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August 14, 2008

California Leading On Environment ... Most Of Us Anyway

-- by Dave Johnson

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

Take a look at the California Climate Change Portal.

This website contains information on the impacts of climate change on California and the state's policies relating to global warming. It is also the home for the the California Climate Change Center, a "virtual" research and information website operated by the California Energy Commission through its Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program.

California Attorney General Brown recently announced the state will sue to block a huge Nestle bottled-water plant unless its effects on global warming are evaluated. Why bottled water? A recent Huffington Post piece by Diane Frances, Bottled Water: The Height of Stupidity talks about the bottled-water scam,

Bottled water is a joke, one of the biggest consumer and taxpayer ripoffs ever. I applaud California's Attorney General Jerry Brown who said recently that he will sue to block a proposed water-bottling operation in Northern California by Nestle.

. . . Not only do society and the environment pay an unfair price for this consumer hoax, but consumers are being hoodwinked. They are paying from 300 to 3,000 times more than the cost of tap water without any benefit.

. . . The water is usually not superior to "city" water or tap water, and is merely a big branding hoax by soda makers. In some cases, this "designer" water is drawn from tap water and labeled for suckers to buy as though it is a superior product.

. . . One expert estimated that the amount of petroleum -- used to make the bottles, transport, refrigerate, collect and bury them -- would fill one-third of each bottle.

These plastic bottles are creating landfill problems worldwide, and are washing up on beautiful beaches around the planet.

The state is also suing the Bush Environmental Lobbyist Protection Agency over its refusal to allow California to regular greenhouse gas emissions.

California will sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for "wantonly" ignoring its duty to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from ships, aircraft, and construction and agricultural equipment...

The lawsuit follows two similar ones this year by California in conjunction with other states on car and truck emissions and ozone pollution.

"Ships, aircraft and industrial equipment burn huge quantities of fossil fuel, causing greenhouse gas pollution, yet President (George W.) Bush stalls with one bureaucratic dodge after another," said Brown...

The state's legislature and courts are also leading in land use decisions. California Court Rules Land-Use Decisions Must Address Global Warming,
...a California court has rejected a proposal to build a controversial luxury resort and golf course, because the project's environmental study failed to analyze the project's greenhouse gas emissions.

. . . "The court affirmed what the California legislature made clear: that global warming must be addressed in land-use decisions,"...

In 2007 California passed Senate Bill 97, which affirms the requirement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from land-use decisions. In June 2008 California also provided technical guidance on how to properly calculate and reduce greenhouse gases. The California Environmental Quality Act requirements are in addition to the requirements of the California Global Warming Solutions Act and the governor's June 2005 Executive Order, which aims to reduce emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Our labor unions are also supporting these efforts. California Labor Unions Support Global Warming Solutions: Green Jobs Seen as Future,
In California, building and construction trades unions have long promoted energy efficiency measures like retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency for their promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions AND create high quality jobs.

. . . A recent op-ed published in the San Francisco Chronicle articulates California labor unions’ general principles when it comes to global warming legislation. In the op-ed, Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the California Labor Federation, and Ken Jacobs, Chair of the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, call for the California Air Resources Board to pay more attention to the key role California’s workers will play in restructuring the state’s economy to reduce its carbon footprint, and the impact this change will have on them.

Even our buildings are going green: California adopts nation’s first statewide green building code,

On July 17, the California Building Standards Commission announced the unanimous adoption of the nation’s first statewide "green" building code. The code is a direct result of the Governor's direction to the Commission and will lead to improved energy efficiency and reduced water consumption in all new construction throughout the state, while also reducing the carbon footprint of every new structure in California.

"Once again California is leading the nation and the world in emissions reductions and finding new ways to expand our climate change efforts," said Commission Chair Rosario Marin.

. . . These new statewide standards will result in significant improvements in water usage for both commercial and residential plumbing fixtures and target a 50 percent landscape water conservation reduction. They also push builders to reduce energy use of their structures by 15 percent more than today’s current standards. They also push builders to reduce energy use of their structures by 15 percent more than today’s current standards.

California remains a leader on protecting our environment. Well ... most of us, anyway. But some of us just can't get along...

Last year: Legislative Republicans Flunk Environment 101, League of Conservation Voters Says in 2007 Environmental Scorecard,

In fact, while Assembly and Senate Democrats averaged a commendable 94% and 89% respectively, Assembly and Senate Republicans averaged an embarrassingly low 5% and 9% respectively.

From May: Protecting Our Air and Atmosphere Against Republican Rollbacks in California,
Remember last year’s budget debacle?

California’s legislative Republicans held up the budget for more than a month as they tried to roll back environmental protections – and as everyday Californians rolled their eyes at the lack of leadership they showed.

Now, they’re at it again. They’ve already said they plan to postpone implementation of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, roll back diesel pollution reductions and undermine the 8-hour work day.

From June: California Republicans Leveraging to Delay Emissions Caps,
A minority of Republican state legislators in California are trying to use their leverage in approving a past-due state budget to force a roll-back of the state's greenhouse gas emissions caps, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
July: California Republican Party: Drilling Now Can Lower Oil Prices Today

Oh well. If you want a clean environment for your kids, you know what you have to do.
Click through to Speak Out California

Posted by Dave Johnson at August 14, 2008 9:24 PM


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