Southern California environment news and trends

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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Sunday's CicLAvia will have Angelenos playing in the streets

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Tune up your bicycles and dust off your jump ropes and get ready to go out and play this Sunday — on the streets. More than seven miles of streets will be liberated from cars for CicLAvia — a car-free streetfest of sorts — on Oct. 10 from 10 am to 3 pm, clearing the way for flaneurs, cyclists, and hopscotch players to take over the city.

 

 

Angelenos living in East Hollywood, Boyle Heights, and everywhere in between will wake up to see the usual traffic-clogged streets transformed into pedestrian-friendly plazas and playgrounds. What you do with the day is up to you. The fitness-obsessed can burn more than 500 calories by briskly walking the entire path, while the sweet-toothed can make it their mission to hit every dessert shop along the route. To enjoy the day, all you have to do is go out and play! But if you’re looking for more organized fun, try these options:

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Solar gets a go on federal public land in California [UPDATED]

Jazzfest in New Orleans was where I first really became acquainted with the phenomenon of playing the star on stage. The drummer would tap his sticks, the backing band would start, and eventually Ray Charles or Allen Toussaint would amble into position...and start to play.

Solar developers started the drumbeat about 5 years ago to get projects going on public lands in the West, and they've finally played Allen Toussaint on stage. Except I'll end the metaphor here, otherwise Allen Toussaint becomes a "record of decision" - a document signed by the Secretary of Interior permitting two companies using two different solar technologies to construct projects on public lands.

It's a big deal because renewable energy projects have been constipated in the digestive system of the government for years. This is the first time solar projects like these have been permitted on public land.

One project in the Lucerne Valley belongs to Chevron, whose Energy Solutions division will build solar PV panels on 422 of the nearly 6 million acres the Bureau of Land Management oversees in San Bernardino County. The project will have a "green screen" - both to camouflage its appearance and to keep dust down. The 45 megawatt project will also create 48 jobs, according to Chevron and BLM.

The other project in the Imperial Valley belongs to Tessera. the Arizona based company will construct a solar dish array on 6360 of the 1.2 million acres the Bureau of Land Management oversees in Imperial County. Tessera and BLM anticipate the 709 megawatt project will generate around 900 new jobs.

So far it sounds like everyone's thrilled about it.

SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR KEN SALAZAR: "These projects are milestones in our focused effort to rapidly and responsibly capture renewable energy resources on public lands. These projects advance the President’s agenda for stimulating investment in cutting-edge technology, creating jobs for American workers, and promoting clean energy for American homes, businesses and industry.”

DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE'S JIM LYON: “The ‘fast-track’ process has been a learning experience for all of us, and the lessons we’ve learned here will ultimately lead to better planning, improved siting, and faster turnaround for renewable energy projects in the future. To reduce its impact on wildlife and the environment, the Lucerne Solar Project was located on lands of lower habitat quality and near already degraded areas. And the Imperial Valley Solar Project will be developed in phases to lessen its impacts on wildlife, air and water resources. These projects illustrate how renewable energy developers can build our clean energy future in smart and environmentally-responsible ways.

NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL'S JOHANNA WALD: “Chevron’s Lucerne Valley solar project is a great example of a project that’s smart from the start. The project fits the bill because, as a result of careful planning up front, its site has high solar potential, is close to existing roads and transmission, and avoids sensitive wildlife areas and other vital natural resources.
    Although the Tessera Solar project site in Imperial Valley met some of NRDC’s criteria, it initially posed resource and technology issues. Today, it serves as an example of what can be accomplished when parties are committed to finding solutions to such issues. During the federal and state reviews Tessera Solar moved the project out of sensitive desert washes, scaling it back to 709-megawatts, to reduce important impacts. Tessera Solar then sat down with NRDC and our conservation partners and agreed to develop the project in two distinct stages and other measures, all of which went above and beyond the requirements imposed by state and federal regulators."

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Morning greens: Dirty pollution and clean solutions

downtownlosangeles Morning greens:

Avoid the beaches for a couple days. LAist reports that rain means urban runoff that rushes all the dirty, polluted gunk on our streets into our oceans, so Santa Monica’s environmental nonprofit Heal the Bay recommends staying out of the ocean water, lest you get the stomach flu or other ailments.

Does L.A.’s air pollution mean more diabetic Angelenos? A study new links diabetes and air pollution: “For every 10 microgram per cubic meter rise in fine particulate matter, they found a 1 percent increase in diabetes rates,” reports NY Times’ Green blog. Here’s today’s air quality forecast.

A lot of Southern California’s air pollution comes from cars. Could a partial solution be free bus passes for Santa Monica residents? City councilmember Kevin McKeown “proposed requiring developers to pay for bus passes for each and every Santa Monica resident,” reports SaMo Daily Press.

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