No Courage, All Campaign

(This is the script of the opening segment for the Jan. 10, 2020 broadcast of Climate Politics. The shows airs on KFCF 88.1 FM from 5-6 pm on the second and fourth Fridays of each month. Hosted by Kevin Hall, the show’s premise is that to respond to climate change, our political climate must change, too. The entire broadcast includes interviews with Kathryn Phillips of Sierra Club California regarding the state’s Green New Deal and Fresno activists Dee Barnes and Mike Rhodes on efforts to block former police chief Jerry Dyer from becoming mayor.)

ENTIRE EPISODE PODCAST: Climate Politics Broadcast, Jan. 10, 2020 (it’s a little choppy)

By Kevin Hall

2. Residents of 'Reverse' TriangleWelcome to Climate Politics. Today’s show is a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly. We’ll be doing a deep dive into a bad candidate for Fresno mayor, but before that we get to hear some very good news from Sacramento. The ugly, of course, comes in the form of grim climate news from around the world and another round of scientific studies warning of our rapidly destabilizing atmosphere and the collapse of the ecosystems on which all life depends.

This is no time for the politics of old. We need to be drawing bright lines — right now — between progressive politicians who understand the climate-crisis timeline, and their status quo counterparts. This election is the most important in world history. We must succeed, over the next five years, at laying down the massive policy changes needed to reverse our suicidal course.

Locally, the Sunrise Movement chapter has coalesced and is beginning to organize on campuses and in the community. They’re recruiting people between the ages of 14 to 35. The rest of us are welcome to join, too, just hang back and respect the space they’re occupying and the voices they put forward.

So, everyone is encouraged to go online to Sunrise Movement and join the local hub. While all are definitely welcome, the group points out that they recently held an internal vote and three-fourths of their membership agreed to endorse Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. Regardless of that race’s outcome though, the work continues as the movement is building toward a massive day of action on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22nd, and toward the November presidential election.

Many Californians will be travelling to other states to help in presidential primaries, particularly Super Tuesday in March when more than a third of primary votes will be cast nationwide. But many other Californians will travel here, to the San Joaquin Valley, to volunteer in the congressional district 16 race, where incumbent conservative Democrat Jim Costa is being challenged by centrist Democrat Esmeralda Soria of the Fresno City Council and progressive Democrat Kimberly Williams, a former U.s. State Department official now living in Merced.

Sadly, many well-intentioned people will come here to volunteer for Soria at the urging of Courage Campaign, the highly respected political advocacy group which in its latest advertising has packaged Soria, along with three other candidates, into a glitzy, imitation AOC-style squad.Courage Campaign Soria

These visitors might have been further encouraged by an uncharacteristically soft, puff piece of an article in The Intercept, the great news organization founded by Jeremy Scahill, Naomi Klein, Mehdi Hasan and others. The reporter left unchallenged Soria’s absurd self-description as a “unapologetic progressive.”

Both groups are completely right on Jim Costa. For my part, I was quoted in The Fresno Bee just last year calling him worse than Devin Nunes when it comes to climate change. Nunes is a denier, case closed, but Costa is a delayer. And that’s worse. I first tangled with him 20 years ago over the mega-dairies coming into the valley, and his disregard for public health and environmental concerns couldn’t have been more clear.

But when Courage Campaign volunteers come here to help save the planet, they’ll be sent to walk for Soria. I encourage them to try the precincts around South-Central Fresno. Two years ago voters from that area came before then-council president Soria & co. for relief from warehouse distribution centers that were being illegally permitted by the City of Fresno; Amazon, Ulta, Caglia. Here are the voices that should not be forgotten, the voices of people living and dying in a sacrifice zone created by environmentally racist policies and votes. These are the people who must be at the center of the climate justice movement but who were ignored by Soria.

CLIP:  Play first 2:30 of testimony from  South-Central Fresno residents opposing the Caglia development at Fresno City Hall, Jan. 25, 2018

Soria is not a racist, not by any stretch of the imagination. But she voted that way. They all did, the entire city council. At best, she was just cowardly joining the crowd, staying in her political comfort zone. Just as she might have been doing when she voted to support putting the slogan “In God We Trust” above the city council dais, I sure hope it wasn’t for personal religious reasons, or when she voted last year to create a developer refund fee program in Fresno, of all places, home to Operation Rezone, and just last month to reopen the Fresno General Plan.

Speaking of which, one final note: just five years after its adoption, Fresno’s smart growth General Plan is being reopened at the urging of sprawl developers. Since its adoption, the majority of the city council has termed out of office and the new members are being led by the nose. Countless hours of work must now be wasted by resource-strapped nonprofits and volunteers in a committee review process that will drag on for months in this crucial election year.

The 17-member committee includes the group of developers who five years ago argued that the city should just lock developers and staff in a room with maps and pencils until they came out with a plan. That’s a plan, course, by which they divvy up the pieces of undeveloped land around Fresno and the new freeways reaching out to them. 

It looks as though they’ve got their wish.

Rather than stand and fight it with Nelson Esparza, the only councilor to vote no, and Mayor Lee Brand, who said he’s against it, and to give voters a say by turning it into a campaign issue in the mayor’s race where Andrew Janz is taking no money from developers, Democratic centrists  Soria and Miguel Arias are doing the developers’ bidding. That’s status quo, Fresno politics.

That’s not courage, just campaign.



Drastic changes are needed if California is to win the climate-change challenge

(source links inserted for this website)

When Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered his keynote speech at the recent California Economic Summit in Fresno, he failed to say two keywords: climate change. Conversely, he said a lot about our economy while at a climate change summit held in New York just weeks earlier:

“The [California] economy is growing; a fully functioning cap-and-trade program; the most audacious low-carbon green growth goals in the United States of America. There’s nothing left for me to sign — it’s 100 percent across the board, in every category,” he boasted at Climate Week NYC held in support of the U.N. Climate Action Summit in late September.

Our Future
Valley Climate Activists greeted attendees of the California Economic Summit in Fresno on Sept. 27.

Speaking on the eve of wildfire season, Newsom seemed to be tempting fate itself. Conflagrations were soon exploding around the state as if an invading armada were shelling it: Sandalwood, Caples, Saddleridge, Kincade, Tick, Getty, Easy. People fled for their lives — some died — in war zones of flame, smoke, sirens, panic and confusion.

And if Newsom needed another call to arms, two days before the first wildfire hit, San Francisco-based nonprofit think tank Next 10 issued its 11th annual California Green Innovation Index. The report warns, “California will meet its 2030 climate targets more than three decades late — 2061… if the average rate of emissions reductions from the past year holds steady.”

But California and the world must cut emissions by half before 2030. If not, tipping points will be crossed that set in motion irreversible, ever-increasing releases of naturally stored carbon and methane, according to the October U.N.October U.N. report on a 1.5 C increase in global average temperature.

Yet there stood Newsom in Fresno on Nov. 8, one year after the Camp Fire, the deadliest, most destructive fire in state history with at least 85 victims, talking about the state’s economy without once mentioning climate change.

Consequently, the state government’s climate change programs are rooted in outdated strategies warped by fossil fuel lobbyists like former state legislators Henry T. Perea of Fresno, now with Western States Petroleum Association, and Chevron’s Michael Rubio of Bakersfield.

When pressed by The Bee and KFCF radio afterwards, Newsom explained California is now in the implementation phase of its climate change response, echoing his New York remarks.

Indeed we are.

California’s cap-and-trade program, dominated by oil and gas interests, encompasses 450 businesses emitting 85% of the state’s greenhouse gases and along with two Canadian provinces comprises the world’s fourth largest exchange for carbon credits. Since 2013 it has generated $11.9 billion for reduction efforts.

High speed rail has received a fifth so far — $2.5 billion — but the concrete-intensive project will never offset its carbon footprint, and its construction spews asthma-irritating dust and cancer-causing diesel exhaust continually on West Fresno residents already hard hit by industrial polluters.

Another $2.2 billion has gone toward low carbon transportation. Primarily for alternative fuel programs, these largely serve to extend dependence on fossil fuels and combustion technologies. For example, more than $800 million is slated for a dairy methane program best described as the HSR of agriculture: it offers dubious benefits but negatively impacts vulnerable rural communities, according to an April working paper from Fresno-based Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.

Finally, in late September the state Air Resources Board approved the California Tropical Forest Standard, a potential carbon credit source for fossil fuel companies, over the objections of indigenous opponents from around the world who decried the move as “carbon colonization” of their natural resources.

Newsom must address these policies’ shortcomings head on. Because, as the Next 10 report lays bare, cap-and-trade and other market-based solutions won’t work in time. They have not worked in time.

Unfortunately, Newsom and the rest of his generation now in power came of age in an era of market-as-solution, government-as-problem philosophy. Since the 1980s, most California politicians have drunk deeply from that Reagan-with-a-twist-of-Clinton policy cocktail; with it comes considerable financial backing from industry, particularly oil and gas extractors.

Consequently, the state government’s climate change programs are rooted in outdated strategies warped by fossil fuel lobbyists like former state legislators Henry T. Perea of Fresno, now with Western States Petroleum Association, and Chevron’s Michael Rubio of Bakersfield.

The urgent response appropriate to the scale of our climate emergency will remain out of reach unless Newsom and the state Legislature change direction dramatically. To push them, youth climate strikes will be held on Black Friday. People of all ages will challenge the status quo, fighting against its genocidal outcomes.

Kevin Hall is a Fresno resident and graduate of Fresno State. He formerly reported on farm issues for trade publications and is now an air-quality activist.

Climate Strike, Nov. 8


WHO: Valley Climate Activists, Contact: Kevin Hall, 559-301-5537


WHEN: FRIDAY, NOV. 8, 10:00 AM


“Governor Newsom, Our Future or Fossil Fuels”

Fresno residents to protest local pollution impacts of Gov. Newsom’s ‘low-carbon green growth’ 

Governor Gavin Newsom will speak to hundreds of people from around the valley and state Friday morning at the California Economic Summit about our future prospects, but not a single session at the summit is dedicated to the issue of climate change.

“The failure of the governor and other officials to highlight climate change as the central concern of long-term economic planning is a failure of leadership,” said Kevin Hall, organizer of Valley Climate Activists. “Climate change and the state’s climate change spending are having profound negative impacts on our economy and health now.”

Valley Climate Activists wants to see pollution stopped at the source, an end to market mechanisms, and a cleanup of sacrifice zones like those found throughout southern Fresno and rural communities.

“The State of California is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in greenhouse gas reduction funds on High Speed Rail construction and in subsidies for biomass burning and mega-dairy expansions in our city and county,” Hall said. “All are highly polluting. All are funded by cap-and-trade, low carbon fuel standard credits and other mechanisms. Now the governor is threatening to pour hundreds of billions in state pension fund investments into such dangerous programs.”

“That bold action continued on Friday, as I announced our plan to leverage the state’s $700 billion pension investments, transportation systems and purchasing power to strengthen climate resiliency, with a goal to align our state investments toward carbon-neutral technology.”

— Gov. Gavin Newsom, Newsweek, Sept. 23, 2019

But “Carbon neutral” means continued pollution in a place like Fresno and either reduced pollution or protection of natural carbon reserves somewhere else — not here. The people most impacted by all of these projects live in the lowest income, most vulnerable and highly polluted neighborhoods of Fresno and surrounding rural communities. It’s a climate injustice. Lives are being sacrificed.

The solution is to stop pollution at the source, put an end “sacrifice zones” and to stop relying on market mechanisms, but Gov. Newsom believes otherwise:

“The economy is growing, a fully functioning cap-and-trade program, the most audacious low-carbon green growth goals in the United States of America. There’s nothing left for me to sign — it’s 100 percent across the board, in every category.”

— Gov. Gavin Newsom, Opening Remarks, Climate Week NYC, Sept. 23, 2019

Gavin Newsom is horribly wrong to think California’s climate change plan is fully in place and working well. Just this week the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Technology Review reported that “California won’t reach its 2030 decarbonization goals (cutting emissions to 40% below 1990 levels) until 2061—and wouldn’t hit its 2050 targets (80% below 1990 levels) until 2157.”

The state and valley face devastating economic consequences if these targets are missed.

– 30 –


Kevin Hall

“The only way to deal with exploiters is to terrorize the bastards.”
–Phil Burton

The way to ease ‘climate anxiety’ is to get active and make changes for the coming future

(This article first appeared in The Fresno Bee on Aug. 23, 2019)

By Kevin Hall

Public concern over climate change is surging. Perhaps it’s due to the ravages of fire, flood, hurricane, drought, tornado, etc. Maybe it’s that the first generation of people facing a truly uncertain future is now entering adulthood. Media coverage has certainly increased.

FCC colloquium Continue reading The way to ease ‘climate anxiety’ is to get active and make changes for the coming future

A Quick Note to Mike Karbassi

By Kevin Hall

Mike Karbassi was recently elected to the Fresno City Council to represent District 2 in Northwest Fresno. His Twitter praise for an inferior editorial by District 5 councilor Luis Chavez, home to most of Fresno’s heavy industry, led me to be tweet back at him, and he kindly replied (below). My longer response wouldn’t fit easily into tweets, so this: Continue reading A Quick Note to Mike Karbassi

Jim Costa’s Primary Concern

July 3, 2019

By Kevin Hall

FRESNO-Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 29-year-old political wunderkind who introduced the Green New Deal congressional resolution earlier this year, made a telling candidate endorsement in late May.

The Democratic Socialist from Queens, who a year ago successfully primaried long-time incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley, announced she is backing a fellow progressive Latina. Like Continue reading Jim Costa’s Primary Concern

Climate Politics radio broadcast 4.26.19

(Climate Politics is broadcast on the second and fourth Fridays of each month on KFCF 88.1FM in Fresno. ) LISTEN HERE ON SOUNDCLOUD to the April 26, 2019 show.

INTRODUCTION: Good afternoon and welcome to a special edition Climate Politics. This show is dedicated to the premise that if we hope to avoid climate change’s worst impacts, then we need to fix our political climate, from Fresno to D.C. and everyplace in between.

Rev. B.T. Lewis, Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church, Fresno

And it’s impossible in this country, and certainly this town and valley, to discuss our politics without grounding them in the context of the systemic racism that has shaped every institution, policy, and practice in both the public and private sector. Continue reading Climate Politics radio broadcast 4.26.19