Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: California lists flame retardant as a carcinogen

California officially links flame retardant to cancer. “A state science panel voted Wednesday to place a commonly used flame retardant on California's Proposition 65 list of cancer-causing chemicals,” writes the Los Angeles Times. This act does not ban the chemical, but it will require that it be labeled on objects. It is commonly found in foam furniture cushions, auto seats, and various baby products.

Four California waterways have joined the EPA’s list of most polluted. “The Santa Ana River, which stretches from the San Bernardino Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, is the largest watershed in Southern California, but two sections of the river are among the waterways listed by the EPA. The sections of the Santa Ana River between Prado Dam and Mission Boulevard and from Seven Oaks dam up to the mountains headwaters made the list,” reports 


Morning greens: It’s birth control for bison on Catalina while otters face controversy inland

Catalina Island bison are on birth control. As LAist reports, “Eating habits of the bison have a negative impact on the local plant community, as their diet includes coastal sage, chaparral, woody shrubs and cactus.” There are estimated to be as many as 200 bison on Catalina Island, which are rumored to have been brought to the island by an early film shoot.

Otters are in the midst of a big battle in Southern California. As Discovery reports, “Conservationists want to allow the charismatic mammals back into southern California waters that have been prohibited to them for decades. But because otters eat sea urchins, abalone and other valuable shellfish, fishermen think that rehabilitation efforts will destroy the industry that supports them and their families.”

 A massive research grant will pay for earthquake-related research at UC Riverside. “Geophysicists received a $4.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The purpose is to learn more about the regions where tectonic plates meet, and perform quake simulations that could reveal areas that are more prone to quake damage,” reports


Morning greens: New Zealand experiences its worst oil spill in history

New Zealand braces for its own Gulf-style spill while a hurricane aims for Mexico. The California Energy Commission awards several grants for energy improvements and the Sierra Nevadas report their shortest summer in four decades. Baby gorillas are being victimized by poachers in Africa. Here’s your Wednesday morning greens.

New Zealand is currently suffering the worst oil spill in its history. A “cargo vessel has leaked between 130 and 350 tons of oil since grounding on the Astrolabe Reef off the Tauranga coast last Wednesday,” reports the New Zealand Herald. There are 1,700 tons of oil on board and authorities say the spill may take weeks or months to contain. Meanwhile, the spill is already tarring area beaches and wildlife. 

The California Energy Commission has awarded almost $1.6 million for energy storage space research projects. As Nanowerk News reports, “The California Energy Commission has awarded $1,585,490 to spur research on projects including a battery system for grid-scale energy storage. Funds for the 13 projects come from the Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program.” Among other projects, the grants will go towards developing more efficient solar panels and ways to more efficiently plug electric vehicles into the grid. 


Morning greens: New study shows removing hybrids from the car pool lanes slowed us all down

When hybrids joined the rest of us on the freeway, we all slowed down. National Plug-In Day celebrates electric cars next Sunday as San Pedro worries about their above-grown gas tanks. Meanwhile a black bear made an appearance in Sierra Madre Monday morning. Here’s your Tuesday morning greens.

A new study from the University of California, Berkley, shows that the hybrid’s expulsion from California car-pool lanes slowed traffic. As CBS LA reports, “The study found that moving hybrids out of carpool lanes slowed the general flow of traffic, as one might expect. However, the speed of the carpool lanes are influenced by the speed of adjacent lanes, the researchers said.” Therefore, all lanes of traffic were slowed.

National Plug-In Day is October 16th. Electric vehicle enthusiasts will be celebrating all that is gas-less next week, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Twenty-one cities, including Santa Monica, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Orange in California, will  hold electric car parades and tailpipe-free tailgate parties to celebrate -- and test drive --currently available plug-ins from Nissan, General Motors, Tesla and SMART, and soon-to-be available models from Mitsubishi, Toyota, Ford and Coda,” writes the LA Times. Around 400 electric vehicles are expected in Santa Monica this Sunday.


Morning greens: California study shows unborn babies at risk from air pollution

Meanwhile, wild horses and burros are about to be rounded up for a shot of birth control. The CicLAvia festival was a car-less hit downtown this weekend while another green gathering, World Festival of Eco-Friendly Science and Technology, was shut down before it got off the ground. Here’s your Monday morning greens.

A new report out of California shows unborn babies are at risk from air pollution. The study from the University of California was based on 100,000 live births within a five mile radius of air quality monitoring stations. As the Tehran Times reports, “overall exposure to critical pollutants such as PAH resulted in up to a 30% increase in the risk of premature birth.” PAH are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from traffic pollutants. 

The federal Bureau of Land Management has released its calendar for annual wild horse and burros round-ups, reports the Los Angeles Times. The BLM is expected to gather the animals via helicopter and administer shots of birth control. Due to criticism by animal welfare activists, the public is invited to watch the round up. “The BLM estimates that approximately 33,000 wild horses and about 5,500 burros roam BLM-managed range lands in 10 Western states, based on data from February 2011,” reports the LA Times. Their numbers double every four years due to a lack of natural predators.