Friday, September 28, 2018

Air Resources Board Considers All-Electric Bus Fleet by 2040

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2018 at 8:21 AM

California looks even Furthur into a possible future of zero-emissions buses
  • California looks even Furthur into a possible future of zero-emissions buses

The California Air Resources Board is meeting this morning in Sacramento to hear expert testimony on a proposed rule that would mandate a statewide zero-emissions bus fleet by 2040.

The ARB reports that transportation emissions are at their highest levels in ten years—what?!—and today's meeting will zero-in on the board's Innovative Clean Transit Rule, an ambitious effort to electrify buses in municipalities from Chula Vista to Yreka.

Closer to home, Santa Rosa is already on the stick: This week the Federal Transit Administration announced $366 million in competitive grants had been awarded for bus and bus-facility infrastructure projects. California clipped $29 million of the federal greenbacks, including $1.8 million directed to Santa Rosa.

The FTA reports that Santa Rosa will use the money to fund the purchase of zero-emission buses, as the city begins to transition from its stinky fleet of exhaust-spewing buses, to an all-electric fleet of clean, mean, transporting machines. $1.8 million can basically get you two electric buses. 

A June 2017 feature on electric buses that appeared in the online noted that a diesel bus costs around $500,000; electric buses cost about $800,000—but the added cost is offset by fuel savings over the vehicle's lifetime.

Today's hearing in Sacramento begins at 9am and will feature testimony from EarthJustice, Sierra, the Coalition for Clean Air, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the American Lung Association of California.

Sayeth the ARB: "Experts say California cannot meet its clean air or federal ambient air quality standards so long as the state's vehicle fleet is dependent on fossil fuels," as it notes that the state already has a thriving electric-bus manufacturing industry.

The report highlighted one of the California companies building the next-gen fleet, Proterra. They've got a good problem, noted the article's author, Andy Uhler: "It can’t build buses fast enough to keep up with demand." 
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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Just Say Kavan-no.

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2018 at 2:09 PM

Dr Blasey-Ford: An American Hero
  • Dr Blasey-Ford: An American Hero

It's been quite an emotional day in America as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford took the stand before the Senate Judiciary Committee to describe her alleged sexual assault at the hands of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The hearings today have prompted dozens of House members to ramp up their demand that Sen. Mitch McConnell postpone the confirmation hearings until the FBI conducts an investigation into multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and assault that have been levied against the former frat boy Kavanaugh.

Ford and two other women, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, have come forward in recent days to describe horrific acts allegedly committed by Kavanaugh, who was nominated to the Supreme Court by a president who has himself been accused of sexual assault and misconduct. Kavanaugh has denied everything and .

Local U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman is one of the 65 congressional Democrats to sign the statement sent to McDonnell today. He sent along the statement this afternoon, which reads, in part: "These courageous women have nothing to gain by speaking their truth and every reason to stay silent and avoid the harassment and death threats they are currently receiving for coming forward." McConnell has assured Kavanaugh supporters that he will be seated on the bench. Today's hearing may perhaps throw that assurance into doubt.

Downstate U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu signed the statement, as did U.S. Rep. Mark Takano, from Riverside. Those are a few of the handful of men who signed it. U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, whose congressional district comprises Santa Rosa, did not sign the statement calling for McConnell to pause the proceedings, nor did Nancy Pelosi.  
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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Recycling Industry Coalition Slams Trump for Disastrous Trade War with China

Posted By on Wed, Aug 15, 2018 at 2:35 PM

Trash haulers and recyclers from around the state threw tabloid trash president Donald Trump in the dumpster this week over his escalating trade war with China and its disastrous impact on the state’s recycling industry

The Trump trade war, charged a garbage-hauling coalition that gathered in American Canyon on Tuesday, “is leaving them with stockpiles of recycled materials, and sending more waste to landfills.”

Last week, China announced new tariffs on recyclable exports from the U.S., in retaliation to Trump’s implementation of taxes on numerous Chinese imports. One new tariff from the Chinese targets fiberboard and cardboard. “It’s a popular export for recycling,” says coalition spokesman Steve Maviglio, “because it’s usually high quality, not spoiled by food or anything. [The Chinese] like it as opposed to mixed paper.”

The new China-slapped tax on cardboard, says Mavilglio, was an unexpected hiccup for a statewide recycling industry that’s already working within tight margins, not to mention having to negotiate ever-more-restrictive conditions set by Chinese importers about the purity of the product they’re getting.

California is the nation’s leader in the recycling business, generally, says Maviglio, and far and away the biggest exporter of recyclables to China. Now recyclers are faced with growing piles of recyclable materials in their facilities, which are increasingly winding up in landfills.

Tuesday’s American Canyon press briefing at Napa Valley Recyclers had two main thrusts: One, to ask residents to recycle smarter in order to stem the flow of China-rejected cardboard into landfills.

“Don’t put things in the bins that don’t belong there,” says Maviglio. “China is tightening up on what they will accept and won’t accept.” China used to accept recyclables with up to 5 percent contamination from other waste products. Now the nation won’t accept bales of cardboard that eclipse a 1 percent contamination rate.

The other thrust of the presser was to push California lawmakers, if possible, to step up with new legislation to keep the state and municipalities that have recycling contracts from not having to eat new costs of shipping the product to China. With only a few weeks left in the legislative session, time’s of the essence, says Maviglio for the state to provide relief to impacted haulers and recyclers. “Different companies,” he says, “are getting hit harder than others.” Cal-Recycle hosted a conference a few weeks ago to try and find common ground on the issue, he says.

When municipalities around the state contracted with waste haulers and recycling companies (such as Recology's recent forays into Santa Rosa and West Marin), to stem the flow of trash to landfills, “tariffs from an unexpected trade war never figured into their plans," says Maviglio Certainty is the key in this industry, especially when you’re talking about such large quantities being shipped.” Those costs are inevitably passed along to residents and businesses.

As a side-note, while the recycling coalition isn’t talking about landfills’ susceptibility to fires, it would stand to reason that the more cardboard product that winds up at the dump, the greater the risk for fire. As Cal-Recycle notes on its website, “Landfills fires, both surface and subsurface, are more common than one might expect.” 
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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

State EPA Eviscerates Trump Plan to Undo Emissions and Fuel Standard Regulations

Posted By on Tue, Aug 7, 2018 at 4:56 PM

Up, up and away with this pitiful buffoon
  • Up, up and away with this pitiful buffoon

From the staff report out today:

This threat of weakening the standards of the unified national program, left unaddressed, could substantially slow progress towards the emission reductions needed to address the serious threat climate change poses to California, the country, and the world, waste billions of gallons of gasoline, and cost consumer money on fuel. Now that U.S. EPA has stated that it intends to abandon the rigorous U.S. EPA standards the record supports, regulated entities and the public confront considerable uncertainty as to the fate of the program, undermining the goals of the unified national program to provide a clear path towards necessary pollution reductions.

Here's the whole, feisty report:

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Sonoma DA: Santa Rosa upskirt perv gets 9 years for truly heinous behavior

Posted By on Wed, Jul 18, 2018 at 8:07 AM


This guy's a real winner. Yowza.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Tesla CEO accuses British hero diver of pedophilia as company lobbies CPUC for latest Powerwall project with PG&E.

Posted By on Tue, Jul 17, 2018 at 4:17 PM

You can really put the pedo to the metal in this Tesla - WIKIPEDIA
  • Wikipedia
  • You can really put the pedo to the metal in this Tesla

Have you been following the news about Elon Musk? The internet is abuzz with
news that the California-based founder of Tesla Inc. teed off on one of the heroes of the recent cave rescue of those Thai kids and their coach—by accusing a British diver on the scene of being a "pedo," which is short for pedophile.

Musk levied his charge at Vernon Unsworth, whose sin against Musk was in dismissing the billionaire's vainglorious attempt to be the Thai-cave rescue hero, via a mini submarine he built that was supposed to lead the kids out of the cave. In the end, the submarine was impractical for the rescue situation—a jagged, winding cave with numerous tight spaces for rescuers to negotiate, and no room for a submarine. Unsworth said as much, earning the wrath of Musk via a Tweet. 

Now Musk is facing the wrath of investors and demands that he apologize for his crack against Unsworth, as Tesla stocks dropped at news of his unsubstantiated accusation. Numerous media reports on the episode concluded that Unsworth may have a defamation case at hand against the inventor-entrepreneur, whose auto factory is based in Fremont. The company is itself headquartered in Palo Alto and has several proposed projects in the California pipeline.

One of those projects, first reported by the online source Electrek finds Tesla teamed up with Pacific Gas & Electric and at work on a "massive 'up to 1.1 GWh Powerpack battery system."

Fred Lambert, editor-in-chief at Electrek and the site's main writer broke the news in late June. Here's what he reported: "Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), one of the largest electric energy companies in the United States covering nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California, submitted 4 new energy storage projects to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for approval today. Three are third-party owned projects to be connected to PG&E’s grid, but the fourth one is 'a proposed utility-owned 182.5 MW lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS) located within PG&E’s Moss Landing substation.'" (The Moss Landing substation is located just north of Monterey along Highway 1.)

If approved by state regulators at the CPUC, Lambert noted that this would be the third Powerpack project undertaken between Tesla and PG&E.

For different reasons, both companies have watched their stocks lose value in recent days and months. PG&E has been rocked by fallout from the October wildfires and has set out to limit its fire-related liability. Tesla's founder is being accused of being some kind of weird hybrid of Donald Trump and disgraced pizza racist "Papa" John Shattner.

Fortunately Tesla and PG&E share a lobbyist in Sacramento who is looking out for their best interests.

According to records on file with the California Secretary of State, and as previously reported on this blog, the Tesla Motor Company and PG&E are both represented in Sacramento by the lobbying firm Platinum Advisors. The firm was founded by Platinum president Darius Anderson, the Sonoma County Democratic power broker, real-estate developer, and investor in Sonoma Media Investments.

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Randall Walker out at SCSO

Captain Al Vernon Set to Become Warden at Main Adult Detention Facility

Posted By on Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 11:42 AM


The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office says Assistant Sonoma County Sheriff Randall Walker is retiring.

Walker, the former warden at the SCSO Main Adult Detention Facility (MADF), was suspended from his post in early April and placed on paid leave.

The details of his suspension are shielded from public view because of state laws governing the release of personnel files or information about law enforcement officials.

The Bohemian has a public records request in with the county to see if there’s any aspect of the Walker suspension and subsequent retirement that is open to public review.

In the meantime, says SCSO spokesman Spencer Crum, Walker will be replaced by SCSO Captain Al Vernon. The new warden will assume his post on July 17. Captain Clint Shubel has been the interim warden since Walker was put on paid leave in early April.

In June, Sonoma County settled a lawsuit brought by numerous inmates which centered on the controversial practice of “yard counseling’ inmates. Interim Sheriff Rob Giordano and incoming Sheriff Mark Essick have both disavowed the practice. The county settled with the inmates for $1.7 million.

It is unknown whether fallout from the “yard counseling” suit had anything to do with Walker being put on paid leave.

Vernon will also be responsible for continue an effort that was pursued by Walker to work with the National Institute of Corrections on an inmate-behavior management program, she says, describing the training program as a “cutting edge” approach to managing the incarcerated.

The NIC program sets out to address fallout from an historical approach to incarceration which puts an emphasis on the physical containment of inmates “over actively supervising them and managing their behavior,” the NIC website reports. “This has resulted in problems commonly associated with jails, such as violence, vandalism, and unsanitary conditions. These problems create dangerous conditions for both staff and inmates and can be costly for taxpayers. To address this issue, the National Institute of Corrections has developed training programs, technical assistance, and information to help jails better manage inmates.”
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Monday, June 25, 2018

Supreme Court Rejects Sonoma County Bid to Drop Lopez Lawsuit

Posted By on Mon, Jun 25, 2018 at 10:53 AM

The Supreme Court this morning denied a petition that asked for a writ of certiorari from the high court to set aside a lower court ruling regarding the actions of Sonoma County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) officer Erick Gelhaus. The police sergeant was involved in a 2013 shooting of a teenager carrying a replica AK-47 in Santa Rosa while he was a deputy on patrol in Moorland. The court's ruling appears to indicate that the last of Sonoma County's legal options may have been exhausted and it will either have to settle with the family of Andy Lopez in an ongoing federal civil-rights lawsuit, or participate in a trial to determine whether Gelhaus should be granted qualified immunity for his role in the incident. The county has now lost in pleadings before the U.S. District Court, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and now, the Supreme Court. It's a big blow to the county, and SCSO, given that court-watchers were increasingly convinced in recent days that the conservative court would rebuke the 9th Circuit's ruling that there were use-of-force issues in the case that ought to be sorted out out by a jury. Here's the ruling:

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Friday, June 1, 2018

Sonoma County Sheriff's Office says it won't attend Andy Unity Park opening

Posted By on Fri, Jun 1, 2018 at 7:36 PM

After consultations and weeks of internal discussions, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office says it will not attend tomorrow’s opening of Andy’s Unity Park in Moorland.

SCSO spokesman Sgt. Spencer Crum said earlier this week that “we want to be a part of the healing process in the community and if the community isn’t ready for us to join them in the opening, then we will keep their sensitivities in mind.”

The agency met Thursday to make its decision.

Andy Lopez was shot and killed by an SCSO officer in 2013 while carrying a replica AK-47.

The agency reached out for input from 5th District Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, Sonoma County Parks, and community members, Crum said.

“We recognize the opening of Andy’s Unity Park to be an important day of healing and moving forward. We don’t want to upset the Lopez’ family and friends or create any negative distraction so, with full mindfulness, we will not be in attendance. We do look forward to our continued work in the community, though, and the residents can call us anytime and get our full support.”
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Friday, May 25, 2018

Cal-Fire Says PG&E Downed Power Lines the Culprit in Four 2017 California Wildfires

Posted By on Fri, May 25, 2018 at 4:17 PM

  • Tom Gogola

Cal Fire has just announced its investigation into four of the wildfires that hit California last year has ended, and that the fires were caused by downed PG&E wires coming into contact with trees. The state agency determined that fires in Butte and Nevada counties—the La Porte fire, the McCourtney Fire, the Lobo Fire and the Honey fire were all caused by the power lines. In a statement, Napa State Sen. Bill Dodd says, “It confirms what we’ve known all along—that downed power lines can be the source of devastating fires." Dodd has pending litigation that would compel utility companies to strengthen their infrastructure. "We have an obligation to ensure the utility companies do what’s right to protect Californians," he says. "This determination by Cal Fire underscores the need to take protective measures now.” No word as yet from Cal Fire on the cause of the Nuns, Tubbs, Adobe and Pocket fires that tore through the region last October.

Here's the complete statement from PG&E sent to the Fishing Report late Friday after this news broke:

"Based on the information we have so far, we believe our overall programs met our state’s high standards. Under PG&E’s industry-leading Vegetation Management Program, we inspect and monitor every PG&E overhead electric transmission and distribution line each year, with some locations patrolled multiple times. We also prune or remove approximately 1.4 million trees annually. Following Governor Brown’s January 2014 Drought State of Emergency Proclamation and the California Public Utilities Commission’s Resolution ESRB-4, PG&E has added enhanced measures to address areas particularly affected by drought and bark beetles including:

• Increased foot and aerial patrols along power lines in high fire-risk areas;
• Removed approximately 236,000 dead or dying trees in 2016 and 140,000 dead or dying trees in 2017; these tree removals were in addition to approximately 30,000 trees removed per year prior to the drought;
• Launched daily aerial fire detection patrols during high fire season to improve fire spotting and speed of fire response;
• Since 2014, provided $11.4 million to local Fire Safe Councils (FSCs) for fuel reduction projects in communities; and
• Provided $1.7 million to local FSCs for 28 highly programmable remote-sensing cameras for critical fire lookout towers.

PG&E meets or exceeds regulatory requirements for pole integrity management, using a comprehensive database to manage multiple patrol and inspection schedules of our more than two million poles. Years of drought, extreme heat and 129 million dead trees have created a “new normal” for our state, and we must continue to adapt to meet these challenges. Extreme weather is increasing the number of large wildfires and the length of the wildfire season in California. According to CAL FIRE, in 2017 alone, CAL FIRE confronted 7,117 wildfires, compared to an average of 4,835 during the preceding five years. Five of the 20 most destructive wildfires in the state’s history burned between October and December 2017.

In the case of these Northern California wildfires, we saw an unprecedented confluence of weather-related conditions, including: years of drought resulting in millions of dead trees, a record-setting wet winter that spurred the growth of vegetation that then became abundant fuel after record-setting heat during the summer months, very low humidity and very high winds.

The state, first responders and California’s utilities are all in agreement that we must work together to prevent and respond to wildfires and enhance climate and infrastructure resiliency.

Following last year’s fires, we are bolstering wildfire prevention and emergency response efforts, putting in place new and enhanced safety measures, and doing more over the long term to harden our electric system to help reduce wildfire risks and to keep our customers safe.

We want to work together to share information, provide resources and help our customers and communities prepare for and stay safe during extreme weather events. This challenge requires us all to come together in order to be successful. We need to look at the full range of solutions. These should include utility practices as well as:
• Forest management to reduce fuel;
• Better management of building in the wildland urban interface;
• Fire-resistant building codes;
• Defensible space practices; and
• Insurance coverage for those homeowners and businesses located in elevated fire areas.

In addition, we strongly believe this must include addressing California’s unsustainable policies regarding wildfire liability. California is one of the only states in the country where the courts have applied inverse condemnation liability to events associated with investor-owned utility equipment. This means PG&E could be liable for property damages and attorneys’ fees even if we followed established inspection and safety rules. Liability regardless of negligence undermines the financial health of the state’s utilities, discourages investment in California and has the potential to materially impact the ability of utilities to access the capital markets to fund utility operations and California’s bold clean energy vision.

Extreme weather events driven by climate change are causing unprecedented wildfires and creating a “new normal” for our state. We are committed to advocating with legislative leaders and policymakers across the state on comprehensive legislative solutions for all Californians, as we collectively seek to meet the challenge of climate change, and position the California economy for success.

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