May 4, 2015

Protect clean energy at the May 7th CPUC meeting

Evening Sunset At Petroleum RefineryOn May 7th, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will take a critical vote on our energy future in California. Should San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) replace San Onofre Nuclear Power with a large and dirty gas plant, or with local clean energy?

The Commission’s choices:

  1. Support the proposed decision (Item 47) by Commissioner Florio and Administrative Law Judge Yacknin rejecting SDG&E’s application to contract with the 600-megawat Carlsbad Energy Center gas plant and require SDG&E to pursue all “preferred resources” (i.e. local clean energy) before defaulting to gas; or
  2. Oppose clean energy with an alternate proposal by Commissioner Picker to contract for 500 megawats of dirty natural gas with only 100 megawats of local clean energy.

This is a strategic moment for climate and clean energy. If we win, we can:

  • Divert as much as $2.6 billion (the cost of Carlsbad Energy Center) from fossil fuels to clean energy;
  • Avoid constructing a major new power plant that will pollute for decades; and
  • Create a road map for replacing nuclear with clean energy and using clean energy to maintain a reliable, cost-effective, and resilient grid.

Another issue will also be considered at the May 7th CPUC meeting. PG&E wants to flatten residential rate tiers and add a fixed charge, which would discourage rooftop solar and energy conservation, and produce higher bills for moderate income people.

You can select one or both of the following opportunities to speak on these issues:

  • Speak on Item 47 at the 9:30 am public comment period (arrive early to check in at the table).
  • Speak on Item 47 when it is presented, respond to arguments in the staff presentations, and hear the Commission discussion and vote. It’s the 47th of 56 agenda items.

You can mention rates for a sentence or two at the end of your comments, but we ask that you focus your comments on encouraging clean energy to replace the San Onofre Nuclear Power Station.

Please note that you cannot represent the Sierra Club because we are an intervenor, but you can speak as a ratepayer or as a representative of another organization.

Join us!

Thursday, May 7th, 9 am
CPUC Building
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

Please RSVP to Dave McCoard, co-chair of the Bay Chapter Energy and Climate Change Committee, at dmccoard at

It is best to sign up ahead of time online (by noon on May 6th). Put in your Name, representing Self, commenting on Item 47 (if you can stay) or just Public Comment (if you need to leave by 10 am).

Please arrive early and follow these instructions:

  1. Take BART to the Civic Center Station.
  2. Walk two or three blocks west to City Hall (with a big dome).
  3. The CPUC building is directly across the intersection to the northwest of City Hall.
  4. Go up the steps into the courtyard and look for Sierra Club sign to pick up updated talking points.
  5. If you signed up online, stop at the CPUC table to ask staff to mark your presence.
  6. If not, turn in a speaker card for public comments  or Item 47, Carlsbad, or both. You cannot speak on Item 47 twice. Rules are posted here.

For more information, contact Dave McCoard at 510-524-5171 (home) or 510-367-6039 (cell).

Oakland back in Big Coal’s crosshairs — secretive project to export coal from Oakland Army Base export facility revealed

19_BeyondCoal_StickersAs Big Coal’s profits are squeezed by closures of coal-fired power plants across the US and new EPA regulations, coal companies are looking for ways to ship their dirty energy commodity to foreign markets. Major organizing victories squashing export-terminal proposals in Oregon and Washington mean that Big Coal is now targeting California’s ports and marine terminals.

Now Oakland is in Big Coal’s crosshairs with a project that would threaten local workers, public health, and the global climate.

The private real estate company California Capital & Investment Group (CCIG), in partnership with the City of Oakland and the State of California, is redeveloping the old Oakland Army Base on the waterfront just south of the eastern touchdown of the Bay Bridge. Part of the project (which is also known as Oakland Global Trade and Logistics Center) is a bulk export facility that is still under development. It has recently come to light that CCIG and another company, Terminal Logistics Solutions, have been soliciting a partnership with four Utah counties — Sevier, Sanpete, Carbon and Emery — to allow them to export five to six million tons of Utah coal each year from mines owned by Bowie Resources.

The mining, transport, and burning of this coal would result in over 12.5 million tons of greenhouse emissions each year! To offset these emissions and make this project greenhouse-gas neutral, we would have to:

  • Remove more than two million passenger cars from the road each year;
  • Reduce 23 to 27 billion miles driven by passenger cars each year;
  • Cut electricity for 1.3 to 1.6 million homes each year;
  • Install 2,600 to 3,100 wind turbines each year;
  • Grow 7.8 to 9.4 million acres of  American forest for one year; or
  • Plant 244 to 293 million tree seedlings and let them grow for 10 years.

Despite its massive potential climate footprint, this project is moving forward quickly. Last week, the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board approved a $53 million loan for the four Utah counties to lease a big share of the export terminal’s capacity for trans-Pacific shipping. In an article in South Central Utah’s Richfield Reaper, the economic development director of Sevier County was quoted as saying “It’s all about finding a new home for Utah’s products — and in our neighborhood, that means coal.”

Let’s Stop This Dangerous Project

Oakland must come together and tell CCIG, Bowie Resources, and the coal industry that Oakland will not facilitate the export of coal to foreign markets at the expense of local health and global climate. Public land should be used for the public good, not for a dirty export project that would put us all in danger. Send a letter to Mayor Libby Schaaf, CCIG President Phil Tagami, and our other public officials today to makes sure they know Oakland won’t stand for a project that would worsen local air quality and threaten climate stability.

Coal’s Devastating Climate Impacts

coal_plantCalifornia has worked hard to be a coal-free state. Coal is the most carbon-intensive of all the fossil fuels and coal is the largest contributor to climate disruption. Whether it’s burned here or abroad, the effect of coal on global climate will be felt by everyone. While California is setting aggressive carbon-reduction targets, this terminal would allow the most carbon-polluting fuel to be brought to market, with devastating consequences.

Coal is Bad Business for Workers

Coal is bad for our local workforce, organized labor, and worker health. Terminals that ship coal provide far fewer jobs than terminals that ship containers or general cargo — and that means fewer jobs for Oakland residents.

Coal is increasingly an anti-union industry. With the imminent closing of the Deer Creek mine in Emery County, Utah, there will be no union mines operating in that state. Oakland should support projects that create good union jobs.

Longshoremen that work at coal-export facilities are exposed to serious health risks. Prolonged, direct exposure to coal dust has been linked to health issues such as chronic bronchitis, decreased lung function, emphysema, and cancer. Coal dust has also been shown to increase the risk of mortality from heart disease.

Even with mitigation efforts like covered train cars and coal piles, there’s no way to completely protect workers, the community, and the environment from the risks that coal exports would pose.

Coal’s Terrible Local Health Impacts

inhaler3If this project is allowed to move forward, upwards of six million more tons of Utah coal will be traveling along rail lines through the Bay Area by 2017, covering communities with toxic coal dust linked to decreased lung capacity, increased childhood bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, emphysema, and heart disease.

Coal dust and particulate matter from train diesel engines pose significant threats to Bay Area air and water quality. Coal breaks apart easily to create dust and contains mercury, arsenic, uranium, and hundreds of other toxins harmful to humans and marine animals. Already, Bay Area communities suffer the effects of coal exports from two local facilities: the privately-owned Levin-Richmond Terminal and the Port of Stockton.

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 and heart and lung disease. The increased freight traffic carrying coal would intensify the air pollution already plaguing West Oakland, threatening local public health and safety. Coal is typically transported on open-top rail cars that lose up to 600 pounds of coal dust per car; this translates to 60,000 pounds of toxic fine particulate matter entering our air and water for every trip made by a coal train.

History of Strong Opposition to Coal Exports from Oakland and California

Rendering of the Oakland Global Trade & Logistics Center.  Photo courtesy of the California Capital & Investment Group.

Rendering of the Oakland Global Trade & Logistics Center. Photo courtesy of the California Capital & Investment Group.

Both the Port and the City have taken unambiguous positions opposing the export of coal from Oakland. CCIG’s secretive project to export Utah coal would go against that precedent — not to mention their own promises to the community — and betray the best interests of the residents of Oakland.

In February of 2014, citing environmental impacts, climate change, public-health hazards, economic pitfalls, and public opposition, Oakland’s Port Commission unanimously rejected Bowie Resource Partners’ proposal for an 8.3-million-ton-per-year bulk-export facility for coal at the city-owned Charles P. Howard Terminal.

In June of 2014, the Oakland City Council passed a resolution opposing the transport of fossil fuels by rail through the city and specifically cited opposition to coal being exported from Oakland. The resolution was the first in the state to address coal and petroleum coke in addition to oil.

In 2012, the State of California — through Assembly Joint Resolution 35 of the state legislature — also stated opposition to coal being exported from the United States to counties with fewer environmental regulations.

Unfortunately, neither the City nor the State can physically stop trains carrying coal at Oakland’s border, as rail is regulated at the federal level. However, these actions demonstrate a clear position that no fossil-fuel-export facilities should be built within the city or Port of Oakland’s jurisdiction.

Broken Promises

This plan to export coal from Oakland Global’s export teminal betrays promises from CCIG President and CEO Phil Tagami not to export coal from this facility. In the December 2013 Oakland Army Base newsletter, Tagami wrote, “It has come to my attention that there are community concerns about a purported plan to develop a coal plant or coal distribution facility as part of the Oakland Global project. This is simply untrue… CCIG is publicly on record as having no interest or involvement in the pursuit of coal-related operations at the former Oakland Army Base.”

Tagami made the same commitment in meetings with the Sierra Club, West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, and Earthjustice. CCIG has broken these promises by courting Big Coal to come to Oakland.

From extraction to transport to burning, coal allows toxic chemicals to enter into communities and the environment causing climate disruption and deadly diseases. Don’t let Big Coal exploit Oakland’s economy, health, and environment: Send a letter to Mayor Libby Schaaf, CCIG President Phil Tagami, and our other public officials today to makes sure they know Oakland won’t stand for a project that would worsen local air quality and threaten climate stability.

April and May SF Dinners: Bike China’s Silk Road and traverse the Korakoram

Thu, April 16 — China’s Silk Road: a bicycle journey across China with Phil Mumford

Phil Mumford on the Silk Road.

Phil Mumford on the Silk Road.

Phil Mumford’s 2014 bicycle trip along the Silk Road began in Shanghai, continued through Xian, Dunjuang, and Turpan, and ended in Kashgar. Join Phil as he cycles from the agricultural and industrial east to the deserts of the west, camping next to the Great Wall and passing through sandstorms in the desert.

Phil, a retired teacher, is an avid bicycle tourist who has ridden across America, Africa, Europe, and China.

Checks must be received by Fri., April 10.


Thu, May 21 — Grand Korakoram Traverse with Seiji Kawamura

Seiji Kawamura

Photo by Seiji Kawamura

Join Seiji as he treks from Askole to K2 Basecamp on the Baltoro Glacier along breathtaking high mountain scenery. To begin the trek, he endured a 26-hour white-knuckle jeep ride from Islamabad to Skardu on “the road from hell,” the Korakoram Highway.

Seiji taught physics and chemistry for 25 years. He is now active with the Snowcamping and Backpacking Sections of the Bay Chapter, and treks in Asia, South America, and Africa.

Checks must be received by Fri., May 15.

Social hour 6 pm, dinner 7 pm, program 8 pm. Note new location: Covenant Presbyterian Church, 321 Taraval St. between Funston and 14th Ave. Take Muni L or 28. Limited parking available at the church lot one-half block east on Taraval at the white parking guards, for $1.50 per car, payable at the church check-in.

For each dinner, send a check for $20, made out to “Sierra Club, S.F. Bay Chapter,” to Gerry Souzis at:

1801 California St., #405
San Francisco, CA 94109

Please send a separate check for each program, and indicate the program date, number of guests, and your phone number. Non-members are welcome. Bring your own wine or soft drinks. Glasses and ice are available. Let us know if you are a vegetarian. With questions, contact Gerry 4-9 pm (no morning calls please) at (415)474-4440 or gsouzis at

On April 28, rally for SF’s clean-energy future!

tumblr_nlw2frt7Ai1urqrqbo4_1280One month from today we’re taking our call for clean and affordable energy to the streets. Join us on Tuesday, April 28th, as we rally outside City Hall to tell San Francisco’s leaders loud and clear: Launch CleanPowerSF this year!

Launching a local renewable-energy program is the single most powerful action San Francisco can take to reduce carbon pollution and help prevent the worst impacts of climate disruption. By transitioning away from dirty fossil fuels to clean alternatives like wind and solar, we’ll help clean up our air and water and leave a healthier planet for future generations. The program will also spur infrastructure development and create thousands of local green jobs: economic opportunities to benefit every San Francisco resident!

We need you now more than ever to push for the swift launch of CleanPowerSF. Earlier this year, Mayor Ed Lee came out in support of the program. But 2015 is an election year and we suspect the mayor’s support is not unconditional. This means we must act now to ensure that CleanPowerSF is well on its way to launch before Election Day on November 3rd, 2015.

Momentum is on our side, but we can’t let this window of opportunity slam shut. We need you standing with us next month to make sure city leaders get the message: San Francisco wants a clean energy alternative now!

WHAT: Rally outside City Hall and then take our message to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission meeting to make sure our support for CleanPowerSF is logged in the public record.

WHERE: San Francisco City Hall (Polk Street Steps), 1 Doctor Carlton B Goodlett Place, San Francisco

WHEN: Tuesday, April 28, 12:30 pm

WHO: A diverse coalition of neighborhood associations, environmental organizations, and community members who share our goals of clean air and water, climate action, and local green jobs

RSVP_Today!_ButtonWith your support, we could all be powered by clean and renewable local power this time next year! See you on the steps of City Hall next month!

Have questions or want to help out? Contact Jess Dervin-Ackerman at or call 510-848-0800 ext. 304.

April and May East Bay Dinner programs — “Biking across America” and “Water policy in a drought era”

Thursday, April 23 — Bicycling Across America: 3,300 miles in 59 days

Photo courtesy John Lloyd on Flickr Creative Commons.

Photo courtesy John Lloyd on Flickr Creative Commons.

In the summer of 1979, Tim Loughman, then living in New York City, phoned his brother Bill, who lived in Berkeley, and said, “You doing anything over the next month or two?  I’m going to ride my bike to Atlanta.” Bill, with little experience and no equipment for such a trip, reflected for a moment, and then said, “Sure.”

Join us as we travel with the Loughman brothers from Vancouver, Washington, to the Statue of Liberty, via the Columbia River Gorge; over portions of the Lewis and Clark Trail and the Rocky Mountains; across vast open stretches of the Great Plains states; through the Great Lakes region; and over the Appalachians to the East Coast — a total of 3,300 miles. Along the way Bill and Tim encountered numerous flat tires, a few assaults, cycling crashes, locusts, ghost towns, hot springs, many memorable people, and countless beautiful scenes of nature and Americana.

Tim Loughman is a writer, copy editor, and book seller residing in Morro Bay, California. In addition to his bike journeys stateside, he has biked from Paris to Milan via the Rhine Valley, through Bavaria, Austria, and the Italian Alps. His brother, Bill, is an attorney and amateur photographer (and former program chairman of the Bay Chapter’s East Bay Dinners) residing in Orinda, California.  Apart from one trip in 1975, from Berkeley to Morro Bay via the coast highways, Bill’s only long-distance bicycling experience was the trip across America featured in this program.

Thu, May 28 — Water policy in a drought era

Jerry Gilbert will talk about how water management is changing in the West and how to deal with scarcity while complying with today’s legal framework. The presentation will consider whether we are integrating and wisely approaching our conservation efforts, and how we can better use technology to study and improve the way we use water.

Jerome B. (Jerry) Gilbert is a consulting engineer based in Orinda. He has been the General Manager of East Bay Municipal Utility District, the Executive Officer of California State Water Resources Control Board, Chairman of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, and has recently been consultant to public water utilities across the West. Gilbert has led the development of California water legislation including Urban Water Management Planning Act and the Porter Cologne Act.

East Bay Dinners take place at the Berkeley Yacht Club on the Berkeley Marina, one block north of the west end of University Avenue (ample free parking is available in the Marina parking lots). No-host cocktails/social hour begins at 6 pm, dinner at 7 pm, and program at 8 pm.

Cost of dinner and program is $27, including tax and tip. For a reservation, please send your check, payable to “Sierra Club,” with your name, telephone number, and the names of your guests, to:

Evelyn Randolph
938 Galvin Drive
El Cerrito, CA 94530

Attendance is limited to the first 115 reservations received. Reserve early, as these programs do fill up. Reservation deadline for the April program is April 16, and May 21 for that month’s program. There is no admittance for program only.

“Love Thy Nature” film screening and John Muir birthday celebration

Dani-+-Curtains-003 copyThe stunning film “Love Thy Nature” will be released on Earth Week — April 17th to 23rd — at the historical Vogue Theater in San Francisco. The film will also be screened at Oakland’s New Parkway and the Rafael Film Center.

Narrated by Liam Neeson, “Love Thy Nature” is a cinematic immersion into the beauty and intimacy of our relationship with the natural world. And while our environmental crisis threatens the survival of our species, a renewed connection with nature holds the key to a highly-advanced new era. The film has been the official selection of 24 film festivals around the globe, earning 17 industry awards from Excellence to Outstanding Achievement Humanitarian Award.

Watch the powerful two-minute trailer at

DON’T MISS the SPECIAL EVENTS co-sponsored by the Sierra Club!

Friday, April 17,  7pm — San Francisco Premiere

Director Sylvie Rokab, Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter conservation manager Jess Dervin-Ackerman, Biomimicry Institute’s Executive Director Beth Rattner, and New York Times Bestselling author Wallace J. Nichols will be in attendance. Gifts will be offered to each audience member. Co-hosted with Bioneers, Sierra Club, Biomimicry Institute, and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

muir birthday hatTuesday, April 21, 7pm — Screening and John Muir Birthday Celebration / Fundraiser for the Bay Chapter

John Muir is often credited with starting American environmentalism as the founder of the Sierra Club and the protector of the majestic Yosemite Valley. Michelle Myers, Director of the local Sierra Club, will be joined by local leaders to discuss modern-day environmentalism after the showing. There will be cake and photo opportunities.

Full San Francisco screening schedule:

Friday, April 17 & Saturday, April 18: 3pm, 5pm, 7pm, 9:15pm
Sunday, April 19 – Thursday, April 23: 3pm, 5pm, 7pm
For tickets, visit the Vogue Theater website.

Oakland screening:

The New Parkway, 474 24th St., Oakland

Tuesday, April 14, 7 pm
Event features a post-film Q&A with director Sylvie Rokab.
Purchase tickets here.

San Rafael screening:

Rafael Film Center, 1118 4th St., San Rafael
Sunday, April 19, 4:15 pm
Co-hosted with Bioneers. Speakers include biomimicry inventor Jay Harman and director Sylvie Rokab.
Purchase tickets here.

Film still from Love Thy Nature

Film still from Love Thy Nature


April Green Friday: “Why renewables can’t replace fossil fuel”

Photo courtesy David Clarke on Flickr Creative Commons.

Photo courtesy David Clarke on Flickr Creative Commons.

April 10, 2015 — Renewables provide too little energy to replace themselves — let alone deliver excess energy to run society — and depend too much on fossil fuels every step of the way (i.e. ore mining, fabrication, delivery over bitumen roads, etc.). Heavy-duty freight transportation can’t be electrified with batteries or overhead wires. That’s the argument Alice Friedemann will present at April’s Green Friday.

Alice Friedemann has been writing about energy and other resources since 2000. Her writing can be found at Friedemann’s book, “When Trucks Stop Running: Oil and the Future of the Freight Transport System,” will be published in November 2015.

Green Friday programs feature informative speakers and discussions about the important environmental issues of our time. All are welcome—Sierra Club members as well as nonmembers.

Green Friday meets on the second Friday of the month in the Sierra Club Office, 2530 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley. Doors open at 7 pm; program runs from 7:30 to 9:30 pm including questions and discussion. Refreshments are served. A $3 donation is requested.

Protect Bay Area communities from coal and petcoke pollution

1.4 million tons of coal passed through Contra Costa County in 2014.

1.4 million tons of coal passed through Contra Costa County in 2014.

Did you know that coal and petroleum coke (petcoke, a byproduct of refining dirty crude oil) are being transported through and stored in Bay Area communities? Besides being the worst fuels imaginable for our climate, coal and petcoke dust pollute our water and air, causing asthma, lung cancer, and other deadly diseases. Join us at the Richmond City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 7th, to protect community health and the environment by supporting regulations on these dirty and harmful commodities in our backyard!

WHEN: April 7th, 6 pm

WHAT: Rally and City Council meeting on community protections from coal and petcoke pollution

WHERE: Richmond Council Chambers, 440 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond, CA 94804

We’ve made great strides in moving the U.S. beyond coal, shutting down 187 coal plants nationwide. And thanks to strong environmental advocacy, it’s no longer legal in California to burn petcoke for fuel. But with local markets drying up, the fossil fuel industry is now exporting record amounts of coal and petcoke abroad to countries with lower environmental standards. Whether these dirty fuels are burned here or abroad, the effects of coal and petcoke on global climate will be felt by everyone.

Coal and petcoke are transported through Contra Costa County communities en route to the Levin Richmond Terminal near the Port of Richmond, where towering black piles sit uncovered on the docks waiting to be loaded onto ships destined for Asia. Tiny dust particles from the open-top rail cars, trucks, and storage piles blow into our air and water.

Join us at the Richmond City Council meeting on April 7th to call for covering up the coal and petcoke piles and provide more protection for the community and the environment!

While fossil fuel companies continue to rack up record profits, the people who live near rail lines, refineries, and ports pay the price for their dirty practices. Stand with the Sierra Club and our local partners Communities for a Better Environment, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, SF Bay Keeper, and Earthjustice to protect our health, air and water quality, and climate security.

— Ratha Lai, conservation organizer

State bill to study health impacts of tire-crumb fields moves forward — Your support needed!

Cancer survivor, soccer player, and soccer coach Casey Sullivan testifies at the March 18, 2015, hearing on SB47.

Cancer survivor, soccer player, and soccer coach Casey Sullivan testifies at the March 18, 2015, hearing on SB47.

Update 4/9/15: Senate Bill 47 (The Children’s Safe Playground and Turf Field Act of 2015) will be heard at the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting on Monday, April 13th, at 10 am in Capitol Room 4203.

On March 18th, members of the State Senate Environmental Quality Committee voted unanimously to support a state-mandated study on the health impacts of the synthetic crumb rubber infill made from tire waste (also known as SBR) that is used on artificial turf playing fields and playgrounds. The study is part of Senate Bill (SB) 47, The Children’s Safe Playground and Turf Field Act of 2015, introduced by Bay Area State Senator Jerry Hill. The legislation also includes a statewide moratorium on the use of tire crumb in new projects until the completion of the study, unless certain conditions are met. Having secured the approval of the Environmental Quality Committee, SB 47 now goes to the Appropriations Committee, where it will be heard in April.

The Sierra Club strongly supports SB 47. Both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment have identified long lists of toxins in the tire crumb, including carcinogens. However, the legislation will continue to be fought by the artificial-turf manufacturers and tire-waste recyclers. SB47 needs widespread support from individuals and organizations all over California.  See below for what you can do to support this important legislation!

Senator Hill (D-San Mateo) introduced the legislation after becoming aware of the growing list of athletes who have played on the tire waste fields and subsequently developed cancer. In NBC investigative news reports that aired in October 2014, soccer coach Amy Griffin described taking one of her players in for cancer treatments. The attending nurse said to the ill player, “Don’t tell me you are a goalkeeper. You’re the fourth goalkeeper I’ve hooked up this week.”

“I’ve coached for 26, 27 years,” Coach Griffin has said. “My first 15 years, I never heard anything about this. All of a sudden it seems to be a stream of kids.”

At the March 18th hearing, Senator Hill said that coach Griffin has identified 126 athletes who had contracted cancer, 109 of whom were soccer players. Griffin’s list includes 51 players with lymphomas and 19 with leukemia. Ten players contracted brain cancer, and others developed a variety of other cancers including sarcoma, testicular, and thyroid. Goalies, who spend a lot of their playing time diving into the rubber-crumb-filled turf, seem more prone to developing cancer.

A star witness at the hearing was cancer survivor, soccer player, and soccer coach Casey Sullivan. Sullivan testified that he had been diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when he was a 21-year-old college goalkeeper. “I had a tumor in my chest, the size of a soccer ball in diameter,” he said.

Many Bay Area supporters traveled to Sacramento to speak at the March 18th hearing. Testimony in favor of SB47 included soccer moms, soccer grandmothers, coaches, and representatives of environmental and neighborhood groups. Over 35 organizations have come out in support of SB47, including the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, with 44 member organizations.

Opposition to this common-sense legislation will be stiff! SB47 needs widespread support from organizations and individuals all over California.  Ask your family and friends to write in and attend the hearings!


1. Call the following members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and tell them you support SB 47. If anyone in your family plays on tire-crumb fields or playgrounds, let the Senators know about your personal concern:

Ricardo Lara (Chair): 916-651-4033
Jim Beall: 916-651-4015
Connie Leyva: 916-651-4020
Tony Mendoza: 916-651-4032

2. If you are a member of ANY organization, ask them to write a letter of support today! The legislation has the support of environmental groups; what is needed is support from other types of organizations throughout the state.

3. Write a personal letter of support today. If you or anyone in your family plays soccer or other sports, talk about it! Address letters to:

Senator Jerry Hill
Attn: Nate Solov
1303 10th Street, Room 5035
Sacramento, CA 95814

Email your letters to

4. Attend the next hearing! SB 47 will be heard at the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting on Monday, April 13th, at 10 am in Capitol Room 4203. Join us! With questions, email or call 916-651-4238. To read the amended legislation, click here.

Unfortunately, SB 47 will not stop the Beach Chalet soccer-fields, as construction has already begun on that project; however, it the legislation is bringing attention to the artificial-turf controversy that will help in the battle not only for grass fields and habitat in Golden Gate Park but also for the health of everyone who plays on artificial turf fields.

More background information on this issue:

— Katherine Howard, ASLA,; Susan Vaughan, chairwoman of the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter’s San Francisco Group

Safe harbor for Alameda’s seals — M.O.U. ensures replacement haul-out site

Photo courtesy Andrew Reding on Flickr.

Photo courtesy Andrew Reding on Flickr.

There’s great news on a project in the City of Alameda that could have left harbor seals homeless. As part of a project to construct a ferry-maintenance facility at Alameda’s Inner Bay Harbor, the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) plans to remove an abandoned dock that harbor seals currently use for feeding, hauling out, and even delivering pups. But following a backlash from environmentalists and other fans of the seals, WETA has signed a Morandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Alameda to build an alternate haul-out site for the harbor seals to replace the old dock.

According to the staff report, WETA will establish a $100,000 holding fund earmarked for planning, design, and construction of the new haul out. The location of the haul out will be determined in coordination with the City, but WETA will be the lead party responsible for permitting and building the haul out — construction on which must begin on or before August 2016 and prior to demolition of the existing haul-out site. If the City determines that WETA is unable to commence construction of the new haul out by that date, it has the right to take over the project and use the funds in the holding fund account. Once the haul out has been built, WETA will be responsible for keeping the structure in good repair.

As the WETA representative admitted at a recent City Council meeting, they’re already spending tens of millions of dollars on this project, so they wouldn’t not agree to spend a relatively small amount more in order to be able to move forward. Whatever the reason, we’re thrilled that the seals will have safe “harbor” in Alameda!