Alana Minkler & Colin Atagi, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Two electric buses arrived in Santa Rosa on Wednesday morning and two more are on the way as the city is poised to put them into service later this year — the start of a bigger shift to eliminate carbon emissions tied to the CityBus fleet.
The switch to electrical buses is part of the city’s initiative to make public transportation fully zero-emission by 2030 and drastically lower carbon emissions in the transportation sector, which accounts for 60% of climate warming gases in the county.
The city’s all-electric buses, which cost $1.2 million each, join three currently in the county fleet, and are part of the broader plan by transit and fleet managers eyeing a transition away from fossil fuel vehicles over the coming years.
Sonoma County Transit introduced its first electric bus in 2018 and plans to add three more by the end of this year, with up to 19 in service by mid-2024, said Sonoma County Transit Systems Manager Bryan Albee said.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/santa-rosa-acquires-new-electric-transit-buses-readying-first-two-for-serv/
Colin Atagi, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL
The favored plan also proposes the route have a 60 mph speed limit, as well as two lanes in each direction with bicycle and pedestrian paths. The plan is in its early stages and officials haven’t identified a cost or funding source.
Caltrans, in order to keep traffic flowing decades from now, intends to build an elevated road along Highway 37 to combat rising water levels, which are expected to eventually inundate the North Bay arterial.
The proposed project essentially stretches across the existing route along San Pablo Bay and through Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties.
It preserves travel patterns, allows landward marsh migration and is resilient to sea level rises, officials said in explaining its benefits.
Read more at https://www.northbaybusinessjournal.com/article/news/hwy-37-could-be-under-water-by-2050-heres-how-caltrans-plans-to-keep-tra/
Zoe Woodcroft, EARTHJUSTICE
The California Public Utilities Commission voted today to end gas line allowances for new homes in a shift to climate-friendly construction
California made waves today as the first state in the country to end gas line extension allowances, a program that spends millions every year subsidizing fossil gas lines for new homes and buildings, as the state shifts to all-electric new construction. California is likely at the forefront of a trend, with states like Washington, Oregon, and New York all revisiting their gas line subsidies. The unanimous vote today by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is estimated to save California ratepayers over $160 million every year that was being funneled into incentivizing expansion of the fossil gas distribution system in California.
“The vote today in California is yet another palpable sign that the future is electric for homes and buildings,” said Matt Vespa, senior attorney on Earthjustice’s Right to Zero campaign. “All-electric homes are not only cheaper to build, but they also save California ratepayers money by avoiding the harmful expansion of the gas distribution system — and their clean air and climate benefits are simply priceless. California’s vote today to end gas line subsidies should spur a trend in other states looking into the obvious benefits of all-electric housing.”
Read more at https://earthjustice.org/news/press/2022/california-ends-gas-line-subsidies-as-it-eyes-an-electric-future
Amelia Parreira, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A long-sought permit recently obtained by United Anglers of Casa Grande will allow the organization to rescue fish directly from Petaluma’s watershed, which will help save the dwindling local steelhead trout population and allow its student-run hatchery to operate year-round.
The organization, which this year celebrates 40 years of local environmental conservation and fish population restoration, was granted the federal permit this summer following a yearlong review process.
Fish rescued by United Anglers from the local watershed will be transferred to the organization’s state-of-the-art hatchery — California’s only high school-run fish rehabilitation program — before being released back to their natural habitat.
“Our focus has always been nearby Adobe Creek and the steelhead trout in this watershed,” said Dan Hubacher, who has run the organization since the retiring of its founder, Tom Furrer, in 2011. “And I remember as a student, as an alumni of the program, I remember sitting here and Mr. Furrer saying, ‘We can’t touch these fish. The permit won’t allow us.’”
Hubacher said it’s surreal to think about how far the group has come in its efforts over the years.
“If we can get multiple locations where we can find fish, we can bring them in (and) can hopefully jump start this population,” he said. “Through the last couple of years, not only are we not seeing adults, which is alarming, but we’re not seeing juveniles.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/student-run-organization-gets-permit-to-help-dwindling-trout-population/
Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Community, environmental and tribal activists opposed to renewed logging in the Jackson Demonstration State Forest plan to rally in the forest Sunday and warn of potential civil disobedience in the future.
The notice comes in response to a Cal Fire announcement that tree cutting would resume as early as this week on at least one of four incomplete timber harvest plans in the Mendocino County forest. Those plans were recently revised to halt removal of the largest trees.
The return of logging crews ends an eight-month pause on tree removal that allowed state officials to start rethinking priorities for the nearly 50,000-acre forest and begin negotiations with local tribes that are seeking co-management rights.
But critics say it’s still too soon to end the pause. They argue that ideas floated in a “vision statement” released last week don’t amount to the updated forest management plan demanded by advocates and promised by Cal Fire.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/critics-of-jackson-forest-logging-to-hold-rally-warn-of-potential-civil-di/
Paulina Pineda, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Santa Rosa became the largest city in the nation to ban new gas stations on Tuesday, joining other cities in Sonoma County that have led a coordinated effort to combat climate impacts of fossil fuel.
In the latest volley of a locally grown movement that supporters hope will catch on across the nation, the City Council voted 6-0 to ban construction of gas stations and expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure at existing gas stations within city limits.
The new rules will not close gas stations though it will put some limits on current operators.
Santa Rosa has 44 operating gas stations and there are two proposed stations under review at Rincon Road and North Wright Road. Gas stations that submit completed applications before the ban goes into effect in October will be considered by staff.
With Tuesday’s vote, more than half of Sonoma County residents will live in a jurisdiction that has banned gas stations. Supporters point to elected officials in Los Angeles and mid-state New York who are looking at similar ordinances.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/santa-rosa-approves-ban-on-new-gas-stations/
Chase Hunter, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL
Highway 37 serves as a key artery of Bay Area traffic from Marin County to Vallejo, but its low-lying place in former wetlands makes it susceptible to flooding and sea level rise over coming decades.
Leaders in transportation will need to address two issues at once to ensure the long-term sustainability of the key corridor: the creation of flood-resistant, sea-level impervious infrastructure and the environmental restoration of the wetlands.
“You can’t do the environmental restoration and address sea level rise without doing the transportation project. And you can’t do the transportation improvement projects without addressing sea level rise,” said Suzanne Smith, the executive director of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority.
Read more at https://www.northbaybusinessjournal.com/article/article/sea-level-rise-threatens-highway-37-leaders-prepare-billion-dollar-plan-to/
Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Just days after releasing a new vision statement reflecting a greater focus on climate mitigation and wildfire prevention at Jackson Demonstration State Forest, Cal Fire announced a nearly eight-month pause on logging in the forest will end.
Wednesday’s announcement came as a surprise to environmental advocates, including members of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians who are in the middle of negotiating for co-management rights in the forest.
Four approved timber harvest plans in the state-owned forest were put on hold — one last year and the others over the winter — after public outcry over the removal of large redwood trees. Those plans are expected to recommence in phases before the end of the year, Cal Fire said.
Crews could begin cutting any day in the 737-acre Chamberlain Confluence harvest plan, where they already have spent recent weeks hauling downed logs that were cut and stacked last winter, State Demonstration Forest Manager Kevin Conway said.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/logging-to-restart-in-jackson-forest-as-soon-as-this-week/
Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Revitalizing Management of the Jackson Demonstration Forest (pdf)
Cal Fire has released what is says is a “new forward-looking vision” for Jackson Demonstration State Forest that reflects the realities of climate change and extreme wildfire risk.
And while it creates pathways for co-management with local tribal nations, future management of the nearly 50,000-acre state-owned forest will still likely include sustainable logging.
Cal Fire spokeswoman Christine McMorrow, resource management communications officer, described the vision statement as “a starting point” to guide development of a new forest management plan. It comes in the wake of a recent public outcry over commercial-scale logging, particularly near the coastal town of Caspar, where a timber harvest plan was brought to a halt by demonstrators in the woods last year.
Cal Fire and the California Natural Resources Agency, which oversees it, promise “a renewed focus on climate science, restoration ecology and a new model for tribal comanagement” in the future, the vision statement says.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/cal-fire-announces-new-vision-for-jackson-forest-reduces-cutting-of-big/
Kim Chipman, WASHINGTON POST
Tomatoes are getting squeezed.
California leads the world in production of processing tomatoes – the variety that gets canned and used in commercial kitchens to make some of the most popular foods. The problem is the worst drought in 1,200 years is forcing farmers to grapple with a water crisis that’s undermining the crop, threatening to further push up prices from salsa to spaghetti sauce.
“We desperately need rain,” Mike Montna, head of the California Tomato Growers Association, said in an interview. “We are getting to a point where we don’t have inventory left to keep fulfilling the market demand.”
Lack of water is shrinking production in a region responsible for a quarter of the world’s output, which is having an impact on prices of tomato-based products. Gains in tomato sauce and ketchup are outpacing the rise in U.S. food inflation, which is at its highest in 43 years, with drought and higher agricultural inputs to blame. With California climate-change forecasts calling for hotter and drier conditions, the outlook for farmers is uncertain.
“It’s real tough to grow a tomato crop right now,” Montna said. “On one side you have the drought impacting costs because you don’t have enough water to grow all your acres, and then you have the farm inflation side of it with fuel and fertilizer costs shooting up.”
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/business/spaghetti-sauce-is-under-threat-as-water-crisis-slams-tomatoes/