The Sierra Club today officially endorsed the candidacy of Norma Alcala for Yolo Co. Board of Supervisors District 1 in the June, 2014 election. The endorsement process followed an exhaustive review of the responses of all District 1 candidates to a series of questions about their positions on environmental matters in Yolo Co.
According to Angel Martinez of the Sierra Club Yolano Group, “Norma has demonstrated solid support for the environmental issues considered to be most important in Yolo Co. On matters widely ranging from opposition to diversion of water from Yolo Co through the proposed dual tunnel project to support for increased regulation of hydraulic fracking, Norma has consistently demonstrated her deep understanding of the need to embrace sustainable practices in Yolo Co. The Club appreciates the solid commitments and efforts Ms. Alcala has made to improve the general environment and sustainability in Yolo County and proudly supports her candidacy.”
Questionnaire Responses (printed verbatim from Sierra Club release)
Question 1: What do you anticipate will be the three most important environmental issues you will face if elected and what actions do you propose to take to address them
1) Climate change. Educating the agricultural community about the potential effects of climate change and mitigation measures to prepare the community for the most imminent effects, particularly water stresses and increased demand for water in southern California. We must also work to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change by creating more efficient transportation systems and emissions standards for our county. We need to encourage alternative sources of transportation such as carpooling, biking, and walking. We need to be developing renewable energy sources throughout the County.
2) Flood control: along with drought, climate change will bring increased intensity of storms and greater potential for flooding.
3) Protecting the Cache Creek environment from gravel mining, particularly the Granite Esparto Mining and Reclamation Project (http://www.yolocounty.org/home/showdocument?id=11429). We must protect public lands, agricultural lands, and wildlife habitat, such as the Berryessa Snow Mountain region, for future generations.
At the moment it appears that the BDCP, HCP/NCCT and Water Conservation are likely to be the most important.
Question 2: Do you support permanent protection of the Berryessa Snow Mountain region and, if so, what do you think is the best way to insure that it happens? If not, why not?
I support designation of the Berryessa Snow Mountain region as a National Conservation Area. If Congress does not designate the Berryessa Snow Mountain region as a National Conservation Area, then I would encourage Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, and President Obama to use the Antiquities Act to ensure that this place has a safeguard to ensure continued use and enjoyment for future generations.
I believe so but need to get up to speed on the current efforts and the impacts.
Question 3: California sits atop large deposits of natural gas that can be recovered through fracking with some potential in Yolo Co. Do you think current environmental regulations governing fracking are sufficient or how would you otherwise propose to regulate this drilling process in terms of environmental impacts?
While I support the use of natural gas as a replacement for coal or oil in California’s energy mix, I do not believe that California has developed regulations sufficient to adequately protect our sensitive groundwater reserves. Current regulations do not properly address the potential contamination of clean groundwater aquifers that lay between the surface and the natural gas deposits. I believe that oversight and regulation of the groundwater monitoring programs should be handled by the State Water Resources Control Board rather the Department of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources. Such oversight will require an expansion of funding for the SWRCB.
Additionally, the county should require the disclosure of all the chemical constituents of fracking fluids. (SWRCB can only monitor for contamination if it knows what to look for.)
I am not familiar enough with the specifics and would need to learn more before drawing any conclusions about this issue.
Question 4: Do you support or oppose the transportation by rail cars of crude oil through cities such as Davis and West Sacramento and other areas of Yolo County?
I strongly oppose the transportation of crude oil through cities of Davis and West Sacramento due to the potential dangers it brings to these communities. Moreover if there is a similar widespread “Not in my backyard” sentiment then the issue of such transportation should be revisited for alternatives.
I don’t necessarily like this idea but just not sure how much we as the BoS can do about it.
Question 5: Do you feel it is important to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions? What would you do if elected to facilitate these reductions?
Yes, it is important to continue reducing California’s greenhouse gas emissions. As a County supervisor, I would advocate for LEED certification of county facilities and support sustainability reviews of county infrastructure and vehicle fleet. LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. The County’s vehicle fleet should be geared toward the future purchase of vehicles with reduced carbon foot prints, such as electrical vehicles. The County’s infrastructure should be similarly audited for opportunities to convert to renewable energy sources.
Yes, absolutely. I believe there are several things that I can do – most of which I have been doing in West Sacramento with our land use plans. A recent study by Berkeley shows that West Sacramentans have one of the lowest carbon footprints in the region.
Question 6: Should the county supervisors be more active in accelerating the use of renewable energy to generate electricity in the county? Should there be any land use limitations or locations where alternative energy systems should not be placed?
Yes, solar, biomass, and wind energy should be promoted with tax incentives if installed over impermeable surfaces such as parking lots and buildings. Wind energy regulations should be changed to allow the installation of vertical axis wind energy systems in non-agricultural or urban areas on lots less than two acres. Vertical axis wind turbines can catch the wind from all directions and at lower wind speeds than horizontal axis wind turbines. The lower rotational speeds and the ability to catch the wind from all directions make the vertical wind turbines safer for urban settings and conserves open land. Horizontal wind turbines may be more efficient but have disadvantages. Venturi hybrid vertical turbines are far more efficient than horizontal wind turbines producing 2-3 times the energy without the noise and with short downtimes because they can operate with less wind. Similarly Other vertical turbine designs suitable for urban settings are also available.
I support the approval of large wind energy projects, especially if installed over non-prime farmland and out of migratory bird travel routes. Wind energy leases may serve to mitigate the economic impact of taking non-prime farm land out of production during years of severe drought. In all cases, wind turbines should never be allowed in migratory bird travel routes. Eventually screening will need to be developed to protect birds.
Hydropower has a place in California but I am cautious about supporting the construction of too many additional dams in Yolo County and upstream due to the adverse effects of dams on river and stream habitats, which are already stressed by agricultural runoff and the effects of the drought. We should raise the height of existing dams where possible rather than constructing new dams. Raising dams has less effect on the environment than entirely new dams would have.
I support the use of biomass fuels for energy generation. There are many characteristics of biomass evergy that should make it attractive in Yolo county which already uses biomass technology at the Yolo landfill, the DTE Woodland Biomass Power Plant and the UC Davis research centers. All renewables provide the greenhouse gas benefit of displacing fossil fuel use. However, Biomass energy also provides greenhouse-gas benefits by reducing the greenhouse-gas emissions associated with the recycling of the carbon in the biomass fuel (biogenic carbon). As a result, biomass produces approximately twice as much greenhouse gas benefit as other renewables, like wind or solar, which only displace fossil fuel.
Biomass is a clean, renewable alternative to fossil fuel plants Biomass is an eligible renewable resource under California’s 33% by 2020 Renewable Portfolio Standard requirement. Much like other renewable resources such as solar, wind and geothermal, California has an abundance of biomass residues from the state’s agricultural, forest, and urban waste streams to make this technology 12% of all the renewable produced in this State. Using biomass to produce energy reduces the need for traditional disposal options for biomass such as landfill disposal or burning in place, while reducing dependence on fossil energy sources. The biomass process utilizes only leftover residue material as its fuel source thereby maximizing the benefits provided by the asset while minimizing the impact on the environment.
California biomass can be viewed as a disposal and global warming problem because 40 million tons of biomass goes into landfills every year, biomass contributes to air pollution because open field burning of crop residues produces more than 100,000 tons of air pollutants annually, and because California’s 1.67 million dairy cows generate odor concerns. We should maximize the contributions of bioenergy toward achieving the state’s petroleum reduction, climate change, renewable energy, and environmental goals. The Yolo County landfill Bioreactor is a good start. Collected data shows that the Yolo landfill bioreactor can accelerate organic portion of the solid wastes decomposition and methane recovery rates 4 to 7-fold as compared to conventional operation. Also, we could use forest residues to produce energy and reduce the risks of wild fires.
Another problem that biomass solves is that some sources of renewable energy, particularly wind and solar, are subject to production fluctuations resulting from a cloudy day or now wind. Biomass generators, by way of contrast, are highly reliable, and can be scheduled to provide power to the grid with the same certainty as conventional generating resources.
For all these reasons, I would promote biomass as an energy source to wean us from non renewable and polluting energy sources.
Finally I would promote the use of both fuel cell technology and solar energy as alternative fuel sources in Yolo County.
Last year Yolo county initiated construction of two solar projects for County facilities designed to produce jobs and save $51 million dollars over the next twenty five years. These efforts need to continue in all county and school facilities, just as we have done at the Yolo County Justice Center.
Yolo County should continue implementing the use of renewable energy to generate electricity, where appropriate. Though renewable energy is important, we must ensure that we do not allow it at the cost of critical habitat and natural resources.
This is a very complex issue but generally speaking, yes. The BoS should definitely be promoting the use of renewable energy.
Question 7: To help resolve California’s water shortages, the governor and others have advocated building two 40-foot-wide tunnels across 35 miles to divert water from the Sacramento River around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta for delivery to points south. Do you support this plan and why or why not?
I do not support the construction of the water diverting tunnels. The solution to southern California’s water problems is not to short change the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The only viable long-term solution is a California water plan that emphasizes direct and indirect potable reuse of existing water supplies. Our environment cannot continue to stress our waterways and Delta to provide expensive short term solutions to chronic water shortages. Rather we must look at long term solutions that work without needing to stress existing habitats. Conservation, and water storage are the most obvious long term solutions.
The Bay Delta Tunnel Plan does not ensure sufficient protection for the Delta, and in the long-term will not provide a more reliable, efficient plan for California’s water system. The plan would destroy the Delta by allowing huge amounts of freshwater to be exported before it reaches the estuary. Many small farmers in the Delta also worry that the plan will destroy their livelihoods. And BDCP’s wetland restoration project will do little to benefit certain threatened fish species.
Instead of installing these pipes, cities across the state need to start strategizing better ways to conserve, treat, and store their water. We should study the Portfolio Alternative. The Portfolio Alternative would address California’s water shortages in many ways—including building a much smaller and cheaper peripheral tunnel, and investing in water storage, recycling and levee projects. I favor an emphasis on potable reuse of existing water supplies. State officials also acknowledge that the Portfolio plan would be six billion dollars cheaper than the Bay Delta Plan. We should give serious consideration to the Portfolio Alternative. Six members of Congress recently wrote of the Bay Delta Plan, “It is an example of the risks of pushing through a plan without fully understanding the consequences or alternatives.”
Drought threatens not only Yolo County, but metropolitan and rural areas all over California. Southern California has experienced a lot of unsustainable growth over the years, and diverting and transporting water from the Sacramento River around the Delta is a high cost, short term plan with a large carbon footprint.
Finally I oppose the tunnels because of the economic devastation that they will bring to Yolo County. I discuss this further in my Response to Question 10.
It’s the only plan before us today so I have been actively involved in making sure that our constituents are well informed of the potential impacts should the plan become a reality.
Question 8: Should the county address land use practices that take productive farmland out of agricultural use? If so, what would you propose?
Taking productive farmland out of agricultural use is not good for the land, or the people. Agriculture is an important industry in Yolo County’s economy. We are known for our successful farms, and progressive conservation practices. The preservation of our agricultural lands should be a priority as suburban sprawl continues to increase the pressure to develop. I support more funding for the Williamson Act that has historically provided an incentive to keep these lands undeveloped.
However, we have to plan for certain eventualities of global warming that we have to accept not because we want these changes but because we need to plan for their arrival. As previously stated, water supply stresses caused by global climate change will almost certainly necessitate the removal of non-prime farmland from production. Every effort should be made to shield small Yolo County’s agricultural community from the economic hardships of the impending water supply stresses. In order to do that we must accept that non-prime farmland may have to be removed from production and begin planning now for the implementation of creative strategies to mitigate the impacts of this eventuality. This may be an effect of global warming.
Yes, Yolo county needs to be vigilant. Our farmland is being taken out of production at an alarming rate. I would propose that we develop ways to incentivize farming. I am very interested in hearing from others that are in the business of farming about their ideas for what would result in sustainable farming. For example, i really enjoyed the laundry list of suggestions we received from the Capay Valley Vision.
Question 9: Please describe your background and public service record on environmental issues.
I have always supported protection of our natural resources and the development of renewable energy sources. I recognize that we must do something about global warming and not simply ignore the problem. I lead my life with these principles. Conservation starts in the home. I practice recycling in my home. We drive a hybrid auto. I am a member of the Environmental Caucus of the California Democratic Party. I have supported efforts of the Democratic Party to oppose fracking.
I have been on the West Sacramento City Council for the last 13 years. During this time I have been actively involved in all facets of our well managed growth and development and have always supported the county’ position that growth remain within the boundaries of the cities. When proposals for growth beyond our city boundaries were brought to the city I was the first one to voice opposition.
Question 10: Why should Sierra Club support your candidacy compared to your opponent?
I met with my opponent, Oscar Villegas, on February 17,2014 at 3 pm at Ay Jalisco Restaurant on Jefferson Blvd, West Sacramento, California. At that time I asked Oscar Villegas for his position on the tunnels. Initially, Oscar was evasive, but when I pressed him for an answer Oscar stated, “I support the tunnels because they are the only game in town.” Obviously, that is a poor answer. As I explained above in Response to Question 7, the tunnels will wreak havoc on the environment. I believe that we as environmentalists need to press for a California Water Plan based on reuse of water rather than redirection of water from the Delta. The only viable long-term solution is a California water plan that emphasizes direct and indirect potable reuse of existing water supplies.
Moreover, it is a dangerous answer for Yolo County. The Bay Delta plan calls for the flooding of the rice production areas of Yolo County in order to ameliorate the effects that the tunnels will have on the habitat. The thought is that by flooding these areas for eight months out of the year, it will make up for the massive fish kills that will occur at the tunnels. In addition to the disastrous effects on the environment caused by the fish kills, the plan calls for flooding that would take nine million dollars in rice production out of the local Yolo economy from rice production and would also affect shipping at the Yolo Port.
It would be an honor to receive the Sierra Club’s endorsement. If elected I will prove that I am a true champion for protecting our natural resources, and seeking renewable energy solutions.
I have the experience of serving as an elected official for 13 years and understand how difficult this work can be. I believe my balanced and pragmatic approach to problem solving is a perfect fit for Yolo County and I would honored to receive the support of the Sierra Club.
Question 11: Who has endorsed your candidacy?
Yolo County Central Committee
California Democratic Party
Yolo County Central Committee, Vote 23-1
State Latino Leaders
Dolores Huerta, Co-Founder UFW
Cruz Reynoso, Supreme Court Justice (Ret.)
Carlos Alcala, Chair Chicano Latino Caucus, California Democratic Party
Irene Tovar, Former Chair Chicano Latino Caucus CDP
Duane Goff, State Commander of the American GI Forum
Rick Gonzalez, President Concilio of Yolo County
Marco Lizarraga, Yolo Campaigns Activist
State Constitutional Officers
Dave Jones, California Insurance Commissioner
Betty Yee, California Board of Equalization
Yolo and Other Elected Officials
Congressman John Garamendi
Congressman Ami Bera
Senator Richard Polanco (Ret.)
Four Waters, Consultant California Democratic Party
Freddie Oakley, Yolo County Registrar
Joe Kravoza, Mayor of Davis
Mark Johannessen, West Sacramento City Council
Allen Warren, Sacramento City Council
Alicia Cruz, School Board, Washington School District, West Sacramento
Sarah Kirby Gonzalez, School Board, Washington School District, W. Sacramento
Adam Mencke, School Board, Washington School District, W. Sacramento
Angel Barrajas, School Board, Woodland Unified School District, Woodland
Sacramento Central Labor Council
Kevin Fereirra, Political Director, Central Labor Council and President of Ironworkers
Ali Cooper, Political Director SEIU 1000
Ron Carrion, Political Director, Operating Engineers District 80
Don Stauffer, President West Sacramento Teachers Union
Susan Savage, Regional Director California Teachers Association
Lino Paredes, Central Labor Council and VP SEIU-USWW
River City Democratic Club, West Sac’s only chartered Dem Club, Unanimous
Dolores Huerta Latino Democratic Club, Unanimous
Sacramento Latino Democratic Club, Unanimous
Dick Holdstock, President of the West Yolo Democratic Club, Unanimous
Marlene Bell, West Yolo Democratic Club
Iqubal Bedwalz, President Sikh Democratic Club, member Sikh Temple (West Sacramento)
Valeria Hernandez, President California College Democrats
Lawson Stuart, Chair Veterans Caucus, California Democratic Party
Supervisor Matt Rexroad
Supervisor Duane Chamberlain
Supervisor Don Saylor
Supervisor Jim Provenza