Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bay-Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) draft EIR available for public review

"Speak Out Against The Delta Tunnels! Delta “Twin Tunnels” – A Doubled-Barreled Shotgun Aimed At North State Rivers"

2014-01-28 message from the Friends Of The River [888.464.2477], for more background visit our Delta page [friendsoftheriver.org/site/PageServer?pagename=DeltaCanal].
The long awaited draft Bay-Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and its draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) are now available for review by the public. The government is soliciting public input on the controversial plan and its proposal to build massive “twin tunnels” intended to divert fresh water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta Estuary. Now is your opportunity to speak out against this environmental travesty at upcoming open houses and by sending an email opposing this expensive and destructive water project.
Completion of these twin tunnels could pave the way for new dams on the American and Eel Rivers to name just a few. Plans to expand Shasta Dam and drown a protected segment of the McCloud have already been proposed. Off-stream projects like Sites Reservoir which could take as much as 67% of the Sacramento's average flows in April would gain new momentum. Please take action today to prevent this unwise and wasteful proposal.
Send your email opposing this disastrous project TODAY - ACT NOW.
Visit the Action page today! [https://secure2.convio.net/fotr/site/Advocacy;jsessionid=9D35189ADAE9F7B733822D893A0E1642.app263a?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=319]

BDCP Open house meetings on THE DELTA & BDCP -
Please attend one or more of the upcoming open houses and speak out against the Delta twin tunnels plan. Feel free to use the bullet points in the email message below. Upcoming public meetings include:
FAIRFIELD – Tuesday, January 28, 5-9PM
Hilton Garden Inn, 2200 Gateway Court, Fairfield, CA 94533
WALNUT GROVE – Wednesday, January 29, 5-9PM
Jean Harvie Community Center
14273 River Road, Walnut Grove, CA 95690
SACRAMENTO – Thursday, January 30, 3-7PM
Sheraton Grand Hotel, 1230 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
LOS ANGELES – Tuesday, February 4, 3-7PM
Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015
ONTARIO – Wednesday, February 5, 3-7PM
Ontario Convention Center, 2000 E. Convention Center Way, Ontario, CA 91764
Public comment on the BDCP will be accepted through April 14, 2014. Please feel free to add your personal views to the sample letter or email below and send it TODAY. Copies will be automatically sent to your State Legislators and Members of Congress. For moew information, go to Draft BDCP [http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/PublicReview/PublicReviewDraftBDCP.aspx] to review the plan and go to BDCP Draft EIR/EIS [http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/PublicReview/PublicReviewDraftEIR-EIS.aspx] to review the environmental reports.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Tests confirm commonly used pesticides kill honeybee larvae

Save the Bees! [link]

"Common crop pesticides kill honeybee larvae in the hive"
2014-01-27 by Sara LaJeunesse from Penn State News [http://news.psu.edu/story/301619/2014/01/27/research/common-crop-pesticides-kill-honeybee-larvae-hive]:
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Four pesticides commonly used on crops to kill insects and fungi also kill honeybee larvae within their hives, according to Penn State and University of Florida researchers. The team also found that N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) -- an inert, or inactive, chemical commonly used as a pesticide additive -- is highly toxic to honeybee larvae.
"We found that four of the pesticides most commonly found in beehives kill bee larvae," said Jim Frazier, professor of entomology, Penn State. "We also found that the negative effects of these pesticides are sometimes greater when the pesticides occur in combinations within the hive. Since pesticide safety is judged almost entirely on adult honeybee sensitivity to individual pesticides and also does not consider mixtures of pesticides, the risk assessment process that the Environmental Protection Agency uses should be changed."
According to Frazier, the team's previous research demonstrated that forager bees bring back to the hive an average of six different pesticides on the pollen they collect. Nurse bees use this pollen to make beebread, which they then feed to honeybee larvae.
To examine the effects of four common pesticides -- fluvalinate, coumaphos, chlorothalonil and chlorpyrifos -- on bee larvae, the researchers reared honeybee larvae in their laboratory. They then applied the pesticides alone and in all combinations to the beebread to determine whether these insecticides and fungicides act alone or in concert to create a toxic environment for honeybee growth and development.
The researchers also investigated the effects of NMP on honeybee larvae by adding seven concentrations of the chemical to a pollen-derived, royal jelly diet. NMP is used to dissolve pesticides into formulations that then allow the active ingredients to spread and penetrate the plant or animal surfaces onto which they are applied. The team fed their treated diet, containing various types and concentrations of chemicals, to the laboratory-raised bee larvae.
Larvae in multiwell plate with wax lined and wax unlined wells for rearing. (Image: Penn State)

The team's results are reported in the current issue of PLoS ONE.
"We found that mixtures of pesticides can have greater consequences for larval toxicity than one would expect from individual pesticides," Frazier said.
Among the four pesticides, honeybee larvae were most sensitive to chlorothalonil. They also were negatively affected by a mixture of chlorothalonil with fluvalinate. In addition, the larvae were sensitive to the combination of chlorothalonil with the miticide coumaphos. In contrast, the addition of coumaphos significantly reduced the toxicity of the fluvalinate and chlorothalonil mixture.
According to Chris Mullin, professor of entomology, Penn State, these pesticides may directly poison honeybee larvae or they may indirectly kill them by disrupting the beneficial fungi that are essential for nurse bees to process pollen into beebread.
"Chronic exposure to pesticides during the early life stage of honeybees may contribute to their inadequate nutrition or direct poisoning with a resulting impact on the survival and development of the entire bee brood," he said.
The researchers note that fluvalinate and coumaphos are commonly used by beekeepers on crops to control Varroa mites, and are found to persist within beehives for about five years. Chlorothalonil is a broad-spectrum agricultural fungicide that is often applied to crops in bloom when honeybees are present for pollination because it is currently deemed safe to bees. Chlorpyrifos is a widely used organophosphate in crop management.
"Our findings suggest that the common pesticides chlorothalonil, fluvalinate, coumaphos and chloropyrifos, individually or in mixtures, have statistically significant impacts on honeybee larval survivorship," Mullin said. "This is the first study to report serious toxic effects on developing honeybee larvae of dietary pesticides at concentrations that currently occur in hives."
The team also found that increasing amounts of NMP corresponded to increased larval mortality, even at the lowest concentration tested.
"There is a growing body of research that has reported a wide range of adverse effects of inactive ingredients to human health, including enhancing pesticide toxicities across the nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory and hormone systems," Mullin said. "The bulk of synthetic organic chemicals used and released into U.S. environments are formulation ingredients like NMP, which are generally recognized as safe. They have no mandated limits on their use and their residues remain unmonitored.
"Multi-billion pounds of these inactive ingredients overwhelm the total chemical burden from the active pesticide, drug and personal-care ingredients with which they are formulated. Among these co-formulants are surfactants and solvents of known high toxicity to fish, amphibians, honey bees and other non-target organisms. While we have found that NMP contributes to honeybee larvae mortality, the overall role of these inactive ingredients in pollinator decline remains to be determined."
Other authors on the paper include Wanyi Zhu, graduate research assistant in entomology, Penn State, and Daniel Schmehl, postdoctoral associate in entomology and nematology, University of Florida.
The National Honey Board, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture-Agriculture and Food Research Initiative-Coordinated Agricultural Projects and the Foundational Award programs funded this research.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Will Parrish, a hero of Little Lake Valley!

Occupy Willits Bypass! Save Little Lake Valley! [link]

"Victory in Court Action on Water Crisis; Protester gets reduced charges; Bypass opponents to converge on Water Board meeting"
2014-01-28 from "Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters (BACH)":

Update on trial of Caltrans Bypass protester, journalist and Crane-Sitter Will Parrish, scheduled for trial Jan. 28 and facing possible 8 years in jail: (See Jan. 21, 2014 post).
After a hearing in Mendocino County Court Jan. 23, a settlement was reached that cancelled the upcoming trial, scheduled for Jan. 28. (At left: Will Parrish and attorney Omar Figueroa at the Courthouse)
The particulars of the settlement are:
* 15 of the 17 misdemeanors were dropped, retaining two charges of trespass, which drop to infractions after a probation period of 24 months.
* 100 hours of community service
* Two years probation, during which entry of judgment is deferred –i.e., sentencing remains open during that time.
* In addition, a previous violation of a stay-away order was dropped, and the stay-away order was modified so that Parrish can participate in lawful public gatherings at or near the Bypass site.

Over 50 supporters were in attendance and Parrish and his attorney Omar Figueroa held a victory press conference. A restitution hearing will take place April 25, unless a stipulation is reached before then.

"Willits Bypass protests: Eight years for sitting in a crane?"
2014-01-22 from "Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters":
 Press Conference and Rally Thursday January 23, 2014 -
One Bypass protester the Mendocino Co. DA has particularly targeted is Will Parrish, a Ukiah-based journalist and activist who occupied a wick drain “stitcher” to block the draining of wetlands for Caltrans bypass construction. The charges against Will were increased and now carry a maximum jail sentence of nearly eight years! Caltrans also claims Will owes them nearly $500,000 in criminal “restitution” for damages they say they incurred as a result of Will’s crane sit. The rights of those practicing civil disobedience is on trial. The trial is scheduled to begin January 28th at the Mendocino County Courthouse (this date is subject to change – updates here and at www.savelittlelakevalley.org).

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pyrethroid pesticide usage leads to weaker bees being born

Save the Bees! [link]

"Exposure to pesticides results in smaller worker bees: Exposure to a widely used pesticide causes worker bumblebees to grow less and then hatch out at a smaller size, according to a new study"
2014-01-20 from Royal Holloway, University of London [http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140120090643.htm]:
Prolonged exposure to a pyrethroid pesticide, which is used on flowering crops to prevent insect damage, reduces the size of individual bees produced by a colony, new research shows. (Photo Credit: Royal Holloway, University of London)

Exposure to a widely used pesticide causes worker bumblebees to grow less and then hatch out at a smaller size, according to a new study by Royal Holloway University of London.
The research, published today in the Journal of Applied Ecology, reveals that prolonged exposure to a pyrethroid pesticide, which is used on flowering crops to prevent insect damage, reduces the size of individual bees produced by a colony.
The researchers, Gemma Baron, Dr Nigel Raine and Professor Mark Brown from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway worked with colonies of bumblebees in their laboratory and exposed half of them to the pesticide.
The scientists tracked how the bee colonies grew over a four month period, recording their size and weighing bees on micro-scales, as well as monitoring the number of queens and male bees produced by the colony.
"We already know that larger bumblebees are more effective at foraging. Our result, revealing that this pesticide causes bees to hatch out at a smaller size, is of concern as the size of workers produced in the field is likely to be a key component of colony success, with smaller bees being less efficient at collecting nectar and pollen from flowers," says researcher Gemma Baron from Royal Holloway.
The study is the first to examine the impact of pyrethroid pesticides across the entire lifecycle of bumblebees. The topical research is at the heart of a national Bee Health Conference running in London.
Professor Mark Brown said: "Bumblebees are essential to our food chain so it's critical we understand how wild bees might be impacted by the chemicals we are putting into the environment. We know we have to protect plants from insect damage but we need to find a balance and ensure we are not harming our bees in the process."
Given the current EU moratorium on the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides, the use of other classes of pesticide, including pyrethroids, is likely to increase.
Dr Nigel Raine, who is an Invited Speaker at this week's bee conference, said: "Our work provides a significant step forward in understanding the detrimental impact of pesticides other than neonicotinoids on wild bees. Further studies using colonies placed in the field are essential to understand the full impacts, and conducting such studies needs to be a priority for scientists and governments."

Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by Royal Holloway, University of London.

Journal Reference:
Gemma L. Baron, Nigel E. Raine, Mark J. F. Brown. Impact of chronic exposure to a pyrethroid pesticide on bumblebees and interactions with a trypanosome parasite. Journal of Applied Ecology, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12205

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sacramento Delta ecology threatened by massive water-tunnels outlined in Bay Delta Conservation Plan

Risks to the Estuary [link]

"Massive Delta tunnels could destroy fragile estuary"
2014-01-03 from "San Jose Mercury News" [http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_24840717/mercury-news-editorial-massive-delta-tunnels-could-destroy]:
2013 was the driest year since California began keeping records in 1895. That fact will be used to try to fast-track the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, whose two massive tunnels would carry water under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that now provides nearly half of Silicon Valley's water.
The drought instead should raise skepticism about this $25 billion plan, the largest public works project in U.S. history, because it raises a conundrum: The plan says the tunnels will provide not a drop more water than the Delta provides today -- and that is completely out of whack with the interests of agencies and communities lining up to pay billions of dollars to build them.
The explanation may lie in the size of the two 30-mile long, 40-foot high tunnels, vastly larger than needed to maintain the current water flow. That gives the Central Valley's powerful agriculture industry and Southern California's water contractors reason to believe there will, in fact, be more water pumped out of that ecosystem to fill their needs. Otherwise, why build on such a massive scale? It would be like paying to build an eight-lane highway but claiming only two lanes would ever be used.
The only way for Central Valley farmers and Southern Californians to substantially gain from the project without ruining the Delta's ecology would be to build more dams and other forms of storage for water pumped in wet years. But proponents of the Delta plan rarely talk about the costs and political challenges of building dams, which are out of environmental favor.
The Delta plan, as written, places the environmental health of the estuary on a par with providing water for farms and cities. This is largely a Northern California goal.
The Central Valley and Southern regions have been so desperate for water that they have pumped their own groundwater resources to dangerously low levels. And remember those "people before fish" signs that for years lined highways between Modesto and Bakersfield?
California Rep. Tom McClintock, a key Central Valley lawmaker, already has pushed to ease Endangered Species Act regulations to pump more water from the Delta. Once the tunnels are ready to carry huge amounts of it, pressure like that will be harder to resist in drought years.
Yet some of the environmental damage to the largest estuary west of the Mississippi has been caused by the increase of water pumped south: from 3 million acre-feet in 1990 to roughly 5.2 million acre-feet in 2010.
California's water solution has to include more storage; ideas like raising existing dams are a good way to do that. And it has to include more conservation and less wasteful use of water.
A state water plan should encourage those strategies so that less water, not more, will be pumped out of the fragile Delta. Claiming the environmental high ground while building a huge conveyance system simply makes no sense.

Monday, January 6, 2014

San Pablo Bay communities against "crude-by-rail" project, increased refinery pollution and ecocide

more information at: 
* Community campaign in Pittsburg [link]
* Community campaign against Valero in Benicia [link]
* "Refinery Report" (Shining a spotlight on refineries throughout the United States and Canada) [refineryreport.org], a website that allows people to research the inputs and outputs of petroleum refineries, including:
- Chevron Corporation at Richmond (Contra Costa County) [refineryreport.org/numill.php?id=1509]
- Royal Dutch Shell plc at Martinez (Contra Costa County) [refineryreport.org/numill.php?id=1506]
- Valero at Benicia (Solano County) [http://refineryreport.org/numill.php?id=1508]
- Phillips 66 at Rodeo/Santa Maria (Arroyo Grande) [refineryreport.org/numill.php?id=1513]
- Tesoro/Golden Eagle at Martinez/Pacheco (Contra Costa County) [refineryreport.org/numill.php?id=1504]

"Dirty Crude Oil By Rail: 2013 Closed With a Boom"
2014-01-03 by Diane Bailey of "Natural Resources Defense Council" [http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/dbailey/dirty_crude_oil_by_rail_2013_c.html]:
While the Federal Rail Administration asserts that 2012 was the safest year in the industry's history and that hazardous material releases have gone down over the last decade [http://www.sfgate.com/business/energy/article/Safety-questions-after-ND-oil-train-derailment-5103532.php#page-2], the boom in oil shipments by rail has led to a ka-boom of fiery derailments in 2013. The year closed out with one of the worst oil train derailments to date on December 30th just narrowly missing the town of Casselton, North Dakota and prompting an evacuation of most of the 2,300 residents [http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/31/us-northdakota-collision-idUSBRE9BT0OV20131231] (see photo below).

Casselton Mayor Ed McConnell said that at least 100 people could have been killed if the wreck had happened in town and that is just "too close for comfort." [http://bismarcktribune.com/bakken/casselton-mayor-questions-shipping-oil-by-train/article_c66f3bfa-7228-11e3-89f6-001a4bcf887a.html]
Oil rail shipments are at an all-time high and rapidly growing. In the wake of one of the worst oil train accidents that killed 47 people in Quebec last summer (see an in depth overview of the incident here [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/a-pipeline-on-wheels-how-a-changing-industry-brought-disaster-to-lac-megantic/article15711624/?page=1]), newly proposed federal rail safety standards attempt to improve oil train performance. But this rule cannot be implemented fast enough to address the serious public health and safety hazard posed by these 100 tanker car and longer oil trains travelling on old tracks through dozens of small towns. (See NRDC comments here [http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=PHMSA-2012-0082-0144]). One expert notes not only that Bakken shale oil from North Dakota is separating in the tanker cars with the most volatile (and flammable) portion rising to the top [http://www.vancouversun.com/story_print.html], making it particularly accident prone, but that this is likely also the case with Canadian tar sands diluted with chemical solvents (so called DilBits [http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/dbailey/valeros_crude_by_rail_project.html]).
The U.S. Department of Transportation finally issued a safety alert yesterday [http://www.phmsa.dot.gov/portal/site/PHMSA/menuitem.ebdc7a8a7e39f2e55cf2031050248a0c/?vgnextoid=c6efec1c60f23410VgnVCM100000d2c97898RCRD], warning that the very light gasoline-like crude oil coming from the Bakken “poses a significant fire risk.” The federal warning is a good acknowledgment of the problem but it doesn’t address the immediate safety risk to all of the communities around rail lines currently transporting oil trains or communities with planned new oil terminals. Right now, communities lack even basic information about what is being transported through their communities.
In California, 2013 saw no less than seven separate proposals for new “crude by rail” oil terminals that could import much dirtier or more dangerous crude oils. At least ten other “pipeline on wheels” crude by rail projects are slated for the West Coast and many others in the rest of the U.S. Too many of these projects are slated to be in residential areas with homes and schools nearby putting those communities directly in harm’s way.
Residents in some towns faced with dangerous new oil rail terminal proposals are fighting these projects with an inspiring mix of grassroots activism and creativity. In Pittsburg, California, residents held a toxic tour last month to alert their neighbors and city officials to the hazards of bringing dirty crude oil into their scenic and peaceful waterfront community [http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/video/9635676-toxic-tour-in-pittsburg-highlights-harmful-polluters/]. Even the Governor’s Office of Policy and Regulation weighed in recently with questions and concern over that project’s potential to import vast quantities of dirty crude oil, including tar sands [http://pittsburgdc.org/2013/12/11/opr-letter/]. In advance of expected action over the next few months on the major oil terminal proposal for Pittsburg, the community is also planning a march and rally on January 11th [http://www.pushhard.net/]. See a list of additional events here as that community organizes to stop the WesPac oil terminal project [http://pittsburgdc.org/].
With all of the fiery oil train derailments of 2013, does it make sense to bring the dirtiest, most dangerous crude oil into our communities with volatile, flammable tanker cars by the hundreds? Here in the Bay Area, we’re asking our air district to evaluate the full suite of potential public health and safety impacts of these projects. We extend this request to all officials throughout the nation who are considering new oil projects. It’s not enough to issue warnings that oil trains are dangerous – we already know that. We need to safeguard communities from these accident-prone oil trains, and right now that means no more new oil terminals at the very least.

Pittsburg Pushes Back against "crude-by-rail" project, increased refinery pollution and ecocide

For more information:
* Push HARD [pushhard.net] ("Power to the People!")
* Pittsburg Defense Council [pittsburgdc.org]
* San Pablo Bay communities against "crude-by-rail" project, increased refinery pollution and ecocide

message from Pittsburg Defense Council:
Stop WesPac’s Proposed Crude Oil Terminal in Pittsburg
More trains, more asthma and cancer, risks of spills and explosions
We are fighting a proposed oil terminal near downtown Pittsburg, California. This major industrial project would bring up to 100 rail cars of crude oil through Pittsburg every day.
The massive, 125-acre terminal would be where the old PG&E tanks are now, less than half a mile from downtown Pittsburg, and near homes, schools, parks, and the waterfront. The site lies in both a flood zone and a liquefaction zone (that means that in an earthquake, the soil acts like a liquid and buildings are easily damaged).
The threats to public health, safety, and air and water quality posed by this project are beyond unacceptable. Click here to learn more about the hazards to Pittsburg.
Find out other ways to take action, or call us with any questions or to get involved – (925) 318-1264 or email pittsburgdc@gmail.com.
The great aerial shot of downtown Pittsburg comes from NateG.

These yellow storage tanks have not been used for 15 years. Do you want to see them reactivated and filled with volatile crude oil so close to homes, schools, parks, downtown and the marina?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Consumer trash submerged in the river habitat

Risks to the Estuary [link]

"Scientists uncover hidden river of rubbish threatening to devastate wildlife" 
2014-01-02 from "Royal Holloway, University of London" [http://www.rhul.ac.uk/aboutus/newsandevents/news/newsarticles/scientistsuncoverhiddenriverofrubbishthreateningtodevastatewildlife.aspx]:
based on "Plastic in the Thames: A river runs through it", from 2013-11-13 "Marine Pollution Bulletin" [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X13006565].
Thousands of pieces of plastic have been discovered, submerged along the river bed of the upper Thames Estuary by scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London and the Natural History Museum.
The sheer amount of plastic recovered shows there is an unseen stream of rubbish flowing through London which could be a serious threat to aquatic wildlife. The findings, published online in Marine Pollution Bulletin, highlight the cause for concern, not only for ecosystems around the river but for the North Sea, in to which the Thames flows.
Using nets designed to catch Chinese mitten crabs, Royal Holloway and the Natural History Museum scientists documented rubbish collected during a three-month trial. More than 8,000 pieces of plastic were collected, including large numbers of cigarette packaging, food wrappers and cups, but more than a fifth of waste was made up of sanitary products.
Dr. Dave Morritt, a Senior Lecturer in Marine Biology at Royal Holloway and co-author of the study says: “The unusual aspect of the study is that these nets are originally designed to trap fish and crabs moving along the river bed, so we can see that the majority of this litter is hidden below the surface. This underwater litter must be taken into account when predicting the amount of pollution entering our rivers and seas, not just those items that we can see at the surface and washed up on shore. The potential impacts this could have for wildlife are far reaching: not only are the species that live in and around the river affected, but also those in seas that rivers feed into.”
The waste collected for the study is only a small snapshot of the volume of litter which may exist at the bottom of the Thames. Plastic bags and other large items were unlikely to get caught in the small nets so the true extent of the problem is still unknown.
Dr. Paul Clark, a researcher at the Natural History Museum and co-author of the study says: “All of this waste, which was mostly plastic, was hidden underwater so Londoners probably don’t realise that it’s there. Plastic can have a damaging impact on underwater life. Large pieces can trap animals but smaller pieces can be inadvertently eaten. This litter moves up and down the river bed depending on tides. The movement causes the pieces of plastic to break down into smaller fragments. These are small enough to be eaten by even the smallest animals, which are in turn eaten by larger fish and birds. Once digested, plastic can release toxic chemicals which are then passed through the food chain. These toxic chemicals, in high doses, could harm the health of wildlife.”
Scientists are increasingly pressing for changes to both policy and consumer behaviours, as the dangers of plastics become more apparent.
To highlight the issue of marine litter pollution the Natural History Museum is hosting a Plastic Awareness Weekend on 4–5 January 2014. To find out more visit the Natural History Museum