What About Pollution

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Drought-shamed Los Angeles County cuts supervisors’ car washes to one a week.

After a very public drought shaming, Los Angeles County employees may soon be driving dirtier cars. On Thursday, Supervisor Don Knabe called for a once-monthly limit that could affect all county departments. Officials also limited the Board of Supervisors to once-weekly car washings, effective immediately. Depending on how many vehicles are affected, this could amount to some serious water savings. The largest local government in the nation, Los Angeles County has roughly 12,500 vehicles. Some departments had no limits on the frequency of their washes before Wednesday evening, despite the state’s prolonged drought. Service records obtained by this news organization revealed that most of the county supervisors washed their take-home SUVs and sedans two or three times a week… Read More

Water Wars Loom Over California: Who Gets the Water

The announcement that California is rapidly running out of water has put new pressure on our most precious resource that could, in turn, force increased prices and shut down organic food production. Ultimately, it could even threaten the food supply. The recent warnings from NASA hydrologist Jay Famiglietti, based on satellite data of the groundwater supply as it is threatened by the ongoing drought, is only compounding the issues for farmers who have already been driven to cut back production as water is rerouted to cities and industries. State leaders are embracing a full on crisis, and there is no sign of letting up: At a news conference on March 19, 2015, California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon warned, “There… Read More

A Water Bond to Protect the Environment and the Economy

Doug Obegi, Staff Attorney, Western Water Project, San Francisco Virtually all of California – 99.8 percent – is in severe drought. The toxic blue-green algae that shut down Toledo’s drinking water supply earlier this month is thriving in Stockton’s waterways, thanks to warm, stagnant water and low river flows. Many farmers and cities across the state are struggling with low water supplies.  And salmon and other native fish populations are crashing. These serious problems require serious solutions. And those solutions shouldn’t be held hostage over funding for the state’s ill-conceived, $25 billion twin tunnels proposal, incongruously named the “Bay Delta Conservation Plan” or the BDCP. Happily, the new $7.5 billion water bond heading to the November ballot does not… Read More

Tagging toxics: Legislation green lights labeling of harmful chemicals in household furniture

Veena Singla, Staff Scientist, Health Program, San Francisco Today, the California legislature voted to give consumers the right to know whether they are bringing home a toxic couch. This first-in-the nation legislation (SB 1019), authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), requires the furniture’s attached label to clearly declare the presence or absence of added flame retardants. This bill was co-sponsored by NRDC along with Center for Environmental Health and California Professional Firefighters, and its passage is a victory for California consumers who want to make safer choices for their families. The bill has bipartisan support throughout the legislature, indicating that both sides of the aisle agree: more transparency in the marketplace is good for business and good for… Read More

Trucks delivering six miles per gallon won’t work in the long haul

By Jason Mathers Here’s something to think about next time you are stuck in traffic next to an 18-wheeler: The average tractor-trailer can travel only six miles per gallon of diesel. These heavy trucks travel a lot too; averaging more than 120,000 miles a year or 20 roundtrip drives between Boston and San Francisco. Freight trucks are on the road for one primary purpose: to get goods to all of us. In fact 70% of U.S. freight tonnage is moved by tractor-trailer trucks. Over the coming years, demand for freight services is expected to grow even more. And this is driving up fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. A call for strong fuel efficiency standards But it is possible and… Read More

2014: San Francisco Wants To Ban Plastic Water Bottles

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – San Francisco moved to restrict the sale of plastic water bottles on city property on Tuesday, the first such action by a major U.S. municipality and the latest in a string of waste-reduction measures that included a ban on plastic grocery bags. The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to begin phasing out the sale and distribution of water in single-use plastic bottles on city-owned or leased land next fall, and to ban future water bottle purchases with city funds. “There are incredible, enormous environmental costs of plastic water bottles,” said Supervisor David Chiu, who introduced the measure. “It takes 1,000 years for a typical plastic water bottle to biodegrade.” Numerous cities in California and other… Read More

One in five Americans Living in High Traffic Pollution Areas

Diane Bailey, Senior Scientist, San Francisco A new study came out showing that 19 percent of people in the U.S. live close to high traffic roadways and likely face elevated air pollution levels—and the public health problems that come with that–as a result. According to the study, 60 million people could face greater risk of asthma, cancer and other health hazards because they live within roughly 1500 feet, or a quarter mile,of a busy road.  In California up to 40% of people face these elevated risks.  The paper also confirms our longstanding concerns about environmental injustice: Communities of color and low income communities continue to bear a disproportionately large burden of air pollution, especially from diesel trucks and traffic.… Read More