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Environment & Forest Defense News

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In the first comprehensive review of the more than 4,000 native bee species in North America and Hawaii, the Center for Biological Diversity has found that more than half the species with sufficient data to assess are declining. Nearly 1 in 4 is imperiled and at increasing risk of extinction. The widespread decline of European honeybees has been well documented in recent years, but until now much less has been revealed about the 4,337 native bee species in North America and Hawaii. The new analysis reveals that more than 700 species are in trouble from a range of serious threats.
Two Bay Area Air Quality Management District employees charge in a new lawsuit that they were bullied, retaliated against, and fired for exposing the illegal destruction of agency documents that are required to be maintained for a record of the violations of air pollution laws by corporations. They say they had tried to stop the destruction of the documents but that the agency's top managers continued to engage in destroying citations, compliance records, and settlement agreements for air pollution control violations by major companies like Chevron, Shell, Tosco, Pacific Steel Casting, and many other companies.
Wed Feb 15 2017 (Updated 03/21/17)
Monarch Butterfly Population Drops by Nearly One Third
The annual overwintering count of monarch butterflies released on February 9 confirms Monarch numbers fell by nearly one-third from last year’s count, indicating an ongoing risk of extinction for America’s most well-known butterfly. Scientists report that this year’s population is down by 27 percent from last year’s count, and down by more than 80 percent from the mid-1990s. A survey of monarch butterflies overwintering in California shows that the Western population has not rebounded. On the West Coast of California, key sites such as Pismo Beach and Natural Bridges saw lower populations this year than in the prior year.
The Trump administration this week granted requests from Gov. Jerry Brown's regulators to exempt three aquifers in California's Kern County from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Approval of these "aquifer exemption" applications by the Environmental Protection Agency gives oil companies permission to dump contaminated waste fluid into these underground water supplies. California officials plan to submit dozens of additional exemption applications for other aquifers across the state, including underground water sources in Alameda, Monterey, Ventura, Kern and other counties.
Mon Feb 13 2017 (Updated 02/14/17)
Marchers in Palo Alto Demand Banks Defund DAPL
Hundreds of demonstrators took their Rolling March and Rally through downtown Palo Alto on February 11. They hit up eight banks that are responsible for helping to fund the Dakota Access Pipeline. Things got started in front of City Hall with a rally featuring indigenous speakers Dr. Maria Michael, Hartman Deetz, and Delphine Red Shirt amongst others. Marchers then made their way to Citibank, Morgan Stanley, Comerica, Bank of America, Union Bank, HSBC, Wells Fargo, and Chase banks. To the end demonstrators cried out "Mni Wiconi - Water is Life!"
Water from Lake Oroville flowed over the emergency spillway at Oroville Dam for the first time in the reservoir's 48-year history after the water level exceeded 901 feet in elevation on February 11. The water slowly began to flow over the concrete weir of the auxiliary spillway, down a hillside and into the Feather River. After saying the situation was stable and public safety was not threatened, state officials reversed course and issued evacuation orders late in the afternoon of February 12. On February 13, state officials would give no timeline on when the 188,000 evacuees can return to their homes.
A diverse array of Sacramento community groups participated in ChangeFest, a climate mobilization rally at the state capitol on January 21 as part of a week of anti-Trump street protests in Sacramento centered around the Presidential Inauguration. Speakers and musicians covered issues ranging from violence against women, to the Driscoll’s boycott in support of indigenous farmworkers in Mexico, to successful campaigns to ban fracking in San Benito and Monterey Counties, to the No DAPL struggle at Standing Rock. ChangeFest took place concurrently with the 20,000-strong Women's March in the Capitol.
President Trump signed executive orders on January 24 to push ahead with the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Both projects sparked widespread opposition and protests, especially because of their risks to water, wildlife, climate and people. On January 27, attorneys representing the first ten water protectors arrested in actions against the Dakota Access Pipeline in early August 2016 renewed their motion for a change of venue, on grounds that the state did not adequately respond to their motion and is not taking basic steps to assess bias among jurors.
Over the past several years, Santa Cruz Fruit Tree Project has been working with the City of Santa Cruz to develop the city's first community orchard. Riverside Community Orchard was launched in early 2015 when more than fifty volunteers came out to plant twelve dwarf apple, pear, and citrus trees along a fence line at Riverside Gardens Park. On Saturday, February 4, the group will break ground on a major expansion of the orchard, planting upwards of twenty more trees across the street, in an open area adjacent to the skate park and ball courts of Mike Fox Park, by the San Lorenzo River levee.
Just months after Monterey County voters approved a ban on underground injection of oil waste, California regulators have announced a plan to turn an underground water supply in the county over to the oil industry for injection of contaminated waste fluid. The proposal — announced by California's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources — seeks to exempt an aquifer that runs under the town of San Ardo from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. A similar aquifer exemption is currently under consideration in Livermore.
Toxic lead levels are dangerously high in Oakland’s Fruitvale district, which has the highest level of contamination in California and are worse than in Flint, Michigan, according to a national report. Unlike Flint’s contaminated water crisis, which caught national attention in 2015, Oakland’s lead is not in the water system but is coming from old buildings and chipping paint that is getting into the dirt and being tossed up in the wind. The result is that 7.57 percent of children under the age of seven who were tested have high levels of lead in their blood.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released a report last week detailing the 2014 results of their Pesticide Illness Surveillance Program. The report, documenting all reported pesticide-related illnesses from all California counties, shows 20.1% of agricultural pesticide-related illnesses occurred in Tulare County, making it the county with the most agricultural pesticide illnesses in the state. Santa Cruz County came in second with 17.2%. Of the 53 counties with documented pesticide-related illnesses in 2014, Tulare County accounted for over 1 in every 5 cases of poisonings from agricultural pesticides.
In a slap in the face to fishermen, Tribes, environmental justice advocates, conservationists and family farmers, President Obama on December 16 signed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act into law with an environmentally destructive rider sponsored by Senator Feinstein (D-CA) and Congressman McCarthy (R-CA). The controversial rider, requested by corporate agribusiness interests, allows San Joaquin Valley growers and Southern California water agencies to pump more water out of the Delta, driving numerous fish species closer and closer to extinction, according to Delta advocates.
An oil company with a long history of hazardous spills in California wants state and federal permission to dispose of contaminated waste fluid into an underground water supply in Livermore. The proposal, announced by California's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, seeks to exempt an aquifer in eastern Alameda County from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act on behalf of E&B Natural Resources, the oil company seeking the exemption. State officials are now taking public comments and will hold a January 11 hearing on the proposal.
On December 6, the Kern County Board of Supervisors approved Tejon Ranch Company’s disastrous Grapevine project, despite the harm the project will do to wildlife and nearby communities. The 8,000-acre development will straddle the San Joaquin Valley and Tehachapi Mountains and create a new city of up to 12,000 dwelling units and up to 5.1 million square feet of commercial real estate. The project will destroy habitat for the endangered San Joaquin kit fox, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, and threatened San Joaquin antelope squirrel, along with up to 36 other rare and imperiled species.
The California Secretary of State’s Office announced that voters narrowly defeated Proposition 53, an initiative requiring voter approval of revenue bonds over $2 billion. Governor Jerry Brown is celebrating the victory because it would have required a vote on his controversial “legacy” projects, the Delta Tunnels and High Speed Rail. Dan Bacher writes: The results of the Proposition 53 vote are disappointing for those who care about salmon, the Delta and the public trust. However, there is no doubt that if an initiative solely requiring a public vote on the Delta Tunnels had been on the ballot, it would have been decisively approved.
iCal feed From the Calendar:
7PM Monday Apr 10 Movie Night: Time to Choose
10AM Saturday Apr 22 SF Earth Day 2017
12PM Saturday Apr 22 March for Science, Santa Rosa
10AM Sunday Apr 30 Berkeley Vegan Earth Day
8:30AM Saturday May 6 Snapshot Day 2017
How Battles Over Sacred Sites Have Revived Ohlone Culture East Bay Yesterday Wednesday Mar 29th 7:33 PM
California Dungeness Crab Fishery Catches Record Number of Whales Center for Biological Diversity Wednesday Mar 29th 1:44 PM
Court Overturns Government Refusal to Protect Rare Coastal Marten Center for Biological Diversity Tuesday Mar 28th 1:07 PM
City of Santa Cruz: Ban Gas-powered and High Noise Leaf Blowers Ban Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers (1 comment) Thursday Mar 23rd 5:37 PM
Judge Halts California Plan to Stop Oil Waste Injections Into Protected Aquifers Center for Biological Diversity Tuesday Mar 21st 5:15 PM
Faith Resistance: Divest from the Pipeline David Brazil Sunday Mar 19th 2:29 PM
California regulators weaken proposed rules for pesticide use near schools via Californians for Pesticide Reform Friday Mar 17th 4:54 PM
Federal Plan Could Auction Off 700,000 Acres in California to Oil Industry Center for Biological Diversity (1 comment) Wednesday Mar 15th 1:02 PM
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Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman responds to oil in DAPL via Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Wednesday Mar 29th 2:11 PM
No Funds for Border Wall in FY 2017? – Fight Shifts to FY 2018 via Earthjustice Wednesday Mar 29th 2:04 PM
House Republicans Launch Effort to Repeal Endangered Species Act Center for Biological Diversity Monday Mar 27th 6:17 PM
Getting Into Trouble with Franklin Lopez of SubMedia It's Going Down Sunday Mar 26th 1:19 PM
Standing Rock Sioux Chairman responds to Keystone Pipeline permit approval via Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (1 comment) Friday Mar 24th 5:02 PM
Trump Approves Disastrous Keystone XL Pipeline Center for Biological Diversity Friday Mar 24th 4:32 PM
An Historic Day: Protection for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee via The Xerces Society Thursday Mar 23rd 5:12 PM
Approval of Disastrous Keystone XL Pipeline Imminent Center for Biological Diversity Thursday Mar 23rd 4:59 PM
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GCR Follow-Up on Double Revenge Case Blackwater/Miller Noel FieldNoel Field Tuesday Mar 28th 10:25 AM
Californians Against Fracking Responds to EPA’s Methane Regulation Announcement via Californians Against Fracking Friday Mar 17th 6:01 PM
Final Property for HWY 17 Wildlife Crossing Protected via Land Trust of Santa Cruz County (3 comments) Saturday Mar 4th 3:33 PM
Amount of Intense Earthquakes Increases in the USGS Full Data 1983 – 2016 Zbigniew Charnas (2 comments) Saturday Dec 31st 1:07 AM
EPA Report Confirms Threat Posed By Fracking via Sierra Club Monday Dec 19th 6:47 PM
Hwy 17 Wildlife Tunnel in Sight: Land Trust Completes Funding for Land Protection via Land Trust of Santa Cruz County Monday Dec 19th 6:20 PM
GAG Group Declares WOD Ras Ramsay Tuesday Dec 13th 10:34 AM
api and BOEM luncheon wtul news Thursday Nov 10th 9:39 AM
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