Clean Air

Gas and diesel fueled automobiles are responsible for 60 percent of the smog-forming pollutants in California.   Ninety-five percent of Californians live in areas that failed to meet health-based standards for a variety of air pollutants in 1998.  Do you support the current Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program as a means to cleaning up California’s air?

California continues to lead the nation in stricter emission standards and efforts to reduce emissions from cars, buses and trucks.  However this progress is somewhat offset by the increase in automobiles on the roads, requiring continued strong efforts to reduce emissions.  The Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program requires that 10 percent of the new car fleet sold in 2003 be zero-emission vehicles.  Such a bold plan has caused both auto and oil industries to fight the program as too costly to implement.  The ZEV program has pushed the auto industry to heighten its development of clean cars by ensuring that these cars will make it to the showroom floor.  California is the largest automobile market in the country, which has led all major auto manufacturers to develop cleaner emissions technology in response to the ZEV program.  The ZEV program has done much to bring about development of zero-emission and reduced-emission vehicles, but the auto and oil industries are still working against the strict standards.  Our elected officials must know that clean air is a priority and that Californians support the goal of the ZEV program and want to see it made a reality.

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California’s forests are threatened by inadequate and poorly enforced logging regulations.  State forest bill AB 717 now waits for approval by the State Senate, having passed through the State House.  Do you support AB 717 as a means to better regulate the timber industry and ensure that our forests are protected and preserved now and for future generations? 

If approved, AB 717 would improve the state's timber harvest review process and allow for more effective enforcement of state logging laws.  California has an amazing variety of forests, ranging from ancient Redwood groves to sparser oak-pine forests to arid woodlands.   All of these provide essential and valuable resources in addition to their natural beauty.  Eighty-five percent of California’s water supply is filtered through the forests, making them by far the biggest source of clean drinking water.  The forests are also home to threatened and endangered species such as the marbled murrelet, Coho salmon and peregrine falcon.   Thousands of people flock to the forests every year to hike, raft, bike, fish and camp.  In 1996 alone, wildlife-related recreation contributed $7.5 billion to the state’s economy.   Unfortunately, these assets of the forests are not always considered when the decision is made to log or clear-cut an area.  Sixteen million acres of California’s forests are open to commercial practices, and of those, seven million acres are owned privately.  This means that the state has the authority to review logging plans submitted by timber companies and approve or deny the request.  The California Department of Forestry has a history of approving 99 percent of the plans submitted, regardless of whether the plan has been sufficiently developed to measure the effects of the logging.   Loopholes in the present law regulating timber industries include lax requirements for logging plans, ineffective fines for violations and ignoring input from key research agencies.  The timber industry is well aware of these loopholes, and since 1997 has spent over $2.1 million in lobbying and campaign contributions to California state legislators, hoping to keep logging laws weak.  This was the norm, until the development and progress of AB 717.   Destructive logging degrades once-pure water sources, damages and decreases species habitat, increases flooding and landslides as well as ruins scenic vistas.  On top of that, logging activities are heavily subsidized, causing the public to pay directly as well as indirectly for forest destruction.  AB 717 is a good first step towards ensuring the survival of California’s forests, and it is crucial that our elected officials are strong enough to withstand the pressures that the timber industry is sure to put on them.

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Clean Coasts

Oil drilling is a constant threat to the coasts and waters of California, and with 36 additional oil-drilling leases pending approval, it is crucial that protective actions be made now.  Do you support a ban on offshore drilling, as well as canceling the oil drilling leases presently off the coast of California?

It is estimated that even if the entire coastal area of California were drilled, the oil available would only support three and a half months of U.S. oil consumption.  The major oil industries currently drilling offshore have histories of violations and polluting.  The unique coastal and marine ecosystems such as kelp beds, reefs and coastal wetlands are easily damaged by oil pollution.  Many beaches have been closed at one time or another due to oil spills in coastal waters, and the coastal town of Alvia had to be evacuated because of oil pollution.  It is certainly wiser to protect our state’s treasured coasts and waters than to allow them to be developed and polluted for a small amount of oil.  The better decision is to drill elsewhere, in more lucrative areas, and those that do not threaten California. 

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California leads the nation in recycling, but there is still more that can be done.  Do you support measures to increase both the depth and breadth of recycling efforts in California? 

Recycling preserves natural resources by reusing those materials that have already been removed and altered from their natural form.  Recycling also preserves green space by diminishing the amount of land necessary for landfills.  In addition to these two key environmental benefits, recycling creates jobs, reduces CO2 and toxic emissions, conserves energy and saves money.   Issues of particular concern now in California include tire and oil processing/recycling, an expanded Bottle recycling bill, expanding the state’s plastics recycling law and incorporating “Green Building” practices into new buildings and renovations.  

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