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Kate Slusark, 212-727-4592
In the midst of a third consecutive dry year, California's water
supply continues to shrink as the state's population grows, but
according to a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the
state's commercial, industrial and institutional (CII) sector has the
tools to save more than enough water to meet the annual needs of Los
Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego combined. Some leading California
businesses and institutions are already catching on - saving water and
money at the same time.
"After three consecutive dry
years and global warming threatening to intensify California's
droughts, we need smart-water solutions that that
will stop waste and help businesses use only what they need," said
Ronnie Cohen, Director of Water Efficiency Policy for the Natural
Resources Defense Council. "Luckily, 21st-century technologies exist to
stretch our water supply and save money. And some trailblazing
California businesses and water agencies are already showing us how
The complete report, Making Every Drop Work: Increasing Water Efficiency in California's Commercial, Industrial and Institutional (CII) Sector, is available online from NRDC.
February of 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger called for a 20 percent
reduction in per capita water use by 2020, and legislation to help
reach that target is currently pending in the State Assembly (AB 49).
California's CII sector - which includes office buildings, hotels, oil
refineries, golf courses, schools and universities, restaurants and
manufacturers - is responsible for one-third of urban water use, making
progress in this sector essential to reaching this reduction goal. The
CII sector uses the equivalent of more than a million Olympic-sized
swimming pools of water annually. NRDC estimates California businesses
could save about 25-50 percent of that water with efficiency measures,
or as much as 700,000 -1.3 million acre-feet - the equivalent to
350,000-650,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
efficiency improves water quality, supply and ecosystem health by
reducing polluted landscape runoff and the amount of water taken out of
rivers and streams - making it an important tool in managing the
troubled San Francisco Bay-Delta, and restoring the state's quarter
billion dollar salmon fishery. Water efficiency has also proven to be
good for the bottom line of businesses, as it lowers water bills and
energy costs, as well as wastewater charges and costs for chemicals and
Payback for investing in
water-efficient technologies is between one and four years. Many water
agencies help accelerate payback by providing free water audits,
equipment and technology rebates, and in some cases, free
water-efficient products and installation.
While the CII
sector has made some progress over the last decade, there is still a
tremendous potential for improving their water efficiency and lowering
their bills. For example, the report reveals:
Performance Leaders Are Already Reaping the Benefits
this new report, NRDC demonstrates how businesses and water agencies
across California are already taking steps to reduce water use.
in Mountain View, Calif., Intel has saved enough water through
efficiency measures since 1995 to supply 180,000 homes for a year. At
their plant in Santa Clara, they developed a recycling system that
allows them to take leftover water and use it for on-site cooling and
landscaping. They also replaced water-intensive air scrubbers with
alternative technology to reduce emissions.
California's Coachella Valley, the owners of Desert Willow Golf Course
built a course irrigated almost entirely with recycled water in the
arid area known for its golf. Not only does it use recycled water to
replenish the course, it was designed to need less water, by including
less turf grass and more desert plants. These technologies have saved
the business $84,600 a year, and enough water to meet the needs of 565
families of four.
Fetzer Vineyard in Mendocino County is
a water-saving star of the wine industry, using about 75 percent less
water than their competitors. On average, it takes about eight gallons
of water to make a bottle of wine - but Fetzer has managed to cut their
process down to just over two gallons per bottle. Water meters to
regulate their usage help them find and repair leaks more easily. And
they use aeration ponds to treat their own wastewater and use it to
irrigate their organic grapes and landscaping. These measures allow
them to save 8 million gallons of water a year
just a few of the examples listed in the report, which provides case
studies and a reference for other CII facilities and urban water
agencies to begin taking advantage of similar savings opportunities.
NRDC works to safeguard the earth--its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. We combine the power of more than three million members and online activists with the expertise of some 700 scientists, lawyers, and policy advocates across the globe to ensure the rights of all people to the air, the water, and the wild.(212) 727-2700
"MAGA politicians... want to reinstate student debt previously canceled for more than 260,000 teachers, nurses, firefighters, and others," said AFT president Randi Weingarten. "It's an immoral clawback of the absolute worst kind."
As Republican leaders in the U.S. House prepare to hold a vote this week on legislation that would block President Joe Biden's pending student debt cancellation plan and reverse already-delivered relief, progressive advocacy groups on Tuesday warned of the "ruinous impact" the GOP's resolution threatens to have on millions of borrowers.
Last year, Biden moved to erase up to $20,000 in student debt for millions of federal borrowers with individual incomes under $125,000 and to improve the income-driven repayment program. The White House's popular relief initiative is currently on hold as the U.S. Supreme Court considers a pair of right-wing challenges to it. A decision in the case is expected next month.
House Republicans, however, are now attempting to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to repeal Biden's student debt policies regardless of how the high court rules. At issue is H.J. Res. 45, a CRA resolution that GOP lawmakers approved in committee earlier this month in a party-line vote. House Republican leadership on Monday scheduled the measure for a floor vote on Wednesday.
"On the heels of the pandemic, forcing a nurse to pay back debt that was legally forgiven under a bipartisan law is cruel."
On Tuesday, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) sounded the alarm about the measure's wide-ranging potential consequences, warning that it "would destroy the lives of millions of borrowers and their families by forcing them to repay thousands of dollars in already forgiven debt."
"Right-wing special interests want their supporters to believe they are simply trying to stop Biden's student loan debt relief program, but there are far greater implications afoot," a new report from AFT and SBPC points out.
In addition to nullifying Biden's promise to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for federal borrowers, H.J. Res. 45 would "reverse months of paused payments and already waived interest charges implemented as part of the government's pandemic response, immediately leaving 40 million student loan borrowers past due on their loans and adding tens of billions of dollars in new interest charges," the groups noted.
That's not all. The CRA resolution also seeks to reinstate the student debt of more than 260,000 public service workers whose loan balances have been wiped clean after making 10 years of qualifying payments under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program enacted on a bipartisan basis in 2007 and streamlined by the Biden administration in 2021.
As AFT and SBPC explained:
If enacted, the Republican student loan CRA scheme would undo the seventh extension of the pause on federal student loan payments first enacted by President [Donald] Trump in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The seventh extension lasted from September 2022 through December 2022. According to the Congressional Review Act, "[a]ny rule that takes effect and later is made of no force or effect by enactment of [CRA resolution] shall be treated as though such rule had never taken effect." The CRA scheme would thus also likely undo the eighth extension of the payment pause, a "substantially the same" executive action that began in January 2023 and is ongoing.
Based on their analysis of recently unveiled Department of Education data, the two groups estimated that if the CRA rolls back the seventh and eighth payment pauses, nearly 269,000 public service workers who accessed debt cancellation from September 2022 through March 2023 under the PSLF program would see their loan balances restored. The collective student debt burden put back on their shoulders would exceed $19.5 billion, which amounts to more than $72,000 per person, on average.
In addition, roughly 2 million public service workers would lose at least some progress made toward the future cancellation of more than $178 billion in student debt under the PSLF program. As a result, teachers, nurses, first responders, and others would be driven even further into debt as they continue to recover from the coronavirus crisis and brace for the possibility of additional economic devastation brought about by the GOP's current debt ceiling brinkmanship.
"On the heels of the pandemic, forcing a nurse to pay back debt that was legally forgiven under a bipartisan law is cruel," says the report.
In a statement, AFT president Randi Weingarten condemned H.J. Res. 45, calling it "a disaster."
"Taking back student debt relief already delivered to public service workers is reckless, cruel, unjust, and un-American."
"For years, the AFT and the SBPC have fought the damage forced by the Trump administration on student loan borrowers and their families," said Weingarten. "Now, MAGA politicians don't just want to stop that progress, they want to reinstate student debt previously canceled for more than 260,000 teachers, nurses, firefighters, and others. It's an immoral clawback of the absolute worst kind."
"Public service workers have dedicated their lives to making a difference in the lives of others," the union leader continued. "They care deeply about what kids and communities need. We have a duty to honor and respect them—that's why, 16 years ago, a bipartisan majority in Congress made a promise to help them erase their student debt in exchange for 10 years of repayments."
"We will not stand idly by as House Republicans try to return us to those dark days," she added.
SBPC executive director Mike Pierce called Wednesday's scheduled vote on the CRA resolution "a test of American values."
"Do we stand on the side of teachers, nurses, first responders, and service members who fought to keep our kids safe and our communities healthy throughout the pandemic, or do we betray their service in pursuit of Republicans' never-ending culture war?" Pierce asked.
"Taking back student debt relief already delivered to public service workers," he added, "is reckless, cruel, unjust, and un-American."
On Monday, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said in a statement that "if Congress were to pass H.J. Res. 45, the president would veto it."
"This resolution," OMB stressed, "is an unprecedented attempt to undercut our historic economic recovery and would deprive more than 40 million hard-working Americans of much-needed student debt relief."
"The good news," the authors of a new People's Action white paper assert, "is that the antidotes to authoritarianism are in every community and available to be activated right now."
Amid what many experts fear is a Republican-led slow-march toward fascism in the United States, a report published Tuesday by a progressive advocacy group answers the question: "How can we build a multiracial and pluralistic democracy with an inclusive economy to defeat the rise of authoritarianism?"
The white paper—entitled The Antidote to Authoritarianism: How an Organizing Revival Can Build a Multiracial Pluralistic Democracy and an Inclusive Economy—was published by People's Action with support from the Democracy Fund and the endorsement of more than a dozen progressive groups.
"This simple truth—that ordinary people, organized effectively, have the power to drive social change upwards to create the conditions for justice, equity, and freedom—has been the power behind every great expansion of our democracy, from abolition and women's suffrage to civil rights and marriage equality," the paper notes.
\u201cThe antidotes to authoritarianism are in every community and we need an #OrganizingRevival across America to activate this potential - but organizers and funders must shift how we work together. Read our new report: https://t.co/NH3R85UXEM\u201d— People's Action Institute (@People's Action Institute) 1684853375
Paper co-authors Beth Jacob and James Mumm said they interviewed more than two dozen leaders of national social change networks, academics, philanthropists, and organizers.
"Arevival and expansion of community organizing is essential to reinvigorating democracy across lines of difference; this is the foundation of a multiracial pluralistic democracy," the pair asserted. "Philanthropies that want to address the root causes of racial inequity need to partner with community organizing on a long-term agendathat builds enough relationships and power to make progress on structural racism."
"Community organizing and philanthropy can reduce economic uncertainty that is fueling authoritarianism and help people win and make meaning of public investments as building blocks of an inclusive economy," the authors added.
\u201c"...[A]ction can indeed be taken to combat the daunting backward trend toward authoritarianism..." Rev. Dr. B. DeNeice Welch, leader with @gamalielnetwork, pastor at Bidwell Church in Pittsburgh. #organizingrevival #antidotetoauthoritarianism https://t.co/q6vWDtVTyY\u201d— People's Action Institute (@People's Action Institute) 1684855770
Among the paper's key findings:
"Organizers and philanthropy have a big task before us: to strengthen and defend democracy at a time when some feel that democracy fails them and others want to throw it out to advance an authoritarian agenda," People's Action executive director Sulma Arias said in a statement.
"Community organizing is the solution, and for it to work, it must be fundamental to what we do, not just a tactic or short-term strategy," Arias added. "This white paper outlines the shifts and investments we need to make it work."
\u201c"This strong, clear vision couldn't have come at a better time." @democracyfund's Shuya Ohno. \n#organizingrevival\n#antidotetoauthoritarianism\nhttps://t.co/q6vWDtVTyY\u201d— People's Action Institute (@People's Action Institute) 1684854969
Ana Maria Archila of Action Lab, one of the groups endorsing the white paper, argued that "in order to avert the rise of authoritarianism, and address the combined crises of climate disaster, growing inequality, unprecedented levels of loneliness and political fragmentation, we must double down on efforts to build community and transform who holds power in our democracy."
"There are no shortcuts here," Archila added. "This moment requires community organizers, donors, and leaders to reinvigorate community organizing, and re-commit to a long-term strategy to bring into existence the multiracial democracy we want."
Jacob and Munn remain hopeful, as daunting as the task ahead may be.
"The good news," they wrote, "is that the antidotes to authoritarianism are in every community and available to be activated right now."
"The work we've done over the last five months will make a generational impact on our state—it will lower costs, improve lives, and cut child poverty," said Gov. Tim Walz.
Progressives are applauding what Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman called the state's "transformational" legislative session, which ended on Tuesday after the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party passed nearly every item on its agenda, securing economic justice, reproductive rights, and labor protections for Minnesotans.
With the DFL holding only a narrow majority in the state House and Senate—a six-vote and one-vote margin, respectively—policy researcher Will Stancil said on social media that "the scale of their achievement cannot be overstated."
"The Minnesota Legislature just completed what is probably the most productive session anywhere in the country since probably the New Deal," he said. "Sweeping bills and reforms across every area of life."
Stancil was among a number of progressives who highlighted nearly two dozen bills passed by the DFL and signed into law by Democratic Gov. Tim Walz, who posted an image of a whiteboard with party's legislative agenda on it along with the word, "Done."
The party's achievements over the past five months include a statewide paid family and medical leave program, which provides 20 weeks of leave; the legalization of recreational marijuana use; and a law providing free school meals to all public and charter school students—part of Walz's plan to "make Minnesota the best state in the country to raise a child."
\u201cAt Webster Elementary in Minneapolis, Gov. Walz signs School Meals bill, providing free breakfasts and lunches to all Minnesota public school students\u201d— John Croman (@John Croman) 1679079655
"The work we've done over the last five months will make a generational impact on our state—it will lower costs, improve lives, and cut child poverty," said Walz on Tuesday.
The party also passed a bill codifying Roe v. Wadeamid a nationwide assault on abortion rights, legal protections for transgender youths who receive gender-affirming healthcare in the state, and a bill setting a minimum wage for Uber and Lyft drivers, leading a crowd of drivers to give the legislation's sponsor, state Sen. Omar Fateh (D-62), a "hero's welcome" after it passed on Sunday.
\u201cSenator @OmarFatehMN gets the hero\u2019s welcome after his Transportation Drivers, aka Uber/Lyft bill, passes Senate\u201d— John Croman (@John Croman) 1684707459
"Rather than looking at the November numbers result and imposing some kind of self-limiting narrative about the scope of their mandate, Minnesota Democrats looked at their priorities and said, 'How much of the list can we get done?'" said Stancil. "Turns out the answer was 'Almost everything.'"
\u201cBut the key here is that the DFL clearly figured, no matter how small their majorities were, it was better, politically and morally, to choose doing good things over doing nothing. And it did, again and again.\u201d— Will Stancil (@Will Stancil) 1684811682
The party's achievements in Minnesota, said pro-workers' rights media organization More Perfect Union, should "set the precedent for state governments across the country."
"On the balance," said the organization, "Minnesota progressives took narrow House and Senate majorities following years of gridlock—and in their first session in power, managed to set the bar for Democratic legislatures."