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Gov. Newsom’s New $15 Billion Climate Change Program Includes Grants for Communities

Across the state, the effects of climate change have decimated over 1.9 million acres of land, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Some experts believe this is due to California’s severe drought this year.

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Vigorous ecology activist in respiratory mask striking to save the environment showing a Save the Planet poster on mountain top. Eco-action. Pandemic. Climate change.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a historic $15 billion climate change package on September 23. The initiative has funds in it to combat the state’s current environmental crisis as well as to help communities prepare for and prevent any disasters that may result from shifting weather patterns and changing global temperatures.

It is the largest investment of its kind in the history of the state.

“At the KNP fire today, while the realities of climate change surrounded us, we signed into law a $15 BILLION package that will help California tackle the climate crisis — from record heat waves, to extreme drought, to massive wildfires,” Newsom tweeted after the press conference he held in regard to this investment.

The governor was referring to a range of wildfires authorities have designated the KNP (Kings Canyon National Park) complex that has been burning since September 9 in that park and in the adjacent Sequoia National Park. As of Sunday, that wildfire had burned nearly 46,000 acres of land.

Across the state, the effects of climate change have decimated over 1.9 million acres of land, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Some experts believe this is due to California’s severe drought this year.

As is the case with many other crises in the United States, communities of color are disproportionately affected by climate change.

This climate package hopes to change that by providing grants to help communities plan for climate change, as well as bolstering fire and drought prevention and response through program funding.

“California is doubling down on our nation-leading policies to confront the climate crisis head-on while protecting the hardest-hit communities,” said Newsom.

“We’re deploying a comprehensive approach to meet the sobering challenges of the extreme weather patterns that imperil our way of life and the Golden State as we know it, including the largest investment in state history to bolster wildfire resilience, funding to tackle the drought emergency while building long-term water resilience, and strategic investments across the spectrum to protect communities from extreme heat, sea level rise and other climate risks that endanger the most vulnerable among us,” he explained.

The state has not yet announced a schedule for release of the funding to communities or at how it will be dispersed. California Black Media will be following that process.

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Community

Attorney General Bonta, CARB Seek to Defend Rule Limiting Warehouse Pollution in Disadvantaged Los Angeles and Inland Empire Communities

In recent years, the proliferation of e-commerce and rising consumer expectations of rapid shipping have contributed to a boom in warehouse development, particularly in Los Angeles and the Inland Empire. 

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Pipelines leading to an oil refinery

California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) filed a motion  on Wednesday to intervene in support of South Coast Air Quality Management District’s (Air District) rule requiring warehouses to reduce emissions from heavy sources of on-road pollution that visit those warehouses.

The Air District’s rule regulates these “indirect sources” by requiring owners and operators of some of the largest warehouses in the state to take direct action to mitigate their emissions.   This will reduce air pollution in Los Angeles and the Inland Empire, help California meet state and federal air quality standards, improve the health of our communities, and promote environmental justice.

Last month, the California Trucking Association filed a lawsuit challenging the rule as outside the scope of the Air District’s authority, pre-empted by federal law, and an unlawful tax. In defending the rule, Attorney General Bonta and CARB expect to argue that these claims are meritless and that state and federal law supports the Air District’s authority to adopt the Indirect Source Rule.

“California has long been a pioneer in the fight against climate change – and the Air District’s rule limiting warehouse pollution is no exception,” said Bonta. “The fact is: environmental justice and economic development are not mutually exclusive. There is no binary choice here. The Air District’s Indirect Source Rule will have tremendous benefits for those communities hardest hit by pollution, at a relatively low cost to industry.”

“This is an environmental justice and public health issue,” said CARB Chair Liane M. Randolph. “The communities around these huge warehouse facilities have suffered for years from the effects of businesses and freight haulers who have all but ignored the community impacts of their enterprises. This Indirect Source Rule simply requires them to be much better neighbors. The rule is also part and parcel of local clean air plans developed under Assembly Bill 617 with CARB and South Coast staff, local residents, local businesses and other stakeholders to clean the air in and around these high-traffic routes and locations.”

In recent years, the proliferation of e-commerce and rising consumer expectations of rapid shipping have contributed to a boom in warehouse development, particularly in Los Angeles and the Inland Empire.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend, as consumers have shifted away from in-person retail shopping. Unfortunately, the distribution of warehouse facilities — and resulting pollution — has occurred primarily in low-income communities and communities of color.

Once a new warehouse is built, the facilities and their associated activities, such as truck traffic, can cause a variety of negative impacts affecting public health. For example, diesel trucks visiting warehouses are substantial sources of nitrogen oxide — a primary precursor to smog formation that has been linked to respiratory problems like asthma, bronchitis, and lung irritation — and diesel particulate matter — a contributor to cancer, heart disease, respiratory illnesses, and premature death.

The Air District’s Indirect Source Rule requires existing and new warehouse facilities larger than 100,000 square feet to select from a menu of emissions-reducing activities, such as purchasing zero-emission vehicles, installing air filtration systems in nearby residences, and constructing rooftop solar panels.

A copy of the motion is available here.

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Business

A’s Owner John Fisher Port Proposal No Good for Oakland

Billionaire John Fisher, owner of the A’s, has things to do before he can take over Oakland’s public port property to build malls and housing for the rich. 

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Howard Terminal on Port of Oakland Map

OPINION

Billionaire John Fisher, owner of the A’s, has things to do before he can take over Oakland’s public port property to build malls and housing for the rich. 

It is such a bad idea and the costs to the public are so ridiculous that logically it shouldn’t happen.  But this right-wing, Trump-supporting Republican has a boatload of money and a few corporation-oriented politicians to help him push it through.  

So, Oaklanders need to be active, or he might get it. Here are two of the things we need to act on: 

  1. Fisher won’t spend his own money.  So, he wants Alameda County to give up spending on things like the COVID-19 pandemic, so we residents can pay for his project with taxpayer money.  The vote on this will come up to the Board of Supervisors on October 26.  If you’d prefer that the County fund health care, housing and other resident necessities, ask them to vote “No.” Call your supervisor at 510-208-4949 and/or attend the meeting.
  2. The Oakland City Council will make the ultimate decision about Fisher’s project and there are a zillion reasons they should say “No.”  Among them: a) Fisher’s project requires that thousands of people run across the tracks of a busy railroad, which killed a number of people even before there were big crowds needing to get to their condos or a stadium.   b) And  Fisher’s project would wreck Oakland’s Port.  The “Seaport Compatibility Measures” necessary to keep the Port alive would cost hundreds of millions of dollars which would not be needed if it were not for Fisher’s project.  So, Fisher, not taxpayers, should pay for them. c)  And then there are all the other ways it will hurt the waterfront, the environment, and Port workers.

You can get contact information to reach your Council member here – https://www.oaklandca.gov/officials

Personally, any public official who votes for Fisher’s project will never get my vote again.   Call me hard-headed, but the harm to  Oakland as a working-class, multi-racial city, the harm to the ILWU (the union of Port workers, perhaps the most progressive union in America)  and the opposition of the people of East Oakland are enough to make my hard head think that’s what solidarity requires.

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Berkeley

Clean Energy Activists Call on Gov. Newsom to Save California Solar, Say No To PG&E’s Profit Grab

A giant sun costume, giant battery take to the streets to galvanize public support for rooftop solar

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Activists for Clean Energy, Photo courtesy of Save CA Solar (Bay Area)

Clean energy activists dressed up in costume as a sun and a solar-powered battery took to Berkeley streets on October 2 to galvanize public support for rooftop solar, calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), to stop the PG&E profit grab and to protect consumer’s rights to the sun.

“California is a solar state where the sun belongs to everyone, not PG&E,” said Susanna Porte from Save California Solar, a coalition of over 250 organizations working to make rooftop solar more affordable. “We’re here asking Gov. Newsom to say ‘NO’ to PG&E’s profit grab and stop PG&E from blocking the sun.”

Popular policies like net metering have helped 1.2 million California consumers tap into the sun’s power to save money and clean up the air, but big utilities like PG&E, are standing in the way of future progress.

They are lobbying the CPUC to add an $80/month on average solar penalty fee to ratepayer bills and drastically reduce the credit solar consumers receive for selling excess power back to the grid. If they get their way, Californians’ access to solar power will be blocked.

“This is a big utility profit grab at the expense of the public and planet that is out of step with California’s clean energy goals,” said Colette Bartel. “We need the governor to step in and keep California on its path to a clean energy future while giving consumers real solutions to blackouts, wildfires and climate change.”

The activists dressed up as a giant sun and also a solar-powered battery to capture attention and to underscore how rooftop solar and battery storage is one of the best ways to protect the public from blackouts and rising energy bills while also ensuring the state’s clean energy progress continues.

They encouraged passersby to sign a petition to the governor and the CPUC, which will decide later this year the fate of California’s popular net energy metering program. Over 30,000 people have already signed the petition, and over 200 nonprofit organizations have endorsed the Save California Solar campaign.

CPUC will decide the fate of rooftop solar later this year.

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