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Newsom’s Record On Climate And Wildfires

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, prepares to speak as Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, walks past him as Newsom visits the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's McClellan Reload Base to discuss the state's new efforts to protect emergency personnel and evacuees from COVID-19 during wildfires.

Hector Amezcua / AP

We continue looking at Governor Gavin Newsom’s successes and failures at this midterm point, today addressing his record in tackling the environment and wildfires. Meanwhile, outdoor dining can resume in San Diego after stay at home orders were lifted for the Southern California region. Plus, a new plan to diversify jurors in US federal court in Southern California comes under fire.

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Tuesday, January 26th.

How Governor Newsom has tackled environmental issues over the past two years..

We’ll have that next, but first... let’s do the headlines….

Outdoor dining can resume once again in San Diego County. The state lifted regional stay-at-home orders on monday. The changes come as California officials say projections show ICU availability improving over the next few weeks. Additional restrictions will be lifted as case rates go down.

San Diego County supervisors are set to vote this week on whether to allow marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas. That would reverse a ban on those businesses enacted in 2017, when Republicans held a majority on the board of supervisors.. Now, with Democrats in charge, Supervisors plan to vote on Wednesday to start drafting regulations, A final vote will take place later this year.

The second of three winter storms expected this week blew through San Diego County Monday with high winds, considerable rainfall and snow, and even some hail. The blustery weather forced the Petco Park Vaccine Super Station to close for all of Monday and Tuesday morning. People who had Petco Park vaccination appointments on Monday are being rescheduled for Thursday.

From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.

Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

While statewide stay at home orders have lifted, San Diego county remains in the state's most restrictive purple reopening tier. KPBS’ Matt Hoffman reports on what local officials had to say.

Fletcher: We don't want to change the trajectory we’re on
San diego county supervisor nathan fletcher says lessening of restrictions is a good step-- in the purple tier restaurants can once again resume outdoor dining and personal care businesses can start taking customers inside with precautions--
3:07 Nathan Fletcher, San Diego County Supervisor
We have a long way to go before the red tier but hopefully opening in the purple tier will provide some relief
With the regional stay at home order gone, county public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten could have chosen to be more restrictive-
15:10:00 Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County Health Officer
I think it is time for businesses to start having some hope and I think the move made today was a reasonable one
The governor was asked Monday if a recall campaign and pressure from lawsuits influenced his decision to lift some restrictions--
49:23.697 Newsom
Yeah that’s just complete and utter nonsense so let's’ just dispense with that

That story from KPBS” Matt Hoffman. Staying with Governor….

Environmental experts are giving mixed reviews on Governor Gavin Newsom’s two years in office. Some say he’s made some important steps on climate change, others say he’s largely been playing defense.

As part of a CapRadio series on Newsom this week, Ezra David Romero explains why advocates say now is the time for the Governor to show where he really stands on the environment.

Back in September, while wildfires and the pandemic were raging, Newsom captivated the world's attention with a bold new climate goal. He ordered the new car and truck market to be zero-emission by 2035.
[NEWSOM] “The opportunity is limitless, for the state of California, to compete, not only nationally, but to compete globally.”
[SPERLING 1] “That really was very important.”
Dan Sperling with the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies says the clean car target was a big deal for the state’s climate goals.
[SPERLING 2] “That actually got a lot of attention. Not only California, but internationally. And a lot of other countries are now imitating that target.”
While Newsom’s gotten a lot of praise for transportation goals, he hasn’t exactly been known as a champion environmentalist. Kathryn Phillips is the director of Sierra Club California.
[PHILLIPS] “To the environmental community he has been a disappointment. Initially he wasn't talking about climate change at all, then he started talking about it, then had to deal with all the fires. He says he's going to accelerate everything and then put the brakes on.”
But some would argue that Newsom’s lack of environmental progress may be because he was playing defense against the Trump Administration's repeated attempts to roll back policies.
2020’s record-setting wildfire season was also a major distraction... although Newsom did help create a state-federal partnership to reduce wildfire risk. He also proposed a billion dollars for wildfire prevention in a recent budget. But …
[STEWART] “A billion dollars is not going to go very far.”
UC Berkeley Forestry Advisor William Stewart says a billion dollars is chump change because so many agencies want the funds, and there are so many potential projects.
[STEWART 2] “We may need to do something different than kind of the small scale projects that we historically know how to do. There needs to be some people with kind of a skunkworks approach. Can we look at doing this a different way?”
Another area where environmentalists say Newsom has fallen short is in water management, says Deborah Sivas, an attorney with the Stanford University Environmental Law Clinic. She says the state’s fragmented water bureaucracies could be corralled into one agency. And he needs to make sure farms and cities are getting water needs met.
[SIVAS] “Let's reform water. It's hard and there are a lot of entrenched interests. But if you really want to have the mantle of environmental champion, this is his time to do it. It just feels like we're just not getting anything revolutionary.”
Advocates like Phillips of Sierra Club California criticise Newsom for not taking bold action, and for being more like Governor Jerry Brown who was known for his incremental approach to policy making.
[PHILLIPS] “A sense among many people that incrementalism isn't the thing they want change, they want clean air … especially young people want to stop worrying about what the future is going to bring in terms of climate change.”
In talking to advocates and experts, it’s clear they’re more interested in what Newsom can do moving forward. Alvaro Sanchez, environmental equity director for the Greenlining Institute says Newsom needs to phase out fossil fuels faster. He says that will help meet the state’s climate goals, and improve life for Californians in polluted parts of the state.
[SANCHEZ] “What I would recommend is not only to hear, but to believe what folks are saying and to really incorporate what they are asking for into our actual strategies.”
With a new presidential administration focused on equity and climate change, Sanchez says the cap is now lifted off the governor. He says this is Newsom’s time to meet the moment and be bold on the environment. SOC.

That story from CapRadio’s Ezra David Romero. Tomorrow we’ll bring you a segment on how Governor Newsom has tackled homelessness over the past two years. You can find more at CapRadio-dot-org-slash-Newsom.

Coming up.... The Southern District of California has published a plan to diversify the jury pool. We’ll have more on efforts to overhaul federal court procedures next, just after this break.

When a new administration takes power in Washington, there’s usually a shake up among Federal prosecutors around the nation. Up in LA for instance, the US attorney appointed by former President Trump has just resigned. But here in San Diego, there’s a more fundamental issue about Federal court procedure that’s coming under fire. The US district court for the Southern District of California has published its plan to increase the diversity of jurors. But critics say the proposal will not correct a racial imbalance that has existed for decades.

To discuss that review...Voice of San Diego reporter Maya Srikrishnan spoke with KPBS Midday Edition host Maureen Kavanaugh. Here’s that interview…..

That was Voice of San Diego Reporter Maya Srikrishnan speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host Maureen Kavanaugh.

That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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San Diego News Now

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.