Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: From clean diesel to flying Humvees


For the third time, California was told by a judge to consider giving endangered species protection to the pika. LA Times reports that the tiny mountain-dwelling mammal “is the first animal in the lower 48 states to be considered for endangered listing solely because of climate change.”

The campaign to pass Prop 21 launched its first TV spots yesterday. Prop 21 would add an $18 fee to annual car registrations, then use that extra money to fund state parks, allowing free admission to the public. If you haven’t seen the ads already, watch them at LAist.

In national news: Newer “clean diesel” trucks produce a lot less pollution than trucks of years past, say both trucking companies and the EPA. NY Times reports the announcements come as the Obama administration prepares to debut new proposed efficiency standards for trucks.


Scrapertown is on the scene

Bike culture is alive and well and growing in Oakland, and this video is awesome and hypnotic. All that is true and it's still not getting the lyrics of this song out of my head:

Blue yellow orange with bling. Scraper bikes is on the scene. Yep yep we on the scene.

Song's from a video dedicated to the Original Scraper Bike Team, a group of guys in Oakland who promote bike culture and positive attitudes to get away from gun violence. How do you make a scraper bike? These guys know how.

All respect to Tyrone Stevenson Jr. who makes the rules to be on the team:

"In order to become a member of the Original Scraper Bike Team, you must: Be a resident of Oakland, CA. Be at least 7y/o or older. Retain A 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA), Create your own Scraper Bike…(It Has To Be Amazing, Or Else You Can’t Ride.) A single-file line when riding. After 10 rides The Scraper Bike King and his Captains will decide if your bike is up to standards and if you can follow simple guidelines. After your evaluation we will consider you a member and honor you with an Original Scraper Bike Team Shirt. Only worn when Mobbin’ Stay posted to our website for all upcoming Scraper Bike Rides..." -- The Scraper Bike King


Will Los Angeles get beyond coal by 2020?


Where does Los Angeles get its power? If you’re an LA Department of Water and Power customer, about 40 percent of your power comes from coal.

That’s why Sierra Club’s got a campaign called LA Beyond Coal going. The goal’s simple — to get LA off coal. And getting there sounds like it should be simple too, since L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa said in Jul 2009 that L.A. will eliminate electricity from coal by 2020 — and L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti announced his commitment to getting L.A. off coal earlier this month. But according to David Graham-Caso, Sierra Club’s associate press secretary, environmentalists can’t sit back and relax just yet.

“The L.A. campaign is specifically trying to make sure that the Department of Water and Power actually follows through with Mayor Villaraigosa’s commitment,” David says. “This is a very big city with a bureaucracy to match it. It takes a lot of political will — which of course is another way of saying public will — to get things done. And while this is at its core a simple goal, there’s a lot of complicated policy that goes into fulfilling the commitment. So we need people to stand up and make sure DWP gets a very clear message that people in the city, customers they serve, want to get their power from sustainable sources and not dirty and dangerous coal.”


Pour one out for Lake Mead: or maybe, pour one into Lake Mead {UPDATED]

Lake Mead has once again set a record: in the wrong direction, though. (Yes, a few days ago now.) Levels are at an all time low. Oh, but don't worry: levels will rise 8 fee this winter.[eyeroll]

The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that the outlook is bleak:

"I'm worried," authority General Manager Pat Mulroy said. "We're trying everything we can to keep as much water in Mead as we can."

We checked this bucket earlier.

Now, as the NYT reports, it's not likely lifeguards will see the 1075 on the side of the pool:

But the operating plan also lays out a proposal to prevent Lake Mead from dropping below the trigger point. It allows water managers to send 40 percent more water than usual downstream to Lake Mead from Lake Powell in Utah, the river’s other big reservoir, which now contains about 50 percent more water than Lake Mead.

In that case, the shortage declaration would be avoided and Lake Mead’s levels restored to 1,100 feet or so.

Lake Powell, fed by rain and snowmelt that create the Colorado and tributaries, has risen more than 60 feet from a 2004 low because the upper basin states, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah, do not use their full allocations. The upper basin provides a minimum annual flow of 8.23 million acre feet to Arizona, Nevada and California. (An acre-foot of water is generally considered the amount two families of four use annually.)

In its August report the Bureau of Reclamation said the extra replenishment from Lake Powell was the likeliest outcome. Nonetheless, said Terry Fulp, the bureau’s deputy regional director for the Lower Colorado Region, it is the first time ever that the bureau has judged a critical shortage to be remotely possible in the near future.


Green picks: From eco-foodie fun to Prop 23 debates

Where to go, what to do, how to green. Our event picks for the coming week:

calirepflag events

Tonight: Preview “Rock the Boat,” a documentary about L.A. River kayakers — while enjoying drinks and snacks, then hear a panel about revitaliizing the river, featuring Joe Linton, our latest Everyday Hero, at the U.S. Green Building Council-Westside Branch kick off at the Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice from 6 pm to 8:30 pm. Cost: $10 for USGBC members; $15 for non-members.

Thu, 10/21: Environmental nonprofit Breathe L.A.’s next Green Salon event is a panel titled “Focus on Prop 23: Does the Latino community really need to choose between jobs and lung health?” Hear from Calif. Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes and representatives from environmental, social justice, and health groups at California Endowment, 1000 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles from 9 am to 10:30 am.