California Currents - Spring | Summer 2016

June 3, 2016
California Currents - Summer 2016

In this issue:

Cast Your Vote for Clean Water!

Clean Water voters are more important than ever this year. Progress on climate, the fight to protect clean water, and more are at stake in the 2016 elections. Clean Water members have a huge opportunity to make sure the environment is front and center throughout the summer and into November.

Voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition AA to protect and restore San Francisco Bay, with approximately 70% of voters supporting the measure. In November, it’s all the more important that you vote now to tell the plastics industry to go packing, and uphold the single-use plastic bag ban.

Clean Water Action endorsed candidates in key legislative races for the primary and will do so again for the general election. You can learn more about the candidates and find out how they fared in the primary at www.cleanwater.org/ca.

Some of our endorsed candidates easily won their primary elections, but others came second and really need your support in the general election in November.

Proposition AA — Vote Yes to Protect and Restore San Francisco Bay

Bay Area Voters have an opportunity to protect and restore San Francisco Bay with a yes vote on Proposition AA during the California primary on June 7. (After June 7 visit this page to find out what happened).

San Francisco Bay and Estuary is the largest and most biologically diverse estuary on the West coast, but it is under constant threat from pollution, shoreline development, and upstream water diversions that starve the bay of freshwater inputs. Measure AA can help address the huge backlog of restoration projects that will help the bay be more resilient to climate change and friendlier to local and migrating species.  Some important projects include new bayside trails, strengthened levees, trash reduction measures, and restoration of 15,000 acres of former salt ponds.

The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority was established in 2008 to identify local projects to improve the Bay and develop funding sources to speed up the rate of restoration. The Authority, which has seven locally appointed members, approved Measure AA for placement on the ballot of all nine counties. The measure requires at least two thirds of all votes to pass. So make sure your friends and family join you when you vote to protect San Francisco Bay!

Proposition AA is a parcel tax. Each parcel in the nine-county region will pay $12 per year, raising $25 million annually for the next 20 years for habitat and wetlands restoration, public access improvements and pollution prevention projects.

Standing Up to Big Oil Money in California

Big money influences politics, big time. Did you know that in California, Big Oil spends more than any other corporate lobby? The industry spent $123.6 million lobbying elected officials in the 15 years to 2013, an increase of over 400% on the previous 15 years, according to a report put together by Common Cause.

Chevron is the biggest spender, having pumped over $71 million into lobbying in the state capitol over the period.

Last year, Governor Jerry Brown proposed a statewide goal of reducing oil usage in transportation by 50% by 2030. Kevin de Leon, Senate President Pro Tem, introduced SB 350, which included that big goal and two more: requiring utilities to get 50% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2030, and doubling the energy efficiency of all buildings by 2030.

As reducing oil use in transportation threatened oil production, Big Oil sprang into action lobbying legislators and launching an aggressive advertising campaign. Soon after, to ensure passage of the bill, the oil reduction goal was stripped out.

This year, Big Oil needs to be held accountable for contaminating drinking water. This can be done if the legislature passes AB 1882 (Williams). The state has approved over 6,000 oil and gas projects that inject wastewater into federally protected drinking water quality aquifers. AB 1882 will require the state to provide increased protections for water quality when reviewing existing permits or considering new ones.

Several legislators, however, are blocking the way (see above chart). These legislators need to hear from you. If you are their constituent, please call them or write a letter. You can find some talking points on CleanWater.org/CA, or take an action here.

Still in the Pits…

Another way to protect water quality from oil and gas waste is to prohibit dumping oil wastewater into unlined pits, where it seeps into groundwater and migrates to creeks and rivers, and emits health-threatening air pollutants. Clean Water Action has revealed an increasing number of active open pits: The number has almost doubled from 630 in 2014 to 1,165 today, and 69% of them are improperly permitted or not permitted at all. California, the nation’s and sometimes the world’s environmental protection leader, is still in the dark ages regarding oil and gas regulations, and needs to be forced into the light.

Take action and read more here.

California Legislative Priorities for 2016

Water: Stop the Delta tunnels

  • AB 1713 (Eggman) — Support. Governor Jerry Brown keeps moving forward with his plans to build two freeway-sized tunnels under the Delta to divert Sacramento River water to the huge pumps that export water to the south. This bill will require voters to approve the tunnels, bringing more democracy into the process.

Holding the oil and gas industry accountable

  • AB 1882 (Williams) — Support. This bill will require the State Water Resources Control Board to review underground injection projects and would give the Board authority to require groundwater monitoring to ensure protection of drinking water sources.
  • AB 2729 (Williams, co-author Thurmond) — Support. This bill will compel oil and gas companies that own idle wells to properly plug and abandon them to reduce the threat to groundwater.
  • AB 2756 (Thurmond, co-author Williams) — Support. This bill will increase the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources’ (DOGGR) authority to enforce environmental and safety laws when oil and gas companies do not comply.
  • SB 380 (Pavley) — Support. This bill will stop all injections of gas into Aliso Canyon wells until “a comprehensive review of the safety of the gas storage wells at the facility is completed” and it is determined “that well integrity has been ensured.”
  • SB 248 (Pavley) — Support. This bill will require the chemical composition of injection fluid and wastewater to be characterized and reported to the public, and would phase out the use of open, unlined pits for wastewater disposal.
  • Toxics: Extending producer responsibility for hazardous products
  • AB 45 (Mullin) — Oppose. This bill is a back-door attempt, largely by the pharmaceutical industry, to stop the growing trend of requiring manufacturers who make hazardous products to take responsibility for the proper disposal of those products at the end of their useful lives.  This is known as “Extended Producer Responsibility.” 

Water: Advancing the Human Right to Water

  • AB 1262 (Pavley) — This bill will update a current requirement that new developments of 500 units or more demonstrate that they have a 20-year water supply.  The bill includes new supply sustainability demonstration requirements, and may be amended to include developments with fewer than 500 units.
  • AB 1263 (Wieckowski) — Support. This bill will allow the state Drinking Water program to deny permits for new water systems if they are likely to become unsustainable in the future.  
  • SB 1317 (Wolk) — Support. This bill will place some checks on the drilling of new groundwater wells to protect our precious groundwater supplies.
  • SB 1318 (Wolk) — Support. When cities expand outside their existing limits, eating up smaller towns and older developments around them, this bill will require the cities to extend their city water services to the older, smaller towns to avoid perpetuating inequities in “islands” with poor water services.

Water: Ocean desalination should be a last resort

  • AB 1925 (Chang) — Oppose. This bill will require that the state increase the number of desalination projects in the state, but desalination should be considered a last resort because ocean desalination is way more expensive and a threat to marine life and coastal water quality.

Why You Should Vote “YES” on the Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban in November

In 2014 California became the first state in the nation to ban single-use plastics bags. This landmark law is a direct result of the campaign led by Clean Water Action and its allies. Now, out-of-state plastic manufacturers, fueled by the Koch Brothers and chemical industry giants, are want to turn back the clock.

They’ve already spent $3 million to get the statewide ban on the ballot this November and are ready to spend $50 million or whatever it takes to defeat this commonsense protection for our water and wildlife.

Will you stand with Clean Water to protect California’s wildlife by voting YES on the ballot measure in November to uphold the single use plastic bag ban? A YES vote will preserve California’s status as a leader on environmental issues, and as the first state in the nation to stand up to Big Plastic.

Bag bans really do work. More than 150 local bans in California have reduced single-use bag usage by up to 95% in some jurisdictions and reduced bag pollution by as much as 86% in creeks. Plastics kill wildlife — impacting 690 marine species. And the problem is getting worse. A recent report estimated that there will be more plastics than fish in the ocean by weight, by 2050.

Let’s take the lead together, and show Big Plastic that California will put the wildlife, the environment, and communities before their profits. Vote YES to protect the bag ban!

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