Our Leaders are Failing Us—and the Planet

February, 2015

Despite a pretty good December downpour, much of California trudges on under extreme drought conditions. Even with the current dire state of affairs, many of our elected representatives—local, state, and federal—still are not sensing the urgency.

Federally, thanks to the new Republican-led Congress, we are facing years of staggerlingly misplaced priorities and absurd decisions (see Eye on Washington).

At the state level, despite mounting pressure, Governor Brown seems to be holding steady in his ongoing failure to ban fracking in California—all the more reason to join the March for Real Climate Leadership in Oakland on February 7. Brown also seems intent to push through the ill-advised boondoggle that comprises the proposed twin tunnels—which poses great risk to North Coast rivers as well as the San Joaquin Bay Delta.

Here at home, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors have thrown numerous water-wise measures under the proverbial bus. Supervisor Rex Bohn takes the prize for most outstanding nay-sayer on policies that would help restore our region’s over-tapped creeks and rivers.

Supervisors Bass and Sundberg joined Bohn in voting down a policy that would ensure increased scrutiny of possible future water export projects that could impact water availability for salmon and other local beneficial uses. 

Our supervisors also voted to halt further action towards a county-wide plastic bag ban despite legal obstacles stalling the state-wide bag ban. Clearly, our local representatives are failing to act on issues that could make a positive difference now.

Lastly, in a move that could lead to severe impacts to the forests and watersheds of our region, the group California Cannabis Voice Humboldt (CCVH) is continuing to push for a land use ordinance which, as the current draft reads, would open Humboldt County forestlands up even further for large, commercial marijuana operations. The group aims to achieve their industry-led agenda by initiative (and thereby through an expensive special election) rather than working through a truly open, public process. There is still time for CCVH to come around, but at this point it looks like the newcomer organization is squandering the opportunity to work with all community members towards a well-crafted ordinance that protects our critically important forests and rivers while setting the path for an industry that could be ecologically, socially, and economically sustainable.