Environment

Winners of the 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize take a bow.

On Monday, the winners of the 2017 Goldman Environmental Prize, known as the “Green Nobel,” will be announced in San Francisco. The six winners receive financial support and international attention for their work on behalf of endangered ecosystems, sustainability and environmental justice. We speak to two this of year’s winners about how they’re changing the world.

Environmental activists protest outside the Carrie Gosch Elementary School during a visit by U.S. EPA Adminstrator Scott Pruitt on April 19, 2017 in East Chicago, Indiana.

This Saturday, scientists and their supporters in San Francisco and cities across the country will hold a “March for Science” in response to the Trump administration’s policies on climate change and other issues. The unprecedented action has critics questioning whether scientists should play a role in politics, while supporters argue that scientists must take a strong stance in a time of intense polarization and “alternative facts.” In this hour of Forum, we discuss the upcoming march and hear from local scientists. Tell us what you think: should science and politics mix?

More Information:
Scientists Take to California Streets This Saturday (And Ask You to Join Them) (KQED Science)

President Donald Trump makes remarks prior to signing an Energy Independence Executive Order at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Headquarters on March 28, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Surrounded by coal miners, President Donald Trump signed a broad executive order Tuesday directing federal agencies to revise or withdraw key regulations aimed at restricting greenhouse
gas pollution. The order takes particular aim at the Clean Power Plan, the Obama Administration’s far-reaching set of rules designed to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. Environmental advocates say the order effectively halts federal action on climate change, while coal industry supporters say it will bring back jobs. We discuss the order and its potential impacts.

A view of a Chevron refinery on March 3, 2015 in Richmond, California.

When Steve Early moved to Richmond in 2012, he saw a city trying to break free from its big oil roots and reinvent itself. He also saw from his backyard an oil explosion that sent 15,000 to the hospital because of toxic smoke. Home to a massive Chevron oil refinery since 1902 — Standard Oil back then — the working-class Bay Area city has a long history of pollution and poverty. But, as Early chronicles in his new book “Refinery Town,” for the past fifteen years, the Richmond community has tried to reinvent itself with a push for reform and progressive policies, electing a Green Party mayor, approving rent control measures and, most recently, passing a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Trump. Steve Early joins us in-studio to discuss Richmond’s history, its recent efforts to redefine itself and its rocky relationship with its biggest employer, Chevron.

Cows graze on grass at the Stemple Creek Ranch on April 24, 2014 in Tomales, California.

The rich agricultural lands that surround Bay Area cities make up the Bay Area greenbelt, a landscape that owes its existence to decades of conservation efforts. A report released Tuesday by the Greenbelt Alliance, a group dedicated to the protection of these lands, finds that an area almost 10 times the size of San Francisco could be developed in a generation. As Bay Area housing demand continues to grow, we’ll hear about the report and strategies to protect it from the forces of urban sprawl.

More Information:

Greenbelt Alliance website
Read the Report

Oklahoma Attorney General and President-elect Donald Trump's nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt testifies during a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill January 18, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Drawing harsh rebukes from environmentalists, President Trump issued executive orders Tuesday to push through construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines. He also directed the EPA to suspend grants and contracts, instituted a media blackout at the agency and promised to undo the Clean Power Plan, which would reduce emissions from power plants. Meanwhile, Congress moved to reverse other Obama-era environmental rules. We discuss the impacts of the Trump presidency on the environment so far.

a handle with chipped paint

Almost 3,000 communities across the nation have higher lead poisoning rates than Flint, Michigan, according to a recent Reuters investigation. Among these lead hotspots is Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, where more than seven percent of children have unhealthy blood lead levels caused by exposure to contaminated paint and soil. Flint, Michigan gained worldwide attention in 2015 when city officials told residents to stop using tap water because of lead contamination. In this hour we discuss the Reuters investigation, the dangers posed by lead, who’s most at risk, and how to prevent harmful exposure.

More Information:

Sprinklers on an urban farm

On Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed a water projects bill that has split California Democrats and is worrying some environmentalists. The 360-61 vote pitted Senator Dianne Feinstein, who negotiated the California-focused items, against Senator Barbara Boxer, who strongly opposed them. The House bill offers millions for California water storage projects and eases limits on moving water to San Joaquin Valley farms. The $558 million water package now goes to the Senate for a vote.

Fireworks fill the night sky above Oceti Sakowin Camp as activists celebrate after learning an easement had been denied for the Dakota Access Pipeline near the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

In a win for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and environmental activists, the federal government on Sunday denied a permit that would have allowed completion of the last 1,100 feet of a 1,200 mile oil pipeline across the Midwest. The stretch in question, which the tribe says would contaminate their water supply and disturb sacred sites, would cross a Missouri River reservoir. The decision to deny the permit has come under fire from supporters who say the pipeline is a key energy project. President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team reiterated on Monday that it supports the pipeline, raising serious questions about how long the decision will stand.

Michael Ableman poses for a portrait.

The Downtown Eastside neighborhood of Vancouver, British Columbia is often labeled “Canada’s poorest neighborhood.” But it is there that author and longtime activist Michael Ableman developed a sustainable food movement. Co-founded by Ableman, Sole Food Street Farms has transformed vacant urban land into fertile gardens employing community members struggling with addiction and mental illness. Ableman’s new book, “Street Farm,” tells the story of Sole Food and its larger mission to encourage small farming in underserved urban cities. We’ll talk to Ableman about the book and the urban farming movement.

More Information:

Michael Abelman’s website

Texas-based ORCEM is proposing to convert the former General Mills plant in Vallejo into a grinding mill for cement production. The city is also mulling whether to allow a new deepwater shipping terminal at the same location

Orcem California’s proposal to turn the former General Mills plant in Vallejo into a cement mill has split the community. Out-of-work Vallejo residents and some city officials see the development as an opportunity to revive an aching local economy. But other residents and environmental groups fear that the proposed development would significantly increase smog and might be a disguised effort to transport coal through the city. Forum discusses the proposed project and hears from both sides of the debate.

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Marlo Langdeau of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe joins hundreds of Native Americans for a march to a burial ground sacred site that was disturbed by bulldozers building the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), near the encampment where hundreds of people have gathered to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's protest of the oil pipeline that is slated to cross the Missouri River nearby, September 4, 2016 near Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

The conflict between law enforcement and protesters at the Dakota Access Pipeline construction site intensified on Sunday as police used water cannons on protesters attempting to move through a barricaded bridge. The clash, which occurred in subfreezing temperatures, involved an estimated 400 demonstrators and led to one arrest. Forum brings you the latest on the standoff over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech at the COP22 climate change conference on November 16, 2016, in Marrakesh.

A report published by the Sierra Club in July found that Donald Trump would be the only current world leader to deny the dangers of climate change, which the President-elect has called a “hoax,” “non-existent” and a “con job.” At last week’s Climate Change Conference – COP22 – in Marrakesh, Morocco, delegates of nearly 200 nations declared action on climate change an “urgent duty,” and Secretary of State John Kerry said that the U.S. will continue to fight global warming despite Trump’s vocal denial. We discuss the highlights of the conference, the international community’s climate goals and the role California will play as world leaders vow to shift towards a greener economy.

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Cattle rancher John Harder

From the Kansas farmlands to the Gulf of Mexico, Miriam Horn has seen firsthand the efforts of American conservationists. The head of Special Projects at the Environmental Defense Fund says those environmentalists take shape in red-state farmers, western ranchers and commercial fishermen. Horn followed five such conservationists, chronicling their efforts to sustain the land and sea in her new book, “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman: Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland.” Horn joins us in this hour to talk about environmental preservation at the grassroots level and new challenges to conservation in America’s current political climate.

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