Thursday Must Reads: Oakland Council Votes to Ban Oil-By-Rail Shipments; Anti-Tunnels Activists Gear Up to Fight Water Bond

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland City Council voted this week to ban train shipments of crude oil, coal, and petcoke within city limits, the East Bay Citizen reports. The legislation is advisory, because only the federal government has the power to regulate the nation’s railways. But environmentalists hope that if enough cities oppose oil-by-rail shipments, it could prompt the feds to tighten regulations. Concerns over crude oil trains have heightened since one exploded in Canada last year, killing 47 people. Coal shipments, meanwhile, worsen air pollution. The council also urged the city to divest from publicly traded fossil fuel companies.


The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

  • The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

2. Opponents of Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to build two massive water tunnels underneath the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are gearing up to fight a proposed water bond for the November ballot, the SacBee$ reports. The $10 billion water bond does not include funds for the tunnels, but does include money that would help mitigate the environmental harm caused by the tunnels. Opponents say that the water agencies that stand to benefit from the tunnels should pay for the environmental damage — not state taxpayers.

3. Legislation that would require kill switches in all smartphones passed through an Assembly committee yesterday, the San Francisco Business Times$ reports. Kill switches render phones inoperable when stolen and are supported by most law enforcement groups because smartphone theft has prompted a robbery epidemic nationwide. The bill already passed the state Senate.

4. The Assembly, however, killed legislation that would have required health warning labels for sugary beverages sold in the state, the SacBee$ reports. The soda industry lobbied heavily against the bill.

5. Californians are not conserving water despite the historic drought, the Chron reports. Bay Area residents have only cut water usage by 2 percent this year, well short of the 20 percent requested by the governor. Statewide, water consumption is down by just 5 percent.

6. State fishery officials evacuated more than 400,000 baby trout and steelhead from hatcheries because drought conditions made the hatchery water dangerously warm, the AP reports. The fish were released into the American River.

7. Tea Party Republican Tom McClintock is single-handedly blocking the expansion of Yosemite National Park, the Mercury News$ reports. McClintock is a staunch opponent of the National Park Service, which wants to buy 793 scenic acres and add them to Yosemite.

8. Some Oakland city leaders are unhappy with a proposed lease extension for the A’s at the Coliseum because the deal calls for allowing the team to keep $5 million in unpaid rent that it owes city and Alameda County, the Trib$ reports.

9. The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously for a new policy that is designed to stop the Berkeley Police Department from engaging in racial profiling, the Trib$ reports. “The ‘Fair and Impartial Policing Policy’ mandates that officers document all traffic and pedestrian stops, noting the apparent race, gender, age, cause for the stop, whether there was a search, and the outcome — an arrest, citation or warning.”

10. And the City of Berkeley is moving forward with a plan that would require warning stickers on gas pumps about the dangers posed by greenhouse gas emissions, the LA Times$ reports.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

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