This month we celebrated Earth Day. The annual goal of Earth Day is to increase environmental awareness, through advocacy, education, public policy, and consumer campaigns. This month also mark's the birthday of fellow Contra Costa resident John Muir, who some call the nation's first environmental activist.
Preserving the environment has long been a priority for Californians. While California has led the nation in protecting the environment, the remaining challenges are daunting. Global warming and climate change may be the single biggest challenge facing this generation.
Combating global warming may seem like an overwhelming task, but there are many simple tips you can use to reduce your carbon footprint. For example, the use of florescent light bulbs and recycled paper substantially reduces energy demand. Florescent light bulbs use 60% less energy and it takes 70% to 90% less energy to make recycled paper. Reducing energy demand and consumption is the key to preserving our fragile environment.
Current projections, point to global energy use growing by nearly 40% over the next twenty years. We need to reduce demands on fossil fuels and other costly energy sources. Californians have long supported expansion of renewable energy sources and conservation. The California Energy Commission offers helpful conservation tips for work, home, school, and vehicles. You can view those tips on line at the Energy Commission's website.
The Legislature continues to debate these issues and just recently passed SB 2 X1 to require electricity companies to provide electricity from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power. This bill was signed into law and requires that renewable energy resources represent at least 33% of electricity sales by the end of 2020. This is an important first step in moving toward increased reliance on renewable energy.
If you have any questions about environmental legislation pending in the Legislature, please do not hesitate to call my office at (925) 942-6082. I welcome your input on this important issue.
Senate District Seven
Featured In April's Newsletter
- Highway 4 Widening - Somersville Road Construction Begins
- Contra Costa Hero - Danville Teen Wins the Intel Science Talent Search
- Legislative Update - Eliminating Secondhand Smoke in the Workplace
- Mobile District Office Hours - May 14th in Antioch
- Contra Costa District Jewel - John Muir National Historical Site
- Staff Profile - Rosanna Carvacho, Legislative Director
Highway 4 Widening - Somersville Road Construction Begins
The Highway 4 Widening Project is a collaboration between the Contra Costa Transit Authority (CCTA), California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and Federal Highway Administration. A final contract has been awarded for the Somersville Road segment of the project and construction began with a groundbreaking ceremony on April 8.
The Somersville Road segment will widen Highway 4 from just west of the Somersville Road undercrossing to west of the Contra Loma Boulevard undercrossing and will provide a median wide enough for a regular BART track and train. However, until ridership grows, east Contra Costa County will be served by an EBART train.
The SR4 corridor widening project will expand the existing four lanes to eight lanes. Accommodating the construction of additional lanes, will require the modification of five major interchanges at Loveridge Rd., Somersville Rd., Lone Tree Way, Hillcrest Ave. and Contra Loma Blvd.
The final cost of the project was approximately 67% of original estimates, amounting to more than $8 million dollars in savings to local taxpayers. The $8 million in savings realized through Caltrans "low bid" process will be returned to CCTA and utilized to support other local transit projects. Funding for the project comes from a variety of sources with the majority coming from the Measure J Transportation Sales Tax, Proposition 1B and other regional transportation measures.
For more information about the Highway 4 widening project, please visit www.widensr4.org or call (925) 756-0721.
Contra Costa Hero - Danville Teen wins the Intel Science Talent Search
Evan O'Dorney, 17, took first place recently in the nation's most prestigious science competition, the Intel Science Talent Search. The honor comes with a $100,000 prize and congratulations from President Obama. O'Dorney, a homeschooled teen from Danville, is the first student from the Bay Area and the sixth from California to win the Intel Science Talent Search since the contest started in 1942.
He bested 1,744 applicants from 499 high schools from across the country with a mathematics entry summarized as "Continued Fraction Convergents and Linear Fractional Transformations." His entry solved a previously unsolved theoretical math problem: approximating the square root of a non-square integer. This is a remarkable accomplishment, especially because he was only 16 when he solved it!
Since 1942, seven finalists have gone on to win a Nobel Prize. Two have won the Fields Medal for math and 11 were awarded a $500,000 MacArthur Genius Grant.
This was not the first major victory for O'Dorney. In 2007, he won the Scripps National Spelling Bee. He is also a gold medal winner at the International Mathematical Olympiad. Each of these wins came with a meeting or phone call from the White House. Consequently, he has had three conversations with a U.S. president and two presidential handshakes - all by age 17.
O'Dorney now plans to earn a Ph.D. in math and then go on to become a professor. He will be attending Harvard University beginning this fall. In his spare time he studies tae kwon do, in which he has a black belt. We all look forward to great things from this Danville teen.
Legislative Update - Eliminating Secondhand Smoke in the Workplace
In 1994 California led the nation by adopting the first smokefree workplace law. That law contained some exemptions or "loopholes" that were politically necessary to pass the legislation. These exemptions allowed smoking in certain areas of a hotel/motel lobby and meeting and banquet rooms, retail or wholesale tobacco shops, warehouses, break rooms, businesses with five or fewer employees and other specified locations. Senate Bill (SB) 575 would remove those exemptions thereby prohibiting smoking in those workplaces. This bill is co-sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study listing California's current smokefree workplace law as one of the most lax laws in the country. The study, published in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, lists the smokefree status of every state and the District of Columbia.
Many states including California are in the process of strengthening their smokefree workplace laws. The CDC states that by 2020 or sooner, the entire nation could have laws banning smoking in all indoor areas of private sector worksites, restaurants and bars. These places are major sources of exposure to secondhand smoke. The projection is based on the rate at which states have been adopting comprehensive smokefree laws.
The CDC study shows that with SB 575, California is moving in the right direction in closing the loopholes in our smokefree workplace law. No California worker should be exposed to harmful second hand smoke.
The CDC reports that secondhand smoke exposure causes lung cancer and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases in nonsmoking adults and children, resulting in an estimated 46,000 heart disease deaths and 3,400 lung cancer deaths among U.S. nonsmoking adults each year
"Eliminating smoking from worksites, restaurants and bars is a low-cost, high-impact strategy that will protect nonsmokers and allow them to live healthier, longer, more productive lives while lowering health care costs associated with secondhand smoke," said CDC director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "While there has been a lot of progress over the past decade, far too many Americans continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke at their workplaces, increasing their risk of cancer and heart attacks."
SB 575 is working its way through the Legislature. It was approved by the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee and will be heard soon by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Mobile District Office Hours - May 14th in Antioch
My office will be holding a Mobile District Office Hours event in Antioch on Saturday, May 14th, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. It will be located at the Antioch Community Center, 4703 Lone Tree Way, Antioch.
This is a great way for Antioch area residents to get assistance with any problems they may be having with a state agency or would otherwise like to talk to our office about pending legislation. No appointments are necessary and guests are seen on a first come, first served basis.
Please visit my website to find out when a Mobile District Office will be held in your area. Should you have any questions, please contact my Walnut Creek District Office at (925) 942-6082.
Contra Costa District Jewel - John Muir National Historical Site
April 21st marked the birthday of John Muir who was a Scottish-born (1838) American naturalist, author and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. Muir's letters, essays, and books tell of his adventures in nature, and of his activism that helped preserve Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and other wilderness areas.
Muir inspired Presidents and Members of Congress to help preserve large nature areas. He devoted most of his time to the preservation of the Western Forests, convincing President Theodore Roosevelt to protect Yosemite, Sequoia, Grand Canyon and Mt. Rainier as National Parks. President Cleveland also used Muir's work to establish thirteen forest reserves which later became the US Forest Service. Today, John Muir is referred to as the "Father of the National Parks."
In 1964, Congress created the John Muir National Historic Site, to preserve the Muir House for the people. The John Muir National Historical Site is located in Martinez where Muir's wife Louisa (Louie) is from and where he chose to live. Muir's in-laws, the Strentzel's, built the home in 1882 and John Muir moved into the home with his wife and two girls in 1890. Muir lived, worked and wrote in the home for the last 24 years of his life.
The John Muir National Historic Site offers a variety of activities. The site is open Wednesday thru Sunday 10am to 5pm, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission for individuals 16 and older is $3.00 each and good for 7 days. Children 15 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. (Make sure to keep your receipt, it is good for a same day entrance at Muir Woods National Monument in Mill Valley and vice versa.)
John Muir National Historic Site offers guided tours, self-guided tours, and group tours. The guided tours are of the 1st floor of the Muir home and are available to the general public Wednesday thru Friday at 2pm and weekends at 2pm and 3pm. These tours are 30 minutes in length and are limited to 35 people. If you plan on brining a large group, more than 10, it is asked that you make a reservation at least 2 weeks in advance.
Feel like taking a hike? Nearby Mt. Wanda, named after one of John Muir's daughters, is 326 acres of natural area where wildflower and bird walks are offered by rangers during the spring. Mt. Wanda is open to the public 7 days a week from sunrise to sunset. During the summer you can take a full moon walk on Mt. Wanda, offered in June, July and August. Reservations are required for the walks.
There is a free self-guided tour Jr. Ranger program in the park for kids 7-12 years old. When children complete 8 out of the 10 activities in the activity book, a park ranger will congratulate and present them with a John Muir National Historic Site Jr. Ranger badge.
The John Muir National Historical Site is located at 4202 Alhambra Ave., Martinez, 94553. For more information, please visit the National Parks Website at http://www.nps.gov/jomu/index.htm or call (925) 228-8860 for more information.
Staff Profile - Rosanna Carvacho, Legislative Director
Rosanna Carvacho is the Legislative Director working out of our Capitol office in Sacramento. Rosanna has more than seven years of legislative experience in the State Senate and came to work in the Senate after earning her Bachelor's degree in Government at C.S.U. Sacramento. She began her career in the Assembly as a Sacramento Semester Intern through C.S.U. Sacramento. In college she had a great interest in political science and was a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, National Political Science Honor Society.
Rosanna is responsible for overseeing over 20 bills through the legislative process each year. She works with all of our staff to make sure that the bills move through the legislative process successfully. She also staffs the Labor and Industrial Relations Committee and the Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee. Her greatest interests in public policy are the environment, water policy, worker issues, public health and safety and protection of the First Amendment.
Rosanna has been a member of the Junior League of Sacramento and other community organizations. She continues her educational studies and is currently a student at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. Rosanna is an avid athlete who runs, hikes, and enjoys the outdoors with her dog Bailey. She grew up in Pleasanton where her family still resides.