Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: Supreme Court rules on global warming, climate change hits CA waters, and Simi Valley is over LA's trash

Happy Summer Solstice, Southern California! Now for your green news:

West LA’s trash is not Simi Valley's treasure. Simi Valley wants it known that Los Angeles County’s trash need to find a new home. As ABC7 reports, “According to the Ventura County Star, Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett wants a surcharge of $4.50 to $5 a ton on all Los Angeles trash bound for the Simi Valley Landfill & Recycling Center.” Get ready to pay up, since “nearly 40 percent of the garbage taken to Simi Valley comes from Agoura Hills, Calabasas and the western San Fernando Valley.”

Supreme Court rejects global warming lawsuit: Everyone take a deep breath – or not. As The New York Times reports, “The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously rejected a lawsuit that had sought to force major electric utilities to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions without waiting for federal regulators to act.” In an 8-0 decision, the top justices ruled that the regulation of greenhouse gases falls to Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency, not the court.


Kumi Naidoo, from the Golden State to Greenland

In the spring, Greenpeace's el jefe de jefes Kumi Naidoo came to Los Angeles, hung out with Hollywood a little, stayed in Beverly Hills. Today he's under police escort in Greenland.

Greenpeace activists have been climbing all over a massive Scotch-owned oil rig in the Arctic Circle called the Leiv Eiriksson for the last month or so. Cairn Energy got an injuction in Dutch court to stop them from messing with their exploration business. The next day, Naidoo went out there himself. He's been detained. He faces a fine and jail time, as does another protester who went with him. 

One of the things Greenpeace has asked for is a plan Cairn Energy's supposed to make for oil spill response, in the event of an emergency. Cairn says it has one but isn't sharin. From what Naidoo is saying, that's not the only concern: the chronic one is a warming climate contributing to Arctic melt, that's left the ecosystem vulnerable.


Why does anyone cut down Indonesia rainforest?

After I reported on the Mattel-Greenpeace standoff over packaging sourcing, friends in LA who rely on me to tell them the news asked: why does anyone cut down rainforest? My generally over informed friends - people at KPCC - said, wait, I thought they were slowing down with the cutting, what's the big deal? 

Those questions aren't silly. With a little checking I figured out that nobody's said VERY much about this in recent years on the radio in the US. And if you listen to stories about how Indonesia had its own Million Tree planting like Los Angeles did, but 79 times larger, you might think, oh, that problem's solved, on to polar bears.  

So, first, obviously, people cut 'em down for money: paper sells. The trees are good for pulping; major companies in Indonesia use 'em in paper. Logging has slowed down. Some: but a widely-cited 2007 report of the United Nations Environment Program projected that illegal logging is so rampant, Indonesia might be out of forest to cut down by 2022. 


LADWP rates: the public in the public meeting [UPDATE]

I went to the second of seven (plus one) Los Angeles Department of Water and Power meetings last night. DWP's rolling out what it's calling "community conversations" - they brief everybody about what they're asking for, why they're asking for it, and then they take questions and comments. In Woodland Hills Thursday they stayed until 9:30 talking to people as they packed up. 

In Woodland Hills, by the way, nobody talked about coal. (Except the DWP - explaining that while it could get off Navajo coal by 2014, the costs (beyond 33 million dollars) aren't figured into their 3-year budget plan.)

What people did care about? Pensions. Why they're big. Who's paying for them. Did I mention, why they're big? And if you look close at the signs from one of the several breakout sessions, you can see what else the DWP's contending with out there: mistrust. People have a lot of questions about the numbers, and what's up for discussion. Will they always? Unclear. But it does seem, talking to people, like the last decade did some damage. 


What's the rainforest got to do with California?

This week on Pacific Swell l figured it was worth it to talk a little about Indonesia and Mattel and Barbie and Greenpeace - because the radio stories we'd had so far were shortened by our very short successful pledge drive.

You know we actually have rainforest in California, right? Temperate ones. Full of Sequoia sempervirens - the coast Redwood - and conifers like Doug Fir and Madrones and Bay Laurels even (the name of the street I grew up on). Redwood National Park, representThe state saves these trees in parkland too - yes, you, Big Basin! If you've ever seen a nurse log in central California - a tree felled for whatever reason, with shoots and leaves and moss and scrub and trees growing on and out of it - you were probably in a rainforest. The kind we protect in California and the US; the kind I was in over Memorial Day in Ben Lomond.