Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Common Ground On Water Conservation

With California’s water future uncertain, California’s largest water agencies and leading environmental groups today signed a key 10-year agreement to conserve water in the state. The Memorandum of Understanding caps a year of intense negotiation, and offers agencies a series of best practices to conserve water.

"In 1997, a 10-year time frame for meeting conservation goals was set to end in 2008. By approving a new 10-year period, adding flexibility to the Best Management Practices and reorganizing them into programmatic groupings, California continues its role in leading water conservation and innovation in the United States," said Lynn Florey, Sonoma County Water Agency representative and emeritus Council Convener.

Water conservation is going to become even more important in California in the future. "By showing we could work together, we are setting a path for meeting even greater challenges in future years," said Jim Metropulos, Sierra Club California representative anewly appointed 2009 Council Convener. "We will need these new Best Management Practices to help meet the governor’s call for 20 percent conservation by 2020; and to address an uncertain water future with the third year of drought and potentially drier years ahead."

With an overwhelming majority vote in favor of the 8 critical changes and additions to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Best Management Practices (BMPs), the Council will continue to play a key role to the hundreds of members who implement these BMPs across the state.

"These revisions will give us the tools necessary to address the ongoing needs across the state by extending the life of the MOU, giving agencies more flexibility in achieving water conservation and by automatically updating as new technologies become available," stated Florey.

The new BMPs will become effective July 1, 2009 and will benefit all of the Council’s members, which include water providers, public advocate agencies and various other parties invested in water conservation in California.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Celebrating A Toll Road Victory

Sierra Club California and other environmental groups are celebrating a recent vote by the Commerce Department not to build a toll road through San Onofre State Park.

Many of you joined us in protesting this awful idea. Here's what Sierra Club Conservation Organizer Robin Everett had to say while celebrating this momentous event:

“The Sierra Club applauds today’s Commerce Department decision. The decision is a victory for our coast and our state parks.

“Today’s decision by the Commerce Department is a victory for the thousands of Californians, from Eureka to San Diego, who have spent years fighting this rogue toll road agency and its army of high-priced lobbyists.

“The Commerce Department decision lowers the boom on the TCA’s consistent misrepresentation of the toll road as essential to national security and the only viable transportation alternative. Even the Bush administration has rejected the toll road agency’s ridiculous arguments.

“The Sierra Club began fighting this toll road over 10 years ago, starting with a march of 40 people in downtown San Clemente and ending with thousands of people at the final hearings. The TCA has tried at every turn to block public involvement, but the Coastal Commission and now the Commerce Department heard Californians and protected our coast and our park.

“We call on the TCA, whose financial house is in deep disorder, to give up its scheme to replace a state park with a toll road and come to terms with the reality that outside of their agency bubble no one supports their plan.”

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Feed In Tariffs – The Right Idea, Right Now

Sierra Club California just submitted a letter urging California’s energy officials to embrace “feed-in tariffs” in a big way.

Feed-in tariffs are incentive structures used to encourage generation of renewable energy by compensating for price differences between renewable power and fossil fuel electricity. As applied in Germany, this system sets a fair price for renewable power, encouraging widespread generation and use.

Not only would feed-in tariffs encourage cleaner power production, they also represent a good way for the state to take on climate change. Sierra Club California has
urged the California Air Resources Board to consider this powerful economic tool as it considers the Climate Change Scoping Plan today and tomorrow.

But for now, the state has proposed a limited version of feed-in tariffs, limiting them to smaller plants (less than 20 megawatts in size). We are telling the air board and the energy commission to raise that limit, and to give feed in tariffs more power to increase the amount of renewable energy generated in the state.

We’re also working with lawmakers to generate measures that would encourage California to embrace this powerful new philosophy – and that encourage the state to raise its clean power production goal to 33% by 2020.

Read Sierra Club California’s Dec 10 comments to the California Energy Commission

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sierra Club California, Others Fight For Tough Diesel Rule

Shouldn’t California’s trucks carry a fair share of California’s efforts to reduce pollution?

Sierra Club California Director Bill Magavern and other key figures in California’s environmental movement have banded together to ask the California Air Resources Board to do just that. The letter asks the regulators to improve enforcement and enaction of their proposed diesel truck rule, set for a Dec. 12 vote.

The rule would require trucks to lower the amount of harmful diesel emission particles they exhaust into California’s air. With diesel emissions expected to go up as much as 40 percent by 2020, it’s a good time to address these harmful pollutants. What’s more, with the fuel efficiency improvements brought on by changes to the truck rule, truckers will recoup their costs in about 2-3 years.

Cutting truck emissions will lessen the environmental health burden on California families. A November 2008 study found that
air pollution in just the South Coast and San Joaquin Valley regions costs the California economy $28 billion annually.

A tight, responsive rule also will help the state reduce the pollution that causes global warming, the environmental experts say. Reducing heavy-duty vehicle emissions must be part of California’s efforts to take on those pollutants.

If you want to get involved, consider joining
Breathe California’s Bus for Breath. This group will help send people to the air board meeting to advocate adoption of a protective, productive rule.

Click here to read the entire letter from California environmentalists and health advocates.