Repeated Pipeline Leaks – Take Action

When El Cerrito Progressives first started meeting, the Dakota pipeline was one of our first environmental justice campaigns outside El Cerrito. Although much of our work focuses on local issues, everything and everyone is connected, whether it’s coal being transported from Utah through neighboring Richmond, plastic being used to serve our food, or pipelines 1000s of miles north and east of us. We wrote letters to the CEOs of the banks that invested in the pipeline and sent letters in solidarity with people whose lives would be affected by the XL.

Reading the Reuters article about the permit that was issued to allow extra pressure beyond the standard in the Dakota pipeline leads me think the Keystone Pipeline permit should be investigated, especially because of the major spill reported on October 31 in the NY Times.

During my visit to Alaska in August, a friend took me to see the above-ground pipe in Fairbanks. I am not an engineer. Although I marveled at how the design and construction could support the pressure and flow rate over 1000 gallons per day, I could see how leaks could occur because of land movement and other acts (e.g., vandalism, which has been reported). There have been leaks along this pipeline, and it is being considered for pipelines coming from the Arctic Refuge after it is opened to drilling.

On Sept 12 it was reported that the Trump Administration cleared a legal hurdle about drilling in the Arctic Refuge, claiming negligible negative impact on the environment. A day later Congress voted to block drilling

Given the multiple leaks and negative environmental impacts of pipelines and drilling along the Alaska pipeline, Dakota pipeline, and elsewhere, the administration’s claim has no foundation.

Take a stand against the pillaging of our natural resources for monetary gain and stand in favor of social and environmental wellbeing, whether it’s writing a letter write letters to elected officials, organizations like EarthJustice, NRDC, Sierra Club, and the Audubon Society , donating money, or going to sites to protest.


Barbara Chan
Convener, Environmental Justice Committee
El Cerrito Progressives
Progressive Civic Engagement’

Call Senators Now-Support EPA

This news just came in from the League of  Conservation Voters:

Earlier this year, Trump announced he wanted to slash the EPA’s budget by 31% — a total gut-job on the agency that would zero out key environmental programs. He also proposed 14% cuts to the Interior Department.

Well… this is a big update. After months of negotiations and intense campaigning, the House just passed a budget deal that actually increasesfunding for the EPA and Interior Departments — AND would remove Big Polluter requests that have been slipped into spending bills for years. 

This is a huge rebuke of Trump and his dangerous policies. Now, the package goes to the Senate — a vote will happen as soon as Monday. 

We need to make sure a clean bill gets through the Senate and sets up a path forward on these important government environmental programs. No poison-pill riders. No anti-environment attacks.

But with only a short window before a vote, we need to mobilize — and fast. We need your help to push this campaign over the finish line — the vote could be close.

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Please call Senators who are on the fence about funding the EPA. 

Barbara – for ECP Environmental Justice

Click here to Reply

El Cerrito Natural Update – Eliminate Plastic Packaging

Sixty-three (63) people signed our letter to El Cerrito Natural at our booth at the 4th of July Festival.

I presented your letters and signatures to the General Manager on July 23.  El Cerrito Grocery is an employee-owned business. The GM, store supervisor, and staff all very much want to eliminate toxic plastic, and I learned that it will take time.

Good grocery business is complex: how to meet the desires of customers so they will keep patronizing the store, how to keep produce fresh, and how to conduct business in alignment with the owners’ values.

Coincidentally, the leadership team had a scheduled meeting this afternoon. On the agenda was the subject of plastic. The GM promised to take the letters to the meeting and share our request.

In the immediate, the store plans to eliminate clamshell lettuce that duplicates what is sold in bulk, i.e., the mixed salad greens. Some of the specialty lettuces are not available in bulk and the staff is concerned that customers will abandon El Cerrito Natural if they cannot buy those items there. I suggested they poll the customers for their preferences. The GM said they welcome customers to tell them their preferences as that helps them make decisions about what to stock in the store.

At the Annex, they have eliminated the biocompostable cups and brought in metal cups for water. They welcome people to bring their own containers for takeout, instead of using the paperboard containers they provide.

Thanks to everyone for your support to make El Cerrito healthier for all.

Barbara Chan


Despite the federal government’s inaction and attempts to deny the effects of its policies on the environment and society, people across the United State are taking action to combat climate change. Join us to watch this National Geographic film about inspired and inspiring people working to make a difference and talk with fellow human beings about ways we can make a difference locally.

Saturday, September 21 @ 7PM

Berkeley Zion Presbyterian Church, 545 Ashbury Ave., El Cerrito


Seats are limited–Reserve yours now

Support Plastic-Free Produce

We love our hometown organic grocery store, El Cerrito Natural. We would love it more if vegetables and fruit were not packaged in plastic wrap or plastic clamshells. Plastic is a toxic material, and it is a contradiction to sell organic product wrapped or packaged in plastic. Other produce markets and farmers at El Cerrito Farmers Market are selling produce without plastic packaging or use of plastic bags!

We have drafted a letter to El Cerrito Natural’s owner, Mr. Bob Gerner asking him to consider sourcing product from farmers who use sustainable packaging.

If you did not sign our group letter to Bob at the 4th of July WorldOne Festival, feel free to copy our letter or write your own, then sign and deliver or mail it to El Cerrito Natural Grocery, 10367 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, CA 94530. Please encourage your neighbors and friends who shop there to write a letter too.

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Dear Bob,

We value that your store sells organic food products. Those products support the health of all in our community.

We are writing to urge you to source produce from famers who do not package their harvest in plastic. It is a contradiction in values to sell organic fruit, such as berries, and organic greens, in plastic containers. Not only is plastic harmful to the environment and living beings, encasing berries and greens exposes those foods to potentially carcinogenic chemicals.

There is overwhelming evidence that plastic causes grievous harm to the environment and living beings. We hope you will consider our request.


Your name and address

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Coal Out of Richmond

We are in solidarity with Richmond residents who are affected by the coal dust pollution at the Levin-Richmond Terminal. Although residents in that area are the ones primarily impacted, Bay winds blow pollution all over the greater Bay Area, affecting air quality.

They are asking people to support Coal Out of Richmond and to show up at the Richmond Planning Commission’s meting on Thursday, July 18 at 6:30PM.

More details at

Plastic Free July!

For over a year ECP Environmental Justice has been advocating that the City of El Cerrito ban plastic and non-compostable single-use food- and beverage ware through our research, presentations to the El Cerrito Environmental Quality Committee, conversations with residents, speaking at City Council meetings, showing a film about plastic, and our presence at events like Off the Grid and World One 4th of July Festivals. After one year of speaking up and out, City staff are only proposing to ban plastic straws and stirrers.
Meanwhile cities around us, including Richmond, Alameda, and Berkeley have instituted new foodware and litter ordinances that have not only banned single use plastic food and beverage-ware, and non-compostables, some have instituted mandatory charges of as much as 25¢ a cup for a take out beverage, thereby encouraging people to bring their own cups. Palo Alto very recently banned plastic produce bags in addition to plastic straws, stirrers, and utensils, and produce and farmers’ markets will have to replace plastic bags with compostable ones or none at all.  Watsonville just banned plastic carryout bags, and disposable plastic foodware from all restaurants.

To understand how much plastic enters our lifestream, some of us tracked our plastic lifestream for 31 days and it was an eye-opener about how many items used in a normal daily life include 1-time use plastic. For example, a box of Kleenex has a plastic piece around the opening of the box, presumably to protect the tissue. Buying a package of batteries involves disposing of hard-to-open hard plastic packaging. The toilet paper you buy probably comes wrapped in plastic. The sparkling water metal bottle cap has a small disc of plastic in it. To say nothing about plastic straws or cups from your favorite To Go beverage shop. The list is much longer than we anticipated.

One cannot escape the almost daily news about the overwhelming, ubiquitous amount of plastic pollution everywhere around the globe. This pollution cannot be recycled. We cannot “throw plastic away” because there is NO AWAY. Plastic is toxic to the environment and all life.

El Cerrito used to be known as a green city. We need your support to ban toxic plastic from our city.

This is why we are encouraging everyone to ban plastic from your life to the best of your ability during the month of July. If you have children, ask them to help you track the plastic that comes through your life. If you are thinking about buying an item, be it food or a non-food item, reconsider whether you really need it or can get it or an alternative without plastic packaging around it.

Come by our Booth 54-55 at the 4th of July free WorldOne Festival at Cerrito Vista Park, say “Hi” and learn how to make healthy changes in your life and work.  We’ll share our Plastic Lifestream spreadsheet template with you. Check out the games we have, take our Plastics Quiz, see our samples of alternatives to plastic that can be purchased locally, and pledge to take action to eliminate plastic from your life.

Learn about our campaign to have El Cerrito sign on to theClimate Emergency Resolution with other Bay Area cities.

We ask you to call your State representatives and tell them to support California SB 54 and its companion AB 1080. As reported in the Santa Monica Daily Press SB 54 requires that all single-use packaging and products be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2030. Senate Bill 54 would also require California to recycle or divert 75 percent of single-use materials. The state currently recycles just 15 percent of single-use plastics.

Join the global Plastic Free July Pledge started by fellow concerned humans in Australia. Together, we can make a difference in reducing plastic pollution!

With gratitude,
Barbara Chan
Convener, Environmental Justice Committee
El Cerrito Progressives
Leaders of the Campaign to Ban Plastic in El Cerrito