Our September club meeting has been moved to Wednesday, September 29th at 6:30pm. Check in begins at 6:15pm.
Please join us on Zoom to hear special guest speakers talk about the Farm System Reform Act, as well as local efforts to mitigate the traffic and pollution impacts from developments. There will also be reports on wildlife and climate action. General Body meetings are always open to both members and guests. Join or renew your membership at sdcdea.wildapricot.org.
Impacts of Industrial Agriculture
Over the past 40 to 50 years, our nation's agricultural system was transformed from one based mostly on smaller farms and pastures, to one increasingly consolidated under the control of titanic corporations like Smithfield, Tyson, Cargill, and Perdue. The emergence of CAFOs, concentrated animal feeding operations (commonly referred to as "factory farms") has brought 99 percent of farm animals in the U.S.--some 10 billion farm animals--under the hooves of these large-scale industrial agricultural facilities, whose focus is solely on producing the most products at the lowest cost. With the decline of small farms that had maintained some connection with the animals and the land, we've seen the rise of horrific animal cruelty, pollution into our waterways and rural landscapes from animal waste, increased GHG emissions, exploitation of factory workers, zoonotic diseases such as the avian and swine influenza viruses, and widespread blanket use of antibiotics and growth hormones.
The Farm System Reform Act
The Farm System Reform Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Cory Booker (with co-sponsoring Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders), and introduced in the House by Rep. Ro Khanna of California, would overhaul our broken agricultural system by moving us toward one that is more humane with higher standards for animal welfare, worker safety, and addressing industry consolidation and unfair practices--the first step being a moratorium on factory farms. To better inform us and spark action on this critical legislation, our featured speaker will be Rebecca Wolf, senior organizer with Food & Water Watch, who will be presenting about the impact of factory farms and the promise that this bill holds to put an end to dangerous practices that cause harms to our environment, the animals being kept in this system, the workers in these factory settings, and consumers who are often kept in the dark about how their food is raised and what's in it. Click here for a current list of organizations endorsing the Farm System Reform Act.
We'll also get an update and presentation on how local leaders are implementing measures designed to mitigate impacts of development upon traffic and pollution, discuss the outcome of the recall election, as well as reports on President Biden's broken pledge to protect wolves by keeping them off the endangered species list, the student strike for climate action, and the groundbreaking decision by the city of Berkeley to divest from animal agriculture.
See you there!
Meeting ID: 892 7975 3162
Plastic bottles and containers have become ubiquitous in our society. The plastics industry and our consumerist economy assure us that everything is okay--just put it into the recycling bin. But what's really happening with what we put into our recycling bins? Many of us are aware that the global recycling business has been turned upside down in recent years, as China, which had for decades taken in about half of the world's discarded recyclable materials, instituted a 2018 ban on the import of most plastics.
Since then, plastic waste has begun piling up like never before, and exporters of plastic recyclables are having a harder time finding countries willing to take them in. U.S. municipalities that used to see some net profit from recycling are now paying to get rid of all the waste. To get more insight and answers about all of this, we'll hear from Nicole Kurian, policy analyst with Californians Against Waste. She will present to our club about the California Recycling and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act that will appear on ballots in November 2022, and other items of pending legislation in Sacramento to attack the problem of all this waste.
We'll also get updates on the pollution in the Tijuana River Valley, our board's opposition to a problematic large solar farm proposed for the area near Jacumba Hot Springs, and about how you can get involved with local efforts to defeat the recall and stop an extreme anti-environmentalist Republican takeover of the governor's office.
The meeting will be on Zoom with check-in beginning at 6:15 PM; we'll come to order at 6:30 PM
>>>Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86870364786?pwd=bUNRRzEwRy9pcUlIbXE1RXpra3g4UT09
Meeting ID: 868 7036 4786
Say you're "going" on Facebook!
At our executive board's most recent meeting, we reviewed the proposed JVR Energy Park, a massive 650-acre solar farm that would nearly surround Jacumba Hot Springs, an unincorporated border community in the Mountain Empire of far southeastern San Diego County. In consideration of the immediate harm this project would do to sensitive habitats and a wildlife corridor, as well as the negative impacts on the local community, our board voted unanimously to oppose this project.
We have submitted a letter opposing this project to each of the county supervisors in advance of the vote scheduled to take place at the County Board of Supervisors meeting this Wednesday, Aug. 18. We're re-publishing this as an open letter for our members and the general public; click here to view our letter.
The club's executive board opposes the project for a variety of reasons. As environmental activists and advocates we recognize the incredibly critical importance of building new clean power infrastructure, but we cannot in good conscience recommend the approval of this project as proposed.
It would have significant negative environmental consequences for air quality; biological resources; cultural resources, and more, including disrupting a wildlife migration corridor. In addition, aside from small cash payouts to specific local groups, there would be little benefit provided to the community of Jacumba. None of the power generated on site at the JVR facility will supply the local community.
We urge you to take part in this public hearing and express your concerns as well. It begins at 9:00 a.m. at the County Administration Center, 1600 Pacific Highway, Room 310.
Click here for the meeting agenda; Item #1 is Noticed Public Hearing: JVR Energy Park Major Use Permit.
Click here to submit an e-comment on Agenda Item #1
The project has received the recommendation of the San Diego County Planning Commission on a 5-2 vote (Planning Commissioner and SDCDEA founding president Tommy Hough spoke in opposition to the project).
As San Diego County commits to meeting climate action goals, we must focus on how we achieve those goals. We cannot set the dangerous precedent of ignoring both environmental and community concerns when expanding our clean power infrastructure.
SDCDEA Advocates Against CA Recall at San Diego County Green New Deal Alliance "Celebration for Climate, Jobs, and Justice"
It was great seeing many of you at Balboa Park this past Saturday for the San Diego Green New Deal Alliance "Celebration For Climate, Jobs & Justice" event. So many groups were present: among them, San Diego 350, Climate Mobilization San Diego, Extinction Rebellion San Diego, and San Diego Coastkeeper, as well as many representatives of labor, education, city services, housing, and community activist groups. We'd like to thank our own past and present board members Maleeka Marsden and Galena Robertson of Climate Action Campaign for taking the lead on putting this event together, and to all those who volunteered their time and efforts to make this happen.
And much appreciation for the United Women’s East African Support Team (UWEAST) who provided the delicious vegan and vegetarian Ethiopian food, and Mar & Mur for providing a bounty of incredible cookies!
In this bleak setting of the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report delivering a "Code Red For Humanity" warning, mass extinction of species, and growing economic inequality our local alliance delivers a sense of hope--when we come together with those of common dreams and concerns, we find that we are ready to meet the challenges ahead. A more sustainable and equitable San Diego for the next generation is possible, but only if when we work together to overcome the obstacles and demand what is right.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Despite record-breaking heat waves in the western U.S. brought on by worsening impacts of the climate crisis, the Padre Dam Municipal Water District has voted to reinstate late fees and water shutoffs for delinquent customers, many of whom are only just beginning to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision puts countless East County residents at risk of being without water during an extraordinary, and deadly, crisis of heat and drought.
On Saturday, the executive board of San Diego Democrats for Environmental Action (SDCDEA) called on the Padre Dam Municipal Water District to reverse course, agreeing the decision is exacerbating a growing environmental and social justice issue. Several SDCDEA board members called the Padre Dam Water District decision "callous."
It's unconscionable that four of the Padre Dam board members would think it's a good idea to reimpose late fees, and even worse, water shut-off measures at a time when East County residents face life-threatening temperatures," said Cody Petterson, outgoing president of San Diego Democrats for Environment Action. "With this action the board has made it abundantly clear how little regard they have for the people and communities they represent."
Like other water districts throughout California, the Padre Dam Municipal Water District had suspended late fees and water shutoffs for non-payment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But on a 4-1 vote earlier this month, taken at the height of a punishing heat wave and persistent drought, the district's board elected to resume late fees and discontinue water service for residents who have not paid their bills. Padre Dam Director Suzanne Till was the lone vote in opposition.
Till said in the July 15th issue of the San Diego Union-Tribune, "I don't want families worrying about water during the hottest part of the year, which is August and September." Till had previously asked the board to hold off on reinstating late fees and shut-offs at least until school resumes, where children have access to water and air conditioning.
The majority of the board, however, placed greater importance on recouping some of the $528,000 in outstanding monies owed from past due accounts, despite California Governor Gavin Newsom's recent announcement the state is making $2 billion in assistance available for past-due water and utility bills.
Padre Dam Municipal Water District, which serves Santee, Alpine, Crest, and other East County communities, will resume charging late fees on unpaid utility bills as of Aug. 1. The district has also indicated it will resume water shutoffs for non-payment beginning Oct. 1, thereby setting the stage for an environmental justice conflict in an area of the county home to many residents and farmers struggling economically due to COVID-19 pandemic.
East County resident Bonnie Price, who e-mailed the board to urge its members not to reimpose late fees and water shut-off measures, says the district could better use its resources to connect residents with the utility bill relief offered by the state, and perhaps assist residents in completing the required paperwork to access state funds.
"It's the hottest time of the year. You can't have people worrying about water," said Price, who does not live within the Padre Dam Water District. "The board simply kept saying, 'We run a business here. This is a business. We can't allow people to get away with not paying bills.' It was patently obvious they're not concerned about the people they represent."
Chartered in 2014, San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action seek to foster active interest in the Democratic Party, encourage greater support of the California Democratic Party environmental platform, contribute to party leadership and responsibility, provide a constructive role for volunteers in Democratic politics, promote an activist base, and assist and enable Democratic candidates to run for office and win on environmental and conservation principles.
By Richard Ram
At our club's executive board retreat this past weekend, I was selected by my peers to serve as the interim president of San Diego County Democrats For Environmental Action. I'd like to thank my fellow board members for their confidence in me, and their commitment to working with me in the ongoing process of building our club into a powerhouse of passionate advocacy for environmental issues, and their commitment to working with Democratic candidates and elected officials who will champion those causes.
I would like to also recognize and thank our immediate past president Cody Petterson for his tireless dedication in organizing our club meetings, doing the critical outreach to elected officials and allied organizations, and exemplifying service and leadership in ways that far too often have gone unnoticed.
If you've not gotten to know me, I've been a member of the club since 2015 and began my service on the executive board in 2016 – first as director of communications, and more recently as the club's V.P. for programs and outreach.
My youth was spent in Bakersfield, California, in the southern San Joaquin Valley, where I became acutely aware of the public health impacts of pollution from the surrounding oil fields and refineries, and the devastating cancer clusters that arose among children of farm worker families living near fields where they were exposed to widespread spraying of pesticides. I saw that these industries gave heavily to local Republican politicians who were completely indifferent to issues of environmental justice and the trashing of our planet, even as the residents of their districts were getting sick and dying.
As I evolved into an environmentally-concerned citizen and advocate, I also became aware of how much the meat and dairy industries pollute our air and waterways, contribute heavy amounts of greenhouse gases, inflict unspeakable violence and suffering within the walls of factory farms, and use the government to lobby for ever-increasing consumption of their products by a population where the top causes of death and medical expenses are from degenerative diet-related diseases. I've been a vegetarian since 1991 and vegan since 2012, and you will often hear me speak on issues related to animals and humane legislation.
While I've been a frequent contributor and member of various environmental and social justice organizations over the years, my first foray into any political organization was with the formation of a local San Diego group supporting former Vermont governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean in 2003. This was motivated by my disgust with the Bush-Cheney regime's determined, and ultimately unpopular, unilateral war in Iraq, and Dean being (at the time) the only candidate with any momentum speaking out against the war.
I continued attending joint meetings of Democracy for America (DFA) and Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) for several years, where I first got to know many of the members involved with this club. I'm a graduate of San Diego State University with a degree in communication, I work in government services assisting our public, and I live in the Serra Mesa neighborhood of San Diego in a home I share with my wife, daughter, and cat.
The challenges ahead are many, and we will all need to work together to address and fight for the myriad of issues we care about – in the face of special interest lobbyists and "friendly fire" often coming from our own side of the trench. With our team of energized board members and your committed involvement, I'm certain we will be able to grow and diversify our club's membership, further educate and propagate on important issues affecting our planet and its inhabitants, support committed environmentalists in getting elected to office, and continue living up to the "Action" in our club's name.
San Diego Pride photo by Maria Cerda.
Georgette Gómez photo by Roberto Torres.
This Wednesday's San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action general membership meeting will include an update from Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear, who serves as the Chair of SANDAG, and a panel discussion on the future of the San Diego regional food system.
As SANDAG chair, Mayor Blakespear has navigated an often challenging course at the nexus between coastal and environmental protection, climate action, housing, and transit. We'll hear about the environmental work that has occupied her since her last visit to the club, and the challenging road ahead.
And while the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the deep inequities, inefficiencies, and disarticulations of our regional food system, it has also provided a renewed impetus to collaborate to improve the quality, equity, and sustainability of food in our region.
Joining us for a discussion on the challenges facing the many segments of our food system, and the most promising opportunities for transformation, are:
Executive Director of the San Diego Food System Alliance
Elly has led the development of San Diego County Food Vision 2030, released early this month, which lays out a bold plan for transforming our regional food system around matters of equity, sustainability, and resilience.
Co-Founder of Solidarity Farm and the Foodshed
Solidarity Farm is a regional leader in regenerative farming, agricultural carbon sequestration, food aggregation and distribution, and youth and student engagement.
General Manager at Ponce's, Board Member at San Diego Business for Good, National Strategy Director for RAISE High Road Restaurants
Mikey is a long-time friend of the San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action (Ponce's hosted out first three club anniversary events) and one of the region's foremost advocates for local food sourcing and rights and dignity of restaurant workers.
Director of Nutrition Services at Sweetwater Union High School District
Eric has been pioneering transformative approaches to integrating schools with local farms and communities, and ensuring fresh, high quality, locally sourced meals for Sweetwater Union's students, many of whom face challenges of poverty, housing insecurity, and discrimination, and are disproportionately dependent on the district's food services.
Our meeting will come to order at 6:30 p.m. You can access the Zoom link here.
Click here for the Facebook event page for Wednesday's meeting.
By Cody Petterson
So, we did a thing today. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to develop a Regional Sustainability Plan to help achieve the most ambitious climate action goal of any jurisdiction in the state of California: zero carbon by 2035.
I won't even try to thank each of the thousands of people who made this happen — you know who you are — but I want to specifically thank the hundreds of people who submitted comments or showed up today and spoke. Thank you above all to Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer and Vice Chair Nora Vargas for authoring the board letters, to Chair Nathan Fletcher
for opening the breach, to Supervisors Anderson and Desmond for their support, to county staff, to our incredible District 3 team, and to our District 1 and 4 counterparts. Thank you to the voters of San Diego for casting their votes for a new direction for our county and our communities.
I'm thankful above all for the opportunity to have a small hand in mending the fabric. To watch my kids playing outside, in their innocence, and be given the chance to repair their world. There will be days of sadness, frustration, anger, humiliation. Days when we're alone.
But not today. Today we were together, happy, tired, mending.
Photo by Bruce Bekkar
By Cody Petterson
It is right that we celebrate today. That we set aside our worries, disappointments, and reservations, and celebrate our deliverance.
Tomorrow, however, as we survey the wreckage left by the Trump Administration and begin to imagine how we will rebuild, and how exhausting and difficult that task will be, we should remember that the contradictions that fueled Trumpism remain — deep in our society and economy — and that they will continue to destabilize our nation until we have faced them and resolved them.
The San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action, as our name suggests, is dedicated to one thing above all: environmental action. But the calamity that Americans brought upon themselves these last four years has reinforced a powerful lesson: we will not save our open spaces, our biodiversity, our climate, without saving our communities.
The only thing that returns nations to equilibrium is movement. The only thing that will meet and overcome the fossil fuel industry, the sprawl development industry, the arms industry, Wall Street — in short the enemies of life on earth — is movement. The only thing that will defeat our own personal and collective inertia and complacency is movement.
And by "movement" I do not mean small groups of disaffected, self-satisfied loners, isolated from and disdainful of their neighbors and co-workers and communities. I mean movement that emerges from the concrete, lived experience of a people. To the extent that we, as activists, organizers, and advocates, can foster movement, it is through active, intimate, intentional participation in the life of our communities. Movement has no roots. It borrows our roots for its nourishment. And by "roots" I mean relationships. And by "relationships" I mean full, loving, helping, understanding, time- and energy-consuming relationships.
There is no climate movement. There's not even an environmental movement, just as there are not, properly speaking, "environmental" relationships. We can no longer fight to save a canyon or a species, or stop a pipeline or a wall, and then go home to the opportunities, and advantages, and assets we have hoarded. We cannot stand against an environmental injustice with communities of color or of concern, or with our Indigenous sisters and brothers, and then let them return to their poverty and we to our prosperity.
The natural system will not return to some semblance of equilibrium so long as our human communities are out of equilibrium. And human communities—our nation—will not return to equilibrium without equality. To the racial inequality that has always plagued us, we have added an increasingly obscene and insurmountable inequality of wealth and income. We have a government committed, above all else, to protecting and increasing the wealth of the wealthy. A government that over the last half century has facilitated the expropriation of half the wealth of middle-income families and its redistribution to the wealthy. Not only can that not continue, it cannot stand.
We will fulfill this nation's promise of equality, or we will suffer more, and more competent, Trumps. And destroy our habitat, and biodiversity, and planet in the process.
Today is not a perfect day, but it is good day. It is certainly a day worthy of celebration. After the curse of the last four years, and in spite of the hard years ahead, it is a blessing.
Photo by Tommy Hough
By Mia Taylor
I will forever remember election night 2016. I was sitting in a Hillcrest restaurant watching the presidential election results with a friend, when all of the sudden the tide turned. Donald Trump, the underdog, the candidate who my family and friends assured me was a long shot and would never win, was suddenly in the lead. As I continued my meal, it became abundantly clear Trump would indeed win. He would be our next president, and all the naysayers had been wrong. Thus began a four-year long, national nightmare.
Like others, I tried at first to give Trump the benefit of the doubt. I listened to those who said Trump won't be as bad as we expect. That his bark is worse than his bite. That his rhetoric would fade and he would settle into the job and adapt to the norms and expectations of his new role. As we all know now, none of those things proved true. Instead it was quite the opposite.
At every turn during the past four years, Trump revealed himself to be far worse than any of us could have ever imagined. With each passing day he outdid himself with even more abhorrent affronts and atrocities. He turned out to be a bigger bully, a more insidious criminal, a far more offensive racist, and a more ignorant human being than I for one ever imagined. His total lack of humanity, his complete absence of decency, his coddling of dictators and white supremacists and outright rejection of democracy and democratic norms grew more horrifying by the day.
As the days, weeks, months, and years of his administration passed, the nation I grew up in became less and less recognizable. And I'm quite sure I'm not alone in that sentiment. Children in cages, separated from their parents. White supremacists, neo-Nazis, and alt-right groups marching in the streets and labeled "very fine people." Dictators putting bounties on the heads of American troops with no repercussions. The grift, the corruption, the lies ... it never ended.
As someone who cares deeply for the environment and wildlife, and who lays awake at night worrying about how to save everything from wolves to wild spaces, Trump's affronts turned out to be voluminous and heart wrenching.
He installed climate change deniers and individuals with zero concern for wildlife in key positions, including perhaps most notoriously, putting William Perry Pendley, a man who labeled climate change "man-made fiction" and called climate believers "kooks," in charge of the Bureau of Land Management. Pendley's selection was merely one of many, many outright attacks on the environment.
Trump also weakened the EPA immeasurably and rolled back critical protections of our air and water. The environmental devastation unleased by Trump and his band of criminal cronies has been chronicled by numerous publications, but perhaps most notably in October 2020 when the Washington Post detailed the rollback of some 125 environmental safeguards. As the article pointed out:
"The [Trump] administration has allowed more pollution, drilling and logging while weakening protections for animals such as bees, bears, and birds ... over the course of nearly four years, his administration has steadily loosened oversight of polluting industries, eroded protections for endangered wildlife and stymied Obama-era efforts to address the globe's most daunting environmental threat: climate change."
Before Trump ever arrived on the scene environmentalists were fighting an uphill battle protecting nature and wildlife, and fighting climate change. Trump made every single one of those challenges more difficult. We now have an incredibly long road of recovery and rebuilding ahead of us. And the work will not be easy at any turn.
Adding insult to injury, Trump has continued his soulless, scorched earth policy until the very last moment of his repugnant administration, including the recent announcement that this administration is seeking to develop protected desert land in Southern California, opening it to mining, energy development, and broadband infrastructure.
And still he wasn't done destroying our nation on every level.
In addition to repeatedly denying and lying about the outcome of a free and fair election, and seeking to manipulate and coerce election officials across the nation in order to change the presidential election results in his favor, we all watched in horror the climax of this deranged psychopath's four years in power when his supporters violently stormed the Capitol in an attempted coup. As the world watched, our once great democracy was being undone by a wannabe dictator and his band of violent, conspiracy-believing hoodlums. The Trump-inspired insurrectionists included former members of the military and active duty police, and the entire horrific event was supported and formented by fellow GOP politicians.
In the end, five people died as a result to this sickening attack on our democracy, and still, it doesn't end. Trump insists he has done nothing wrong, and insists on departing Washington as a hero with full military fanfare.
As a presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton received immense criticism for describing Trump's followers at one point as deplorables. In retrospect, her comment could not have been more accurate. Not only were his followers deplorable, but so were all of his cabinet appointments, and of course, the biggest deplorable of them all is Trump himself.
As we watch today's inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, there is finally light at the end of this long, dark, tunnel. Finally, this never-ending nightmare appears to be drawing to a close and we can begin to breath a collective sigh of relief. Indeed, I have been immensely heartened by the early appointments made by the incoming administration particularly the selection of Michael Regan, North Carolina's environmental chief and a former EPA air quality specialist, who will head the EPA. Regan is the first Black man to hold this role.
I'm equally heartened by Biden's decision to tap Deb Haaland to run the Department of Interior, making her the first Native American to fill that role and the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary.
Let that sink in for a moment. Native Americans, a group of people who have suffered an abominable history at the hands of the white people in power, a history that has included being stripped of their rights and lands over the course of time, now have a major seat at the table.
As one supporter of Haaland's appointment noted:
"This is a deep resetting of the federal government's relationship with Native peoples, one that was built on stolen land and broken promises."
A new day has dawned indeed.
Make no mistake, our jobs as environmentalists are far from over. The work ahead of us is more critical and more pressing than ever. But today, as we end the Trump era and usher in a new administration, we do so with a sense of hope that has been completely and totally absent for four years. We start a new chapter led by a new administration that has already shown in a myriad of promising ways that it is acting from a place of far, far more noble and promising intentions.
The blog component of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action welcomes content from SDCDEA members, guests and leadership.