Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: Libraries gone green, cars gone electric

The Huntington Library’s getting a 15-acre edible garden. The new project, called The Huntington Ranch, “will be a laboratory for studying and experimenting with sustainable urban agriculture,” reports LA Times.

Oberlin professor of environmental studies David W. Orr received the “Pioneer Award” at the Santa Monica Public Library’s Green Prize for Sustainable Literature Awards last weekend, reports SM Mirror. “Books were considered on the basis of their reflection of basic sustainability criteria, distinctive literary quality, effective presentation of material, and awareness of resource and ecological limits as well as awareness for the future, and several other criteria.”

Just in time for the LA Auto Show, pro-electric car nonprofit Plug-In America debuted the first of its funny educational PSAs.


Fishing closed after oil spill in Long Beach Harbor

Don't drop a line or a net or bait in the water down by Pier J. Fish and game officials have created a no-take zone where oil spilled in Long Beach Harbor. The map's below. The spill happened Sunday during a routine fuelling operation at a visiting vessel's tank: rules outlined in the DFG order prevent taking finfish or shellfish from either docks or vessels while the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment figures out what the human health risk is. According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, coast guard crews say it appears booms placed around the oil spill are containing it, though cleanup's continuing.

The state activated the Oiled Wildlife Care Network to manage wildlife rescue operations if needed. Anyone seeing oiled wildlife should call 1-877-UCD-OWCN (1-877-823-6926). There've been no reports of wildlife needing rescue yet.


Everyday Heroes: Rudy Sanchez, the teen environmental educator

 Everyday Heroes: Rudy Sanchez, the teen plastic pollution educator

How does a shy teenager become an energetic peer educator? Ask Rudy Sanchez, a senior at Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale, and he’ll credit a class he took called Green Ambassadors. This academic program for 10th graders educates students hands-on about addressing current environmental issues — and for Rudy, served as a catalyst that brought him out of his shell and turned him into a teen environmental leader.

Now, Rudy’s working locally, nationally, and even internationally to turn more of his peers into environmental activists and educators. Read this five-question interview to find out how you can do what you love while making a green impact — and what exciting new opportunities green-leaning L.A. teens can take advantage of.

What do you do?

I’m involved with the Plastics Are Forever International Youth Summit that’s happening in March, [2011]. I shot a video during the summer on how to give a presentation, so we can empower other students to take action in their community. The summit basically lets the students submit their ideas — We’re gonna compile them all together, and we’re gonna show them how to do it more effectively, so they can create even greater change.


Bond report finds DWP, other utilities not accounting for water scarcity

A report published late last month by Ceres looks at risks for municipal water bond holders - stemming from how the underlying water systems manage their supplies. Ceres says that risk is getting bigger:

"Investors should treat water availability as a growing credit risk," said Mindy Lubber, the President of Ceres, in a news conference. "Ample, long-term water supplies are not a guarantee, and (they are at risk) in many parts of the country."

Among the systems examined is the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The Ceres report characterizes the DWP's water supplies as tenuous, and contains this stark sentence: "Recycled water constitutes one percent of the supply mix."

Although LA has made significant inroads with water conservation—the city uses the same amount of water as it did 25 years ago, despite a population increase of one million people—the vulnerability of the system’s water supply has increased. A decade of legal challenges and droughts has shrunk the system’s reliable yield of local and state sources, increasing its dependence on imported water from the Colorado River. For decades, southern California has relied on the availability of surplus Colorado water in excess of the state’s legal allocation to fuel growth. Increasing competition from other growing states is likely to reduce the reliability of that surplus.


Morning greens: Is L.A. ready for a food revolution?

L.A. Unified School District says no to Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution,” reports LA Times. The English chef previously “took on the ‘lunch ladies’ of Huntington, W.Va., in an attempt to make school food more healthful.” Jamie Oliver also won the 2010 TED prize earlier this year; below is his TED talk.

Edendale Farm in Silverlake brings a slower, more organic pace to urban life. Composting toilets, chickens, and graywater reuse are just some of the eco-features of this urban farm, reports LA Times. “Parents take their children here to feed the chickens their favorite treat: pink flowers from the bougainvillea vines that grow like weeds. Other neighbors bake Kahn quiche in exchange for eggs.”

Get the farmers market delivered to your door. SM Mirror highlights Abundant Harvest Organics, which delivers produce grown in Central California to subscribers’ doorsteps.