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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.

East Bay Labor Unions Say 'No' to Coal in Oakland

By Darwin BondGraham - East Bay Express, 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.

The official voice of the labor movement in the East Bay has come out against plans to export coal from Oakland. This morning, the Alameda Labor Council’s executive committee passed a resolution opposing the export of coal from the bulk commodity terminal planned for construction at the city’s former Army Base.

The resolution cites health hazards and environmental harms that are likely to result from shipping and storing coal in West Oakland — hazards that will impact both workers and Oakland residents.

“Jobs involving coal are unhealthy and unsafe due to dust emissions; coal is increasingly an anti-union industry,” states the resolution. “West Oakland residents are already twice as likely to visit the emergency room for asthma as the average Alameda County resident, and are also more likely to die of cancer, heart and lung disease… .”

Terminal Logistics Solutions, the company proposing coal exports from the terminal, has claimed that the facility will be served by covered rail cars to reduce the amount of coal dust that drifts into nearby neighborhoods. TLS recently unveiled sketches on its website depicting dome-covered silos and enclosed conveyor belts that will store and load the coal onto ships for export overseas.

Opponents of the coal plan have said, however, that covered rail cars, silos and chutes are not used anywhere in the United States today, and their efficacy hasn’t been studied.

The Labor Council’s resolution states that despite the unions’ “unified opposition to coal,” they believe that the project can move forward without coal. Their resolutions welcomes commodities such as steel, wood, grains, sand, gravel ,and other "non-hazardous materials."

A special meeting of the Oakland City Council is scheduled for Monday. The city clerk’s office has already received more than three hundred speaker cards from members of the public.

Warning from My Future Self (Jean Tepperman and Alfred Twu)

By Jean Tepperman and Alfred Twu - Sunflower Alliance, 2015

In this 34-page comic book for both youth and adults, 16-year-old Gabe Sanchez of East Oakland tells the story of how he and his grandfather time-travel 50 years into the future. His 60-year-old self tells him the story of how climate change has shaped his life: the superstorm that destroyed his home and livelihood, the collapse of California agriculture, and more. But 60-year-old Gabe also shows the many ways people today are fighting to stop fossil fuels and build a green economy. Gabe and Grandpa return to 2016 determined to join the movement for climate justice.

Read the report (PDF).

Steelworkers protest racism and lack of adequate safety at the Shell refinery in Martinez, California

By x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, January 25, 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.

Inside sources tell us that rank and file members of United Steelworkers Union Local 5 in Martinez, California are none too happy with management of the local Shell refinery bosses.

Their main beef is that the company refuses to hire full time firefighters to staff the facility, and instead choose to rely on part timers. Given these refineries' tendency to--well--explode, especially in light of the fact that they're processing heavier and dirtier tar sands crude through increasingly corroded and poorly maintained pipes (due to maintenance budget restrictions in spite of the workers' warning against that), this isn't shocking. In fact, what's shocking is that more people don't know about this.

These same workers attended the recent (January 21, 2015) Martinez City Council meeting to complain about unaddressed instances of sexism and racial slurs (including a hangman's noose and graffiti of a Nazi swastika found at the facility) by the company.

The union conducted a brief informational picket in nearby Pacheco on January 22 to raise awareness about their grievances. Stay tuned for updates.

Reportedly, members of USW Local 5 will also join in a community rally in front of city hall (400 Civic Center on McDonald), in Richmond, California at 5 PM, Wednesday, January 28, 2015. At 6 PM, the US Chemical Safety Board will issue its final determination on the August 6, 2012 toxic fire and explosion at the Chevron Richmond Refinery.

Chevron Richmond Refinery August 6, 2014 Pipe Rupture and Fire [REPORT NO. 2012-03-I-CA OCTOBER 2014]

By staff - U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, October 2014

An August 6, 2012, release of flammable vapor led to a fire at the Chevron Refinery in Richmond, California. The CSB released three investigation reports into this incident.

This report is particularly sigificant in that it reveals that the refinery workers repeatedly tried to warn the managers and employers of the deteriorating conditions of the refinery's infrastructure (which led to the fire), but were ignored. Knowing this, climate justice activists and organizers can develope relationships with workers in capitalist extractive industries and do the painstaking, tedious work of cultivating relationships and building trust to build a united front against the capitalist class.

Read the report (English PDF).

San Francisco Bay Area Oil Infrastructure

The following pamphlet, compiled by Gifford Hartman (Fall 2014) offers a brief, and concise description of the five oil refineries in the San Francisco Bay Area, located northeast of San Francisco. [PDF File]

This Bay Area Town is Taking on Big Oil’s Expansion Plans - And Winning

By Ethan Bucker, US Organizer - Forest Ethics, January 24, 2014

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

Just over the golden hills of Martinez, the descent into Pittsburg on California's Highway 4 opens a view of the Carquinez Strait. The strait is a narrow segment of the tidal estuary that accepts the rushing waters of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers as they empty into the San Francisco Bay. The vista paints a portrait of the transition to a clean energy economy: on the northern side of the strait, enormous turbines of the Shiloh Wind Power Plant revolve gracefully. Along the southern waterfront, an aging former PG&E power plant casts a shadow over massive, decaying fuel tanks next to Pittsburg’s newly revitalized downtown.

This is the stage of the Bay Area’s latest and biggest energy battle, between residents of Pittsburg and energy infrastructure company WesPac.

WesPac Energy wants to transform the PG&E site into a mega crude-by-rail facility, marine oil terminal, and refurbished tank farm. With plans to handle 242,000 barrels per day, the terminal would process one-fifth of all crude coming through California. The facility would deliver Bakken crude and tar sands to all five of the Bay Area’s refineries via new and expanded pipelines. In simple terms, WesPac is looking to turn Pittsburg into the crude hub of Northern California.

WesPac had been developing its proposal with the Pittsburg planning department for two years, but it wasn’t until a sunny Sunday in August 2013 that anyone really knew about it.

On this particular Sunday, longtime Pittsburg resident Lyana Monterrey happened upon a tiny notice in the Contra Costa Times for a public hearing on an environmental impact report. Alarmed at the tremendous risks and dangers posed by the project, Lyana knocked on her neighbor Kalli Graham’s door to tell her about the story she had read. Kalli and Lyana immediately started going door-to-door to alert their neighbors of WesPac’s plans. Neither of them had participated in community organizing before. They attended the city hearing the following day, met a few other concerned residents, and decided to take action.

“I just could not sit still. I could not do nothing about this,” Lyana recalled.

What started as a few neighbors raising their voices quickly grew into a tidal wave of community-led activism that’s swept the town of Pittsburg into the regional and national spotlight. 2013 has been tainted by a half dozen oil train derailments and explosions, including a deadly disaster in Lac Megantic, Quebec that leveled a small town and killed 47 people. So, the prospect of “bombs-on-wheels” (as one community resident put it) rolling through Pittsburg on the daily has set the community ablaze with fierce opposition to WesPac.

Two diverse community led groups--the Pittsburg Defense Council and the Pittsburg Ethics Council--have emerged within the last six months to lead the campaign against the WesPac project, alongside ForestEthics and other NGO allies. Together, we’ve gathered over 4,000 petition signatures, organized a riveting Toxic Tour of the city’s heavy industrial sites, and conducted a bucket brigade air monitoring project that reveals striking levels of pollution in the community. We’ve flooded downtown Pittsburg with lawn signs, mobilized a January 11 march and rally that brought out over 300 residents, and organized a rally that packed Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Community leaders are meeting with city officials, training and empowering volunteers, and generating dozens of media hits. We’re gearing up to come out in full force as the Pittsburg Planning Commission and City Council vote on the project in coming months.

Emergency Mobilization Against Gentrification in Oakland!

By x363464 - November 6, 2013

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.

EMERGENCY ENVIRONMENTAL/ANTI-GENTRIFICATION MOBILIZATION TOMORROW NOVEMBER 7TH AT 3PM! JACK LONDON AQUATIC CENTER!

PLEASE COPY, PASTE, AND SHARE!

3100 NEW "ECO" CONDOS TO GENTRIFY THE 5TH AVE MARINA / CHINATOWN AND DESTROY THE OAKLAND ESTUARY UNLESS THEY ARE STOPPED!

Emergency Mobilization to resist the Oak to Ninth project this Thursday November 7, 2013 3PM, Jack London Aquatic Center, 115 Embarcadero Oakland: public "outreach" meeting to introduce Phase 1 design & schedule.

Governor Jerry Brown is waging a war on on the environment and the working class! We must draw the line in Oakland!

http://oaklandchamber.blogspot.com/2013/10/brooklyn-basin-outreach-and-information.html

The Oak to Ninth Project is the definition of gentrification. "The Oak to Ninth Project would wall off the waterfront, demolish the historic Ninth Avenue Terminal, build housing next to I-880, and create yet more traffic congestion. This deal, which its opponents point out received virtually no coverage in the corporate media, has been called 'shady.' "[1] To add insult to injury they are calling it the "Brooklyn Basin" [2]

The project would build into the estuary which the Sierra Club once again uses their privilege to compromise the environment and state "Rather than approving the developer's request for 3,100 units, the Council should insist on the environmentally superior project of just 540 units."

In 2006 opposition was raised The League of Women Voters, the Sierra Club, the Coalition of Advocates for Lake Merritt (CALM), and the Green Party. They were met with a demand to collect 18,700 signatures in 30 days for the plan for the a referendum [5] They ended up collecting 25,000 but were shut down and in response filed a lawsuit in Superior Court.

“After mounting an enormous and successful effort to alert the public and collect signatures, the Referendum Committee faces an impossible situation,” president of the League of Women Voters of Oakland Helen Hutchison said in a prepared statement announcing the lawsuit. “The city gave us the authorized documents several days into the brief 30-day signature gathering period. Then when we turned in the signatures, they said, ‘we supplied the wrong documents so the referendum petition is invalid.’ Invalidating our petition for this reason completely undermines the right to petition for referendum on a city action"

This project is being pushed forward by Gov. Jerry Brown who recently received an award from the Blue Green Alliance and the Sierra Club for "catalyzing the clean energy economy" This was a complete farce considering Jerry Brown has been attacking unions and the environment for some time now [3] This project may be exactly why he is working to dismantle the California Environmental Quality Act for infill housing development! [4] In the Environmental Impact Report it states:

"The Court Order found that the EIR failed to comply with CEQA by not including a sufficient analysis of the cumulative land use/plans and policies impacts of the proposed project."

Towards a Just and Sustainable Solar Energy Industry

Towards a Just and Sustainable Solar Energy Industry - A Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition White Paper, January 14, 2009.

Every hour, enough solar energy reaches the Earth to meet human energy needs for an entire year. Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is widely seen as a “win-win” solution that can harness this “free energy” to address global warming, reduce U.S. dependence on energy imports, create “green jobs,” and help revitalize the U.S. economy.

Solar energy will play an essential role in meeting these challenges, but as the solar PV sector expands, little attention is being paid to the potential environmental and health costs of that rapid expansion. The most widely used solar PV panels are based on materials and processes from the microelectronics industry and have the potential to create a huge new wave of electronic waste (e-waste) at the end of their useful lives, which is estimated to be 20 to 25 years. New solar PV technologies are increasing cell efficiency and lowering costs, but many of these use extremely toxic materials or materials with unknown health and environmental risks (including new nanomaterials and processes).

With the solar PV sector still emerging, we have a limited window of opportunity to ensure that this extremely important industry is truly “clean and green,” from its supply chains through product manufacturing, use, and end-of-life disposal. The solar industry has taken a leadership role in addressing the world’s pressing energy and environmental challenges and will serve as a model for how other innovative “green” industries address the lifecycle impacts of their products.

In this white paper, the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) provides an overview of the health and safety issues faced by the solar PV industry, including the toxic materials used in manufacturing and the potential end-of-life disposal hazards of solar PV products. The report also lays out recommendations to immediately address these problems to build a safe, sustainable, and just solar energy industry. These recommendations include:

  • Reduce and eventually eliminate the use of toxic materials and develop environmentally sustainable practices.
  • Ensure that solar PV manufacturers are responsible for the lifecycle impacts of their products through Extended
    Producer Responsibility (EPR).
  • Ensure proper testing of new and emerging materials and processes based on a precautionary approach.
  • Expand recycling technology and design products for easy recycling.
  • Promote high-quality “green jobs” that protect worker health and safety and provide a living wage throughout the
    global PV industry, including supply chains and end-of-life recycling.
  • Protect community health and safety throughout the global PV industry, including supply chains and recycling.

Read the report (PDF)

Pages

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