Southern California environment news and trends

If a Port settles a lawsuit, does it make a sound?

The Port of Long Beach has settled its year-long dispute with the American Trucking Association. The Journal of Commerce has the story, but it's pretty quiet out there.

I'm working to talk to Long Beach now, but this obviously heightens the strategic differences between the coalition of union and environmental interests working with the Port of Los Angeles and the more business-friendly Port of Long Beach. Long Beach seems to have essentially chucked the idea of concession agreements for trucking companies - through which both ports once hoped to tether industry to cleaner trucking practices and through which the city of Los Angeles planned to create better working conditions for contract drivers.

It also raises questions about which strategy is going to clean up port air fastest. Long Beach says it's got 5000 2007-model and newer trucks registered, half of what's serving the goods movement industry there right now. Long Beach's Art Wong expects that number will go up to 6-7 thousand by year's end, and with port traffic down, he says that'll be "the vast majority, maybe 95% of what's serving the port."


Seafood Watch turns 10

Most likely you've seen the cards: ubiquitous at Whole Foods; sometimes tucked into your check at a restaurant. Ten years ago, the Monterey Bay Aquarium started Seafood Watch program to tell people in simple and consistent terms which fish need conserving most.

This morning the Monterey Bay Aquarium's releasing a report describing the "State of Seafood" - uh, what do you think? - fisheries are mismanaged and aquaculture's booming.

They're also making a new list of fish that are good for people to eat, and good for the oceans - by which they mean, doesn't harm the oceans.

Fish on the green part of the list have low levels of contaminants, like PCBs and mercury, and have a lot of Omega-3 fatty acids, AND make the Seafood Watch "best choice" list. Farmed trout, farmed mussels and oysters, wild-caught Oregon pink shrimp, mmmm Sardines!, wild Alaska salmon, Albacore Tuna that's pole or troll-caught (no, not caught by the troll under the bridge; trolling is a fishing method that's less destructive to the ocean than longlining, which you may remember from "The Perfect Storm" or any number of reality shows that use dramatic music, jump cuts, and fancy editing to up the EXCITEMENT quotient for fishing).


Stormwater runoff plans: state moves to keep water, not let it go

Still picking through the carcass of the end of legislation season, and finding interesting developments. Fran Pavley's SB 790 passed AND passed muster with the Governor: he signed into law the bill that encourages new stormwater runoff management - a big deal for southern California, where so many of our streets send the nasty into, say, the LA River, for one.

Pavley's law - which Andy Lipkis and TreePeople pushed too - will authorize grants for stormwater management projects. And it will encourage local agencies and cities to make stormwater management plans that include groundwater recharge, local infiltration, water flows that mimic natural systems, low impact development, and capturing water for use locally.

TreePeople has been big into this with its demo cistern (which, if the skies are any indication, will get a little more full in the next few days). The City of LA has also worked on this issue, with the partnership that yielded Oros Green Street a few years ago, and the rain barrel pilot project program I profiled yesterday (with timing so good I didn't even know it!).


Brown barrels full of water that's...grey? Not exactly

"Well, there we get into a gray area." "How gray?" "Charcoal."

I always understand greywater by what it is not: blackwater has sewage or bacterial contaminants in it. Potable water is drinkable. In between, it's grey. Or is it?

Over at the rain barrel story itself, a reader correctly points out that most people don't think of everything that's in between as greywater. Greywater is often understood as being from domestic processes - laundry, your kitchen sink, etc.

I was using the word in a way that's broadly accurate, but specifically misleading. I simply wasn't thinking about rainwater as potable. My reference to what rolls off the roof as grey had to do with its drinkability. Certainly the city of LA isn't treating this water as drinkable, nor are these residents. Still, in California, greywater has become an industry term - as a market evolves to help people modify their existing water systems.


A veto pen stabbing the lobster fishery

Assemblywoman Lori Saldana had proposed AB571 to establish a Lobster Management Enhancement Supplement fee - 300 bones - that commercial lobster fishermen and women would be required to pay for lobster management activities. It would have lasted only until 2015.

Governor Schwarzenegger veteoed the bill, saying: "In addition to increasing by almost 90 percent the cost of a commercial lobster permit, thereby potentially driving some permitees out of the fishery, the bill would also impose new mandates and obligations upon the Department that still would not be adequately funded."

Except, it seems the industry supports it. It's not a big fishery: 140 people. Going after these guys:

Here's a signed letter to the editor on the topic, from July, from the San Diego U-T:

Contrary to the implications of your editorial [opposing the legislation], Assembly Bill 571, by Assembly member Lori Saldaña, is a bill that is aimed at sustaining a viable lobster-fishing industry and the jobs and economic benefits associated with it.

Because there are 140 lobster fishermen in California contributing millions of dollars to the state’s economy, this legislation will have considerable economic impact locally. A healthy and sustainable lobster fishing industry helps generate money and jobs for regional wholesale, retail, food service and fishing support and supply industries.

As president and members of the California Lobster and Trap Fishermen’s Association, or CLTFA, we feel that is why our industry sponsored and supports AB 571, and that is why we feel its support by the Legislature in these tough economic times is something that should be commended rather than condemned.

San Diego

Santa Barbara