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