Environmental Report for February 2021

February 2, 2021




 Immediate Action Needed!!


Stop the Development on Newark Marsh!, by Joseph Geha, Nov. 2020, The Mercury News

The city of Newark, California has approved a 469 unit “executive housing” project to be built on the marsh adjacent to the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge on San Francisco Bay.  The Center for Biological Diversity along with a citizens group called The Citizen’s Committee to Complete the Refuge (CCCR), filed suit to try to stop the project but the suit  has already been dismissed by a judge.  About a dozen other Environmental groups are opposing this site’s development. The issue will go next to the State Water Resources Control Board and the Bay Conservation Development Commission to determine if all government requirements are met.  

Use this link to express your opposition to this project.  The CCCR is taking these comments to upcoming hearings.  Thank you for your help.




I.  From Biden’s Desk


Biden’s Bold Approach to the Environment and Climate, by Anna Phillips & Evan Halter, Jan. 27, 2021, The Los Angeles Times; by Timothy Gardner, Reuters, Dec. 1, 2019, Sara Gibbons, Jan. 27, 2021, National Geographic.

President Biden signs an executive order on climate change.President Biden’s historically ambitious agenda is desperately needed and very much overdue.  He began on “Day One” with realigning the U.S. with the Paris Agreement and has not stopped writing or revoking executive orders, and writing his own memoranda to craft what appears to be a version of a Green New Deal.  His appointments of environmental leaders to his staff and cabinet speak volumes about his administration.  It appears that Environmental Justice will be front and center on his national agenda and climate change on the international agenda.  The Biden Administration is being described as a “whole-government” approach that will bind every agency to climate action and environmental justice.

In an effort to try to summarize the environmental news coming out of the President’s office, here’s a start.  It’s a growing list of environmental-climate actions that could be accomplished if things go well for the President:

  1. Return to the Paris Agreement – will actually happen on Feb. 19.
  2. Has created two new important positions – on the national and international levels:
    • National Climate Advisor, Gina McCarthy, to advise the federal government on Environmental Justice issues
    • Presidential global climate envoy position, John Kerry (appointed), who will attend international meetings and also sit on the National Security Council
  3. Restore a Clean Energy plan to get to net zero emissions with a Just Transition to greener jobs.
  4. Place a moratorium (Biden calls it “a pause”) on new oil & gas production on public lands.  (He does not ban permitted fracking on private land).
  5. Plans to end fossil fuel subsidies. This would require approval by Congress and doesn’t look promising at this time.
  6. Protect 30% of U.S. land and coastal waters by 2030, which would triple the nation’s conservation efforts now. It’s known as 30X30 (30% land and 30% coastal waters) which is currently 12% X 26%.  It’s similar to California Governor Gavin Newsom’s 30X30 executive order (Oct. 2020).  Biden’s plan would expand those National Parks Trump reduced and bring private land owners along with tribes into the equation.
  7. Create a Civilian Climate Corps to put people to work on green jobs to restore forested lands, improve lands for recreational use, and implement sea level rise restoration projects.
  8. Create a White House Interagency Council on Environmental Justice.
  9. Has already issued a behavior memorandum that would use actual data for decision making to restore scientific integrity.
  10. Promises to double wind energy by 2030.
  11. Will host an Earth Day Leaders’ Climate Summit, April 22, 2021, inviting world leaders to a conference (virtual?) – announcement forthcoming.
  12. Revoked the Keystone XL Pipeline permit.

There are a number of other issues still pending, for example, a job transition program to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources; halting Trump’s effort to make regulation contingent on a sector’s emission ratings; reject Trump’s regulation regarding oil and gas leakage; the implementation of a “social cost” of greenhouse gas emissions.




II.  Climate Change in the News


New Report: Climate Change and Ocean Warming, by Damian Carrington, Jan. 13, 2021, The Guardian

Bucket list: Historic global ocean temperature data – the missing pedigree is a comedy of errors – Watts Up With That?

A report by The Guardian features the latest information from ocean research published in the journal, Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.  It’s about ocean temperatures which have reached their highest levels in recorded history and the five warmest years occurred between 2015 and 2020.  93% of global heating is taken up by oceans which cover 71% of Earth but absorb thousands of times more heat than air does.  Reliable data goes back only to 1940 but the data does make a good case that oceans are at their warmest for 1,000 years and are heating up faster than at any time in the last 2,000 years.

How do scientists measure climate change? – Museum of Applied Arts and SciencesExtensive data is being analyzed from measurements mostly from the upper 2,000 feet where most of the heat accumulates. The report cited temperatures that are measured from 3,800 free-drifting Argo floats (cylindrical buoy devices with antennas) and other measuring technologies. The data shows progressively hotter temperatures with 2020 being the hottest year, surpassing 2019 by far.

*The graphic shows how one Argo float measures temperatures at various depths over about 10 days.




III.  Water and Wildlife

Endangered Salmon Receive Help from Rice Farmers, by Liza Gross,  Jan. 5, 2021, Inside Climate News

The flooded rice fields near the Sacramento River, where Jacob Katz of California Trout, along with farmers and other environmentalists, are trying to figure out the best "residence time"— how long the water needs to stay on the field to create the perfect conditions for salmon. Salmon runs, that in the past brought millions of fish to the rivers of California that were intricate to the state’s ecosystems, seem to be missing today.  Animals like bears, wolves, eagles, and much more were sustained by the annual salmon runs throughout California’s rivers.  Migrations of people into the state from the early 1800s onward, have been harmful to all animal species and especially to the salmon migrations.  Dam-building, mining, agriculture, and discharges to rivers have all been mighty forces working against the complex salmon life-cycle.

There are farmers that have been working with biologists and water regulators for a number of years to come up with a better plan to coexist with river inhabitants.  Rice fields have for many years been used as flooded wetlands during the off-season winters to encourage bird migrations.  One individual, Jacob Katz, chair of the Central Valley nonprofit, California Trout, has figured out a way that the same agricultural cooperation can lend itself to benefit the fish.  The plan is to connect the Sacramento River with flood plains at determined access points along the river to allow baby fish access to rice fields.  Fish food pumped from a hatchery into these flooded-field habitats would supply the baby fish with necessary food as they make their way toward the ocean.




IV.  Miscellaneous Environmental

2020, A Good Year for Battery Storage, by Dan Gearino, Jan. 7, 2021, Inside Climate News

Over the past five years power storage projects have leaped from 20 megawatt to 300 megawatt facilities, which means a new era in energy storage has arrived. The growing demand for renewable sources of energy along with the lower cost of lithium-ion batteries have a lot to do with this. The energy storage industry is in its infancy and is still working out the details regarding production costs and electricity prices.

Energy storage facilities are measured by the amount of energy they can produce before recharging is necessary.  A megawatt is the unit of measure for how much power can be produced at a time and megawatt hours is a measure of how long electricity flows to users before a recharge is necessary. 

The two largest projects:

  • Vistra Moss Landing Energy Storage at Moss Landing, Monterey County, California (pictured below) with 300 MW for four hours resulting in 1,200 megawattv hours. It’s the world’s largest facility that will help California meet its climate goals.  An even bigger (400 MW = 1,600 MW) unit is under construction.
  • Manatee Energy Storage Center (still under construction) near Parrish, Florida will produce 409 megawatts for 2 hours that will actually produce  800+ megawatt-hours on a single charge.  This will rival California’s Moss Landing facility in electricity production.

Many different designs are being considered by other facilities around the U.S. that could actually be part of the Just Transition requirement of Biden’s plan.




V.  Events


Thursday, Feb 4, 4:00 – 5:00 pm, Migration: How Birds Connect the World

  • A family webinar from Planet Drum
  • Register at the link above.


Wednesday, Feb 10, 7:00 pm, Neighborhood Naturalists

  • Class – The Natural History of Santa Clara County – Planet Drum
  • Register: Use link above.


Thursday, Feb 11, 6:00 pm, Bolinas Lagoon, Virtual Tour

  • A family event from Planet Drum
  • Register:  Use the link above.


Thursday, Feb 11, 6:00am – 7:15 pm, Waterfowl at Laguna de Santa Rosa-Pacific Flyway

  • Webinar on migrating ducks, geese, etc. – Planet Drum
  • Register:  Use the link above.


Friday, Feb 12 , 7:00 pm, Green Friday: Divesting from Fossil Fuels

  • Virtual, Interesting presentation – Sierra Club
  • Use the link above.


Thursday, Feb 18 , 7:00 – 8:30 pm, Regeneretive Agriculture

  • Online presentation by a rancher and guests, Ecology Center
  • Use the link above – fee.


Saturday, Feb 20 , 11:00 am – 12:00 pm, Mariela’s Music Time

  • Online sing-a-long for kids and family – Ecology Center,
  • Use the link above, fee.


Saturday, Feb 27 , 10:00 am – 2:00 pm, Elephant Seal Tour of Año Nuevo

  • Virtual experience for families
  • Register: Use the link above.


Other Sources of Bay Area Events:

Friends of the Earth – located at the David Brower Center, Berkeley.

350BayArea – Includes other 350.org branches in the Bay Area.

Planet Drum – San Francisco bio-region awareness center.

Ecology Center – Berkeley sustainability center.

David Brower Center – The environmental center in Berkeley.

Sunflower Alliance – Bay Area umbrella organization for activism.

Sierra Club San Francisco – Bay Area website.


Stock cartoons


The End