Sunday, September 22, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 29
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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on August 20th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 25 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 20, Issue 25

Political Watch: August 22, 2019

• On Aug. 19, Kelly Hubbard began serving as the director of Santa Barbara County’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM), according to the county. The position was previously held by Rob Lewin, who left the county in May after serving in the role for three years. During his time leading the department, Lewin oversaw the county’s response to a couple of major disasters—the Thomas Fire and the Montecito debris flows, during which a combined 38 people died and thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed. Prior to Hubbard’s move to the county, she served as the emergency manager for the Municipal Water District of Orange County for 15 years, according to the county’s statement. In her previous role in Orange County, Hubbard managed the emergency preparedness, planning, response, and recovery efforts among the county’s 37 wastewater utilities.

• California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey released a joint statement denouncing the federal government’s decision to roll back key provision of the Endangered Species Act. “As we face the unprecedented threat of climate emergency, now is the time to strengthen our planet’s biodiversity, not to destroy it,” Becerra said. The attorneys general said they plan to take the federal government to court to fight these revisions. In a statement announcing the rule changes on Aug. 12, the leaders of the U.S. departments of commerce and the interior said these revisions are designed to ease regulations while still protecting endangered species. However, conservation groups, such as the National Resource Defense Council, said the changes will make it hard to do the latter. Some of the changes include reducing the future protections granted to threatened species, which is the designation given to plants and animals before becoming endangered. Additionally, the new rules make it more difficult for land to be designated as a critical habitat for plants and animals. 

• Greenhouse gas emissions in California fell below the state’s level of reduction targeted for 2020 for the second year in a row in 2017, according to a statement Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office released on Aug. 12. The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, established a goal for the state to reduce its emission levels to 431 million metric tons by 2020. The state first fell below this mark in 2016 when it released 429 million metric tons of emissions. The state again met this goal in 2017 when it released 424 million metric tons. In addition to these continued reductions, for the first time since the state began tracking its greenhouse gas emissions, the state power grid used more energy from emission-free sources like solar and wind, than from fossil fuels in 2017. “This is further evidence that California’s groundbreaking climate regulations are helping to deliver the greenhouse gas reductions needed to meet our 2020 target—and give us a running start at our even more ambitious 2030 target, too,” California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols said in the statement. The state’s ambitious 2030 goal targets reducing emissions by another 40 percent over the next decade. 

• The city of Santa Maria will host a public workshop to discuss proposed increases for water and sewer rates at 6 p.m. on Aug. 28 in the City Council Chambers at 110 E. Cook St. The proposed changes are being distributed with utility bills from mid-July through mid-August. A public hearing on the issue will be held on Oct. 1 at 5:30 p.m. Written protests to the proposed increases must be received before the end of the hearing. 




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