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for people who care about the West

Cap-and-trade win; vulnerable farmworkers; ongoing monument battles

HCN.org news in brief.


In July, the California state Legislature narrowly voted to extend the state’s landmark cap-and-trade legislation by a decade. The program, which has been in effect since 2013, requires businesses to buy credits to pay for their greenhouse gas emissions. It is the only such program in the United States, and it has been touted as a potential model for other states and countries. The Legislature also passed a companion bill to strengthen air-quality rules. The cap-and-trade bill’s passage was a victory for California Gov. Jerry Brown, D, who has emerged as a de facto climate leader following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. The bill, which received unusual bipartisan support, also revealed a split within the environmental community. Groups working nationally largely supported the extension, while groups more concerned with local pollution opposed it on the grounds that the concessions to industry went too far.  -Rebecca Worby

Downtown Los Angeles with an inversion of smog. In July, the state Legislature extended California’s cap-and-trade rules, which require businesses to buy credits to pay for greenhouse gas emissions.
Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images

$9.9 MILLION: Amount of tribal climate resilience award money proposed to be cut in President Donald Trump’s budget

31: Number of Alaska Native villages threatened by coastal erosion. Several already have been forced to relocate.

After Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, tribal nations persisted in their own plans to prioritize climate change adaptation. In the West, many tribal communities are on the frontlines of climate change, uniquely impacted by drought, rising sea levels and wildfire. But U.S. tribes cannot directly enter into treaties with the United Nations, so they are instead working with Indigenous populations from around the world, like the United League of Indigenous Nations, to become leaders in the climate conversation. Still, the government’s lack of interest is likely to be an obstacle, as renewable energy and climate resilient infrastructure often requires federal investment. -Lyndsey Gilpin

$1 BILLION: Estimated value of the “Indian-made” jewelry sold every year, 80 percent of which could be counterfeit, according to New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, D. Under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, it is illegal to market or sell fake Indian art as the real thing. But out of some 1,700 complaints since 1996, only 22 have been prosecuted. -Frances Madeson 

Though the Interior Department ended the public-comment period for its national monument review, these lesser-known places await their fate:

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument
Bureau of Land Management

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon is known for its biodiversity. The Obama administration nearly doubled its size, and its inclusion in the review has raised concerns that the expansion could be reversed.

Basin and Range National Monument
Bureau of Land Management

Officials in Nye County, Nevada, home of Basin and Range National Monument, opposed its designation in 2015, and some have lent their support to Interior’s review.

Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument
Bureau of Land Management

Montana Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Gov. Steve Bullock, D, have come out firmly in defense of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. Rescinding it would be a “job-killing step backwards in our responsibility” to protect public lands, Tester says. -Rebecca Worby

The campesinas of California are groups of female farmworkers who take on issues unique to their job, varying from pesticide drift to sexual assault. Through organizations like Líderes Campesinas, undocumented workers can fight for better working conditions. Under the Trump administration, though, the campesinas are facing a new set of issues with hardened immigration policies. They are worried that reporting crimes or workplace violations could cost them their jobs and family stability. But they’ll find a way forward, says Executive Director Suguet López. “We left our countries and have started new lives over before, so we know we are resilient.” -Ruxandra Guidi

You say

Michael Stiehl: “Hold employers accountable and provide permits for workers instead of making them criminals. In other words, make the systems on the books work, and enforce the laws.”

Patrick Netherly: “Undocumented folks should not be here in the first place.”

Dan Born: “Someone who is willing to work that hard should be provided with a faster path to citizenship.”