California Considers Following China With Combustion-Engine Car Ban – by Ryan Beene September 26, 2017, 9:57 AM PDT


The internal combustion engine’s days may be numbered in California, where officials are mulling whether a ban on sales of polluting autos is needed to achieve long-term targets for cleaner air.

Governor Jerry Brown has expressed an interest in barring the sale of vehicles powered by internal-combustion engines, Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, said in an interview Friday at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. The earliest such a ban is at least a decade away, she said.

Brown, one of the most outspoken elected official in the U.S. about the need for policies to combat climate change, would be replicating similar moves by China, France and the U.K.

“I’ve gotten messages from the governor asking, ‘Why haven’t we done something already?’” Nichols said, referring to China’s planned phase-out of fossil-fuel vehicle sales. “The governor has certainly indicated an interest in why China can do this and not California.”

Embracing such a policy would send shockwaves through the global car industry due to the heft of California’s auto market. More than 2 million new passenger vehicles were registered in the state last year, topping France, Italy or Spain. If a ban were implemented, automakers from General Motors Co. to Toyota Motor Corp. would be under new pressure to make electric vehicles the standard for personal transportation in the most populous U.S. state, casting fresh doubts on the future of gasoline- and diesel-powered autos elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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California Just Did Something That Will Make the Rest of the Nation’s Liberals Green With Envy – Oliver Milman Jul. 18, 2017 2:55 PM


Bipartisan agreement on climate change is possible.

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

This story was originally published by The Guardian and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

California legislators have voted to extend a centerpiece program to cut greenhouse gas emissions, burnishing the state’s reputation as a bulwark against Donald Trump’s demolition of climate change measures.

In a rare show of bipartisan agreement on climate change, eight Republicans joined with Democrats in California’s two legislative houses to extend the cap-and-trade emissions system a further 10 years until 2030.

The emissions-lowering scheme, the second-largest of its kind in the world, aims to help the state reach its target of cutting planet-warming gases 40% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

“Tonight, California stood tall and once again, boldly confronted the existential threat of our time,” said Jerry Brown, California’s governor. “Republicans and Democrats set aside their differences, came together and took courageous action. That’s what good government looks like.”

The cap-and-trade program, established in 2006 under then governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, sets a limit on emissions and requires polluters to either reduce their output or purchase permits from those who have. As the limit steadily becomes stricter, it nudges businesses to take the more financially attractive option of cutting their pollution.

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Everything You Need to Know About the Single-Payer Fight in California – Patrick Caldwell Jun. 7, 2017 6:00 AM


The $400 billion plan to rebuild the state’s health care system.

Marchers at a Medicare-for-all rally in Los Angeles, California on February 4, 2017Ronen Tivony/ZUMA

As Donald Trump and congressional Republicans struggle to repeal Obamacare, Democrats in the nation’s most populous state are pushing a very different reform proposal that would radically change the way health care is paid for. Last week, the California Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that would demolish the state’s current insurance plans and replace them with a single-payer system that would provide comprehensive treatment to all residents free of charge. The measure is still a long way from becoming law, but progressives already see it as a model for how states can expand access to care even as Republicans at the national level try to roll back coverage.

In many ways, the single-payer bill is quite simple; for consumers, it would mean no more copays, no more figuring out which doctors are in-network or out-of-network, and no more searching the health care marketplace for the plan that’s right for you. At the same time, it’s an immensely complicated scheme that would fundamentally alter the state’s health care system and its relationship with the federal government. Here’s what you need to know:

What’s going on?

On June 1, the California state Senate passed SB 562 by a vote of 23-14. One Democrat and every Republican voted against it (with three other Democrats not voting). The bill would essentially end private health insurance and most current forms of government insurance in the state, replacing those with a single, government-run insurance program that would pay health care providers (doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, etc.) for treating patients. Californians would no longer get insurance from work or through Medicaid. Instead, all state residents would be eligible to enroll in a program that supporters have dubbed Healthy California. That program would come with zero out-of-pocket costs for patients. The bill now heads to the state Assembly, which will have to figure out a way to pay for it.

Who’d be covered under the single-payer system?

Everyone who lives in California (including college students, if their university decides to pay for the coverage). The rate of people without health insurance in the state has improved since Obamacare care went into effect, dropping from 17 percent in 2013 to 7 percent today. But that still leaves 3 million Californians without coverage, along with many residents who are paying more in premiums, co-pays, and deductibles than they’d like. Everyone would be eligible to enroll in Healthy California. That includes undocumented immigrants, who are currently shut out from Obamacare.

What would be covered?

Pretty much everything you can imagine. Healthy California would cover almost any sort of medical care, including things like dental, vision, and long-term care that are typically excluded from other government-funded insurance programs in the United States. There’d be no more restrictive HMO plans or out-of-network providers; instead, you’d be able to see any licensed doctor, and they’d be free to prescribe treatments they deem necessary.

How much would health care cost me under the plan?

Nothing. There state wouldn’t charge any premiums. There’d be no co-pay charge during a visit, no co-insurance, no deductibles. Prescriptions would be also be free. Out-of-pocket expenses would completely disappear.

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Marijuana Industry Presses Ahead in California’s Wine Country By THOMAS FULLER MARCH 18, 2017


Josh Malgieri, vice president of the Sonoma Cannabis Company, under artificial lighting used to trick cannabis plants into flowering. Jim Wilson/The New York Times 

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — In the heart of Northern California’s wine country, a civil engineer turned marijuana entrepreneur is adding a new dimension to the art of matching fine wines with gourmet food: cannabis and wine pairing dinners.

Sam Edwards, co-founder of the Sonoma Cannabis Company, charges diners $100 to $150 for a meal that experiments with everything from marijuana-leaf pesto sauce to sniffs of cannabis flowers paired with sips of a crisp Russian River chardonnay.

“It accentuates the intensity of your palate,” Mr. Edwards, 30, said of the dinners, one of which was held recently at a winery with sweeping views of the Sonoma vineyards. “We are seeing what works and what flavors are coming out.”

Sonoma County, known to the world for its wines, is these days a seedbed of cannabis experimentation. The approval of recreational cannabis use by California voters in November has spurred local officials here to embrace the pot industry and the tax income it may bring.

“We’re making this happen,” said Julie Combs, a member of the Santa Rosa City Council, who is helping lead an effort to issue permits to cannabis companies. “This is an industry that can really help our region.”

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Self-driving cars: Uber’s open defiance of California shines light on brazen tactics – Sam Levin in San Francisco @SamTLevin Friday 16 December 2016 06.00 EST


 Intense fight with the state, ignited after cars were caught running red lights, exposed illegal and unethical tactics the company has used for years, critics say

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Uber’s open defiance of California regulators marks the latest case of a ‘sharing economy’ corporation ignoring government under the guise of ‘disruption’ and ‘innovation’. | Photograph: Angelo Merendino/AFP/Getty Images

  Uber has launched an aggressive battle with California over its controversial self-driving cars, with regulators and consumer advocates accusing the corporation of flagrantly violating the law, endangering public safety and mistreating drivers.

The intense fight with the state – which ignited hours after numerous self-driving cars were caught running red lights in Uber’s home town – has exposed what critics say are the unethical and illegal tactics that the company has repeatedly used to grow its business.

The ride-sharing company, which launched semi-autonomous vehicles in San Francisco without permits this week, was ordered by the California department of motor vehicles (DMV) to immediately remove the cars from the road or face legal action.

But Uber, which has not publicly responded to the state’s demands, blamed the traffic light violations on “human error” and suspended the drivers who were monitoring the cars. This bold deflection of blame further highlights the corporation’s refusal to take responsibility for potential faults in its technology and raises questions about the dangers of prematurely rolling out self-driving vehicles.

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This Region Is Twice Flint’s Size—And Its Water Is Also Poisoned – TOM PHILPOTT AUG. 17, 2016 6:00 AM


California’s agriculture boom means nitrate-tainted water for at least 212,000 people.

Farm workers harvest romaine lettuce in California’s Salinas Valley. Nancy Nehring/iStock

In two of California’s most productive farming regions, at least 212,000 people rely on water that’s routinely unsafe to drink, with levels of a toxin  above its federal limit. And even if the pollution source could be stopped tomorrow, these communities—representing a population more than twice as large as that of Flint, Michigan— would endure the effects of past practices for decades. That’s the takeaway of a major new assessment by researchers at the University of California-Davis.

The toxin in question is nitrate, which leaches into aquifers when farmers apply synthetic nitrogen fertilizers or large amounts of manure to fortify soil. Although probably not as ruinous as lead, the contaminant that fouled Flint’s water, nitrate isn’t something you want to be gulping down on a daily basis. Nitrate-laced water has been linked to a range of health problems, including birth defectsblood problems in babies, and cancers of the ovaries and thyroid.

A third of residents drank the nitrate-laced water available to them, while the rest spent extra money on bottled water, a 2011 study found.

According to the Davis report, nitrate takes a leisurely path from farm soil into the underground water sources that provide both irrigation and drinking water to these regions—taking anywhere from years to millennia. That means the high nitrate concentrations these communities now find in their water are the result of farming decisions made years and even decades ago—and “will persist well into the future,” even if farmers ramp down fertilization rates.

The reality is that the practices are unlikely to change anytime soon. The regions in question are two crucial nodes in California’s industrial-agriculture economy: the Tulare Basin in the southern Central Valley, a massive producer of milk, cattle, oranges, almonds, and pistachios, and the coastal Salinas Valley, which churns out about a half of the leaf lettuce and broccoli grown in the United States, and about a third of the spinach. Together, the two regions produce more than $12 billion in ag commodities and account for 40 percent of the state’s irrigated farmland and half its confined animal operations, according to an earlier Davis report.

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