Analysis: Recent California newspaper editorials
This isn't about liberty or the free market. It's an economic issue and a quality of life issue. The public is paying for these "free" bags at the front end, because retailers factor into their prices the cost of overhead, which includes their purchase of carry-out bags. The public has to pay for them again in cleanup. That's a cost too high.
For the most part, the public has easily accepted these changes in the places that limit or ban single-use bags such as Pasadena and Long Beach, among many others. And grocers are supporting a ban too.
The most prevalent argument against a ban on single-use plastic bags — the potential for spread of disease by food particles left in reusable grocery bags — is laughable, and easily solved. Wash them! To see how truly absurd that argument is, imagine it applied to other things that come into regular contact with food: cooking pots, Tupperware, our own hands.
There's only one objectionable provision of the bill: that the statewide ban would not preempt local ordinances. That should be amended. One of the arguments for this bill is that the patchwork of different rules is confusing for consumers and trying for retailers.
Otherwise, it's an idea whose time has come. Time to bag the bag in California.
Santa Cruz Sentinel: "California should ban lead ammunition for all forms of hunting"
When it comes to hunters' ammunition, it's time for California to get the lead out.
Lead poisoning is the leading cause of death for the California condor. The National Academy of Sciences has said that unless lead ammo is banned, condors won't have a chance of surviving in the wild. The toxin is also bad for human health and the environment, which is why we already ban it in gasoline, paint and children's toys .
The Legislature should pass Assemblyman Anthony Rendon's AB 711 and make California the first state in the nation to ban lead for all types of hunting.
The Lynwood Democrat's bill isn't meant to discourage hunting. Many California hunters are strong environmentalists who support efforts to preserve wildlife. A significant portion of the hunting community backs the legislation, although the National Rifle Association, not surprisingly, is throwing its considerable weight against the law.
California already bans lead bullets in the area that condors congregate, stretching roughly from San Jose to Los Angeles. The Terminator, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, signed that legislation in 2007, hoping to keep the endangered condors from being poisoned. It hasn't worked nearly as well as hoped — primarily, wildlife experts believe, because enough hunters are breaking the law to still create problems for condors. All it takes to poison them is for the scavengers to eat meat from a single deer that has been shot with a lead bullet.
The lead shatters, increasing the likelihood that fragments will be consumed.
Copper bullets today are nearly twice as expensive as lead, but if demand increases, costs should fall.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1991 began requiring hunters to use non-lead ammo on ducks and geese. That has succeeded in reducing lead exposure in waterfowl. The health risk to condors, other wildlife and California residents is too high to continue allowing lead ammunition to be used in the wild.
The Stockton Record: "'It's a messy business'/CPUC executive's claims about safety improvements are less than reassuring"
Here's the view of the executive director of the California Public Utilities Commission:
— There has been significant progress on the commission's oversight of safety.
—It will take years longer to change the culture at the PUC from one of holding costs in check to one of making sure utilities are operated safely.
—PUC officials are not in bed with those they regulate.
OK, nobody said they were in bed with anyone. But a highly critical third party review of PUC practices in the wake of the 2010 San Bruno natural gas pipeline explosion found an "anti-safety" attitude by the executive director, Paul Clanon, including "resistance to challenging utilities" and "resistance to leveling fines."
Oh, and for the record, the PUC president, Michael Peevey, is a former president of Southern California Edison and the commission's general counsel was formerly counsel for the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. So cozy might be a better way to describe the PUC's relationship with those it's supposed to regulate.
All this came spilling out Wednesday when Clanon was grilled by members of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee 3 on Resources and Transportation. They wanted answers to the serious questions raised by a report completed for the PUC by Folsom-based Business Advantage Consulting.
That report found leadership lacking and safety a less-than-high priority.
"How can you look at this report, this internal report, and say there has been progress?" Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, wanted to know. "I look at it and I don't see one iota of evidence of any progress on safety. I look at this and I see abject failure in the movement to change the safety culture."
"I have to move hearts and minds," Clanon said, likening the commission to a "big ship" that takes time to turn. "It's a human business. It's a messy business."
But it's been three years since the San Bruno blast that killed eight people and leveled 38 homes. Even the Titanic would have avoided the iceberg given that much time. And Clanon is paid — he made $134,562.80 last year — to steer the PUC in a safer direction.
But even without San Bruno and a flood of evidence that PG&E was taking a somewhat cavalier attitude toward maintenance, shouldn't we expect safety would always be a top priority for state utility regulators?
Unfortunately the answer is no. Not as long as its top executives are utility clones and former utility executives. Not as long as those regulated are essentially regulating themselves. Not as long as Sacramento lawmakers only huff and puff about this after a tragedy like San Bruno.
It's a messy business indeed.
The Sacramento Bee: "Water funds go unspent, even with tainted taps"
It's incomprehensible and inexcusable. More than 2 million California residents do not have access to clean drinking water. Thousands are forced to drink bottled water because the water coming through their taps is polluted, dirty, smelly and unhealthy. And yet, the California Department of Public Health is sitting on $455 million in federal funds allocated specifically to provide safe drinking water.
In a blistering letter to California Department of Public Health officials, the federal Environmental Protection Agency last week threatened to suspend payments if the state doesn't speed up its disbursement of funds to water districts that desperately need the money to upgrade their drinking water systems.
This is a problem of long standing. In 2011, the Fresno Bee published a series of stories about the state's inability to get clean water funds to San Joaquin Valley towns where drinking water wells are heavily polluted with nitrates from fertilizers. When he was running for governor, Jerry Brown promised to bring clean water to those residents. As recently as last September, with great fanfare, he signed Assembly Bill 685, legislation establishing a state policy that every Californian has a human right to safe, clean, affordable drinking water.
But even then, given the urgent and well-documented need, frustrated federal officials were trying to understand why the state had failed to spend almost a half billion dollars - the largest pot of unspent safe drinking water money held by any state in the nation. Is it ineptitude or indifference?
Ineptitude seems to be the consensus. Communities with the worst drinking water problems are poor and sparsely populated. Many lack the managerial talent or the funds necessary to process complicated federal and state safe drinking water grants and loans, or to build and manage sophisticated water systems.
In addition, the application process itself, at both the state and federal level, is overly bureaucratic.
Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno, has introduced Assembly Bill 145. It would shift responsibility for disbursing safe drinking water funds from the Department of Public Health to the State Water Resources Control Board, an agency with regulatory power over tainted groundwater and a track record of successfully moving federal money to communities that need it. Other bills pending in the Legislature would make it easier for small communities to join together to seek federal funding.
These bills deserve consideration, but they don't relieve the Legislature and governor of ascertaining how this federal money has gone unspent, even in the face of such need. After the state parks scandal and now this, Californians are wondering: How many other pots of money have state agencies hoarded, and how have state leaders allowed this to happen?
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