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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.  

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!

Wild Equity Challenges EPA’s Motion to Dismiss

Appearing before a federal judge in Oakland on October 21st, Wild Equity challenged the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s ongoing failure to protect communities and endangered species in Antioch, CA, from a PG&E power plant that emits tons of nitrogen pollution annually, poisoning sensitive wildlife habitats and irritating the lungs of community members.


The Gateway Generating Station poses a threat to the health and livelihood of local communities and the federally protected Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, Contra Costa Wallflower, and Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose.

The lawsuit centers on the operation of Gateway Generating Station, owned and operated by Pacific Gas & Electric. The EPA allowed the power plant to pollute without consulting with the U.S. 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.


As of this year, the adult population of Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly was 108, a truly devastating collapse from the 25,000 that had inhabited the Refuge earlier last century. For years, the population has remained gravely low.

At the hearing the EPA asked the Judge to avoid the merits of the case. Given that the EPA’s sister agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service, is on record supporting the legal position Wild Equity brought to the Judge (not to mention Wild Equity’s victory at a nearby power plant under similar arguments), the EPA’s desire to avoid the merits is unsurprising.

While Judge Hamilton has not yet made her ruling, we are confident that this case will result in a similar fashion to our Oakley case which resulted in a $2 million mitigation fund for community health and endangered species recovery: or else the facility can’t operate at all.

These figures are proportional to what the regulatory agencies demanded when power plants threatened a different butterfly and silicon valley communities over a decade ago. Wild Equity believes nitrogen pollution affecting the mostly blue collar, mostly minority communities near the Gateway facility should be just as much of a priority of the EPA as the pollution affecting Silicon Valley.

Judge Phyllis Hamilton is expected to make a ruling within the next few weeks. In the meantime, feel free to review our filings here.

Wild Equity’s Executive Director Brent Plater on Resistance Radio

‘One of the things I love about your work is that it bridges the gap between theory and work on the ground…
You seem to be manifesting that combination of theory and practice that I think is so important.’

– Derrick Jensen

Derrick Jensen is the author of numerous radical environmental volumes, including the highly critical Endgame, and is the co-founder of activist organization Deep Green Resistance. He has been called “the poet-philosopher of the ecological movement”* and now he’s taken an interest in the work we’re doing at Wild Equity.

In this radio interview, our Executive Director Brent Plater shares with Jensen his vision for uniting social justice and grassroots conservation in campaigns that build a more sustainable and just world for all. He provides detailed summaries of two of our ongoing campaigns, and gets down to brass tacks with his theory of building a movement, his goals for Wild Equity, how activists anywhere can reproduce our success, and more. Tune in to this thought-provoking inquiry now to find out how Wild Equity uniquely meets present day challenges to environmental and social justice activism. Enjoy!


Brent Plater, Executive Director of the Wild Equity Institute

Wild Equity Sues EPA for Failing to Curb PG&E Pollution in Antioch

For Immediate Release, June 3, 2015

Contact:  Brent Plater, bplater@wildequity.org, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989

Wild Equity Institute Sues EPA for Failing to Curb PG&E Pollution in Antioch


From L to R: Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, Contra Costa Wallflower, Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose


San Francisco, Calif.— Today the Wild Equity Institute filed an Endangered Species Act lawsuit in United States District Court against the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) for failing to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about the effects of PG&E’s power plant pollution on three endangered species found at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.

“EPA has its head in the Antioch Dunes’ sand when it comes to PG&E’s power plant pollution,” said Brent Plater, executive director at Wild Equity Institute. “Other power plants have already taken measures to protect local communities and imperiled plants and animals, and it’s time EPA ensures it, and the corporations it regulates, play by the same rules.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service has known for years that nitrogen pollution from power plants near the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge is “virtually certain” to cause Antioch Dunes’ endangered species to go extinct. Because of this, the agency formally requested that EPA comply with the Endangered Species Act by “consulting” over PG&E’s power plant pollution’s effects on endangered species at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge. The EPA has repeatedly refused to do so, even though another nearby power plant recently agreed to mitigate its pollution in response to Endangered Species Act claims.

Today’s lawsuit demands that EPA comply with the Endangered Species Act by initiating the requested consultation process, and ultimately address the impacts power plant pollution has on the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge and the plants and animals that call the refuge home. Matt Kenna, Public Interest Environmental Law and of Counsel, Western Environmental Law Center, is co-counsel with Mr. Plater in the case.

Background on the Gateway Generating Station and the Antioch Dunes Endangered Species


PG&E’s Gateway Generating Station


Gateway Generating Station is a large, natural-gas-fired power plant in Antioch, California that pollutes nearby communities, worsens the global climate crisis, and threatens the survival of three endangered species: the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, the Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose, and the Contra Costa Wallflower.

For many years Wild Equity has informed the EPA and PG&E that they must work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to assess the impacts of Gateway’s nitrogen emissions on the butterfly, as required under the Endangered Species Act. However, to date the EPA and PG&E have not fulfilled this legal duty.

The Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose, and the Contra Costa Wallflower have been protected by the federal Endangered Species Act for almost 40 years. They are 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 emitted from Gateway changes the chemical composition of the dunes, creating soil conditions that are only suitable for the growth of invasive weeds. Under these polluted conditions, these species’ habitats are invaded by invasive weeds that would otherwise be unable to grow on the endangered species’ native landscapes.

Gateway’s emissions also harm local communities by contributing more ozone pollution and soot to an area already disproportionately overwhelmed by power plant pollution.


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/

###

Antioch Dunes

During an inter-glacial period approximately 140,000 years ago, a network of sand dunes and desert environments stretched from the location of the modern-day Mojave Desert across the Central Valley to the San Joaquin River. As California’s climate changed the dunes retreated, but a stretch of desert-like habitat was left behind along the San Joaquin near Antioch, California.

The isolation of this area in Antioch allowed the species found there to evolve into unique life forms found nowhere else on Earth. Today the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge protects the remnants of these habitats, upon which three federally protected species depend: the Contra Costa Wallflower, the Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose, and the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.

Prior to European settlement, the Antioch Dunes were probably several hundred acres in size. Currently, because of past sand mining, agriculture, and urban development, only about 70 acres of the sand dune habitat remains, all within the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.

Today these areas are threatened by a new mechanism: nitrogen deposition. The California Energy Commission has approved five natural gas power plants within roughly one mile of the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge. The power plants have and will have significant nitrogen emissions. Sand dunes like the Antioch Dunes are nitrogen deficient, and the changes in plant and microbial communities resulting from increased amounts of the airborne deposition of this chemical has been documented to cause cascading negative effects on ecosystem processes and the species that depend upon the structure of the existing native plant community. One of the primary adverse effects is the enhancement of environmental conditions for the invasion of non-native weeds, which outcompete native plants.

The Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, the Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose, and the Contra Costa Wildflower are all highly endangered, and even small changes in the plant distribution at the dunes could take these species, adversely modify critical habitat, impede recovery, and even cause the species to go extinct. In particular, the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly is so critically endangered that a single failure in the productivity of the species host plant could lead to the permanent extinction of the species.

Moreover, the power plants are concentrating large amounts of pollution in a diverse, moderate- to low-income community—in no small part because of environmental justice gains in more organized communities that prevented power plants from being built there. Antioch is the last stop for many power plant projects—and the local community’s air quality suffers because of it.

The Wild Equity Institute is working with conservation, environmental justice, and social service organizations to reduce emissions from these power plants so that people and the plants and animals that live near the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge can thrive.

Photoset: Revitalizing the Antioch Dunes

Recently, Wild Equity was proud to get together with our longstanding partners at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge to work on rejuvenating the precious imperiled ecosystem that is present there. We were privileged to plant young, hand-reared Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose and Contra Costa Wallflower throughout this protected habitat. If all goes well, these specimens will flourish, and we’ll be back to count them in the summer! Stay tuned!

Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose on the right, Contra Costa Wallflower on the left.

One of our baby primroses!

Each little orange flag is a flower we planted. Good work, team!

Satisfying work.

Thanks so much to Molly, the director of our ally group Tatzoo, for making an appearance!

It’s good to really get your hands dirty once in a while.

Nothing more vital to restoration efforts than devoted long-time volunteers.

And here’s what all this work was for: a gorgeous, fully mature, specimen of the Contra Costa Wallflower that bloomed a little early just for us to see.

A stark reminder of the fragility of this beautiful place and the plants and animals that inhabit it: “One careless cigarette or match could exterminate the last remaining population of the Lange’s Metalmark butterfly.”

Join Wild Equity Today!

2014 has been a challenging year. On December 20, 2013, Rose Braz—Wild Equity’s Chairperson, my wife, and the person I call “the greatest human I’ve ever met” without reservation—had a seizure. That Christmas Eve she was diagnosed with an invasive and aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma.

It was the scariest moment we’ve ever faced.


Too many days were spent like this in 2014.

Our lives have been transformed. Rose has since had two brain surgeries and endured radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Much of my time has been dedicated to Rose’s care, and searching the literature for treatments that may fight this disease.

This time last year we knew next to nothing about brain cancer. Since then we’ve learned that many researchers now believe there will not be a “silver bullet” cure for glioblastoma. It is much more likely that a cure will be forged from several different treatments, each fighting a different aspect of the disease.

We transformed what we learned into a treatment “cocktail” that seems to be working. Rose’s latest scans are clear, and she’s still fighting fracking throughout California.


Rose rallying thousands just days after treatment.

What is most striking about this seemingly insurmountable challenge is that our struggles and insights parallel Wild Equity’s theory of change.

Wild Equity believes that no one strategy or technique will solve our systemic problems, so we wield a variety of tools—education, public relations, litigation, & grassroots organizing and lobbying—to win campaigns and create a sustainable and just world.

More so than any other Bay Area organization, Wild Equity has the suite of skills needed to wield each of these tools successfully, and we’ve demonstrated our effectiveness in wielding them time and again.

Now more than ever we need you to reinvest in our work: please renew your membership and/or make a tax-deductible contribution to the Wild Equity Institute today.

Even during this exacting year, your support has helped Wild Equity make great strides towards a more just and sustainable community for all:

  • You helped us bring another lawsuit against the endangered species-killing Sharp Park Golf Course. With Save the Frogs! & Sequoia Audubon, Wild Equity is challenging Sharp Park Golf Course’s new attempt to drain critical wetlands for endangered species. With each successful claim we not only help wildlife, we increase the odds that San Francisco will stop wasting funds on this wildlife-killing golf course, and redirect them to San Francisco’s most impoverished neighborhood parks.


Photo © Liam O’Brien

These victories are exceptional; with your support we can accomplish even more in 2015:

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!

With deepest gratitude,

Brent Plater, Executive Director

Rose Braz, Chairperson

PS — Don’t forget to buy an “I ‘Bird’ SF” shirt for you and everyone you love! All sizes are currently in stock. Thank you!

Tonight’s the Night: Wild Equity’s Anniversary Celebration!

Tonight’s the night: Wild Equity’s five year anniversary celebration!  A limited number of tickets have been reserved for sale at the door for only $15, so come on by! 

Thursday November 6th, 6pm,

at the Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics 

Thank you from all of us at Wild Equity!



Wild Equity Party

These are not actors: it’s an actual scene from Wild Equity’s most recent bash!!

Buy Your Ticket Now!



 

Nov. 6, 6pm: Five Years Fighting, Wild Equity’s Anniversary Celebration!

On November 6th, 6pm, at the Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics Wild Equity will be proudly celebrating our five year anniversary! That’s right, it’s already been Five Years Fighting, and we’ve decided to throw you, the people who’ve made Wild Equity possible, a party!

Please join us for food, drinks, games, goodies, and most importantly good company! We’ll have live music by singer/songwriter Kristin Plater, as well as an outdoor gear raffle and vintage endangered species artwork up for auction at this celebratory end-of-year fundraiser. We’ll also showcase what we’ve accomplished to date, and, of course, show how we intend to keep Wild Equity’s momentum growing!

Tickets are on sale now for only $15! Space is limited, so reserve yours today!
(No one turned away for lack of funds.)

We can’t wait to see you!

Elite Students Complete Wild Equity/FWS Conservation Internship

Wild Equity Institute Staff Attorney Laura Horton ended a year-long project with the Toyota TogetherGreen fellowship program on August 8, 2014. Laura received a grant from the TTG program in September, 2013, and created a project that brought together high school students and teachers, government land managers, and environmental advocates in an effort to save the highly endangered Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly. The project centered around the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, and Laura facilitated a two-part restoration program with Antioch High School students.

During the spring, Laura brought sixty students from Antioch High School to the Refuge to engage in native plant restoration and invasive removal. During the summer, Three students, Daja Miller, Adeeb Nazam, and Emily Hendricks, were awarded a summer internship with the Fish and Wildlife Service. The summer program included intensive hands-on training in land and wildlife management as well as a behind the scenes look at the California Academy of Sciences.


From L to R: Liz Reynolds, Adeeb Nazam, Emily Hendricks, Daja Miller, Louis Terrazas, Laura Horton.

On Friday, August 8th, the summer participants gathered at the Fish and Wildlife field office in Petaluma with friends and family to celebrate the successful program. Also in attendance were Laura and Fish and Wildlife employees including biotech Liz Reynolds and Wildlife Refuge Specialist Louis Terrazas, who acted as Refuge supervisors to the students.

Rick Barton, Environmental Studies Academy director at Antioch High School, plans to continue the relationship with Wild Equity and the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge in the future. Here’s to building new conservation leaders!

Federal Judge Tells EPA: No More Delays on Wild Equity Institute’s Antioch Dunes Petition

For Immediate Release, July 8, 2014

Contact:  Laura Horton, lhorton@wildequity.org, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 235-0492

Federal Judge Tells EPA: No More Delays on Wild Equity Institute’s Antioch Dunes Petition

San Francisco, Calif.—Yesterday a federal court judge ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to respond to Wild Equity Institute’s concerns over the impacts of PG&E’s power plant pollution on community health and the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, one of North America’s most imperiled species.

“EPA has ignored PG&E’s pollution problem long enough,” said Laura Horton, Staff Attorney at Wild Equity Institute. “The agency’s delay has put the local community and the highly endangered Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly at risk, and the federal court agrees it is time for EPA to step up.”

metalmark8-25-11_large_medium 2
Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, August 17, 2012.
Photo © Liam O’Brien, http://www.sfbutterfly.com.


Last year, Wild Equity filed a petition with EPA over a permit issued to PG&E’s Gateway facility under Title V of the Clean Air Act. Gateway’s proposed permit failed to include air pollution control requirements to protect endangered species and the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, even though Title V permits must include “all applicable” requirements.

Wild Equity demonstrated this failure to both EPA and the local permitting agency, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, through a formal legal petition process established by the Clean Air Act. The petition process requires EPA to respond to the petition within 60 days. However, EPA failed to respond to this petition at all and the proposed permit became final. Wild Equity then filed a lawsuit against EPA in March of this year to compel the agency to respond to the petition.

Federal court judge James Donato in the Northern District of California questioned EPA’s long delay in responding to Wild Equity’s petition, and ordered the agency to take action on the petition and provide a substantive response to Wild Equity’s concerns by October 17, 2014.

There are only a few dozen Lange’s metalmark butterflies remaining in the world. The 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 independently demanded that EPA and PG&E consult with experts and mitigate Gateway Generating Station’s pollution.

Background on the Gateway Generating Station and the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.

Gateway Generating Station is a large, natural-gas-fired power plant in Antioch, California that pollutes nearby communities, worsens the global climate crisis, and threatens the survival of the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.

Wild Equity has for years been informing EPA and PG&E that they must work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to assess the impacts of Gateway’s nitrogen emissions on the butterfly, as required under the Endangered Species Act. However, to date EPA and PG&E have not fulfilled this legal duty.

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 emitted from Gateway changes the chemical composition of the dunes, creating soil conditions that are only suitable for the growth of invasive weeds. Under these polluted conditions, the butterfly’s host plant is lost to the 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.


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/

###

Wild Equity’s Laura Horton Kicks Off Summer Program with Antioch Students to Protect Endangered Butterfly

Wild Equity Staff Attorney Laura Horton kicked off the summer component of her Toyota TogetherGreen project last week at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge. The project, funded by a Toyota and National Audubon Society grant, was created to engage high school students in the protection of local endangered species at the Refuge through education and restoration in collaboration with Louis Terrazas of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Rick Barton of Antioch High School. The project consists of a spring program, aimed at bringing larger groups to the Refuge for high-impact restoration, and an application-based summer program, which focuses on specialized land management training for a small group. Students in the summer program also receive a stipend for their work.


Summer participants Adeeb Nazam, Daja Miller, and Emily Hendricks with Laura Horton (left to right).

Sixty students participated in the successful spring restoration program, and the project was featured in Examiner.com and Contra Costa Times. Following the spring program, Laura gave a presentation to the students in April on environmental jobs and invited them to apply to the summer program.

Antioch High School students Daja Miller, Adeeb Nazam, and Emily Hendricks were chosen to participate in the summer program, among many talented applicants. Daja is a recent Antioch High School graduate who will be attending Howard University in the fall and majoring in biology. She is very passionate about fair treatment for animals and helping others. Adeeb also recently graduated from Antioch High School. He has a strong interest in helping animals and working on environmental issues. Emily will be starting her junior year at Antioch High School in the fall. Her passion is learning about nature and the environment and she has worked on several conservation projects in the past.

Daja, Adeeb, and Emily will gain valuable land management and conservation skills at the Refuge and will also have the opportunity to collaborate with students from nearby schools. In addition, they will receive a stipend and certificate for their hard work, which will directly contribute to the conservation of endangered species at the Refuge, including the highly endangered Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.


Antioch High School’s Rick Barton and Fish and Wildlife Service
Refuge Manager Louis Terrazas (left to right).


The students will help plant native plants such as the naked-stemmed buckwheat;
the host plant for the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.

Wild Equity Institute Sues EPA for Failing to Curb PG&E Pollution in Antioch

For Immediate Release, March 26, 2014

Contact:  Laura Horton, lhorton@wildequity.org, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 235-0492

Wild Equity Institute Sues EPA for Failing to Curb PG&E Pollution in Antioch

San Francisco, Calif.— The Wild Equity Institute today filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) for failing to address the impacts of PG&E’s power plant pollution on community health and one of North America’s most imperiled species: the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, which is found only at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.

“PG&E needs to play by the same rules as everyone else,” said Laura Horton, Staff Attorney at Wild Equity Institute. “Other power plants have already taken measures to do right by communities and our imperiled wildlife, and EPA cannot let PG&E off the hook just because the utility is the biggest player on the block.”

metalmark8-25-11_large_medium 2
Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly photo © Liam O’Brien, http://sfbutterfly.com


EPA’s legal violation involves Title V of the Clean Air Act. Title V is a permit process that applies to “major sources” of pollution such as PG&E’s Gateway Generating Station, and results in a permit that incorporates “all applicable” air pollution control requirements in a single set of documents.

A proposed Title V permit for Gateway was released last year, and shockingly it failed to include air pollution control requirements to protect endangered species and the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, even though another power plant a few miles down the road agreed to mitigate its pollution this past year.

Wild Equity demonstrated this failure to both EPA and the local permitting agency, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, through a formal legal petition process established by the Clean Air Act. The petition process requires EPA to respond to the petition within 60 days. However, the EPA has failed to respond to this petition at all—and in the interim, the proposed permit became final, without any provisions in place to protect the Lange’s metalmark butterfly.

There are only a few dozen Lange’s metalmark butterflies remaining in the world. The 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 independently demanded that the EPA and PG&E consult with experts and mitigate Gateway Generating Station’s pollution.

Background on the Gateway Generating Station and the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.

Gateway Generating Station is a large, natural-gas-fired power plant in Antioch, California that pollutes nearby communities, worsens the global climate crisis, and threatens the survival of the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.

Wild Equity has for years been informing the EPA and PG&E that they must work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to assess the impacts of Gateway’s nitrogen emissions on the butterfly, as required under the Endangered Species Act. However, to date the EPA and PG&E have not fulfilled this legal duty.

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 emitted from Gateway changes the chemical composition of the dunes, creating soil conditions that are only suitable for the growth of invasive weeds. Under these polluted conditions, the butterfly’s host plant is lost to the 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.


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/

###

Antioch High School Students Help Restore Butterfly Habitat

The National Audubon Society and Toyota recently recognized Wild Equity’s Staff Attorney Laura Horton as a conservation leader with the prestigious Toyota TogetherGreen fellowship. Laura is using the grant from Toyota TogetherGreen fellowship to involve students from Antioch High School in the restoration efforts at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge in Antioch, CA.

In January and February, 60 students and Laura collaborated with employees from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove invasive plants and plant 500 native plants, including the endangered Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose and the naked-stemmed buckwheat. Naked-stemmed buckwheat is the host plant for the endangered Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly. Laura’s project with the Antioch High School students will continue through the summer, culminating in a community-wide event with parents, teachers, and students celebrating the students’ achievements through their restoration efforts.

Wild Equity Staff Attorney Wins Prestigious Award

For Immediate Release, November 6, 2013

Contacts:
Laura Horton, Wild Equity Institute, lhorton@wildequity.org, (415) 235-0492
Agatha Szczepaniak, Audubon, aszczepaniak@audubon.org, (212) 979-3197

LAURA HORTON RECEIVES
AUDUBON TOYOTA TOGETHERGREEN FELLOWSHIP

Prestigious National Award and $10,000 Grant
Furthers Efforts of Local Environmental Leader

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.— Toyota and the National Audubon Society today announced that a Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowship will be awarded to a San Francisco-based environmental attorney. After a competitive nationwide selection process, Wild Equity’s Laura Horton was selected for the year-long fellowship program and a $10,000 grant.

Audubon and Toyota select 40 high-potential conservation leaders to receive Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowships each year. With their $10,000 grants, Toyota TogetherGreen Fellows conduct community projects to engage diverse audiences in habitat, water or energy conservation. In addition to receiving support to help launch their conservation initiatives, Toyota TogetherGreen Fellows also benefit from specialized training and membership in a diverse national network of conservation professionals.

Horton will launch a project to engage high school students in the protection of local endangered species at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge through education and restoration in collaboration with the Fish and Wildlife Service, Antioch High School, and past TTG fellows.

“This project will bring together students, teachers, refuge specialists, and activists in an effort toprotect the environment,” said Horton. “Wildlife and public health in Antioch are at risk and we will all work collaboratively to build a healthier and more sustainable community.”

The Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowship Program invests in conservation leaders of all backgrounds, providing them with resources, visibility and a growing peer network to help them lead communities nationwide to a healthier environmental future. Since 2008, 240 conservation leaders from across the country have been awarded Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowships. They have engaged nearly 150,000 people in a wide variety of conservation efforts nationwide.

“Toyota TogetherGreen Fellows help people engage with nature. They look like America: diverse, passionate and patriotic,” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold (@david_yarnold). “They are environmental heroes and we’re excited to give them a chance to invent the future.”

A complete list of 2013 Toyota TogetherGreen Fellows and details about their conservation projects can be found at www.togethergreen.org/fellows.

About Wild Equity Institute
The Wild Equity Institute unites the grassroots conservation and environmental justice movements in campaigns that build a healthy and sustainable global community for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth. Our team of experts in law, management, design, and education accelerates the transition to this more equitable world through innovative, education programs, nature-inspired design, science-based petitions, and vigorous enforcement of environmental laws.

About Toyota TogetherGreen
Toyota and the National Audubon Society launched the Toyota TogetherGreen initiative in 2008 to foster diverse environmental leadership and invest in innovative conservation ideas. Toyota
TogetherGreen funding recipients have improved more than 30,000 acres of habitat, mobilized 420,000 individuals, conserved 15 million gallons of water and leveraged $10.5 million in volunteer hours. For more information, visit www.togethergreen.org.

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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EPA, PG&E Fail to Protect Endangered Butterfly–Again

For Immediate Release, December 17, 2013

Contact:  Laura Horton, lhorton@wildequity.org, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 235-0492

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PG&E Fail to Protect Endangered Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly—Again

ANTIOCH, Calif.— The Wild Equity Institute today submitted a legal notice of its intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) for yet again failing to address the impacts of PG&E’s power plant pollution on one of North America’s most imperiled species: the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, which is found only at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.

“At every step of the way, EPA and PG&E have let down our community, our national wildlife refuge, and the most imperiled butterfly in the state,” said Laura Horton, Staff Attorney at Wild Equity Institute. “It is time to do what is right and protect this endangered butterfly before it is too late.”

metalmark8-25-11_large_medium 2
Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly photo © Liam O’Brien, http://sfbutterfly.com

 

The most recent legal violation involves Title V of the Clean Air Act. Title V applies to “major sources” of pollution such as the Gateway Generating Station, and results in a permit that incorporates “all applicable” air pollution control requirements in a single set of documents. 

Recently a proposed Title V permit for Gateway was released, and shockingly it failed to include air pollution control requirements to protect endangered species and the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.

Wild Equity demonstrated this failure to the EPA through a “petition” process established by the CAA, which required the EPA to respond to the petition within 60 days.  However, the EPA has failed to respond to this petition at all—and in the interim, the proposed permit became final, without any provisions in place to protect the Lange’s metalmark butterfly.

There are only a few dozen Lange’s metalmark butterflies remaining in the world. The 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 independently demanded that the EPA and PG&E consult with experts and mitigate Gateway Generating Station’s pollution.

Background on the Gateway Generating Station and the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.

Gateway Generating Station is a large, natural-gas-fired power plant in Antioch, California, that pollutes nearby communities, worsens the global climate crisis, and threatens the survival of the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.

Wild Equity has for years been informing the EPA and PG&E that they must work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to assess the impacts of Gateway’s nitrogen emissions on the butterfly, as required under the Endangered Species Act. However, to date the EPA and PG&E have not fulfilled this legal duty.

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 emitted from Gateway changes the chemical composition of the dunes, creating soil conditions that are only suitable for the growth of invasive weeds. Under these polluted conditions, the butterfly’s host plant is lost to the 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.



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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Help Us Grow in 2014!!!

“What do you get out of it? Why do you keep trying?”

The reporter’s questions caught me off-guard. I had been expecting to discuss Wild Equity’s role protecting the Franciscan Manzanita—a gorgeous plant presumed extinct in the wild for decades, but now on the verge of reintroduction throughout the City. I hadn’t anticipated the need to defend my life’s purpose.

As my mind considered the questions, I realized that only my heart could answer them. “I get a chance to make the world more equitable, more beautiful,” I replied. “I know the odds are long, but thousands of people have trusted in our ability to make this vision reality. When I’m toiling away late at night, pouring over thousands of pages of government documents or pounding away at another legal brief, I reflect on how grateful I am for their support, and it makes all the sacrifices worthwhile.”

When the SF Weekly article finally came out, it emphasized Wild Equity’s work protecting this miracle plant, and noted that we’ve won “a number of other high-profile lawsuits in the name of conservation, including this summer’s triumph over Sharp Park Golf Course for killing endangered red-legged frogs and garter snakes.”

But it failed to note that these conservation victories aren’t ours alone. Your contributions—your commitment to our vision, your trust in our staff, your donations to our programs—make each victory possible.

Now we are asking you to reinvest in our work: please make a tax-deductible contribution to the Wild Equity Institute today.

As the SF Weekly recognized, we’ve had a remarkable year making a difference against incredible odds:

These victories are remarkable: with your support we can accomplish even more in 2014:

  • Your contribution will create a better public park at Sharp Park, funding advocates who will fight for what you believe in at City Hall and in neighborhoods around the Bay Area.
  • Your contribution can halt other power plants that are polluting our communities and poisoning the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, retaining experts that will tell the butterfly’s story, before it is too late.
  • Your Contribution will help us run our successful education project, the Endangered Species Big Year, and support our two new Big Year staff: Clay Anderson and Marcela Maldonado, as they build new park advocates people throughout the Bay Area.

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!

Thank you from all of us at the Wild Equity Institute,

Brent Plater, Executive Director

with, from left to right:

Amy Zehring, Community Organizer

Marcela Maldonado, Project Coordinator

Clay Anderson, Project Coordinator

Laura Horton, Staff Attorney



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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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!

Wild Equity’s Antioch Dunes Victory Featured by Rose Foundation

The Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment features Wild Equity’s Brent Plater and our work protecting Antioch’s people and endangered species in the Foundation’s most recent newsletter.


Click the image to read the full article.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

A coalition of conservation and community advocates led by the Wild Equity Institute created a new $2 million grants fund at Rose Foundation dedicated to mitigating pollution in low-income communities in Antioch and Oakley, as well as to mitigating harm to endangered species at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, the last home of the critically imperiled Lange’s Metalmark butterfly.

In the past several years, the California Energy Commission authorized three new power plants within one mile of two existing power plants in Antioch. While the energy will be distributed to San Francisco and other urban areas, the concentrated emissions 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 to extinction.

As Brent Plater, Executive Director of Wild Equity Institute, a non-profit dedicated to building a healthy and sustainable global community for people, plants and animals, explains, “endangered species recovery efforts will take a giant leap forward and public health efforts in Antioch and Oakley will be recharged. By bringing grassroots conservation and environmental justice concerns together, we’ve improved the well-being of us all.”

Thank you Brent and the rest of the coalition! We’re honored to be entrusted with these funds and look forward to sending out the first Request for Proposals next year.

And we thank the Rose Foundation for supporting our work and inspiring us to create a more just and sustainable world for all!

Stay tuned for updates on the fund and additional actions we’ll be taking in Antioch to protect people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth.

Patagonia SF Selects Wild Equity for a 2013 Environmental Grant

Today Patagonia’s San Francisco store awarded Wild Equity $3,000 for our campaign protecting community health and endangered species near the Antioch Dunes.


Wild Equity’s Laura Horton, Amy Zehring, Brent Plater, Sarah Fliesher, and Virginia Delgado
receive $3,000 from Patagonia’s Niko George at the San Francisco store.

This award is just the latest example of the store’s generous support of our work. In 2011 Wild Equity was awarded the store’s Voice Your Choice Award, and the store’s grants and in-kind donations have helped nearly all of our projects.

Our heartfelt thanks to the entire Patagonia SF Crew for investing in our work, for keeping us warm and dry, and for being such a big part of our vision for a more just and fair world for all.

If you are interested in supporting our work, you can contribute online using our donation page today. There are many options to choose from: you can become a member, give a gift membership, obtain matching grants from your employer, volunteer, or donate office items, all through our donation page. Just let us know how you want to be involved: and thanks for all you do!

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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.

Wild Equity Lawsuit Brings Millions of Dollars to Antioch’s Communities, Endangered Species

For Immediate Release, July 8, 2013

Contacts:
Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989
Shana Lazerow, Communities for a Better Environment, (510) 302-0430 × 18
Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 436-9682 × 318

Legal Settlement Brings Millions of Dollars to
Antioch’s Communities and Endangered Species

ANTIOCH, Calif.— A legal settlement announced today requires a proposed natural gas-fired power plant to provide $2 million to mitigate pollution in low-income communities in Antioch and Oakley, Calif., as well as to mitigate harm to endangered species at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, the last home of the critically imperiled Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly. 

The settlement is the result of the efforts of a coalition of conservation and community advocates led by the Wild Equity Institute, Communities for a Better Environment and the Center for Biological Diversity.


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

“Endangered species recovery efforts will take a giant leap forward and public health efforts in Antioch and Oakley will be recharged,” said Brent Plater, executive director of the Wild Equity Institute. “By bringing grassroots conservation and environmental justice concerns together, we’ve improved the well-being of us all.”

The funds will be distributed by the Rose Foundation for Communities & the Environment, and will support public-health programs offered by La Clinica de la Raza in nearby Oakley; endangered species recovery efforts implemented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Antioch Dunes Wildlife Refuge; and other local institutions. Funding will be made available as early as December, many months in advance of the Oakley Generating Station’s starting date, and will continue for the next 10 years.

“We’re honored to have the opportunity to reinvest these funds back into the local communities and ecosystems that are most impacted by the pollution,” said Tim Little, executive director of the Rose Foundation.

“The funds will allow us to work with our community to prevent, control, and manage public health illnesses, including asthma. By investing in prevention, we hope to improve the well-being of the communities we serve as well as decrease health care costs,” said Jane García, La Clínica’s CEO.

In the past several years, the California Energy Commission has authorized three new power plants within one mile of two existing power plants in Antioch. 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 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 Shana Lazerow, an attorney at Communities for a Better Environment.

The settlement resolves litigation brought under the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act. The conservation organizations and community advocates asserted that the Oakley Generating Station would emit carbon- and nitrogen-based pollutants that would harm human health and endangered species, while contributing to global warming without the necessary permits required by two laws.

“The Lange’s metalmark butterfly is a Bay Area jewel that’s already way too close to extinction,” said Jonathan Evans, toxics and endangered species campaign director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This agreement will help throw a lifeline to one of the world’s most endangered species.”

“For too long pollution from power plants has threatened local communities and the butterfly’s survival,” said Plater. “It’s time for our energy infrastructure to become part of the solution. We call on all of the power plants polluting Antioch and Oakley to contribute to a solution.”

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 there are unique and very rare.

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 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 determined that nitrogen emissions from power plants near the dunes are “virtually certain” to cause harm to endangered species.


To find out more about Wild Equity’s work protecting Antioch’s communities and the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge visit http://wildequity.org/

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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New Study Adds Urgency to Eliminating Nitrogen Emissions in Antioch

A recent, well-publicized study suggests that cost-effective methods for eradicating invasive weeds may harm the Lange’s metalmark butterfly, adding urgency to the Wild Equity Institute’s efforts to eliminate the underlying cause of weed growth in the species’ habitat: nitrogen deposition from power plants in the vicinity of the species’ last stand at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.

Effects of Herbicides on Behr’s Metalmark Butterfly, a Surrogate Species for the Endangered Butterfly, Lange’s Metalmark, published in the journal Environmental Pollution by two Washington State University entomologists and a US Fish and WIldlife Service scientist, assessed the effects on butterfly larvae of three herbicides — chemicals that are intended only to impact plants. They studied a near relative of the Lange’s metalmark butterfly. The authors applied the herbicides directly onto butterfly larvae and recorded survivorship. They found that the chemicals reduced by 1/4 to 1/3 the number of larvae surviving to pupal stage — and thus the number of healthy adults.


Nitrogen emissions from facilities like the Gateway Generating Station, above, may spell the end for three endangered species
(L-R): the Antioch Dunes evening primrose, the Lange’s metalmark butterfly, and the Contra Costa wallflower.

Since each of these herbicides controls plant growth using a different active agent, the authors speculated that the impact on the butterflies is from the herbicide’s “inactive” ingredients. Indeed, some herbicides are mixed with naphtha, a known toxic substance. Others, like Poast — one of the three herbicides studied in this article — are mixed with naphthalene, an insecticide that is the active agent in moth balls.

Whatever the mechanism, the study indicates it is more urgent than ever to address the root cause of the Lange’s metalmark butterfly’s ongoing decline: non-native weed growth driven by nitrogen emissions from several nearby power plants. The Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge is similar to a desert ecosystem in many ways, including the nutrient-poor condition of the soil. These conditions allowed the Lange’s metalmark butterfly and two other endemic, endangered species — the Antioch Dunes evening primrose and the Contra Costa wallflower — to evolve and adapt to these generally difficult conditions.

However, the California Energy Commission has recently approved several natural gas-fired power plants in the immediate vicinity of the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge. The power plants emit hundreds of tons of nitrogen into the air, which then can deposit in the wildlife refuge. Nitrogen is a potent fertilizer, and the addition of nitrogen into the system is changing its chemical composition of the soil so that it favors non-native invasive weeds. If this continues, the endangered species on the site could be lost.

Moreover, the concentration of pollution in the Antioch/Oakley area from power plants is also jeopardizing human health in predominantly minority, low-income communities. By addressing the root cause of harm to people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth, we can build a more sustainable and just future for all.

The Wild Equity Institute has initiated legal proceedings against the EPA, the California Energy Commission, and several private energy companies to stop this harmful activity. The Center for Biological Diversity and Communities for a Better Environment have joined us in this matter.

Wild Equity Featured in a New Book, Wild Ones

In a new book on animals in America, Wild Ones, Jon Mooallem dedicates nearly 100 pages to the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly. He describes the storied history and destruction of their habitat in the Antioch Dunes, no longer actual sand dunes due to extensive sand removal and industry. He also describes some of the famous lepidopterists, or butterfly scientists, who have loved the land and the Lange’s over the decades since it was first discovered by William Harry Lange in 1933.


Cover of Mooallem’s new book featuring Wild Equity.

On one of his jaunts to Antioch, Mooallem found himself counting butterflies alongside our own Brent Plater. The author describes Wild Equity’s case against the proposed new power plants near the wildlife refuge, which are poised to harm the butterfly through habitat destruction due to increased nitrogen deposited on the land. He muses over a conversation he had with Brent out at the dunes, and paraphrasing Brent’s words, he states, “the balance is so out of whack that every battle is now a battle of principle that can’t be forfeited.” Mooallem portrays the goal of a settlement, which could provide a comprehensive habitat restoration for the Langes Metalmark, as “yet another freak turning point” in the “chaos” the little butterfly has had to endure but to re-establish habitat rather than continue the destruction (191).


Tatzoo fellow Matt Switzer’s Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly tattoo.

Mooallem’s work extends far beyond the Langes Metalmark Butterfly. One self-taught San Franciscan butterfly enthusiast, Liam O’Brien, provides the guiding words of the book: “I just want to be part of the generation that tries” (118). Wild Equity strives to be part of that generation by using the court system to its fullest to benefit people and endangered species. We are honored to be included in Mooallem’s new work about the species we cherish most. Find out more about the book here.

Saturday, April 13, 10am: Explore the Antioch Dunes with Wild Equity

You are invited to join the Wild Equity Institute and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on a guided tour of the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.

The Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge is home to three federally protected endangered species: the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, the Contra Costa Wallflower, and the Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose. Because of its small size and sensitive habitat, the Refuge is only open to the public on select days. While the butterfly doesn’t start flying until late summer, this trip provides a great opportunity to explore the Refuge while the endangered wildflowers are in bloom.

Meet at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge Entrance Gate, 501 Fulton Shipyard Road, Antioch, CA 94509. Wear sturdy shoes for this sandy 1.5 mile hike. Please RSVP on our event page. Remember, you must have a free wildequity.org account and be logged-in to our site to RSVP.


The Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose, the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, and the Contra Costa Wallflower.

For more information or for carpool arrangements, please contact us at azehring@wildequity.org

2/22, 7:10pm: Brent Plater Discusses Wild Equity on KOWS, 107.3 FM

Brent Plater, Wild Equity’s Executive Director, will be interviewed on KOWS 107.3 FM’s Tommy’s Holiday Camp about Wild Equity’s work protecting people and the plants and animals within and surrounding the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge. Listen in from 7:10-8:55pm to learn what nitrogen deposition can teach us about the future of conservation.

Click here to listen to the podcast of the interview.

Wild Equity Unanimously Wins Rose Foundation’s 2012 Reality Grantmaking Award

In a reality grantmaking panel with $1,000 on the line, program officers from the Hewlett Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, the California Wildlands Grassroots Fund, the Northern California Environmental Grassroots Fund, and the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment evaluated grant proposals from Wild Equity and five other groups live in front of over 100 grassroots environmentalists.

And each program officer reached the same conclusion: Wild Equity’s proposal was the best of the bunch!

Check out this clip from the panel and see why so many are finding inspiration in our work:

We were humbled to earn the $1,000 from the panel, and grateful for the constructive feedback we received from these experienced grantmakers. Consider following their advice—help us become more effective by contributing to the Wild Equity Institute’s work today!

“This Shirt is Worth the Entire Future of Civilization”

Wild Equity Institute is receiving its first branded products soon, and the buzz is building. For example, a focus group participant at San Francisco State University had this to say about our new “I Bird San Francisco” T-shirt:

“This shirt has value far more important than its price. How much is it worth to promote environmental protection in your community? How much is it worth to use organic clothes? The shirt is worth our entire future as a civilization.”


I Bird SF 100% organic cotton T-shirt. Comes in natural color, sizes S, M, L, & XL.

That’s right folks: our I Bird SF shirt is worth our entire future as a civilization!

Lucky for you we’re giving them away—to members who contribute $60 or more to our end of year membership drive! Either join Wild Equity or renew your membership at the $60 level or more and you’ll get an I Bird SF T-shirt on the house!

Already have plenty of shirts? No problem! You can substitute a Wild Equity branded reusable water bottle made in the USA from 100% recycled aluminum!


The Wild Equity bottle is made of 100% recycled aluminum in the USA.
24oz with twist-off cap. Select green or white.

Want the bottle and the shirt? We’ve got a solution for you too: if you contribute at the $100 level or more, we’ll send you one T-shirt and one water bottle at no extra charge!

Ladies and gentlemen, there hasn’t been a Wild Equity membership deal this good since….well ever! Not only do you get some cool sustainable products, you also get to contribute to our work saving San Francisco’s Natural Areas Program so it can continue stewarding our local plants and wildlife; transforming Sharp Park Golf Course into a new national park everyone can enjoy; and saving the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly and empowering local communities to end pollution from power plants that destroy the species’ habitat.

So join now and let the world see that you’re part of our movement. Of course, you can always decline the stuff and let all of your contribution go directly to our work: just let us know what you prefer in the notes section of your order! Be sure to specify color for the bottle, and size for the shirt! And thank you for believing in our work!

Sincerely,

Brent Plater
Executive Director

ps—If you already gave this year and earned a shirt and/or a bottle, we’ve got you covered! We’ll contact you when they are ready to ship and take your order. Or contact us anytime and let us know what you want! We expect first shipments to go out in late January.

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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!

We Want You: To Become a Wild Equity Member!

So far, 2012 has been extremely productive for the Wild Equity Institute. But we need you to become a Wild Equity Institute member for us to advance our mission. Take a look at what we’ve already accomplished:

And this is just the beginning of what we can accomplish. We’ve got more ideas to build a sustainable and just world than we can implement by the end of the year!

But if you join the Wild Equity Institute today you can help us expand our work, engage new allies, and build a healthy and sustainable community for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth. By joining us today you will help us close out 2012 with a bang:

  • We will expand our challenge to power plants in Antioch while protecting the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.
  • We will pass new legislation to protect San Francisco’s natural areas while creating a new National Park at Sharp Park.
  • We will ensure that the Franciscan Manzanita obtains the critical habitat and endangered species protections it deserves.
  • We will host endangered species bike rides, movie nights, and more to build a stronger community for conservation and justice right here in San Francisco.

We can’t do any of this without your support: please join us now and watch our campaigns thrive! Become a member of the Wild Equity Institute today. If you are already a member, consider becoming a monthly donor or making a special contribution to our work.

Thank you for all you do to help us engage and win!

Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly Inspires Electric, Organic Artists

The Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge is in serious trouble, but artists working in diverse media are beginning to tell this landscape’s tale.

Sawyer Rose’s NATIVE: California Plants in Glass, Metal, & Light.

Sawyer Rose’s unique artwork of the Lange’s metalmark butterfly is now on display at the Inclusions Gallery, located in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood. The Lange’s metalmark butterfly is dangerously imperiled, and will go extinct in the near future—unless we affirmatively act to save this species. The Wild Equity Institute is currently working to protect the Butterfly from harmful local pollution through legal action and public awareness.


Sawyer Rose’s lightbox featuring the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly

Ms. Rose’s work pays tribute to California’s beautiful native flora (along with select fauna), connecting each of us with a sense of the unique landscapes where we live. Check out this inspired artwork at Inclusions Gallery through August 12, 2012.

Tatzoo’s Save the Lange’s Metalmark Campaign.

Local forces are also mobilizing to save Lange’s: and getting a tattoo for their efforts. The Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly Tatzoo team is coordinating with the Wild Equity Institute to encourage people to pledge to spend a day saving the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.

You can help by taking the pledge and committing to help restore the butterfly’s habitat. You’ll help save one of the world’s most imperiled butterflies and meet inspiring people from your community. Find out more at the Tatzoo project’s Metalmark blog.

Wild Equity Ties Antioch and SF Communities, Conservation Struggles Together

The Wild Equity Institute and the Wilderness Arts & Literacy Collaborative (“WALC”) at Downtown High School recently completed another successful Endangered Species Big Semester by helping students explore the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, learn how environmental justice victories in San Francisco are linked to a fossil fuel power plant construction boom in Antioch, and take action to help the Refuge’s endangered species recover.


WALC students remove invasive weeds at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.
Invasive weed growth is exacerbated by pollution from power plants that ring the Dunes.

Successful environmental justice campaigns in San Francisco led to the closure of two power plants in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill and Bayview-Hunters Point communities since 2006. In part to recoup the power lost when these power plants closed, the California Energy Commission approved five power plants, all ringing the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge. The concentration of power plants in this location threatens community health and three endangered species found at the Refuge. The Wild Equity Institute is bringing environmental justice advocates and grassroots conservation organizations together to challenge this massive power plant expansion.

On WALC’s third and final trip of the Endangered Species Big Semester, students connected our successful struggles for conservation and environmental justice in San Francisco with the new fossil fuel power plants in Antioch, observed endangered species threatened by this proposal, and then took action to help these species recover.


Students learned how to identify the endangered Antioch Dunes evening primrose and the Contra Costa wallflower.

Students were able to meet refuge managers and learn first-hand how the threats facing endangered species can be addressed in ways that build stronger ties to communities that have been traditionally underserved with environmental goods and services. Together, they contributed roughly a weeks-worth of work to the Refuge’s limited staff.


Refuge managers give students an overview of the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.

Funded in part by the California Wildlands Grassroots Fund of the Tides Foundation & TogetherGreen (a collaboration between National Audubon Society and Toyota), the Endangered Species Big Semester gives students the chance to observe several of the Bay Area’s most imperiled species, and then help these species recover by restoring land, making healthy life style choices, and becoming participants in civic society. Bring the Endangered Species Big Semester to you school by contacting the Wild Equity Institute today.

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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.

WEI Heads to Court to Protect Antioch’s Communities and Wildlife

On Friday, January 21, the Wild Equity Institute will appear in court to protect human health and endangered species. You can attend the oral argument: it is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. in courtroom 10 on the 19th floor of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

The lawsuit involves PG&E’s Gateway Generating Station, a natural gas power plant in Antioch. Because of several miscues by regulatory agencies and calculated risks taken by PG&E, the power plant was constructed and continues to operate without federal air pollution permits. Community groups concerned about the power plant’s pollution discovered that the requisite permits weren’t in place, and brought suit to demand pollution reductions to protect human health. Unfortunately, the EPA is now attempting to cut a sweetheart deal with PG&E over the legal violation: without first considering the impacts of this deal on endangered species at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, including the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, the Contra Costa Wallflower, and the Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose.

This is a serious concern because the same pollution that is impacting human health is also polluting endangered species habitats at the Refuge, which is less than 1 mile from the power plant. Nitrogen emissions from the power plant change the chemical composition of the dune soil, creating favorable conditions for invasive weeds. These weeds crowd out the endangered plants and the host plant for the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly. The Butterfly, already on the precipice of extinction, is closely associated with its host plant, and when the host plant is crowded out the Butterfly’s population plummets even further.

The Wild Equity Institute will bring these concerns to Judge Susan Illston and ask the Court to block PG&E from entering a sweetheart deal with the EPA: at least until the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has an opportunity to weigh-in on the deal’s terms. If you’d like to see us in action, come to the hearing: drop us a line to let us know you’ll be there.

Downtown High School Completes Endangered Semester with Wild Equity

In 2011, the Wild Equity Institute partnered with Downtown High School in San Francisco to give students and endangered species a second chance at life. The joint project was called “Endangered Semester,” and it provides students who have not succeeded in traditional classrooms an opportunity to see 10 endangered species in the field, while taking 10 actions that help these species recover. It was a competitive event: as the students see and help save endangered species, they earn prizes that help their class succeed.


Endangered Semester Presentation at Downtown High School

The Endangered Semester was completed in four phases. First, students were provided an in-class description of the project, including specific instructions on how to see endangered species in the field ethically and how to complete actions that help species recover. Next students were taken on three field trips to observe species and conduct recovery actions. Third, students were provided with self-directed opportunities to see endangered species near their homes, and make healthy lifestyle choices that would also benefit conservation. Finally, the students’ scores were tallied and prizes awarded in an end of the semester celebration.

On January 13, 2011, students completed their first trip to help see and save Coho Salmon at Muir Woods National Monument and Muir Beach. Although inclement weather made it difficult to spot salmon, the students marshaled on and planted 120 native plants along creek beds to help improve spawning habitat for the anadromous fish.


Downtown High School Students Celebrate in Muir Woods

On March 11, 2011, Wild Equity led students on a challenging coastal hike to see several endangered species in San Francisco. Over the five-mile journey, students saw several restoration sites in the Presidio, searched for several plants, birds, and marine mammals on the brink of extinction, and learned about the great environmental justice concerns that led to the creation of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.


Wild Equity Institute Executive Director Brent Plater
Leads Downtown High School Students On an Endangered Species Hike in the Presidio

On April 22, 2011, students were taken to the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife refuge to see two endangered plants and take actions that help conserve the endangered Lange’s metalmark butterfly, arguably the rarest Bay Area butterfly. Students were given special access to this refuge, usually closed to visitors, and met with Fish and Wildlife Service staff working desperately to save endangered species near communities impacted by industrial development.


Louiz Terrazas of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Instructs Students
on Plant Identification at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge

After completing their actions and sightings, the students points were tallied, interim prizes were awarded, and a celebration was held to close out the Endangered Semester. All together, students completed about 100 sightings and action items during the semester: an impressive feat that earned them nature- and education-themed prizes individually and for the class as a whole.


Downtown High School Students Show-off Prizes at the End of Semester Celebration

The Endangered Semester was made possible by a generous gift from the California Wildlands Grassroots Fund of the Tides Foundation. Additional support was provided by REI’s San Francisco store and the Sports Basement. If you are interested in having your school participate in the endangered semester, contact us and we’ll let you know how to get your classroom enrolled.

Lawsuit Launched to Protect the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly from PG&E Power Plant

December 28, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, 415-572-6989

Lawsuit Launched to Protect the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly from PG&E Power Plant

Nitrogen Emissions Threaten Survival of Critically Endangered Butterfly

ANTIOCH, CA— Today the Wild Equity Institute filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for issuing air pollution permits to PG&E’s Gateway Generating Station without first evaluating the power plant’s impacts on the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, an endangered species whose only home is less than a mile away from the Gateway Generating Station.

“When the EPA takes short cuts 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.”

The Gateway Generating Station is a 530 megawatt natural gas power plant located in Antioch, California. Mirant Corporation received permits to construct and operate the plant in 2001, but suspended construction after the California energy crisis ended. The unfinished plant was acquired by PG&E in 2006: after the construction and air pollution permits expired. PG&E nonetheless completed construction and began operating the plant. When community groups impacted by the pollution from the plant objected, the EPA offered to reissue the permits: without going through the requisite permitting process, a process designed to protect public health and endangered species from harm.

Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly. Photo © USFWS.

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 from its nearest habitat contemporaries, many species found in the Dunes are unique—and very rare.

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 Gateway Generating Station and other sources 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 United States 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.

“For too long pollution from power plants have threatened the Butterfly’s very survival,” said Plater. “It’s time for PG&E and the EPA to become part of the solution, and the best way to do that is through the Endangered Species Act, our nation’s best defense for plants and animals on the brink of extinction.”

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/

###

Oil and Equity

The Gulf Oil Spill is a heartbreaking disaster, more so because it could have been prevented if proper environmental review had been conducted before exploration occurred.

And as oil reaches coastal communities and the explosion continues to spew carbon into the atmosphere, it is clear that those with the least resources to adapt to a polluted planet—low income communities and the non-human world—will bear the brunt of the catastrophe.

There is plenty of blame to go around, and politicians will hold hearings trying to punt that blame to the other side of the aisle, or onto the corporations that profit off oil drilling. But nothing will come of this dog-and-pony show if we fail to direct our moral outrage into concrete demands, and place those demands at the feet of those who wield power.

A starting point is demanding that our government cap carbon emissions so that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere stabilize at no more then 350 parts per million. This will inevitably require an end to off-shore oil and gas exploration once and for all. Consider joining 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 now.