This Refugee Camp Is The First In The World To Be Powered By Solar Energy

By Willa Frej : huffingtonpost – excerpt (includes video)

A group of about 20,000 Syrian refugees living outdoors have access to electricity as of Wednesday thanks to a newly constructed solar plant in the Azraq refugee camp in Jordan. It’s the first and only solar-powered refugee camp in the world.

“Each family can now connect a fridge, a TV, a fan, have light inside the shelter and charge their phones, which is critical for refugees to keep in contact with their relatives abroad,” the U.N.’s refugee agency, UNHCR, said in a statement.

UNHCR built the 2-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant farm in collaboration with the IKEA Foundation’s Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign, which provided the funding, according to the statement… (more)

Are solar powered RV dwellers homeless, or are they just lacking an address to park their homes?

Plan Bay Area 2040 Open House This Week in San Francisco

satprnews – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO, May 15, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) invite the public to an open house in San Francisco (Bay Area Metro Center, Yerba Buena Conference Room, 375 Beale Street) on Wednesday, May 17, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to learn about an update to the region’s long-range transportation and housing roadmap known as Plan Bay Area 2040. This meeting in San Francisco is one in a series to be held in all nine Bay Area counties between May 4 and May 22. For more information about upcoming meeting times, dates and locations in all nine counties, please visit the Plan Bay Area website: www.PlanBayArea.org(more)

Calif. court rules against appeal filed by Sierra Club, others over vineyard permit

by John Sammon : legalnewsline


Sonoma County Vineyard photo by Zrants

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) – Two Sonoma County vintners received a judgment in favor of their proposed wine making operation when an appeal by the Sierra Club was turned back by the state’s 1st Appellate District Court of Appeals.

The court found in favor of the defendants Ronald and Ernest Ohlson, operators of the Ohlson Ranch, who applied for a permit to turn grazing land on their property into a grape vineyard. The Agricultural Commissioner of Sonoma County (commissioner) issued the permit after making a determination the issuance was a “ministerial” act, and therefore exempt from California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) standards…

However, the court determined the permit was ministerial in nature because unless a public agency could shape the proposed project in some way that would respond to concerns raised in an EIR (Environmental Impact Report), the environmental review would be a “meaningless exercise.” CEQA customarily does not apply to non-discretionary (ministerial) projects. A ministerial approval simply involves a comparison of a project with specific standards or checklists(more)

 

Oregon County Mandates 2,000 Acre Organic Farm Sprayed With Chemical Herbicides

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor : jonathanturley – excerpt (includes video)

An Organic Farm Under Threat from Azure Standard on Vimeo.

Action Request!!
Azure Farm, a Certified Organic farm in Central Oregon, is under threat from the local county government who wants to spray Azure’s Certified Organic farm with herbicides like Roundup (Glyphosate). Here’s what you can do to help. Contact Sherman County court via email at lhernandez@co.sherman.or.us or call Lauren at 541-565-3416 and express your concern. See azurestandard.com/healthy-living/info/azure-farm-moro/ for more details.

A 2,000 acre organic farm in central Oregon is facing what could be a be an existential threat to its operations after county weed control authorities sent notice mandating that the farm use chemical herbicides, such as Roundup, to eradicate weed growth.

The mandate would bring to an end nearly 18 years of organic farming, placing a significant loss of organic food to the public.

Azure Farms is a certified organic farm located in Moro, Sherman County, Oregon. The farm produces almost all the organic wheat, field peas, barley, Einkorn, and beef for Azure Standard.

Sherman County could issue a court order on May 22, 2017 to quarantine Azure Farms and possibly to spray the entire farm with poisonous herbicides contaminating them with Milestone, Escort, and Roundup.

Such a unilateral action on the behalf of the few individuals representing county government could set a precedent in damaging perhaps one of the few remaining healthy alternatives to mass-market agribusinesses… (more)

RELATED FOLLOW-UP

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor:

Yesterday I fielded an article concerning a rather distressing mandate by an Oregon county weed control agency seeking to force the application of hazardous herbicides onto a 2,000 acre organic farm owned by Azure Farms. Sherman County Oregon maintains this scorched earth policy is necessary to abate, or more specifically “eradicate”, weeds listed by state statute as noxious.

Now, the scientific community is responding to this overreaching government action by acting in the interests of health and responsible environmental stewardship through advocacy in the hopes that officials in Sherman County will reconsider their mandate.

Dr. Charles Benbrook is a highly credentialed research professor and expert serving on several boards of directors for agribusiness and natural resources organizations. Having read news of Sherman County’s actions, he penned an authoritative response I believe will make informative reading for those concerned by present and future implications in the forced use of herbicides under the rubric of noxious weed eradication, and the damage to organic farming generally arising from such mandates… (more)

CEQA Changes Proposed

By : landuse – excerpt

Over the past four months, Sacramento lawmakers have introduced a number of bills to tinker with the state’s premier environmental statute, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). While it is too early to know whether any of the proposed changes to CEQA will be enacted, each could impact the building industry.  Below are a few to watch as they wind their way through the legislature:… (more)

We are tracking some California state bills here.

 

 

Court of Appeal Upholds Issuance of Erosion-Control Permit as Ministerial and Exempt from CEQA

By Holland and Knight LLP : lexology – excerpt

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • California’s First District Court of Appeal has held that the issuance of an erosion-control permit by the Agricultural Commissioner of Sonoma County was a ministerial act not subject to review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
  • The opinion in Sierra Club et al. v. County of Sonoma et al. provides helpful guidance on the distinction between ministerial acts exempt from CEQA and discretionary acts subject to CEQA.
  • The court used the “functional test” to determine whether ordinance provisions applicable to the permit were ministerial or discretionary. Under the “functional test,” CEQA compliance is required where discretion provides a local agency with the ability and authority to mitigate environmental damage… (more)

Dakota Access pipeline has first leak before it’s fully operational

: theguardian – excerpt (includes video)

Leak raises fresh concerns about hazards to waterways and outrages indigenous groups, who have long warned of threat to environment

The Dakota Access pipeline has suffered its first leak, outraging indigenous groups who have long warned that the project poses a threat to the environment.

The $3.8bn oil pipeline, which sparked international protests last year and is not yet fully operational, spilled 84 gallons of crude oil at a South Dakota pump station, according to government regulators.

Although state officials said the 6 April leak was contained and quickly cleaned, critics of the project said the spill, which occurred as the pipeline is in the final stages of preparing to transport oil, raises fresh concerns about the potential hazards to waterways and Native American sites.

“They keep telling everybody that it is state of the art, that leaks won’t happen, that nothing can go wrong,” said Jan Hasselman, a lawyer for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has been fighting the project for years. “It’s always been false. They haven’t even turned the thing on and it’s shown to be false.”

The pipeline, scheduled to transport oil from North Dakota to Illinois, inspired massive demonstrations in 2016 and was dealt a major blow when the Obama administration denied a key permit for the project toward the end of his presidency. But shortly after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the new administration ordered the revival of the pipeline and worked to expedite the final stage of construction

The April spill, which was first uncovered this week by a local South Dakota reporter, illustrates the need for the more robust environmental assessment that the tribe has long demanded, said Hasselman… (more)

Freight Rail Fight Could Impact Calif. High-Speed Rail Project

By

AN FRANCISCO (CN) – An impending decision by the California Supreme Court over whether the state or federal government has jurisdiction in railway decisions could have major implications for the Golden State’s high-speed rail project.

The justices heard oral argument by the North Coast Railway Authority, which argued the federal government’s decision to allow freight service to resume on a 316-mile line that runs through northern counties outweighs the state’s environmental rules under the California Environmental Protection Act.

“Federal courts have universally ruled that open-ended pre-clearance processes like CEQA are preempted by the authority of federal regulators,” said Andrew Sabey, attorney for Northwest Pacific. The railroad operates the freight trains that traverse through Sonoma, Humboldt and Mendocino counties…(more)

Bay Area residents contemplating Sacramento exodus, says report

by by

Very first “migration report” claims some natives have wandering eyes

Calif. Central Valley Sank 3 Feet During Historic Drought

By Matthew Renda : courthousenews – excerpt

PALO ALTO, Calif. (CN) – While this past winter busted California’s five-year drought, a new Stanford University study shows how the dry years did permanent damage to Central Valley aquifers.

A satellite remote-sensing study performed by Stanford researchers shows a portion of the Central Valley sank by as much as three feet due to overpumping of groundwater during the drought, permanently reducing the region’s capacity for water storage.

“California is getting all of this rain, but in the Central Valley, there has been a loss of space to store it,” said study co-author Rosemary Knight, a professor at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences.

The alteration of the clay layers that comprise the San Joaquin Valley translates into a permanent loss of natural storage capacity of anywhere between 360,000 to 600,000 acre-feet of water, the study says.

As a point of comparison, the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir – which provides water to San Francisco and is roughly the size of the Yosemite Valley – holds about 360,000 acre-feet of water… (more)

Next time you hear about rising sea levels remember that land can also sink. the effect is the same. San Francisco is embarking on a plan to blend groundwater with Heth Hetchy water for half the city’s water customers. EIRs do not seem to study the effects of removing ground water or much else that effects the environment and as we know there is no real mitigation done to protect one from any of the negative results anyway.