In 2013 the Sierra Club Bay Chapter achieved a series of big successes, looking outward to the global concerns of energy and climate change, looking inward to our cities and open spaces, and looking forward to build for the future.
Energy and climate change
Climate disruption is the great threat of our time—to open space and to cities, to wildlife and to humans, to all aspects of our environment—and the Bay Chapter focuses on greening our energy use—to reduce the Bay Area’s contribution to climate change, and to set an example for the rest of the nation and world. Our Energy and Climate Change Committee has re-energized itself with a set of active campaigns.
- Solar Homes campaign. The Sierra Club’s Solar Homes campaign provides an affordable way for homeowners to install solar panels on their roofs. In 2013, 40 homeowners in the Bay Chapter got solar panels through our program. The campaign continues; get your solar panels now (see http://theyodeler.org/?p=8974).
- Stop the Keystone XL pipeline. The Chapter is working with the Club’s national campaign and with numerous other organizations to persuade Pres. Obama to block completion of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring dirty tar-sands oil to U.S. refineries and shipping points. We played a major role in organizing the Feb. 17 Forward on Climate rally in San Francisco, with 5,000 participants the largest such rally ever in the city (see April, front page).
- Keep fossil fuels out of the Bay Area—Bay Area Campaign on Fossil Fuels (BAC-OFF). We’ve started up a major new campaign to prevent the import of fossil fuels to the Bay Area, for local use or for export. The first major target is a proposed oil-storage and transfer facility in Pittsburg, which would increase the capacity of the five Bay Area refineries, putting our community’s health and safety on the line and increasing our contribution to climate disruption. (see article, page 3).
- Cut Bay Area greenhouse gases. We are working with other local and national organizations to cut Bay Area greenhouse-gas emissions. On Nov. 6 the Board of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District passed a resolution for strong local action, including a reduction of CO2 to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 (see Dec., page 1). We will keep working to develop an effective implementation plan.
- Project Permit. We are working with the Sierra Club’s My Generation Campaign in a statewide effort to make it easier for homeowners and businesses to get permits for installing rooftop solar panels. Our first focus is Marin County (see Dec., page 5).
- Don’t Frack California. The Chapter formed a working group just for fracking issues. We are working to get California to implement a moratorium on fracking in oil and gas wells until the dangers are clearly understood—the dangers of releasing toxics into our environment, especially into groundwater, and of turning this vast reservoir of fossil fuels into greenhouse gases (see page 4). We hope to see state legislation to this effect in 2014.
- Community Choice energy. We are working to bring Community Choice energy to all of the Bay Area. By allowing local governments to sell electricity to residents, Community Choice enables communities to take control of their energy futures. In 2013 electricity started flowing in the city of Richmond from the Marin Energy Authority. A plan to roll out CleanPowerSF got through the staff at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) with rates competitive to PG&E, but has been stymied by City Hall politics, failing to get the votes needed to move out of the mayorally appointed SFPUC itself. We are looking at ways to resolve this political deadlock and get CleanPowerSF started. Models for how to effectively launch Community Choice are popping around the country (see page 4 about Sonoma County’s new Community Choice program). Parts of the East Bay are also considering how to launch Community Choice (see page 3).
- Divestment from fossil-fuel investments. We are part of a national campaign for divesting from fossil-fuels. On Oct. 9 the Board of the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System passed a divestment policy, and we will keep involved to bring it to full implementation (see Dec., page H).
With all these new and revived campaigns, Chapter conservation organizer Jess Dervin-Ackerman works mostly on energy issues. Now is the perfect time for you to join in with her. To help in any of these efforts, contact Jess at (510)848-0800, ext. 304, or email@example.com
Our open spaces
The Sierra Club’s conservation efforts began with protecting parks and other wildlands, and the Bay Chapter has continued these efforts year-in and year-out. In 2013 we’ve had some major successes.
- On Sep. 3 the federal Ninth Circuit judges ruled that then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had the authority to end a lease for a private company to raise oysters in Drakes Estero (see Oct., page 5). When the company’s legal maneuvering ends and it leaves the site, the estero will become the first marine wilderness on the West Coast.
- In May the Alameda County Board of Supervisors denied a landowner’s request to weaken the open-space requirements of the county’s Urban Growth Boundary (see June, page 4).
- In 2013 the Alameda County Altamont Landfill and Resource Recovery Open Space Fund, created in a legal settlement we achieved in 1999, provided $1,670,000 to help the East Bay Regional Park District purchase lands adjacent to Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park and Brushy Peak Regional Preserve, and for Livermore to purchase a parcel in Doolan Canyon next to city-owned open space (see page 8).
- We are engaged in a major campaign to protect 3,400-acre Tesla Park east of Livermore, in particular to make sure that this site of great environmental values does not get ecologically disrupted by proposed use for recreation by off-road motorized vehicles (see page 8). Rather, we want this area’s rich natural and historic cultural resources to provide significant environmental enjoyment and educational opportunity for the regional population. This will be a high priority in 2014, when the draft General Plan and Environmental Impact Report are made available for public comment.
As every year, our activities sections and groups have led hundreds of hikes and other outings all over the Bay Area and beyond. In 2013 we introduced a new on-line calendar system that uses 21st-century technology to help you find the outings and other Club activities of your choice; go to http://sfbay.sierraclub.org/activities.
Cities are where most of our population spends most of their time. Development patterns in cities often determine development pressures on the open-space lands around them. We work therefore to shape urban development to improve the quality of urban life and to limit encroachments on the greenbelt.
In 2013 our San Francisco Group has had a series of notable successes.
- We helped pass a condominium ordinance that helps to preserve affordable housing (see Aug., page 5).
- We stopped a set of amendments that would have weakened the city’s protections under the state California Environmental Quality Act and got the Supervisors instead to pass several strengthening changes (see Oct., page 5).
- We defeated Measures B and C, stopping development of a condominium tower at 8 Washington that would have far exceeded the height limits for the waterfront (see Dec., page 1). We are now helping to gather signatures for an initiative to make it harder to change waterfront height limits (see page 4).
- We have been working to keep the Warriors from building an inappropriate shopping mall/entertainment arena on the waterfront. We succeeded in stopping a legislative effort to make the city the final arbiter for the project’s compliance with Public Trust requirements (see Aug., page H), and this project will continue as a leading concern in 2014.
- Aided by a $10,000 grant from the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, the Northern Alameda County Group tree team planted 218 street trees in Oakland planting strips, bringing its total for four years of operations to 873.
Through the Alameda Sustainable Recycling Campaign, we have helped win big raises for the recycling workers at the Fremont transfer station. The campaign continues to win sustainable wages for all recycling workers in the county.
The year 2014 will be the 90th anniversary of the Bay Chapter. We are planning a series of events to celebrate, and to bring our efforts forward.
The year also is the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which establishes the protections for our country’s wildest lands. The Chapter Wilderness Committee will be organizing our chapterwide celebration.
In addition, the coming year is likely to see some major decisions about water policy, especially whether to implement the governor’s plan for twin tunnels through the Delta (see page C) and the plans of Bay Area water agencies to build a desalination facility. The Chapter Water Committee is gearing up to lead the opposition to these plans.
This is the year for you to join in. Whether you know exactly what you want to work on, or you want ideas for getting involved, give us a call. You can contact any of the leaders mentioned in the Yodeler or in the Chapter Leadership List or call the Chapter Office at (510)848-0800.