Protecting Antioch communities and wildlife from nitrogen pollution.

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Last Stand for the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly?

In February 2017, Wild Equity will appear before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where the health of Antioch’s people and the continued existence of the Bay Area’s most imperiled butterfly will be on the line.  


Scientists believe we may have altered the nitrogen cycle even more than the carbon cycle, yet PG&E is attempting to operate four power plants ringing the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.
Perhaps a few hundred Lange's Metalmark Butterfly exist in the wild.  Photo (c) Liam O'Brien

Can we find it in our hearts to protect Antioch’s communities
and the last of the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly?


But the pollution from these power plants will disproportionately burden the largely minority, blue-collar communities in the area, while jeopardizing the continued existence of the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, the Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose, the Contra Costa Wallflower, and the entire Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.  

Wild Equity has led a campaign to bring community health organizations and lepidopterists together to fight this disproportionate burden.  In 2013 our work forced one of the power plants to make a choice: don’t build, or fund  a multi-million dollar trust benefitting local communities and endangered wildlife.

We can replicate this success, but we can’t do it alone.  When you join Wild Equity, you help ensure that Antioch’s people and wildlife are protected from pollution.

Imagine the world we will build together: a more equitable world for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth. Thank you for supporting this vision and contributing to our work today!

Brent PlaterThank you so much!

Brent Plater



Brent Plater
Executive Director


Shop Wild Equity’s Online Store!

Wild Equity’s new online store is now live! So day or night you can get your hands on Nancy Morita’s beautifully heartbreaking ‘Wild in the City’ poster; or our famous “I ‘Bird’ SF” T-shirts; or one of our gorgeous, reusable, non-toxic, 100% recycled aluminum, made-in-the-USA water bottles.  

If you’re looking for something else, consider shopping at AmazonSmile and designate Wild Equity Institute as your charity of choice.  When you do,  Amazon.com will give a portion of the website’s profits to Wild Equity: at no extra charge to you!  Look for items with “Eligible for Amazon Smile donation” in the product description, and again, be sure to designate Wild Equity as your favorite charitable organization.  

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Stand with Wild Equity in 2017!

Wild Equity InstituteDear Friend,

With the tectonic shift in national politics, our focus on local environmental and social issues may be our only hope. The victory at Standing Rock, in the backdrop of the incoming climate change-denying administration, shows how a local, grassroots movement can trounce billion-dollar corporate interests.

At this moment, I appreciate living in San Francisco more than ever. The Bay Area may be one of the few regions left where we have a chance to defend wildlife.

Poor froggie

But recently we lost a battle. Wild Equity spoke before the San Francisco Planning Commission to oppose the Sharp Park Golf Course redevelopment project that was surreptitiously inserted into the citywide Natural Areas Management Plan. The Sierra Club, state and local Audubon chapters, Surfrider, NPCA, & many other environmental groups stood with us. Although the Commission, ever the rubber-stamp, voted to approve the plan, the dissenting Commissioner cited the Sharp Park golf course redevelopment as the reason she voted no.

But the war is not lost: we now move on to the Board of Supervisors, where we have been more successful than any other contemporary conservation group. We have allies on the Board today, and while it won’t be easy, we have a template to win.

As always, we’ll employ our full suite of skills — public relations, lobbying, education, grassroots organizing, and litigation – to protect endangered species in San Francisco, Pacifica, Antioch, and beyond.

But we can’t do it without you: please make a tax-deductible contribution to the Wild Equity Institute today.

With your support we can demonstrate how local efforts can change the tide, from here to Standing Rock. Thank you for your support of a more equitable world for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth!

With deepest gratitude,

Brent PlaterBrent Plater

Brent Plater, Director
Wild Equity Institute

 

 

PS —Check out the new Wild Equity online store and pick-up our new sky blue “I ‘Bird’ SF” shirts and Wild in the City posters!

 

 

 

I 'Bird' SF T-shirt, unisex, natural cotton color I "Bird" SF Shirt, Ladies Half-scoop, Sky Blue Color

Wild Equity Celeb SightingIf you know who this is, you NEED this bottle! (Contact us if you need a hint)

Wild in the City Poster by Nancy Morita Does any other poster demonstrate how inequitable we’ve been to these lands? Nope. That’s why you need one. 24 x 35 in.


It’s Air Quality Awareness Week: Who Bears the Brunt of Air Pollution?

This week (May 2-6) is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Air Quality Awareness Week. Unfortunately, the EPA is still giving the green light to projects (e.g. new power plants) which poison the air and compromise the health and wellbeing of local communities and wildlife.

In fact, Wild Equity has spent years challenging the EPA’s ongoing failure to protect communities and endangered species in Antioch, CA, from PG&E’s Gateway Generating Station- a power plant that emits tons of nitrogen pollution annually, poisoning sensitive wildlife habitats and irritating the lungs of local residents. The EPA has allowed Gateway Generating Station to pollute without performing a legally mandated consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service about the pollution’s impact on endangered species at the adjacent Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge- the last home for one of our nation’s most imperiled butterflies.

Achieving environmental justice has always been the backbone of Wild Equity’s mission. It is far too often the underprivileged, the poor, working-class communities of color that are disproportionately burdened with the impacts of pollution and of climate change. This paradigm is evident in many scenarios that have drastically altered the way of life in some communities, a few of many examples being:

Flint, Michigan, a predominantly African American town, the highly toxic tap water is unsuitable for drinking, cooking, or bathing. The residents of Flint have no choice but to cook, drink, bathe with bottled water because of their contaminated water supply.

Wilmington, a Los Angeles ethnic minority neighborhood dense with oil drilling operations, residents have spent years suffering from frequent headaches, nausea, nosebleeds, and other health-related issues due to exposure to drilling-related pollution. Wilmington has received little media attention, as opposed to the natural gas leak at Porter Ranch, an affluent neighborhood with a majority white population.

Kettleman City, CA, a community that is over 96% of Hispanic or Latino origin, is located amongst oil wells and a massive hazardous waste dump site. The town has been plagued with contaminated water, polluted air, abnormally high rates of birth defects, infant mortality, and cancer.

Regrettably, environmental injustices are still ever-present and we still have a long fight ahead, but we will continue to fight for the people, plants, and wildlife whose voices go unheard, and hope you will join us. Thank you for supporting Wild Equity, and click here to get involved with our work!

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Shop at Amazon & Support Wild Equity

Maryrose Wampler’s Portrait of the
Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose, circa 1979.

Wild Equity always recommends shopping locally and supporting businesses in your community. But sometimes that isn’t possible: for example, where else will you find an original portrait of the Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose?

When you do shop at amazon.com, now you can simultaneously donate to Wild Equity: at no extra charge! All you need to do is shop through AmazonSmile using your existing amazon.com account, and a portion of your sale will automatically be donated to Wild Equity. It’s as simple as that!

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Lawsuit Launched to Protect Endangered Butterfly and Local Communities

For Immediate Release, July 24, 2013

Contacts:
Laura Horton, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 235-0492
Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 436-9682 x318
Roger Lin, Communities for a Better Environment, (510) 302 0430 x16

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Endangered Butterfly
and Communities in Contra Costa County

ANTIOCH, Calif.— A coalition of conservation and environmental justice groups submitted a legal notice today of their intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for approving PG&E’s Gateway Generating Station, which harms endangered species and local communities. The Gateway Generating Station is a large, natural-gas-fired power plant in Antioch, Calif., that pollutes nearby communities, worsens the global climate crisis, and threatens the survival of one of North America’s most imperiled species: the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.


Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly photo © Liam O’Brien, http://sfbutterfly.com.

Today’s notice from the Wild Equity Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity and Communities for a Better Environment comes on the heels of a $2 million settlement with a neighboring power plant, the Oakley Generating Station, and marks the third time PG&E and the EPA have been notified of their illegal activities.

“Four other power plants in the Bay Area have adopted model agreements to protect endangered butterflies from nitrogen pollution and also protect local communities,” said Laura Horton, staff attorney at the Wild Equity Institute. “PG&E has already been put on notice twice of their violations. This is PG&E’s last chance to do the right thing or its three strikes and they’re out.”

Nitrogen emissions from the Gateway Generating Station pollute the neighboring Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge and transform the chemical composition of those historic sand dunes. Under these polluted conditions, the butterfly’s host plant is lost to invasive weeds, resulting in a population decline for the butterfly. Gateway’s emissions also harm local communities by contributing more ozone pollution and soot to an area already disproportionately overwhelmed by power plant pollution.

“These communities are harmed by a large number of power plants, each of which emits greenhouse gases and pollutants that are toxic both to the people who live, work and go to school near the plants, and the surrounding environment,” said Roger Lin, an attorney at Communities for a Better Environment.

There are only a few dozen Lange’s metalmark butterflies remaining in the world. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that nitrogen pollution from power plants near the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge is “virtually certain” to cause the species to go extinct, and earlier this year joined with conservation groups to demand the EPA and PG&E consult with experts and mitigate their environmental harms.

“It’s time for PG&E to be part of the solution to protect human health and endangered species in Antioch and Oakley,” said Jonathan Evans, toxics and endangered species campaign director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “PG&E must join the rest of the industry and own up to the damage it’s causing.”

Background on the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly and Gateway’s Impacts.

The Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly is a brightly colored, fragile and highly endangered butterfly that has been protected by the federal Endangered Species Act since 1976. The species is endemic to the Antioch Dunes in Contra Costa County, a relict desert landscape left behind as California’s prehistoric deserts retreated from the Bay Area 140,000 years ago. Because of the Antioch Dunes’ isolation, many species found in the dunes are unique and very rare.

Sand dunes like the Antioch Dunes are nitrogen deficient, and increased amounts of airborne nitrogen changes the chemical composition of the dunes, creating soil conditions that are only suitable for the growth of invasive weeds. The Antioch Dunes’ soils are critically impacted by nitrogen deposition, and Gateway will deposit even more nitrogen into Antioch Dunes, pushing the Lange’s Metalmark toward extinction. To date, PG&E has not mitigated Gateway’s endangered species impacts, even though four other similarly situated power plants have contributed millions of dollars to mitigate their impacts on endangered butterflies.

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Help Move the World: Contribute to Wild Equity Today!

I’m starting this note with two short stories that inspired our work this year. After reading them, I believe you’ll be inspired to become a Wild Equity Institute member, so we can continue our extraordinary work.

Recently I returned from a weekend workshop where I discussed the future of the conservation movement with giants in our field—people like Dr. Michael Soulé, the founder of the field of conservation biology; Dr. Holmes Ralston III, a luminary in the field of environmental ethics; and Terry Tempest Williams, one of our great contemporary environmental writers.

It was an honor to simply be in a room with these incredible people. But as the meeting progressed, I was humbled to see that they found inspiration in the Wild Equity Institute’s work, and are incorporating our theory of change into a new era of environmental protection and conservation.

Around the same time I received this note from a student who participated in Wild Equity’s Endangered Species Big Semester, our environmental education project that helps disadvantaged students see and save our local endangered species:

“I got a lot from your program, like great memories and the chance to meet amazing people. I’m so thankful Wild Equity made it possible to help me learn, not only was it educational, but also it was fun and exciting. I absolutely loved all the field trips and would enjoy doing it again.”

We are proud that in just three short years we’ve improved lives and inspired leaders to build a stronger environmental movement for all.

But we can’t do it alone: and that’s why we’re asking you to become a Wild Equity Institute member today.

The Wild Equity Institute believes we can achieve extraordinary environmental victories while building a larger, more resilient environmental movement. We do this by uniting grassroots conservation and environmental justice groups in campaigns that build a more equitable world for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth.

At a minimum, this means our work must focus on preventing other species from going extinct, and ensuring that no community is burdened with a disproportionate share of environmentally harmful activities.

In 2012, we implemented this theory of change in several ways:

But we aren’t done yet. In 2013, we will work to save San Francisco’s Natural Areas Program so it can continue stewarding our local plants and wildlife; transform Sharp Park Golf Course into a new national park everyone can enjoy; and save the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly and empower local communities to end pollution from power plants that destroy the species’ habitat.

In each of these efforts, we build capacity for our movement by engaging new allies and building the power we need to tackle our most pressing environmental problems.

That’s why when you contribute to our work you get a twofer: we achieve measurable environmental gains on the ground, but more importantly, we ensure that our movement grows so that the scale of our efforts can match the size of the threats we face.

But movements are not defined by the effectiveness of organizations. They are defined by the inspiration, the passion, the commitment of the people these organizations serve. This is why we need you to demonstrate your commitment by becoming a Wild Equity member today.

Imagine the world we will build together: a more equitable world for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth. Thank you for supporting this vision and for joining us today!

Sincerely,

Brent Plater
Executive Director

P.S.— Consider becoming a monthly donor. For as little as $5 a month, you’ll help us spend less time raising funds and more time wining campaigns for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth! You can do this online at the Wild Equity Institute’s website. Thank you!

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Lawsuit Launched Challenging Massive Power Plant Expansion in Northern California

December 20, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:

Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989
Adrienne Bloch, Communities for a Better Environment, (510) 302-0430 x16
Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 436-9682 x318

Lawsuit Launched Challenging Massive Power Plant Expansion in Northern California

Emissions Threaten Public Health, Critically Endangered Butterfly

ANTIOCH, Calif.—The Wild Equity Institute, Communities for a Better Environment, and the Center for Biological Diversity today filed formal notices of intent to sue the California Energy Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and several power plant owners and operators for authorizing, constructing, and operating four power plants in Antioch and Oakley, California. The power plants’ emissions will pollute nearby communities, worsen the global climate crisis and threaten the survival of the Bay Area’s most critically imperiled butterfly.

“When shortcuts are taken with environmental health, disadvantaged communities and wildlife often suffer the most,” said Brent Plater, executive director of the Wild Equity Institute. “Today’s action will help us create a healthier environment for people and for the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth.”


Gateway Generating Station is one of four power plants approved
to operate near the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.

In the past several years, the California Energy Commission has authorized three new power plants within one mile of the existing Contra Costa County Power Plant in Antioch, Calif. These approvals would leave Antioch with one of the largest concentrations of power plant emissions in the Bay Area. While the energy will be distributed to San Francisco and other urban areas, the concentrated emissions will threaten public health in nearby communities and push the Lange’s metalmark butterfly, whose last wild habitats will be partially surrounded by power plants, closer than ever to extinction.

“This small area houses a disproportionately large number of power plants, each of which emits greenhouse gases and pollutants that are toxic both to the people who live, work and go to school near the plants, and the surrounding environment,” said Maya Golden-Krasner, an attorney at Communities for a Better Environment.

The groups are challenging these operations under the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act. Under the Clean Air Act, power plants that initiate construction after July 1, 2011 must comply with regulations governing greenhouse gases. But two of the proposed power plants, Marsh Landing and Oakley generating stations, have never complied with these greenhouse gas regulations. The lawsuit will force these power plants to comply with greenhouse gas regulations before they are authorized to operate.

“The Lange’s metalmark butterfly is a Bay Area jewel that’s already perilously close to extinction,” said Jonathan Evans, toxics and endangered species campaign director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Pollution from these power plants will push the metalmark over the edge, leaving us with the very real possibility that this rare and remarkable butterfly could disappear forever.”

Under the Endangered Species Act, the groups assert that the proposed Marsh Landing and Oakley generating stations—along with the existing Contra Costa County and Gateway generating stations—are emitting pollutants that are reasonably certain to kill the Lange’s metalmark butterfly. Under these circumstances, the power plants must obtain permits before operating, and at least one power plant will be required to consult with expert agencies about their emission levels before the permit can be obtained.

“For too long pollution from power plants has threatened local communities and the butterfly’s very survival,” said Plater. “It’s time for our energy infrastructure to become part of the solution, and the best way to do that is through the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act, our nation’s best defense for people, plants and animals on the brink of extinction.”

Background on the Lange’s metalmark butterfly:

The Lange’s metalmark butterfly is a brightly colored, fragile, and highly endangered butterfly that has been protected by the federal Endangered Species Act since 1976. The species is endemic to the Antioch Dunes in Contra Costa County: a relict desert landscape left behind as California’s prehistoric deserts retreated from the Bay Area 140,000 years ago. Because of the Antioch Dunes’ isolation, many species found in the dunes are unique and very rare.


Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly

The sole food plant for the Lange’s caterpillar is the naked-stemmed buckwheat, a native plant adapted to survive in the nutrient-poor soils found in the Antioch Dunes. The butterfly’s population is dependent on this plant but nitrogen emissions from the power plants are changing the chemical composition of the dune soil, and invasive weeds are now so common that they are crowding out the dune’s indigenous flora and fauna. The U.S, Fish and Wildlife Service has already determined that nitrogen emissions from power plants near the dunes are “virtually certain” to cause harm to endangered species.

Visit wildequity.org for more information about our campaign to protect Antioch.

The Wild Equity Institute is building a healthy and sustainable global community for people
and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth.

http://wildequity.org/

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Best. Hate. Voicemail. Ever!


Artwork by Liam O’Brien

The Wild Equity Institute’s lawsuit to protect the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly was a hot topic with Bay Area media outlets this week, covered by The Bay Citizen, CBS 5, and the Contra Costa Times. But our favorite story was left on our voicemail: by someone with a decidedly different point of view.

This message has the hallmarks of an all-time classic. It’s anonymous, inaccurate, breathlessly angry, and masterfully on message: in under thirty seconds it gets all the talk radio insults in. This guy should be giving clinics.

Listen to the message for the full effect, but here’s the text:

Hey dummies! Hey environmental wackos! Why don’t you pay attention to the volcanoes, and the geysers that are erupting out of the ground and polluting our air, not the people, nor the insects that ruin the crops in the state of California. LEAVE THOSE DAMN BUTTERFLIES ALONE AND LET THEM DIE!! If you don’t know about butterflies they destroy crops! READ YOUR INFORMATION YOU COMMUNISTS BASTARDS!!

Never mind that the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly’s only host plant is the naked-stem buckwheat, Eriogonum nudum var. auriculatum, which as far as we know has never been a crop plant in all of human history!

Deranged voicemails, death threats, and hateful scribes comes with the territory: at least once a month someone who’s ox has been gored tries to intimidate us. But the Wild Equity Institute thrives on this bulletin-board material: it strengthens our resolve to fight for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth.