Southern California environment news and trends

I hate Earth Day

I'm not allowed to, of course; I cover energy and the environment for a public radio station. It violates the code. (Yes, conspiracy trolls, we've got a code, it's in our underground lair.) Nonetheless.


…with a white hot passion that burns like a thousand suns (though none of those suns have solar thermal or PV panels to soak up their energy, which seems unfortunate).

I didn't use to. I'm a good several years younger than Earth Day, but I grew up in Northern California's Bay Area, one of your early adopters. To talk about what I remember about it then is to fully embody every cliché you can think of for people in such places, so here goes, get your bingo cards out. We had petition gatherers outside the Co-op, the market my mom preferred over the big Safeway. (And we were mainstream – hell, my parents had a Suburban.) My brother and I fondly remember him getting indoctrinated in Montessori school. There's a hazy memory of Mr. Zucca the science teacher blowing up an earth-shaped balloon and releasing it, which we know makes no sense now.


US chemistry policy might get greener, sooner

I reported a series some time ago about "green chemistry" - a loosely defined term for reforms promoted by environmentalists aimed at clarifying for the public what the hell the chemicals do, and minimizing human exposure to stuff that's toxic or carcinogenic.

Now the Washington Post reports Senator Frank Lautenberg's going to introduce legislation to change up the way the federal government manages chemicals.

The idea is that chemical manufacturers would be on the hook for showing that their products are safe for human exposure BEFORE the chemicals make their way into products that people might, you know, get exposed to. And chemical manufacturers would have to give the EPA health and safety data they've (in some cases) never handed over before.

Lautenberg told the Post:

We're saying those who make the chemicals -- and there are 700 new ones that come to market each year -- ought to be responsible for testing them first before they're released to the public, instead of having the EPA play detective to search and try to find problems.


Pitzer College screens the FUEL film

Last Saturday I trekked out to Claremont for an event at Pitzer College. Frankly, I didn't consider it a trek, even if the 210 tried to make it so. But when I got there, people kept asking me if I was from out of town. "Are you from out of town?" "No, I'm from Los Angeles." "That's what I mean."

Out of town or not, I love Border Grill food, and my friends. Not in that order.

The event was Pitzer's screening of FUEL. Film director Josh Tickell, you might know, if you're a big Matt Lauer fan: he appeared on the Today show when he drove a veggie van (and later, a veggie bus). They were giving tours of the veggie bus, which touts alternative fuel inside. The film was named best documentary at Sundance.

An algae car sat nearby. Well, part run on algae fuel. Refined by Sapphire Energy, the fuel has hydrocarbons in it, refined from algal crude. It sat next to the Mounds, where the Pitzer kids chillax.


For the truly troubled, the engineers, and the DWP faithful: the report on water main leaks

Overdue programming note: our own Patt Morrison talked to the LADWP's Jim McDaniel the other day, as well as Jean-Pierre Bardet; you can find their conversations on Patt's show site.

Also, if anyone else out there has a penchant for reading incredibly long reports broken up with occasional pictures and graphs, I've got you covered. Below is the independent third party report Bardet and his team presented to the city council earlier this week.

Incidentally, if Professor Bardet's name sounds at all familiar - it might be because we've talked to him at KPCC before. Last December I talked to him for a series I did about ideas of sustainability in Southern California; you can hear the conversation here. He mentioned the project at the time, but hadn't gotten the full results, including various pilot studies, finished then.


...adjourning in honor of Wilma Mankiller

[CORRECTED 6:48 PM, thanks to @ericgarcetti. I confused my Sugarbaker girls, though I had the right one in mind; Dixie Carter played Julia.]

I was home recovering from dental matters for a few hours today (deferred maintenance; neglect of my infrastructure), so I immediately turned to LA CityView Channel 35. I caught something most of us are spared, most of the time: the city council, adjourning in memory of people.

Adjourning in someone's memory is almost as great an opportunity for ceremonial bloviation as anything involving the calligraphers and the scrolls. But my soft chewy center is often touched by the regular and remarkable people who get the honor. Council President Eric Garcetti Tuesday adjourned in honor of Dixie Carter, mother to some friends of his, as well as badass Julia Sugarbaker on Designing Women. Then Councilwoman Janice Hahn adjourned in remembrance of Wilma Mankiller.