Environment / Natural Resources

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Can California’s Power Grid Handle a 15-fold Increase in Electric Cars?

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2023 at 9:28 AM

High voltage electricity towers and power lines at a substation in Central California. - ANDREI STANESCU/ISTOCK
  • Andrei Stanescu/iStock
  • High voltage electricity towers and power lines at a substation in Central California.
As California rapidly boosts sales of electric cars and trucks over the next decade, the answer to a critical question remains uncertain: Will there be enough electricity to power them?

State officials claim that the 12.5 million electric vehicles expected on California’s roads in 2035 will not strain the grid. But their confidence that the state can avoid brownouts relies on a best-case — some say unrealistic — scenario: massive and rapid construction of offshore wind and solar farms, and drivers charging their cars in off-peak hours.

Under a groundbreaking new state regulation, 35 percent of new 2026 car models sold in California must be zero-emissions, ramping up to 100 percent in 2035. Powering the vehicles means the state must triple the amount of electricity produced and deploy new solar and wind energy at almost five times the pace of the past decade. 

The Air Resources Board enacted the mandate last August — and just six days later, California’s power grid was so taxed by heat waves that an unprecedented, 10-day emergency alert warned residents to cut electricity use or face outages. The juxtaposition of the mandate and the grid crisis sparked widespread skepticism: How can the state require Californians to buy electric cars if the grid couldn’t even supply enough power to make it through the summer?

At the same time as electrifying cars and trucks, California must, under state law, shift all of its power to renewables by 2045. Adding even more pressure, the state’s last nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon, is slated to shut down in 2030.

Power lines in Elk Grove on Sept. 20, 2022. Photo by Rahul Lal, CalMatters

Six days after California approved a rapid ramp-up of electric car sales, a heat wave triggered 10 days of brownout warnings.

Can California keep the lights on with 12 million electric cars?



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Friday, January 13, 2023

Arroyo Taps Lonyx Landry for Planning Commission Post

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2023 at 3:06 PM

Fourth District Supervisor Natalie Arroyo (left) with her appointee to the Humboldt County Planning Commission, Lonyx Landry. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Fourth District Supervisor Natalie Arroyo (left) with her appointee to the Humboldt County Planning Commission, Lonyx Landry.
Newly seated Humboldt County Fourth District Supervisor Natalie Arroyo has announced she plans to appoint Lonyx Landry, a STEM advisory at Cal Poly Humboldt, to the county Planning Commission.

"Lonyx brings a fantastic skillset to the Commission, with a strong background in education, watershed science and community development," Arroyo said in a press release. "He is a citizen of the Nor Rel Muk Wintu Nation, a leader within Cal Poly Humboldt’s Indian Natural Resources, Science and Engineering Program, and a Councilmember with the Northern California Indian Development Council."

According to Landry's Linkedin page, he is also the former social services director for the Wiyot Tribe and worked in the Hoopa Valley Tribe's education department for three years.

Landry is poised to replace Commissioner Mike Newman, who Arroyo's predecessor appointed to the commission in 2018 to represent the Fourth District. Newman also ran against Arroyo and former Eureka City Councilmember Kim Bergel in a three-way race to replace Bass, who opted not to see re-election after three terms on the board.

"I wish to sincerely thank Mike Newman, the current Fourth District Planning Commissioner, for his years of service in this capacity," Arroyo wrote in the release.

Landry's appointment is slated to come before the board at its Jan. 24 meeting.

Read the full press release from Arroyo copied below:

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Friday, January 6, 2023

'A Great Day:' President Signs Karuk Land Back Bill into Law

Posted By on Fri, Jan 6, 2023 at 4:10 PM

For Karuk people, this  mountain known as  á'uuyich, is the center of their world, and it is located next to Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam on lands the legislation will return to the tribe. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE KARUK TRIBE
  • Photo courtesy of the Karuk Tribe
  • For Karuk people, this mountain known as á'uuyich, is the center of their world, and it is located next to Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam on lands the legislation will return to the tribe.
President Joe Biden today signed a bill into law placing federal lands in Humboldt and Siskiyou counties into a trust for the Karuk Tribe, fulfilling a years-long effort to put the sacred lands back into tribal hands.

Under The Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam Sacred Lands Act, 1,200 acres of U.S. Forest Service land will be transferred to the tribe, including a mountain known as á›uuyich to the Karuk people, for whom it is the center of the world, which sits at the confluence of the Klamath and Salmon rivers as well as the nearby historic village of Katimiîn, where the tribe's annual world renewal ceremony to restore balance to the universe takes place, and Ameekyáaraam, site of the Jump Dance and First Salmon Ceremony.

“It’s a great day for the Karuk Tribe," said Karuk Tribal Chair Russell "Buster" Attebery in a press release. "We have taken a huge step forward in protecting our culture and religion for generations to come. We truly appreciate the support from Sen. Padilla and Sen. Feinstein and their incredible staff. Special thanks to Congressman Huffman, who made a personal commitment to return these lands after visiting Katimiîn back in 2016.”

See the full press release from the Karuk Tribe copied below:


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Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Hazardous Weather to Hit Humboldt with Flood, Wind Watches Issued

Posted By on Tue, Jan 3, 2023 at 7:08 AM

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
  • National Weather Service
The National Weather Service is imposing flood and high wind watches on the North Coast and has issued a hazardous weather outlook with very high winds and days of rain in the forecast.

“A major storm system will impact the region Wednesday into Thursday, with damaging wind gusts, heavy rainfall and flooding for parts of the region,” the National Weather Services’ Eureka office tweeted. “Today is the time to prepare. Fuel generators, purchase batteries for flashlights, and bring loose objects in your yards inside.”

Wind gusts in excess of 70 mph are possible on ridgetops, with gusts of 40 mph and 60 mph possible in valleys and coastal areas, respectively, the weather service warned.

“Winds of this strength when soil conditions are saturated can result in many trees being knocked down and numerous power outages,” the weather service continued. "Driving conditions will be extremely dangerous. Even in valley locations, gusts could exceed 40 mph and in coastal area as high as 60 mph. If you can, adjust your travel plans and don't travel Wednesday or Thursday. Falling trees can be deadly."
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
  • National Weather Service

Rainfall is forecast to begin today around 10 a.m. and continue for most of the day, spurring the flood watch to begin at 1 a.m. tomorrow. The watch will remain in place through Thursday morning, with showers predicted throughout the day tomorrow. The high winds are forecast to pick up tomorrow morning and continue through Thursday morning.
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
  • National Weather Service
Showers remain in the forecast Thursday, with winds on the coast of up to 25 mph with gusts as high as 36. Rain is forecast at least through Monday.
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Friday, December 30, 2022

Flood Advisories, Road Closures Hit as Rain Continues

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2022 at 4:29 PM

NWS EUREKA FACEBOOK
  • NWS Eureka Facebook
The National Weather Service is issuing flood advisories throughout various parts of the county, including the Eel River at Fernbridge, which is forecast to reach flood stage at 22 feet on Saturday morning and remain there through Sunday.

If the flooding in the Eel River reaches 22 feet, it could result in flooding of the low-lying areas at the lower portion of the Eel River Delta.

"Owners of livestock in low-lying areas of the Eel Delta are advised that animals could be at risk due to rising river levels and appropriate action should be considered," a county press release states.

NWS notes that the Mad River may flood, as well, but no impacts are currently expected on the Van Duzen.

Other areas under a flood advisory include Table Bluff Rancheria, the Eel River Wildlife Area, the Loleta Bottoms, the Ferndale bottom far west along the Pacific Ocean, from the mouth of the Eel River to Centerville Beach, including Cock Robin Island and east to Port Kenyon, Goble Lane area, South of Eel River to Arlynda Corners/Salt River,  Ferndale bottom far northeast, southeast of Fernbridge to Grizzly Bluff Road, east to Eel River, and McKinleyville, west of U.S. Highway 101, and the Arcata Bottoms.

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Thursday, December 22, 2022

'It Means the World': Legislation to Return Karuk Sacred Lands Awaiting President's Signature

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2022 at 2:55 PM

For Karuk people, this  mountain known as  á'uuyich, is the center of their world, and it is located next to Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam on lands the legislation will return to the tribe. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE KARUK TRIBE
  • Photo courtesy of the Karuk Tribe
  • For Karuk people, this mountain known as á'uuyich, is the center of their world, and it is located next to Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam on lands the legislation will return to the tribe.
North Coast Congressmember Jared Huffman announced today that legislation to place federal lands in Humboldt and Siskiyou counties into a trust for the Karuk Tribe has passed out of the House of Representatives and is now awaiting President Joe Biden’s signature to become law.

Under The Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam Sacred Lands Act, 1,200 acres of U.S. Forest Service land will be transferred to the tribe, including a mountain known as á›uuyich to the Karuk people, for whom it is the center of the world, which sits at the confluence of the Klamath and Salmon rivers as well as the nearby historic village of Katimiîn, where the tribe's annual world renewal ceremony to restore balance to the universe takes place, and Ameekyáaraam, site of the Jump Dance and First Salmon Ceremony.

“Today, we can finally correct a historic injustice and return sacred land to its rightful owners, the Karuk Tribe. Thanks to the partnership of Senator Padilla and the Karuk’s tireless work, our Sacred Lands Act will now become law. These lands, known as Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam, are not only majestic, they are central to Karuk history, religion, traditions, and identity. Placing them in trust ensures that the Karuk culture and way of life can endure for future generations,” Huffman said in a release.

Currently, the Karuk Tribe only has a special permit to access the land for ceremonial purposes, but that is not always guaranteed and sometimes the ceremonies are interrupted, even if not intentionally, mainly by river rafters.

“It means the world to have our most sacred sites returned to us. The Karuk Tribe appreciates the hard work of Congressman Huffman, Senators Padilla and Feinstein, and their teams,” Karuk Chair Russell “Buster” Attebery said in the announcement. “This accomplishment is great for the Karuk People and all of Indian Country,”

Read the full release from Huffman’s office below:

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Embattled Planning Commissioner Bongio Steps Down

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2022 at 9:58 AM

FILE
  • File
Embattled longtime Humboldt County Planning Commissioner Alan Bongio, who was censured by the Board of Supervisors in September for comments widely construed as racist and biased while chairing a meeting in August, has stepped down.

First District Supervisor Rex Bohn, who appointed Bongio to the commission and said in September he would not remove him from the post despite mounting pressure to do so, has indicated he intends to appoint Iver Skavdal to the position.

"Alan Bongio, my planning commissioner for the last 10 years and long time chair of the commission, has stepped down to focus on his family and business," reads an email from Bohn announcing Bongio's resignation. "I wish him the best in the future."

In August, acting as chair of the commission as it considered permit modifications and a new permit necessary for local developer Travis Schneider to resume construction of his family home after violations of his coastal development permit led to a county stop-work order, Bongio was openly dismissive of concerns raised by the Wiyot Tribe and the Blue Lake Rancheria. Repeatedly referring to multiple, distinct tribes as "the Indians," Bongio accused them of acting in bad faith, playing a "game" with cultural resources to extract more concessions out of Schneider and reneging on a deal, though Bongio said he had "another term for it, but whatever."

Tribal officials and others found Bongio's comments deeply offensive. In September, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to censure him and ask him to step down as the commission's chair, though Bohn said he refused to remove him from the post, noting he's known Bongio for decades and saying, "I can't fire my friend. I'm sorry."

But the fallout from Bongio's comments continued, coming under increased scrutiny as it was discovered Schneider's permit violations were far more extensive than previously known and that Bongio had personally done some unpaid concrete work on the project, which he failed to disclose to the commission when it took up Schneider's permits.

In October, the Planning Commission penned a letter of apology to local Wiyot area tribes, stating "unequivocally" that Bongio's comments "were insensitive, racist, inconsistent with the values of the county of Humboldt, biased and understandably may have shaken your faith in the impartiality of this commission."

Bongio, however, remained defiant, though he voted in favor of sending the letter. At the October meeting, Bongio said he was not "trying to make excuses" but then seemingly mounted a defense of his own conduct, saying if the commission does not "ask hard questions" and "delve into things," it would be an "injustice to the county," before seemingly again questioning the integrity of the tribes he'd offended, saying "there's some things that didn't add up that night."

Last month, voters soundly ousted Bongio from the seat on the Humboldt Community Services District Board of Directors he'd held for 24 years, having taken it over from his father, Aldo Bongio, who held it for 34 years.

Skavdal, a seventh-generation Humboldt County resident, is a registered civil engineer who attended Humboldt State and Chico State universities and resides in Ferndale. Formerly the CEO of Winzler & Kelly Civil Engineering and president of GHD, Skavdal recently retired and "would like to give back to the community that gave him his start," according to Bohn.

"I am excited as we move forward with offshore wind and Nordic Fish Farm to have someone of his expertise and who has overseen projects of this size and magnitude," Bohn wrote. "I am fortunate to find someone of this caliber to appoint to the Planning Commission and look forward to his contributions."
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Monday, December 19, 2022

NWS Citizen Science Network Needs Your Help

Posted By on Mon, Dec 19, 2022 at 10:52 AM

cocorahsraindec2022.jpg
Got a couple minutes each day to help your community?

The Eureka office of the National Weather Service is looking for volunteers to join the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow network, or CoCoRaHS, to gather data about local conditions.

“This grassroots effort is part of a growing national network of home-based and amateur rain spotters with a goal of providing a high density precipitation network that will supplement existing observations,” a NWS release states.

According to NWS, the network was spurred by a flash flood that hit Fort Collins, Colorado, in 1997, causing $200 million in damage, after a thunderstorm poured down more than a foot of rain over the course of several hours in certain areas while other portions of the city only saw moderate rainfall.

“CoCoRaHS was born in 1998 with the intent of doing a better job of mapping and reporting intense storms. As more volunteers participated, rain, hail, and snow maps were produced for every storm showing fascinating local patterns that were of great interest to scientists and the public,” the NWS release states. “Recently, drought reporting has also become an important observation within the CoCoRaHS program across the nation. In fact, drought observations from CoCoRaHS are now being included in the National Integrated Drought Information System.”

Find more information on how to become a volunteer here.

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Saving Salmon: Chinook Return to California’s Far North — With a Lot of Human Help

Posted By on Mon, Dec 19, 2022 at 9:03 AM

The Juvenile Salmonid Collection System (JSCS) is set up at Dekkas Rock at Shasta Lake in Lakehead, within Shasta County. The JSCS pilot project is a 1-2-year pilot study that will evaluate the feasibility and viability of collecting juvenile anadromous salmonids as they emigrate out of historical habitat upstream from Shasta Dam. Photo by Florence Flow, California Department of Water Resource Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources, FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY - PHOTO BY FLORENCE FLOW, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCE FLORENCE LOW / CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES, FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY
  • Photo by Florence Flow, California Department of Water Resource Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources, FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY
  • The Juvenile Salmonid Collection System (JSCS) is set up at Dekkas Rock at Shasta Lake in Lakehead, within Shasta County. The JSCS pilot project is a 1-2-year pilot study that will evaluate the feasibility and viability of collecting juvenile anadromous salmonids as they emigrate out of historical habitat upstream from Shasta Dam. Photo by Florence Flow, California Department of Water Resource Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources, FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Chinook salmon haven’t spawned in the McCloud River for more than 80 years. But last summer, thousands of juveniles were born in the waters of this remote tributary, miles upstream of Shasta Dam.

The young Chinook salmon — some now finger-sized smolts in mid-migration toward the Pacific Ocean — are part of a state and federal experiment that could help make the McCloud a salmon river once again. 

Winter-run Chinook were federally listed as endangered in 1994, but recent years have been especially hard for the fish. Facing severe drought and warm river conditions, most winter-run salmon born naturally in the Sacramento River have perished over the past three years.

So restoring Chinook to the McCloud has become an urgent priority for state and federal officials. In the first year of a drought-response project, about 40,000 salmon eggs were brought back to the McCloud, a picturesque river in the wilderness of the Cascade mountains.

Iconic in Northern California, Chinook salmon are critical pieces of the region’s environment. They are consumed by sea lions, orcas and bears, and they still support a commercial fishing industry. Chinook remain vital to the culture and traditional foods of Native Americans, including the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, whose historical salmon fishing grounds included the McCloud River.

Conservation experts say the McCloud’s cold, clean water holds great promise as a potential Chinook refuge — and perhaps even a future stronghold for the species. Restoring salmon there is considered critical to the species’ survival, since they now spawn only in low-lying parts of the Central Valley near Redding and Red Bluff, where it’s often too hot and dry for most newborn fish to survive.



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Friday, December 16, 2022

Tribes Decry Klamath Water Proposal

Posted By on Fri, Dec 16, 2022 at 2:51 PM

The Klamath River at Hopkins Creek, close to Weitchpec. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • The Klamath River at Hopkins Creek, close to Weitchpec.
The Karuk and Yurok tribes issued a warning this morning that a Bureau of Reclamation proposal to reduce flows on the Klamath River could kill off an entire salmon run in advance of a historic dam removal and restoration effort aimed at saving the fish.

Noting that tribes and state officials just last week celebrated the historic agreement to remove four hydroelectric dams from the lower Klamath River — a pact reached after decades of efforts by the tribes and environmental groups — the tribes issued a press release this morning warning that regulators have proposed reducing the river's flows by 40 percent.

“We are hurt and frustrated,” said Yurok Vice Chair Frankie Myers in a press release. “We are on the verge of the biggest salmon restoration project in history and now we learn of plans to de-water the river.”


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