Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: Chevron settles with California after allegations of severe environmental violations

Chevron pays up, Google puts out (a lot of energy) and the downtown Los Angeles stadium moves closer to reality. Welcome to your Friday morning greens.

Chevron has settled with California over gas tank tampering allegations. KPCC reports that “San Ramon-based Chevron and California officials have reached a $24.5 million settlement over allegations that the oil giant violated state laws by failing to properly inspect and maintain underground gas tanks.” California alleges that since 1998, Chevron violated laws by disabling leak protection gages. Among other misdeeds, the company also failed to conduct monthly inspections and maintain alarm systems at gas stations across 32 counties. 

Yesterday, the power went out in much of Southern California. KPCC reports that Thursday afternoon massive power outages swept “San Diego County on Thursday, and hit Coachella Valley, southern Orange County, and parts of Mexico.” As many as five million people were affected by the outage, which was blamed on an employee at a power substation in southwest Arizona. Power had been restored to most of the area by Friday morning.

Google has revealed the energy usage of its data centers, and it’s a lot of electricity. As The New York Times reports, “The company said that its data centers continuously drew almost 260 million watts — about a quarter of the output of a nuclear power plant — to run Google searches, YouTube views, Gmail messaging and display ads on all those services around the world.” This is enough to power the homes of a small city. Google reports that it already uses 25% renewable energy and hopes to expand this number. Experts say this revelation is likely to spur a “green war” amongst the tech companies to become the most energy efficient.

And speaking of Google and renewable energy, the Los Angeles Times reports that the search giant created “a $280-million fund to help SolarCity pay for installations and maintenance costs in exchange for a cut of customer payments.” SolarCity is considered one of the country's largest residential solar energy system providers. Currently, the San Mateo-based company aims to double the amount of rooftop installations across the country by setting up sun-powered systems on 160,000 homes and other buildings on military bases.

Nearly 100,000 people were told to evacuate yesterday from New York to Maryland as Tropical Storm Lee brought more rain to the already soaked area. reports “Most of the people ordered to evacuate their homes were about 80 miles downstream in Wilkes-Barre, where the river was projected to crest later Thursday at 41 feet — the same height as the levee system.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that a “touchdown” is within reach on the downtown Los Angeles stadium bill. “SB 292 — by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) and strongly pushed by Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles) — is aimed at cutting several months, if not years, off construction.” The Natural Resources Defense Council and the California League of Conservation Voters placed their support behind the bill on Tuesday. AEG will not be exempt from any construction requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act, but any complaints will be fast-tracked in the court system. In return, the bill requires that the stadium be the most environmentally-friendly in the nation.

Finally, heading to the ocean this weekend? Don’t worry about whistling if you meet up with some curious dolphins. Discovery reports on a new study that reveals “dolphins do not whistle, but instead talk to each other using a process very similar to the way that humans communicate.” Researchers hope to be able to decipher the meaning of dolphin calls.

Image: shockingbird/Flickr