Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: Valero up close and offshore drilling afar

KQED’s Climate Watch blog’s put together The View from Valero, profiling the Texas-based oil company that’s the biggest backer for Prop 23, which would halt California’s groundbreaking Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32). Get a behind-the-headlines look at the company’s refinery in Solano County with videos the one below, which explains an enviro-conundrum: Keeping SO2 and NOX out of the air can put more CO2 in the air.

My co-blogger Molly’s been busy at the Solar Power International convention this week and will have a first-hand update soon. In the meantime, LA Times reports on newfangled clean energy ideas: “Spray-on solar panels, power beaming down from outer space and gasoline-like fuel made from bacteria.”

In other sunny news, Cupertino-based Solargen Energy got the go ahead from San Benito County Board of Supervisors to build a nearly 400-megawatt solar farm in the Panoche Valley, reports KQED’s Climate Watch. The plan’s opposed by some environmentalists — and still has many hurdles to clear before it becomes reality.


New green jobs: introducing some local decisionmakers

Know your Los Angeles Port Commissioners! 'Cause you have two new ones, thanks to the LA City Council. 

David Arian is a retired longshoreman, former ILWU president, and father of a law school graduate. (I learned that last part when Arian talked to former NPR reporter Rick Karr 2 years ago for a PBS Frontline.) When he put Arian's name forward, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa credited that longshoreman's experience with giving his nominee "an inherent understanding of how the Port can function more efficiently as well as the needs of the surrounding community."

His decades of experience at both the local and national level will help our team at the Port build off the success of the Clean Truck Program and Clean Air Action Plan to ensure the economic vitality and environmental sustainability of our Harbor community for generations to come.


Los Angeles aims to become a zero waste city


Clicking through the news this morning, I was struck with a pang of jealousy — for San Francisco’s waste management program. Our northern neighbor’s diverts nearly 80 percent of its waste through recycling and composting programs — and got big props for its efforts on eco news site Grist, which not only profiled San Francisco’s waste management program but also ran a Q&A with Jack Macy, San Francisco’s Zero Waste Coordinator.

So I thought I’d write a little something about Los Angeles’ own zero waste efforts.

Now, all California cities had to get seriously about recycling in 1989, when AB 39, which required California cities to divert at least 50 percent of waste from landfills, became law. That’s why California’s a leader in recycling rates in general. Sadly, Angelenos are a bit behind San Francisco residents — though to be fair, we don’t know how close San Francisco is to 80 percent yet. The last solid figures  San Francisco has are for 2008, when the city diverted 72 percent of the trash. Los Angeles has more recent figures as of June 2009, when we diverted 65 percent of the trash — the highest diversion rate among the 10 largest U.S. cities, as the city’s Department of Public Works likes to point out.


Green investment growing power?

Comes news today that shareholders' groups aren't happy with all that investment oil companies have done in Proposition 23. A Ceres press release says shareholder resolutions are en route at corporations that are major contributors to Proposition 23.

At Valero:

“As a religious organization, the Unitarian Universalist Association calls on all companies in which it invests to support - not undermine - public policies that reduce climate change,” said Tim Brennan, treasurer at UUA, which filed the shareholder resolution with Valero. “Our values compel us to protect the planet and to stand with marginalized people, who are disproportionately harmed by the impacts of global warming. Valero’s extraordinary support for Proposition 23 delays the country from tackling an urgent human, environmental and economic concern and puts our shareholder value at risk.”


Morning greens: Subway, sand, and solar news

Alternate2 Equal Ex

What will the Subway to the Sea look like? Well, it doesn’t go to the sea in Metro’s recommendation for the Westside Subway Extension (PDF). The recommended route would extend the Purple Line down Wilshire to the VA. Metro’s The Source blog has a summary of the recommendation’s decisions along with their rationales.

Metro also revealed its recommendation for the Regional Connector (PDF), which would hook up the various transit lines in downtown Los Angeles. That recommendation calls for three stations — eliminating a fourth station considered at 5th/Flower. Again, Metro’s The Source has an overview of the highlights.

In response to Metro’s recommendations, Streetsblog LA points out the Metro’s recommendations were made before the public commenting period on the projects ended. Metro’s still officially taking comments for both projects until Oct. 18.