Southern California environment news and trends

Song of the Week: 'My Beach,' by Surf Punks, for Malibu Lagoon restoration

Surf Punks, "My Beach."

Surf Punks

Surf Punks. Let's not overthink this one.

The goings-on in Malibu this week have offered a unique opportunity to play some songs I heard when I was a kid.

Malibu is presently, of course, the site of a showdown over a long-planned restoration in the western lagoon part of the state park. Low dissolved oxygen and seasonally high bacteria levels mean that the waters aren't supporting a healthy ecosystem. State and local agencies have won funding and permits to begin reshaping the lagoon. But for all of the surfers, environmentalists, scientists and beach lovers on the side of getting this restoration done, Malibu locals, including some celebrities and surfers, are among the opponents to it, joined by Westside naturalists and conservationists. This fight has a distinctly local and even "locals only" feel. Just like the band the Surf Punks did, in the early eighties. 


Song of the Week: "Desert Sun," for the California Assembly's Calico Solar action

Courtesy MojaveDesertBlog

Pacific Swell's song this week was inspired by the news about the Calico Solar facility proposed in San Bernardino county. Louis Sahagun of the Los Angeles Times reports that the California Assembly is putting a 663-acre project near Ludlow on rails, fast tracking its approval so that it can meet deadlines in the Energy Commission. 

When what's generally called Calico got fast-tracked a couple of years ago, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called it "one of several projects in the pipeline that will help California and the nation build a renewable energy economy." Tessera Solar was supposed to sell the power to Southern California Edison; the future looked bright. It didn't turn out that way. Tessera sold to K Road. At best, the project has been embattled: it's been dragged into court. But if the Assembly's legislation takes effect, its fortunes could change. Writes Sahagun:


Song of the Week: groovin' with "Trash"


Oscar the Grouch did not write this song of the week.

Song of the Week returns triumphantly and slightly prematurely (Earth Day isn't until Sunday) with the song "Trash," in fond appreciation for something that KPCC videographer Mae Ryan has worked up, which our website will debut on Sunday. For now, "Trash" by Robin Gibb is for Oscar the Grouch, and was brought to you by the letter L for Lisa Brenner, our blogger

Sometimes it's lying on a beach
Or down an alley out of reach.
Trash, I love it.

What other people throw away
I try to save for a rainy day.
Trash, I love it. 

Sanitation officials in Los Angeles have been working on plans to divert all of the city's waste away from landfills within two decades. That proposed zero-waste policy would rely, in part, on sending more materials to recycling centers. Assistant Director for Sanitation Alex Helou told me that LA is already diverting more than 65 percent of its waste away from landfills. "We've been doing a great job as a big city," he says. "We went beyond other cities. We [began to] recycle plastic bags when it was not popular, in 2006-2007. We recycle styrofoam when it's still not popular. We've done all these things." 


Song of the Week, for San Onofre, and the summer energy needs ahead: "Can't Smile Without You"

David McNew/Getty Images

Evening sets on the San Onofre atomic power plant December 6, 2004 in northern San Diego County, south of San Clemente, California.

A little over a week ago, steam generator tubes failed during a test at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Since then Edison has been testing about 1% of its 19,000-plus tubes on site. And it would seem that could take a while, based on tweets from Edison's community outreach like this: 

This week, Southern California and the California Independent System Operator began to grapple with what a shutdown at San Onofre could mean to summer energy needs. The ISO, at a meeting this week, discussed contingencies for that circumstance. System operators could consider speeding up Sunrise Powerlink and the Barre Ellis transmission projects. They could keep a power plant on its way to extinction in Huntington Beach open a little longer. They could step up calls for public conservation, and public agencies and the military could impose mandatory restrictions. 


Song of the Week: "You can't see it, and you can't smell it," for nuclear generating stations


Anti-nuclear power protests in Kouenji, Tokyo, Japan, April 2011.

If there's one rule about the Song of the Week, it's that it can't be a protest song. Protest music, generally, is where melody, good lyrics, and humor go to die. But rules are made to be broken.

It's a year after the 9.0 Tohoku earthquake and resulting tsunami that damaged the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Power plant in Japan. I don't know that anyone is yet reporting on what that accident reveals about our sense of risk from that sort of harm. It does seem like we're still piecing together what happened; we're not yet thinking about what we might pay in the future if we're still trying to count the cost--and it seems we are. I recommend you find, read, and listen to everything at FUEL an energy journal, and the formidable Alex Chadwick's reporting on energy issues, including nuclear power, and including Fukushima.