Southern California environment news and trends

Apple turns up the sun with new solar-powered plant

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Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Apple, the company that makes a large number of your (um, our) cell phones and computers, is in need of a little good news. The digital giant has taken a big PR hit of late, with reports of questionable employee conditions in their Chinese factories resulting in this week’s ABC “Nightline” expose.

Yesterday, Apple took to the company website to announce something decidedly more upbeat: details of their massive new data center in Maiden, North Carolina that will be primarily powered with renewable energy. CNET reports that the 500,000-square-foot facility will cost a cool $1 billion, and has already earned LEED's highest award – a Platinum certification – for what Apple has planned.

“We know of no other data center of comparable size that has achieved this level of LEED certification,” says Apple’s website. “Apple’s goal is to run the Maiden facility with high percentage renewable energy mix, and we have major projects under way to achieve this — including building the nation’s largest end user-owned solar array and building the largest nonutility fuel cell installation in the United States.” 


Morning greens: Carmaggedon is upon us, cap and trade is reborn

Good morning, Southland! Here are the latest green leads to hit the headlines.

In case you haven’t heard, Los Angeles is preparing for “Carmaggedon” on July 16-17, when the 405 freeway will be shut down from the 10 to the 101. Officials are urging Angelenos to stay out of their cars as much as possible that weekend. As the Calabasas Patch reports, public transportation is stepping up. “Metro will provide free rides as well as additional bus service on the Metro Orange Line during the closure weekend to further spur transit trips between the San Fernando Valley and downtown Los Angeles. This is in addition to previously announced free rides on the Metro Red/Purple Line subway.” 

An appellate court has ruled that California has the legal right to move ahead with preparations for cap and trade after environmental justice groups brought suit against the Air Resources Board (ARB) over its plans for carbon trading. As KQED writes, “Environmental justice groups who brought the suit say that cap and trade would not protect low-income areas and communities of color from localized pollution from power plants.” The actual meat of the matter will be decided later this year. 


Morning greens: California coastlines get cleaner, but is LA’s solar energy shady?

Happy Thursday, Southern California! The summer sun is heating up, and so is the green news.

Our coastlines are getting cleaner, now that California and the courts are telling ships to stop bypassing the clean fuel zone. As Diane Bailey of NRDC reports, “California’s Air Resources Board meets tomorrow to close a major loophole undermining clean shipping fuel requirements adopted two years ago. NRDC has been to court to defend these important rules several times and the court agrees that California has the right to protect its coastal residents from major health hazards associated with ocean going vessels burning toxics-laden bunker fuel.” This move is expected to drastically reduce premature deaths, asthma and other severe health problems associated with pollution from the diesel freights.