EXPOSED!--Online dictionary Merriam-Webster.com defines corruption as: "DISHONEST OR ILLEGAL BEHAVIOR ESPECIALLY BY POWERFUL PEOPLE (SUCH AS GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS OR POLICE OFFICERS): DEPRAVITY."
I apologize for using all capital letters, otherwise known as online shouting, rather than the more traditional and visually-appealing mixture of upper and lower case. But SB 827 will do something very similar to many Berkeley neighborhoods.
Four- to eight-story concrete boxes will replace beautiful century-old single family homes and rent-controlled smaller apartment buildings. And if SB 827 becomes law, there won't be anything anyone in Berkeley can do about it.
WHY NO ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW?
The State of California says the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) "requires state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible."
"At a minimum, an initial review of the project and its environmental effects must be conducted. Depending on the potential effects, a further, and more substantial, review may be conducted in the form of an environmental impact report (EIR)."
"A project may not be approved as submitted if feasible alternatives or mitigation measures are able to substantially lessen the significant environmental effects of the project."
THE LEGISLATURE CAN EXEMPT ITSELF FROM ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW
Like gangsters invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by refusing to testify in a racketeering trial, the California State Legislature and SB 827's authors Scott Wiener and Nancy Skinner can exempt themselves from environmental review if they choose. And they appear to be doing so.
Searching online, I could find no record of any scientific analysis of any kind being done on the impacts of SB 827. And that seems strange for a bill that is supposed to fight climate change.
SB 827 will also throw away centuries of rights of cities to control their own zoning and result in billions of dollars of profit for California developers.
SCIENCE AND MONEY
The primary author of the bill, State Senator Scott Wiener, is an attorney with no apparent scientific education who got 41 percent of his campaign money from developers.
He might be excused for not understanding anything about carbon emissions or global warming, but his co-author Nancy Skinner, Berkeley's State Senator, should know better. According to her online biography, she has a science degree from UC Berkeley.
AN INITIAL REVIEW AS REQUIRED BY CEQA
Since I couldn't find even an initial review done by the State of California, I did a basic review myself.
I compared the carbon emissions of building a new apartment in Tracy, and the resident driving their car to Berkeley every work day, with tearing down an existing apartment in Berkeley and building two new ones in its place. With that same person living in the added Berkeley apartment.
I started with some basic assumptions:
- Building two Berkeley apartments costs $300,000 more than building one Tracy apartment. - Carbon offset credits cost $20 per ton of CO2 - Each gallon of gasoline emits 20 pounds of CO2 when burned - A Toyota Prius gets 50 miles per gallon of gasoline - Tracy to Berkeley round trip is 112 miles - 250 work days per year
Dividing $300,000 by $20, equals:
- 15,000 tons of CO2 that would be offset if the same money was spent on carbon credits
Multiplying by 2,000 pounds per ton, equals:
- 30,000,000 pounds of CO2
Dividing 30,000,000 pounds by 20 pounds equals:
- 1,500,000 gallons of gasoline that would produce the same carbon
So tearing down one Berkeley apartment and building two new ones emits as much carbon as building one new Tracy apartment and burning 1,500,000 gallons of gasoline.
Multiplying 1,500,000 gallons times 50 miles per gallon equals:
- 75,000,000 miles of Prius driving
Dividing 75,000,000 miles by 112 miles equals:
- 669643 days of commuting from Tracy to Berkeley and back
Dividing 669643 days by 250 days equals:
- 2679 years
So for the first 2679 years, less carbon would be emitted by building a new apartment in Tracy and having the resident drive a Prius back and forth to Berkeley 5 days a week (without SB 827), than by building that apartment in Berkeley (with SB 827).
2,000 YEARS OF DARKNESS
In other words, SB 827 would make global warming worse for the next 2,000 years.
This is obviously a rough estimate, but it should be in the same ballpark as a CEQA "initial review of the project and its environmental effects."
The environmental effects are horrifying.
I challenge Scott Wiener, Nancy Skinner and anyone else who is backing SB 827 to find anything wrong with my calculations.
SACRAMENTO COULDN'T BE BOTHERED TO SPEND 10 MINUTES DOING THE MATH?
Maybe this is why no official environmental review was published. Any qualified scientist looking at these numbers would know that SB 827 is a scam that will cause massive damage to the global environment for thousands of years. Possibly enough to tip the balance to the extinction of the entire human race.
To me, this is corruption of the worst sort and raises some important questions.
HOW FAR DOES THIS CORRUPTION GO?
Is the entire State Legislature involved? How about Governor Jerry Brown? If SB 827 passes, I think we will have our answer.
The governor's personal financial ties to the Oakland coal terminal, and the profit he might have made off burning huge amounts of the dirtiest fossil fuel, already raised real questions about his commitment to the environment.
The coal terminal plans to move 5 million tons of carbon through West Berkeley every year on its way from coal mines in Utah to furnaces in China. And ultimately to our atmosphere and into our lungs.
SB 827 MAY BECOME LAW
If it does, it will be a wakeup call for everyone in California that our government has stopped working for us and is fully controlled by Big Money.
(Russ Tilleman is with the Campaign for Police Accountability in Berkeley. This piece was posted most recently at the Berkeley Daily Planet.)