Environment

Public review period opens for Upper Santa Ana River Wash Habitat Conservation Plan

Members of the public will soon have an opportunity to review and comment on a draft environmental impact statement and supplemental environmental impact report associated with a new Habitat Conservation Plan for the Santa Ana Wash area. The San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will host two public meetings on the proposal, both on January 9, at the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District office, 1630 West Redlands Boulevard, Suite A, Redlands. The meetings will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Requests for sign language interpreting services, closed captioning or other accommodations should be directed to Karin Cleary-Rose, TTY 800-877-8339 by close of business on January 6. The meetings will review the Upper Santa Ana River Wash Habitat Conservation Plan (Wash Plan) as analyzed in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Supplemental Environmental Impact Report. The Wash Plan proposes a coordinated process for permitting and mitigating specific public and private projects such as aggregate mining, water conservation, wells and water infrastructure, transportation, flood control, trails, habitat enhancement and agriculture. Implementation…

Protestors demand Amazon protect air quality, provide good jobs

The Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice hosted a rally at the Amazon fulfillment Center in San Bernardino on Monday, December 2 to “…condemn the company’s poor labor practices and negative effects on local air quality.” “Today, Cyber Monday, is Amazon’s biggest sales day of the year… so for us, this was the perfect day to make a loud statement about a community benefits agreement,” said Anthony Victoria, spokesperson for the San Bernardino Airport Communities Coalition. About 200 community members were present at the Amazon ‘ONT 2’ warehouse facility, located on Central Avenue, to demand good paying jobs and air quality control. At the protest, it was stated that the city of San Bernardino experienced 102 bad-air days in 2019 alone. “We understand that Amazon is a big player in this region. But if they’re going to be a big employer in this region they need to provide good paying jobs with benefits, which will allow residents to live a good life. The only way the quality of life will improve in this area is if enterprises like Amazon provide that,” continued Victoria. At…

First hydrogen-powered train in U.S. to be introduced as part of Redlands Passenger Rail Project in 2024

A contract signing Wednesday, Nov. 13 between Stadler U.S. and the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) clears the way for the first hydrogen-powered passenger train to operate in the United States. The agreement marks a major milestone in bringing zero-emission passenger rail technology to the U.S. The hydrogen-powered FLIRT H2 vehicle will be introduced in 2024 as part of the Redlands Passenger Rail Project, a nine-mile connector between Redlands and San Bernardino’s Metrolink station.  Under the agreement, Stadler will develop the first hydrogen-powered train. The ordered vehicle consists of two cars with a power pack in between that holds the fuel cells and hydrogen tanks. The train is expected to seat 108 passengers in addition to generous standing room. The FLIRT H2 is projected to transport passengers at a maximum speed of up to 79 mph (130 km/h). The predicted delivery will be in 2023; the train is scheduled to enter passenger service in 2024. “Implementing innovative solutions like this first-of-its-kind passenger train is an excellent example of how we are demonstrating our commitment to the next generation in San Bernardino County,” SBCTA President…

San Bernardino County adopts resolution of support for desert protection

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors has adopted a resolution acknowledging the value of conservation, tourism, and recreation in “California’s rich desert landscape.” The resolution adopted October 8th, 2019 is a show of support for the last 25 years of desert conservation, which were catalyzed by the 1994 California Desert Protection Act (CDPA). October 31st marks the 25th anniversary of the Act which established Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks, Mojave National Preserve, and 3.5 million acres of wilderness. According to the resolution, the Act “catalyzed efforts to protect natural areas and military installations through subsequent legislative and administrative efforts.” It also “safeguards precious groundwater” which supports the “fragile desert ecosystem”, and provides recreational resources, solitude, and “undisturbed vistas and clear night skies.”  The resolution was presented by Supervisor Dawn Rowe during a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Act at the Mojave Desert Land Trust headquarters on October 8th. The event is one of a number of festivities happening across the Desert to celebrate the last 25 years. This anniversary marks an important moment to appreciate the public lands we enjoy…

State utility officials should stay committed to retiring gas-fired plants, Inland Empire residents and California communities argue

Inland Empire residents expect to join community members from Los Angeles, Oxnard, and Northern California on Thursday October 10 to speak out against the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) proposed decision to allow four ‘once-through-cooling’ plants set to retire to continue operating and polluting communities across the state.  The CPUC recommended in September that four gas-fired plants in Southern California, slated to be retired in 2020, be allowed to keep operating up to three additional years. They are also considering procurement that might include the development of new gas plants beyond these four power plants.  Gas pollution is one of the leading contributors to climate change and poses alarming health and safety risks, especially to working families and vulnerable communities. Just this week, warnings of power outages signal the beginning of wildfire season in California which further threatens the integrity of the grid and urgency to improve our infrastructure’s resilience with renewable energy sources.  The state has a choice in choosing local clean energy over dirty fossil fuels, explains CCAEJ Executive Director Allen Hernandez. Doing so could help communities like South Colton, which has three…

San Bernardino youth join millions around the world in Global Climate Strike

Hundreds of San Bernardino youth and adults participated in the Global Climate Strike on Friday, September 20. The strike began at the Inland Regional Facility and ended at the Amazon Fulfillment center, located roughly 2.5 miles apart, both in San Bernardino. Photo Manny B. Sandoval: The Global Climate Strike in San Bernardino began at the Inland Regional Center and ended at the Amazon Fulfillment Center, both located in San Bernardino. “San Bernardino youth and residents are calling on Amazon and its developer Hillwood to agree to a Community Benefits Agreement that will prevent air pollution, guarantee safe family sustaining jobs and ensure the city’s infrastructure can handle the increased traffic flow,” said Anthony Victoria, Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice member. At the strike in San Bernardino, many youth shared testimony on the state of the climate. “The Inland Empire has the worst ozone pollution in the nation due to air pollutants from trucks and planes,” said Sierra Club Youth Leader Angela Cardenas. “This pollution directly contributes to the extreme weather patterns, such as wildfires, that are depleting our most precious ecosystems.”  “Pollution from…

Chuckwalla Bench event

An Op-Ed by Diego Alaniz, student I’m a student who has lived in the Coachella Valley for my whole life, but only recently had the opportunity to visit and explore one of the Mojave Desert’s most beautiful yet little known places known as the Chuckwalla Bench. Chuckwalla Bench is part of the California Desert National Conservation Lands — public lands that are scattered throughout the southeastern corner of California.  I’ve always loved exploring the Desert’s magnificent landscapes, but advocating for them became even more important to me on a recent camping trip to BLM lands.  I visited the invaluable (and often overlooked) Chuckwalla Bench with a diverse group of other campers. Some were from my organization, Great Outdoors, an LGBTQ club that convenes for outings just like this. Some were from Mojave Desert Land Trust, and some were from COFEM — the Council of Mexican Federations in North America. Some campers were older, and some were as young as 13. But all of them represent the diversity of our nation, and share a connection to public lands that belong to all of us. Together we…

Hundreds of San Bernardino residents speak out at FAA hearing on Eastgate air-cargo logistics project

On Thursday, August 8, hundreds of residents from San Bernardino and beyond spoke both in favor of and against the Eastgate Project, an air cargo logistics center, during a Federal Aviation Administration public hearing inside Norton Regional Events Center. Many attendees showed their support by carrying signs, wearing t-shirts, and by speaking out during public comment at the hearing. The hearing was well supported, and it was evident the amount of interest the project is continuing to garner, when the building reached capacity and over-flow seating extended outside. The forthcoming 750,000 square foot project has already been approved by the San Bernardino International Airport Authority (SBIAA) and is being developed by Hillwood, the same developer behind Amazon’s regional air hub in Ft. Worth, Texas. “The San Bernardino airport is located in the most ozone polluted part of the most ozone polluted basin in the nation! We do not even entirely understand how the current air quality is truly affecting our health. And we want to add a huge polluting development? We need a comprehensive, robust, deep dive look into what exactly this project is bringing…

We shouldn’t have to choose between clean air and clean water for our children

An Op-Ed by Joe Salas, San Bernardino High School educator I’ve been a teacher for 14 years and watched many students journey from their first day through their senior year. Recently, I attended the graduation for San Bernardino High School seniors. This is one of my favorite days of the year. It is the culmination of everything the school community has worked for; seeing the scholars walking across the stage brings me great joy.   It’s also a reminder that we must continue to do everything we can to ensure that our students can focus on learning while at school and not have to worry about their health. I learned recently that 400 schools in California have lead contamination in their drinking water. Adding to this, about 300 public water systems in our state are not in compliance with drinking water standards. Shockingly, nearly 1 million people in California lack access to safe, clean, and affordable drinking water.  Locally, there are schools that have reported finding lead levels at more than 5 parts per billion in their drinking water system – including San Gorgonio and San…

Sierra Club to present “Keep California Leading: Our Voice at the Capitol”

The next meeting of the San Gorgonio Chapter, Sierra Club will be Tuesday, August 6, 2019, 7:30 p.m. at the San Bernardino County Museum, 2014 Orange Tree Lane, Redlands.  Sierra Club California Chair Mary Ann Ruiz (also chair of the San Gorgonio Chapter) will present a program titled, “Keep California Leading:  Our Voice at the Capitol”. While our federal government dodges any action to avert a climate disaster California, the fifth largest economy in the world, is leading the charge to combat climate change.  Sierra Club California is our voice at the Capitol in Sacramento, giving a voice to the environment in the State Legislature and at state-wide policy agencies.  Join us to learn more about this effective organization at our August 6 meeting. Sierra Club California Chair (also our Chapter Chair) Mary Ann Ruiz will lead this meeting.  In addition to learning about our presence at the Capitol, you will have the opportunity to learn more about helping to influence our Legislature on important environmental bills coming up in the August/September Legislative session.  We will have a short video about in-district lobbying with signups from…

A Community Benefits Agreement at Eastgate is the start of changing the way we do business

Guest Op-Ed by DeJonae Shaw, nurse and union member There’s another heatwave season in Southern California that’s making our air unbreathable. According to state monitoring data, we’ve already violated federal ozone standards for 32 days straight this summer. You might have noticed this when your chest began to hurt during that mile walk to the store, during that morning jog, or during your midnight shift inside an Amazon warehouse. Ground level ozone–an air pollutant that comes from dirty emissions like gas and diesel–is making a giant comeback because of the massive logistics developments taking place in our region. These structures attract thousands of trucks daily and are being built extremely close to sensitive receptors: our homes and schools.  San Bernardino International Airport’s Eastgate Logistics Center will add to that burden by bringing in 27 cargo flights a day–currently there are only five cargo flights a week. As a Licensed Vocational Nurse in the Inland Empire, I have experienced seeing the negative impacts bad smog and air quality are having on our future. It’s a physical and emotional pain that can be avoidable if we take swift action…

San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District Breaks 30-Year Record for Groundwater Storage, at 20 Billion Gallons and Counting

Like money in the bank, local groundwater aquifers have seen record-breaking deposits this year with a staggering 20 billion gallons saved so far and another two months still left in the water year, the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District announced today. More than 61,000 acre-feet of snowmelt and rainfall has been diverted from Mill Creek and the Santa Ana River by the District and recharged into the groundwater basin for future use by those who pump water from the basin.  Imported water was also used to help supplement the amount of water stored. Photo Daniel Cozad SBVWCD General Manager Daniel Cozad attributes this year’s high recharge figures to a wet winter and the 2017 establishment of the San Bernardino Basin Groundwater Council: a group of local cities and water agencies helping to purchase imported State Project water for groundwater storage. The water stored so far this year is enough to serve 180,000 families in Southern California for an entire year, Cozad said. It helps to replenish the water used during the prior drought periods and will help provide resiliency for future dry times. “Our region is blessed with…

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