Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: More rail, greener trucks, and solar plans

Is L.A. ready to become a connected city? LA Times’ architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne examines the tensions between those who want to preserve L.A. as a “suburban metropolis” — and those who long for a city well-connected by mass transit.

metrohollywood hike

California got $902 million for rail projects from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The money will fund 18 rail projects, including the high-speed rail project between San Francisco and San Jose, reports LA Times.

Santa Monica College got a new solar and energy efficiency project installed and operated by Chevron Energy Solutions. “The $3.6 million project generates approximately 50,660 kilowatt hours each month and is saving the college about $8,100 month, according to SMC,” reports SMDP.

California’s on track to get the largest ever solar project. The Bureau of Land Management gave the Blythe Solar Power Project the go ahead to begin construction on 7,000 acres of federal public land in Riverside County, reports LA Times. According to NPR, “The projects are expected to create more than 2,000 jobs during construction and several hundred permanent jobs.”


A Hike in the park for M*A*S*H” fans

I’m slightly embarrassed to say I’ve never actually watched an episode of “M*A*S*H” — but I hear the TV show was very popular in its time, and has many fans even now. For serious “M*A*S*H” fans and nature lovers, this weekend offers a unique opportunity: to take a hike to the site in Malibu Creek State Park where the show was shot — with Jeff Maxwell, best known for playing Pvt. Igor Straminsky, the Cook!

furcoats hike

Restored just two years ago, the “M*A*S*H” site has paraphernalia from the show on permanent display. About 500 visitors a month hike there to see relics of a vintage ambulance and jeep used on the show, a replica of the “M*A*S*H” signpost, and informational displays.

But for both frequent visitors and newbies, this weekend’s public hikes should be educational — since they’ll be led by Brian Rooney, a volunteer and docent at Malibu Creek State Park who restored the M*A*S*H site, as well as Ranger Mike Malone of the National Park Service. And of course, Jeff Maxwell will be there too.


Morning greens: Fighting bottled water waste, hit-and-runs, smog

Prop 23 is likely to go down in defeat, according to a new Los Angeles Times/ USC poll. The initiative, if passed, would put the brakes on California’s landmark global warming law, AB 32.

LB4L 1024px Morning greens

A cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run in Agoura Hills, reports L.A. Now. The driver has been arrested on suspicion of DUI. Relatedly, local bicycle activist blog Bikeside recently started a “Life Before License” campaign to discourage hit-and-runs involving cyclists.

Missed Artisanal LA? LAist has the highlights and photos from the eco-foodie event.

San Francisco’s board of supervisors are guzzling bottled water — banned by the city 3 years ago. “The city’s 11 current supervisors and their staff members have guzzled $4,387 worth of bottled water since the prohibition went into effect,” reports NY Times. Los Angeles has had similar problems over attempted bottled water bans.


A greener childhood

I've been light on this blog as I went to see family and friends on the east coast. GreenLAGirl has been doing the work of an entire city!

My friends from college have four kids: my 7-year-old goddaughter and triplet 5-year olds. Somehow they manage not to create trash with FOUR SCHOOL LUNCHES A DAY through the use of BPA-free plastic containers in a variety of shapes and sizes, as well as plastic bag alternatives.

As a non-parent, this sort of blew my mind. Kids seem to me like waste factories, even years after the diaper days. For parents out there, where do you get your green know-how?

And don't say Karen Graziani, because that's cheating.


Morning greens: LEED, leaked memos, and other green controversies

 Don’t forget: Artisanal LA and Homegrown Culver City happen this weekend!

A solar thermal plant in Mojave desert will break ground next week. The LA Times reports that the nearly $2-billion project project, “spanning about 3,600 acres and involving 346,000 mirrors, each about the size of a billboard,” is the first of its kind to be built on federal land.

California received Housing and Urban Development grants for sustainable development. As Kaid Benfield describes them in Grist: “the $4 million grant to a Fresno-based consortium covering eight counties complements a $1.5 million grant to metro Sacramento, a longtime leader in planning, in a way that should combine to address serious growth and development issues in the Valley and perhaps assist compliance with the state’s landmark planning law, SB 375.

Homeowners could get as much as $8,000 to make their houses more energy-efficient, if the Homestar bill, already passed in the House of Representatives, gets through the Senate. “Homestar advocates claim that the $6 billion could create 160,000 new jobs in the flagging building sector,” reports NPR.

Popular green building standard LEED may start accepting additional sustainable wood certification standards. At the moment, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credits are awarded only for Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood. Many environmental groups oppose opening up the standards to other certifications, according to NY Times.

Changes in LEED standards can have widespread effects. The federal government’s General Services Administration seeks to be a role model in sustainability for the private sector by adopting green standards itself. Among its initiatives, according to the NY Times: “All new buildings will be at least Gold certified by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, [GSA Senior Sustainability Officer] Leeds said.”

Proposed cuts at the Department of Environmental Conservation would eliminate 209 jobs — a loss that has both environmentalists and the gas indutstry worried. “Not counting the 209 jobs scheduled to be eliminated from the current level of about 3,100, the department has lost 595 employees over the last two and a half years,” reports NY Times.

Those proposed cuts came to light due to a leaked memo. Since the leak, the Department of Environmental Conservation’s commissioner Alexander B. Grannis has been fired on suspicion of being the leaker; some are rallying for Grannis to be returned to his position, reports NY Times’ Green.

In BP oil spill news: The main federal investigation into the oil spill got an extension to complete its report. The Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement now have 60 more days to prepare their findings. Meanwhile, rescued turtles were returned to Gulf waters this week, reports LA Times.

Lastly and craftily: Don’t have a Halloween mask yet? Create your own — greenly. Alternative consumer has a roundup of 6 Halloween masks made from recycled and upcycled materials to get your creative juices flowing.

Image: Artisanal LA