Southern California environment news and trends

This week in Prop 23 Campaign Finance News

On the yes side for Proposition 23, the slowdown in contributions is real. At the very least, there's not a continuing influx of big-ticket contributions of the kind that got this whole battle of the millions started. CVR Energy out of Sugar Land, Texas and Coffeyville, Kansas kicked in $150,000. Yet another independent in the oil industry. The independent petroleum refiners have paid handsomely to try to stop AB32. The oil giants continue to sit this one out.

The story on the no side is also more of the same, with more of an emphasis on more. MORE. Silicon Valley and Hollywood are representing for their perceived interests. Alan Horn, the president/CEO of Paramount. Actor and Mission-District native Benjamin Bratt. Jim Cameron (James F. Cameron to the state financing forms) kicked in his million against Prop 23 - Cameron's a longtime environmentalist, of course.


Everyday Heroes: Joe Linton, the L.A. River activist and kayaker

 Everyday Heroes: Joe Linton, the L.A. River activist and kayaker

When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers declared only four miles of the Los Angeles River navigable — and thereby ineligible for protection under the Clean Water Act — a small group of environmentalists decided to prove the Corps wrong — by kayaking down the river. That trip helped get the EPA to declare the river “traditional navigable waterway” — a victory environmentalists celebrated — by kayaking down the river again.

Joe Linton, a long-time volunteer for the nonprofit Friends of the L.A. River, was one of the kayakers. Read this five-question interview to find out how the idea for the expedition came about — and what you can do to get in on the next trip.

What do you do?

Really, my work on the LA River has been to get people out to the river to see it. And I do that through leading tours and walks and through publicizing it by writing about it. I wrote the book [Down by the Los Angeles River: Friends of the Los Angeles River’s Official Guide] — and write the blog L.A. Creek Freak.


Beutner + 2 months at DWP?

So, on tomorrow's agenda for the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, there's an item that seems like fun: LA deputy mayor Austin Beutner is probably going to get re-upped for 2 more months. Don't worry, he won't get any more money: just the original dollar he signed for.

What's interesting is that we're coming up on a year without a permanent DWP chief. After David Nahai resigned, we've had some David Freeman, some Austin Beutner, and a smattering of Raman Raj periods. I'm a little surprised: every time I've talked to Beutner or anyone else at DWP they've reiterated how he intends to be out as soon as possible, be it early - before summer's end - or on time - which would be next week.

What do you think this means for DWP's long term plans?


Prop 26: Chevron-backed initiative can create hurdles for AB 32

Most environmentalists already know that Prop 23, the ballot initiative that would put brakes on California’s landmark climate change law (AB 32), is backed by two Texas oil companies, Valero and Tesoro. Those who’ve dug a little further may even know that, somewhat surprisingly, Calif.-headquartered Chevron’s sat out of the Prop 23 fight, going so far as to tell the Bay Citizen that “Prop. 23 should be up the voters.”

But if you thought Chevron was simply staying relatively quiet about its non-stance on Prop 23, think again. Today, the oil company launched a new ad campaign that seeks to distance itself from other dirty energy companies — like say, BP. “Radical Chevron Ad Campaign Highlights Victims,” read the Chevron press release* I got via email today. The release goes on to explain that the campaign shows “Chevron as a ‘real people’ corporation, and admitting to problems that companies usually try to hide.”


Morning greens: Bicycles, birds, and parking in L.A.

epalabel Remember UCLA professor Donald Shoup, who took the Cato Institute to task for its non-free-market-based parking policies? The “prophet of parking” gets a feature in the LA Times today: “According to Shoup, free parking is at the root of many urban ills: congestion, sprawl, wasteful energy use and air pollution.”

You may spend less to park at LAX soon: A train to connect the Crenshaw district to LAX will be built within the next six years, thanks to a $546 million federal loan, reports KPCC. The loan is the first funding L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa’s 30/10 initiative, which seeks federal loans to speed up a dozen Metro projects.

Bike parking’s also usually free — but electric bicycles aren’t flying off the shelves in Southern California, though they do seem to be slowly pedaling on, reports the LA Times.

Missed the Roots of Change Network Summit, organized earlier this month to address food and agriculture in California? Experience LA has a summary of the proceedings.

Santa Cruz Island’s island scrub jays are getting vaccinated against the West Nile virus,” reports LA Times.

In national news: Take a look at the new proposed vehicle fuel economy labels for 2012 model year. LA Times reports the new designs are controversial — especially the one with “a prominent letter grade ranging from A-plus to D that takes up nearly half the label and reflects the vehicle’s fuel economy and tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions” (right). Send in your two cents on the designs to the EPA.

An EPA regulator wants to block mountaintop removal mining projects in West Virginia citing potentially disastrous environmental consequences. “In 2007, the Bush administration approved the project, which would involve dynamiting the tops off mountains over 2,278 acres to get at the coal beneath while dumping the resulting rubble, known as spoil, into nearby valleys and streams,” reports NY Times.

Lastly and hotly: Don’t let the cold rains fool you. “2010 is on pace to tie 1998 as the warmest year in the historical record” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, reports NY Times’ Green.