Mountain Lions, Plastic & Climate 2022 Wish List – Orange County Register

Whether it’s saving often poisoned bees or saving the Earth from global warming, environmentalists will push next year for a host of state protections they say are needed to preserve the world. natural world – and humanity itself – destructive human activities.

California lawmakers have already created some of the toughest environmental rules in the country. Yet Southern California still has the worst air quality in the country, the coast continues to be littered with plastic that endangers marine life, and the Santa Ana and Santa Monica mountain pumas are on their way. of disappearance.

And these problems are only scratching the surface. Eight major environmental organizations surveyed by the Southern California News Group are advocating for more than two dozen priorities to be supported by state lawmakers and regulators in the coming year. National groups interviewed included the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, and The Nature Conservancy. State organizations included Environment California and CALPIRG. Specialists in coastal issues are the Surfrider Foundation, the California Coastkeeper Alliance, and the California Coastal Protection Network.

Here is what they are going to push.

Lions, bees and Joshua trees

The Santa Ana and Santa Monica mountain lions are expected to be locally extirpated within 50 years due to inbreeding, unless they can access new genes in neighboring populations. In the Santa Monica Mountains, a massive wildlife bridge over Highway 101 is slated to open by February, while a crossing from the Santa Ana Mountains is in the early stages of planning.

The state’s Fish and Game Commission, which last year granted animals temporary protected status in these and four other geographic areas, is completing a study to determine whether that status should be made permanent, which would help protections and probably crossing projects. . The Center for Biological Diversity is among those pushing for this determination.

The center is also calling for legislation to protect and promote wildlife corridors statewide, as well as for the commission to approve a pending measure that would give the western Joshua tree a threat status. “This would be the first time that a species has been protected under (state law) primarily due to the threat of climate change,” said Brendan Cummings, director of conservation at the center.

The center is joined by Environment California in lobbying for a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides, a widely used agricultural insecticide that is deadly to bees and other pollinators, as well as 38 protected species of amphibians. A bill calling for such a ban was introduced last year but was unsuccessful.

Plastic waste

A 2021 bill that would require all single-use packaging and food items to be compostable or recyclable has been blocked for the third year in a row amid opposition from the California Chamber of Commerce and the Plastics and Plastic Industries. ‘packaging. Frustrated activists have called a citizens’ initiative with the same demands for the November 2022 ballot, although there is still time for lawmakers to adopt the measure before then. The measure is widely supported by environmentalists.

Taking one more step in terms of packaging would be a revival of Assembly Bill 1371, which died last year before getting a vote but was singled out by three of the groups interviewed by the Southern California News Group. The measure would prohibit online retailers that ship products to or to California from “using single-use plastic packaging that consists of shipping envelopes, padding or void fillers to package or transport the products.”

Meanwhile, CALPIRG State Director Jenn Engstrom applauds Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton’s plans for a bill that would make it easier to repair and reuse cellphones and other electronic devices. “Californians throw away about 46,000 cell phones a day, and only 15-20% of electronic waste is recycled,” she said. “California should pass ‘right to repair’ reforms that would allow consumers and small businesses to repair their goods and devices to reduce waste and save money.”

Climate change, air quality

There are no bigger environmental problems in the state than the overlapping challenges of climate change, greenhouse gases and air pollution – especially when you consider the consequences of the change. climate of rising sea levels, heat waves, more extreme drought and worsening forest fires.

“With a projected surplus and federal investments from the bipartisan infrastructure bill, we have the opportunity to make significant investments in the resilient clean energy grid of the future and in tackling our pollution problem. ‘air,’ said Laura Deehan, director of the State of the Environment. California. “We are asking for a record investment in these two areas. “

The state has a carbon-free electricity target by 2045, but has already had to delay planned shutdowns of obsolete gas-fired generators due to insufficient energy supplies. Environmentalists also want bolder steps to phase out natural gas furnaces and water heaters in buildings, and they say the state is not doing enough to meet its target of 100% new car sales. zero emissions by 2035.

Then there’s the vote slated for Jan. 27 in which the Public Utilities Commission is expected to reduce incentives for residential solar power, in part so that non-solar users – especially low-income electric customers – do not subsidize a program that technology has made more and more affordable for solar energy users, who tend to have higher incomes. While the Natural Resources Defense Council supports the change, many environmental groups – including Environment California – are opposing the proposal and saying it would result in a decrease in the number of rooftop solar owners.

Sea and shore

A proposed revolving loan fund would allow coastal cities to buy coastal residences threatened by rising sea levels, then rent them out to repay loans until the houses are no longer habitable. The legislation was vetoed by Governor Gavin Newsom last year, but Surfrider and the Coastal Protection Network are keen to see the effort revived. “(It was) a good first step in helping landowners with vulnerable properties and should be expanding,” said network executive director Susan Jordan.

Jordan, along with Heal the Bay, would also like to see at least $ 5.6 million in public funds to match proposed federal spending to clean up DDT waste – possibly hundreds of thousands of barrels – dumped off the coast. from Los Angeles decades ago.

In addition, Jordan opposes bills that would facilitate the construction of dikes and the launching of marine farms by reducing regulatory oversight of the Coastal Commission.

Finally, in the wake of the October oil spill off Huntington Beach, several state lawmakers echoed the long-standing call from environmentalists to phase out existing offshore oil operations. However, given the existing leases of the oil operators, it is unclear how this would be accomplished.

Environmental justice and more

Growing concern about low-income neighborhoods disproportionately bearing the burden of environmental degradation has often focused primarily on those living with pollution.

highways, ports and refineries nearby. But the impacts can go far beyond air quality. Among the proposals for 2022 is an argument from the California Coastkeeper Alliance ensuring that water projects do not disproportionately harm these neighborhoods.

While the above list addresses the main issues, the environmentalists’ list of issues also includes calls for better stormwater management, cleaner water, more aggressive drought resilience, and recycling efforts. water, as well as forest fire prevention.

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