Southern California environment news and trends

State parks get no love as Prop 21 goes down

Backers of a measure aimed at securing funding for state parks blaimed a noisy and cluttered election for the fact that Proposition 21 didn't attract enough voters. The measure would have tacked an $18 charge onto vehicle registrations, in exchange for which California-registered cars would have gotten free admission to state parks and beaches. The idea was to create a dedicated funding stream for parks whose maintenance has been deferred for decades. Opponents called the proposal a "car tax" and said it was "ballot box budgeting at its worst."

Mike Sweeney, executive director of the Nature Conservancy, said, "Ongoing economic challenges and a confusing and contentious overall election environment made it difficult to connect with voters about the importance of funding conservation in California."


Green tech, green activists, celebrate (likely) defeat of Prop 23

Environmental groups gathered at Global Green USA headquarters in Santa Monica patted themselves on the back - in some cases, literally - for creating a coalition of environmental and business interests that together seem to have brought defeat to Proposition 23.

Early after the polls closed, in the main room at Global Green USA, on a big screen, Ron Johnson raised his hands in victory - the next U.S. Senator, elected over incumbent Russ Feingold in Wisconsin.

The difference is striking. In Wisconsin, they've elected a guy who doesn't seem to believe that climate change, man-made or not, is real:

In California, proponents of Proposition 23 went to some trouble to avoid calling climate change into question. Instead they pitched the measure as a manufacturing and job-saver.

I'll post comments on the results from environmental groups and venture capitalists as I receive them.


Green Picks: Wise Power Use Expo, Green gala, eco trail run, and more

Blue Power teaser eventsWed, 11/3: Learn to be green and save green at the Wise Power Use Expo, a free event with educational and inspiring speakers including Chris Paine, director of Who Killed the Electric Car?. One of the organizers is our latest Everyday Hero, Sherri Akers. The eco-education begins at 6:30 pm at the Windward School, 11350 Palms Blvd., Los Angeles.

Thu, 11/4: Is It Organic? (PDF) is the topic of the next Santa Monica Farmers’ Market quarterly panel, featuring panelists from certified organic, ex-certified organic, and not certified organic fars as well as Chef Neal Fraser of Grace and BLD. The lively debate will happen in the MLK, Jr. Auditorium of the Santa Monica Main Public Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica. starting at 7 pm.

Sat., 11/6: RETHINK:GREEN — a star-studded charity gala that includes an art exhibit, organic tasting, and a green awards ceremony — will raise funds for the Green Ambassadors Institute to promote environmental leadership for students at Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale and beyond. The event happens at Blackwelder LA, 3121 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. Tickets start at $125.

Sat., 11/6: Get a green runner’s high at the Elysian Park 5K Eco Trail Run, put together by Green Running Events. Meet at the Elysian Park Drive and Stadium Way. Cost: $25, including a T-shirt, with a portion of proceeds benefiting Heal the Bay. The open race starts at 8 am; master’s race at 8:30 am.

Sun., 11/7: Take a T-shirt upcycling art workshop and turn an old T-shirt into a reusable bag at Santa Monica Museum of Art. The workshop’s part of the museum’s essential goods drive to benefit the women of Ocean Park Community Center; the upcycled bags will be used to bundle donations to OPCC. Take your old T-shirts to SMMoA, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, and sew away from 2 pm to 5 pm. Cost: Free for museum members; $5 for non-members.

Sun., 11/7: The LA Idea Project, described as “a one-day TED-style conference on social innovation,” invites all people “interested in the power of ideas to make change through entrepreneurship.” The all-day event happens from 8 am to 8 pm at Barnsdall Art Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. Cost: $295, which includes 2 meals and an afterparty.

Tue, 11/9: Stay in and watch Nourish: Food + Community. This half-hour program, narrated by Cameron Diaz, will consider the story behind our food with the help of Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, Jamie Oliver, Bryant Terry, and other eco-foodie experts. Tune in to KCET at 10:30 pm to catch the show (trailer below).

Nourish Trailer from Nourish on Vimeo.

Image: Wise Power Use Expo


Morning greens: Don't forget to vote today!

ivotedsticker Morning greens:

In voting day news: NPR reports Prop 23′s bankrolled mostly by oil companies, as Pacific Swell readers already know.

While polls show that Californians are likely to vote Prop 23 down, the predicted national voter turnout favors climate opponents, according to NY Times. “Republican enthusiasm and the party’s rising dismissal of global warming are coinciding to make this an Election Day marked by climate dissent.”

Long Beach police cited cyclists and impounded bicycles at a Critical Mass ride, reports LA Now. “Riders thought police were there to help move traffic along, but instead cyclists were cited and their bicycles impounded,” some for lacking registration. Last year, Los Angeles suspended its bicycle registration program after a similar incident at a mass bike ride.

Sport-harvested California mussels are now okay to eat. The California Department of Public Health lifted the annual statewide quarantine yesterday, but the announcement doesn’t apply to “shellfish or some parts of crustaceans and small finfish caught near the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara and Ventura counties,” which could still contain elevated levels of domoic acid.

California’s national parks are in peril, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization. Among the forecasts: “No glaciers at Glacier, no Joshua trees at Joshua Tree,” reports KQED’s Climate Watch.

Santa Clara-based Intel tops U.S. EPA’s list for green power purchases. Whole Foods, Starbucks, Dell, and Johnson & Johnson also make the top 10 list. (via Ecotrope)

In BP oil spill news: The Oil Spill Fund denied 20,000 claims of loss and damage last month, reports NPR’s Two-Way. “Kenneth Feinberg, who heads the $20 billion fund, tells the AP that many claims lacked crucial details — and that some have been sent to law enforcement officials to be investigated for potential fraud.”

Lastly and leafily: Can trees avert crime? A study of South Portland homes shows “for every 1,000 houses, there are 4.5 fewer crimes per 100 square feet of canopy cover,” reports Ecotrope.

Photo by Bill S./Flickr


Just wanted to get this in under the wire

Not all of my AB 32/proposition 23 reporting made it to the radio.

Early in the election season, I was looking at what would, in fact, happen, should prop 23 pass, to existing programs in place as part of the AB 32 early action plan organized by the state's Air Resources Board.

One such program is "on dock electrification" - the practice of offering ships a place to plug in for power dockside, so that they don't idle for days in port, burning fuel, dirty bunker fuel or otherwise. Like other pieces of the early action puzzle, on dock electrification offered multiple environmental benefits: it could help cut air pollution that impacts human health, in the form of particulate matter that can irritate lungs. And it could help cut the release of greenhouse gases whose presence contributes to a changing climate.