Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: High gas prices and free bus rides

subway lead morning greens Expect extreme cold to last through the weekend, reports ABC7. On the upside, in Southern California, “extreme cold” refers to temperatures in the 30s. According to LA Now, “L.A. will see sunny skies Friday with highs in the 50s. Low will drop into the 30s in some valley locations. Another rainstorm is predicted for the weekend.”

Save money in 2011 by driving less and burning less fossil fuels. Not only are gas prices expected to keep going up, traffic fines are going up too, according to LAist and LA Times.

Get a jumpstart on that goal tonight: Metro rides are free starting 9 pm tonight, Dec. 31 to 2 am Jan. 1. Metro will also provide 24-hour rail and Orange Line service Friday for the parade and big game. But be warned that there will be some bus detours tonight and on New Year’s Day to accommodate the festivities.

California’s new governor Jerry Brown’s set to get around on foot in 2011. Grist reports Jerry’s “going to be crashing in a loft apartment within walking distance of the State Capitol Building in Sacramento…. Carbon-footprint-wise, Brown’s new pad certainly beats the arrangements favored by his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger — who used to charter a flight back to his home in Brentwood, Los Angeles, most weeknights (at his own expense), and who favored a penthouse at the Hyatt hotel when he did stick around the capital.”

Long Beach’s waters made big green waves this year. Long Beach Gazettes recounts the city’s bag ban, water restoration projects, and other local water-sensitive environmental news. (via LAist)

The future of a huge California solar project is suddenly uncertain. Grist reports that Tessera Solar sold its 663.5 megawatt Calico solar dish project to K Road Power after “Southern California Edison abruptly canceled a five-year-old contract to buy electricity from Calico”:

Tessera’s abandonment of one of the United States’ biggest solar projects is a setback for efforts to meet California’s mandate to obtain a third of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. It underscores the shakeout sure to come as developers with approved solar projects face the reality of securing billions of dollars to build them with technology untested on a commercial scale.

In national news: The U.S. EPA will start regulating greenhouse gases from factories and power plants tomorrow. NY Times reports the regulations come with political and environmental risks: “While only the first phase of regulation takes effect on Sunday, the administration is on notice that if it moves too far and too fast in trying to curtail the ubiquitous gases that are heating the planet it risks a Congressional backlash that could set back the effort for years.”

However, the EPA’s new regulations are old-hat for California, according to KCET’s Climate Watch. “A lot’s being made of the move by the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s move to start regulating greenhouse gases in the new year, but policy analysts are greeting it as a relative non-event in states like California (and Massachusetts), which are already moving ahead with their own carbon regulation strategies.”

Photo: LA MTA Red Line stop (David McNew/Getty Images)