Southern California environment news and trends

L.A. County Board of Supervisors to consider plastic bag ban

riteaidbag plastic bags

California failed to pass a plastic bag ban earlier this year, but L.A. County’s moving forward with an ambitious plastic bag ban plan. Why? The plastic bag industry failed to meet its own voluntary reduction goals for plastic bag use.

Serious environmental activists against disposable plastic bags may remember that back in 2008, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors voted after much debate to give the plastic industry yet another chance to reduce plastic bag use voluntarily — 30% by 2010, and 65% by 2013. Fail to meet those goals, and a plastic bag would kick in.

I was at that meeting, and thought that the industry would surely meet the 30% reduction goal — then perhaps fail to meet the more ambitious 65% goal. I was wrong. Apparently, voluntary efforts to curb plastic bag waste failed pretty miserably. Director of Public Works Gail Farber details that failure in the letter to the Board of Supervisors recommending a plastic bag ban (PDF):

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Morning greens: Green libraries, water woes, and hot laptops

A driver who hit a cyclist in downtown L.A. and fled the scene gets 90 days in jail. Reports LA Times: “The case has been closely watched by many in the city’s cycling community. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office and the city attorney at first declined to press charges against Angelina Everett, the 37-year-old fashion designer who, witnesses said, struck Magos with her white Porsche SUV while making a left turn onto 2nd Street, just west of Figueroa.”

blueboy

Can we get L.A. students walking to school? Jessica Meaney, California policy manager for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, says yes in an interview with The City Fix. “It’s also about mobility and independence–creating spaces we can enjoy walking and biking to with ease. Can kids in your neighborhood run around and have independence? Can they get to school safely? If not, why not? Answering these types of questions are a key priority for the health of our communities.”

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Angelenos get open-access electric vehicle charging stations in Hollywood, Santa Monica

lacarguybegley Want an electric car — but fear your car will run out of juice and leave you stranded? Electric car enthusiasts will assure you that an overnight charge at home’s plenty of go for the average commuter and in-city driver, but cautious Angelenos got an extra jolt of assurance yesterday, thanks to the locally-famous LACarGuy. Drive your 2010 model electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle in to LACarGuy’s Toyota of Hollywood or Toyota of Santa Monica, and you can plug in — free of charge — at the dealership’s electric vehicle charging station.

That’s right — Angelenos got the very first open-access electric charging stations in the U.S., when actor Ed Begley, Jr. plugged in a plug-in Prius for the first ceremonial charge at Toyota of Hollywood yesterday. And you too can do as Ed did — simply by stopping by and plugging your plug-in or EV into either of the two Level 2 SAE J-1772 chargers in an electric emergency.

What are the chances you’ll be close enough to Toyota of Hollywood or Toyota of Santa Monica to take advantage of these charging stations when your car’s about to run out of juice? Well, that would depend on how often you’re driving in Hollywood or Santa Monica. But rest assured that more charging stations are coming — at least to Santa Monica. LACarGuy promises to add charging stations at Lexus Santa Monica and Fisker Santa Monica soon.

Why’s LACarGuy doing this? And does an actual LACarGuy exist? Yes, he does — and his name’s Mike Sullivan, president of LACarGuy. Back in July, I asked Mike about his plans to install these chargers. Here’s what he said:

We thought it was unfair to only sell a product. We thought you had to be involved in the infrastructure, and changing people’s driving habits. And if you only sell something, you don’t really effect change.

So I bought seven chargers this week and we’re installing them next week. Two at Toyota Santa Monica, two at Toyota Hollywood, one at Lexus Santa Monica, one at Fisker Santa Monica, and one at my house. So now, we’re going to open those up not only to our clients, but anybody who needs a charge. So we’ll have the ability for someone who buys a Nissan to stop by and come by and have a cup of coffee and visit for an hour, and get at least enough charge to go drive their 20, 30, 40 miles, whatever their car takes to get back home.

I think it’s just one of those little things, candidly, that we have to do to truly allow people to have the ability to change. You can’t make it difficult for people. Even if they like it, they can afford the car, you still have to make it easy for them to do it, to live it.

If those new public chargers make you more interested in getting a plug-in or electric car, you can check out the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, and other electricity-sipping cars at the upcoming 2010 LA Auto Show.

Photo of Mike Sullivan, President of LAcarGUY, with actor Ed Begley, Jr. at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the electric vehicle charging station at Toyota of Hollywood (Credit: Julie C. May)

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Morning greens: L.A. looks at life outside the car

The U.S. EPA plans to reject San Joaquin Valley and the South Coast District’s pollution reduction plans. Why? NY Times’ Green reports that the EPA’s regional office found “the science supporting the air districts’ plans of action was inadequate,” among other issues.

bikesontheroad morning greens

Harrassing an L.A. cyclist could soon cost you cash. LAist reports that the L.A. City Council will today consider creating an ordinance “making it a civil violation of the Los Angeles Municipal Code, including a fine of up to $1,000, for anyone to harass, threaten, or assault a bicyclist.” KCRW’s Shortcut has more details on the history of this proposed ordinance.

Santa Monica holds a town hall meeting to make bicycling safer. The city’s Recreation and Parks Commission’s Bicycle Committee held a meeting on Monday to start addressing the high incidence of bike and pedestrian accidents. “Recreation and Parks Commissioner Richard McKinnon opened the meeting by noting that the California Office of Traffic Safety found that Santa Monica was ranked third in the state for 2008 for bike accidents and number one for pedestrian accidents in the same year when compared to other state cities of similar size,” reports SM Mirror.

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Is the best defense to climage change a good offense? Or is it God?

Politico had a story the other day about John Shimkus, a Republican congressman from Illinois "signalling his desire" to be in charge of the Energy and Commerce committee in the new Congress. I thought he sounded familiar: yep. In a hearing last year of a House subcommittee, he invoked God as the best and perhaps only defense against climate change:

First, he noted God’s post-Flood promise to Noah in Genesis 8:21-22.
“Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though all inclinations of his heart are evil from childhood and never again will I destroy all living creatures as I have done.
“As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, will never cease.”
“I believe that’s the infallible word of God, and that’s the way it’s going to be for his creation,” Shimkus said.

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