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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus
Politics and Issues
August 2011

Chapter and Group begin search for Executive Committee candidates

It is Chapter and Group Ex Com election time, and we are looking for candidates who want to be more involved in our conservation activities. There is a lot to do! If you are interested in serving on the Ventana Chapter Executive Committee, contact Mary Gale, 626-3565 or to submit a 150-word candidate's statement to the Nominating Committee (NomCom). If you are interested in serving on the Santa Cruz Group Executive Committee, contact Aldo Giacchino,

2011 Election schedule:

October 3: Receipt of all candidates applications (statement of intent to run) with contact information are due for consideration by Group and Chapter NomComs

October 11: NomComs inform potential candidates of their status, those nominated and those not and submits lists to Election Committee

October 21: Nominated candidates submit ballot statements to Election Committee

October 29: Petition candidates submit signed petitions and ballot statements to Election Committee for verification of signatures

November 28: All candidates deliver ballot statements and photos to Newsletter editor

December: Ballots distributed through newsletter

January 10, 2012 Election Committee completes count

January 11, 2012 Election committee announces results to candidates and Ex Coms


Club continues its State legislative advocacy

Your Sierra Club California advocates continue to be very busy in the Legislature and at environmental agencies.

After vetoing the Legislature's first budget, Governor Brown and Democrats in the Legislature worked out an all-cuts budget, which still could not garner a single Republican vote in support. The budget, which was signed by the Governor, attempts to close a $26.6 billion budget deficit. Overall, outside of some cuts to transportation programs, environmental programs were mostly not harmed under this year's budget, partly due to the sad fact that most environmental programs have already had their budgets drastically cut. Within the environmental portion of the budget, state parks and redevelopment programs bore the brunt of the cuts. Sadly, the Governor struck $1.5 million that had been included in the budget to pay for minimal review of timber harvest plans by the Department of Fish and Game even though no money came from the general fund.

CEQA/Land use
Many of the same bills we fought successfully last year were reintroduced this year. Brand new, as of July 14, is SB 226 (Simitian/Vargas) which would exempt a variety of projects from CEQA including: 1) rooftop solar panel installations on commercial or industrial buildings, 2) some greenhouse gas emissions; 3) photovoltaic projects located on disturbed agricultural lands; 3) transit priority project if a legislative body declares that the project is a sustainable communities project; and 4) certain urban infill projects. Some of these provisions are extremely broad, and we will be scrambling to make sure the exemptions are for projects that are fully analyzed and mitigated.

Coastal waters/drilling
SB 623 (Kehoe) works to eliminate the use of copper antifouling marine paints on recreational boats. This is necessary because our waterways increasingly do not meet Clean Water Act standards. AB 752 (Brownley) would require the trustees of public lands (such as the State Lands Commission) to prepare a sea level action plan which takes into account the effect of sea level rise on lands under their purview.

We are pushing for passage of AB 591 (Wieckowski) which would require drillers who use hydraulic fracturing to extract oil or gas to disclose the chemicals injected underground, the source and amount of water used, and location of the well related to active seismic faults.

Sierra Club California is co-sponsoring SB 790 (Leno) to strengthen existing law allowing local governments to compete with electric utilities. SB 790 passed the Senate floor and the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee and is awaiting a vote in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

AB 376 (Fong, Huffman) would prohibit the shark fin trade in California to end the state's contribution to recent rapid declines in shark populations and the cruel and wasteful practice of "finning."

We are continuing to support AB 384 (Chesbro) which would direct the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) to implement pilot streambed restoration projects in a way that will facilitate "cumulative effects" analysis. We also continue to weigh in on the development and implementation of the forestry protocols (part of the AB 32 cap-and-trade program) to get forestry offsets to truly provide additional and verifiable increased carbon sequestration. If carbon cycle accounting were accurate and complete, we wouldn't be trying to clearcut our way out of climate change.

SB 580 (Wolk) would have prohibited state park lands from being sold off or used for other purposes incompatible with park purposes unless suitable substitute land is received in exchange. This priority bill passed the Senate floor but failed to pass out of the Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee in June due to strong opposition from developers and labor.

Looking to keep state parks open, AB 42 (Huffman) would make it easier for the Department of Parks & Recreation to set up partner operating agreements. This would allow qualified nonprofit organizations to help run or take over the operations of some of the parks slated to be closed. While public-private partnerships might not be the best solution, in the short term they might ensure public access to these public resources while the search continues for reliable and adequate funding. AB 42 passed the Assembly in May and is currently before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

We are promoting programs that emphasize giving people viable, non-automobile choices for getting around. Sitting on the Governor's desk, SB 582 (Yee) would authorize a Metropolitan Planning Organization and Local Air Quality Management District to require employers of 50 or more people to offer commute benefits in the form of transit passes or shuttles for those who choose not to drive. AB 710 (Skinner) would restrict the amount of parking spaces that can be required of a developer of infill transit oriented development. It is on the Senate floor while discussions with community housing advocates proceed.