You are here

Bay Area

The alarming ties between Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels and his faux Marine Protected Areas

By Dan Bacher - Red, Green, and Blue, October 12, 2017

The deep relationship between the MLPA Initiative and Delta Tunnels is undeniable. In many ways, the neoliberal MLPA Initiative process, completed in December 2012, has served a template for the Governor’s campaign to build the tunnels.

In spite of some superficial differences, the two processes have been united by their (1) leadership, (2) funding, (3) conflicts of interest, (4) greenwashing goals, (5) racism and denial of tribal rights and (6) junk science. When people educate themselves on the undeniable links between the two processes, I believe they can more effectively wage a successful campaign against the Delta Tunnels and to restore our imperiled salmon and San Francisco Bay-Delta fisheries.

In spite of massive opposition to the MLPA Initiative by Tribal leaders, fishermen, grassroots environmentalists, the fake “marine protected areas” overseen by a Big Oil lobbyist and other political hacks went into effect anyway. I fear the same thing will happen in the Delta Tunnels struggle.

In  recent months, have seen a number of decisions, including the Delta Stewardship Council’s approval of the Delta Plan amendments,the NOAA Fisheries no jeopardy biological opinion, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s approval of a permit to kill endangered salmon and other species in the Delta Tunnels, that advance the California WaterFix proposal.

It’s like back in 2011 when after a couple of favorable court rulings, successful direct action protests and growing opposition to the MLPA Initiative, things went bad. The fishing groups lost a major lawsuit, the Fish and Game Commission backed down on their commitment to protect tribal gathering rights, and in spite of the Co-Chair of the North Coast MLPA Science Advisory going to prison for embezzlement of federal money from the Yurok Tribe, the faux “marine protected areas” went into effect anyway.

Will Public Banking Bring More Clean Energy Programs to California?

By Nithin Coca - Sharable, September 28, 2017

At a recent forum at Oakland City Hall, experts from the public banking and community energy sectors explored how the creation of a public bank could help communities transition to clean energy while creating economic opportunities.

"We need to build a more sustainable world, we need to be using energy that is positive for the environment and community, and we need to do it a way that support local jobs," said Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan who is leading the public bank creation efforts.

The forum took place in Oakland, California, just days after the approval of a resolution to fund a feasibility study by the City Council, with support from neighboring cities. The first and only public bank in the U.S. is the Bank of North Dakota.

"A public bank can really create community wealth in ways other institutions are not capable off," said Gregory Rosen, the founder of High Noon Advisors, a local consulting firm with experience in clean energy investing. "It can help people of different backgrounds and income levels come together, for the good of the community."

California’s Delta Tunnels/ Waterfix dealt fatal blow; rejected by Westlands Water District

By Dan Bacher - Red, Green, and Blue, September 20, 2017

Growers in the massive district, located on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, cited the high cost of the state-federal proposal as their reason for rejecting the project. Politically powerful Westlands is the largest irrigation district in the country.

The district would be one of the key beneficiaries of the proposed 35-mile long twin tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta — and their rejection of the project is a major loss for the Brown administration’s campaign to fast-track the construction of the tunnels. It also sends a message to other water districts that the cost of the controversial plan is not worth the potential benefits.

The Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California board is slated to  vote on the tunnels in early October, but the Westlands vote delivers a major blow to the project.

“Westlands’ decision to not participate in the California WaterFix will make it very difficult for other agencies to participate,” Tom Birmingham, the General Manager of Westlands, told the Los Angeles Times.

State Weighs in For Caps on Bay Area Refinery Toxic and Climate Pollution

By Andrés Soto and Greg Karras, Communities for a Better Environment; Ratha Lai, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, and Luis Amuezca, Sierra Club Bay Chapter - April 16, 2017 [Press Release]

Reversing regional of ficials who sided with refiners to claim pollution trading policies force them to allow increasing refinery pollution, the State Air Resources Board supports pollution limits to “cap” increasing particulate and greenhouse gas air pollution from five Bay Ar ea refineries in a letter to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District sent late yesterday.

Oil companies seek to process lower quality grades of oil that could increase refinery emission intensity and refinery mass emissions.  Caps on emission intensi ty and mass work together to protect against those health and climate threats.  The State’s letter supports both protections, finding they work together with its state climate program. That finding contradicts the refiners’ argument that Air District Rule 12 - 16, which sets mass caps, conflicts with the State’s cap - and - trade pollution trading scheme.  Air District staff joined the refiners to make this claim against its own proposal in workshops last week.

Protect the Sacred!

Berkeley Protest of Arrests at Standing Rock

Crude Awakening: A new air district rule might prevent increased Canadian tar sands production at Bay Area refineries

By Will Parrish - North Bay Bohemian, June 8, 2016

In recent years, oil corporations have intensified their push to make the San Francisco Bay Area and other areas of the West Coast into international hubs for refining and shipping of one of the world's most carbon-intensive and polluting fuel sources: the Canadian tar sands.

In April, that long-standing effort spilled into Santa Rosa mailboxes. Constituents of 3rd District supervisor Shirlee Zane received a letter, addressed to Zane herself, from a group called Bay Area Refinery Workers.

"As a member of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District," the letter read, "you'll soon vote on a proposal that will impact our jobs, our refineries and the important work we do refining the cleanest gasoline in the world."

It asked that Zane "please remember that the Bay Area refineries provide more good-paying union jobs than any private sector employer in the region."

Twelve refinery employees provided signatures, but the letter was produced and mailed by an organization called the Committee for Industrial Safety, which is bankrolled by the oil giants Chevron, Shell, Tesoro and Phillips 66. According to state and federal records, each corporation annually provides the group between $100,000 and $200,000 to advocate on their behalf.

The letter's apparent aim was to influence Zane's upcoming vote on a little-known but potentially far-reaching Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) regulation called Refinery Rule 12-16 that's aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emmissions. If enacted, the measure would make the BAAQMD the nation's first regional air district to go beyond state and federal mandates in regulating refinery GHG emissions, the pollutants that fuel global climate change.

Zane is one of the BAAQMD's 24 directors, along with elected officials from nine Bay Area counties extending from Santa Clara in the South Bay to Sonoma and Napa. They will determine the measure's fate at a yet-to-be-scheduled meeting later this year.

Staff members at BAAQMD have proposed four alternative forms of Refinery Rule 12-16. But only one has the support of a coalition of environmental groups and the unions that represent refinery employees: a quantitative limit, or cap, on GHGs.

Processing the tar sands would dramatically increase greenhouse gas pollution at the refineries under the BAAQMD's jurisdiction, and advocates from groups like Oakland's Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), an environmental justice organization, say an emissions cap would turn back what they call the "tar sands invasion" from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Critics warn that without the cap, the oil industry will continue pursuing new tar sands infrastructure on the West Coast at a frenetic pace. "We've seen them come at us at a 10 times faster rate in the last few years," says CBE senior scientist and refinery expert Greg Karras. "Up and down the refinery belt, refineries are retooling for the tar sands and creating infrastructure for export of refined tar sands products overseas."

Experts have warned of the effects of a significantly expanded production of the tar sands—a sticky mixture of sand, clay and bitumen trapped deep beneath Canada's boreal forest. It would lock in dramatic increases in global temperatures and result in devastating impacts to ecosystems and human societies throughout the globe. A 2015 report in the journal Nature found that trillions of dollars' worth of known and extractable coal, oil and gas reserves (including nearly all remaining tar sands and all Arctic oil and gas) should remain in the ground if global temperatures are to be kept under the safety threshold of 2 degrees centigrade that's been agreed to by the world's nations at the Paris climate summit last year.

In an ecologically minded region like the Bay Area, an emissions cap to stop a dramatic increase in regional tar sands production (and tar sands exports from local ports) might seem like a political no-brainer. But staff and some members of BAAQMD say they are concerned that GHG emissions averted in the Bay Area would simply occur somewhere else, since the oil industry would increase production elsewhere. Doing so would render Refinery Rule 12-16 ineffectual in curbing climate pollution because other regions might not be so attentive.

Karras and other advocates believe the opposite is true. The cap offers local elected officials a rare opportunity, they say, to make a significant contribution to heading off the catastrophic impacts of global warming.

SEIU 1021 Resolution in support of Climate Justice Work

By SEIU 1021 - Resolution Adopted April 13, 2016

Note: The IWW is not affiliated with SEIU or any of its locals. This is posted for informational purposes only.

I. Climate Change is real. It is here. It is advancing. The only question is how bad things will become. We in Local 1021, our neighbors, and communities are already experiencing the effects of Climate Change in our work and lives. In California, headlines have focused on the drought caused by climate change, but the real effects will be far deeper and more severe than even that.

II. The world's scientists are almost unanimous in reporting that our environment is about to cross a point of no return that could endanger human life itself. This past year, SElU leaders and members were in Paris for the COP 21 meeting where the United States and 158 other countries established the ambitious goal of limiting the world's temperature rise to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius, in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

III. Climate Change is largely fueled by carbon energy sources whose emissions are overwhelming our earth's ability to absorb that carbon. The buildup of carbon in our atmosphere is trapping heat and cooking our planet.

IV. Our economic system depends on extracting and depleting resources and creating waste at unsustainable levels. The environment is treated as an unlimited resource and waste dumping ground. Products are designed to be disposable to spur new sales and waste.

V. The same economic system that treats our environment as disposable also treats workers as disposable-leading to our country's extreme economic inequality. When corporations search the globe for ever lower wages and working conditions to produce the same product, it means wealth for a few but reductions in standard of living for the rest of us.

VI. SEIU's 21st Century Blueprint Committee report identified Climate Change and Income Inequality as major trends that are inherently linked, and that pose major challenges to all of us. The committee report states that: "...it is poor and working people who typically bear the greatest impact of pollution and extreme weather. In this respect, climate change is not only a global threat, but also major expressions of inequality."

VII. The combination of Economic lnjustice and Environmental lnjustice dumps a double dose of hurt on poor people, communities of color and other marginalized people that have historically borne the brunt of pollution and environmental hazards in their neighborhoods, resulting in severe and chronic health problems as we see in lower income communities from Richmond to Fresno to South LA.

VIII. For too long, our government at all levels and our public employees have been subjected to unprincipled attacks that undermine the value of our democracy and the services our communities rely upon. As Climate Change deepens, only public institutions will be able to develop the plans and marshal the resources needed to mitigate its worsening impact.

IX. As Public Employees and Members of SElU Local 1021 we are in a unique and strategic position to prove that government and our Unions defend the "Common Good" and are a force for good in our community. As Union Members and Working People, we have the ability to fight for solutions to climate change that specifically prevent disproportionate impacts on our communities and are "dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society."

X. As public sector workers, we are responsible to education and create good environmental programs, policies, and solutions. We must demand the resources, training and capacity to do so; and must also fight to capture savings from innovations and efficiency so they are equitably shared with workers.

XI. We know that Winning for Working People requires building strong organizations and Alliances with Allies to fight for both Economic and Environmental Justice; and both SElU and Local 1021 have begun to build these alliances through local and national fights for economic and environmental justice.

Therefore be it resolved: SElU Local 1021 Leaders recognize Climate Change as a challenge and threat to the welfare of our Union's Members, workers, and communities everywhere; SElU Local 1021 Leaders recognize that while our Union's program of Organizing works to build power for members to win greater economic, social and racial justice, our efforts alone are not enough to win the "more humane society," all workers deserve; and we must partner with Allies in all progressive movements, and particularly Climate Change and Environmental Justice movement if we are to protect the healthy planet that all workers deserve;

SElU Local 1021 Leaders also recognize that we must work with our Allies to recognize and fight for Climate Change solutions that recognize the legitimate rights of workers to organize, their demands for economic justice and security, and the need for a Just Transition for workers in industries impacted by the move away from carbon to renewable energy sources.
To Accomplish these Goals SElU Local 1021 Leaders commit to making Climate Justice a part of our Union's Program. Some of these goals may include:

  • Educating Members, Officers and Staff about climate change and the need for climate justice. To include illustrating the interconnectedness and impact on, working people and our larger fights for economic and racial justice.
  • Developing a program of Action on Climate Change that puts to use our skills and expertise as Union Members and Public Employees to promote solutions that contribute to mitigating and adapting to the Climate Crisis and that protect and advance the rights and interests of all workers and our communities as a part of our Union Work, including areas such as but not limited to:
    • Common Good Campaigns
    • Bargaining Demands
    • Labor Management Partnerships
    • Political, Policy and Budgeting Work
    • Participation in State, County, Local "tables," where mitigation
    • and adaptation policies are being developed
    • Movement Coalition Building with Allies
    • Mobilizing Members to Action

California climate activists set sights on COP21

By Nicholas Isaac - Socialist Action, September 21, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

As governments and some 40,000 corporate negotiators, scientists of different persuasions, and other mostly corporate-friendly parties prepare to attend the Nov. 30-Dec. 12 United Nations Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris, environmental and climate-crisis organizations are preparing massive and perhaps unprecedented mobilizations around the world.

Fear is widespread that this 21st UN-sponsored climate meeting will propose nothing to stop the earth’s temperature from rising beyond the point of no return—the point where catastrophic and irreversible changes threaten all life on earth. Few, if any, environmental and related movement organizations believe that the world’s greatest polluters have any intention of subordinating their highly profitable fossil-fuel extraction to the interests of humanity. Indeed, the greatest of the polluters, the U.S. and China, have every intention of increasing their production and use of fossil fuels!

Activists from 350.org and a broad range of other concerned organizations on the East Coast are making preparations for a massive mobilization in Boston on Dec. 12, the last day of COP21. They chose the last day of COP21 to indicate their lack of confidence in any of the “solutions” proposed to date and to state unequivocally that only a massive international movement, a “movements of movements,” is capable of saving the earth and its inhabitants from the destructive forces of today’s profit-driven polluters.

In Northern California, a broad coalition of environmental groups, labor unions, social justice, antiwar, and human rights groups, and a number of socialist parties, has been meeting in Oakland union halls for the past two months to plan a mass march and rally through downtown Oakland on Nov. 21. Leading organizations include 350.org chapters in all Bay Area counties, the Sunflower Alliance—which focuses on defending frontline communities—System Change Not Climate Change, and a host of groups aimed at fighting California fracking, coal transport, explosive bomb trains, and environmental racism. Socialist Action, Solidarity, DSA, ISO, and CoC have also been actively building this effort.

Longshore Workers Vote to Oppose Coal Exports in Oakland

Staff Report - ILWU.Org, September 18, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Longshore workers and marine clerks who have moved cargo at the Ports of Oakland and San Francisco since 1934 have rejected a developer’s plan to export coal through former Oakland Army Base. International Longshore and Warehouse Union elected officials say coal is an undesirable, low-value cargo and a broken promise on the part of the developer, and longshore workers are standing by community members who do not want the worry and risks of nine million tons of coal passing through their neighborhoods on trains each year. After much research and discussion, the rank and file members of ILWU Local 10 and ILWU Local 34 have voted to oppose the handling of coal at the site.

“When the developers of the project were seeking tax money and public support to develop the Oakland Army Base, they talked about exporting cargoes like grain and potash,” said Sean Farley, President of ILWU Local 34. “They made a ‘no coal’ promise to workers, the community and elected officials, and they need to make good on that promise. Waterfront space is in short supply on the West Coast, and it would be a mistake to lock Oakland into a decades-long lease with a coal industry that many say is dying. Coal proposals have failed up and down the West Coast, and Oakland shouldn’t become the dumping ground for dirty, low value cargoes that no one else wants.”

After the Oakland City Council granted the California Capital and Investment Group (CCIG) the right to develop the former army base adjacent to the Port of Oakland, CCIG planned to build the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal (OBOT) on the site. CCIG has since turned its “no coal” promise into a “coal or nothing” threat, claiming no other cargo will pay the bills. Meanwhile, other West Coast ports are thriving while exporting products like grain, potash, soda ash, salt, and other commodities and bulk products.

“Coal is not the right way to bring jobs to Oakland,” said ILWU Local 10 Business Agent Derrick Muhammad. “Oakland families are already worried about asthma and other sickness because of highways and port activities. It’s not right to ask them to take on the worry and risk of nine million tons of coal passing through their neighborhoods on trains each year. If the developers haven’t found a cleaner, safer product yet, they owe it to the City of Oakland to make good on their promise and keep looking. They’ll find better cargoes if they are truly committed to bringing good, safe jobs to our community.”

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s Coast Longshore Division represents approximately 25,000 longshore men and women in 30 West Coast ports from San Diego, CA, to Bellingham, WA.

Pages