Southern California environment news and trends

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.

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A Look at L.A.'s transit future -- plus car-free socials this week

hollhigh 1 transit

I’ve long being a fan and advocate of public transportation, but I’ve only been on Metro rail a handful of times. Why? Until this week I lived in Santa Monica, which still has no rail lines to speak of. Now, I’m a new resident of West Hollywood — and still have no Metro rail station near me! I want my subway to the sea!

Many L.A. County residents who, like me, voted an enthusiastic yes on Measure R to help fund major public transportation projects in our metropolis are similarly antsy. Attend any community meeting for the Westside Subway Extension (the last round of meetings ended late September and are available to watch online) and you’ll hear westsider after westsider get up during the comment section of the night — to wax lyrical about how much they’d love to take the subway before they retire (or die).

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Morning greens: Local food boost and sun-powered jobs

fruithalloween Morning greens:

Los Angeles gets a local food policy. GOOD summarizes “Good Food for All Agenda: Creating a New Regional Food System for Los Angeles,” a new report released by the Los Angeles Food Policy Task Force that seeks to make locally-produced food easily available and affordable for Angelenos.

Two major California solar projects got the greenlight, as Molly Peterson reported on this blog yesterday. The NY Times, Grist, and KQED’s Climate Watch blog all offer further details on the projects — and the LA Times reports what the projects could mean for green jobs in California:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is banking on the building boom to infuse the state with more than $30 billion in new investments in green energy and create more than 12,000 high-paying construction and manufacturing jobs from about two dozen planned wind and solar facilities.

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Slow Pacific Swell: how we re-named this blog

I'm rarely good at picking keepers in my fantasy leagues (which, come to think of it, we rarely do), so it's hard to imagine I'm much better at choosing a blog name. Siel, however, is clever, and she & I kicked around a bunch of ideas. Naming an environmental blog sorta sounds fun at first; it quickly becomes a penance, pitfall avoidance in the form of avoiding green cliches. Really, I would have liked to call it "Hot Wet Climate Action" and just call it a day.

I thought of the phrase "Pacific Swell" because I remembered a poem from the compilation California Poetry a few years back. (Apparently I'm never going to stop being related to poets.) Like a lot of Californians, Yvor Winters was a transplant; born in Chicago, he grew up in Eagle Rock, went back to the Windy City for college. Later he got a Ph.D. at Stanford and stayed in Palo Alto the rest of his life. (There he was an early mentor to the fascinating Thom Gunn, who wrote about him.) Anyway, the entire poem Slow Pacific Swell is here. It ends like this:

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Splittail re-review re-completed for Delta

The federal Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the Sacramento splittail fish doesn't get protection under the Endangered Species Act.

You might remember this fish from the Bush Administration. His fellow bay-dweller the smelt is the one getting famous. But a fight over the splittail was one venue where longtime scientists and politicians charged that political decisions threatened the science when a Sacramento supervisor overruled biologists take the splittail off the threatened list, and then DC-based Interior Assistant secretary Julie MacDonald made numerous edits to a 2003 decision that removed the splittail from the threatened list:

The Sacramento splittail, a small fish found only in California's Central Valley, depends on floodplain habitat and has been described by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as facing "potential threats from habitat loss."

"It looks like another Bush administration official was protecting her own bottom line instead of protecting the public interest," said Miller, a senior member and former chairman of the Natural Resources Committee and a long-time proponent of the Endangered Species Act and Bay-Delta fish and wildlife issues.

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