Environment

Herring fishers sue Chevron for answers about spill in San Francisco Bay

Amid the hum of the Bay Area’s cities, it is easy to forget that to live here is to live alongside a vast ecosystem. The biggest and most vital is the Pacific Ocean. And once a year, the ocean reveals its abundance to herring fishers.  “‘The water will be white, that’s when you know,” said Keith Nguyen, a kayak fisher from San Jose. Nguyen is describing the herring spawn, an annual event from November to February, when adult herring migrate…

Volunteers search for dump sites in Pinole Creek Watershed. Want to join?

Damien Grace made a harrowing discovery at Pinole Creek in November. A portion of a 3-foot-long PVC pipe was lodged in the muddy bed. Grace and five other volunteers picking up trash that day knew where the pipe had come from. Pipes like this are typically found on construction sites, not buried in a creek. Grace had to lie on the bank and stretch to reach the pipe.  “I found the biggest treasure of the day!” Grace shouted.  The team…

How to avoid a run-in with coyotes, which are interacting more with humans in the Bay Area

Throwing rocks and shouting loudly are effective ways to be a good neighbor — to overconfident coyotes.  While the wild canines and humans have been sharing habitat for a very long time, a spate of incidents involving aggressive coyotes over the past year and a half has prompted a new educational campaign by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in partnership with local agencies in Contra Costa County. The program, called Wildlife Watch, relies on trained volunteers to spread…

Richmond renames South Street to honor environmental activist Ethel Dotson

On Friday, South Street will be renamed in honor of late environmental justice advocate and community warrior Ethel Dotson, who also was known for her dedication to Richmond’s Black cultural history.  The effort to rename the street, which runs from Carlson Boulevard to Wall Avenue, was spearheaded by Pullman Neighborhood Council President Naomi Williams, who says she wanted to pay tribute to Dotson on the street Dotson lived on and invested in.  By all accounts, Dotson was a force to…

Chevron refinery flaring events raise air pollution concerns

Twice this week, on Sunday and Wednesday, flaring events spewed smoke, fire and gases into the air around the Chevron Richmond refinery, concerning residents and closing three schools on Monday.  Late in the week, the events were still under investigation by state, county and local agencies, and Chevron had not addressed the situation on its website. At 8:25 a.m. Sunday, according to a report filed with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, there was a problem at Chevron that created…

Richmond could become next California city to ban gas appliances

Gas stoves and fireplaces may be a thing of the past in Richmond under a proposed ordinance that would shut natural gas out of new buildings. Richmond City Council could vote next month on the  proposed ordinance by Councilmember Eduardo Martinez that closes a loophole in the city’s natural gas ban, which applies to new structures and major renovations. Gas-powered appliances and fireplaces are now exempt from the ban but would not be under Martinez’s proposal, which would leave electricity…

What El Cerrito residents need to know about the mandatory compost program

A state law mandating organic waste recycling will go into effect in Contra Costa County on Jan. 1. El Cerrito is drawing up plans on how it will implement the law.  Organics like food scraps, yard trimmings, food-soiled paper and cardboard make up half of the trash in landfills and are the third-largest source of methane in California, according to California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery. To reduce methane emissions, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law in 2016 establishing…

‘We feel like a neglected child’: Residents in fire-hazardous hills say city too slow in clearing brush

Dying trees, withering leaves, flammable plants. They fill in spaces around and between homes on East Richmond’s hills, an ember away from fueling disaster.  On these slopes east of Interstate 80 lie dense neighborhoods such as May Valley, El Sobrante Hills, and Castro Heights. In 2009, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection assessment flagged the area  as a “very high fire hazard severity zone.”  ​​Every year, the Richmond Fire Department inspects vegetation in the area and urges homeowners…

Committed to climate cause: 13-year-old activist is at El Cerrito City Hall every Friday, sign in hand.

In the spring, Eleanor Pilling Chappelear skipped school every Friday. Instead of Zooming in for class, the 13-year-old stood outside her hometown City Hall in El Cerrito to protest inaction around climate change. One of her signs says: WE SKIPPED OUR SCHOOL TO TEACH YOU A LESSON.  Eleanor still stands outside of El Cerrito Hall every Friday, only now she comes after school.  Inspired by Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish environmental activist who walked out of school at the age…