Southern California environment news and trends

A contagion of enviro review fast tracking hits Sacramento after AEG Stadium deal [UPDATE]

12:04 pm: The bill passed out of the State Senate's environment committee, 5-1, and is going straight to the floor, according to NRDC's David Petit. KPCC's Julie Small says they're debating the bill on the floor now. AEG refused to comment to Small about the bill. This is happening fast, if you can't tell.

12:14 pm:Why is Darrell Steinberg, the author of the bill mandating smart growth be included in CEQA planning, backing a fast-tracking of CEQA that lacks enforcement provisions?

12:25 pm: Just found LA Times coverage here, Curbed coverage of LAT coverage here.

2:49 pm: AB900 passed floor, now to Assembly.


Is AEG spawning a CONTAGION of precedent-setting changes to the state's environmental review process? 
A bill that back in April and May concerned schools now would speed review of CEQA appeals for major projects around the state. 


Song of the Week: "Ridin'," by Chamillionaire, for Air Pollution

Chamillionaire cares about ozone.

Okay, maybe not. In fact, probably not, but here at Pacific Swell we use a special algorithm to pick songs we like to listen to and match them with the news of the week. And this week it's all about air.

Start with last Friday, when President Barack Obama rolled back EPA's efforts to tighten up a long-contentious smog rule in order to match scientific research about ozone and its health impacts with regulatory action. Then today in Riverside, California Attorney General Kamala Harris is announcing that the state is stepping into a dispute about diesel based air pollution around Mira Loma Village. This week, the EPA announced it proposes to approve the 8-hour ozone air quality plans for the San Joaquin Valley and South Coast (they're called SIPs - state implementation plans). Even though Senator Barbara Boxer is agitating for environmental groups to sue over the separate-but-related national ground-level ozone standard. 


What the GOP thinks about climate change

(It's DaVinci, not Galileo. But related? Beards, breaking the mold, science.)


Want a sense of what the Republican Presidential candidate will say about climate change? So might Republicans after last night's debate. 

Not surprisingly, jobs and the economy took center stage last night at the GOP smackdown in Simi Valley. Environment issues and even energy policy may be destined to be tangential to the 2012 presidential race. But that didn't stop two candidates from talking about climate change, and their side-skirmish perfectly expressed a tension the party has about its relationship to climate science.

“The science is not settled on this.  The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet to me is just nonsense,” Perry said.  “Just because you have a group of scientists who stood up and said here is the fact. Galileo got outvoted for a spell."


Obama shelves tighter smog standards, what does this mean for Southern California?

When President Obama ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to halt a proposal to tighten smog standards, his decision sent shockwaves through Southern California. Obama said in a statement, "I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover.” Southern California already has much experience in finding a path toward cleaner air and a growing economy.

So what does keeping the current smog rules mean for greater Los Angeles? Air quality levels are already the worst in the nation; certainly, they will not improve. Ozone, aka smog, is caused when emissions from vehicles, power plants and more mix with sunlight. It causes wheezing, asthma attacks, soughing, and sometimes death. Southern California has these ingredients in abundance.


What 'The American President' can say to environmentalists about ozone, politics

Two plot points in the 1995 movie "The American President" are similar to points driving a sticky dispute in American environmental politics. The first is that fossil fuels contribute mightily to a warming climate. The other is that environmentalists now seem to face a choice between a rock and a hard place as they assess Obama's green bona fides. 

My mom was vulnerable to Aaron Sorkin's warmly reassuring charms when she was having chemo, so I rewatched "The American President" a lot a few years ago. In which: a lobbyist named Sydney Ellen Wade of Virginia, working for the NRDC-knockoff GDC, lobbies President Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas) to back a bill that would require 20 percent reduction in fossil fuel emissions. three years in to his first term, the president's not looking for nasty fights as he eyes an election year. His chief of staff, Martin Sheen-playing-a-guy-named-A.J., tells the GDC, "The environment has known no greater ally in the White House than Andrew Shepherd." To which Sydney Ellen Wade says, "Hardly an impressive distinction, A.J." Bad for the GDC is that the president doesn't take seriously Sydney Ellen Wade's threat to shop for a new candidate come re-election.