Southern California environment news and trends

Los Angeles more and less green than you think: Siemens Green Cities Index gives LA a purple ribbon

Los Angeles has placed 7th overall in a survey of sustainability policies and practices of American and Canadian cities. Second in California (San Francisco placed first); better than you'd think, though, when you drill down into the different data sets. We may not get a blue ribbon, but the purple ribbon (the one I recall getting in the 50 butterfly when I ws a kid swimmer) keeps us respectable. 

Siemens sponsored the Green City Index, which was run by the Economist Intelligence Unit; it's the first of its kind, in the US and Canada, though Siemens has been indexing other parts of the world longer. 27 American and Canadian cities got looked over for environmental governance, air, waste, water, transportation, buildings, land use, energy, and climate change policies in a comprehensive report. 

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LA water rates: Should a raise be delayed?

Angelenos, you can't say they didn't ask: LADWP officials hold their last big "community collaboration" session tonight - at the Hope Street HQ from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. City council's still the final word on if and when rates go up, but DWP seems to really want Angelenos to have first say - and that's now. 

DWP's been doing these sessions for a month now, and they're slick: power point presentations, group facilitators, breakdowns of a lot of water rate and power rate information. Even still, a scattering of voices is complaining this is all happening too fast. The latest addition is the LA Neighborhood Council Coalition30 or so of its members decided over the holiday weekend they want a delay. "LANCC cannot support any rate increases until the Ratepayers Advocate has reviewed and analyzed these rate increases and discussed the review and analysis with the Ratepayers and the public," their resolution reads in part.

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Morning greens: LA River opens for kayaking, and the Prius invades SoCal

Ready for the weekend? We’re ending the first work week of summer, so let’s start things off right for it.

Like to ride the rivers? Kayaking trips down the Los Angeles River are slated to begin in July. As KCET reports, “On July 8th, a number of groups are collaboratively planning to open up a small portion of the river for a limited number of guided kayak tours throughout the summer. Twice a day on weekends, groups of 10 to 14 will be taken onto the waters of the Sepulveda Basin in the San Fernando Valley.” Paddle up, LA! 

And the good news keeps on coming. Yesterday we reported that California and the courts were meeting to crack down on commercial ships bypassing the state’s clean fuel zone. Today the LA Times reports that the California Air Resources Bill has in fact voted to extend the clean-fuel zone. “The unanimous vote by the California Air Resources Board came after strong protests from the U.S. Navy that the jump in commercial ship traffic across the Point Mugu Sea Range was seriously jeopardizing successful completion of vital Department of Defense testing and training missions.” California’s clean-fuel zone, which requires ships to substitute less-polluting oil for the bunker fuel they usually use, is the toughest ship pollution rule in the world.

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Hold hands on the beach 6/25 -- for Hands Across the Sand

handsacross Hold hands on the beach 6/25    for Hands Across the Sand

Plan for a day at the beach on Sunday, June 25 — and see all your fellow environmentalists collected by the ocean at noon. The second annual Hands Across the Sand event, when people peacefully hold hands across the sand to oppose offshore drilling and call for clean energy solutions, returns later this month to a beach near you.

The first event — held on June 26, 2010, just months after the BP oil spill — got people all over the world involved, with more than 1000 gatherings everywhere from Australia to Tanzania to Santa Monica, where I showed up. That local event brought out actresses Amy Smart and Rosario Dawson, Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, environmental organizations like Surfrider Foundation and Green LA, and many locals that simply want an end to offshore drilling. After a few rousing speeches about moving L.A. towards cleaner energy sources, we all held hands — and stretched across the sand, chanting “Clean energy now!”

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5th-grader Dario does the LA Department of Water and Power hearing: watch this video!

I'm swamped, getting together some stuff on the LADWP/City Council joint meeting over the weekend, but I wanted to take a minute to notice David Pettit's blog over at NRDC's Switchboard

Pettit calls out and features a kid who spoke to the meeting - you can see him here. His name's Dario, and he goes to the Alessandro Street school. He is in the fifth grade!

A lot of folks at this hearing where there to talk about coal. A few were there to talk about once-through cooling transitions for LADWP plants, and even fewer still were there to talk about the ratepayer advocate. You expect speakers like David Pettit to do a good job - he argues in federal court, for Pete's sake. Or Liz Crosson from Baykeeper - she made her point and beat the clock. Jack Humphreville is practiced at appearing before the LADWP commission. And who hasn't heard of Dr. Clyde Williams, gadfly celebre of the City Council? Some of those people have been talking to city council as long as Darrio's been alive. 

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