Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Halting The Republican Rollback

Sierra Club California responded with outrage today to Senate Republicans’ proposal to delay important measures that will protect California’s air and atmosphere.
Sierra Club California Director Bill Magavern made the following statement:

"Once again, these Senate Republicans are showing why they’re a minority party -- they’re so desperate to please their corporate contributors that they’re trying to roll back vital protections for our air and atmosphere that most Californians strongly support. Their proposal would further delay our state’s achieving healthy air quality by extending deadlines for cleaning up dirty diesel engines. They also propose to delay for a year the implementation of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), even though that law already is driving technological innovation that will fuel California’s economy. Furthermore, we are highly suspicious that when they say 'Streamline the building permitting process,' Republican leaders mean weakening safeguards that protect our quality of life from rampant over-development.

"These same reactionary senators held last year’s budget hostage in a futile attempt to roll back California’s Environmental Quality Act. They are out of touch with the governor and with the voters of all parties, who understand that cleaning up our air and water helps California’s economy."

Sierra Club California calls on both Democratic and Republican elected officials to oppose any proposals to weaken protections for public health and the environment.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Stop the Toll Road --- AGAIN!

Not again! The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) wants to revive their plan to build a toll road that will destroy 60 percent of San Onofre State Park. And this time, they're trying to get the federal government on their side.

The TCA has asked the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to override the California Coastal Commission's NO vote regarding the Foothill-South Toll Road. In a shocking testament to TCA's consistent and repeated failure to address the public's concerns regarding this toll road, they have urged the Department of Commerce to deny the public an opportunity to participate in a hearing on the appeal.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez is hearing from special interest groups and the TCA's lobbyists. Now he needs to hear from you. Don't let the Bush Administration overrule the California Coastal Commission!

Find out more -- and get a sample letter to send -- from Sierra Club's Friends of the Foothills.

--- OR ---

Draft your own letter, email or fax that lets Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez know you want him to save one of California's most popular and striking state parks.

Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez
Office of the Secretary
Mailstop 61
U.S. Department of Commerce
14th & Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20230


E-mail Secretary Gutierrez

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has ordered a postponement of aerial spraying intended to eradicate the light brown apple moth in 12 California counties. The spraying will not go forward until the completion of additional testing on the efficacy and toxicity of various substances that could be sprayed.

The governor announced the postponement at a meeting today with Senators Carole Migden and Darrell Steinberg, Marin County Supervisor Judy Arnold, Sierra Club California Director Bill Magavern and Paul Schramski, State Director of Pesticide Watch.

Magavern thanked Governor Schwarzenegger for his action, which is consistent with Sierra Club’s call for a precautionary moratorium on the spraying until health effects and alternatives can be fully studied.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bush Administration Sets Global Warming Roadblock

Sierra Club California Director Bill Magavern speaks out on the Bush administration’s illegal proposed roadblock for California’s greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions rule:

Yesterday was Earth Day. Unfortunately, President George W. Bush’s administration chose the occasion to give a present to the auto companies by rolling out an illegal proposal – buried in federal gas mileage regulations – that would bar California from enforcing its greenhouse gas vehicle emissions standards.

This proposed rule would damage California’s ability to protect our health and safety and our climate by reducing emissions from personal vehicles. Sierra Club has fought along with Attorney General Jerry Brown, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California Legislature to protect California’s Clean Cars law (AB 1493 – Pavley), since it’s such an important part of our efforts to roll back greenhouse gas pollution in our state and in the 17 other states that seek to follow our standards.

It seems like the Bush Administration treats California the way Lucy treats Charlie Brown in the comic strip “Peanuts.” Every time we try to move the ball forward, to protect our climate and our air, the administration snatches it away with another dishonest act.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Half-Baked Idea for Half Moon Bay

Would you feel safe on the highway if other drivers could get out of a speeding ticket – or worse -- by simply suspending the state laws?

Assembly Bill 1991, currently pending in the California Legislature, would do a similar thing for environmental protections. It aims to exempt 36 acres of Half Moon Bay from the state’s most important environmental laws, including the California Environmental Quality Act, the California Coastal Act and safeguards for water quality, fish and animals.

Passage of the bill would pave the way for construction of 129 houses on sensitive coastal wetlands near some of the world’s best surfing and wildlife-watching beaches – without giving scientists or the public their say.

There’s no question the city of Half Moon Bay is in a tough spot. A recent legal settlement inexplicably requires the city of Half Moon Bay to pay $18 million to the developer unless this proposed law is passed to allow the so-called Beachwood and Glencree developments evade environmental laws.

But the city vastly overstepped its authority when it committed to sponsor a bill in the California Legislature that strips environmental laws to pave the way for development of these coastal wetlands.

We can’t abandon the rule of law and our state’s rich history of environmental protection whenever a local government finds itself in trouble. Local governments and developers need to know they can’t ransom city budgets to evade environmental protections.

Join Sierra Club California in stopping this harmful bill before it speeds away with our most valuable environmental protections. Write your California Assembly member and tell them you think environmental laws need to stay in place.

Who’s your representative? Find out

See what Sierra Club California told the Assembly about this frightening potential precedent here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Getting Kids Outdoors

A Sierra Club California-sponsored bill would connect at-risk youth with nature by funding healthy, educational outdoor and recreation programs run by schools and community organizations.

Assembly Bill 2989 by Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes passed with strong support in the Assembly’s Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee today. AB 2989 promotes a commitment to physically active lifestyles by creating a permanent program within the Department of Parks and Recreation that would award grants for outdoor education and recreational opportunities for youth.

“It’s all about getting kids outdoors,” said Jim Metropulos, Senior Advocate for Sierra Club California. “Many communities have limited or no access to parks and other safe outdoor recreational opportunities for children to engage in physical activities.”

Rising cases of childhood diabetes and obesity make outdoor recreation and education a health care need.

At-risk children who participated in outdoor education programs upped their science test scores by 27 percent, improved their conflict resolution and problem-solving skills and went back to school with better self-esteem and motivation to learn, according to a 2005 California Department of Education
study. Yet, fewer than 15 percent of youth participate in an outdoor education and recreation program. And an even smaller fraction of urban, lower-income or ethnically diverse youth have access to parks, rivers or forests.

Sadly, this year’s bad budget situation makes competition for state funds a tough, uphill hike. Although the measure relies mostly on private donations and funding from the Environmental License Plate Fund, it still faces obstacles getting out of the Assembly.

Tell the
California Legislature you think getting kids outside is a worthwhile investment.

Please write, call or fax Assemblyman
Mark Leno, who heads the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Assemblyman Mark Leno
State Capitol
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA
Phone (916) 319-2013
Fax (916) 319-2113

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bills Would Protect Consumers from Dangerous Chemicals

This morning, Sierra Club California Director Bill Magavern joined Assemblymembers Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), and Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco), to speak in support of three important pieces of legislation in the fight to protect consumers from dangerous chemicals.

AB 1860 (Huffman) would require immediate removal of recalled toys and other products from the market; prohibits the sale of recalled toys and other recalled consumer products, and imposes stiff fines against those who sell recalled products to prevent the items from surfacing on the Internet or at second-hand stores; requires recalled products to be properly disposed of and for manufacturers to certify their disposal; requires manufacturers to establish a notification system when recalling products; mandates that retailers post recall notices in a conspicuous fashion.

AB 1879 (Feuer) would authorize the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to regulate all consumer products that contain the following chemicals: lead, mercury, cadium, arsenic, polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs), phthalates, and hexavalent chromium. DTSC currently has limited authority to regulate these chemicals in certain products.

AB 2694 (Ma) would ban lead above trace levels of in children’s toys and products, using the 40 parts per million (ppm) standard endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sierra Club California 2008 Priority Bills

Smart Growth/Global Warming. SB 375 (Steinberg) would require certain regional transportation plans to include a sustainable communities strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Would provide incentives for more compact development, reduced driving, greater housing choices and conservation of farmland and habitat.

Clean Energy. SB 411 (Simitian and Perata) would require investor-owned utilities to meet a Renewables Portfolio Standard of at least 33 percent by 2020.

Cleaner Air at Ports. SB 974 (Lowenthal) would charge containers shipped through the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland in order to raise money for air quality and transportation improvements.

Land Use/Fire Protection. SB 1500 (Kehoe) would allow the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to require local governments to guarantee adequate structural fire protection before approving development in high-fire-hazard State Responsibility Areas.

Fire Protection. SB 1617 (Kehoe) would establish a fair and equitable new fee on homes in State Responsibility Areas to fund some of the costs of their fire protection. The fee would be tiered to give incentives for reducing fire risks, and would also fund proactive prevention activities.

Safer Products. AB 1879 (Feuer and Huffman) would give the Department of Toxic Substances Control the authority to establish safeguards to protect people and the environment from consumer products containing known toxins like lead, mercury and arsenic.

Recycling Mercury Thermostats. AB 2347 (Ruskin) would require manufacturers to establish a program for recycling thermostats containing mercury, a potent neurotoxin.

Water Conservation. AB 2175 (Laird and Feuer) would establish numeric water savings targets for urban and agricultural water use and require a 20% reduction in statewide urban per capita water use by 2020.

Outdoor Education. AB 2989 (Fuentes) would create a permanent program in the Department of Parks and Recreation that would award grants to schools and non-profit groups that provide outdoor education and recreational opportunities for youth.