Still Time To Submit Comments! Something in the Water: Marine Sanctuaries at Risk

In late April 2017, Donald Trump signed an executive order that would expand offshore drilling for oil and gas and would also stop the expansion of any new marine sanctuaries and require the Secretary of Commerce to review any marine national monuments created or expanded over the past decade.

This order, if enacted, could have disastrous consequences for California’s marine sanctuaries, sections of the ocean where human activity is legally limited or prohibited. Though the executive order does not apply to sanctuaries established prior to 2007, the order could reverse recent protections put in place by the Bush and Obama administrations: President Bush expanded the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary by 496,000 acres, and President Obama in 2015 doubled the size of the Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones marine sanctuaries. The order would also reverse the current strategy implemented under President Obama preventing any new oil leases in California through 2022.

Background: the Santa Barbara Offshore Drilling Disaster and the Environmental Movement

Marine sanctuaries, like many of our country’s environmental laws, have been in place since the 1970’s and were originally the creation of a Republican administration. President Nixon started the marine sanctuary program 45 years ago as a result of the horrific 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill, in which 3 million gallons of petroleum from an offshore drilling site leaked into the Pacific Ocean. Images of impaired sea otters, oil-drenched birds, and corpses of dolphins and seals, victims of the month-long oil spill at 1,000 gallons per hour, drew national outrage.

The LA Times says this oil spill “changed the consciousness of the nation.” Then-U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt later said that the spill “was the most important event that led to the environmental revolution of the 1970s.” The Santa Barbara Oil spill marked the beginning of an environmental movement, sparking new laws and legislation that regulated pollution and protected endangered species, as well as federal policies that placed severe penalties on offshore drilling platform operators in the event of another oil spill.  

Up to Us to Keep History From Repeating Itself

Until now, no president has ever reduced or eliminated a national marine sanctuary in the 45 years since President Nixon started the marine sanctuary program. But this executive order can potentially do just that.

Trump’s order seeks to prioritize offshore drilling above marine sanctuaries: Section 4 calls for a “review” of current Marine Sanctuaries, which would analyze the cost to maintain these sanctuaries and “the opportunity costs associated with potential energy and mineral exploration and production from the Outer Continental Shelf, in addition to any impacts on production in the adjacent region.” In addition to potentially shrinking current marine sanctuaries for the sake of offshore oil drilling, the executive order seeks to prevent expansion of current marine sanctuaries and designation of new marine sanctuaries, unless “the sanctuary designation or expansion proposal includes a timely, full accounting from the Department of the Interior of any energy or mineral resource potential within the designated area—including offshore energy from wind, oil, natural gas, methane hydrates—and the potential impact the proposed designation or expansion will have on the development of those resources.” In other words, business is to be weighed against the marine environment, with a heavy thumb on business’s side of the scales – potentially bringing us right back to where we were before 1969.

What you can do: A detailed notice of the executive order has been posted to the Federal Register’s site, and the 30-day public comment period is still open and accepting new comments. You can submit a formal comment opposing this order and telling the Secretary of Commerce that our marine sanctuaries should be prioritized ahead of off-shore drilling, and must be preserved or expanded, not diminished. The comments period has been extended to 11:59 PM ET on August 15, 2017. (More information and sample letter here.)

More that you can do: Both California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris have urged Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to preserve all four of California’s marine sanctuaries currently under review: Greater Farallones, Cordell Bank, Monterey Bay, and Channel Islands. Please thank them for their support!

– By A. Hernandez

IEB Attends Single Payer Healthcare Town Hall

On Saturday, July 9, IEB and Indivisible SF members attended a Single Payer Town Hall in Larkspur on the subject of Senate Bill 562, The Healthy California (HC) Act, also known as single-payer healthcare. The Town Hall was hosted by State Senators Mike McGuire (SD 2) and Ricardo Lara (SD 33), State Assemblymember Marc Levine (AD 10), and Larkspur Supervisor Judy Arnold; a panel of experts included local physicians, the President of the California Nurses Association, Deborah Burger, and the Executive Director of the California Alliance for Retired Americans, Jodi Reid.  

In his opening remarks, Senator Lara, one of the authors of the bill (the other is Senator Toni Atkins, SD 39), shared three basic tenets of universal health care: (1) health care is a human right, (2) everyone gets to pick healthcare providers of their own choice and (3) care is determined by the patients and their health care provider. Senator Lara was clear that universal health care would be good for Californians: it would cover all residents, including those currently un- or under-insured, and would save the state about $37 billion a year.

After opening remarks from the hosts and the panel, the floor was opened up to questions from the lively and knowledgeable audience of about 300-400 local residents, and some who came from as far away as the South Bay. Questions were wide-ranging and included hot topics such as the role of Medicare (Healthy California will act as supplemental insurance for Medicare recipients); how will we pay for it (about 70% of funds will come from existing federal, state and private resources); and mental health coverage (Healthy California will fully cover all necessary mental health care needs). One major concern of the audience was the fate of the bill now that Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (AD 63) has held the bill in the Assembly Rules Committee, claiming that the bill is “woefully inadequate.” Assemblymember Levine reminded the audience that the authors of the bill can add an urgency clause at any time to avoid the restrictions imposed by the legislative timetable and keep the bill from dying in committee.

The panelists continued to answer audience questions well past the planned two hour debate to accommodate all who wished to be heard.

Watch the California State Democrats’ video of the Town Hall.

Just Say No to Voter Suppression

Is Big Brother trying to keep you from voting? Could very well be. Donald Trump has created a “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity,” which he has directed to gather sensitive information about voters in every state and DC, including names, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, party affiliation, voting history, and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers.

Those requests, which many fear could be used as powerful new tool for voter suppression, have not gone over well. But despite dramatic refusals, some states have handed over data anyway.

The Commission

Since the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that illegal votes caused him to lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes. Of course, “[t]he claim that there were millions of illegal voters in this past election is false and unsupported by any credible evidence,” according to Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California Irvine. “The National Association of Secretaries of State, made up of the chief election officers of all 50 states, just issued a statement saying so.”

Nevertheless, Trump formed a commission to investigate his discredited claims, tapping Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as the Commission’s vice-chair. Kobach has a history of strong support of laws and policies that have led to many eligible voters being disenfranchised and that have been called acts of voter suppression designed to target minority and young voters, who tend to vote Democratic. Kobach told the Kansas City Star that although his commission might not have the authority to force states to reveal sensitive information about their voters, he believes the US Department of Justice does have that power. Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Justice, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has his own contentious history with voting rights, including opposing the Voting Rights Act.

States Say Go Jump … But Some Are Lying

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, among the first to forcefully refuse Kobach’s request, said it “would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud.” The responses to Kobach’s request have – on the surface – shown an all-too-rare bipartisan spirit. Kentucky Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes: “There’s not enough bourbon here in Kentucky to make this request seem sensible.” Mississippi Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, Jr. told the commission to “go jump in Gulf of Mexico.” As of July 5, no less than 44 states have publicly partially or entirely refused to provide the requested information, some specifically citing the commission’s makeup and backstory. Even Kobach himself has said Kansas will not turn over all of the information he requested. Trump, as usual, took to Twitter, asking “what do they have to hide?” – an odd question in light of Trump’s own refusal to reveal information concerning his tax returns and connections to Russia.

But don’t be fooled: Mississippi’s Hosemann has already turned over the state’s entire voter rolls. And he’s not the only one: fully twenty-one states on the list of resisters have actually turned over some or all of the requested data to Kobach. Some of this data has been part of an ongoing program called the “Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program,” a voluntary program in which the majority of states participate, which attempts to identify people registered and voting in more than one state. While in theory that’s fine, the program works by matching first and last names. John Smith? You could be purged from the voter rolls (even if you have a different middle name than another John Smith in another state). Jose Garcia? Duc Nguyen? You’re probably way out of luck. If it strikes you that this might disproportionately affect voters of color, database expert Mark Swedlund agrees: “I can’t tell you what the intent was. I can only tell you what the outcome is. And the outcome is discriminatory against minorities.”

And what about security? When all the voter data is combined in a massive database, there is huge potential for misuse, abuse, and theft. The commission has already shown their lack of concern over the security of voter information by recommending that states upload voter information to an unsecured website or send the information via email, which also is not secure. Fear of having their data stolen or misused may cause some voters to remove their names and information from state voter rolls by de-registering, leaving them unable to vote. The people most likely to do this would be those most likely to vote against Trump and his allies. Coincidence? You decide …

What You Can Do

Efforts to keep Americans from being able to conveniently and reliably cast their votes have been going on since our nation’s founding. Some states, including Missouri and New Jersey, have yet to decide whether to hand over voter information and may choose to comply. Do you have family or friends in states which have not expressed strong opposition to the commission? Encourage them to pressure their state governments to protect sensitive voter information. We cannot afford any further erosion of our democratic rights.

– By Andrew Phillips

 

Barbara Lee and Keith Ellison Discuss the Democratic Party

On Saturday, June 24, Indivisible East Bay and Indivisible Lake Merritt volunteers helped host a political forum with Congresswoman Barbara Lee and DNC Deputy Chair Congressman Keith Ellison, moderated by Van Jones. Despite some technical difficulties with the live stream, much of the day was captured on video here and here.

Topics included the importance of African American voters to the Democratic Party, election strategy, and who could win the presidency in 2020.

Phone Bank to Save the ACA

By Ann Daniels

By now you’ve read about the Senate’s heartless WealthCare bill that will gut Medicaid, send health insurance premiums skyrocketing, cause 15 million people to lose health care by next year, punish people who don’t keep continuous coverage by preventing them from getting insurance for six months, and many other terribles.

This bill is evil. It is so cravenly, obviously evil that even Senate Republicans are starting to admit that it will do nothing to help their constituents. But they’re not getting there on their own – the sustained calls and protests by constituents across the country are demonstrating to Republicans that passing this bill will be political suicide.

We need to flip three Republicans to kill the Senate bill. Some sources report that Senators like Rand Paul also oppose the bill, but we can’t count on them. They oppose the bill because it’s not cruel enough, and there’s still time for the majority leaders to get their support by amending the bill to make it worse.

That’s why Indivisible East Bay’s primary action this week is phone banking into states with Republican Senators, urging constituents there to call their representatives and demand that they vote NO on repealing the ACA.

Join us on Wednesday, June 28, from 3-7 for a joint phone bank with Indivisible Berkeley at the Ed Roberts Campus (please use the link to RSVP if possible). Or use one of these tools to locate other phone banks this week!

Wednesday, June 28, 3-7 PM (come for part or all!)
Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline St, Berkeley, CA 94703
Bring a phone, headphones and a laptop or tablet! Training and refreshments will be provided.
Ed Roberts Campus is directly above Ashby BART. An elevator takes you directly there from the BART station and the campus is accessible. Parking is available in the ERC lot or across the street at BART.

Assembly Speaker Rendon Punts on Single Payer

California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, under pressure from Governor Jerry Brown, announced late Friday afternoon that he would not advance SB 562, California’s single payer bill, in the Assembly. His decision to keep the bill in the Assembly Rules Committee has the potential to effectively stall the bill – which passed the State Senate on June 1st – for a year.

Rendon cited concerns about SB 562 being incomplete. The Speaker doesn’t seem to understand that we elect the state Assembly to create law. Especially given the uncertainty around health care at the federal level, it’s imperative that the Assembly perform their jobs and work to fill the gaps in SB 562.

Single payer healthcare would cover California’s three million uninsured, and ensure that those who gained insurance under the ACA could actually afford to use their care. Call Speaker Rendon and demand that he un-shelve SB 562. It’s more important now than ever that California lead the rest of the country by implementing compassionate and fair health care policy.

Call (916) 319-2063 (Sacramento); 5625293250 (district); email: assemblymember.rendon@assembly.ca.gov

Twitter: @rendon63rd; Facebook: Speaker Anthony Rendon

And ask your local Assemblyperson to publicly demand that the bill be advanced. Find your California Assemblymember here.

Sacramento event: Stop the Delay and Pass SB 562, Wednesday, 6/28, 11 AM. Meet at the intersection of 11th/L, outside Chicory, in Sacramento. More information here

“Thank you for calling. We want to hear from you…”

Thanks to Indivisible SF, we at Indivisible East Bay are using a new tool called Amplify. Find out who else is getting to know the staff at Representative Swalwell’s office or leaving a message for Senator Harris in Washington DC, stay up to the minute on important notifications and calls to action, track your progress, and cheer on your friends with this ingenious tool created by one of the members of ISF. To join the Indivisible East Bay team on Amplify and use the Amplify app:
1. Download Amplify from the Android or iOS app store
2. Open the app and tap ‘create new account’ or “sign up”
3. Click “Join a team,” enter the Indivisible East Bay team invite code 814-850-104
4. Cheer someone on and/or take an action!

Feinstein Beats Warriors!

By Leslie Price

While hundreds of thousands of excited fans gathered in Oakland on June 15 for the Warriors’ victory parade, nine dedicated folks from Indivisible East Bay and other local groups met with Senator Dianne Feinstein’s State Director Sean Elsbernd and Field Representative Abby Ellis. Both were open, gracious, and genuinely impressed that we skipped the festivities and fought the crowds to make it to their office.

We spent a substantial portion of the meeting discussing health care. Though Senator Feinstein wouldn’t commit to withhold consent because she feels other important business would suffer, she is willing to work hard to slow down a vote on Trumpcare. She’s considering filibustering by amendment during vote-a-rama, but she’s (unsurprisingly) not planning to do anything showy like holding her own hearing on the Capitol steps with the other female senators.

We also talked extensively about corruption in the White House and among the Republican members of Congress. The senator will not join the members of Congress suing the President for accepting foreign emoluments out of concern that her opponents might use such action to claim that she is biased, impeding her efforts on other fronts. For example, she is working with the GOP on investigations concerning the FBI and had a hand in getting Senator Grassley on board, and she is working hard to maintain the blue slip process and to push the Russia investigation.

We asked whether the cuts to the USDA budget have encouraged California’s Republican representatives to stand up to some of the Trump Administration’s most harmful actions. Sean said cuts to the EPA are actually most upsetting to the representatives and their constituents, because these will affect air quality, which then affects children and the elderly. (According to Sean, those elected officials didn’t think Trump would really do something so drastic.) Our group had a positive discussion about how much air quality has improved over the years and how anything that affects the young and old tends to get people thinking beyond party affiliation.

Our group also asked some tough questions regarding civilian oversight of the military: specifically, about a strategy for Syria and whether Senator Feinstein will work to avoid funding a war with no limit. Sean was impressed and indicated that we are the only group that has ever presented Senator Feinstein’s staff with in-depth questions about this. Although the staff generally talks to the Senator about issues pushed by the most constituents, Sean and Abby agreed to bring our concerns to the Senator, and encouraged us to continue to bring it up with other groups to help bring more attention to the issue. We also talked about the urgent need for congressional oversight of military intelligence when the White House can’t be trusted to tell or discern the truth.

We had very positive discussion and agreement about prioritizing census funding, enhancing whistleblower protections, and a weekend summertime town hall, or two, or four (likely in August near San Diego and/or Fresno). Overall, our meeting was productive and positive, and Sean and Abby seemed to appreciate our interest and energy. We are getting to be regular guests, and the Senator’s staff reminded us that they’re happy to host us or make the trek out to us. (The fact we always bring treats probably doesn’t hurt either!)

Climate Action: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It’s been a dizzying week: the announcement from the White House of intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement; reactions from elected representatives on every level who understand the need to protect the environment; statewide legislation on cap and trade. Take a deep breath and get in touch with the heroes and/or villains of this important moment.

The Good – Thank You to Paris Agreement supporters!

Please thank our California leaders who have committed to upholding the terms of the Paris Agreement on state and local levels. (More information about the benefits of the Paris Agreement, and responses to some of the White House misinformation.)

These Bay Area mayors are part of the Climate Mayors coalition: Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Richmond Mayor Tom Butt, San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter.

Governor Jerry Brown immediately took the lead with Governors Inslee (WA) and Cuomo (NY) in announcing an alliance of states that would uphold the Paris Agreement; other governors continue to join.

In Congress, both California Senators and all East Bay Representatives have publicly spoken out against the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Please thank them AND ALSO encourage them to join the Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group exploring policy options to combat the causes and effects of climate change.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (email): (415) 393-0707
Sen. Kamala Harris (email): (415) 355-9041
Rep. Mark Desaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000
Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370
Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322

More good – California cap and trade legislation: A cap and trade bill, SB 775, is moving through the CA state senate. Find out more about SB 755. Ask your senator and rep to sign on to the bill.

And even more – Oakland takes a stand: On June 6, the Oakland City Council adopted a resolution, proposed by Councilmember at Large Rebecca Kaplan, urging the United States Congress to enact a revenue-neutral carbon pricing fee similar to that proposed by SB 775. Thank Councilmember Kaplan and voice your approval to your Councilmember.

The Bad – Paris Agreement foes in the pocket of the oil and coal lobbies (quelle surprise!)

Twenty-two Senators who sent a letter urging the president to withdraw from the Paris Agreement have collectively taken in more than $10 million from oil and coal lobbies. You can contact Senator Mitch McConnell – as Senate Majority Leader, he’s supposed to be responsive to all of us. If you have family and friends who are constituents of any of the other Senators on this list, please ask them to contact them (here is the phone number for the Senate switchboard, which can connect to any Senator’s office). Also note: Senators with asterisks are up for re-election in 2018!

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.); Sen. Jim Inhofe (Okla.); Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.)*; Sen. John Cornyn (Texas); Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.); Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.)*; Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.); Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho); Sen. Jim Risch (Idaho); Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.); Sen. Mike Rounds (S.D.); Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.); Sen. John Boozman (Ark.); Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.); Sen. Luther Strange (Ala.); Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah)*; Sen. Mike Lee (Utah); Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas)*; Sen. David Perdue (Ga.); Sen. Thom Tillis (N.C.); Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.); Sen. Pat Roberts (Kan.)

The Ugly – These men should be nowhere near climate change or energy policy.

The Current Occupant of the White House; Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency; Rick Perry, Department of Energy

Support SB 775, Carbon Pricing Bill

A new carbon pricing bill, SB775, is moving through the CA state senate. If you live in the 7th or 9th Senate Districts, urge Sen. Steve Glazer and Sen. Nancy Skinner to support the bill.

If you’re in the 10th Senate district, then you can rest easy. Your Senator, Bob Wieckowski, was one of the authors of the bill. He deserves a thank you!

Find your local reps here.

What we like about SB775

  • A steadily rising price for pollution credits – the bill would modify California’s cap and trade system to have a steadily rising price starting in 2021, This would allow consumers, businesses, and investors the predictability they need to accelerate the shift to a clean energy future in California.
  • Protecting low and middle income households – the bill includes returning some revenue from the program directly to households, which will protect households from the effects of price increases while still motivating emissions reductions. This can allow the price to rise to the level necessary to reach our climate goals, while protecting families and communities, stimulating our economy, and encouraging ongoing public support for the state’s climate programs.
  • Simplicity – the bill would eliminate offsets and allocation of free allowances as well as minimizing banking of allowances from year to year.
  • Improved air quality in disadvantaged and fenceline communities – the elimination of offsets and free allowances should motivate greater emissions reductions at all sites statewide and reduce the chances of toxic “hotspots” in low income neighborhoods.
  • Wider coverage of emissions – With no free allowances and 100% of the emission allowances auctioned, a greater part of the economy would be covered by the carbon price.
  • Protecting the California economy and jobs – the bill provides for a border adjustment to provide a level playing field between California and states and countries without a similar carbon price, thus discouraging the movement of emissions (and jobs) outside of California.
  • Greater emissions reductions – with the price rising steadily to a level higher than under existing statute, we can expect a greater reduction in emissions from the carbon price.

For more info, see the website of Californians for a Carbon Tax.