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Friday, March 16, 2018

Here is how California's Cap-and-Trade program is helping the state

A new report just released by the California Air Resources Board details the benefits from the proceeds of its landmark Cap-and-Trade program, particularly for disadvantaged and low-income communities.

In the last year alone, more than $720 million generated by the program was reinvested in projects located in all 58 California counties. Over 75,000 projects have been completed, resulting in reductions of greenhouse gases, improved energy efficiencies, and nearly tripling the number of trees that have been planted.

Some of the projects include:

A 44-unit affordable housing development in Tulare County with integrated vanpooling service and discount transit passes is among more than 1,600 housing units funded statewide.

The Cecchini Farm in Contra Costa County, whose fifth-generation owners decided not to sell after they were approved for a conversation easement, is among more than 250,000 acres of land statewide that will be preserved, from coastal watersheds and wetlands to mountain meadows.

Los Angeles County’s Foothill Transit is purchasing 15 zero-emission electric buses to advance the agency’s goal to go all-electric by 2030 to reduce GHG emissions and improve air quality in the inland communities it serves.

For all of the details, the full report may be reviewed here: 2018 Annual Report

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Kevin McCarthy helping Trump avoid California environmental laws to raise Shasta Dam

In a report in today's Los Angeles Times, a federal effort to raise the height of northern California's Shasta Dam by approximately 18 feet in violation of California environmental laws is being facilitated by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R - Bakersfield).

If constructed as planned, the dam's new capacity would flood a large portion of the McCloud River which is currently protected by  the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. That act prohibits California from supporting or funding any projects that could harm such rivers.

In order to get around this requirement, and the requirement that the users of the water from the dam help pay for the construction, McCarthy and other Congressional Republicans are trying to amend an unrelated federal budget bill. According to the Times, this is being done without any hearings or public comment. The budget bill is critical to avoid another government shutdown.

One of the downstream beneficiaries of this project, the powerful Westlands Water District in the San Joaquin Valley, is supported in this action by David Bernhardt, the Deputy Secretary of the Interior. Conveniently, Bernhardt was formerly a lobbyist for Westlands before being appointed to his current position.

Several environmental groups, industry associations, native american tribes, and politicians are opposed to raising the dam, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Golden Gate Salmon Association, and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. The latter suffered the loss of most of its tribal land, housing, and burial grounds when the dam was originally built. The new construction will result in even more damage.

Congressman Jared Huffman (D - San Rafael), who opposes the project, said, "Under California law, this is an illegal project. The Trump administration would have to abrogate a century of federal deference to state laws on California water to go ahead with this."

California's Natural Resources Secretary John Laird has formally asked Congress to stop the project, saying, "The Shasta Dam enlargement project would inundate several miles of the protected McCloud River in violation of state law."

Just to be clear, however, it isn't only Republicans who have been involved with efforts to raise the dam. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D - CA) has supported raising the dam's height in the past. Those on the political left who would like to replace Feinstein in the Senate can point to this as an another reason why they feel that way.

Ignoring the adverse environmental and social impacts of the project, McCarthy has backed it by saying, "If we've learned nothing else from the past years of catastrophic drought in our state, perhaps we now all agree that increasing storage capacity to capture water during wet years for use in dry years is absolutely critical."

After reaching a low of 23% of actual capacity in 2014, Shasta Dam is currently at approximately 95% capacity.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Valley Air District to hold Public Workshop on Community Actions to reduce air pollution

Interested in becoming more involved in protecting your environment?

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District will be holding a public workshop, available in person or online, to explain just how you can do that.

Photo: California Air Resources Board AB 617 website

The District will be discussing the San Joaquin Valley Community Engagement and Protection Program and the implementation of Assembly Bill (AB) 617 on March 6, 2018 at 5:30 pm.

AB 617 is the first-of-its-kind statewide effort to develop community-focused efforts to address air pollution. It will include community air monitoring,emission reduction programs, and much more.

For more information, please call (559) 230-6000, or check the following links:

AB 617

SJVAPCD Workshop Info

SJVAPCD Webcast Info

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and four others receive prestigious air quality award

The California Air Resources Board on Thursday awarded five individuals a special 50th Anniversary edition of the Haagen-Smit Legacy Award for outstanding contributions to improving air quality.

Photo Credit: California Air Resources Board

The five honorees included former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for his work in addressing climate change.

Previously known as the Haagen-Smit Clean Air Award, it was renamed as the Haagen-Smith Legacy Award in honor of its 50th Anniversary. The annual award is considered by many to be the Nobel Prize for air quality and climate change achievements.

“Our honorees span the past 50 years of progress toward clean air. Each played a leading role in this struggle for clean air and a healthy economy,” CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols said. “Individually our honorees have conducted ground-breaking research or shaped pioneering clean-air policies. Together, these five remarkable individuals are being recognized for their leadership, courage, and innovation. Californians owe them a debt of gratitude for their contribution to improved public health in California, across our nation, and throughout the world."
In addition to Schwarzenegger, others honored included:
  • David G. Hawkings, Director, Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate Center
  • Henry Waxman, Former U.S. Congressman and current Chairman, Waxman Strategies
  • Mario Molina, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego
  • Gina McCarthy, Professor of the Practice of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Director, Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment

For more details, including a summary of each honoree's achievements, click on the following link:

2017 Haagen-Smit Legacy Awards