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Fighting pollution at the Port of San Diego

 February 14, 2022 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Monday, February 14th - Valentine’s Day>>>>

Federal funding to clean up pollution at the port More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….######

California officials are saying the covid pandemic is becoming an endemic. Governor Gavin Newsom's endemic plan is expected to be released THIS week.

UC San Diego professor of medicine Dr. Robert Schooley says endemic means the virus isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.. and while our local situation is improving, transmission will continue on some level.

“it is great to be in the situation we’re in it doesn't mean we’re not going to have to be masked again or do vaccination again it just means we’re in a situation where we don’t think we’re going to have as dramatic a surge that we’ve had in past ones so you see this kind of low level smoldering most of the time unless we let our guard down and let our immunity decline.” (:19)

Schooley says the governor's plan will likely have fewer mandates and more personal choice.

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With the waning covid-19 surge, the number of people hospitalized in San Diego county continues to decrease. It declined by 33 patients for a total of 751. That’s according to the latest data out from the state. On Friday, county public health officials reported 1,273 new covid-19 cases and 23 additional deaths. The county does not update covid-19 data on weekends.

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Five cities in the San Diego region broke high temperature records on Saturday. Those cities were Chula Vista at 93, San Diego at 91, Vista and Escondido with 90, and Ramona at 85. El Cajon tied its 1971 record of 89 degrees. If you’ve been frustrated with the hot weather, fear not, things are expected to start cooling off today.

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From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

100-million dollars…. That’s what local lawmakers are hoping to get from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law… to reduce pollution at the Port of San Diego and surrounding communities. KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado has the details.

SOON, $16 BILLION DOLLARS OF THE TRILLION DOLLAR INFRASTRUCTURE AND JOBS ACT WILL BE UP FOR GRABS FOR PORTS AND WATERWAYS ACROSS THE COUNTRY. THAT’S WHY REPRESENTATIVES JUAN VARGAS AND SCOTT PETERS STOOD IN FRONT OF THE DOCKS AT PEPPER PARK IN NATIONAL CITY TO ANNOUNCE THEIR PLAN TO BRING IN AS MUCH OF THAT MONEY AS THEY CAN TO MAKE IMPROVEMENTS TO THE PORT OF SAN DIEGO.

Rep. Juan Vargas

The Bipartisan Infrastructure law is going to make a big impact right here in this district

Scott Peters

The surge of goods moving through our outdated infrastructure is causing a strain on our ports and slowing the global supply chain

THEY PLAN TO FOCUS THAT MONEY ON REDUCING POLLUTION THAT COMES FROM THE PORT AND AFFECTS RESIDENTS IN BARRIO LOGAN AND NATIONAL CITY, WHERE MOST OF THE CANCER AND ASTHMA CAUSING PARTICULATES COME FROM DIESEL FUEL, ACCORDING TO THE COUNTY’S AIR POLLUTION CONTROL DISTRICT.

VARGAS SAYS A BARGE SYSTEM TO TRANSPORT GOODS IS BEING LOOKED AT AS A WAY TO TAKE TRUCKS OUT OF LOCAL STREETS.

If you live in Barrio Logan if you live in National City you really care because your health depends on this in other words we have to make these ports much cleaner and that’s what that money allows us to do

PETERS SAYS ONE PROJECT THEY WILL SEEK FUNDS FOR WILL BE SHORE POWER SYSTEMS THAT SHIPS CAN PLUG INTO.

THESE PLUGS ALLOW VESSELS INCLUDING CRUISE SHIPS TO TURN OFF THEIR DIESEL GENERATORS, IF YOU SEE SHIPS IN PORTS THAT AREN’T PLUGGED IN THEY’RE RUNNING DIESEL MOTORS ALL THE TIME DAY AND NIGHT TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY HAVE POWER … SHORE POWER SYSTEMS DRAMATICALLY REDUCE POLLUTION THAT HURTS OUR PORT-SIDE COMMUNITIES

The bipartisan infrastructure law is a game changer

NATIONAL CITY MAYOR ALEJANDRA SOTELO-SOLIS SAYS PROJECTS LIKE THESE ARE IMPORTANT… AND THERE ARE MORE IN THE WORKS… INCLUDING TRACKING WHERE DIESEL TRUCKS DRIVE AND EMIT HARMFUL POLLUTANTS IN ORDER TO MAKE PRECISE INVESTMENTS.

These dollars are great but this is exactly where it goes and who it will impact.

THE PLAN WILL HELP MODERNIZE AND CLEAN UP THE PORT THAT GENERATES ALMOST TEN BILLION DOLLARS AND ONE OUT OF EVERY 30 JOBS TO THE COUNTY’S ECONOMY. THEY EXPECT TO GET AT LEAST 100 MILLION DOLLARS.

KITTY ALVARADO KPBS NEWS

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The neo-Nazi group that a Marine reservist, and son of the former San Diego County GOP chairman, allegedly tried to join has a violent past and a penchant for recruiting military people.

KPBS’s Amita Sharma has more.

After a recent tip from The Activated Podcast activists, the Marines are investigating whether Victor Kravaric, the son of ex-GOP Chairman Tony Krvaric, applied to be in the Patriot Front. The group is one of the most powerful far right hate groups in the US and its members were part of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.

“....They are the worst of the worst. And there's no way that someone who is a Marine should be involved in this. because it violates their oath to uphold the Constitution.”

Brian Levin is with the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. He says 20 percent of Patriot Front’s members claim military ties, which may be due to the group’s targeted recruitment tactics.

“....Fliers, stickers, propaganda…to places where they know military people congregate.”

The probe into Victor Krvaric comes nearly two years after a 19902 video surfaced of the elder Krvaric appearing with animated Nazi imagery.

Levin says the younger Krvaric’s alleged actions could be a case of….

Apple doesn't fall far from the tree, apparently. But the bottom line is one of the things I think is so interesting how the line between extremism and politics has collapsed.

Victor Krvaric did not respond to a request for comment. Amita Sharma, KPBS News.

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The California board of state and community corrections met last week to discuss programs funded by prop 47. it’s a ballot measure passed by California voters in 2014, that may have reduced recidivism. KQED’s Alex Hall Reports.

That was KQED’s Alex Hall reporting.

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Coming up.... This year there’s been a Monarch butterfly boom, but the numbers are still nowhere near- what they were before.

“We're still just a fraction of the number of butterflies we had 20 years ago.”

That story next, after the break.

The United States filed the first environmental complaint under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. It’s calling for a consultation with Mexico over protections for a critically endangered porpoise in the Upper Gulf of California. From the Fronteras Desk in Hermosillo, KJZZ’s Kendal Blust reports.

BLUST: The complaint cites Mexico’s failure to stop illegal fishing that threatens the critically endangered vaquita marina. It’s the world’s smallest porpoise and most endangered marine mammal, there are as few as six vaquita left.

The U.S. is calling for environmental consultations with Mexican officials. But if the U.S. and Mexico don’t reach an agreement, it could ultimately lead to sanctions.

UHLEMANN: We’re really hopeful that this will prompt serious enforcement action by the Mexican government to save this little porpoise from extinction.

BLUST: Sarah Uhlemann is with the Center for Biological Diversity - one of several environmental groups that requested this action last August.

She says sanctions under the USMCA could be far more sweeping than existing embargoes on seafood from the Upper Gulf of California.

SOC: Kendal Blust, KJZZ News, Hermosillo

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Millions of monarch butterflies once migrated across California.

Now researchers worry about dwindling numbers. And some fear they may be disappearing here altogether.

This year, though, there’s been a butterfly boom.

CapRadio’s environment & climate change reporter Manola Secaira was there to see it and shares this story.

I’m with a group of butterfly counters. We’re looking up at trees in Pacific Grove’s monarch butterfly sanctuary. That’s near the ocean, by Monterey. And we just saw the first group of monarchs fly off for the day.

It’s beautiful. But it’s also a sign that the butterfly counters are running out of time.

We started the day at sunrise. To count monarchs, you need to start before temperatures reach 55 degrees. That’s when it’s warm enough for them to start moving. You also need enough sun to be able to spot butterflies in the trees.

Stephanie Turcotte is a counter who’s done this work for a decade. She has gotten pretty good at it.

STEPHANIE1: You get something called monarch eyes. That's something that a long-time monarch person in this area kind of coined it, and I love it because it is true. You can with your naked eye, eventually, you can see them in the trees.

If you want to see monarch butterflies in the winter, Pacific Grove is the place to be. Usually, this is where you can find thousands of monarchs “overwintering.” That’s when butterflies settle in an area to shelter during colder months before continuing their migration in mid-February.

STEPHANIE2: I had never even heard about it until I moved here to Pacific Grove and then found out, Oh, this is like Butterfly Town USA.

But last year, there were no butterflies in Pacific Grove. That’s part of the problem. For years, researchers have seen dwindling numbers of monarchs all along the West Coast.

Liese Murphree: We're still just at a fraction of the number of butterflies that we had 20 years ago.

That’s Liese Murphree. She’s one of the counters today, and also works for the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History. There’s no single reason for the decline of monarch butterflies. But she told me that one factor could be climate change.

LM: They've been adapted over thousands and thousands of years to a certain rhythm of nature. And now the pace of the change of nature is so much faster.

So why did we see a sudden uptick this year? This is what I asked Sarina Jepsen. She directs the endangered species program at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

SJ: This was most likely a result of just having the right climate last year during the Monarch butterflies breeding season to produce a big population.

This year, we’ve seen close to a quarter million monarchs. That’s comparable to what we had a few years ago. But it doesn’t mean we’re back to normal.

But it's a very hopeful sign and it to me, it says we have a little bit more time to work on recovering the monarch population. They have not been wiped out, as we had feared last year.

That’s where the butterfly counters come in. The Xerces Society offers training for volunteers. Tracking these numbers helps researchers get a better idea about where monarchs are going and how we might help them thrive on their long journey.

That’s why Kat Morgan decided to join. She’s another counter I met on my visit.

Kat Morgan: It's volunteers who do the Monarch counts, and some of the staff participated in that. But there are places where there aren't staff to do this, so it's all volunteers and it really inspires me.
After two hours, the counters came together to compare numbers.

The final estimate? 7,756.

[final number count, mono-25 min9: “Which is good! That means not too many have left yet… they’ve just moved.”]

Any of these monarchs could survive and pave the way for future generations of migrating butterflies. And volunteers make their journey a little easier.

That’s it for the podcast today. 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 Valentine’s day.

Local lawmakers are hoping to get a big chunk of funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to reduce pollution at the Port of San Diego and surrounding communities. Meanwhile, the U.S. Marine Corps. opened an inquiry last week into whether Victor Krvaric, a Marine reservist and son of former San Diego County GOP Chairman Tony Krvaric, had applied to be a member of a white supremacist group. Plus, is the Monarch butterfly really making a comeback in California?