Southern California environment news and trends

World’s largest solar farm coming to Imperial Valley

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www.energy.ca.gov

The Imperial County Board of Supervisors has given the green light to Folsom’s 8minutenergy Renewables to build a series of large-scale solar projects that will result in the world’s largest solar farm. The decision was supported by environmental organizations Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club, which has been working in partnership with 8minutenergy Renewables on the project. Among the primary concerns is a program that protects the habitat of the burrowing owl, a local threatened species.

"By working with the Sierra Club and the rest of the environmental community to provide additional stewardship for the burrowing owl they have demonstrated that they will go the extra mile," said Bill Corcoran, Western Regional Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in a press release.

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NBA tips off Green Week 2012

Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers

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The Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers have a game scheduled at Staples Center during NBA Green Week.

The National Basketball Association and new presenting partner Sprint kicked off NBA Green Week 2012 today with Commissioner David Stern hosting a cell phone recycling event in New York.

It’s the latest initiative in the NBA’s ongoing push for sustainable lifestyle changes. As we reported back in February, the Association presented a big recycling program in Orlando around this year’s All-Star Game. For Green Week, the Natural Resources Defense Council comes aboard to assist with a series of new promotions going nationwide as well as online.

Among the rollout is new Facebook application “Unlimited Acts of Green,” which checklists a series of simple ways users can make more environmentally positive decisions in everyday life. For their part, Sprint is ramping up the company's efforts to promote cell phone recycling online and with live events in three cities, including Los Angeles.

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FDA nixes proposed ban on food packaging chemical

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klearchos/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has denied a petition to ban a plastic-hardening chemical common to food and drink packaging such as bottles and cans.

The FDA has decided that there is not enough evidence proving that the chemical known as bisphenol A (AKA BPA) is hazardous to human health, and would need to see the data from federal studies currently being conducted before considering such a ban.

“The information provided in your petition was not sufficient to persuade FDA, at this time, to initiate rulemaking to prohibit the use of BPA in human food and food packaging,” David H. Horsey, an acting associate FDA commissioner, said in a letter to the Natural Resources Defense Council as reported in Bloomberg.

Health advocates have been swift to criticize the FDA’s decision.

"We believe FDA made the wrong call," Sarah Janssen, senior scientist in the public health program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement to the Huffington Post. "The agency has failed to protect our health and safety ­-- in the face of scientific studies that continue to raise disturbing questions about the long-term effects of BPA exposures."

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California oil refineries produce most greenhouse emissions in U.S.

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A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists reveals that California oil refineries emit 19 to 33 percent more greenhouse gasses than any other comparable region in America.

According to Inside Climate News, while California refineries have worked hard over the last 17 years to combat pollutants, dirtier and harder to clean types of crude oil (such as Canadian tar sands oil) have undone any progress by forcing the facilities to work harder to process — and create more CO2 emissions. California refineries are also known for removing sulfur earlier in the cleaning process, which contributes to the elevated emissions.

“With respect to emissions intensity, California officials have been running around claiming California’s oil refineries are so much more energy efficient, that they are just cleaner… Obviously they were wrong,” said Greg Karras, a senior scientist with Communities for a Better Environment who wrote the study.

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New report finds more than three million green jobs in America

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A new report from the Labor Department says that America boasts 3.1 million green jobs, accounting for 2.4 percent of the country’s workforce. This is the first time the department’s Bureau of Statistics has measured eco-friendly jobs, and environmental groups are applauding the effort.

"Critics and politically driven naysayers have been trying to convince us that clean energy and green economy jobs are a hoax," said Bob Keefe, spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council to the San Francisco Chronicle. He predicts those numbers will increase to grow "as long as we don't let entrenched interests stop it."

While California has the most of those jobs at 338,000, Vermont comes in with the highest percentage of them at 4.4 percent. These numbers are the result of the first part of the report covering “output based” jobs, like producing goods. Another report tallying “process based” green jobs, like recycling, is still to come.

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