Friday, August 31, 2012
August was a very busy month for us! Here is just a snapshot of the work Surfrider is doing throughout California.
Lobbying the Coast at the Capital
Surfrider Foundation participated in the annual “Green California Lobby Day” that brings together advocates from 85 organizations to meet with elected officials about pressing environmental issues. Each lobby team was comprised of different organizations representing different issues. Surfrider focused on issues that would impact our oceans, beaches waves, by lobbying for two pieces of legislation (a statewide ban on plastic bags (AB298) and a phase-out of polystyrene (SB 568) foam food containers). Despite having strong public support, both SB 568 and AB 298 did not garner enough votes and will not become law. Read more here. While Surfrider is disappointed the legislature failed to act, we are still encouraged by the many local cities and municipalities that have already enacted local ordinances to curb plastic pollution. There are over 100 plastic bag and plastic foam ordinances throughout California alone. Surfrider Foundation Chapters will continue to work for local plastic reduction ordinances along with a sustained focus on plastic pollution community outreach and education.
Congress’s Poor Coastal Voting Record Revealed
Those of us working on coastal and ocean issues have seen a trend to undermine laws and policies that protect our coastline. However, we had no idea how bad it was until a recent report highlighted Congress’s poor voting record. Congressman Waxman helped launch the report and invited Surfrider and other environmental leaders to participate in a press conference. The report finds that since January 2011, the House has voted 297 times to weaken basic environmental protections. The main focus of the report was to expose how coastal laws and policies are often targeted. Of the 297 anti-environment votes, 117—39%—were for policies that would undermine protection of America’s coastal areas. Go here to see a write up of the press conference Surfrider held with the Congressman.
Slip Sliding Away…You Know the Nearer the Garbage….
In Daly City (San Francisco Bay area) there is a landfill that sits near the ocean. Although the landfill was closed and covered to create a park, the garbage is still there. Unfortunately, the area suffers from unstable geology (it's right where the San Andreas Fault enters the Pacific Ocean) which means the landfill’s location constantly poses a threat of garbage sliding into the ocean. Our San Francisco Chapter is arguing the landfill ultimately be “moved back” to ensure a long-term solution. At a recent Coastal Commission hearing, our Chapter submitted comments urging the Commission to explore managed retreat (i.e. relocating the landfill away from the coast). Our comments spurred a great discussion and movement by the commissioners to direct the city to fully evaluate retreat options. Managed retreat would not only help keep garbage from sliding into the ocean, but would also encourage natural coastal processes that would open the beach back up for public access. View our comment letter here, : and see the landfill's proximity to the ocean in this photo.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Bill to Ban Plastic Bags Moves Forward:
Surfrider Foundation California Chapters have been working on a statewide plastic bag ban for years and we are ecstatic the State Legislature is now considering a bill that would ban plastic bags (starting in 2014). The bill, AB 298, would also require retailers to provide reusable bags for sale and charge a fee for recycled paper bags as an incentive for customers to remember their reusable bags. Please take 2 seconds to send a message to your elected official urging them to vote yes! Please circulate far and wide! To read more about the bill go here.
Seismic Testing Challenged By Surfrider:
Seismic testing harms marine life.
Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) is planning to conduct seismic testing off the Central Coast in order to map fault zones near Diablo Canyon nuclear plant (supposedly to predict power plant “safety” during an earthquake). Seismic testing can have devastating impacts on ocean ecosystems--go here to read more about the dangers of seismic testing. Surfrider Foundation San Luis Obispo Chapter has been actively opposing PG&E’s efforts and questions the overall value of the project—especially considering that the testing will not conclusively prove that the power plant will be safe during an earthquake. Surfrider believes PG&E should be using data they are collecting on land in order to analyze fault lines and ensure that ocean ecosystems and eco-tourism are protected. As Brad Snook, Chair of Surfrider Foundation San Luis Obispo said in a comment letter: “Why risk our fragile ecosystem and bring our citizens financial hardship without confirmed, measurable proof that this study will save human lives? Even for the earthquake faults that have been extensively profiled, earthquakes cannot be accurately predicted”. Read more about the proposal here.
The Good and Bad News for CA State Parks.
We know, we know….the past several weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for CA State Parks. Just when we thought nearly 25% of State Parks would shut down because the State didn’t have enough money to “operate parks”, a reprieve came when the Governor’s budget allocated millions of dollars to the state park system, and when local nonprofits and other entities entered into agreements to maintain/operate State parks. Just as Park advocates were celebrating the news that Parks would not close, the Sacramento Bee published an investigation that found the Department of Parks and Recreation concealed approximately $54 million in surplus funds. Surfrider Foundation was shocked and extremely disappointed to hear about the news; and we were dismayed that the funds were not used to help keep parks open. Despite the realization there are extra funds in the Department of Parks and Recreation, our state park system is not out of the woods. The economic situation that led to potential closures does not go away, even with the newly discovered funds. Surfrider Foundation will continue to work with the Save our State Parks coalition to ensure that the newly discovered funds will be directed to keeping parks open, functioning, and ensuring long term financial plans.