Southern California environment news and trends

Orange crush: One million refrigerators recycled in Southern California

Southern California Edison and the Environmental Protection Agency recently announced a local recycling milestone: One million refrigerators crushed as part of the EPA’s ongoing Responsible Appliance Disposal Program. Making SoCal Edison the first utility to reach the one million mark, the occasion was celebrated last week at an Appliance Recycling Center of America in Compton, California. 

“It’s about the customers. Californians are educated, motivated and care about the environment,” said EPA regional administrator Jared Blumenfeld by phone about the accomplishment. “People here understand the relationship between energy consumption and air quality, and want to do their part in tipping the balance.”  

Blumenfeld also cites the ease of the SoCal program as opposed to other cities, where recycling an old refrigerator is much more of a chore.

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Heat-related deaths expected to soar in U.S.

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Image: Cimexus/Flickr

According to a new report from the National Resources Defense Council, climate change could lead to as many 150,000 more Americans dying from heat-related causes by the end of the century.

As reported by Think Progress, the study, entitled “Killer Summer Heat,” looks at the projected numbers across 40 American cities, and it’s not pretty. With Louisville, KY (19,000 deaths) and Detroit, MI (18,000 deaths) leading the pack, Los Angeles clocks in at 1,200 projected heat-related deaths by the year 2099.

"This is a wake-up call. Climate change has a number of real life-and-death consequences. One of which is that as carbon pollution continues to grow, climate change is only going to increase the number of dangerously hot days each summer, leading to a dramatic increase in the number of lives lost," said Dan Lashof, director of NRDC's climate and clean air program in a press release. "To prevent the health impacts of climate change from getting even worse, we need to establish a comprehensive program to reduce heat-trapping pollution from all sources, by building on the Environmental Protection Agency's proposals to limit carbon pollution from new power plants and cars."

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Hard sell: NASCAR teams with EPA to spread green message

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Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR

NEWTON, IA - MAY 20: Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, races during the Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 at Iowa Speedway on May 20, 2012 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR)

When thoughts turn to the high-octane excitement of NASCAR racing, there isn’t much space left for anything remotely eco-friendly. Given than the cars burn through 450,000 gallons of gas a year and get on average a mere five miles to the gallon, car racing is about as far from green as a sport can be.

Still, as reported by Triple Pundit, NASCAR and the Environmental Protection Agency are coming together in an attempt to spread a more environmentally friendly message to the masses of Americans who are dedicated fans of the sport.

The five-page “Memorandum of Understanding” between the unlikely partners spells out the myriad of ways they can “facilitate transfer of useful environmental information to a large fan base via the well-developed communications network managed by NASCAR.”

“Because NASCAR is followed by millions of passionate fans and many businesses, it can be a powerful platform to raise environmental awareness, drive the adoption of safer products by more Americans, and support the growing green economy,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention in the Washington Examiner.

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Beekeepers petition EPA over pesticide

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Frank Rumpenhorst/AFP/Getty Images

While the war being waged over strawberry fumigant methyl iodide that we’ve been following came to an abrupt end, a new pesticide debate is heating up.

Just this week, beekeepers and environmentalists came together and filed a petition with more than one million signatures asking the EPA to ban the use of pesticide clothianidin. Petitioners claim harm the bees, often lethally.

"The future of beekeeping faces numerous threats, including from clothianidin, and we need to take steps to protect pollinators and the livelihood of beekeepers," said co-petitioner Steve Ellis of Old Mill Honey Co in a press release.

As reported in Business Week, the beekeepers say that the pesticide cripples the immune system of the bees, ultimately leading to colony collapse disorder, where all adult honeybees die or simply disappear.

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Toxic discharge in California waterways measured

David McNew/Getty Images

An eye-opening new study by Environment California finds that 2.6 million pounds of toxic chemicals were released into the state’s waterways in 2010. The Santa Monica Bay ranked 2nd in the state for the most toxic discharge at 750,000 pounds. That number was only surpassed by the San Pablo Bay, which clocked just over 1 million pounds of toxic discharge.

“California’s waterways are a polluter’s paradise right now," said Sean Carroll, a federal field associate with Environment California in the Pacific Palisades Patch. "Polluters dump 2.6 million pounds of toxic chemicals into California’s lakes, rivers and streams every year. We must turn the tide of toxic pollution by restoring Clean Water Act protections to our waterways.”

Among the offending toxins include Arsenic, Mercury and Benzene, which have been linked to cancer, reproductive disorders and other health and developmental issues.

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