Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: Splits and disagreements on Prop 23, solar farm

Environmentalists are split on solar farm plans in San Benito County. Some believe “Solargen Energy Inc.’s proposed 400-megawatt solar farm on 5,000 acres just south of San Francisco Bay will be a key part of a new future based, in part, on green technology,” while “the small-scale ranchers, farmers and horse trainers who live and work in the misty pastures and furrowed slopes of Panoche Valley believe the old connotation of ‘green’ is worth more,” reports LA Times.

vote2010 Morning greens:

California businesses are split on Prop 23 and other ballot initiatives, reports LA Times. “The initiatives pit the conventional corporate culture against many high-tech and green-tech companies in Silicon Valley and other entrepreneurial hubs.”

As voters prep to vote on Prop 23, California’s prepping its own iteration of cap-and-trade rules, reports NY Times’ Green. “California’s Air Resources Board have drafted proposed regulations intended to cushion the economic impact on the state’s industries but still accomplish the law’s purpose: reducing emissions linked to climate change to 1990 levels by 2020.”


Orange October! (Green World Series)

So Major League Baseball is highlighting environmental issues at the World Series this year, "thanks to a special partnership between MLB and the Natural Resources Defense Council." As a fan of the San Francisco Giants, I think they're a pretty good team to do that with. For you environmentalists, here's some good reasons to jump on my Giants bandwagon.

AT&T Park (oh, is that what it's called now?) got Silver LEED certification this spring. (The Twins & Nats have it too.)

The Giants audit their waste stream, and found this year that they diverted 75% of it from landfill - 3 and a half million pounds.That seems like a crazy amount for the public to do on their own - and of course they don't:

In addition to the bins, custodial crews pore over the stands after games to collect recyclables, compostables and waste, and the sorting process is aided by color-coded loading docks at the facility. Staff members from Environment Now, a green job training program that has received Recovery Act funds, also pitched in during games by helping baseball fans figure out which containers to use for their disposables.


ARB shows its cap-and-trade cards before voters play Prop 23 hand

While most of the rest of California is talking about whether to suspend or continue with AB 32, the state's Air Resources Board has released a plan about how they'd run the landmark greenhouse gas law's central program - the cap and trade program - and they're looking for public comment.

Starting in two years, the first phase of the cap and trade program includes electricity and large industrial facilities. Three years later they add in transportation fuels distributors, natural gas, and other fuels: so oil companies get a little time. The first cap in 2012, essentially, sets a don't-screw-up standard, at the forecast for whatever would happen anyway. Then it drops 2 percent a year, then ups to 3 percent.

The 2020 cap is about 15% below where the program starts 8 years earlier. The ARB projects that means 273 million metric tons of carbon dioxide cut from the state's output.

Industrial sources and utilities get free allowances, with the rest of credits under the cap sold at auction. Offset options include forestry, and methane; facilities can only use offsets to drop their footprint 8 percent. You can read more in a brief summary of the program here.

I'd guess - but haven't yet heard - that this isn't all environmentalists would want it to be. Other people have written convincingly about why giving away permits creates a different market than auctioning them all; ARB's plan is a compromise. The capped market begins in a couple of years; that may not be all businesses want, but it's a graduated plan: it's another compromise. The implementation group will give its opinion, and so will chambers of commerce, economists, and environmentalists. And I would guess everyone won't like something. (We'll keep you posted.)

What the ARB wants to signal here is that it's ready to go with AB 32 - and that it's not a scary, drastic option to cut carbon emissions on a market. Starting Monday, they want to know what people think about it: they're going to decide on a course of action December 16. (In keeping with the ARB's efforts to get as much regulation out the door before the end of Schwarzenegger's term.) Of course the outcome of Proposition 23 will serve as a public comment of a sort, but a less specific kind. But ARB is taking specific comments at its website - check here for more details.


Morning greens: Prop 23 fight continues, bike racks get mapped

rallytokickcoal Morning greens:

Young Californians are fighting hard against Prop 23 with the help of social media, according to LA Weekly’s cover story this week. “If it all comes together, they’ll have created a grassroots network of progressive-minded student leaders with the organizational breadth to tackle a few other messes created by the generations who came before.”

The Metro Board’s decisions on the Westside Subway Extension has the local media abuzz. L.A. Now reports the subway line could hit the brakes in Beverly Hills, while LAist points out that a debate over where to place the UCLA stop is also still ongoing.

While rail projects got the most attention, the Metro Board also approved a Hollywood Bike HUB, a 1,000-square-foot bike shop where locals can work on their bikes. “What’s next is to develop request for proposals and find operating partners,” reports Curbed LA.


Matt Kahn's Climatopolis: of golf courses and cemeteries

Golf courses and cemeteries - the two prime wastes of real estate!

Al Czervik said that. And now so does UCLA's Matt Kahn, in a way.

Kahn is an economist I've interviewed a number of times who works at the Institute of the Environment at UCLA. I heard his book was called Climatopolis, and I saw the cover - with its red-orange apocalytic-Red-Dawn effect - and thought I might have a book analog to The Day After Tomorrow on my hands. But no such luck. Kahn's an upbeat guy, so he looks at how people in cities might adapt to a warmer-temperature world - and the results are engaging and thought-provoking.

First, Utah - and specifically Salt Lake City, where they're still printing references to this crazy climate change business - gets top marks for resiliency to a changing climate, for its elevation.

A lack of elevation, you might imagine, will present a challenge. California's thought of that - the state has a climate adaptation plan in the works. And Kahn says so will its residents. Whether you live near the Great Salt Lake or the channelized Los Angeles River, water scarcity is something we'll contend with. Which is where we get back to Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack.

Kahn posits west side golf courses will prove less valuable than high-density residences as people seek to live at the more temperate coast. And he talks about flaws in incentives used as policy mechanisms by the DWP by looking within his zip Candy Spelling's mansion, on a larger parcel of land, with a larger water allotment. (Guy knows his name around search engine optimization, I'd guess.) Actually, he kind of mocks them: