ECOS 2022 End-of-Year Letter and Report
At this time of thanksgiving, we will remember Mother Earth, and give thanks for her beauty and her bounty. We will reflect upon global and national efforts to fight climate change, and we will pledge to do more locally.
Over this past year, partners and members of ECOS have worked together to further the sustainability of our land, water, and air in the Sacramento region. As we have for many years, we leveraged our advocacy efforts and relied upon each others’ expertise and good will.
This coming year, we pledge to collaborate again, and support our major jurisdictions and transit agency as they develop programs of projects related to community infrastructure, transportation, and green building to address climate change and take advantage of federal funding now available.
With the climate crisis escalating, we need to be even more effective in our advocacy. We need to persuade our elected leaders to take bold steps to reduce GHG emissions as fast as possible. To do this, we need your help.
We invite you to join us in 2023 and share your time and talents. But for today, please consider supporting ECOS with a tax-deductible donation by Dec. 31, either by check to ECOS, PO Box 1526, Sacramento, CA 95812 or online at https://www.ecosacramento.net/donate/. Thank you so much for your generosity.
Report on Activities in 2022
Climate Action Plans (CAP)
Over the past two years, our advocacy resulted in improvements to Sacramento County’s CAP, however many of the greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction measures are still vague and unquantifiable. Although we remain concerned the CAP relies too heavily on SMUD’s 2030 clean energy goal, we applaud the County’s collaboration with the City and SMUD on building electrification. We continue to push for an explicit prioritization of infill development near transit over sprawl; requirements for water conservation and transition to drought-tolerant landscapes; and a requirement for new development to be carbon neutral. We support Sacramento County’s Climate Emergency Task Force and look forward to its recommendations. We reviewed early draft chapters of the City of Sacramento climate plan and will soon comment on the adaptation chapter.
We are glad to report that Measure A, the sales tax initiative sponsored by large-scale housing developers, has been voted down. This initiative sought to fund the Southeast Connector and road expansion projects that would have spurred sprawl development and hindered our region’s ability to curb GHG. ECOS opposed the measure and thanks the “Measure A Not OK” campaign.
We continue to support Sacramento Investment Without Displacement and its discussions with the City of Sacramento to develop an ordinance for a community benefits agreement (CBA). To stave off displacement effects of new large projects, the ordinance would require rent supports, affordable housing, complete streets, transit, and prioritization of the local workforce for jobs.
Induced travel demand analysis
We settled our suit against Caltrans for widening the CapCity Freeway (Business 80) bridge over the American River. We were concerned about the growth in air pollution, GHG emissions, sprawl development from induced travel, and damage from bridge construction to bat and plant habitats on embankments. The settlement requires Caltrans to analyze, as part of CEQA, the impacts of induced travel demand (per SB743), and to provide additional structures for bat habitat.
Our Natomas Team is leading the charge on three projects that would threaten the future of the Natomas Basin Conservancy, habitat, and farming. The Airport South Industrial and two others are proposed for land zoned for agriculture, outside the City, and outside the County’s Urban Service Boundary.
Water and Habitat
ECOS’ Water Committee advocates for a safe and reliable water supply that supports people, rivers and wildlife, recreation and aesthetic values, and agriculture. Our committee, with 40 others, is a member of the Water Forum, where water priorities are negotiated. As part of the Environmental Caucus, our committee developed a statement of principles for the upcoming negotiations of the Water Forum 2.0 agreement. The Water Committee supports a regional approach to ensure supplies of groundwater and surface water are sustainable for both the community and the environment.
ECOS’ Habitat Committee (Habitat 2020) works to protect our land, water, native plants, and wildlife. Our committee commented on the Delta Conveyance Draft Environmental Impact Report, highlighting problems with how the impacts on our region’s terrestrial species were addressed in the analysis. In eastern Sacramento County, we are working on a campaign to relocate the Coyote Creek Solar Voltaic Project so it will not imperil Blue Oak Woodland habitat. In Rancho Cordova, we are working to preserve a key habitat area in the American River flood plain, opposing a proposed housing development there. We continue to review implementation of the South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan, which will conserve more than 40,000 acres.
Partners and members with whom we worked in 2022, in addition to government entities:
Breathe CA Sacramento Region
California Mobility Center
Citizens’ Climate Lobby Sacramento
Cleaner Air Partnership
Community Resource Project
Environmental Democrats Sacramento
Friends of Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
Friends of Swainson’s Hawk
International Dark-Sky Association
Legal Services of Northern California
Mark Berry of Rancho Cordova
Measure A Not OK
Physicians for Social Responsibility Sacramento
Regional Rail Working Group
Sac Area Congregations Together (SacACT)
Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates
Sacramento Area Creeks Council
Sacramento Audubon Society
Sacramento Building Healthy Communities
Sacramento Climate Coalition
Sacramento Community Land Trust
Sacramento Electric Vehicle Association
Sacramento Environmental Justice Coalition
Sacramento Housing Alliance
Sacramento Investment Without Displacement
Sacramento Metro Advocates for Rail + Transit
Sacramento Natural Foods Coop
California Native Plant Society, Sacramento
Sacramento Vegetarian Society
Save Our Sandhill Cranes
Save the American River Association
Sierra Club Sacramento
Sunrise Movement Sacramento
The Water Forum
The Xerces Society
ECOS has been a powerful advocacy organization in the Sacramento region, working for over fifty years to curb sprawl and protect open space and habitat; and promote transit, walking, and biking. However, with the climate crisis escalating, we need to be even more effective in our advocacy. We need to persuade our local and regional leaders to take bold, difficult, and even unpopular steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
We need to make sure the public understands the consequence of poor land use decisions, and who is responsible; how wasteful land use planning and rising greenhouse gas emissions go hand-in-hand. We need to explain the “tipping point” in the climate crisis; and how important it is for the public to elect representatives who will act with urgency.
Regional planning structures such as the Urban Services Boundary and the Natomas Basin and South Sacramento habitat conservation plans must remain intact. We need to collaborate with landowners on land conservation before development decisions are made.
We need to be more energetic in fund-raising to make ECOS’ and our partner organizations’ positions heard, and to support our office and staff. We also need funds to litigate when greenhouse gas emission reductions are not credible, verifiable, or happening fast enough either on plans or in reality; and when jurisdictions’ policies and procedures make sprawl inevitable.
ECOS re-organized at the start of 2022 to reflect the increased importance of climate change, and the need to better coordinate our work on transportation and land use, green building and environmental justice; to better prioritize action and strategize effective methods both internally and with our partners; and to focus on water-related climate change impacts such as drought, reduced snow pack, and flooding risk. We hope these changes will strengthen ECOS, create a more synergistic approach to our work, and attract a new generation of enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and dedicated people – who are frustrated with the status quo, rightfully fearful about our future, and ready to get to work.