Southern California environment news and trends

With new work toward energy efficiency in buildings, a reminder of the energy problem that never goes away

With the LEED gold-certified Santa Monica Public Library as its backdrop, Environment California released a new energy efficiency report called "Building a Better America." In it, the group argues the best place to start saving energy is probably the house or office you're sitting in.

The building sector consumes more energy than any other sector of the economy, including transportation and industry. The buildings where we live and work account for about 40 percent of our total energy consumption and nearly three quarters of our electricity use. This level of energy use costs the United States approximately $400 billion every year.

EC says that by following recommendations it lays out in a two-dozen page report, California will cut its greenhouse gas emissions from buildings by "11 percent by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030." 

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Song of the Week, for San Onofre, and the summer energy needs ahead: "Can't Smile Without You"

David McNew/Getty Images

Evening sets on the San Onofre atomic power plant December 6, 2004 in northern San Diego County, south of San Clemente, California.

A little over a week ago, steam generator tubes failed during a test at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Since then Edison has been testing about 1% of its 19,000-plus tubes on site. And it would seem that could take a while, based on tweets from Edison's community outreach like this: 

This week, Southern California and the California Independent System Operator began to grapple with what a shutdown at San Onofre could mean to summer energy needs. The ISO, at a meeting this week, discussed contingencies for that circumstance. System operators could consider speeding up Sunrise Powerlink and the Barre Ellis transmission projects. They could keep a power plant on its way to extinction in Huntington Beach open a little longer. They could step up calls for public conservation, and public agencies and the military could impose mandatory restrictions. 

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Always more work, and more reports, on energy efficiency in California buildings

mollyali/Flickr

The Santa Monica Public Library is a LEED-Gold certified building. And it's 6 years old.

With the LEED-gold certified Santa Monica Public Library as its backdrop, Environment California today released a new energy efficiency report called "Building a Better America." In it, the group argues the best place to start saving energy is probably the house or office you're sitting in.

The building sector consumes more energy than any other sector of the economy, including transportation and industry. The buildings where we live and work account for about 40 percent of our total energy consumption and nearly three quarters of our electricity use. This level of energy use costs the United States approximately $400 billion every year.

EC says that, by following recommendations it lays out in a 2-dozen page report, California will cut its greenhouse gas emissions from buildings by "11 percent by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030." 

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Recruiting the LADWP Ratepayer Advocate

Molly Peterson/KPCC

Hope Street Headquarters, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

If you've heard it once, you've heard it a hundred times since last year. We're just about to have a ratepayer advocate for the DWP, it's just around the corner. Well, according to what the citizens committee said back in December, it IS around the corner. They expect to have a name to announce this week or next, with committee and city council hearings to follow.

So what has happened since the last time we all paid attention to the Office of Public Accountability?

Well, the citizens committee has met at least a few times. It's sort of impossible to find their records on the city of L.A.'s website, but there aren't many anyway; state law allows them to meet in closed session to interview and consider hires for the job of ratepayer advocate. 

Sacramento-based headhunters Ralph Andersen and Associates consulted consumer groups, the Office of the Ratepayer Advocate at the CPUC, TURN (The Utility Reform Network), and Public Citizen. They talked to Bank of America, Caltech, McKinsey, Occidental, Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, the Central City Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and several public finance firms, among others.

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Song of the Week, for Keystone XL & the tar sands: U2's "MLK"

Various Activist Groups Protest Outside Obama Fundraiser

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Hundreds of protestors from a wide variety of activist groups staged protests outside of the W Hotel where President Obama was holding a $7,500 per person fundraiser.

Yesterday the U.S. State Department said it would delay a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline in order to seek more information about it. " As a result of this process, particularly given the concentration of concerns regarding the environmental sensitivities of the current proposed route through the Sand Hills area of Nebraska, the Department has determined it needs to undertake an in-depth assessment of potential alternative routes in Nebraska."

Back in August, when more than a thousand people got arrested protesting this decision in front of the White House, I wrote about a group of people from California who joined that protest. I found it unusual and intriguing that so many people would take such a specific protest action with a clearly articulated goal. Environmentalists in the US have often had strong opinions. They haven't often succeeded in getting a large and mainstream chunk of people to do something about it. (And cite MLK in the process.) 

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