September 30th, 2012

Volatile weather creates dramatic changes for California farmers

On the front lines of climate change, California’s agriculture industry faces a new landscape with less water, warmer winters, unexpected rain and rising salinity.

Our new “Heat and Harvest" series with KQED explores the challenges that farmers in the state are facing due to volatile weather conditions. Find out what’s at stake for this $30 billion industry — and your grocery bill.

Watch the full documentary here

Photo: Almond trees show signs of poisoning by exposure to salt. Rising salinity levels in irrigation water has farmers alarmed. Credit: Serene Fang/Center for Investigative Reporting

September 13th, 2012

The Bay’s five trashiest waterways

Five waterways in the Bay Area have such high levels of trash that they’re in violation of the Clean Water Act, according to Oakland nonprofit Save The Bay.

Read more about these “Trash Hot Spots” here.

Photo courtesy of Save the Bay

August 2nd, 2012

centerforinvestigativereporting:

Americans love hamburgers- we eat about three burgers a week. But what are the hidden environmental costs? Find out in our new animated short!

March 16th, 2012

Ken and Melanie Light embarked on a five-year photographic journey of a region known for its agricultural plenty – and the marginalization of its people. In their book, “Valley of Shadows and Dreams,” the Lights dig deep into the harsh truths of farm workers’ daily experiences in California’s Central Valley and take a hard look at the legacies of politics, bureaucracy and control in the region. In our new video, we interviewed the Lights about their experiences reporting in the Valley.

March 7th, 2012

Growth of composting in California strains oversight of industry

California’s next big step in recycling – composting its meat scraps, broken egg shells, coffee grounds and other detritus of eating – is straining the state’s ability to effectively manage the ever-growing and sometimes dangerous industry.

In October, 16-year-old Armando Ramirez and his brother, 22-year-old Heladio Ramirez, died of poisoning after Armando had been cleaning out a stormwater drain at the Community Recycling & Resource Recovery composting facility near Bakersfield. Heladio had gone down a hole and into the drain to rescue his brother.

The two undocumented workers inhaled hydrogen sulfide, a poisonous gas that sewage can generate. According to county documents, the facility near Lamont used discharged sewage water from an adjacent utility district to moisten its composting piles.

The brothers’ mother, Faustina Ramirez, filed a lawsuit in January against Community Recycling & Resource Recovery seeking at least $25,000 in damages, including funeral and burial expenses. She said she believes the company should have hired a professional service to clean the stormwater drains.

“What happened with my children was negligence – because they didn’t give them protection and because they knew what was going on in that site, and they sent them,” she said in an interview.

Photo: This hole at the Community Recycling & Resource Recovery site leads to a drainage ditch where the Ramirez brothers were overcome by fumes. Courtesy of The Bakersfield Californian. 

February 13th, 2012

Southern Californians at risk of death from air pollution

Southern Californians are among those at highest risk of death due to air pollution, according to recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency research published in the journal Risk Analysis.

The study, published last month, was conducted to “provide insight to the size and location of public health risks associated with recent levels of fine particles and ozone, allowing decision-makers to better target air quality policies,” the federal agency said in a statement responding to California Watch inquiries.

“While overall levels of fine particles and ozone have declined significantly in the past two decades, these two pollutants still pose a burden to public health,” the EPA statement said.

Read more.

November 30th, 2011
The task is formidable, but not impossible.

Jim Williams, an associate professor at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and co-author of paper published last week in the online version of the journal Science. The authors show it is possible for California to achieve its state-mandated goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

California is the world’s sixth-largest economy and 12th-largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

To go ‘carbon neutral,’ the state will have to move away from fossil fuels and other greenhouse gas emitters and start investing in carbon-neutral electricity production, such as nuclear power, renewables and carbon storage.

November 7th, 2011

npr:

To begin exploring how air pollution may affect your community, use our snazzy interactive map of more than 17,000 facilities that have emitted hazardous chemicals into the air. Color-coded dots and scores of one to five smoke stacks are based on an EPA method of assessing potential health risk in airborne toxins from a given facility. More smoke stack icons signify higher potential risks to human health. Zoom in to your neighborhood by clicking on the map or use the search box to find the area you’re looking for.

Want to know more? Check out our series, “Poisoned Places.

Reblogged from NPR
September 27th, 2011
As state officials spar with illegal gold miners in El Dorado County,  environmental groups are eyeing a flurry of new claims near Yosemite  National Park that they fear could poison the park’s animals, plants  and water.
In the past five years, mining companies have staked 285 claims  within 10 miles of Yosemite, said Mac Farrell, a preservation associate  with LA-based Environment California.
“These claims are close enough that the cyanide and other toxic  chemicals they use to separate ore from rock could run off into the  Tuolumne River and the trails and wildlands that surround it,” said  Farrell, adding that only a tiny amount of cyanide is needed to kill  fish and other wildlife. Read more. 
Photo via Flickr by Udax.

As state officials spar with illegal gold miners in El Dorado County, environmental groups are eyeing a flurry of new claims near Yosemite National Park that they fear could poison the park’s animals, plants and water.

In the past five years, mining companies have staked 285 claims within 10 miles of Yosemite, said Mac Farrell, a preservation associate with LA-based Environment California.

“These claims are close enough that the cyanide and other toxic chemicals they use to separate ore from rock could run off into the Tuolumne River and the trails and wildlands that surround it,” said Farrell, adding that only a tiny amount of cyanide is needed to kill fish and other wildlife. Read more.

Photo via Flickr by Udax.

August 24th, 2011

Frank Quan’s family has lived at China Camp State Park in California, catching and selling shrimp, since the 1890s. He’s the last remaining resident of a Chinese fishing village that once thrived on San Pablo Bay. Now the state is closing China Camp State Park along with dozens of other parks because of budget cuts. What will happen to Frank?

(Source: californiawatch.org)

Loading tweets...

@CaliforniaWatch

California Watch, the largest investigative journalism team operating in the state, was launched in 2009 by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Investigative Reporting. Areas of coverage include education, health and welfare, public safety, the environment and the influence of money on the political and regulatory process.

Networks