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SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday again emphasized how climate change is driving the explosive growth in the state’s wildfire season from year to year as he offered an update to California’s ongoing struggle with over two dozen major fires.

Newsom began his update on the California wildfires with information on the rise in average temperatures in the state during the summer months since 1980.

“You look over a 40 year period, you’re seeing the average temperatures between June and September here in the state of California increase from roughly 71 degrees to about 74 degrees,” said Newsom. “While that may not seem significant — three degrees — it is profoundly impactful…This is a direct cause and effect to this experience we’re currently having, this climate-induced, human-activity induced wildfire season.”

There are no Democratic thermometers or Republican thermometers.

The fact is — our average temperature has increased over the last 40 years.

We’re experiencing record temperatures across CA. The hottest August on record.

The evidence of climate change is all around us.

— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) September 16, 2020

Newsom noted that he had made it “crystal clear” on Tuesday when President Donald Trump was visiting the state for a wildfire update as well as Wednesday when Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris was visiting that there is a “mutual responsibility” between the state government, the federal government and private land owners to do more and better in terms of vegetation management.

However, Newsom also noted that the rising temperatures were just one bit of evidence proving that climate change remains a looming and urgent issue that is driving the explosive growth in the state’s wildfire season from year to year.

“The fundamental fact cannot be denied, represented in this chart, and the reality of average temperatures significantly increasing. And you see that trend line that is not going in the right direction, is going in a direction that only underscores our sense of urgency to address head on the issue of climate and climate change and to double down on our efforts here in the state of California,” Newsom said.

Newsom said the state has always led combating climate change and the cause knows no political party, as previous governors have consistently worked to become national models on the issue – including Governor Ronald Reagan who established the state Air Resources Board in 1970.

“We need to reconcile the fact that there are no Democratic thermometers and no Republican thermometers. There’s fact and there’s reality as well as observed evidence. It’s not a belief system, it’s an acknowledgement. The facts are the facts. It’s not a question of one’s belief. It’s whether or not you will acknowledge the facts as they are presented, the facts that are in evidence. And we certainly acknowledge them and we know it’s our responsibility to do more still in this space.”

Newsom looked back on the acres burned each year over the past decade to help illustrate how the current year had already outpaced earlier record years in 2017 and 2018 by over a million acres with the current total of 3,371,624 acres.

“It gives you a sense of the challenges we’re facing and the challenges we will face moving into the future that will require us to be more flexible, less ideological and more committed to the collective cause of organizing strategies to keep people safe, and our adaptability and our resiliency so we can work through this challenge and this climate-induced crisis; this emergency that we’re facing not only as a state and a nation, but as a globe and as a world people,” said Newsom.

The governor said California has had 7,860 fires that have cost the state 25 lives and thousands of structures in the month since the lightning-sparked wildfires bloomed across the state as residence endured a historic heat wave that contributed to the hottest August on record.

25 major fires or complexes of fires are continuing to burn as of Wednesday, with over 17,000 firefighters and 2,200 engaged in battles across the state, Newsom said. He also offered thanks for mutual aid received both within the U.S. from Texas and New Jersey and internationally from Israel and Canada.

The governor highlighted both the Creek Fire in Freson and Madera counties and the North Complex Fire stretching across Lassen, Plumas and Butte counties as being the main source of current concern, but also pointed out the progress that had been made in the large lightning-sparked LNU and CZU Lightning Complexes that were gradually approaching 100 percent containment.


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Tags: san francisco news climate change fires gov gavin newsom hot temperatures rising temperatures wildfire season san francisco news climate change in the state

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Environmentalists plan lawsuit challenging Newsom over oil and gas drilling permits


A national environmental organization on Monday threatened to sue Gov. Gavin Newsom to halt all new permits for gas and oil wells in the state, saying the governor has failed to protect Californians and the environment from hazards and pollutants released by the state’s billion-dollar petroleum industry.

In a letter sent to Newsom on Monday, the Center for Biological Diversity accused his administration of being friendly to California’s oil industry and issuing new permits without proper environmental reviews. The organization plans to take legal action unless the Democratic governor “promptly direct[s] your regulators to halt permitting.”

“We urge you to direct your regulators to immediately stop issuing the illegal permits, hold the oil industry accountable for its damage and stop allowing oil companies to profit from their oil spills,” attorneys Kassie Siegel and Hollin Kretzmann told Newsom in the letter.

Newsom during his first year in office vowed to protect Californians against the hazards of oil and gas production, but environmental groups have grown increasingly frustrated with what they consider a lack of consequential action.

Siegel and other environmental advocates also criticized Newsom for allowing the California Geologic Energy Management Division, known as CalGEM, to issue close to 50 new hydraulic fracturing permits to Chevron and Aera Energy, a partnership of Shell Oil and ExxonMobil, since April.

The permits were issued after a November announcement by Newsom that he would temporarily block new hydraulic fracturing permits until those projects could be reviewed by an independent panel of scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

State Oil and Gas Supervisor Uduak-Joe Ntuk said in August that the permits that were granted underwent independent environmental review, and that six permits had been denied and more than permits were still pending review by the panel.

Environmental groups, however, called the review inadequate. They also noted that adverse health impacts from the oil industry were disproportionally felt in Black and Latino communities.

A recent study by researchers at UC Berkeley, published by the National Institutes of Health, found that living near oil and gas wells caused significant adverse health effects to pregnant mothers and newborn babies.

“We have waited and waited and waited. They’ve said they’re going to take action, they’ve asked people to be patient. But it seems that what they’ve done with that time is come up with new ways to serve the oil industry,” Siegel said Monday. “When we see a flood of illegal permits continued despite the damage, it’s time to get tough.”

The letter to Newsom also cited a recent story by the Desert Sun and ProPublica showing that oil companies in California have made millions by selling the oil extracted from their own spills.

Legislation to put in place minimum setback distances between the wells and residential areas, along with public places such as schools and playgrounds, failed to pass in the state Senate — in large part because of opposition from the petroleum industry and trade unions, according to the bill’s author, Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Rolling Hills Estates).

Muratsuchi’s proposal would have required the state Department of Conservation to adopt mandatory setbacks — and, specifically, to at least consider setbacks of 2,500 feet from schools, playgrounds and other facilities where children are present.

The Newsom administration, however, is currently considering new regulations that could include those setbacks. Officials with the Department of Conservation have been holding public hearings in person and online throughout the year on proposed public health and safety protections for communities near oil and gas operations. The proposed regulations have yet to be released.

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