Southern California environment news and trends

Free 6-week green living workshop begins next week

Want to walk the environmentalist’s walk — but don’t know how? If you live on the westside — or are willing to take long weekly rides on the bus or bike — sign up to take a Green Living Workshop with Santa Monica’s environmental nonprofit Sustainable Works. The 6-week crash course offers eco-education, green camaraderie, and free money-saving gadgets — all at no cost to you.

The Green Living Workshop brings together a few dozen would-be environmentalists into one room in Santa Monica once a week for six weeks, tackling a topic like “water” or “transportation” at each meeting. Workshop participants are then encouraged to apply what they’ve learned in the room out in the real world — armed with a free WorksBook with up-to-date environmental information and free eco-gadgets like low flow showerheads, CFL bulbs, and even worms for the compost bin. And the dedicated environmentalists who finish the 6-week course with perfect attendance even get a gift bag at the end filled with yet more green goodies.


Prop 23: Schwarzenegger, Van Jones say no

valero Prop 23:

Already sent in your mail-in ballot? Then I guess you’ve already made your voting decisions. But for the rest of us, Molly and I will be looking at how your votes in November will affect environmental issues in California and beyond. To that end, I’m going to start by writing about by far the most talked-about proposition: Prop 23.

In case you don’t quite know what Prop 23 is yet and have been twitching nervously whenever someone mentions the ballot measure, here’s a quick explanation to help you participate in conversations at CicLAvia and 10/10/10 events this weekend. Prop 23 would suspend the landmark California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) — the Act that committed the state to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 — until the unemployment rate falls to 5.5 percent or below for a full year.


Plastic bag bans, taxes moving in U.S. cities, if not in California

Sam Mendes might find that a plastic bag provokes an unexpected emotional reaction - finding the miraculous in the mundane, as the character Ricky does in American Beauty - but more and more cities might not agree.

USA Today is checking in on plastic bag bans around the country. California's efforts recently went down to ignominious defeat. But the national scribes point to bag bans and fees in Westport, Connecticut, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, D.C. and cities in Washington and Alaska as evidence of a groundswell of sorts. 

"This issue is not going away," says Ronald Fong, CEO of the California Grocers Association, an industry group that backed California's proposed ban. "The future is in reusable bags."

The American Chemistry Council fought hard in California: when AB 1998 went down, the ACC argued that the law would have killed 1000 jobs statewide, not to mention bloating the bureaucracy, with a "hidden tax." Still, the Wall Street Journal recently reported on how a 5-cent tax on plastic bags there has yielded "a big change in behavior with little evident griping."


Morning greens: Clean tech booms to solar power blues

sharrows Morning greens:

Don’t forget about CicLAvia on Sunday! LA times praises the event in an article today. You don’t need a bike to enjoy the event — but Metblogs LA points out you can easily borrow a two-wheeler from Neighborgoods.

California’s clean-tech industry is booming but threatened, reports LA Times. Our state’s alternative energy start-ups are getting a lot of investments — but the green boom could be derailed by Prop 23 and competition from China.

Remember the two major California solar projects got the greenlight? NY Times’ Green blog article points out that not all environmentalists support solar projects because they may alter the habitat of beloved birds, animals, and plants.

In national news: In case you missed today’s Morning Edition, a new report from the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling says the Obama administration underplayed the scope of the Gulf Oil Spill.


How much water are you using at home?

With the news that utility bills are evidence in a case where Councilman Richard Alarcon's residency will figure prominently, it seems Angelenos and anyone wishing to convey an airtight impression they live in a place are in need of more information about water use.

Via Dr. Peter Gleick and even though we're having some wet days lately, which always seems to make LA think the water will never stop: check out this calculator for your water use, energy, and carbon footprint. The northern California-based Pacific Institute made it. It's called WeCalc

You do sort of have to have a committment to excellence to complete it all: it asks for rather specific information, such as your hot water heater's energy factor, if you know it. But it's the most indepth, integrated one of these I've seen. And it gives good advice about ways to conserve water. For southern California, you can always find rebates to pay for conservation in single-family homes here.