April 16, 2014

Earth Day Climate Action March–Saturday April 19

Earty Day SF-Action-logo 300x218Saturday April 19, 11:30 am, Justin Hermann Plaza (at Embarcadero BART), San Francisco.

Each Earth Day, EarthDaySF.org holds a fair at Civic Center. This year the theme is A Call to Action, and a host of environmental groups will march down Market Street from Justin Hermann Plaza to UN Plaza (near the Civic Center). There we will rally at 1 pm for action against climate change and environmental injustice.

We need volunteers!

To help with planning:

  • coordinating or training volunteers;
  • coordinating logistics;
  • putting up posters in your area

contact John Anderson at p8ton.anderson@gmail.com.

To help at the march and rally:

  • as a monitor;
  • handing out flyers;
  • taking photos

sign up at www.350bayarea.org/earth_day_action_parade_2014_volunteers.

Keep tuned to Sacramento

Sierra Club California logo.

Do you wonder what’s happening in Sacramento and what the Sierra Club’s Sacramento staff and Club activists are doing to protect our state’s environment?

To be placed on an e-mail list to keep informed, sign up for the CAL-ACTIVIST listservOnce signed up, you will receive timely updates from our Sierra Club California director Kathryn Phillips on legislation and political news as well as announcements from Club activists on conservation issues and our quarterly state conservation meetings, where the Club’s state policy is decided. The list carries no discussion, just announcements, usually one or two a week. 

2013—a year of successes and of building for the future

The Sierra Club Bay Chapter joined with the California Nurses Association in the “Heal America, End Climate Change” march across the Golden Gate Bridge on June 20. During 2013 the Bay Chapter collaborated with a wide range of organizations on efforts to stop climate disruption.

The Sierra Club Bay Chapter joined with the California Nurses Association in the “Heal America, End Climate Change” march across the Golden Gate Bridge on June 20. During 2013 the Bay Chapter collaborated with a wide range of organizations on efforts to stop climate disruption.

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 jess@sfbaysc.org

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).

    The Chapter picnic in August in Berkeley's Ohlone Park.

    The Chapter picnic in August in Berkeley’s Ohlone Park.

  • 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.

Our cities

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.

A Gay and Lesbian Sierrans work party at the Presidio on National Trails Day. Photo by Russ Hartman.

A Gay and Lesbian Sierrans work party at the Presidio on National Trails Day. Photo by Russ Hartman.

  • 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.

Looking forward

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.

Donald Forman

Sierra Club California thanks you for support

SCC Winter_2013-14_Collage_Convio copy 300x300Thank you for everything you have done in the last year to support Sierra Club California. You have given voice to the environment in the State Capitol.

Whether you have spent time writing letters to the editor, calling your state legislator, responding to one of our alerts, or just paying your annual Club dues to help keep the Club effective, you have played an important role in protecting California’s environment.

With your activism and support for Sierra Club California, together we have accomplished a lot this year. For example, we have:

  • challenged, in court, the state’s lazy permitting of fracking sites, and we continue to press at the Capitol for a moratorium on fracking;
  • made local solar power more accessible to all Californians;
  • protected the public and environment from needless exposure to toxics through advocacy that led to California’s adoption of the Safer Consumer Products regulation in October;
  • campaigned to establish a national marine sanctuary off the Central Coast.
  • pushed policies to protect wolves, bobcats, and mountain lions, and reduce wildlife exposure to lead;
  • been among the first to demand that the governor spend revenues intended for reducing global-warming pollution now on reduction projects;
  • opposed—and continue to oppose—plans to install a pair of 30-mile long, four-story peripheral tunnels to divert water destined for the Delta.

Thank you for helping make 2013 a year when the environment could count on Sierra Club California.

Here’s to a sustainable 2014!

the staff and volunteer leaders at Sierra Club California

Sierra Club California is the Sacramento-based legislative and regulatory advocacy arm of the 13 California chapters of the Sierra Club.

Please consider becoming a sustaining donor.

Don’t fund evil: 230,000+ Americans tell Google to quit ALEC–tech giant under fire for supporting beleaguered right-wing group

230,000 members and supporters of the Sierra Club, Forecast the Facts, SumOfUs, RootsAction, and the Center for Media and Democracy urged Google to end its alliance with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). This week represents the first time ALEC’s annual States and Nation Policy Summit in Washington DC has Google as a corporate member. The tech giant is bucking the trend by joining the right-wing think tank at the same time as other companies like GE, Kraft, and McDonald’s are cutting ties and pulling support from ALEC due to the group’s reckless policies.

While having a stated commitment to move toward 100% renewable energy to combat climate pollution, Google recently joined ALEC as the group continued its climate denial and attacks on efforts to make renewable energy more affordable and accessible to millions of Americans. Along with Google, ALEC also receives backing from dirty-energy giants like Koch Industries, BP, Peabody Energy, and ExxonMobil.

“Google should Google ALEC’s agenda. Funding right-wing extremists at ALEC is a guaranteed way for Google to undermine its own admirable clean-energy goals. It’s like building a new house only to set it on fire after defunding the fire department,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “For a company celebrated for its leadership in imagination and innovation, Google is showing a remarkable lack of foresight. Tens of thousands of Americans are taking note, and it’s time Google did the right thing by leaving ALEC behind.”

The “Don’t Fund Evil” campaign, launched by the climate-accountability group Forecast the Facts in July, has called out Google for the company’s financial support of climate deniers including Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Heritage Action, and now ALEC.

“Google’s support for ALEC is part of a disturbing embrace of the climate denial machine by a company that professes to fight global warming,” said Brad Johnson, Campaign Manager of Forecast the Facts. “It may be time to pronounce Google’s famous ‘Don’t Be Evil’ motto dead.”

Google’s continued support of ALEC comes as ALEC plans to attack the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from new power plants. In addition, new reports indicate that ALEC is plotting to push legislation that would financially penalize homeowners who install their own solar panels.

“If Google thinks the public won’t notice or care about its political funding practices, it hasn’t read the thousands of outraged comments I’ve read from our members,” said David Swanson, campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org.

“In ALEC, Google is now funding a group that promotes an anti-worker, anti-environment and anti-consumer agenda,” said Nick Surgey, director of research at the Center for Media and Democracy. “At ALEC’s conference this week, it is going to debate new “model” bills to limit the power of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, to make it more difficult for public employees to collectively bargain, and to oppose consumer-friendly country-of-origin labeling laws. What on earth is Google doing funding this organization?”

The Sierra Club’s SierraRise community, Forecast the Facts, SumOfUs, RootsAction. and the Center for Media and Democracy delivered to Google representatives more than 230,000 petition signatures collected from Americans across the country urging Google to abide by its motto of “Don’t Be Evil” by standing by its clean energy commitments and to stand up to ALEC’s polluter-backed attacks on climate action.

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most-influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.1 million members and supporters nationwide. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels, and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, visit http://www.sierraclub.org.

Forecast the Facts is a grassroots organization dedicated to ensuring that Americans hear the truth about climate change: that temperatures are increasing, human activity is largely responsible, and our world is already experiencing the effects. We do this by empowering everyday people to speak out in the face of misinformation, and to hold accountable those who mislead the public.

The Center for Media and Democracy is a boutique investigative research and reporting group with a demonstrated capacity to break major news stories and highlight the work of advocates. Located in Madison WI, it is a national non-profit watchdog organization founded in 1993. CMD’s niche is investigating and exposing the undue influence of corporations and front groups on public policy, including public-relations campaigns, lobbying, and electioneering. CMD publishes PRWatch.org, ALECexposed.org, and SourceWatch.org.

SumOfUs is a global corporate-accountability watchdog with more than two million members around the world. The SumOfUs community fights to ensure that the companies we do business with every day respect their workers, their consumers, and our communities.

RootsAction is an on-line initiative dedicated to galvanizing Americans who are committed to economic fairness, equal rights, civil liberties, environmental protection–and defunding endless wars.

2013: year of division in the Capitol

Sierra Club California logo.We are unlikely to ever again witness a year like 2013 in the State Capitol.

The year began with 39 new members of the legislature, 38 of them in the 80-member Assembly. It was the largest freshman class since 1966. And Democrats began the year with a two-thirds majority in both houses, something that hadn’t happened in 130 years.

Additionally, the freshman class represented the first group to start its career in Sacramento after winning in open primaries, a system that tends to favor moderates.

Finally, that freshman class was the first to benefit from a new law allowing legislators to serve a full 12 years in one house. After term limits were passed in 1990, assemblymembers had to give up their seats after six years, and senators were out after eight years. The prospect of spending a full 12 years in a single office seemed to calm the sense of urgency to act that has followed other recent classes into office.

So how did the environment fare amid this weird alignment of rare events?

So-so state of environmental legislation

Bills to give the Coastal Commission, the regulatory agency responsible for enforcing the Coastal Act, modest new enforcement powers failed. Bills designed to protect public health and the environment from oil-industry fracking pollution failed or got hijacked by the oil industry before passing. Bills that put millions of acres of forest land at greater risk of mismanagement and irresponsible logging passed.

On the brighter side, a couple of energy bills passed that provide opportunities for new rooftop and shared solar installations. Bills passed that build on long-time efforts to ensure that every Californian has clean water to drink. A bill to protect bobcats from certain kinds of trapping passed, as did one to require hunters to get the lead out of their bullets.

What does this so-so state of environmental legislation say about the power of environmental advocacy in the legislature?

Financial power counts

The financial power of regulated industries is strong in the Capitol, and environmentalists begin each year at a disadvantage. The regulated industries have more lobbyists to develop relationships with legislators and staff and to cover a range of issues. They also have more money to spend on advertising and other communication tools to get their message across.

According to figures collected by the secretary of state, in the first six months of this year, the oil-and-gas industry spent more than $6 million on lobbying, the real estate industry spent more than $3 million, and utilities spent about $6 million.

In contrast, the four environmental groups most active in the Capitol spent a combined total of about $360,000 during that same period. That’s all together.

That financial advantage was evident as the oil industry, especially, managed to eliminate the good bills governing fracking. Then industry interests hijacked the last bill standing, SB4, driving away even the most ardent environmental supporters in the last days of the legislative session.

It was also evident when farm trade associations teamed with the logging industry to jam through a late-session gut-and-amend (AB 744) that will help loggers circumvent timber-harvest planning requirements under the guise of fire prevention. Perversely, logging larger trees—the bill’s core provision—takes out many of the most fire-resistant trees from the forest.

Public support counts too

To our advantage, environmental advocates have public support. Public-opinion surveys consistently show that Californians care about the environment. They want strong regulation. They don’t think their elected officials are doing enough to stop climate change’s effects.

But we haven’t been as effective as needed in translating that public sentiment into district-level pressure. District-level constituent contact is our best weapon. It helps ambitious legislators remember their constituents when faced with pressure or enticement from a polluting industry.

The Great Recession has certainly played a role in the limited success of environmental measures. Polluting industries have played on nervous elected officials’ lack of solutions to the bad economy. They have successfully lobbied for weakening environmental protections, implicitly arguing that only by polluting could we create enough jobs in California.

Disappointing willingness to settle

But something else has been at play: the willingness to settle. Legislators have been willing to settle for less, even as all the science suggests we have to do more and do it now if we are to save this state from the worst effects of climate disruption.

Too many environmental advocates have also been willing to settle for small wins and big compromises when the state of the world suggests that time is running out.

This year the averages on Sierra Club California’s scorecard are disappointingly low. That’s largely because we have included three bills on the list that split the environmental community.

Sierra Club California carried out the mission of the national organization and the state volunteers who lead us by opposing AB 904, AB 744, and SB 4. Built around the seed of good ideas, each was ultimately so flawed that they promised to leave unfixable damage in their wake.

In the end, the environmental community—including the Sierra Club—is not responsible for how legislators vote. We are not responsible for how the governor responds with vetoes and signatures. Elected officials are responsible for their own actions. This scorecard reports their actions on the environmental bills we think matter most.

Brown’s paddling leaves the environment behind

Gov. Jerry Brown is often quoted saying that he likes to govern just as one would paddle a canoe: paddling to the right, and then to the left, to keep the craft on course.

This year, Brown paddled more to the right on the bills that counted the most to the environment. Of the seven bills on this year’s report card that made it to the governor’s desk, Brown acted in a way consistent with Sierra Club California’s position on just three of them. For 2013, he receives a score of 43%. That’s down from 73% last year, and 55% in 2011.

This year Brown aligned with the Club’s support for wildlife by signing AB 711 (Rendon), a bill banning lead bullets in hunting, and AB 1213 (Bloom), which adds new protections for bobcats. He also signed SB 43 (Wolk), a bill Sierra Club supported and that will increase access to solar energy.

To the right

However, on issues that involved challenging the oil industry and timber companies, Brown failed to come through for the environment. He vetoed a bill by environmental champion Sen. Mark Leno that would have laid the groundwork for limiting oil price manipulation. He also signed a bill addressing fracking regulation, but only after he participated in inserting into the bill amendments that could make it harder for fracking to be reviewed and regulated until 2015.

The governor’s gift to timber companies included signing AB 904 (Chesbro), the industry-driven revision of the lifetime-timber-harvest planning process. He also signed AB 744 (Dahle and Gordon) the bill allowing bigger trees to be harvested without harvest plans under the guise of fire prevention. That bill was pushed by some of timber’s giants, including Sierra Pacific Industries, the largest private timberlands owner in the state, best known for its aggressive clear-cutting practices.

To the left

The governor also signed and vetoed a number of other environmental bills that didn’t make it onto our report card. He signed clean-water bills that had broad support from environmental and environmental-justice groups. He also signed bills that will help improve access to electric-vehicle infrastructure.

In all, he signed 33 bills the Club supported and signed 16 we opposed. He also vetoed three we supported and vetoed two we opposed. Had we scored all of those bills, he would have received 65%.

Many environmentally positive bills that made it through the process this year provide incremental improvements. Others are of greater significance. They would make changes that would either do long-term damage or long-term improvement to the state’s environment and environmental policy.

In this report card, we focus on bills that are of greater significance. On that measure—when the actions really counted the most—the governor earned 43%. He shied away from overtly bucking some very powerful industry interests.

from Sierra Club California’s California legislative 2013 report card.

Sierra Club California releases 2013 legislative report card–grades are low, hopes remain high

Sierra Club California logo.The state legislature, as a whole, performed poorly on key environmental legislation in 2013 according to Sierra Club California’s annual legislative report card.

The report card evaluates legislators’ environmental record based on 11 bills. Those bills were selected for scoring because of their overall importance to environmental quality, the precedent they set for good or bad impacts, and their importance to fulfilling the Sierra Club’s mission to protect the planet.

“It’s no secret that this year was a tough one for environmental legislation,” said Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California. “This report card just confirms that with numbers.”

The report card translates the value of votes—for or against the Sierra Club’s position—into a percentage. This year, no legislators earned 100%. The highest scores in the Senate, 90%, were earned by Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) and Bill Monning (D-Carmel). In the Assembly, the highest score was an 89% earned by Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach).

A large number of legislators of both parties earned scores of less than 60%, particularly in the Assembly.

“This year we started with 39 freshman legislators, people who had never served in the California legislature. Many of them were still learning the complexities of the issues and legislative politics as the session came to a close,” said Phillips. “As they get more experience, I think they’ll become more confident and make wiser decisions on environmental issues.”

The report card is available at Sierra Club California’s web site at https://california2.sierraclub.org/sites/california.sierraclub.org/files/documents/2013/10/FINAL%202013%20Report%20Card%20for%20Website.pdf.

Key environmental bills Sierra Club supported or opposed in 2013 and final status

2013 key environmental bills Sierra Club supported or opposed and final status
Support status
AB 21 (Alejo D)   Safe Drinking Water Small Community Emergency Grant Fund. Chaptered
AB 30 (Perea D)   Water quality. Chaptered
AB 71 (V. Manuel Pérez D)   Salton Sea restoration. Chaptered
AB 118 (Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materi)   Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. Chaptered
AB 127 (Skinner D)   Fire safety: fire retardants: building insulation. Chaptered
AB 150 (Olsen R)   State parks: armed services: fee waiver. Chaptered
AB 206 (Dickinson D)   Vehicles: length limitations: buses: bicycle transportation devices. Chaptered
AB 217 (Bradford D)   Electricity: solar electricity: low-income households. Chaptered
AB 221 (Quirk-Silva D)   Recycled concrete. Chaptered
AB 240 (Rendon D)   Mutual water companies.Enhancement Account. Chaptered
AB 304 (Williams D)   Pesticides: toxic air contaminant: control measures. Chaptered
AB 324 (Bloom D)   Glass beads: lead and arsenic Chaptered
AB 425 (Atkins D)   Pesticides: copper-based antifouling paint: leach rate determination: mitigation measure recommendations. Chaptered
AB 513 (Frazier D)   Tire recycling program: rubberized asphalt Chaptered
AB 551 (Ting D)   Local government: urban agriculture incentive zones. Chaptered
AB 594 (Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife)   State parks: operating agreements: park closures. Chaptered
AB 691 (Muratsuchi D)   State lands: granted trust lands: sea level rise. Chaptered
AB 711 (Rendon D)   Hunting: nonlead ammunition. Chaptered
AB 719 (Hernández, Roger D)   Energy: energy efficiency: street light pole. Chaptered
AB 727 (Stone D)   Public trust lands: dredging: notice and leases. Chaptered
AB 754 (Muratsuchi D)   Income taxes: voluntary contributions: California Beach and Coastal. Chaptered
AB 789 (Williams D)   Trapping. Chaptered
AB 796 (Muratsuchi D)   Advanced electrical distributed generation technology. Chaptered
AB 1213 (Bloom D)   Bobcat Protection Act of 2013. Chaptered
SB 3 (Yee D)   Political Reform Act of 1974 Vetoed
SB 43 (Wolk D)   Electricity: Green Tariff Shared Renewables Program. Chaptered
SB 132 (Hill D)   Mountain lions. Chaptered
SB 322 (Hueso D)   Water recycling. Chaptered
SB 436 (Jackson D)   Port Hueneme Beach shoreline protection. chaptered
SB 448 (Leno D)   Energy: petroleum supply and pricing. Vetoed
SB 454 (Corbett D)   Public resources: electric vehicle charging stations. Chaptered
SB 566 (Leno D)   Industrial hemp. Chaptered
SB 665 (Wolk D)   Oil and gas: drilling: wells. Chaptered
SB 726 (Lara D)   California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: Western Climate Initiative, Incorporated. Chaptered
SB 811 (Lara D)   State Highway Route 710. Vetoed
SJR 5 (Berryhill R)   Yosemite National Park: boundary adjustment. Chaptered

 

 

Oppose
AB 8 (Perea D)   Alternative fuel and vehicle technologies: funding programs. Chaptered
AB 327 (Perea D)   Electricity: natural gas: rates: net energy metering: California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program. Chaptered
AB 417 (Frazier D)   Environmental quality: California Environmental Quality Act: bicycle transportation plan. Chaptered
AB 405 (Gatto D)   Highways: high-occupancy vehicle lanes: County of Los Angeles Vetoed
AB 650 (Nazarian D)   State government: general services: Natural Gas Services Program. Chaptered
AB 744 (Dahle R)   Timber harvesting plans: exempt activities. Chaptered
AB 904 (Chesbro D)   Forest practices: working forest management plans. Chaptered
AB 1060 (Fox D)   Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission. Chaptered
AB 1097 (Nestande R)   Fish and Game Commission: Mirage Trail. Chaptered
AB 1126 (Gordon D)   Solid waste: engineered municipal solid waste (EMSW) conversion. Chaptered
AB 1257 (Bocanegra D)   Energy: State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission: natural gas. Chaptered
AB 1273 (Ting D)   Tidelands and submerged lands: City and County of San Francisco: Pier 30-32. Chaptered
SB 4 (Pavley D)   Oil and gas: well stimulation. Chaptered
SB 105 (Steinberg D)   Corrections. Chaptered
SB 234 (Walters R)   Recreational off-highway vehicles. Chaptered
SB 630 (Pavley D)   California Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Chaptered
SB 743 (Steinberg D)   Environmental quality: transit-oriented infill projects, judicial review, streamlining for environmental leadership development projects, and entertainment and sports center in the City of Sacramento. Chaptered
SB 804 (Lara D)   Solid waste: energy. Vetoed

 

Get e-mail newsletter on population

Correction: (Oct. 28, 2013): the original version of this announcement had an incorrect e-mail address.

 

In August, despite a packed hearing room, the Kings County Board of Supervisors voted to close the Hanford Women’s Clinic, which offers reproductive health and family-planning services in a rural area. Such closures are happening in Texas and Alabama, but we never thought we would see them in California.

The Sierra Club California/Nevada Population Committee offers an electronic newsletter covering reproductive health, family planning, sex education, consumption, and sustainability. To receive it, contact Karen at PHEC.CA@gmail.com. We promise no more than six e-mails a year.

Sacramento legislative wrap-up

Sierra Club California logo.SB 4 (Pavley)–Fracking–OPPOSE.

This bill passed in such bad form that environmental groups that once supported it (Environmental Working Group, California League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Fund) started dropping off of the bill in the last few days before the final vote. Sierra Club California had long opposed the bill because of some trade secret protections for fracking fluids that would prevent public access to quantities of fluids, but after many efforts to get the author to remove the trade-secrets language (see “Club opposes fracking-secrecy bills”), it became clear that we had lost that battle and though we retained our oppose position, we had done all we could. We moved on to focus on other bills.

Then on Sep. 6, the author put into the bill a few amendments that the governor’s office had negotiated with the oil industry. The language was either sloppily or intentionally drafted to do bad things–it’s anybody’s guess–but the effect appears to be that fracking sites will not be subject to environmental review until 2015, and that the agency overseeing regulation will have to provide permits regardless of impacts until 2015 when new regulations are expected to be completed. We ramped up our opposition, with help from the national Sierra Club. We suffered a hatchet job in the Sacramento Bee about our uncompromising position (www.sacbee.com/2013/09/11/5724845/dan-morain-blazing-a-new-trail.html), and Pavley’s staff did some rather odd things to try to weaken our efforts (as they say in Sacramento, we should discuss this over drinks sometime). The bill had full and active support from the governor’s office and the oil industry lobbyists stopped working to kill the bill. It passed overwhelmingly in both houses on Sep. 11. Then, a day later, the Los Angeles Times, which had editorialized in support of the bill, ran a second editorial removing its support and calling on the governor to veto the bill. Here’s a link to that editorial: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-fracking-california-sb4-20130912,0,3646987.story.

We’ll be sending our alert out soon with the list of bills we’d like you to write letters to the governor about. This is one that deserves his veto.

AB 904 (Chesbro)–Expanding Lifelong Harvest Plans–OPPOSE.

This industry-created bill would expand the now-limited Lifetime Harvest Plans from small (up to four square miles) to much bigger (up to 23 square miles) private forests (see “Two key state bills that the Sierra Club opposes”). The bill has a lot of problems, but the final version excludes the Southern Subdistrict entirely from the new provisions, thanks to incredibly organized and excellent advocacy by Club activists in and around the Santa Cruz Mountains. Despite this exclusion, the bill still deserves to be vetoed–it has murky language that suggests that clearcutting could still be allowed, and because the program has no new funding, it would drain resources from reviewing other important harvest plans. We will be urging the governor to veto this bill.

SB 43 (Wolk)–Shared Renewables–SUPPORT.

Last year a version of this bill was trounced. This year, Wolk brought it back, and her staffer (our former staffer, Jim Metropulos), managed to maneuver it to the finish line in a way that ensures that 600 new megawatts of solar energy are created through small and medium projects and made available for buildings that can’t themselves hold solar equipment. We will be urging the governor to sign this bill.

AB 711 (Rendon)–Getting the Lead out of Hunting Bullets–SUPPORT.

This bill would ban the use of lead in any hunting bullets. It is one of those common-sense bills that encountered a flurry of opposition from the National Rifle Association and other interests. Nevertheless, the groups leading the charge on this bill prevailed. We will be urging the governor to sign this bill. By the way, Rendon is in his first year in the Assembly and will be our guest speaker at the Sierra Club California Convention in San Luis Obispo Oct. 5 and 6).

AB 976 (Atkins)–Coastal Commission Enforcement–SUPPORT.

We were co-sponsors with the Planning and Conservation League of this bill (see “Give Coastal Commission power to issue fines”). It had a fantastic author (we awarded her a Byron Sher award earlier this year), a strong and active group of advocates pushing it, and wonderful grassroots backing. Many newspapers wrote editorials supporting it. The bill made it through the Assembly and then the Senate and then failed on concurrence in the Assembly. It didn’t have something it apparently needed to pass–the support of industry trade groups representing the scofflaws who are among the more than 1,800 chronic violators of the Coastal Act who would have been eligible for fines if this bill had passed. The assemblymembers who deserve particular attention for remaining off of this bill (that is not voting, which is as good as a NO vote in this case) are Rich Gordon, who inexplicably changed his vote from an “aye” to an “abstain” within less than 24 hours, even though the bill had not changed; Marc Levine, who also remained an “abstain”, and Luis Alejo, who changed from an “aye” to an “abstain” between the time it originally passed the Assembly and the time it came back for concurrence. Agriculture was working hand in hand with the Building Industry Association to kill this bill. They have killed similar bills in the past.

AB 744 (Gordon and Dahle)–Enlarging the Size of Trees Allowed for Harvesting without a Permit–OPPOSE.

This bill changes a special exemption designed to encourage private forest-owners to clear out fire-prone brush and small trees (see “Logging large trees won’t prevent fires”). Under current law, owners don’t need a timber plan to harvest trees up to 18 inches in diameter. For five years, this bill increases the size of trees to up to 24 inches. That’s a substantially bigger, older tree. Older, bigger trees are more fire-resistant and are generally not considered the thing one would target to reduce the flammability of a forest. Assemblymember Chesbro urged Gordon to carry this bill as a gut-and-amend. Sen. Pavley helped the bill clear her committee. It was heavily lobbied and backed by the forest industry and agriculture, including Sierra Pacific Industries. Thanks to some excellent work by our contract lobbyist, we were able to reduce the length of time for the pilot down to three years, which is better, but not enough to remove our opposition. There is no evidence that this bill’s provisions will in fact help encourage small landowners to cut the flammability of forests. It will, though, result in more logging with less oversight. We will ask the governor to veto this bill.

SB 743 (Steinberg)–Kings Arena California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Changes–OPPOSE.

We knew there would be some kind of end-of-session play to change CEQA to help a proposed sports arena in Sacramento sail through the process. There was, and it was carried by Senate President pro tem Steinberg, who represents a Sacramento district. This was pushed by labor and the owners of the Sacramento Kings. It was amended late in the week, doesn’t do much good, and does some harm. Steinberg’s promise to create a CEQA bill that would end all arguments about CEQA came to naught. Instead we got this. We will ask the governor to veto.

 

A number of good clean-water bills we supported passed, as did a couple of bills designed to protect bobcats and mountain lions. One of those, the mountain-lion bill (see “Bills move on big cats, trapping, and bullets”), has already been signed by the governor. A bill that would add a fixed charge of up to $10 per month to residential electricity bills in Edison, PG&E, and SDG&E territories passed, but also included new and improved language helping save net-metering for solar (see “Two key state bills that the Sierra Club opposes”). We’ll plan to continue fighting the fixed charge at the PUC.

Thanks to you readers for all your support during this legislative session: calling legislators, organizing letter-writing campaigns, attending our Lobby Day, passing along information to my staff and me, and helping lead Sierra Club California in so many ways.

Watch for our alert soon about getting letters to the governor on signing and vetoing. Now step away from the computer and enjoy the weekend.

Kathryn Phillips, director, Sierra Club California