environmental justice

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Why EJ Groups are Leery of Cap & Trade

Environmental Justice groups say they support California’s climate law. So why did they sue?

Environmentalists may seem the most unlikely of sources stalling the state’s landmark climate change law. But the case brought by a group of environmental justice advocates is bringing up issues that have been largely overlooked in the zeal of carrying forward AB 32.

(Photo: Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment)

This means that a California power plant can increase CO2 emissions if it buys allowances from another industry that’s reducing emissions, or offsets from, say, a tree farm in Canada.

“The evidence out there is that cap-and-trade is going to fail these communities and will continue to allow polluters to dump on them, and that’s unacceptable and it’s also illegal,” said Alegria De La Cruz, legal director at the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment in San Francisco. The Center is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by several organizations over the implementation plan for AB 32. Parties in that case are awaiting finalization of a state court ruling that could hold up the scheduled launch of California’s cap & trade plan. Continue reading

EJ Groups Say Suit is Not To Undo AB 32

Plaintiffs who won a tentative ruling in a suit over the state’s climate law say they’re not out to torpedo AB 32

Six environmental justice groups sued state regulators over implementation of AB 32. (Photo: Craig Miller)

The half-dozen environmental justice advocacy groups sued over state regulators’ implementation plan and won a tentative ruling in their favor, from a state court in San Francisco. A lawyer for the Oakland-based Communities for a Better Environment called the ruling “very important and exciting,” but the groups insist that they’re looking to tweak the regulations under California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, not blow it up. Continue reading

EPA’s New Regional Chief: Act Locally

New EPA regional chief Jared Blumenfeld. Photo: EPA

New EPA regional chief Jared Blumenfeld. Photo: EPA

Yesterday I spoke with Jared Blumenfeld, the former head of San Francisco’s Department of the Environment–aka the guy who brought mandatory recycling to San Francisco and banished the phrase “Paper or plastic?” from the city’s supermarkets–by banning the plastic.

Blumenfeld now occupies a vast corner office in the EPA’s Region 9 headquarters, overseeing a territory that includes four Western states and 20 of the country’s largest cities. Born 40 years ago, just as Region 9 came into being, this week he was briefing reporters on his plans to “revolutionize” the region with a tighter focus on environmental justice, enforcement, and making small businesses more efficient.

What do these things have in common? For one thing, they’re all pretty local: specific communities with specific complaints and needs (a profile, incidentally, that fits Blumenfeld’s first initiative to a “T”).

So what about more sweeping changes on, say, climate? You could argue that it’s not the job of a regional head to get mixed up in Beltway politics. But given all the recent drama in Washington around cap and trade, maybe Blumenfeld’s local focus is intentional.

How, I asked him, has the mood in Washington affected his ambitions for EPA Region 9?

“I was looking at a recent poll that showed how many fewer people understand climate change last year than this year,” he replied. “I think the environmental movement has gotten away from the people. We’ve become overly specialized, jargony, focused on large problems no one person can solve.”

Having made San Francisco a considerably “greener” place, maybe Blumenfeld’s first task is to export small initiatives that–for the moment at least–make environmental problems feel local and solveable.

Amy Standen is the lead radio reporter for Quest, KQED’s multimedia science initiative.