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65 California Cities, Counties Oppose Trump's Offshore Drilling Plan
At least 65 California cities and counties have taken action opposing new fossil fuel leasing in the Pacific Ocean since President Trump proposed a massive expansion of drilling in federal waters last year. That ongoing campaign now represents communities with 21.3 million Californians—more than half the state's population.
These actions, combined with recent public opinion polling showing that 69 percent of Californians oppose new offshore drilling, come as the California Legislature considers Assembly Bill 1775 and Senate Bill 834, which would prohibit new infrastructure to serve expanded federal offshore oil leasing. Members of the Coalition to Protect the Pacific have supported a campaign, which will continue through the fall as the Trump administration works on the next draft of its offshore leasing plan.
"We need to protect our beautiful South Bay as well as the health of the residents who live and work near the coast and the marine environment. A.B. 1775 will do just that by prohibiting the State Lands Commission from approving any new leases for pipelines, piers, wharves or other infrastructure needed to support new federal oil and gas development in the three-mile area off the coast that is controlled by the state," said Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), sponsor of A.B. 1775.
The movement to protect the Pacific gained momentum following the Jan. 4 release of the administration's draft leasing plan, which proposes lease sales in almost all federal waters. That would include the first fossil fuel leases in the Pacific in more than 30 years. The California League of Cities has also officially endorsed the state's efforts to protect its coast.
"California communities reject offshore drilling and are building a wall of opposition to Trump's reckless agenda. It's inspiring to watch community leaders rise up to protect the Pacific from dangerous drilling," said Blake Kopcho, an organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity. "We won't let Trump and his corrupt cronies pollute our coastline with oil spills and toxic fracking chemicals."
At least 54 cities or counties have passed resolutions opposing the offshore drilling expansion and 11 have sent formal letters of opposition, while another two community advisory bodies have also recommended against issuing new leases or fracking permits.
"Californians are adamantly opposed to new oil drilling off our coast," said Linda Krop, chief counsel at the Environmental Defense Center. "As we were reminded in 2015, if new oil development is allowed off our coast it is not a question of if, but when, another disastrous oil spill will damage our environment and economy."
Most of the California resolutions and letters call for:
- A ban on new offshore oil and gas drilling, fracking and other well stimulation in federal and state waters off the California coast;
- A ban on new federal oil and gas leases in all U.S. waters, including the Pacific Ocean.
"It would be a travesty if the federal administration succeeds in re-opening West Coast waters to expanded offshore drilling, at the risk of coastal communities, economies, and ocean wildlife," said Ashley Blacow, Pacific policy and communications manager with Oceana. "Cities and counties across the West Coast are forming a united front sending a clear message to Washington, DC that our coast is not for sale.
The Coalition to Protect the Pacific, a collection of environmental groups, indigenous tribes and local businesses, has worked with local activists in cities and counties along the West Coast to pass resolutions and letters opposing Trump's proposed expansion of offshore drilling.
In response to President Trump's April 2017 executive order to expand offshore energy development, Californians organized community-based opposition to the proposal. Resolutions have been passed in: Alameda County, Arcata, Berkeley, Capitola, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Chula Vista, Contra Costa County, Culver City, Dana Point, Encinitas, Fort Bragg, Goleta, Grover Beach, Half Moon Bay, Humboldt County, Imperial Beach, Laguna Beach, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Marin County, Marina, Mendocino County, Monterey County, Morro Bay, Norwalk, Oceanside, Oakland, Ojai, Pacifica, Petaluma, Point Arena, Redondo Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, San Mateo County, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, Santa Clarita, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County, Santa Monica, Scotts Valley, Solana Beach, Sonoma County, Ukiah, Ventura County, Watsonville, West Hollywood and Windsor. Appointed community bodies in Venice and Cayucos also passed similar resolutions. Jurisdictions sending letters include Carpinteria, Del Mar, Hermosa Beach, Los Osos, Monterey, Oxnard, Pismo Beach, San Diego County, San Leandro, San Luis Obispo County and Ventura.
The last offshore lease in federal waters off California was in 1984, but Trump's order seeks to renew the leasing program. There are more than 30 offshore drilling platforms and islands and hundreds of miles of underwater oil and gas pipelines off California's coast. Oil companies conduct fracking from some of the offshore wells using chemicals toxic to wildlife and the public.
Separate lawsuits filed by the state of California, Environmental Defense Center and the Center for Biological Diversity challenging the federal government's approval of offshore fracking are pending in federal district court.
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Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.