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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- In Vallejo, Proposed Cement Mill Divides a Community (KQED News)
- Vallejo Marine Terminal/ORCEM Environmental Impact Report (City of Vallejo’s Website)
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.
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.
- Will Trump End California’s Climate Rules? (Paul Rogers article for The Mercury News)
- Trump’s Pledge to ‘Open Up the Water’ for Valley Farms: Easier Said Than Done (KQED Science)
- On the Climate Crisis, It’s Donald Trump vs. the World (Sierra Club Report Mentioned on Air)
- I Wish We All Could Be Californian (New York Times Op-Ed by Daniel Duane Mentioned on Air)
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.
A new report from the World Wildlife Fund says global wildlife populations are on track to fall by 2/3 by 2020. The Living Planet Report states that mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish populations declined 58 percent between 1970 and 2012. Animals in lakes, rivers and freshwater systems were hardest hit, declining 81 percent. We analyze the report and discuss what it means for endangered species and conservation efforts.
Living Planet Report 2016 (WorldWildlife.org)
Monterey Fish Guide (SeafoodWatch.org)
Ecological Footprint in Living Planet Report 2016 (Global Footprint Network)
A first of its kind study of the ecological health of Mt. Tamalpais finds that while birds are thriving, Coho salmon, steelhead trout and some frog species are struggling. We’ll discuss the study, which also looked at the the impact of sudden oak death, invasive species, fires and floods. And we’ll hear what can and should be done to preserve and maintain this favorite destination for Bay Area bikers and hikers.
Mt. Tam Health Report Yields Hope — And a Warning (KQED Science)
Former public health official Jean Fraser is the new head of the Presidio Trust, the non-profit created in 1996 to oversee the 1,500 acre national park at the northern end of San Francisco. A former U.S. Army post, the Presidio is unique: it offers 24 miles of hiking trails, houses families and high-profile businesses, and is mandated to be financially self-sufficient. We’ll talk with Fraser about some of the non-profit’s controversial projects, funding the park and meeting its wideranging goals, including serving more diverse communities in the Bay Area.