Southern California environment news and trends

Tar sands protests making waves, nodding to Martin Luther King

Southern California might be looking to The Wedge for surf over Labor Day, but protesters in D.C. have been making waves for a couple of weeks already. Nearly 850 people have been arrested in front of the White House in an action aimed at preventing President Barack Obama or the State Department from granting approval to the Keystone XL pipeline, the line that would connect tar sands in Canada with the Gulf Coast. They'll wrap up this weekend.

We did check in on this before when a group of people left Sacramento in an eastbound caravan. Notes about what's happened lately:

The arrests keep coming, and so do the Californians.

Sure, there's celebrity watch news; most of the actors who said they planned to get arrested did (except Mark Ruffalo. Hulk smash!)

I also talked to a 28-year-old guy named Carlos Naranjo Jr. who just graduated from UCLA. Naranjo is living in Corona as he applies to graduate school for chemistry. He was part of the caravan from California. Naranjo said he was an organizer for Obama during the last election, and he wasn't quite ready to stake his vote for Obama in 2012 on tar sands. But he said the decision is important to him because California's values for the environment are worth having in other parts of the country. I asked him what getting arrested is like. "Beautiful," he said. "Religious groups we were with sang songs. But it was really hot in the van."


Keystone XL protests in DC draw Californians, raise stakes for 2012

We're about halfway through a 2-week protest at the White House in Washington over the proposed KeystoneXL pipeline. More than three hundred people have been arrested so far. Some of them are and will be Californians. The project's backed by a Canadian conglomerate that wants to deliver Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin crude oil through the pipe to Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana. To find out why Californians are involved, read on. 

Environmentalists call "sedimentary basin crude oil" tar sands. As does the Argonne National Laboratory - which describes in its EIS for Utah tar sands a resource-intensive process of pulling the oil out of them: it takes a lot of water and energy to get the energy out. Chemicals are added to the tar sands to transport them for processing. This ain't black tea, Beverly Hillbillies style. A picture provided to the national lab by Suncor Energy shows a handful of the stuff. 


Song of the Week: For Rick Perry's announcement, "Sleeping In"

We've had a lot of marijuana news this week, but we went national for Pacific Swell's song of the week this time around. It's in honor of a new entry into the Republican 2012 presidential race. 

Texas governor Rick Perry's announcement he's seeking the presidential nomination is welcome news to his fellow self-identified "climate skeptics." Slate reports that this week on the campaign trail, Perry said, "I think the record is still out on whether global warming is man-made or not. I’m a skeptic."

Governor Perry's views go beyond asking questions. Maeve Reston of the LA Times reports: "Without citing any specific examples, the Texas governor charged that "there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects."


Morning Greens: Coast, coal, climate policies, and coyotes

Welcome to Morning Greens, where your host is wondering what's up with fennel toothpaste. Some major news in California yesterday along the coastline, so let's jump right in. 

It's worth mentioning again, cause, well, wow. Peter Douglas announced he would leave the executive director position of the Coastal Commission at the beginning of November (though he'll go on medical leave next Monday). Noaki Schwartz broke the news for AP, here's my blog, and read Tony Barboza's take in the Los Angeles Times. Then take a nap, because that's a lot of reading.

From Long Beach to Seal Beach, environmentalists are excited about the addition of 100 acres of the former Hellman Ranch to the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority. KPCC's own Caitlin Carroll reports, "As the salt marsh returns to its natural state, more native birds like herons, egrets and raptors might return too." Raptors are cool!


Morning Greens: Celebrate Joshua Tree, will you; carbon sink, the ocean is

To you from morning greens welcome.  More than halfway through the workweek, we are.  Check what is in today's news, let us. Yessss.

The price IS right! Dr. Gretchen Daily of Stanford University gets a profile in the New York Times for her work seeking to quantify the value of an ecosystem. Sure, Daily acknowledges that some value the earth provides can't be tabulated like a gymnastics routine. (Excellent dismount from the lemur, the sloth really needs to stick the landing, etc.) Still, nobody's really made this serious of a run at accounting for "natural capital"- "Currently, there is no price for most of the ecosystem services we care about, like clean air and clean water," the University of Minnesota's Stephen Polasky told the Times. Close observation is helping Daily see, for example, the impact predators eating a pest can have in boosting crop yields: the new math could change how people everywhere value the ecosystem for regulatory and legal considerations.