Posts about Wild Equity and how you can be part of our movement.

Join Us October 7 to Honor Rose Braz with the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is honoring our late Chairperson Rose Braz with the 2017 Trailblazer Award, and we invite you to attend the ceremony and celebrate Rose’s life with us at the Sierra Club’s David Brower Dinner on October 7th, 5-8pm at the Delancey Town Hall.  You may purchase tickets to the dinner here.  

Sierra Club National Executive Director Michael Brune will lead the call to action as keynote speaker, while legendary progressive leader Tom Ammiano will work the mike as master of ceremonies.  There will be a ten minute slideshow of Rose’s environmental work, during which Tom Ammiano will introduce and Wild Equity’s Brent Plater will discuss Rose’s incredible achievements and lasting legacy.

And thank you to everyone who celebrated Rose Braz’ life with us on July 30.  If you missed the celebration you can watch the Facebook livestream at wildequity.org.


If you would like to make a donation in Rose’s honor please visit the Rose Braz Memorial Fund at the Wild Equity Institute.

 

Remembering Rose Braz: Watch the Livestream

In loving memory of Rose Braz
August 4, 1961 – May 3, 2017

Sunday July 30, 2017

2-5 pm

Celebrate Rose Braz July 30, 2pm at San Francisco’s Brava Theater

Remembering Rose Braz

REMEMBERING ROSE BRAZ

SUNDAY, JULY 30, 2017

2:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Brava! for Women In the Arts

2781 24th Street, San Francisco, CA

Please RSVP using Evite: http://evite.me/TZXGP2YddY


Dear Friends,

As you know, Rose Braz passed away  on May 3rd, more than three years after she had been diagnosed with brain cancer.  We hope you will join us to celebrate Rose’s remarkable life on July 30.  There will be 2:30 pm program with reception to follow. Doors open at 2:00 pm.

Rose Braz, the Greatest Human We Ever Met

Before she died, Rose asked that any memorial donations on her behalf be given to Wild Equity. We also would like to share some background about the significance of  Wild Equity  in Rose’s life.

Wild Equity was founded in 2009 by Rose’s husband, Brent Plater, and Rose proudly served as chairwoman of Wild Equity’s board of directors. Wild Equity combined two central themes from Rose’s life—her commitment to social justice and to the protection of nature.

Specifically, our work focuses on projects that highlight and redress the inequitable relationships across our human communities while improving our relationship to the lands in which we live.

Wild Equity is perhaps best known for two campaigns in the San Francisco Bay Area. One campaign has involved challenging the large concentration of gas burning power plants near the Antioch Dunes. The pollution from these facilities directly threatens endangered butterfly and wildflowers species in the dunes and the diverse moderate-to-low-income communities nearby, as well contributing to global warming.  Another campaign opposes the harm to the rare coastal wildlife habitat in Sharp Park from a money-losing golfing facility, and Wild Equity has championed the protection and restoration of the area as a national park while reinvesting the money saved by closing the golf course into San Francisco’s community services.

Rose at a Rally to Restore Sharp Park

The fact that Rose asked that her friends direct their memorial donations to the Wild Equity Institute reflects her deep love for Brent and the work he does as Wild Equity’s executive director, and it is also a tribute to Rose’s unflagging commitment to social and environmental justice. If you would like to make a donation in Rose’s honor please visit the Rose Braz Memorial Fund at the Wild Equity Institute.

Thank you,

The Board of Directors, Wild Equity Institute

Rose Braz Has Died, But She Is Not Going Away

Rose on Kauai, 2015.

Rose on Kauai, 2015.


Rose Braz, Chairperson and co-founder of Wild Equity, died on May 3, 2017 after a 40-month fight with brain cancer.  

We have lost the most beloved person we have ever known.  But Rose taught us to be better advocates, nurtured us to become better people. Those lessons live on in us all, so as she told Governor Brown not long ago Rose Braz is not going away:



To continue Rose’s vision Wild Equity has established the Rose Braz Memorial Fund.  Please contribute today so we can advance Rose’s vision for a more just and sustainable world.  Read more about Rose’s incredible life below, and thank you for loving Rose!



The incomparable, beloved Rose Braz

Renowned and beloved San Francisco environmental and human liberation activist Rosemarie Braz died after a three-year battle with brain cancer. She was 55.

Rose’s wide circle of friends and colleagues grieve the loss of a woman who gave so generously of herself and embodied a kindness of heart that her community is deeply sad to lose.

Rose grew up in Concord, California with her brother Joe and parents Ray and Rosalie Braz.  She liked to joke about her first job at Taco Bell. Initially excited to work at her favorite childhood restaurant, it took all of one day for cranky customers and managers to send Rose racing for the exit door, never to return.

Rose with her family, including brother Joe (top left), mother Rosalie (on Rose’s left), and father Ray (on Rosalie’s left).

She graduated from Carondelet High School in Concord in 1979 and then went on to become the first of her working-class Portuguese-American family to attend college, earning a degree from UC Berkeley in 1983. Rose worked her way through college while also volunteering to counsel draft resisters and smashing patriarchy with the Women’s Liberation Front.

Rose with the UC Berkeley Women's Liberation Front

Rose with the UC Berkeley Women’s Liberation Front

After graduating, Rose was hired as a staffer for Speaker of the California Assembly, Willie Brown. She continued her involvement in campus organizing and was a leader of the Campaign against Apartheid, where she developed a reputation as a fiercely dedicated and gifted organizer and a persistent thorn in the side of the UC Regents. She participated in the blockading of a South African cargo ship in San Francisco and in the 1986 Shantytown protest outside the UC Chancellor’s office that led to the university’s total divestment from companies doing business in South Africa.

Rose at Sproul Shanty Town Protests

Rose in the middle of the UC Berkeley Shantytown Protest

In 1987, Rose travelled through Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia and then taught English at the Danhiko Project, a Zimbabwean secondary school and vocational training center serving disabled ex-combatants and refugees from South Africa, Mozambique, and Namibia. There, she also oversaw the creation of the school library and the publication of the school’s first magazine. Her dedication, patience and love are still remembered there and even twenty years later, copies of her magazine, “Progress,” were still on the counter in the library.

Rose with Danhiko Project students and friend Ross Hammond

While traveling in South Africa, Rose refused to ride the apartheid buses and caused a stir at a bus station when she insisted on boarding a “black bus” instead of the “whites only” bus that the driver insisted she take.

Upon returning to California in 1989, Rose enrolled in the UC Berkeley School of Law. At law school, she was a leader of a campaign to diversify the school’s largely white, male faculty. She interned at the East Bay Community Law Center and the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

After graduating from law school in 1992, Rose worked for several years as a criminal defense attorney, defending political protestors, among others, and advocating for the release of political prisoners.

Rose & allies visit prisoners at Pelican Bay

Rose co-founded Critical Resistance, the movement that would become the first national organization dedicated to the abolition of the prison industrial complex. Rose was the organization’s first staff – hired in 1999 – and a key leader for 13 years, during which time the organization became a powerful force in fights against prison expansion and criminalization. Thanks to Rose’s vision, which Ruthie Wilson Gilmore characterized as “a restless, impatient, inspired political imagination,” Critical Resistance forged enduring alliances between anti-prison and environmental and social justice organizations including public sector labor unions.

Rose Braz at Critical Resistance Protest

Rose Braz at Critical Resistance protest

 In 2003, Rose co-founded the Coalition for Effective Public Safety and Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) to combat the state’s ability to expand its prison system and to redirect resources from imprisonment toward life-affirming programs and services.

Rose and her dog, Charlotte, planning for a safer Oakland

Rose’s persistence, creativity and moral clarity helped the idea of abolishing the prison industrial complex take root across the country. Her unique ability to speak directly to people’s fears, while articulating the optimism of abolition helped move the idea of abolition from the realm of the inconceivable to the imaginable. The fact that so many people self-identify today as abolitionists is in no small part due to Rose’s efforts and vision.

Angela Davis said, “The international abolitionist movement owes a greater debt to Rose Braz than can ever be adequately acknowledged. Rose has always modeled the dedication, compassion, and humility that distinguish our very best social justice leaders. I consider myself one of the many who have been profoundly inspired by her example. Wherever there is struggle, resistance, and dreams of a better future, Rose’s spirit and legacy will be secure.”

In 2008, Rose married Brent Plater, an environmental attorney who founded the Wild Equity Institute, where she served as Chairperson of the Board of Directors. Rose and Brent took in and loved two rescue dogs, Charlotte and, later, Frosty, famous for their endearingly quirky personalities.  

From L-R: brother Joe, uncle Ed, Rose, husband Brent Plater, & father Ray.

Rose with her Dogs

Rose with Frosty (L) and Charlotte the Dog (R)

From 2009 until her death, Rose pursued her other great professional passion, environmental protection, as Climate Campaign Director for the Center for Biological Diversity. There, she founded the Center’s grassroots climate organizing program and launched several influential national climate and anti-fracking coalitions.

She ran the Clean Air Cities campaign, which spurred nearly 100 cities to pass resolutions in support of using the Clean Air Act to slash greenhouse pollution. In 2013, she co-founded Californians Against Fracking, a statewide coalition of more than 200 organizations working to ban fracking in California, and helped pass fracking bans in six California counties.

A tireless, fierce and deeply empathetic organizer, Rose coined the phrase “Climate Leaders Don’t Frack” and led the ongoing campaign to compel Gov. Jerry Brown to ban fracking in the Golden State. She worked constantly to build and strengthen ties between climate, environmental and social justice, labor and faith organizations.

Rose Braz in 2014.

“Rose Braz brought people and organizations together better than anyone I have ever known,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute.  “She believed that when we work together, we will win.  Those of us striving to ban fracking, keep fossil fuels in the ground, and solve the climate crisis will be forever guided and inspired by her example.”

Rose will be remembered by the San Francisco Bay Area activist community as a smart, gifted, compassionate and committed organizer who always put the cause ahead of personal ambition and ego and worked tirelessly behind the scenes and in the limelight. For her friends and family, she was a kind, funny, generous, supportive, loving, loyal and beautiful woman who loved hiking, birding, dancing, traveling, animals, chocolate, the Warriors, and the movie Dirty Dancing, which she’s rumored to have watched 20 times. 

Rose was the heart and soul of every liberation movement she joined, piercing the armor of the oppressors with her thorns and comforting those in pain with her soft petals. That was our Rose—freedom fighter, friend, sister, daughter, wife. She will be missed greatly and remembered and loved forever.

Rose is survived by her beloved husband, brother and father.

Donations in Rose’s honor can be made to the Rose Braz Memorial Fund at the Wild Equity Institute.

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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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Last Chance for the Beautiful Serpent?

Will San Francisco squander one of the last opportunities to help the endangered San Francisco Garter Snake?  

Unless you stand with us now, the City of St. Francis probably will.  

San Francisco Garter Snakes!

Is it too late for our namesake snake?

For years Wild Equity has been leading the fight against the money-losing, endangered species-killing Sharp Park Golf Course.  

In the first weeks of 2017 we will lead a challenge to a terrible plan to redevelop the golf course, a plan that the City just authorized a few weeks ago.

But we can’t do it alone.  When you join Wild Equity, you make sure San Francisco creates a more just and sustainable community for all: including North America’s most beautiful serpent.

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



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.


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Values, Market Value, and Non-Profit Management

Brent Plater, Executive Director, Wild Equity

Brent Plater, Executive Director, Wild Equity


Thursday, March 24, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Brent Plater, executive director of the Wild Equity Institute, will give a presentation to the BAIA (Business Association Italy America) Bay Area Italian Executive Business Network. Mr. Plater will pull from his experience managing and working for local, small non-profits to describe how non-profit executives can address the challenge of acquiring resources to invest in their mission and transform market value into an expansion of non-profits values.

RSVP here: http://www.meetup.com/BAIA-Executives/events/227008819/

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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.

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What do Elizabeth Taylor, Barry Bonds, and the Wild Equity Institute Have in Common?

The classic beauty, the troubled slugger, and the Wild Equity Institute’s campaign to restore Sharp Park were all on the front page of the San Francisco chronicle on Thursday, March 24, 2011.
Click here to see a .pdf of the article in today’s San Francisco Chronicle.

Now send a letter to the editor
thanking the paper for running this important story. Remind all San Franciscans that all the available evidence indicates that Sharp Park was once a backbarrier fresh to brackish lagoon, not a saline tidal lagoon as the proponents of the status quo allege in this article. That means we can restore the natural system while preserving endangered species at Sharp Park. In the process we’ll build a better public park with recreation opportunities everyone can enjoy.

 

Bay Climate Defense Project Seeks Partners & Volunteers

Sea Level Rise Will Disproportionately Impact Bay Area’s Low Income Communities

The San Francisco Bay is the largest estuarine system on the West Coast of the United States. About one-third of the Bay was lost to infill development by the mid-1900s, and plans were underway to fill another third of the Bay. But a grassroots organizing effort halted Bay infill, and today vibrant and diverse communities ring San Francisco Bay and share this resource with extensive wetland habitats for migratory birds and other wildlife.

But now sea level rise caused by global warming threatens these protected areas and communities. If existing predictions about sea level rise are correct, the San Francisco Bay’s waters will likely rise 55 inches this century, drowning habitat for threatened and endangered species and putting 270,000 people—more people than Hurricane Katrina displaced from Louisiana—at risk of global warming-induced flooding. In more than half of the counties that ring San Francisco Bay, these people are disproportionately low-income communities of color, many of which already live in proximity to environmental hazards.

In 2010, the Wild Equity institute will launch a campaign to ensure that the Bay’s wild places and at-risk communities are given due consideration in sea-level rise planning processes. If you are interested in partnering with us, or know of others who may be interested in this campaign, e-mail us at info@wildequity.org.

Climate, Coral Reefs, and Equity

Coral reefs provide billions of dollars of economic benefits to the world, and some 30 million of the poorest people on the planet are completely dependent on reefs for their livelihood and survival.

But a new report on climate and biodiversity suggests that if we fail to stabilize carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere at 350 parts per million or less, coral reefs will not survive. If our reefs are lost, some of the world’s poorest, most vulnerable people will be further impoverished.

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (“TEEB”) study makes these claims in a climate update released recently on the TEEB website.

The link between how we treat each other and how we treat other forms of life becomes more apparent as our climate warms and our policy makers fail to take action. The poor and disenfranchised—along with our imperiled species and ecosystems—are bearing the brunt of this failure, and the longer we wait the more likely that these consequences will be catastrophic and irreparable.

Trinidad and Tobago Climate Change Consultation

It is simply unjust for wealthy nations to debate climate change while species are lost and poor communities are put at risk. The Wild Equity Institute is currently commenting on climate policies in Trinidad and Tobago and building a Bay Climate Defense initiative to ensure that low income and wild communities are protected from the worst impacts from climate change. Donate today to help us ensure corals and our communities can thrive.

In the meantime, Join Bonnie Raitt, James Hansen, the Center for Biological Diversity, 350.org, and many others by signing this petition to request that the EPA cap carbon emissions at 350ppm.