Local and Ecuador leaders protest at Chevron in Richmond

Press Release from AmazonWatch

Bay Area environmental and indigenous organizations join protest to call attention to Chevron’s key role in causing destruction to people and planet

MAY 17, 2018, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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AMAZON WATCH

Richmond, CA – Indigenous leaders from the Ecuadorian Amazon joined Bay Area allies at Chevron’s Richmond Refinery on Thursday morning to call on California’s political leadership to phase out oil and gas production and processing in the state, including its importation of crude oil drilled in the Amazon rainforest.


For more information contact:
Moira Birss 1.510.394.2041 moira@amazonwatch.org
Zoë Cina-Sklar 1.510.671.1878 zoe@amazonwatch.org
Interviews, photos, and more information available upon request


Gloria Ushigua and Manari Ushigua, leaders of the Sapara people, called attention to the impacts that the fossil fuel economy – including Chevron’s key role in causing destruction to people and planet. In addition to Chevron’s toxic legacy in Ecuador, the Sapara leaders and allies from Communities for a Better Environment, Green Action, and Bay Area indigenous-led organization Idle No More SF Bay outlined how California’s oil and gas extraction and processing is harming communities from the Ecuadorian Amazon to Richmond, California.

The Sapara Nation of the Ecuadorian Amazon is recognized by UNESCO as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” because their language and culture are in danger of disappearing. There are about 500 Sapara people still living in their ancestral home, a large territory that is a critical part of the Amazonian ecosystem. However, Sapara territory – and the Sapara themselves – are in serious danger from oil drilling planned for two oil blocks that overlap with approximately 500,000 acres of their ancestral territory.

Chevron refineries throughout California are the largest purchasers and processors of crude oil imported from the Amazon rainforest, as well as one of the state’s biggest overall polluters. A 2017 Amazon Watch report demonstrated that half of crude oil exports from the Western Amazon come to California, adding to the toxic impact of the California’s fossil fuel production and refining industry.

Manari Ushigua Santi, Sapara Nation, said: “The possibility of oil drilling in our territory – something the Ecuadorian government is pushing – could be the end of the Sapara people, and certainly an end to our strong connection with the forest. After all, there are few of us, and we have seen the deforestation and cultural destruction already caused by oil drilling in other parts of the Amazon. Now that we know about the link between oil from the Amazon and California refineries, we know that the state government’s continued support of the oil industry also puts us and other peoples of the Amazon in danger.

Gloria Ushigua Santi, Sapara Nation, said: “We are all fighting for our survival, to protect our little pieces of land. I have seen how destructive the fossil fuel industry is for California’s own communities. I don’t want our land to become polluted, like this land by the refinery. We call on California’s leadership to move quickly from an unsustainable reliance on a fossil fuel economy to a sustainable one based on renewable energy. Anything less puts the Sapara, the Amazon and other Amazonian indigenous peoples, California communities, and our entire global climate in danger.”

Isabella Zizi, Idle No More SF Bay, said: “It’s important to be here today because it shows that the very resistance starts in our own backyards. It makes a direct connection to what is happening down in the Ecuadorian Amazon with our indigenous brothers and sisters and our relatives down there who are facing the same destruction and harms to their own people and that we can come together and unite and make change together and stand up to Big Oil.”

Andrés Soto, Communities for a Better Environment, said: “I’m here today representing Communities for a Better Environment with our ongoing solidarity with Amazon Watch and the advocacy that connects the extractive activities in Ecuador directly to the refining activities in Richmond and the commonalities of not only health impacts but also political corruption. We need to link our resistance because we’re dealing with transnational corporations and so we also need to have a transnational resistance.”

Leila Salazar-López, Amazon Watch Executive Director, said: “Continued oil and gas extraction in California – both on land and offshore – and its imports of Amazon crude is a significant obstacle to doing what science says must be done to prevent the worst outcomes from climate change: keeping fossil fuels in the ground.”

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NYT: In Rebuke of Trump, Tillerson Says Lies Are a Threat to Democracy

Repost from the New York Times
[Editorial comment by Marilyn Bardet: “How ironic! For years, Exxon promulgated lies, denying or casting doubt on any scientific research that pointed to humans’ contribution…to climate change, despite the fact that Exxon funded its own independent research on climate that confirmed the very thing the company denied!  Go figure.  So, Tillerson’s statements now are rather astounding— almost bespeaking a conversion or ‘mea culpa’. He’s certainly not wrong that the lies now being told by Trump and Co. thwart the existence of any semblance of democracy.”  — Marilyn Bardet]

In Rebuke of Trump, Tillerson Says Lies Are a Threat to Democracy

Rex W. Tillerson, the former secretary of state, in March. Credit Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press
By Gardiner Harris, May 16, 2018

WASHINGTON — In what appeared to be a rebuke of President Trump, former Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson warned on Wednesday that American democracy is threatened by a “growing crisis in ethics and integrity.”

“If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom,” he said in a commencement address at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va.

Even small falsehoods and exaggerations are problematic, Mr. Tillerson said. (Mr. Trump is prone to both.)

“When we as people, a free people, go wobbly on the truth even on what may seem the most trivial matters, we go wobbly on America,” Mr. Tillerson said.

“If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society and among our leaders in both the public and private sector — and regrettably at times even the nonprofit sector — then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years,” Mr. Tillerson warned.

The former Eagle Scout — who often cited a commitment to respect, integrity and accountability as the guideposts of his life and leadership — has been in near-seclusion at his Texas ranch since he was fired by tweet in March, just hours after returning from a trip through Africa. He had agreed to deliver the V.M.I. commencement address before he was fired.

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SF Chron: To ease traffic, the Bay Area should vote yes on Measure 3

Repost from the San Francisco Chronicle
[BenIndy Editor: Benicia Progressive Democrats oppose Measure 3, but the decision was not an easy one, nor were members unanimous  in voting to oppose it.  There are many good arguments for voting yes on Measure 3.  Benicia Mayor Patterson:  “the funds from RM3 are to enhance and grow transit…’we can’t drive our way out of congestion’.  The intensity of the opposition to RM3 by some is weird considering the need to reduce fossil fuel burning.”  See more below.  – RS]

Editorial: To ease traffic, the Bay Area should vote yes on Measure 3

Chronicle Editorial Board, 3/16/18, Updated: 3/17/18 1:18pm
The Bay Bridge Toll Plaza. Under Regional Measure 3, tolls will increase on the Bay Area's bridges by a total of $3 over the next seven years. The funds will go to a wide variety of regional road and transit projects, including ferries, the BART extension, and improvements to 680. Photo: Santiago Mejia, The Chronicle
The Chronicle The Bay Bridge Toll Plaza. Under Regional Measure 3, tolls will increase on the Bay Area’s bridges by a total of $3 over the next seven years. The funds will go to a wide variety of regional road and transit projects, including ferries, the BART extension, and improvements to 680. Photo: Santiago Mejia

The Bay Area has outgrown its regional transportation options.

Everyone who commutes in the Bay Area — whether it’s by car, by rail or by bus — can agree on this point. Aside from housing, the Bay Area’s deteriorating transportation infrastructure is our top regional challenge, and it’s affecting everything from our quality of life to our economic growth.

That’s why a long list of elected officials, business groups and regional transportation organizations have come together to push Regional Measure 3. The measure, which will be on the June ballot in nine Bay Area counties, will authorize toll increases on the region’s seven state-owned bridges. (The Golden Gate Bridge, with its separate authority, is excluded.)

Current tolls will increase by $1 on Jan. 1, 2019, then by another $1 in 2022 and 2025. That will bring tolls to $8 on every bridge except the Bay Bridge, where the toll will be $9 during peak commute times.

Toll increases are never easy to swallow. But it’s impossible to argue with the needs the measure has specifically identified for the resulting $4.45 billion in funding.

The North Bay will benefit from improvements to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, to state Highways 29 and 37, to U.S. Highway 101 and to Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) service.

San Francisco can look forward to a downtown extension for Caltrain, upgrades to the Clipper card system and a badly needed expansion of the Muni fleet.

Weary East Bay commuters will see relief from improvements to Interstates 80, 680 and 880, as well as some of the region’s more notorious snarls, where I-680 meets Highways 4 and 84.

On the Peninsula and in the South Bay, this money will go toward the second phase of the necessary BART extension to San Jose. It’ll also help connect the east side of San Jose to BART via a regional connector. Road improvements include the Dumbarton corridor and the Highway 101/92 interchange.

“Over the past two generations, we’ve barely added any capacity to regional transit,” said Gabriel Metcalf, president of SPUR, an urban planning think tank. “This is a very practical next step when it comes to our regional transit needs.”

The project list, which was developed by staff members at regional transit organizations, leans heavily toward improving the region’s mass transit options.

There are excellent reasons for this — the Bay Area can’t drive its way out of traffic congestion, and mass transit remains the most efficient way to move the most people.

Mass transit is also very expensive to build and to operate. Passing this regional measure could make the Bay Area more competitive in battles for state and federal matching funds.

Most bridge commuters can afford these toll increases. (The Bay Area’s toll payers tend to have higher incomes than the overall population.) For those who have lower incomes, they’ll continue to receive price reductions for carpooling, and the measure includes a discount for anyone who regularly commutes over two toll bridges.

Low-income transit commuters could actually benefit from the measure. The Clipper card upgrades will allow the Bay Area’s transit authorities to coordinate income-based fare discounts.

The measure doesn’t currently face any organized opposition. It also enjoys the approval of a solid majority of voters in the nine counties.

Those impressive feats are testament to how deeply the Bay Area is affected by traffic congestion, and how necessary many of these projects are.

Regional Measure 3 can’t and won’t fix all of the Bay Area’s traffic and infrastructure problems. For that, we’ll need state and federal support.

But that’s been too long in coming, and it’s past time for the Bay Area to make the improvements we can make on our own.

Measure 3 will result in real, measurable improvements to regional commutes, and that’s more than enough reason for the voters to say yes.

This commentary is from The Chronicle’s editorial board. We invite you to express your views in a letter to the editor. Please submit your letter via our online form: SFChronicle.com/letters.
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