Martinez and Pacheco are invited to join the Sierra Club Mt. Diablo Group and get involved with community efforts to ensure safe operations at the Martinez refinery. Please contact Jonathan Bash ( and Rebecca Barrett ( to get involved.

Rebecca Barrett and Jonathan Bash are elected members of the Mt. Diablo Group Executive Committee.

Photo by Rebecca Barrett.

Local Taxonomy Environmental Justice
Categories: G2. Local Greens

On March 15th, We're Turning Out to Support Pollution-Free Electric Appliances — Join Us!

Wed, 03/01/2023 - 09:19
On March 15th, We're Turning Out to Support Pollution-Free Electric Appliances — Join Us! sf-virginia Wed, 2023-03-01 09:19

To cut lung-damaging air pollution from gas appliances in homes, on March 15th regulators at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District will vote on a first-in-the-nation standard that will begin phasing out the sale of polluting heating appliances later this decade. 

The new standard would have major implications for regional air quality and public health, particularly for communities of color and low-income communities living on the frontlines of the Bay Area’s air quality crisis. The Air District estimates that by reducing lung-damaging air pollutants, its appliance standard will prevent 15,000 asthma symptom incidents and avoid up to 85 premature deaths every year.

The new appliance standard will apply when a consumer would already be replacing a burned-out appliance (not removing working appliances). And in addition to the substantial health benefits of the standard, analysis by SPUR shows that with the help of current and soon-to-be-available subsidies, low-income, single-family households and owners of multifamily buildings that serve low-income households could actually save money by replacing defunct gas appliances with electric alternatives. This cost savings is in addition to operational cost savings of about $120 per year for single-family homes in PG&E territory.

In addition to health and money-saving benefits, heat pumps and other electric appliances are highly efficient and use a fraction of the energy of other appliances. They will be key to cooling millions of California homes without overloading the electricity grid, making the Bay Area significantly more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

But because the rules threaten fossil fuel interests, the gas industry is lobbying hard to stop these rules from passing. That means we need supporters to turn out in force at the vote and tell the Board that we are ready for a transition to clean electric appliances.

RSVP here and we’ll make sure you get event updates, a public comment guide, and talking points. We’ll also make sure you get the Zoom link, although we strongly encourage everyone who can to attend in person at the Air District headquarters in San Francisco.

Want more information? Contact Melissa Yu:

Local Taxonomy Clean Energy Dirty Energy
Categories: G2. Local Greens

Speak out on Feb. 16 to Protect Henry Coe as a Non-Motorized Park

Wed, 02/08/2023 - 11:46
Speak out on Feb. 16 to Protect Henry Coe as a Non-Motorized Park sf-liana Wed, 2023-02-08 11:46 Public comment is needed at the State Parks hearing in Pleasanton on Thursday, February 16th to make sure that Henry Coe State Park is protected as a non-motorized park. Please join us for this important public hearing.

When: Thursday, February 16, 2023, from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Where: Pleasanton Marriott, 11950 Dublin Canyon Rd, Pleasanton, CA 94588 

In 2021, following many years of lobbying by conservationists, the State finally made the 3,100-acre biodiversity hotspot commonly known as Tesla Park ineligible for designation as an off-road vehicle park. Unfortunately, the budget language also set aside funds for the acquisition and development of alternative OHV recreational facilities, and now Henry Coe State Park is a target of OHV advocates. 

Given Henry Coe's biodiversity and importance to indigenous people, this area is no place for an OHV park. But the threat is persistent, with lobbyists funded and backed by Honda, Firestone, Yamaha and other companies arguing that because it is the largest state park in Northern California, it has plenty of room to share with OHV.

However, the park’s size (87,000 acres) is specifically what makes it an important intact refuge for at-risk species, including Mountain Lions, at a time when a combination of regional development pressures and climate change impacts make such wild places necessary for survival. Preserving Coe as a non-motorized park is consistent with the state’s commitment to 30x30 preservation designed to protect biodiversity. Finally, introducing OHV into an area with sensitive sites with indigenous artifacts and that hold special value to indigenous communities will likely lead to damage to those sites.

It will be imperative that the Club, including and particularly people that benefit from Coe, have a good showing at the February 16th meeting to push back on the notion that Coe should be considered for OHV. RSVP here for the hearing!

For more information on the ongoing work to preserve these areas (including Tesla Park) or for questions about the upcoming budget bill and this hearing, Friends of Tesla Park will be hosting a Zoom meeting on Tuesday, February 14, 2023, 1:30 pm. You can join the meeting here.

"Henry Coe State Park" by David Baron on Flickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Local Taxonomy Parks & Open Space
Categories: G2. Local Greens

Want to be a Volunteer at the Yosemite Conservation Heritage Center in 2023?

Thu, 01/26/2023 - 10:08
Want to be a Volunteer at the Yosemite Conservation Heritage Center in 2023? sf-liana Thu, 2023-01-26 10:08

The Yosemite Conservation Heritage Center is looking for volunteers to assist with interpretation during the months of August and September, Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm. Volunteers arrive on Saturday by 3:00 pm and depart the following Saturday at 4:00 pm. Monday and Tuesday are free days to explore Yosemite National Park. Entrance to the Park, camping in a designated YCHC campsite, and showers are free. No family members, friends, or pets are permitted.  Volunteers supply their own tents, food, and supplies.

​​​Contact Bonnie Gisel at or (209) 347-7300 to learn more. Deadline to apply is June 1, 2023.



Local Taxonomy Parks & Open Space Wilderness & Wildlife
Categories: G2. Local Greens

State Regulators Acknowledge Inadequate Sea-Level Rise Projections in Toxic Site Cleanup Plan

Wed, 01/25/2023 - 10:58
State Regulators Acknowledge Inadequate Sea-Level Rise Projections in Toxic Site Cleanup Plan sf-liana Wed, 2023-01-25 10:58

KQED’s recent article “State Regulators Scrutinize Climate Plan for Controversial Richmond Housing Development” explores many of the issues that environmental and community activists have been raising for years around the heavily contaminated AstraZeneca site on the Richmond shoreline. The Sierra Club is one of several groups suing based on the inadequacy and injustice of the current cleanup plan for the site, which doesn’t sufficiently account for sea-level and ground-water rise. KQED reports that the site’s new project manager for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control has asked for greater analysis of the cleanup plan, based on up-to-date sea level rise projections. This is promising news, but we will be watching closely to make sure that revisions to the plan are based on the best available science and the strictest protections for the health of residents in this city already overburdened by environmental injustice.

Local Taxonomy Environmental Justice Shorelines & The Bay
Categories: G2. Local Greens

How Sustainable Transportation Took Huge Strides in San Francisco

Mon, 12/19/2022 - 15:25
How Sustainable Transportation Took Huge Strides in San Francisco sf-liana Mon, 2022-12-19 15:25 By Peter Belden

The Sierra Club San Francisco Group helped achieve many big victories in 2022 for sustainable transportation: 

  • The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to make the car-free JFK Promenade permanent, expanding safe space for sustainable transportation and recreation. Key partners in this victory included KidSafeSF, Community Spaces SF, the SF Bike Coalition, Walk SF, the Church of 8 Wheels, and more. Thanks to many of you who sent letters in support of car-free JFK
  • San Francisco voters passed Sierra Club endorsed Proposition J by a landslide 63% to 37% making the car-free JFK Promenade permanent. Working with the same partners listed above, this was an even bigger victory than the prior win because of its wide margin of victory. 
  • Sierra Club endorsed Proposition L was also passed by San Francisco voters to continue critical funding for public transit which reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Key partners in this campaign included the San Francisco Transit Riders Union and more. 
  • By an even bigger landslide (65% to 35%), voters rejected Proposition I, which the Sierra Club also opposed. The defeat of Proposition I means that the car-free JFK Promenade will remain, car-free weekends on the Great Highway Park will continue, and the city can implement its climate adaptation plans to permanently close the Great Highway extension to protect the wastewater treatment plant from sea level rise. Key partners include those mentioned and more.  
  • Continuing the victories at the ballot box, Proposition N was passed which enables the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) to take control of the concourse parking garage under the JFK Promenade, expanding garage access and helping to secure the permanence of the car-free JFK Promenade.
  • During the summer, a slow bike ride sponsored by the Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter was held on the JFK Promenade and the Great Highway Park. 
  • In December, the SFMTA board of directors voted unanimously to make 16 slow streets permanent, expanding space for sustainable transportation like walking and biking. The San Francisco Group had endorsed making many slow streets permanent (namely Lake Street). Partners included the slow streets "mayors" (volunteer leaders) around the city, KidSafeSF, Community Spaces SF, the SF Bike Coalition, the SF Parks Alliance, Walk SF, and more. 
  • Last but not least, the San Francisco Group Transportation Committee grew to include roughly a dozen members!

Want to help us have even more success in 2023? Have ideas for what the Sierra Club can do to promote sustainable transportation? Get involved with the Sierra Club San Francisco Group's Transportation Committee which meets online on the first Monday of each month. To join a meeting or the listserv, contact Peter Belden at

Peter Belden is the SF Group Transportation Committee Chair. Local Taxonomy Chapter News Transportation & Compact Growth
Categories: G2. Local Greens

'22 And You: A Year of Big Wins for the Local Grassroots

Fri, 12/16/2022 - 18:37
'22 And You: A Year of Big Wins for the Local Grassroots sf-virginia Fri, 2022-12-16 18:37 By Virginia Reinhart

This year, the amazing network of volunteers and staff who make up the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter achieved important legislative and electoral wins that are making our region a cleaner, healthier, and more equitable place to live. Each one of 2022 victories described below was hard won and is the result of many months — or even years — of organizing, strategizing, coalition building, education, and negotiation.

These victories could not have happened without our volunteer leaders, staff, engaged membership, and incredible partners. Thank you to the activists who show up after a long day of work and sit through a two-hour meeting to give a two-minute public comment. Thank you to our hike leaders who build the next generation of conservationists by creating safe and special opportunities to be out in nature. Thank you to the brave folks who get over the awkwardness of conversations with strangers and phonebank or canvas door to door. Thank you to everyone who donates, signs petitions, and renews their membership in the Sierra Club. 

So many people put in the hard work to build this movement we’re all a part of — and it’s not easy. We are up against enormous challenges: inertia, entrenched interests, and the temptations of despair and cynicism. So before we move into the new year and set our sights on new challenges, I think we owe it to ourselves to spend a moment savoring these victories.

Without further ado, here are some of our proudest moments in 2022:

Giving Salmon Space to Survive:

This summer, capping off a multi-decade process, Marin County finally adopted a science-based Stream Conservation Area Ordinance for the San Geronimo Valley that will protect some of the most vulnerable salmon habitats left in California. The ordinance enacts a “no net loss of streamside habitat” target by limiting development within 100 feet of salmon habitat and a 2:1 habitat replacement ratio within the 100-foot zone. Crucially, the ordinance protects ecologically important ephemeral (seasonal) streams, as well as year-round streams. Read more about this important legislation here.

Breathe Easy, Bay Area:

In 2019, Berkeley was the first city in the nation to pass a building electrification ordinance requiring new buildings to install clean, electric alternatives to polluting gas appliances, which are a leading source of both indoor and outdoor air pollution in Bay Area communities. Now, just three years later, 20 municipalities in our Chapter area and over 69 cities and counties across the state have followed suit. That means our homes and buildings are healthier places and we are speeding up the transition to 100% clean, renewable, climate-friendly energy. Our next step? In early 2023, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District is expected to vote on zero-NOx emission standards for home furnaces and water heaters with a plan for an equitable, affordable transition. Learn more and take action here!

Original illustration by Vrinda Manglik.

Advancing Safe Streets:

In order to see our common streetscape reclaimed for community life and safe, sustainable, multimodal transit, our San Francisco Group has championed numerous successful “Safe Streets'' initiatives this year. In November, San Francisco voters rejected Proposition I (the measure that would reopen John F. Kennedy Drive and the Great Highway to cars) and approved the Sierra Club-endorsed Proposition J by a landslide to permanently ban cars from JFK Drive in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. In December, we cheered on the SFMTA Board as they voted unanimously to make permanent 16 of the slow streets instituted early in the pandemic. Read more about these street safety wins here.

Climate Literacy Efforts Scale Up:

Our Chapter’s Climate Literacy Committee, fresh off victories at the local school district level, scaled up its work to meet the challenge of the climate crisis. This year, the Committee — in close partnership with our friends at the environmental literacy advocacy group Ten Strands — has expanded to advocacy for funding and support for climate literacy at the State level. Read all about the Committee’s journey here, including details about the current budget request we’ve presented to the Governor that would fund a scale-up of environmental and climate literacy programming; support for county offices of education to advance environmental and climate literacy; and a grant fund for school districts to implement environmental and climate literacy.

Spring 2022 gathering of the Climate Literacy Committee.

Plate It Again, Sam:

This time next year, all food establishments in unincorporated Marin County will need to serve customers on reusable dishes, with reusable cups and utensils. This is thanks to the passage in May of the County’s Reusable Foodware Ordinance, which has additional requirements that will take a huge bite out of Marin’s single-use plastic consumption, including: requiring a surcharge for take-out cups (to incentivize reusable alternatives); and new requirements for disposable foodware to be made only from materials that are PFAS-free and certified compostable for organic fertilizer. Read more about this ordinance and the Sierra Club-led effort that made it happen.

Point Molate Saved and On the Path to Becoming a Public Park:

Courageous votes by the progressive majority on the Richmond City Council nixed the sell-off of this spectacular swath of shoreline open space to a private luxury developer. Then, the dream of a public park at Point Molate came one BIG step closer to becoming a reality when the Governor signed a state budget that includes $36 million for the East Bay Regional Park District to acquire and clean up the property. This investment by the State will no doubt leverage additional funds to achieve the goal of a community park at Point Molate. Read more here.

Photo by Trisha Fawver via Flickr Creative Commons

Big Wins for the Environment in the Midterm Election:

We prevailed in over 82% of our Chapter’s 2022 Midterm endorsements, helping pass pro-environment ballot measures and elect dozens of environmental champions all across our Chapter area. We look forward to working closely with these elected officials in the coming years to advance cutting-edge policy to clean up our air and water, protect parks and wildlife, and equitably transition to a clean energy economy. Read about some of our local Midterm victory highlights here. 

The End of Coal in Richmond:

In May, a federal judge signed the City of Richmond’s precedent-setting legal settlement to phase out coal shipments. This settlement caps off a powerful community-driven effort to end this source of harmful air pollution and creates a blueprint for other communities to protect themselves against threats to public health. While Richmond is now assured of a coal-free future, Oakland remains a target of the coal industry. But alongside the West Oakland community, we are working to make sure that coal never comes to Oakland.

No Coal in Richmond protest. Photo by Steve Nadel.

Keeping Smog Out of Your Shopping Cart:

Spurred by the rise of online shopping, unchecked warehouse development is a growing problem for health and the environment in the Bay Area, and it’s hitting historically marginalized communities first and worst. Used as last-mile-delivery centers, warehouses become hubs for diesel-powered trucks and heavy-duty equipment that emit dangerous pollution. This year, the Sierra Club stood with targeted communities in Hayward, San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood, Richmond, and more in order to keep polluting warehouse developments away from homes, schools, hospitals, and other places where high-risk communities gather; and eliminate harmful emissions by accelerating the adoption of zero-emission vehicles powered by clean energy. Read about one development in North Richmond where our involvement helped set a new standard, and sign up to get campaign updates here.

We have much more planned for 2023, and we’ll need your help to get it all done. But for now, happy New Year and thank you for being a part of the Sierra Club’s movement in the Bay Area.

Happy New Year from the staff of the SF Bay Chapter, pictured below at this year's back-in-person Chapter awards ceremony.

Local Taxonomy Chapter News
Categories: G2. Local Greens

Point Molate Victories Show Why Elections Matter

Mon, 12/12/2022 - 16:44
Point Molate Victories Show Why Elections Matter sf-liana Mon, 2022-12-12 16:44 by Norman La Force

The progressive majority on the Richmond City Council has taken courageous stands regarding Point Molate in favor of the environment and against development of the shoreline property as a luxury housing enclave. Recently, the City Council refused to provide the developer SunCal with financial backing for bonds that would have saddled taxpayers with hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure costs for a proposed luxury housing project. This isn’t the affordable, transit-accessible housing that Richmond so badly needs, either; a single unit would have required an annual income of at least $250,000.

Then – after SunCal failed to meet its contractual obligation to pay the City $46 million for the property – the City Council voted not to move ahead with the sale of the property. The court threw out most of the developer’s lawsuit attempting to force the sale.

Under the sweetheart deal that outgoing Mayor Tom Butt cooked up to settle a lawsuit over a prior failed casino development on the shoreline, Point Molate is now in the hands of the would-be casino developers, Upstream LLC and the Guidiville Rancheria. But they have the same predicament as SunCal because in order to develop the property, they would need to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on infrastructure improvements.

The solution, of course, is to preserve Point Molate as a public park for the people and the environment – a dream that got one step closer to being realized in July, when the Governor signed a state budget that includes $36 million for the East Bay Regional Park District to acquire and clean up Point Molate. This investment by the State will no doubt leverage additional funds to achieve the goal of a community park at Point Molate. We owe special thanks to State Senator Nancy Skinner, Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia, East Bay Regional Park District Director Elizabeth Echols, and Governor Newsom for stepping up to support the vision of a regional park including recreational, cultural and outdoor educational opportunities. On the Richmond City Council, Point Molate has strong defenders like Claudia Jimenez, Gayle McLaughlin, Eduardo Martinez, and Melvin Willis.

There is still much more work to be done, but these recent developments demonstrate what can be achieved when you have strong environmentalists in office and tireless community activists on the case. Richmond voters reaffirmed the city’s progressive majority on Election Day, and we look forward to continuing our work to save Point Molate, now with Eduardo Martinez as Mayor!

Norman La Force is the Chair of the East Bay Public Lands Committee. Local Taxonomy Elections & Endorsements Parks & Open Space Shorelines & The Bay
Categories: G2. Local Greens

We Say Once Again: EPA Must Obey the Law on Regulating Ballast Discharges

Thu, 12/08/2022 - 12:21
We Say Once Again: EPA Must Obey the Law on Regulating Ballast Discharges sf-liana Thu, 2022-12-08 12:21 by Andrew Cohen and Chance Cutrano

This past October, the Sierra Club and 159 other organizations — environmental and fishing groups, public health organizations, Native American tribes, water agencies and others — asked President Joe Biden to direct the EPA to establish discharge standards for ships' ballast water that comply with the Clean Water Act (CWA). For 50 years, the agency has refused to do so. 

Ships take up, transport and discharge ballast water to adjust for changes in cargo loads. This ballast water distributes between distant ports a wide variety of marine and freshwater organisms as well as human and animal pathogens, which have damaged ecosystems and fisheries, harmed economic activities, and sickened and killed people. 

For 36 years after the passage of the CWA, EPA illegally exempted ballast water discharges from regulation. The courts eventually forced EPA to regulate these discharges, only to have EPA issue regulations that were unlawfully lax. Ordered to revise these regulations to comply with the CWA, EPA is instead proposing to re-issue the same regulations that the court already rejected.

The letter to the President is the latest act in a national campaign to persuade EPA to obey the law on ballast discharges, which began in the Bay Area earlier this year. The San Francisco Bay/Delta ecosystem is the most invaded estuary in the world, and ballast water is the dominant vector introducing new species into the Estuary. Despite those facts, the 2022 Estuary Blueprint, the San Francisco Estuary Partnership's (SFEP) five-year plan for managing the Estuary, neglected to mention the need for effective ballast water regulation. SFEP is a program created and funded by the EPA. 

As reported in the Yodeler, the Bay Chapter, the Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club's BAY ALIVE campaign and 28 other environmental organizations and leaders asked SFEP to add a statement on the need for ballast water regulation. SFEP refused, arguing that it would be inappropriate for the Blueprint to imply that EPA should adopt stronger regulations if EPA didn't want to, even though all editions of the Blueprint produced before the courts forced EPA to regulate ballast discharges had called for actions "to develop, implement, and enforce stringent regulations to control discharges of ship ballast water."

Around that time, Bay Chapter Chair Chance Cutrano raised this issue with Congressman Jared Huffman, and the Congressman agreed to write EPA. Encouraged by the Sierra Club and scores of other organizations, 33 members of Congress, including 13 from California, cosigned Congressman Huffman's letter. Delivered in late June, the letter asked EPA Administrator Michael Regan "to establish ballast water discharge standards that conform with the Clean Water Act," noting that EPA's failure to do so had "resulted in billions of dollars of environmental damage in marine, estuarine, and fresh waters of the United States."

It is startling to reflect that if EPA had just regulated ballast water discharges in the 1970s as the CWA directed, most of the ballast water invasions in the Estuary would have been prevented.

The EPA has not responded to the June letter from House members, nor has the President yet responded to last week's letter. Further efforts will no doubt be needed. Sierra Club members can help by writing EPA and their elected representatives and insisting that EPA follow the law and establish ballast discharge standards that comply with the Clean Water Act.

Local Taxonomy Shorelines & The Bay Water
Categories: G2. Local Greens

Remembering Judy Schriebman (1955 - 2022)

Wed, 12/07/2022 - 11:29
Remembering Judy Schriebman (1955 - 2022) sf-liana Wed, 2022-12-07 11:29

The Sierra Club comes together to mourn the loss of the beautiful soul and kindred spirit Judy Schriebman, who passed away from cancer on Sunday, November 20th. Judy was a long-time member of the Sierra Club and Chair of the Marin Group who was vehemently passionate about water and the environment. She was an incredible force for good in her community and will be deeply missed. 

In honor of Judy’s life and the impact she had on all who knew her, our Chapter would like to share some reflections and thoughts: 

Judy Schriebman’s collaborative spirit is one of her many talents. As a Club leader, Judy excelled at welcoming new members and cultivating friendships. With an open mind to all possibilities, Judy consistently volunteered to research the facts and draft documents which significantly impacted both the natural world and marginalized communities. Often, Judy would thank her co-authors with half a dozen eggs from her backyard coop or arrive at a meeting with home-baked treats. To be on Judy Schriebman’s team was a gift in itself. 
- Judy Rogers

I was so impressed by Judy Schriebman in so many ways. Despite her busy schedule, Judy always made time to talk about my projects as if she didn't have enough on her own plate. She walked Miller Creek with me near my home and pointed out the invasive plants and even started cleaning them up! I learned so much from her. Judy smiled easily and it was contagious. She possessed the remarkable combination of great leadership skills, wisdom and kindness. Judy was so authentic and always made me feel heard. I am so grateful to have known her. Judy’s commitment to the planet, her kindness and friendship will always be with me, and I will miss her dearly. 
- Sharon Farrell

Judy has been my mentor on numerous environmental issues as well as trained me for the Chair position, schooling me on all the endless policies and standing rules of the Sierra Club. She has been a tireless leader and advocate for the care, health and conservation of Marin’s biodiversity, riparian zones and waterways, to name a few. Her skills combined with her understanding of local and California policies have helped win Sierra Club’s positions on many local environmental issues throughout the years. I will always remember her zoology wizardry, science fiction geekishness and quick wit on top of her boundless love for the amazing place we live. Most of all, she was a cherished friend who I will deeply miss. 
- Jinesse Reynolds

Judy Schriebman in her role as Chair for the last few years has been the backbone of our Marin ExCom. With her tireless energy, her keen intellect, her biology background, and passion for being a protector of our natural world, she has been the voice leading so many of our initiatives. She is an ace researcher to articulate a problem and then goes that much further by suggesting constructive solutions and a way forward. She leads with welcomed collaboration blessed by a wry sense of humor. Judy exemplifies why community and political leaders, as well as the voting public, listens up when the Sierra Club makes an endorsement. Thank you, Judy! 
- Susan Hopp

Judy was kindness personified, a teacher, mentor, and friend who guided us through some difficult times. She made site visits with those of us who took the lead on a project so that she could visually and spatially understand the physical site and problems involved. Working with her using Google Docs and a speakerphone editing letters was a unique experience, with each of us learning how to better use this tool, while sharing gales of laughter over our mistakes, misunderstandings about the research, wording, computer or phone glitches, and even over our final shout, “Are we done yet?”, followed by “Yes!”. Editing was a priceless experience because the process was hard but fun with her pithy verbal asides. We got to know and appreciate each other even if we couldn’t see each other. Judy is and will continue to be sorely missed by each and every one of us who worked, played, walked and laughed with and grew to love her. 
- Mickey Allison

Judy was a true force of nature, and I shall be forever grateful to the Sierra Club for giving me the opportunity to work by her side for so many years. She loved making good trouble; she fought countless courageous fights as a champion for both people and planet because she understood the connection between all things at a level few others do. She brought her intellect, her humor, and her passion to every effort. I deeply admired Judy's willingness to do the hard work. As a leader, she never asked others to do anything she wasn't willing to do herself. Judy was one of the kindest people I've known; her generosity of spirit was a motivating inspiration for me and so many others. I am brokenhearted by the loss of a woman I was proud to call my friend. Our community has lost a local hero—but we are all the better for having known her. May her memory be a revolution! 
- Barbara Bogard

Judy was an amazing brilliant mentor, role model and friend to me. We walked neighborhoods for campaigns, we brainstormed how to save our planet and most importantly I was witness to her utmost passion "to never give up.” Deep in her work I found Judy to be a joy, her enthusiasm, her humor, her anger about injustice and her vision to keep on keeping on to save our fragile planet. Judy was especially always giving of her time and energy to make our environment a better place. She was an incredible teacher to us all. I feel blessed to have known her. She will be sorely missed. 
- Pam Meigs

Judy was an amazing person who gave her life to the environment and to social justice causes. She was always working to do what is right and had a very engaging way of encouraging others who disagreed to shift their opinion. She was a wonderful leader and Chair of the Sierra Club Marin Group, and will be missed more than anyone could ever imagine. I feel blessed to have known and worked with Judy. I hope her memory inspires others to fight on behalf of the environment and social justice causes. 
- Holli Thier

Judy was an irreplaceable force for nature here in the North Bay as our Chair of the Marin Group and as an elected official on the board of the Las Gallinas Sanitary District. May we never forget the passion, dedication, and conviviality that Judy brought to all of our activism. And may it inspire us to stay the course that Judy helped us chart. 
- Chance Cutrano

Judy is survived by her husband Jeff, son David Schriebman, daughter Robin Schriebman, her sister Jeanne Taylor, and brothers, Dave Webb and Steven Webb. There will be a celebration of her life in the Spring. In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to the Watershed Alliance of Marin.

You can view Judy’s obituary online here.

Categories: G2. Local Greens

A Midterm Election that Counted

Tue, 12/06/2022 - 14:47
A Midterm Election that Counted sf-liana Tue, 2022-12-06 14:47 By Chance Cutrano

The 2022 Midterm Election polls closed over a month ago, but we’re just now getting results back for some of the year’s closest races (looking at you, Oakland and Richmond!). We were fortunate to see many Sierra Club-endorsed candidates elected to public office across our Chapter. Over 82% of our endorsed candidates and ballot measures were victorious at the ballot box in 2022! These victories are thanks in no small part to our members and supporters who organized, got out the vote, and made their voices heard. Thank you to everyone who was part of this great election. I hope you’re taking some well-deserved rest!

Here are some of the many election wins that have been on my mind lately:

In Richmond, we saw exciting victories with the election of Eduardo Martinez as Mayor and Doria Robinson and Cesar Zepeda to the City Council. These wins will ensure that the council is comprised of strong leaders who will stand up for frontline communities and environmental protections. They will help us hold Chevron accountable and keep making progress on a number of our priority issues, such as the clean-up of Astra Zeneca’s heavily contaminated former chemical plant and our effort to save the Point Molate shoreline – one of our Chapter’s 30x30 local conservation priorities.

In Marin County, some of our strongest allies in Fairfax, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Larkspur and Corte Madera were re-elected with overwhelming support, and a new cohort of environmental champions were brought in to join them. What’s more, voters in Tiburon passed Sierra Club-endorsed Measure M, which will ensure the protection of the 110-acre Martha Property on the Tiburon Peninsula – another 30x30 conservation priority for the Sierra Club.

In Alameda County, all but one of our endorsed ballot measures are headed to victory. Of the numerous Sierra Club-endorsed affordable housing measures with a strong lead, one specific highlight is Berkeley’s Measure M: a vacancy tax aimed at increasing housing stock by incentivizing the owners of vacant dwellings to rent units they currently let sit empty. San Francisco voters passed a similar vacancy tax, Proposition M, to utilize existing housing to address our housing crisis.

And, as part of a growing desire to see our common streetscape reclaimed for vibrant community life and safe, multimodal transit, San Francisco voters rejected Proposition I (the measure that would reopen John F. Kennedy Drive and the Great Highway to cars) and approved the Sierra Club-endorsed Proposition J to permanently ban cars from JFK Drive in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

As the new councils are seated and the legislature convenes for its next session, one thing is certain: now that the election is wrapped up, the real work of bringing positive, lasting change to our communities begins. The Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter will be working day-in and day-out with communities across our region to advocate for a healthier environment and a livable future for all. Thank you, as always, for your ongoing support of this vital work. We couldn’t do it without you.

From all of us at the Bay Chapter, we wish you a joyous and peaceful holiday season. Enjoy the rain. We will see you next year.

Chance Cutrano is Chapter Chair.
  Local Taxonomy Elections & Endorsements
Categories: G2. Local Greens

King Tides Foreshadow Sea Level Rise in the Bay – Join our Community Project This Winter

Fri, 12/02/2022 - 10:07
King Tides Foreshadow Sea Level Rise in the Bay – Join our Community Project This Winter sf-virginia Fri, 2022-12-02 10:07

With rising global temperatures melting our glaciers and warming our waters, sea level rise is at the forefront of many of our minds. In coastal areas like the Bay, the impacts of rising tides are expected to be far-reaching.

King Tides are semi-annual high tide events that can teach us a lot about how we may be affected by sea level rise. King Tides occur when the earth, moon, and sun are aligned to produce the greatest tidal effects of the year. They give us a unique opportunity to observe what rising water levels will look like in our communities and show us which areas will be the most vulnerable.

This winter, King Tides are expected to hit the Bay Area on December 23-24, 2022 and January 21-22, 2023.

This year, our Bay Alive campaign will be doing a deep dive into King Tides. This is a three part project that involves attending our kick-off webinar on December 13th, photographing King Tides in your area, and building a community story map that traces the effects of the tides throughout the Bay, and we need your help!

The kick-off webinar takes place on Tuesday, December 13th at 6pm on Zoom. Sign up here! 

Anyone and everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate. Make sure to register for our webinar if you would like to get involved. If you cannot attend the webinar but still want to participate, a recording will be posted on our King Tides webpage.
Sea level rise is a very real threat in our not-so-distant future. This will significantly impact our communities, so it is imperative that we advocate, plan, and prepare. Please join this King Tides Project to help our Bay Area be ready for sea level rise. 

If you are interested in learning more, check out our website or contact Dani Zacky at

Local Taxonomy Shorelines & The Bay
Categories: G2. Local Greens

Reducing Waste During the Holidays

Wed, 11/23/2022 - 12:39
Reducing Waste During the Holidays sf-liana Wed, 2022-11-23 12:39 By Alfred Twu

As winter approaches, a natural question to ask is, "What are more eco-friendly ways to celebrate the holidays?" Of course, the first R of zero waste is Reduce — buying less. However, when buying less isn’t an option and we’re still looking for a physical gift, there are many ways to keep the environment in mind.

The second R of zero waste is Reuse. That’s right — the greenest product is not the organic item made from recycled bottles; it’s the used item that already exists. While online shopping has generated mountains of packaging waste, it has a silver lining: it has made it much easier to buy and sell used products. The energy cost of shipping and packing a product is far smaller than the energy used to make it. Freight transport uses about 10 percent of energy in the US, versus industry, which uses 33 percent, and that’s not even including imports.

Meanwhile, in-person shopping can help us avoid the next major R of the zero-waste holiday season: Returns. Due to the high cost of sorting, checking, and restocking products (some of which might already be discontinued), many retailers have been caught throwing away returns that are in perfectly good shape. By purchasing in person, we can ensure we’re getting the correct items and lower the chance of returns, keeping usable goods out of the trash.

This brings us to our last R for the sustainable holiday: Roads. Research found that over 1/5 of the energy in the product life cycle of clothing is “Consumer Transport” — people driving to the store. Here in the Bay Area, we’re fortunate to have many shopping destinations easy to get to by walking, biking, or riding public transit. This holiday season, consider ditching your car while you do your shopping!

If you’re interested in other ways we can reduce the impact of holiday shopping, get involved with our Zero Waste Committee! Currently, club members are working on reducing the impact of online shopping. In Marin County, Carolyn Lund has drafted a Reusable E-Commerce Packaging Ordinance that is modeled on systems in South Korea and Europe where deliveries are sent in packaging that is later picked up for reuse. To get involved in projects like this, reach out to Alfred Twu at

Alfred Twu is the Chair of the Zero Waste Committee. Local Taxonomy Zero Waste
Categories: G2. Local Greens

How Wastewater Turned the Bay Brown with Toxic Algae

Tue, 11/22/2022 - 16:40
How Wastewater Turned the Bay Brown with Toxic Algae sf-liana Tue, 2022-11-22 16:40 By Dani Zacky

If you were in the Bay Area this summer, you probably noticed that the water along the coast and in Lake Merritt had turned a reddish brown color, almost like root beer or chocolate milk, darkened by massive quantities of algae. You probably also noticed a concerningly high number of dead fish washed up on shore, suffocated as the algae sucked oxygen out of the water. As this phenomenon quickly spread from the Alameda estuary throughout the Bay, many of us were left with questions. What causes an algal bloom? How can we avoid it in the future?

Climate change and rising sea temperatures tend to be among the first factors that come to mind when we consider the cause of algal blooms. While it is true that warm water temperatures help facilitate the growth of bacteria, mold, and harmful algae, there are other contributing factors that can cause these organisms to “bloom.”

According to water testing done by San Francisco Baykeeper and the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI), the specific organism that made up this bloom is called Heterosigma akashiwo. This type of algae often blooms when there is an excess of available nutrients. Unfortunately, in a highly urbanized estuary, nutrients like this are often in surplus.

The byproducts of wastewater treatment plants are full of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. When discharge from wastewater facilities is dumped into the Bay, it is essentially like adding a ton of fertilizer into the water. This creates an environment where algae like Heterosigma akashiwo can thrive.

While there are standards that regulate the amount of treated water that can be discarded into the Bay, the intensification of other factors like higher water temperature due to climate change compounds to create massive algal blooms. Because of this, and what we saw in the Bay this summer, it may be time to reconsider existing standards and find new solutions to both wastewater treatment and water conservation as a whole.

It may be hard to imagine what is at stake because we have never seen an algal bloom of this magnitude in the Bay. The washing up of thousands of fish may be just the tip of the iceberg. In areas like the Bay-Delta, harmful algal blooms are extremely common during the dry hot season, and we see how this negatively impacts the environment and communities. The regular presence of these kinds of algal blooms could spell disaster for our remaining wetlands, important species, and communities who rely on a clean Bay. It is critical that we reign in these contributing factors as much as possible.

If you would like to learn more or take action on algal bloom or other water-related issues, please reach out to Chapter organizer Dani Zacky at

Dani Zacky is an organizer for the SF Bay Chapter.


Photo by Dani Zacky.

Local Taxonomy Shorelines & The Bay Water
Categories: G2. Local Greens

Vote & Make Your Voice Heard

Tue, 11/22/2022 - 10:44
Vote & Make Your Voice Heard sf-liana Tue, 2022-11-22 10:44 By Scott Simmons

It’s time for Sierra Club members to elect our leaders. Cast your vote between November 13th and December 11th, 2022. Your ballot is on page 31 of the Winter 2022-23 Yodeler or can be found online at

Every year, members of the SF Bay Chapter elect amazing volunteers to serve as leaders for the Club. These elected leaders make important policy decisions, help us endorse local government candidates, support important causes, and work to improve our local Chapter and Groups for all Sierra Club members.

This year, we are also voting on a few minor changes to our election bylaws and rules, which we hope will make our elections more transparent and fair.

Read candidate statements on page 16 of the Yodeler or online at to learn more about who is running. You can register for a Virtual Meet & Greet event by checking out our activities calendar, which will be held on Zoom on December 1st to ask your candidates questions.

For questions or more information, please email Happy voting!

Scott Simmons is an SF Bay Chapter Elections Committee member. Local Taxonomy Chapter News
Categories: G2. Local Greens

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