Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: Health, economic, and environmental benefits of high gas prices

Fuel-efficient vehicles could save $7.2 billion annually in California health costs. Reports Greenspace: “California could save $7.2 billion in healthcare costs — and prevent more than 400 premature deaths — annually if the state adopts a 64 miles- per-gallon equivalent fuel economy standard, according to a report released Tuesday by the American Lung Assn. in California.”

Lower gas prices aren’t necessarily good for the economy. Says KPCC’s business analyst Mark Lacter: “In some ways, we’d be better off if gas prices were at seven or eight dollars a gallon, and then just stayed there…. At least then we would be forced to consider a more coherent energy policy – especially in Southern California, which continues to have some of the most polluted air in the country (not to mention the most congested roadways). At least then many of us might seriously consider taking mass transit or buying an electric car.”

Torrance gets a cutting-edge hydrogen fuel station. Reports Wired: “The public station in Torrance is the first in the country supplied by an active hydrogen pipeline. This is significant, because most of the stations in the United States provide hydrogen that is delivered by truck.” (via Curbed LAABC7 also reports on the news.

Station Fire burn areas reopen for hiking. On KPCC’s Madeleine Brand show: “A year and a half after the Station Fire devastated the foothills of Los Angeles, including parts of the Angeles National Forest, hiking trails in the burn areas are being reopened”

Pasadena to replace parking lot with park. At Pasadena S-N, Larry Wilson opines: “They’re unpaving the parking lot to create paradise.” The Pasadena Playhouse District seeks input on plans to turn the city-owned parking lot at the northeast corner of El Molino and Union into a park — “three-quarters of an acre of potential green space and playground in a downtown neighborhood that sorely needs some.”

Van Nuys, Long Beach airports cited as major lead polluters. Reports Greenspace: “The Center for Environmental Health on Tuesday announced impending legal action against more than 40 suppliers of aviation fuel containing lead, often used in piston-powered aircraft engines, at California airports.”

Water board passes rule to clean up pollution from San Pedro Bay. Environmental nonprofit Heal the Bay’s head Mark Gold explains: “The regulation establishes tough water quality targets for a wide variety of pollutants. While, the water quality targets don’t apply during dry weather, they do apply to nearly all the significant rainstorms greater than a tenth of an inch. The TMDL also sets fish tissue toxicity targets, but there are still loopholes that could lead to continued non-compliance with the targets at worst, or further delays past the 20-year compliance deadline.”

Santa Monica Festival embraces bicycles, complete streets. Missed the festival over the weekend? Streetsblog LA has a recap: “At the festival, the embrace of bicycling took the form of various stations and activities that dealt with a range of bike issues, including political advocacy, rider education, consumer advice and maintenance help.”

Interior debates uranium mining near Grand Canyon. Reports NPR: “The nuclear emergency in Japan has prompted closer scrutiny of nuclear power around the globe. Yet, it has not slowed interest in mining uranium near the Grand Canyon, where there are some of the richest deposits in the country.”

Photo: Gas prices over $4.00 per gallon are displayed in front of a Shell gas station on February 25, 2011 in San Francisco, California (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)