Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: California coastlines get cleaner, but is LA’s solar energy shady?

Happy Thursday, Southern California! The summer sun is heating up, and so is the green news.

Our coastlines are getting cleaner, now that California and the courts are telling ships to stop bypassing the clean fuel zone. As Diane Bailey of NRDC reports, “California’s Air Resources Board meets tomorrow to close a major loophole undermining clean shipping fuel requirements adopted two years ago. NRDC has been to court to defend these important rules several times and the court agrees that California has the right to protect its coastal residents from major health hazards associated with ocean going vessels burning toxics-laden bunker fuel.” This move is expected to drastically reduce premature deaths, asthma and other severe health problems associated with pollution from the diesel freights.

Is solar energy super shady? It could be, if you live in Los Angeles County. Via the LA Times, the Sierra Club reports that more than half of the municipalities in Los Angeles County are overcharging for commercial solar installation permit fees. As the LA Times writes, “Of 89 jurisdictions, 62% are charging more than necessary to make up for the cost of inspections and reviews for businesses, nonprofit organizations and government clients.”

Ready for a new sports stadium in downtown Los Angeles? Don’t worry, City Hall has our back. The Los Angeles Times reports that “City Hall's top policy advocate has recommended that the Los Angeles City Council oppose any attempts to bend state environmental rules for a football stadium proposed on a Convention Center site downtown.” Developer Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) has been in talks that “nuisance” (ie environmental) lawsuits could delay building, but Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry F. Miller has urged officials to fight any legislation seeking to subvert the California Environmental Quality Act.

Yesterday we reported that the oceans were on the edge of mass extinction. But today there’s (slightly) better news out of the Pacific. The New York Times reports that “An inspired and important decade-long effort to use radio tags to track ocean-roaming species has paid off by revealing the still bountiful heart of a Serengeti-style ecosystem spanning great swathes of the Pacific.” Experts hope that the findings of the Census of Marine Life Tagging of Pacific Predators project will help scientists focus efforts on regions to give species the best chances of surviving us.

Solar energy takes a hit in the Mojave. From Reuters, “Railroad company Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp has joined an unlikely coalition of environmentalists, American Indians and politicians who are opposing a massive solar energy project planned for California's Mojave Desert.” The rail company is concerned that the glare from the “663.5 megawatt solar facility that would be so bright that [it] could temporarily blind train operators.”

And finally, a California bird is gets a helping hand from California farmers. As the LA Times reports, “Paying three farmers to delay harvesting their fields through the nesting season resulted in the protection of an estimated 50,000 tricolored blackbirds in Riverside County and Central California, where the species’ population has plummeted in recent years.” The project was partially financed from private online donations and the California Department of Fish and Game.

Image: benjcohen/Flickr