Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: Prop 26 debates, end of 1 (800) Commute, new enviro health risks

recycle Morning greensToday’s America Recycles Day! Don’t forget to drop off your e-waste and other hard-but-possible-to-recycle goods at L.A. Live.

The impact of Prop 26 is under hot debate. LA Times reports environmental policies ranging from the disposable bag fee being considered by L.A. County to a tax on crude oil could become very difficult to pass. Earlier: Legal experts disagree on Prop 26′s effect on AB 32.

1 (800) Commute will be discontinued as of June 2011, according to Metro’s The Source. “Taking its place is the new 511 system launched last spring and a new local number: 323-Go-Metro.”

Chromium-tainted groundwater plagues residents of Hinkley, Calif
., continuing the pollution saga that inspired “Erin Brokovich.” Reports LA Times: “The border of the plume has shifted 1,800 feet beyond a containment boundary set by PG&E in 2008, spreading higher levels of hexavalent chromium, a cancer-causing heavy metal isotope linked to stomach cancers and other health hazards, according to state water officials.”

Frequent flyers face radiation risks. Reports NY Times’ Green: “At airliner altitudes, exposure to radiation from the sun and the stars can be hundreds of times higher than on the surface of the earth, where the atmosphere filters out radiation.” A new controversial “backscatter” X-ray machines are also creating concerns.

Some reusable bags are tainted with lead, so shop wisely. NY Times’ Green reports that “There is no evidence that these bags pose an immediate threat to the public,” but that some bags, mostly made in China, contain potentially unsafe levels of lead. “The offending bags were identified at several stores, including some CVS pharmacies.”

Lastly and un-foodie-ly: In the New Yorker, Ellis Weiner snarks against our broken food safety system by making fun of food and product recalls:

There’s even more good news: every product we recall creates a job opportunity that didn’t exist before. Case in point: approximately thirty-four thousand children’s jackets and thirteen thousand five hundred vests are on their way to the warehouse right now, because it’s been said that their drawstrings can pose entanglement and strangulation hazards to young children. Well, when they arrive, somebody has to be there to welcome them.

Image: Courtesy of America Recycles Day


America Recycles Day, E-Waste drop-off at L.A. Live

'Tis sort of the time of year for e-waste events - in the sense that we're approaching the time of year when people go running into BestBuy like firefighters into burning buildings to pick up a Blu-Ray player or three for presents. (I tend to run the other way out of a mall, especially at the holidays, but I do have seemingly dozens of cousins.)

Over the weekend, the city of Pasadena held an electronic waste event at Brookside Park, next to the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center. Today, L.A. Live's the site of a monster recycling effort. Curbside at Nokia Plaza L.A. LIVE, entering from Figueroa and 11th streets only, they're taking:

  • Light bulbs
  • Batteries
  • Used sporting goods

E-waste items including:

  • Cell phones
  • CRT devices including older televisions and computer monitor
  • Desktop computer monitors, hard drives and Laptop Computer
  • Televisions (Plasma, LCD, CRT)
  • Portable electronics (DVD players, handheld video games, cd players
  • Cash registers and oscilloscopes containing CRTs
  • Computer keyboards, mouse and other peripherals
  • Telephones, cell phones, and answering machines
  • Stereo equipment, radios, tape and phonographs
  • Video cassette recorders and calculators
  • Microwave Ovens


Greening faith

A month and a half ago Heal the Bay's Mark Gold wrote on his Spouting Off blog:

I’ve always been struck by the fact that so much of the local environmental leadership is Jewish (Andy Lipkis, Felicia Marcus, David Nahai, Adi Liberman,  Fran Diamond, Madelyn Glickfeld, the late Dorothy Green, Sara Wan, David Beckman, Laurie David, and so many more). Clearly, the importance of social action in the community means a lot more than Tikkun Olam and Tu Bishvat.

He had a religious experience at temple, of all places:

Joel asked simply: “How can we claim that our righteousness flow like a mighty stream when our streams have been flowing to create destruction or our streams have dried up?”
Because my life has been water for many years, the rabbi’s words resonated with me strongly. His powerful use of the water analogy and connecting to the impacts of climate change on water were extraordinary.


Morning greens: Wilshire bus-only lanes, sunburned whales, toxic blowouts

What is Los Angeles’ green future? “In a way, because Los Angeles is so complex, so diverse, so big — that if you can get a sustainability process underway, if you can make Los Angeles sustainable, then you can do it anywhere," says Futurist Jamais Cascio, before warnng “The worst case scenario for Los Angeles is….” Watch the 15-minute video below to find out what that sad scenario may be.

Wish the Metro Rapid 720 bus moved down Wilshire Blvd. more rapidly? Metro’s The Source blog announces Metro staff’s new recommendations for rush hour bus-only lanes on Wilshire, running the 8.7 miles between Centinela and South Park view between 7 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 7 pm on weekdays.

Brazilian Blowout gets sued for formaldehyde content by Calif. Attorney General. The company’s popular hair-straightening treatments are now under attack, after numerous salon workers complained about health problems. No More Dirty Looks blog has a copy of a formal complaint, which alleges that “high levels of formaldehyde” are found in the company’s products, which are marketed as containing no formaldehyde or harsh chemicals.”


Council steps into DWP's solar incentives discussion

A challenging part of having the highest profile, most politicized utility in the state is that more people make decisions together - and so it goes with solar incentives. The city council vote was 11 in favor of reviewing the scheduled step-down in incentives. LAT's David Zahniser blogs:

Councilman Paul Koretz agreed that the DWP's solar program, which currently has 1,500 applications, has been a "victim of its own success." But he said he had received dozens of calls from residents, business owners and environmentalists who warned that the reductions, which are slated to go into effect Jan. 1, are too much too soon.

"From everything we've been hearing from the environmental community, this would pretty much gut the program," said Koretz, who represents a district that takes in much of the Westside.