Southern California environment news and trends

Morning Greens: Ozone, offsets, and a downtown stadium waiver

Good morning and welcome to Morning Greens, where your host hasn't refreshed a page so intently since she went to a lot of concerts by a certain band whose name is the same as an internet crime. Anybody else get tickets for the LA River paddle? Hit up comments! And for those of you shut out: I sympathize. Tell me your sad story. On to today's news:

Neela Bannerjee's reporting from Washington for the LA Times links the Obama Administration's failure to act on tougher rules for low-level smog to the economic apocalypse. The EPA was slated to propose the tougher rules most recently at the end of July. But lobbying groups including the Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute have been telling Congress that the tougher rules will send jobs and economic recovery overseas. Environmental advocacy groups are growing restless; a group of them filed suit in DC district court Monday to demand that the EPA take action. 

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Song of the Week: Radiohead, Idiotheque, for the sentencing of Tim DeChristopher

It may be the case that Radiohead's Thom Yorke and his brethren cut up lyrics on pieces of paper and stuck them in a hat and pulled them out and made songs out of them (that's lore, not fact). But Yorke is deeply concerned about climate change, and his song "Idiotheque" touches on the same ideas the stories about Tim DeChristopher have. Utah climate activist Tim DeChristopher got sentenced to 2 years in prison on Tuesday, and that's why Radiohead's got the song of the week.

The song's from the Kid A album. (Kid A is 10 years old, and at least one real Radiohead fan has reflected on its political context.)  

Yorke sings on "Idiotheque":

Ice age coming 

Let me hear both sides…

"Both sides" may well be a reference to the face that our public discourse is dominated by the idea that there are sides, and there are two of them. Scientists themselves don't think that way. But the way their information gets used puts it on a do this-don't do that, redlight-greenlight spectrum. 

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KCRW's Unfictional, "The Descent" - Looking down the river at climate change and other matters

In some circles he's known as Bidder No. 70, but he also is a guy Alex Chadwick went down a river in Canyonlands National Park with. Tim DeChristopher is a man from Utah who took action because he believes we're in an urgent crisis caused by our rapidly warming planet. And today on KCRW you can hear Alex's story about his trip with DeChristopher - a climate activist who may find out he goes to prison today, at a sentencing hearing.

DeChristopher's story is an oft-told one in some circles, not so much in others. (An account of DeChristopher, from the circles that care most about him, is here.) He showed up at an oil and gas lease auction in 2008, without much of a plan, he says, other than to disrupt the government-sanctioned plans to sell resource extraction rights near Canyonlands and other public lands in Utah. He drove up final bids by other buyers, and won more than a dozen parcels of land, and never had plans to pull out his wad of millions to pay for it.

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Song of the Week: Bloomberg Philanthropy gives $50 million to Sierra Club for coal campaign

News today inspires this week's song. A campaign already targeting LA's utility for its reliance on coal power has gotten a $50 million boost from Bloomberg Philanthropy for its national work. The Sierra Club says it will use the money to double the number of organizers it has for its Beyond Coal campaign, place people in 45 states, and aim for a hard-to-reach target: the group wants to shut down a third of the country's older coal plants by 2020.

In the Sierra Club's announcement, former NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: "If we are going to get serious about reducing our carbon footprint in the United States, we have to get serious about coal. Ending coal power production is the right thing to do, because, while it may seem to be an inexpensive energy source, the impact on our environment and the impact on public health is significant," said Bloomberg. "Coal is a self-inflicted public health risk, polluting the air we breathe, adding mercury to our water, and the leading cause of climate disruption." 

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Lego latest toy maker to respond to Greenpeace rainforest campaign

Since Barbie drove her bulldozer down an El Segundo business park, much has happened in the world of big toy companies and their packaging supplies. 

Well, except for Disney: that company has not said anything, so if it's doing something, we don't know about it. 

LEGO - a Danish company - announced within a day that preliminary investigations showed the problem was limited to a few suppliers of their suppliers. (Interesting that they quoted Greenpeace's allegations in their initial press release!) Just last week LEGO announced it would reduce packaging and only use FSC-certified fibers in the boxes around its products. That cuts out Asia Pulp and Paper, which lost Forest Stewardship Council certification status in 2007.

Hasbro updated a statement on its website that says, essentially, we were already working on this. Last year, Hasbro set a goal of 75% recycled fibres in its packaging. "Hasbro had been actively working with its paper packaging suppliers toward our goal of responsible sourcing from recognized, independent, certifying bodies, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)." Sounds like they're aiming for something, but they haven't hit it yet. 

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