SEPTEMBER 13, 2022
Before we dive into the news, we want to invite you to our Virtual Gala on Sept 21 to celebrate everyone’s efforts below and to hear the inside-scoop on federal efforts to address climate equity by U.S. Senior Advisor Arsenio Mataka! BUY TICKETS HERE!
We have LOTS of environmental policy news to share with you! Over the past month, we saw the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the largest federal environmental investment to date, enacted into law, and some nail-biting policy victories and disappointments in California. The good news is that we are making progress. The bad news is that on both the federal and state levels, the new laws are complicated and, in some cases, harmful, as they leave overburdened communities behind.
Also in the newsletter, you will find updates on the many projects our board, Environmental Health Committee members, staff, and interns have been working on including young health activist projects, our building electrification and health harms of gas stoves project, and our NEW support of the Richmond Healthy Environment Project in collaboration with Richmond Shoreline Alliance and more.
INFLATION REDUCTION ACT
Although we celebrate immense gains of the IRA Act, we want to make sure the health harms of the Act are known and addressed. Some examples include actively opening up more federal lands and waters to fossil fuel extraction; providing massive corporate subsidies for dangerous carbon capture technologies and pipelines; billions of dollars to expand nuclear power including extending the life of dangerous plants with increased wastes that are “disposed of” near communities of lower-income and color; and of course, the Act does not include funds to adequately expand health care, etc. for communities who are already dealing with the consequences of their legacy and future toxic exposures.
READING: The following two resources provide contrasting perspectives.
RMI: Four Ways the Inflation Reduction Act Speeds the Shift to a Cleaner, More Affordable Energy Future
Indigenous Environmental Network: The Inflation Reduction Act of 20220 is NOT a Climate Bill
VICTORY in California!
It was a race to the finish but SB 1137 PASSED, which will create a 3,200-foot health protective zone (setback) for nearly three million Californians who live near oil extraction sites and for schools and hospitals. Fenceline communities have raised the alarm about the health harms caused by oil extraction for decades, so this is a HUGE win! READ VISION’s press release.
In allyship with environmental justice organizations who have come together in VISIÓN and have been leading the fight to put an end to neighborhood drilling, SF BAY PSR has been engaged in mobilizing health professionals to demand health protection zones from oil and gas drilling. SF BAY PSR and PSR-LA co-authored a letter on behalf of VISIÓN for health professionals, organizations and students in support of SB 1137. Members of SF BAY PSR and PSR Sacramento, presented the letter at the CA Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee hearing on August 29 in person.
SF BAY PSR organized and participated in meetings, along with our allies, with the members of California State Senate to ask for a yes vote on SB 1137 and helped mobilize health professionals to call on undecided members of the Assembly and Senate.
We celebrate this victory, but we know a 3,200-foot health protective zone is not enough! The most effective way to protect public health from oil and gas operations is to stop drilling, and phase out existing oil and gas development and infrastructure. This is exactly what the CALGEM Public Health Rulemaking Scientific Advisory Panel, convened by the State of California to evaluate the safety of oil and gas drilling, calls the most health protective strategy.
To this end, the Brentwood City Council unanimously approved an immediate moratorium on oil and gas drilling while simultaneously preparing an ordinance to ban drilling. Other cities in Contra Costa are following suit. In allyship with local environmental justice organizations, health professionals including our Environmental Health Committee members are asking for an end to new permitting of oil drilling in Contra Costa County and phase out of existing drilling, to protect the public from the well documented negative health impacts.
ACTION: Health Professionals please SIGN LETTER HERE
The California Oil and Gas Public Health Rulemaking Scientific Advisory Panel responses to California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM)
NEJM: Climate Change, Fossil-Fuel Pollution, and Children’s Health
The New Republic: California Is Finally Confronting the Fossil Fuel Industry
Billboard with activist and organizer Alfredo Angulo from Richmond, CA. “Californians deserve a future beyond oil and gas.” Sponsored by the California Environmental Justice Alliance.
SF Bay PSR Member Dr. Meg Whitman with son Henry, holding a sign that reads “Setbacks Now.”
DANGERS OF DIABLO NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
With great disappointment we saw the CA legislature overwhelmingly vote to pass SB 846, to keep the aging and dangerous Diablo Nuclear Power Plant open for another five to ten years. We remain OPPOSED to the continued operation of the Diablo Nuclear Power Plant for these reasons: it is near four fault lines; the reactors are aging and have not been upgraded because the plant was scheduled to close in 2025; the plant is vulnerable to both physical and cyber attacks; and, the billions need to keep it open would be better spend on renewables and storage that would better protect Californians from electrical grid black-outs.
SF Chronicle: No, California doesn’t need Diablo Canyon to keep the lights on
LA Times: Editorial: California can’t count on Diablo Canyon’s nuclear power, so it should spend now on renewables
CALIFORNIA AIR RESOURCES BOARD CLIMATE CHANGE SCOPING PLAN
We have also been focusing on advocacy to demand a California climate plan that is centered on health and equity. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is charged with protecting the public from the harmful effects of air pollution and developing programs and actions to fight climate change. This year CARB is in the process of updating its climate action plan called the “2022 Climate Change Scoping Plan Update” (the scoping plan) which is a blueprint that will guide the next 20 years of climate action in California and could potentially be used as a blueprint for other states and federal climate policy. SF BAY PSR engaged in the scoping plan evaluation in allyship with environmental justice organizations and helped mobilize the health professionals.
In just one week, over 300 individuals and 30 organizations signed on to the letter co-authored by SF BAY PSR and PSR-LA on behalf of health professionals, organizations and students demanding CARB adopt a climate action plan that meets the scale of the climate crisis, promotes public health, and advances health equity and environmental justice.
SF BAY PSR participated in rallies organized by environmental justice groups; endorsed multiple comment letters authored by environmental justice organizations regarding the scoping plan; and mobilized health professionals to call on Governor Newsom to support a coordinated phase-out of fossil fuels and stop reliance on carbon capture utilization and storage.
In addition, SF BAY PSR with PSR-LA, co-organized a statewide training for health professionals to give testimony at CARB listening sessions supporting eight health professionals who gave in person testimony at the Oakland session, and more at other sessions, demanding bold climate actions based on health equity.
California Environmental Justice Alliance: Tell Governor Newsom: Don’t let Big Oil write our climate plan!
Inside Climate News: Study Underscores That Exposure to Air Pollution Harms Brain Development in the Very Young
LA Times: Op-Ed: California can do better than carbon neutrality by 2045
CARBON CAPTURE CONCERNS in CA
The CA legislature passed two bills, SB 1279 and SB 905, to promote carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS). Fossil fuel industries have been pushing these bills and similar legislation, despite clear evidence that CCUS fails to reduce carbon emissions and increases major threats to health and safety from increased air and water pollutants, and the risk of disastrous leaks of stored carbon. SB 1279 sets an ambitious new target for the reduction of greenhouse gasses and to achieve “carbon neutrality,” but uses CCUS as a core strategy. SB905 will expedite carbon capture projects’ development. SB905 does apparently provide some protections for environmental justice communities from the worst impacts of carbon capture, but we believe CARBON CAPTURE is not an answer to our climate crisis.
Guardian: Carbon capture is not a solution to net zero emissions plans, report says
GLOBAL EFFORTS: Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty
Also, we’d like to offer a global perspective. PSR National along with SF Bay PSR co-authored a letter with our international health professional allies to demand governments develop and implement a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty (FFNPT). The treaty, evoking the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty aimed at abolishing nuclear weapons, calls on governments around the world to lay out a legally binding global plan to eliminate the use of fossil fuels. We also helped to craft an information session organized by our international partners about the FFNPT. WATCH here.
Please sign and share the letter broadly with your colleagues and organizations.
ACTION: Please SIGN to support the FFNPT
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MORE CA POLICY UPDATES
Special thanks to Intern Allie Smith for her help with our Environmental Health Committee and our policy work!
DIVESTMENT from FOSSIL FUELS
BRAVO to SF Bay PSR’s Divestment Task Force and its leader Dr. David Bezanson for all their efforts to advocate for the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act, SB 1173, which would have prohibited the CalSTRS and CalPERS boards from making additional or new investments or renewing existing investments in fossil fuels. Unfortunately, this bill died in the House in June, but our collective wins this year will give us momentum for next year!
READ MORE at Fossil Free CA
We continue to oppose the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)’s plans for a Solar Tax. The CPUC is considering a Solar Tax on solar energy made and consumed at home. This policy would also slash the credit for surplus solar energy shared with the grid. Significant protests have so far stalled the adoption of this plan, but rooftop solar in California is still in serious danger.
READ MORE at Solar Rights Alliance
CLIMATE TIPPING POINTS, NEW WARNINGS
To highlight the urgency of all these efforts, we have seen even more dire warnings of rising sea levels and climate chaos from recent “tipping-point” studies. Tipping points occur when climate changes reach a point that creates a cascade of climate system breakdowns, making it even harder to reverse climate change.
READ MORE in SCIENCE
EV CHARGING ACCESS FOR ALL
SF Bay PSR also supported SB 1482 that will provide multi-family housing (MFH) residents with charging at the place where it’s most affordable, easy-to-access, and safe—at home. While the bill was amended to reduce its ultimate power, it remains vital to pass SB 1482.
READ MORE at Acterra
PSR MEMBER NEWS
SF Bay PSR committee members are consistently giving talks, publishing articles, and producing resources to share with other groups. Below are just a few highlights!
Bravo to Dr. Tom Bush for his Letter to the Editor in The Rheumatologist, “Weathering Storms.”
Congrats to Dr. Robin Cooper for her work on the Climate Psychiatry Alliance, Heat Toolkits.
Listen to Dr. Cooper on soundcloud HERE.
We are so grateful for and impressed by Dr. Michael Martin’s many presentations on the health and environmental harms of global warming, red meat consumption, and gas appliances, speaking to the Rotary Club of San Francisco Greater Mission, the McMinnville, OR Rotary Club, the Silicon Valley Chapter of Mothers Out Front, and more.
VOTING FOR CLIMATE AND HEALTH
A big SHOUT OUT to Dr. Margie Chen, Dr. Robin Cooper, and their colleagues for their work with Voting4Climate&Health. In June 2022, the American Medical Association declared that climate change is a public health crisis and that voting is a social determinant of health. This statement sparked the development of Voting4Climate&Health, which collaborates with Vot-ER and engages all health professionals to promote civic engagement of our patients to vote for measures and candidates that would protect climate and health, and as well advocates for a healthy democracy. It has been estimated that the care we provide in our own practices determines less than 20% of health outcomes – the rest depends on social determinants of health, including VOTING. The people we elect ultimately set the policies that determine the conditions for our health – whether we have clean air to breathe, water to drink, and a safe climate to live in. As trusted health professionals, we can help our patients understand that VOTING gives them a voice in the policies that affect their environment and how that connects to their health.
LEARN HOW you can help your patients register to vote here!
WELCOMES and FAREWELLS!
We are thrilled to welcome our new staff members Alfredo Angulo, Giselle Bergmeier, Anlan Cheney, Brandy Khansouvong, and our new intern Lilah Blalock! And we say farewell and best wishes to our interns Alma Hernandez and Jasmine Campos. Please take a moment to read about what our former interns loved most about their time with us and where their careers will take them next. And learn more about our new team mates! READ MORE . . .
Building Electrification (BE) and Health Harms of Gas Appliances Project
Over the past eight months, SF Bay PSR has launched our BE Speakers Bureau and members have given hours of talks and testimony to educate and advocate for a swift and just transition from fossil fuel appliances to all electric homes. We have also compiled an extensive list of resources, including: Talking Points, fact sheets, a patient brochure, and soon we will launch a series of infographics via social media and an animated movie to introduce the public to the health benefits of electric homes! All of this was made possible with funding from National PSR, The Energy Foundation, and with the dedication of our interns Alma Hernandez and Lilah Blalock.
Knowledge of Building Electrification: A Brief Survey of the San Francisco/ East Bay Communities, by Alma Hernandez
Many organizations around the Bay Area are working toward a more equitable approach to Building Electrification. After reaching out to almost 30 organizations and collecting responses using a survey monkey, we analyzed the data. The survey looks into what organizations are doing in Bay Area communities and what they have found from working with the communities. Some of the most important findings underscore the imperative to incorporate environmental justice into BE policy, for example 1. How switching to electric appliances can affect renters’ status with landlords and 2. How many communities do not know about the health harms from gas stoves.
READ the REPORT.
Richmond Healthy Environment Project in collaboration with Richmond Shoreline Alliance
This project was made possible with generous funding from the Resources Legacy Fund.
In support of a residential-grade cleanup of the AstraZeneca toxic waste site on Richmond’s southeast shoreline, the SF Bay Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility and Richmond Shoreline Alliance (RSA) are undertaking a community engagement and capacity-building process called the Healthy Environment Project. The goal of the project is to increase community awareness of the importance and urgency of cleaning up this and other local contaminated shoreline sites such as Bayview Hunters Point in San Francisco, as well as to build community engagement and in the long term, a healthier and more resilient watershed.
SF Bay PSR and RSA have secured funding to support this project, which will be overseen by a dedicated strategy team of composed of SF Bay PSR, RSA, and allied organizations. The project will be devoted to capacity building, community outreach, advocacy, and mobilization. It will also provide training and education to foster leadership skills in younger BIPOC Crescent Park residents and provide opportunities for coalition-building and strengthening relationships with other organizations to promote a healthy Richmond. As such, although the Healthy Environment Project itself is a short-term project with defined tasks and time periods, depending on funding and success, we hope this role will expand into next steps when the project concludes.
READ MORE …
JOIN A COMMITTEE!
All health professionals, community health advocates, students, and trainees welcome!
Environmental Health Committee
As you have read above, members of the Environmental Health Committee continue to engage in advocacy and activism around a wide range of issues, engaging health professionals, students, and institutions to enact systemic changes. In 2022, EHC members have been focused on advancing several policies in California (see above). Also, EHC members continue to actively work within their specialty medical societies to increase involvement with the climate crisis.
The next meeting of the Environmental Health Committee will be held Wednesday, September 14 at 7:00 pm, via Zoom.
The next meeting of the Divestment Taskforce will be held Monday, October 3 at 7:00 pm, via Zoom.
Nuclear Weapons Abolition Committee
NWAC is composed of health professionals and others working locally to influence public awareness, civic engagement, and national policy to build a nuclear weapons free world. Toward the latter, we frame our work through our Back from the Brink campaign and its policy platforms.
The next meeting of the Nuclear Weapons Abolition Committee will be held Thursday, October 13 at 7:00 pm, via Zoom.