Two Bay Area counties sued 37 oil, gas and coal companies Monday asserting the companies knew their fossil fuel products would cause sea level rise and coastal flooding but failed to reduce their greenhouse gas pollution.

The lawsuit was part of a coordinated litigation attack by Marin, San Mateo County and the city of Imperial Beach.

The lawsuit, filed in Marin County Superior Court, alleges that “major corporate members of the fossil fuel industry, have known for nearly a half century that unrestricted production and use of their fossil fuel products create greenhouse gas pollution that warms the planet and changes our climate.”

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Last week, members of the California Transportation Commission got tough with the North Coast Railroad Authority, the public agency that owns the defunct railroad tracks around Humboldt County, which has been operating in the red and selling off publicly owned property to stay afloat.


After peppering the railroad authority’s executive director with a series of pointed questions at its meeting Thursday morning, the commission asked the NCRA to come back to them in October with a couple of new documents: a business plan and a “shutdown plan.”


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After climbing up the charts for the past four years, Humboldt County’s own Clam Beach has earned the dubious distinction of landing atop Heal the Bay’s annual “Beach Bummer” list, which ranks the 10 nastiest beaches in the state based on bacterial pollution measurements from county health agencies.


According to the Santa Monica-based nonprofit, the pollution problem at Clam Beach may stem from private septic systems along Patricia Creek and Strawberry Creek, which flow down to the beach. “The Humboldt Public Health lab is developing Bacteroides testing to help pinpoint the source,” the group reports.


Luffenholtz Beach, just a few miles north, also landed on the Beach Bummer list, scoring a D grade and coming in as the eighth-most-polluted beach in the state. “Private septic systems in Trinidad are culprits,” says Heal the Bay.


You can read more about Heal the Bay’s 2017 beach report card here and view the complete report, with info on methodology, by downloading the pdf file here.


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The California Coastal Commission voted 6-5 this week in Arcata to reject Coast Seafood Company’s bid to expand what commission staff called the state’s largest shellfish farming operation.


After hearing several hours of public testimony and staff reports debating the expansion project’s potential impacts to the Humboldt Bay’s ecosystems and recreational uses, Commissioner Mary Shallenberger urged her colleagues to vote no on the 165-acre expansion because she felt it was “way too big” and had too many unknowns.


Opponents to the project — such as Audubon California — applauded the commission’s vote. Audubon California filed a lawsuit against the project earlier this year challenging Coast Seafoods’ environmental review of the expansion and claimed the project would irreparably impact eelgrass in the bay.


Humboldt Baykeeper Director Jennifer Kalt said the commission’s denial was surprising due to aquaculture being a priority of the California Coastal Act.


“The oyster industry has come a long way since the days of killing bat rays and dredging eelgrass off the mud flats in the 1990s,” Kalt said Thursday. “And it actively protects water quality, which is critical for oysters, eelgrass and many other aquatic species. We hope the project can be further refined to address outstanding concerns.”


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Dredging on Humboldt Bay could be done this year. So why is that such a big deal? Because it's been a decade since the bay has been cleaned and some 80 million gallons of mucky, goopy sludge has piled up. But in order to dredge the bay, the harbor district and city of Eureka need approval from the Environmental Protection Agency, along with other federal and state agencies about where to put that gunk. And those approvals are moving about as fast as boats in thick mud.


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