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.

Adelante,

Barbara Chan
Convener, Environmental Justice Committee
El Cerrito Progressives
Progressive Civic Engagement
https://elcerritoprogressives.com/category/environmental-justice/’

EL CERRITO CLIMATE EMERGENCY ACTION ALERT

 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

7:00 pm

El Cerrito City Hall, City Council Chambers

10890 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito

The El Cerrito City Council will be voting on a Resolution to Declare a Climate Emergency and to endorse emergency mobilization efforts to restore a safe climate.   The core elements of the proposed Resolution include:

– citywide climate emergency education and actions that can be taken to transition to zero greenhouse gas emissions;

-reduction of city greenhouse gas emissions to zero as quickly as possible within the forthcoming Climate Action Plan Update; and

– support for climate emergency mobilization and collaboration efforts to reverse global warming at the City, regional, state, national and global levels.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported last fall that we had 12 years to maintain the global temperature increase below 1.5C, and that to do this we needed to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030.  Governor Brown issued an Executive Order in September 2018 to achieve Carbon Neutrality no later than 2045. We must ACT NOW to address the Climate Emergency!

Support the city council members in joining the 9 other Bay Area cities* and over 900 jurisdictions across the globe that are providing leadership and taking action to address climate change as the global threat that it is. Come to the meeting or write the Mayor and City Council members about why this issue is important to you and encourage the city to follow-up with actions as rapidly as possible:  Mayor Pardue-Okimoto rpardueokimoto@ci.el-cerrito.ca, and city councilmembers jabelson@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us;gquinto@ci.el-cerrito.ca.uspfadelli@ci.el-cerrito.ca.usglyman@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us.   If you would like your letter to be part of the public record, cc it to the city clerk atcityclerk@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us.

The link to the city agenda materials can be found here.

Toward a safe and sustainable climate for all,

The Environmental Justice Committee of the El Cerrito Progressives

*Oakland, Alameda, Berkeley, San Francisco, Hayward, Fairfax, Petaluma, Cupertino and Richmond.  (Other CA jurisdictions include Santa Cruz and Mendocino Counties and the cities of Chico, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles.)

STOP COAL IN THE EAST BAY

Come support Richmond residents suffering from health problems aggravated by coal and petroleum coke dust! On Thursday, July 18 at 5:30 pm, No Coal in Richmond will hold a rally and press conference on City Hall steps at 5:30 pm before the 6:30 pm Richmond Planning Commission meeting.

WHAT: No Coal in Richmond rally & Richmond Planning Commission hearing
WHEN: Thursday, July 18: rally & press conference 5:30, Planning Commission 6:30
WHERE: Richmond City Hall steps, 450 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond CA 94804

The Planning Commission meeting will consider the Richmond Coal Ordinance, which prohibits new coal operations on private land in the city, prevents existing facilities from expanding, and provides for a graduated phase-out of coal operations. It relies on the city’s police powers to regulate businesses in the interest of residents’ health and safety.

No Coal in Richmond is urging the Planning Commission to recommend approval of the ordinance with a phase-out period of three years. A three-year phase-out will safeguard terminal workers’ jobs and allow the terminal enough time to convert their operations to safer bulk commodities. The commission’s recommendation will go before the City Council in September.

If you are a Richmond resident and want to speak at the hearing, please contact action@sunflower-alliance.org and put “Planning Commission testimony” in the subject line. This is your chance to voice your experience, or that of family members, of suffering health problems such as asthma and COPD.

No Coal in Richmond has collected 1,600 signatures on a letter to the City Council urging them to act to end coal and petroleum coke handling and storage at the Levin-
Richmond Terminal. We already suffer from the areas’s highest levels of asthma and other health problems caused by bad air quality.

To read the ordinance and learn more about the health effects of coal and petroleum coke dust, please visit the No Coal in Richmond website: https://ncir.weebly.com/

Original Post: https://nocoalinoakland.info/event/rally-to-get-coal-out-of-richmond/

Stop Plastic Pollution — Start Being Part of the Solution

The Environmental Justice Committee of El Cerrito Progressives is showing the movie A Plastic Ocean Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 2:30 pm at the Berkeley Zion Presbyterian Church, 545 Ashbury Ave in  El Cerrito.

 

A Plastic Ocean is an award-winning feature length documentary by a group of dedicated scientists, film-makers, social entrepreneurs, scholars, environmentalists and journalists, that explores the fragile state of our oceans and uncovers alarming truths about the consequences of our disposable lifestyle.

The film documents the global effects of plastic pollution and highlights workable technologies and innovative solutions that everyone – from governments to individuals – can do, to create a cleaner and greener ocean.

 

After the film we will have a group discussion about, in particular, pollution from single use plastics, as well as an update on the state of the El Cerrito Recycling Center now that China has stopped taking plastic trash from the United States for recycling.

2018-2019 Year of (No) Plastic

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DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH PLASTIC PASSES THROUGH YOUR LIFE?  Last year several members of our Environmental Justice group tracked 1-time use plastic items that flowed through our lives on a daily basis.  It was a real eye-opener. In my 31 days, the number of items ranged from 0 to 18. Besides the obvious items like plastic bags* from the produce aisles of your local grocery store, yogurt containers or water bottles, plastic comes with so many ordinary items we use every day. For example, a Kleenex tissue box has a plastic insert in the opening. I tried soaking it to remove the cardboard so I could put the plastic with my collection of clean plastic film– all plastic film has to be clean and dry and bunched up together in a plastic bag or wrapped together before being put in your grey bin or taken to the Recycling Center. A metal cap on a bottle of sparkling water has a ring of plastic around it. The batteries you buy come packaged in cardboard and plastic. Multiple rolls of toilet paper are packaged in plastic. Produce from Trade Joe’s comes in plastic containers (although now the company is finally responding to customer’s urges to stop that practice–I for one never buy produce there because of the plastic. When you get takeout food, does the restaurant stick in a plastic fork? What implement do you use to write? I would guess it’s a plastic-encased disposable pen. I could go on and on about the data our group has uncovered in more than a year of researching the insidiousness and dangers of plastic.

People were led to believe that recycling solves the problem of our over-consumption of stuff. The fact is that 91% of plastic worldwide is NOT RECYCLED. A recent study by marketing researchers at Citi found that only 14 percent of plastic packaging is recycled. And when China declared in 2018 that it would not longer accept our “recyclable” trash because much of it was contaminated and they have their own garbage to deal with, America was stopped dead in our wanton wastefulness and confronted with mountains of so-called recyclables that are now being hauled to landfills.

Why?  Because so many communities, including our own, went to single-stream recycling. That is, we were told to place metal, glass, paper, cardboard, and plastic altogether in our grey bins. This resulted in contamination of many items, making it impossible to be recycled, hence they end up in landfills. Years back people in El Cerrito had to separate our recyclables into different bins; that was in the era before food waste was accepted. Then single stream recycling came into practice and new trucks were designed and built to accommodate one large bin and prevent workers from having to pick up and lift the bins and tilt them into the yawning rear openings of the recycling trucks. What used to take several workers now only takes one worker to run the truck and its grippers that pick up the bin and toss its contents into the side opening of the truck and then set the bin back on the street. When materials are contaminated, purchasers or recyclable materials don’t want to buy them and they have to go into landfill. Not only does this pollute our Earth, it loses money for our City.

Recycle processing equipment cannot handle small bits of plastic. 500 million straws were being used every day in the U.S.; they plus the ubiquitous plastic stirrers and plastic knives, forks, and spoons slip through the machines. And yet they can be found by the 1000s in our creeks, pathways, streets, at bus stops, and blown into people’s yards.

These are just a few of the reasons why last Summer we took our “Skip the Straw” campaign to El Cerrito’s Environmental Quality Committee, an advisory group to the City Council. Although we called it “Skip the Straw,” what we really want is for our city to ban all 1-time use and non-recyclable and non-compostable foodware. In July 2018 we started an awareness campaign at the One World Festival, and collected signatures of El Cerrito residents. We had a contest for people to guess how many plastic straws were picked up at the festival, and gave out organic plants as prizes. We made informal and formal presentations to the EQC, whose members acknowledged that we had done the heavy lifting for them by doing a lot of relevant research, complete with references to problems and cases where cities, states and whole countries are tackling the issue.  We showed them the environmental, health, litter, and economic consequences of so much plastic being used and tossed on streets, in creeks, in parks, and all around town. As a result, EQC set up a sub-committee on plastics and declared 2019 The Year of Plastics.

Other cities are way ahead of us. Richmond passed their food ordinance in 2010 that required food providers to stop using disposable foodware and use recyclable or compostable foodware, encouraging them to provide reusable containers. Polystyrene foodware was banned in 2018. In December 2018 they added bans on the use and sale of all plasatic straws and stirrers by retail establishments, food providers, and transient lodging, and added utensils and lids to the list of disposable foodware that must be compostable or recyclable and applies it to City facilities and events. In January 2019 after a council member  introducing the idea in April 2018, Berkeley passed an ambitious comprehensible Single-Use Foodware and Litter Reduction ordinance.  Among other things, the Berkeley Ordinance includes small items such as plastic packets of condiments (e.g., ketchup), customers are encouraged to bring their own clean beverage containers for takeout beverages or be charged 25¢ for a disposable cups. Disposable foodware must be BPI Certified Compostable starting January 2020. The details about their ordinance are a role model for other municipalities to follow to get to Zero Waste.

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Although we have urged the EQC to work on a comprehensive plastics and non-compostable foodware ordinance, the staff has told EQC and us that they are only willing to work on a plastic straw and stirrer ban this year.

Our belief is that it will take a lot of effort just to go this one small step, and question why we should not design a comprehensive foodware and anti-litter ordinance that supports the healthy and safety of workers, diners and drinkers, and helps business improve their bottom financial line. Rethink Disposables, part of Clean Water Action has helped businesses save money by eliminating disposable foodware.

If you care about the health of our city and its inhabitants, food providers and workers, please join our campaign. Contact us through this website.

Barbara Chan, Convener for Environmental Justice

* For years i have cleaned and re-used plastic bags, like my mother before me, taking them with me to the store. Lately I stopped putting my produce into bags and just pile apples and oranges on the conveyer belt and then put them loose into my large cloth grocery bag or my wicker basket.