Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: Expo testing begins, AB 32 stalls


Metro begins testing rail cars on Expo Line tracks. Metro’s The Source reports testing began this morning. LA Times reports that “After numerous delays and cost overruns, the first phase of the project is scheduled to begin carrying commuters between downtown and La Cienega Boulevard in November.” SM Mirror reports that the second phase of the Expo construction, which would extend the line from Culver City to Santa Monica, took two steps forward with a pair of votes from the board of directors of the Expo Construction Authority.

Court upholds freeway air pollution monitoring rules. Reports Greenspace: “The San Francisco-based court ruled that the EPA’s approval of limits on the amount of motor vehicle emissions allowed in the region were adequate, and California could therefore move ahead with transportation plans and projects. A lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council in 2008 had demanded a comprehensive monitoring of air quality along freeways, including the 710, where traffic averages 12,180 vehicles per hour -– more than 25% of them diesel trucks.”

Calif.’s climate plan is in limbo as AB 32 negotiations stall. Reports Climate Watch: “Prospects for full implementation of California’s 2006 climate change law turned a darker shade of gray this week. Environmental justice groups walked away from negotiations with state officials…. That means implementation of AB 32 is effectively at a standstill.”

Environmental activists criticize federal review of large-scale desert solar. Reports KPCC: “Solar Done Right is a group of public land activists from California and Nevada. They love the desert for its ecological value – and they’re skeptical of federal and state plans to put large projects in Western deserts.”

Solar panels power Central Valley pistachio farm. Reports Greenspace: “The plant is connected to the Southern California Edison grid and will produce enough electricity to cover 70% of the 50-year-old pistachio farm’s demand.”

Calif. damage estimate from Japan tsunami upped. Reports KABC: “The damage estimate is now $48 million, about $4 million more than a previous estimate.”

Meanwhile in Japan: Radioactive water from Japanese nuclear plant dumped into sea. Reports LA Times: “The operator of the crippled Fukushima complex begins releasing 11,500 tons of radioactive water into the Pacific to make room in storage tanks for even more highly contaminated water.” The AP reports that the search for radiation leak turns desperate in Japan.

In national news: BP seeks to resume drilling in Gulf of Mexico. Reports NY Times: “BP is seeking permission to continue drilling at 10 existing deepwater production and development wells in the region in July in exchange for adhering to stricter safety and supervisory rules, said one of the officials. An agreement could be reached within the next month but would not include new drilling, the official said.”

Findings of climate change skeptics’ favored scientist unexpectedly supports scientific consensus on global warming. Reports LA Times: “A team of UC Berkeley physicists and statisticians that set out to challenge the scientific consensus on global warming is finding that its data-crunching effort is producing results nearly identical to those underlying the prevailing view.”

Photo: Preparing for clearance testing on the Expo Line on March 21, 2011 (ExpoLightRail/Flickr)