August 2022 Newsletter

The IRA: something we can build on

Of course, the big climate news is the Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed into law this week. Although the bill is overall a step forward for the climate, it is also a heartbreaking betrayal of vulnerable communities, particularly in the Gulf and Alaska. It mandates the sale of oil and gas leases in these areas, which are already heavily impacted by the oil and gas industry.

The IRA centers unproven climate-capture technologies to reduce emissions and supports the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline through Virginia and West Virginia. These too are big negatives.

But on the positive side, the IRA provides $369 billion for clean energy over the next ten years. It’s predicted that this will be enough to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 40%, compared to 2005 levels, by 2030. That’s huge! This Truthout interview with economist Robert Pollin provides an incisive analysis of the IRA’s major provisions.

Overall, the IRA is a giant first step. Now, we must fight the bad parts of the bill and build on the good parts to bring in the clean, healthy, sustainable future we all want.

Why aren’t more of us talking about the climate crisis?

Despite the megadrought, the forest fires, the floods, and the horrific heat waves, President Biden has not seen fit to declare the Climate Emergency we are obviously experiencing. And as the IRA makes blindingly clear, oil and gas companies still hold enormous influence over public energy policy. To push the president and defeat Big Oil, broad consensus favoring the transition to renewables is critically important.

Locally and nationally, there’s a big disconnect between the severity of the crisis and its share of the public discourse. Why aren’t more of us talking about climate change—and what to do about it?

According to a recent study by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, a large majority of adults in Contra Costa County perceive climate change as a serious threat and support climate-forward policies. Most of us are worried and want something done. But most of us are not even talking about climate change with our family and friends. Nationally, only about 35 percent of adults say they talk about it occasionally.

The July 19 New York Times’ Climate Forward newsletter offers an explanation for this disconnect. First, many of us see climate change as a controversial topic and want to avoid conflict. And we don’t realize we’re in the majority. As a result, there’s a silo effect—neighbors each believing the other isn’t open to discussing climate issues, while in reality they both are.

What we all can do

When enough ordinary folks in every community speak up for bold, fair climate solutions, they will happen. Each of us can reach out to family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers, listen to their concerns, and help them overcome their reluctance to engage with the issues. Break out of that silo!

Action item: call your Assemblymember

Two key bills have made it through the Senate and are now headed to the Assembly floor for a vote. Please call your Assemblymember and ask them to vote YES on both:

  • SB 260, the Climate Corporate Accountability Act, would require all US-based corporations with annual gross revenues of $1 billion or greater that do business in California to publicly disclose their greenhouse gas emissions inventory each year.

  • SB 1314 would ensure that carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) projects do not result in enhanced oil recovery, which is a process used to boost oil production. CCUS is supposed to reduce carbon emissions; when the captured carbon is used for enhanced oil recovery, net emissions quadruple.

Please call today and say, vote YES on SB 260 and SB 1314!

District 11   Lori Wilson    (916) 319-2011

District 14   Tim Grayson    (916) 319-2014

District 15   Buffy Wicks    (916) 319-2015

District 16   Rebecca Bauer-Kahan    (916) 319-2016

Action item: call your State Senator

AB 2146, authored by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-16), would protect key pollinator species by banning non-agricultural use of the top five neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics). These pesticides are routinely used despite their devastating effects on pollinator health, biodiversity, and risks to human wellbeing.

Please call today and say, vote YES on AB 2146!

District 3   Bill Dodd    (916) 651-4003

District 7   Steve Glazer   (916) 651-4007

District 9   Nancy Skinner    (916) 651-4009

Grassroots action in El Cerrito

The El Cerrito City Council passed a Climate Emergency Resolution back in 2019, but they haven’t acted on climate issues since then. So, this summer, a small group of city residents started a petition to the council. They’re demanding that the city draft an ordinance requiring all new residential and commercial construction to be all-electric.

In just two weeks, they gathered 278 signatures, many by going door-to-door in their neighborhoods. They presented the petition at the July 19 City Council meeting, where five people spoke in favor of the proposed ordinance. The petition calls on the city to have a draft ordinance by September 30.

If you live in El Cerrito, please email Fred Bialy at to find out what you can do to fight climate change in your community.

And… vote for Vanessa Warheit for El Cerrito City Council

We’re excited about climate-forward candidate Vanessa Warheit! Learn more about her here.

Martinez residents: your action needed

Back in April 2021, the City of Martinez passed a Climate Emergency Resolution that specifically mentioned requiring new construction to be fully electric.

Now, we understand that the city may present a draft building electrification ordinance at a September council meeting—either the 14th or the 21st. This proposed ordinance would be an important first step in reducing greenhouse gases from buildings and improving the health and well-being of residents. If you are a resident of Martinez, please sign this petition to let the council know you support building electrification.

This Sunday, 4pm: Defending our legal right to protect from oil and gas

Our friends at Sunflower Alliance are offering an important webinar this Sunday, August 21, at 4pm. The California Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling on Monterey County’s ban of oil and gas drilling could have big consequences for us in Contra Costa: our Board of Supervisors has held off on banning oil and gas pending the Monterey decision.

RSVP to for the zoom link.

Save the date: Walnut Creek EcoFest, Saturday, October 22

As part of Sustainability Week (October 22-28), the Walnut Creek EcoFest is coming to Civic Park on Saturday, October 22, from 11am to 3pm. The whole family will enjoy the fun while learning to live more sustainably! Watch this space for details.

Stay safe,

Lisa and Emily.

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