Southern California environment news and trends

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:


Check your ballots: Prop 23 language incorrect in Fresno

Some 140-thousand Fresno voters got the wrong language for a ballot measure that would pause the state's landmark greenhouse gas law - and the Yes campaign ain't happy.

As Proposition 23 came to the ballot, a federal judge altered its language at the insistence (legally speaking, we call it a "civil suit") of Yes on 23 folks. References to "major polluters" were changed to "sources of emissions" - that's the big one (and confusing in and of itself, since the Supreme Court declared greenhouse gases pollutants under the Clean Air Act a few years back) - and “suspends air pollution control laws” was changed to "suspends implementation of air pollution control law [AB 32]."

Except Fresno seems to have had a slight printing problem, and published the "polluters" version.

The yes campaign is getting word out to its supporters and anyone on its communications lists with text messages.


A Halloween Masked Ball in Venice goes batty

batcostume Love bats? Want to dress up as one for Halloween? Then get that broken black umbrella out of your closet and go green by creating your own batty upcycled costume — for a Halloween Masked Ball that benefits Bat Conservation International.

I’ll be honest — I am very scared of bats. In fact, back when I lived in the Miracle Mile area about a decade ago, I woke up one scary morning to see a clumsy bat flapping around my ceiling! Of course I hid under the covers until the bat disappeared through some exit route I couldn’t determine — at which point I called the CDC — then got a full round of rabies shots!

No actual bats will be at the Halloween Masked Ball, however. And while I hope bats never visit me in my home again, I also hope they don’t go extinct. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service (PDF), seven of the 45 kinds of bats living in the U.S. are in danger of becoming extinct — including the lesser long-nosed bat found in California.

Bat Conservation International works on bat conservation efforts, and a $10 donation to the nonprofit gets you into the Halloween Masked Ball. G2 Gallery says there will be “spine-chilling foods and drinks” — a.k.a. margaritas and tapas — as well as “hair-raising music, and blood-curdling costumes.”

Dress up, because the best costumed reveler will win a nature and wildlife photograph by Michael Forsberg. It all happens tomorrow, Oct. 30, from 7 pm to 9 pm at G2 Gallery, 1503 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. Make sure you RSVP to

Photo by Lenore Edman/Flickr