Posts by Tom Wheeler

Make Your Voice Heard in Redistricting!

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021
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California is redrawing its federal and state legislative maps (including losing one congressional seat!). That means that your legislative district might change. While environmental and climate justice advocates have been building a policy agenda for years, we currently do not have the political power in California to act on these solutions at the rate and scale required. The 2021 redistricting process is a unique moment to make key structural change: not only for the next legislative session, but for this final decade leading to the 2030 climate deadline. The redistricting process begins by soliciting input from the public about what forms their community of interest. Unique public comments are very important to the process. There are two ways you can participate!


Enviros Score Victory on Fish Farm: County & Company Agree More Analysis Necessary

Tuesday, June 15th, 2021
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EPIC, together with our allies at Humboldt Baykeeper, the Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities, 350 Humboldt, Humboldt Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, and the Northcoast Environmental Center, recently won a surprise victory in what seem like an arcane procedural matter concerning the proposed Nordic Aquafarm facility on Humboldt Bay: Nordic has agreed to do a full environmental impact report and not just a initial statement/mitigated negative declaration.


Lumber Prices Are Product Of COVID, Not Environmental Protections

Monday, June 14th, 2021
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If you have been to the lumberyard recently, you likely came away with sticker shock. Lumber prices are up dramatically— from 67% this year to 340% last year. And, of course, environmentalists and endangered species are getting blamed. (We have seen a marked rise in rude emails to EPIC, which is one of the casualties of this job.) To set the record straight, let’s be clear that it was market failures—not environmental protections—at fault for the jump in prices. 


Three MAJOR Updates from the Defense of Richardson Grove

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021
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The struggle to save the ancient redwoods of Richardson Grove State Park continues and we have three exciting updates to share with you. First, EPIC is back in federal court on Richardson Grove with a motion for summary judgment on unresolved claims. As always, our attorneys did a fantastic job. Although we had a temporary setback at the Ninth Circuit in December, it was only that: temporary. We are excited to plunge ahead and put forward our claims.


Update on Last Chance Grade: Winter 2021

Tuesday, March 9th, 2021
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“Last Chance Grade” is a stretch of Highway 101 about ten miles south of Crescent City, which sits precariously above the Pacific Ocean. Built on an active landslide, the road has steadily slipped towards the Pacific Ocean. Most recently, landslides have resulted in the temporary closure of the road and significant delays as Caltrans works day and night to safely repair damages and to keep the road safe. This pattern–of regular landslides and land closures, patched together with stop-gap fixes–is far from ideal. Instead of extending this period into perpetuity, Caltrans wants to figure out a more permanent solution. EPIC goes over the current options.


How Can We Roll Back The Trump Rollbacks?

Tuesday, February 16th, 2021
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How can we roll back the Trump-era rollbacks of environmental laws? The last six months of the Trump Administration kept EPIC busy. As his poll numbers dipped and his reelection appeared more distant, the administration moved into rush mode to get through a large suite of environmental rollbacks: severe reductions in the amount of “Critical Habitat” designated for northern spotted owls; changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, our bedrock environmental law that demands review of foreseeable environmental impacts; and delisting the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act.


EPIC Fights Back Against Cuts to Owl Critical Habitat

Tuesday, February 16th, 2021
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EPIC is on the move to protect the spotted owl from political malfeasance and Big Timber greed.

On January 15, in a parting gift to the timber Industry, the Trump Administration cut over 3.4 million acres of Critical Habitat for the northern spotted owl—some 42% of the amount designated in 2012 to ensure the owl’s survival—including thousands of acres in California. The cut was all the more staggering given that just a month before, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledged that the owl was under immediate threat of extinction, warranting a change in its designation from “threatened” to “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act.


EPIC Continues Full-Court Press Defense of Richardson Grove

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021
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EPIC is happy to announce that it has filed a motion for a rehearing en banc concerning the December Ninth Circuit ruling, overturning our previous victory in federal court. In basketball, a full-court press is an aggressive defense, where the defensive side applies pressure along the entire length of the court. It is an apt analogy for EPIC’s defense of the sacred old-growth redwoods of Richardson Grove State Park.


Santa’s Naughty and Nice List Sneak Peek: Environment Issue 2020

Thursday, December 24th, 2020
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We here at EPIC are close with Kris Kringle. (He is an environmentalist after all, using reindeer to power his sleigh instead of fossil fuels.) We are so close that EPIC has an exclusive sneak preview at his naughty and nice list. To those on the nice list, we are incredibly grateful to all of those that work hard to protect our habitat, Earth. Thank you for your generosity, kindness, and inspiration this year. We look forward to a brighter future ahead. 


Take Action For Richardson Grove!

Monday, December 14th, 2020
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We need your support at the Board of Supervisors weekly Zoom meeting on the morning of Tuesday, December 15th. Staff have provided the Board with an alternative statement expressing community opposition to the Richardson Grove Project and highlighting that the county takes no formal position on the project. This is BIG! Please let the Supervisors know that you support the alternative statement!


Are Toxic Tires Killing Salmon?

Monday, December 14th, 2020
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A new study published in the journal Science may help explain why California’s coho salmon runs continue to decline. The study examined “urban runoff mortality syndrome,” a disconcerting phenomenon where stormwater runoff produces large mortality events. EPIC’s podcast, the EcoNews Report, recently featured Warner Chabot from the San Francisco Estuary Institute to discuss the report. Read more and listen to the podcast in this article.


Richardson Grove: A Setback But Not A Loss

Thursday, December 10th, 2020
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A setback but not a loss. That’s what I told my board and staff after we received news on Wednesday that the Ninth Circuit reversed our lower court victory. Don’t worry. Bulldozers are not set to start ripping into the roots of old-growth redwoods…yet. But this setback should inspire us to work harder to stop the project, something that will demand concentrated grassroots advocacy and political action. In other words, we need you.


Giving Tuesday 2020: Giving Back & Moving Forward

Monday, November 30th, 2020
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We all have a choice in how we spend our hard-earned money; during this season of thanks and generosity, please give to your local nonprofit organizations because you value and benefit from their mission, and because you believe in humanity’s ability to positively impact the world. As the Executive Director of EPIC, I’d be thrilled if you donated to support our work. But I’d be happy if you gave to any local organization that shared your beliefs. The point is to give—be generous, be larger than yourself.


11th-Hour Attacks On NEPA

Thursday, November 19th, 2020
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We are witnessing the last gasps of the Trump administration–the frantic rush to get bad projects and harmful new regulations approved before their time ends on January 20. The Trump administration is rushing to issue oil leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Also in Alaska, the Trump administration appears ready to issue a permit for the controversial “Pebble Mine.” Today gives us another: new rules by the Forest Service for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).


The 2020 Election: Environmental Implications

Tuesday, November 10th, 2020
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Although votes are still being counted, it appears that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be our next President and Vice-President. It is likely that they will serve over a divided government, with the Republican Party likely to retain control of the Senate and the Democratic Party will to maintain a majority in the House of Representatives. (Note, it is possible that the Democratic Party could win both run-off elections in Georgia, effectively giving them control of the Senate too.) This swing of power has major implications for federal environmental law and application. 


Will Justice Barrett Kill the Modern Administrative State?

Monday, October 26th, 2020
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While concerns about the access to reproductive care and the fate of the Affordable Care Act dominate the national conversation about the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) is concerned: What are her views on Chevron deference? If you have no idea what that is or what it means, don’t worry, you are not alone. Environmentalism relies on the modern administrative state—the alphabet soup of agencies that interpret and apply statutes passed by Congress. That administrative state, the fundamental basis of modern government, is under threat by attempts to chip away at the power of the administrative state to regulate.


Green Diamond: Climate Change “Skeptic”

Tuesday, October 6th, 2020
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Our planet is getting hotter. Climate change likely exacerbated this year’s fires, lengthening the fire season—it is now drier and warmer for longer—and by causing more extreme weather that helps to drive the large, fast-moving fires often to blame for the loss of life and property. Climate change is felt elsewhere locally. All of this is obvious. Except apparently to Green Diamond Resource Company, whose clearcuts pockmark the North Coast. In every timber harvest plan (THP) submitted for approval to CALFIRE, Green Diamond begins the discussion of the impacts of harvest on climate change by questioning whether climate change is real.


Contrasting Federal Legislation Shows How (and How Not) to Deal with Fire

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020
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California federal legislators have offered dueling bills to respond to the recent large fires that have gripped the West. In one corner stands Senator Dianne Feinstein and her bill S. 4431; in the other are Sen. Kalama Harris and the Northcoast’s own Rep. Huffman, who have brought forward S. 2882 and its House companion, H.R. 5091. To be clear who we are rooting for: EPIC has joined our friends at Earthjustice, Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club, The League of Conservation Voters, The Wilderness Society, and Western Environmental Law Center in opposing Senate Bill 4431.


Fire Facts and Fictions

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020
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There have been plenty of frustrating headlines that attribute one thing for this year’s fire behavior. Predictably, the main culprit changes by the story. In some, fuel accumulation from a lack of logging is to blame. In others, the history of colonization that has removed traditional cultural burning is at fault. The truth is that there are many, many variables that influence fire behavior. We humans have better control over some (like whether homes are to be constructed out of fire-resistant materials than others (like the weather). Be careful of oversimplification!


BREAKING: EPIC Win For Mendocino National Forest at the Ninth Circuit!

Monday, August 3rd, 2020
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In a major victory, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with EPIC in a case impacting the Mendocino National Forest. The court found that the Forest Service’s use of a “categorical exclusion” to avoid an environmental impact assessment for a timber sale following the 2018 Ranch Fire was likely a violation of the law and that EPIC should have been awarded an injunction by the lower court to stop logging.