Clean Water

Banned Pesticide Use Remains High in CA Strawberry Fields

By Ngoc Nguyen

In some of California’s top strawberry-growing counties, levels of banned methyl bromide remain nearly as high as they were a decade ago, despite a mandated phaseout, according to an analysis by New America Media.

The fumigant was supposed to have been phased out completely by 2005, under a global pact to halt the thinning of the earth’s protective ozone layer. But in 2009, the latest year for which data is available, more than 5 million pounds of the pesticide were still in use, down just 50 percent from 2000.

A limited amount of methyl bromide is allowed for use in instances where no alternative exists, through a “critical use exemption,” determined by treaty members in a three-year process and administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Strawberry growers in California are among the groups that can apply for an exemption.

Brown Appoints Chuck Bonham as New DFG Director

By Dan Bacher

Governor Jerry Brown has appointed Charlton “Chuck” Bonham, 43, of Albany, as director of the California Department of Fish and Game

Bonham has served in multiple positions at Trout Unlimited, a national trout advocacy organization, since 2000, including California director and senior attorney, according to a August 26 news release from Governor Jerry Brown's Office.

He was an instructor and trip leader for the Nantahala Outdoor Center from 1994 to 1997 and was a small business development agent for the United States Peace Corp in Senegal, West Africa from 1991 to 1993.

Bonham was not available for comment at press time, but representatives of recreational and commercial fishing groups praised his appointment by Brown.

Hexavalent Chromium in Drinking Water: Welcome News from California

By Gina Solomon

Yesterday, the State of California took an important step toward protecting people from cancer-causing chromium in drinking water. After a decade of study, public review, meetings, and scientific analysis, the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) released a final Public Health Goal (PHG) for hexavalent chromium.

Anyone who saw the famous movie Erin Brockovich is familiar with 'hex chrome'; it's the known human carcinogen that polluted the town water supply in Hinkley, California and that resulted in the David vs. Goliath fight between sick community members (aided by Erin Brockovich), and PG&E, the polluter.

"Fracking": One Risk We Don’t Have to Take

By Elanor Starmer
Food and Water Watch

As Californians, we’ve had to come to terms with the fact that we’re at the whim of nature – and nature is not always very friendly. Each day when I cross the Bay Bridge on a bus, a tiny voice asks if this might be the day the Big One shakes up my commute. The scars of wildfires past mark the hills around Los Angeles, up the Central Coast, and throughout the North Country. The winters inevitably bring stories of skiers lost in avalanches somewhere in the Sierra.

With all these natural risks sitting uneasily on our conscience, it stands to reason that we’d do everything we could to avoid taking risks we don’t have to. Perhaps this is why California has always been a leader in risk mitigation – banning harmful substances that contaminate other states, taking action on global warming ahead of the curve. So why are we not taking the lead in banning the practice of fracking?

Why CEQA Is Essential for California Neighborhoods

By Bill Magavern
Sierra Club California

The California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, is the centerpiece of California’s economic democracy. Since 1970, when it was signed by Ronald Reagan, this law has given all citizens a voice in what happens in their communities, allowing them to take action to protect their health and local environments. CEQA makes sure that those who will be most affected by development have the right to get the facts about the environmental impact of proposed projects, and to seek alternative project designs that will lessen or eliminate the potential negative impacts.  This principle of broad public involvement would be eliminated under a plan put forth by Republican lawmakers and business groups to “reform” CEQA, supposedly as a way to boost California’s economy.

Human Right to Water Bills Pass Key Assembly Committees

By Dan Bacher

Tuesday, April 26 was a great day for the future of safe drinking water in California, where many rural and urban communities lack drinkable water.

Safe water advocates from across the state hailed the passage of AB 685, the Human Right to Water bill in the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee and the passage of four additional bills in the Human Right to Water bill package - AB 938, AB 983, AB 1187 and AB 1221 - in the Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee.

Representatives of impacted California communities who testified at the bill hearings include Mark Franco, headman of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe; Susana De Anda and Laurel Firestone of the Community Water Center, with Coachella and Tulare County residents; and Debbie Davis from the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, with Maywood residents. Reverend Lindi Ramsden, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of California, and Shelley Moskowitz, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, also testified in support of the legislation.

A Safer, Greener, More Cost-Effective California is Possible

By Mark Starr
Vet Voice Foundation

As Congress continues to search for solutions to the nation’s multi-trillion dollar deficit, we’re reminded of the important opportunities we, as a nation and a state, have to build a more sustainable and cost-effective future that protects our national security and environment, including ending Federal subsidies for oil and gas companies.  

California is home to a rapidly growing economy centered on clean technology and renewable energy. Roughly 10% of all clean tech/energy jobs are located in the Central Valley, accounting for nearly 40,000 jobs. Throughout the state, an estimated 500,000 Californians are employed in clean tech/renewable energy jobs, according to the California Employment Development Department.  

A Golden Future For The Renewable State

By Peter Miller
Natural Resources Defense Council

While Congress stalls on America’s clean energy future, California is already making renewable energy the resource with which we’ll power our way to the future. Just last month, the California Legislature passed the 33 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard with broad bipartisan majorities. This legislation increases the share of renewable energy supplied by electricity providers to 33 percent by 2020. California lawmakers who supported the bill were no doubt listening carefully to their constituents who resoundingly defeated Proposition 23 last November, sending a strong signal that they want to move forward with a clean energy future now.   

A Sea of Support for Ocean Protection

By Julia Ritchie

Every generation has its big cause. A hundred years ago, Americans banded together to protect our best wild places as National Parks. Our cause must be to meet the challenge of ocean protection.  For too long, we have neglected the 70% of the planet that’s underwater.  We can’t see the problems, so it’s easy to ignore them – such as the fact that 90 percent of the world’s big fish are already gone.

But the tide is turning, and people are starting to recognize the urgency of tackling this last frontier in resource management. And as with other conservation challenges, California is leading the charge.

Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs Launches Effort to Boost Renewable Energy Jobs

By Tom Steyer
Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs

With turmoil and upheaval in the Middle East and with forces in Washington bent on turning back the energy clock, never has there been a more urgent need for California to provide leadership to the world on clean energy policies and technology -- especially as it relates to job creation and national security.

That’s why today we are announcing the rededication of Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs, the coalition that originally came together last year to fight and defeat Proposition 23 which sought to derail our future by indefinitely postponing California’s clean energy and clean air standards.