Capitol Voice April 2020


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Learn While You Stay Home

Industry Attempts to Derail California’s Health Protections in COVID-19 Crisis
Additional Mountain Lion Protections Imminent

Learn While You Stay Home
By Kathryn Phillips

Work From Home

Home confinement to flatten the COVID-19 curve presents extra time for learning online.

Sierra Club California staff have been busily developing webinars and webcasts in their subject areas to give you an opportunity to learn more about particular statewide environmental issues. We’re also preparing ways to give you online updates about the status of legislation and regulation activities.

You can sign up now for a few of the webinars that are ready to go. Here’s the list with links to the sign-up pages for each. You have to sign up for each one individually.

Biomass Incineration 101--presented by Daniel Barad

Thursday, April 16, 1:00 PM
Friday, April 17, 1:00 PM

Alternatives to Biomass Incineration: Sierra Club California’s Report--presented by Daniel Barad

Monday, April 20, 1:00 PM
Tuesday, April 21, 1:00 PM

The Bay Delta: A Threatened Resource--presented by Molly Culton and Brandon Dawson

Wednesday, April 22, 2:00 PM
Thursday, April 23, 12:00 PM

What’s Cooking at Sierra Club California: Update on Legislative and Regulatory Action--presented by Kathryn Phillips and various Sierra Club California staff members

Wednesday, April 22, 3:30 PM
Thursday, April 30, 12:00 PM

If you have an idea for a webcast or webinar you’d like us to prepare, let us know.


Industry Attempts to Derail California’s Health Protections in COVID-19 Crisis
By Daniel Barad

air pollution


As the rest of us change our way of life in the name of protecting human lives from COVID-19, polluting industries are looking to continue degrading air quality and the environment. Many of them have asked the governor and legislature to roll back or delay the implementation of rules and regulations that protect health and the environment.

The White House has capitulated to similar requests from special interests. This makes it that much more important that California not diverge from its efforts to clean the air and protect the environment.

Several California-specific regulatory processes that were underway prior to the COVID-19 pandemic remain necessary to improve air quality and human health throughout the state.

Diesel emissions from activities at ports and trucks that move products are a major contributor to unhealthy air throughout the state. Fortunately, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is on track to adopt an at-berth rule that will substantially cut diesel emissions from ships at berth and an Advanced Clean Truck rule that will require manufacturers to produce greater numbers of electric trucks.

Additionally, earlier this year, the governor directed the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) to develop regulations that would protect public health and the environment from oil drilling impacts.

The oil industry has opposed simple legislation that would codify that instruction and it is highly likely that the oil industry will cite the economic downturn to ask that the development of these regulations be suspended. The suspension of this process would be devastating to the communities that have long fought for these protections.

To help ensure that the industry requests for rollbacks are effectively countered, environmental groups have organized sign-on letters that Sierra Club California has joined. Additionally, we sent our own letter to urge legislative leaders and the governor to resist the calls for rollbacks.

You can find two of the sign-on letters on our website by clicking here and here. You can read the Sierra Club California letter by clicking here.


Additional Mountain Lion Protections Imminent
By Brandon Dawson

mountain ion

The California Fish and Game Commission faces a chance to expand protections of two populations of California’s mountain lions.

On April 16, 2020, the California Fish and Game Commission will digitally meet and vote on whether to provide greater protection for Southern California and Central Coast mountain lion populations.

Over the past century, mountain lions in Southern California and along the Central Coast have experienced increasing habitat loss and isolation due to highway construction and rampant sprawl development. This isolation has prevented young mountain lions from migrating and finding mates. Additionally, the populations have been harmed by poaching and rodenticide poisoning.

Mountain lions are an important species whose existence provides environmental benefits and supports ecosystem health. Their kills of smaller mammals provide an important food source for a host of wild animals. And their presence has been shown to benefit native plants and insects.

In June 2019, the Center for Biological Diversity and Mountain Lion foundation petitioned the Commission to list the Southern California and Central Coast mountain lion populations as “threatened” under the California Endangered Species Act. A listing of the species under this statute would require state and local authorities to minimize impacts when building and permitting new highway construction or development projects where mountain lions live.

In February of this year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife recommended that listing may be warranted. The Commission will vote on whether to accept that recommendation and list the species on April 16th.

If you can, I encourage you to attend and watch or listen to this meeting. Protecting California species and biodiversity is crucial to preserving our beautiful state.

The agenda for the meeting is posted here. Information about how to connect to the meeting digitally will be posted here before the meeting.

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