Environmental Report for January, 2018


January 2, 2017


 I.  Climate Change


Planning for Climate Refugees
Story from EcoWatch.com, Dec. 20, 2017; BBC News, Dec. 22, 2017.

With disasters like droughts, desertifications, floods, cyclones, and sea level rise already displacing some 26 million people per year (since 2008) the time is now to put in place global agreements on how we’ll deal with human migrations.  Image result 


China Launches an Emissions Trading Scheme to Curb GHGs
Story from Climate Home News, Dec. 14, 2017.

Several provinces have already have their own carbon markets.  Now China, the world’s largest CO2 polluter, is launching its awaited national carbon market that begins on Dec. 19.  It will be world’s largest carbon market emissions trading system even though it has been scaled back at first to cover only the power sector (46% of China’s total emissions).  

  • Image result for pictures of china industriesThe original plan included eight economic sectors but this conservative start will manage only the power sector emissions which has the best statistical data.
  • It will create a cost (permits) for emitting carbon and allow selling credits for under-polluting similar to California’s Cap & Trade system.
  • It’s part of their GHG reduction plan and has promise to gradually expand.
  • The nation is becoming ever more dependent on nuclear and solar power but is still vastly dependent on coal. 




II.  Fossil Fuels


Trump Rescinds Obama’s Fracking Rules
Story from EcoWatch, Dec. 29, 2017; THE HILL, Dec. 28, 2017.

Obama set protection standards for hydraulic fracturing on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in 2015.  The Trump administration has taken the steps to repeal and it appeared in the Federal Register Friday, Dec. 29.

  • The rule focused on mandating companies disclose the chemicals used, require companies to cover surface ponds holding fracking fluids, and setting well construction standards.
  • Arguments pro and con:
    • BLM’s opinion is that the rules were “unnecessarily burdensome and unjustified”.
    • Environmentalists argue that fracking can be dangerous for groundwater, soil and air.”


France Bans All Fossil Fuel Production by 2040
Story from The Guardian, Dec. 21, 2017.

Even though France imports 99% of its oil and had already banned fracking in 2011, the announcement is a significant commitment to renewable sources of power.  The ban affects the country and all of its territories by 2040.

Paris climate agreement supporters spelled out their hope for the future.

  1. The year 2040 is also the year France would like to end the use of gasoline and diesel use.
  2. It’s largely a symbolic commitment but President Macron wants France to be in the forefront – the world leader in the switch to renewables.
  3. Macron’s tweets reflect the different philosophies between the U.S. and France (#makeourplanetgreatagain).



III.  Water and Food Reports


California’s Reservoir Water Levels
Story from California Data Exchange Center, Dec. 27, 2017;  California Urban Water Agencies, 2017; KQED, Feb. 28, 2014.

While there’s no official drought and very little rain in sight we know that water will be a major issue soon.  Here’s some helpful information about where we get our water:


EPA Fakes New Glyphosate Reassessment
Story from EPA news source, Dec. 18, 2017; Bloomberg Markets, Mar. 14, 2017; Food Democracy Now (FDN.org), Nov. 2016; EcoWatch, Dec. 19, 2017.

Trump’s EPA has reassessed the risk downplaying previous reports regarding the dangers of Glyphosate, the highly controversial weed-killer.  The report was done by an EPA scientist, Jess Rowland, who has been written up in the NY Times and in Bloomberg about having “killed” another EPA investigation.  Monsanto denied that they could possibly corrupt an EPA employee under Obama.  Mr. Rowland retired from the EPA this year.




IV.  Politics


Scott Pruitt Replaces Scientists with Industry Advisors on Federal Advisory Boards
Story from Court House News, Dec. 22, 2017.

Pruitt claims removing scientists from the scientific research advisory boards and stacking them with corporate-interest ‘scientists’ is in order with his “Strengthening and Improving Membership on EPA Federal Advisory Committees” plan. 

  • It violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 which halts the revolving door of allowing industry giants onto scientific panels.
  • A lawsuit by a group of researchers known as Scientists and Physicians for Social Responsibility was filed on Dec. 21.
  • Pruitt claims the panels were “unfair influence on committees which inform public policy”.


Credits for Solar, Wind, Electric Cars Left in Tax Bill
Story from inside climate news, Dec. 22, 2017.

While the new tax bill was a big disappointment, it amazingly preserves the tax credits for Renewables.

  • The credits will be phased out as planned but will continue through 2025.
  • Opening the ANWR for oil production coupled with the lower price of oil is still not the best deal for oil companies at this time.
  • The solar industry is likely to triple by 2022 while annually offsetting 100 million tons of CO2.


Trump to Cut Regulations to 1960 Levels
Story from Washington Post, Dec. 14, 2017.

In an effort to “cut red tap” he promises to get “back below 1960 level, and we’ll be there fairly quickly”. 

  • 67 Regulations have been eliminated since Oct. 1.
  • The effort is to cut regulatory oversite and streamlining projects.
  • Public health is at stake.


The House Climate Solutions Caucus
Story from Friends Committee on National Legislation, Dec. 13, 2017.

The Climate Solutions Caucus is an official bipartisan caucus on climate change – its risks, causes, challenges and to state policies for coping with it and study options.  It was founded by two Representatives, Carlos Cubelo (R-FL) and Ted Deutsch (D-FL) and to date has 62 members equally between Republicans and Democrats.



V.  Miscellaneous Items


Tesla’s Storage Battery Proves Useful in Australia’s Grid
Story from EcoWatch, Dec. 29, 2017.

The world’s largest battery storage facility located in South Australia was designed to respond to their frequent power outages and feed into the grid in emergencies.  It’s proven to work within milliseconds of outages and has shown to be better than firing up backup generators.

Tesla battery in South Australia

  • The real story of making Renewables a solution to ridding ourselves of fossil fuels is making the storage battery a success.
  • Elon Musk made a deal with South Australia earlier this year and it’s proving to be a solution to their coal-fired power plant problems.
  • The record time (milliseconds) is much better than any heretofore solutions.


The Planet’s Plastic Pollution Problem
Story from The Guardian, Dec. 26, 2017.

The scale of plastic in the oceans and elsewhere in the environment has reached unmanageable proportions.  Even as the amount of plastic produced every year is roughly equivalent to the entire weight of humanity, corporations are building new facilities that will ensure at least a 40% rise in plastic production in the next decade.   

  • Companies like ExxonMobil Chemical and Shell Chemical, who are benefitting from shale fracking, are locking in enough raw materials for more plastic products to ensure massive future productions.
  • The American Chemistry Council touts the number of jobs created by the industry while ignoring the impossible existing pollution problem.


Vera Katz, the Eco-conscious Former Portland Mayor, Dies at 84
Story from New York Times, Dec. 13, 2017.

Vera Katz elected to the Oregon legislature in 1972 served three terms as speaker from 1985 to 1990 and three terms as mayor of Portland (1993-2005), transforming the city into the ‘liberal bastion of visionary urban planning’ that we know today.  

      • Vera was inspired by Cesar Chavez and Robert F. Kennedy. 
      • She arrived in the U.S. as a refugee with her family from Nazi Germany, settling in Brooklyn when she was 12. 
      • And moved to Portland with her husband in 1964.


 The Principles of Responsible Investing
Story from PRI website (unpri.org).

The United Nations supported organization called PRI was developed by a group of the world’s largest institutional investors to develop socially just investments.

  1. Six basic principles were developed that take into consideration the implications of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors in ownership or investment decisions.
  2. The idea is to reward long-term, responsible investment to benefit the environment and society as a whole.
  3. It hopes to foster good governance, integrity, and accountability in a sustainable financial system by rewarding long-term, responsible investments.


San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority Advisory Meeting
Story from attendance notes, Dec. 8, 2017.

The Advisory Committee is charged with using the funds created by Proposition AA, the San Francisco Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention and Habitat Restoration Program (passed in June, 2016).  It is specifically charged to use the funds from the $12. property tax mandated by Prop AA to develop projects through a grant process that would allow various municipal, county and non-profit agencies to take part.

  • The Advisory Committee’s first round of Requests for Proposals (RFPs) closed out on Nov. 15, 2017, with 22 projects received and $47 million for those projects was deemed appropriate.
  • These RFPs are still in reviewing stage but will be granted early in 2018 to get things going on protecting the Bay, preparing for sea level rise, and making the Bay accessible to people.


 Startup Company Turns Air Pollution into Art
Story by inhabit.com, Dec. 1, 2017.

Anirudh Sharma from Mumbai, India started the company, Graviky Labs, to capture soot from diesel vehicles and turn the residue into ink used by artists. 

  • Particulate matter from diesel emissions has many harmful health effects.
  • A device called a KAALINK is attached to the exhaust of diesel vehicles and later sent to a lab to be emptied.
  • Inks and paints are available in different shades of grey and pitch black with more options to come.
  • Here’s the Facebook website with more works of art.



 VI.  Events

Jan 3 & 17 (1st & 3rd Wednesdays), 7:00pm, Clean Energy Campaign Conference Call

Sunday, Jan 7, 9:30am, UUSF Sunday Forum, 1187 Franklin St.

Saturday, Jan 10, 8:30am, Rally in front of courthouse, 10:00am Hearing, U.S. Courthouse, 450 Golden Gate Ave., SF

Thursday, Jan. 18, 6:30pm (refreshments), 7:00pm (program), Unitarian Universalist Church of San Francisco, 1187 Franklin St.

Thursday, Feb 1, 5:30pm (reception), 6;30 – 8:30pm (program), David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley


Other Sources of Events:

350Bay Area – Includes other 350.org branches in the Bay Area.
Planet Drum  San Francisco bioregion awareness center
David Brower Center  –  The environmental center in Berkeley
Ecology Center – Berkeley sustainability center
Sunflower Alliance – Bay Area umbrella organization for activism
Sierra Club San Francisco – Bay Area Website


Editorial cartoon on EPA and Scott Pruitt



The  End