Southern California environment news and trends

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.


Morning greens: LA Free store, GM salmon, cool cats

freesign Morning greensHave no money and nothing to do this fine Saturday? The first LA Free Store will pop up today, Sat. Nov. 13 in Eagle Rock. Stop by outside the Casa Princessa Cafe between 10 am and 2 pm today “to get some goods, services, and smiles,” says LAist. Take your no longer used stuff with you so fellow Angelenos have a chance to give the goods some reuse.

Two San Joaquin Valley farmers want to sell their water to developers. From NY Times’ Green: “The farmers pay a maximum of $500 per acre-foot of water from the state water project, KFSN-TV reported. But the Tejon Ranch is paying the farmers $5,850 an acre-foot, meaning that the sellers will net $11.7 million. ”

The genetically-modified salmon debate heats up. As the FDA considers approving GE salmon for human consumption, the Center for Food Safety says the FDA “knowingly withheld a Federal Biological Opinion by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) prohibiting the use of transgenic salmon in open-water net pens pursuant to the U.S. Endangered Species Act.” Grist reports on the debate in a less jargon-y, more lay-reader-friendly summary post.

Americans don’t know much about genetically-modified food — but are wary of it, reports NPR. “More than 80 percent of people with a college degree say they were aware that some modified food is on the market. By contrast, only 45 percent with a high school education or less knew that.”

In BP Oil Spill news: Oil burned after the spill didn’t create cancer risks, according to new studies from the EPA. “The reports are the latest in a series suggesting that some of the lingering effects of the BP spill and cleanup have been milder than feared,” reports NY Times’ Green. Meanwhile, three Republicans say the BP oil spill report was manipulated, reports NY Times.

Lastly and cattily: Cats drink very efficiently, says an MIT engineer. Reports LA Times: “Unlike dogs — who use their tongues like ladles, scooping water into their mouths in a characteristically straightforward manner — cats apply an instinctive understanding of fluid mechanics to take the biggest sips.”

Photo: takomabibelot/Flickr


E-waste wanted: America Recycles Day comes to L.A. Live 11/15


Recycling’s the third of the three R’s — and arguably a lot less important than the first two R’s, reducing and reusing. And in fact, some environmentalists will argue that companies’ pro-recycling messages are actually smart ways of greenwashing — that excuses the same companies’ refusal to reduce and reuse! Old(er) Pacific Swell readers may remember that back in the day, beer and soda bottles got reused. As Heather Rogers exposed in her essay “Message in a Bottle” (published in “Trash“), companies decided they’d make more money by making us buy new containers with every drink, then funded Keep America Beautiful, smartly putting the cost and responsibility of dealing with the extra trash on consumers and taxpayers.

Sill, recycling’s a big part of L.A.’s landfill waste reduction strategy and an important part of environmentally conscious living. That’s why in downtown L.A., America Recycles Day‘s going to be celebrated on Monday in grand style — with lots of “interactive stations” sponsored by large corporations at L.A. Live!


One (Coachella) Block Off the Grid

You know how one roll of toilet paper at CVS costs approximately one million dollars, but 36 at Costco costs just a little bit more? Group purchasing works the same way: and starting this week, Coachella Valley residents have access to a service from San Francisco-based 1 Block Off the Grid that allows homeowners to leverage collective purchasing power for solar panels. 

1BOG operates on the principle of group purchasing. Buy in bulk, and save. Assuming that big ticket items can be complicated, and it's hard to do research well enough to trust what you're geting, 1BOG suggests that homeowners should trust them. The company matches residents in a particular area with installers. The result in Coachella, they say, is a 20% discounted price. They're working with HelioPower: they say full-service solar installs will be only $5.29 per watt installed.


Morning greens: 'Cool It,' NIMBY power fights, and taxi talk

A new environmental documentary “Cool It” hits theaters today, featuring the much maligned “skeptical environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg. NY Times and LA Times have rather over-enthusiastic reviews; NY Times’ environmental writer Andrew Revkin has a more measured, thoughtful one at Dot Earth, along with a promise to post a short interview with Bjorn and an open call for questions for him. Above’s the trailer.

Restaurant industry prepares to fight South L.A.’s fast food ban. As the City Council prepares to take up an ordinance to severely limit new fast food restaurants, “the restaurant industry is gearing up to fight back, emphasizing the role fast-food businesses have played in providing jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities,” reports LA Times.

Only 250 taxis will operate in Santa Monica, down from 522. SM Daily Press reports the city council adopted the new franchise structure, which includes a requirement for ultra-low and super-ultra-low emission vehicles, to reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions while providing more cab drivers with a better living wage.