Climate Progress is Up to Us, not Trump

Fog-streaks-and-bay Mike-Oria_4.03.15
President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord is wrong for the planet, public health, and the U.S. economy. But three months into the most backward Administration in generations, his reckless move is not a surprise. Ignorance, provincialism and allegiance to fossil fuel barons are dominant in this White House, with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt leading the anti-science, anti-environment, pro-polluting industry interests. The Administration had already taken many actions to reverse climate gains from the Obama Administration.

Trump had already announced he would repeal air pollution regulations on the dirtiest power plants, end restrictions on oil drilling in ocean waters, encourage new coal leases on federal land, allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and loosen environmental standards for fracking of oil and gas. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

We’ve known for months this President’s true colors. His criminal rejection of climate solutions means all of us must continue the Bay Area’s and California’s leadership to cut greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, and accelerate adaptation for resilient cities and natural habitat. 

Trump’s actions are frightening, but Save The Bay’s record makes us hopeful. We’ve labored for over a decade to create new local funding for Bay wetland restoration, building a broad coalition that ultimately won 70% voter support for the Measure AA parcel tax throughout the region last June.

With thousands of members and supporters, and a public and leaders who understand the climate challenge, we can continue to make progress. So we’ll continue our leadership to protect and improve our environment, right here in the Bay Area.

Our effective local organizing and action to accelerate wetland restoration, protect shorelines against flooding, and make cities “Bay Smart,” is more important than ever. We’ll keep organizing with mayors and officials from all nine counties to promote green infrastructure that adapts our communities to climate change, reduces Bay pollution and improves natural resources. We’ll keep proving by the ongoing economic success of the Bay Area that leadership on climate change is a spur to innovation that supports sustainable growth, and that we can translate that growth into good green jobs that will help transition our region, our nation, and the world to clean energy and low-impact development.

And we’ll support elected officials here in California to pursue strong state protections for the Bay and environment, to counter the Trump Administration’s anti-environment policies. Save The Bay has endorsed bills moving through the state legislature to do exactly that.

With your help, we won’t let Trump drag down our country and the planet. Our fight for a healthy Bay and resilient Bay Area will keep our region strong and beautiful.

Further suggested reading:

Could AB 32 Help Save The Bay?

This week, California’s landmark climate law, over a decade in the making, goes in to effect.

Back in 2006, then-Governing Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 32, the state’s now landmark Green House Gas (GHG) reduction law.  Central to that new law is establishment of a cap and trade system, which sets a limit on air pollution across the board.  Over time, that cap is lowered, and polluters must take one of three actions.  They can reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses, purchase carbon “credits” from other polluters, or they can purchase offsets from a set of qualified projects aimed at reducing atmospheric CO2 and other GHG’s.

While wetland restoration projects like those in San Francisco Bay aren’t currently included in the profile of eligible projects, we’re curious what would happen if they were.  One of if not the greatest challenge currently facing Bay restoration is funding.  Over 32,000 acres of restorable habitat – roughly equivalent to the entire city of Richmond – are currently in public ownership just waiting for restoration, yet is precious little funding at the state and federal level to restore this land to healthy Bay habitat.

For the past 40 years, another landmark environmental law, the California Environmental Quality Act (or CEQA) has required new construction and development to offset environmental impacts with what’s called compensatory mitigation, effectively creating environmental benefits to offset impacts somewhere else.  This practice has created a very profitable industry of mitigation banks – often large tracts of land that are sold piecemeal as industry needs to compensate for the building of a new housing development, a highway, or sports stadium.

Currently AB 32 provides carbon offsets though tree planting and forest restoration from Maine to the San Diego.  But with so many important restoration projects right here at home, and projects that will sequester carbon at a much higher rate than forests of pines or box elders, the California Air Resources Board should open the discussion for a variety of new restoration opportunities on the horizon.