Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, HabitatsTags , , ,

Governor’s May revision to California budget proposal puts air quality, other environmental outcomes at risk


Governor Gavin Newsom released his May revision of his January budget proposal today and environmental quality is among the revised budget’s most hard-hit victims.

Since January, the state has suffered a dramatic shutdown in economic activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The current budget estimate by the Department of Finance continues to be that the state will suffer a $54.3 billion deficit.

In his May revision, the governor proposes cutting general fund contributions to the California Environmental Protection Agency by more than 94 percent. That agency houses departments and boards that oversee air pollution control, water quality, and pesticide and toxic substance control.

Moreover, about $83 million in funds collected by the California Air Resources Board from fees and settlements from polluters will be shifted over to the Department of Toxic Substance Control and the State Water Board “to reduce costs” for those two entities.

The May budget proposal also eliminates a biodiversity program proposed in January, and raids a fund for habitat conservation to spend the money for other purposes.

The proposal mentions that $995 million in funds from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds collected through the cap-and-trade program will be prioritized for a list of programs. It is unclear whether those programs will include funding for incentives to accelerate transition of diesel and gas buses and heavy-duty trucks to zero-emission electric trucks and buses.

Statement of Kathryn Phillips, Director of Sierra Club California:

“Nobody envies this governor or legislature for the job they need to do in this tragic year to balance the state’s budget.

“But cutting and shifting funds away from key environmental programs that will protect the basic needs of life—clean air, clean water, healthy ecosystems—is the wrong approach.

“We look forward to working with the legislature to refine this budget to make sure it doesn’t slow the march toward a healthy environment for everyone in California.”

Posted on Categories WildlifeTags , ,

The mass extinction event going unnoticed as the planet’s biodiversity dwindles

Nick Whigham, NEWS.COM.AU

As humans continue to swallow up the globe, we do so at the expense of the planet’s biodiversity as animal populations continue to decline at an alarming rate.

That is the stark message at the core of a recent report released by the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) called the Living Planet Report 2016. The sobering study reaffirms the fact we’re in the middle of a human-produced mass extinction event that is seeing populations of animal species evaporate in front of our eyes.
From 1970 to 2012 populations of vertebrate animals have decreased in abundance by 58 per cent. As the trend continues, researchers expect about two-thirds of all of these individual birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals to have disappeared from the 50 years between 1970 and 2020.
The WWF points to habitat loss and habitat degradation as a key factor in Earth’s declining biodiversity, along with climate change, unsustainable practices in things like the global food supply and an overuse of the Earth’s natural resources which exceeds the planet’s biocapacity.