Southern California environment news and trends

The new rush: Commercial gold mining returns to California

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Getty Images

While mining for gold has become a popular hobby among Californians, commercial production of the precious metal is set to start anew in Amador County.

As reported by the Sacramento Bee, Sutter Gold Mining Co. is launching the Lincoln Mining Project near Sutter Creek with a Friday ceremony. California might have a long way to go to contend with the much more robust gold industry in neighboring Nevada (or other gold producing states like Alaska, Colorado and Utah), local officials still see it as a big step, the first commercial mine in the Mother Lode area in 50 years.

"It is a new mine … One mine is not going to catch us up to Nevada … but it's actually a working gold mine that has gone through the permitting process for quite some time. So that's significant," said John Clinkenbeard, head of the Mineral Resources Program for the California Geological Survey to the Bee.


Weather report: America sweats the hottest 12 months in recorded history

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Image: Cimexus/Flickr

Hot enough for you, America? According to a new study, the answer is a resounding (and somewhat unsettling) yes.

As reported by Treehugger, the latest State of Climate overview from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that the twelve months from May 2011 through April 2012 were the hottest in American recorded history, dating back to the late 1800s (1895 to be exact, according to the Washington Post).

While western states like California and Nevada experienced higher than average temperatures, 22 other states (mostly in the Midwest and the northeastern seaboard) saw record-breaking high temperatures. The average temperature for the lower 48 states during that time was 55.7°F, a full 2.8°F higher than the 20th century average. Only Washington and Oregon saw near-normal heat over that time period. All other states ranged from “above normal” to “record warmest.”


Fines levied in California for selling banned peach pesticide

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Phillippe Diederich/Getty Images

The current battles being waged across the state of California over pesticides continue to grow, most notably in regards to the embattled strawberry industry. But it's not just strawberries, as it was announced this week that a pair of pesticides dealers in the San Joaquin Valley have been fined $105,000 for selling an unauthorized pesticide to peach farmers.

As reported by the New Farm Press, Gar Tootelian Inc, and Britz-Simplot Grower Solutions LLC, were charged $60,000 and $45,000, respectively, for selling pesticide Comite in Fresno and Tulare counties. Gar Tootelian was charged with the practice from 2008 through 2010, Britz-Simplot from 2009 through 2010.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of Comite on peaches back in 1996 for being a potential carcinogen to fish and amphibians.


New California ballot initiative demands GMO food labeling

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flydime/Flickr Creative Commons License

Proponents of a California bill requiring labels that would clearly identify GMO (genetically modified organism) produce delivered close to one million signatures to state officials this week. These are foods that have had their DNA altered in some way, generally to make them resistant to certain pesticides.

As reported by NBC Los Angeles, the California Right to Know Campaign collected twice the number of votes required to land the Genetically Engineered Food Act on the state ballot in November. The signatures were delivered to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office in Norwalk this Wednesday to the delight of a large crowd of supporters.

"I was brought up on a farm and feel really strongly about authenticity when you're selling something," said one such supporter, Zuri Allen, at the Norwalk rally to NBC Los Angeles. "And I think it's the consumer's right to know. It's as American as apple pie."


California cities rank on new U.S. public transportation list

Expo Line Test Run

Kevin Ferguson/KPCC

The Exposition Line train at the La Cienega/Jefferson station after finishing a test run.

According to a new report, five California locales placed among the top 25 American cities for public transportation.

The rankings were determined by exceedingly useful website Walk Score through a series of calculations resulting in a “Transit Score” which “measures how well a location is served by public transportation, and is based on data released in a standard open format by public transit agencies.”

In California, San Francisco rated the highest, coming in second overall with a transit score of 80, just one point behind the top-rated city of New York. Los Angeles just missed the top ten, scoring the 11th spot just behind Portland, OR and ahead of Milwaukee, WI. Walks Score considers L.A. the 13th most “walkable” city in America, citing downtown L.A., Koreatown and Mid-City as the best neighborhoods for getting around on foot. Los Angeles is sure to rank even higher on the site’s next survey, given the completion of the new L.A. Metro Expo Line that recently opened for service.