Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: Carmaggedon is upon us, cap and trade is reborn

Good morning, Southland! Here are the latest green leads to hit the headlines.

In case you haven’t heard, Los Angeles is preparing for “Carmaggedon” on July 16-17, when the 405 freeway will be shut down from the 10 to the 101. Officials are urging Angelenos to stay out of their cars as much as possible that weekend. As the Calabasas Patch reports, public transportation is stepping up. “Metro will provide free rides as well as additional bus service on the Metro Orange Line during the closure weekend to further spur transit trips between the San Fernando Valley and downtown Los Angeles. This is in addition to previously announced free rides on the Metro Red/Purple Line subway.” 

An appellate court has ruled that California has the legal right to move ahead with preparations for cap and trade after environmental justice groups brought suit against the Air Resources Board (ARB) over its plans for carbon trading. As KQED writes, “Environmental justice groups who brought the suit say that cap and trade would not protect low-income areas and communities of color from localized pollution from power plants.” The actual meat of the matter will be decided later this year. 

Did you know that Riverside County is home to some of the largest solar energy plants in the state? Now the county may add a fee to these solar installations. As the LA Times reports, county officials claim “the new levy, which would require solar developers to pay 2% of their annual revenue, is needed to help offset the potential toll that the massive plants could take on surrounding communities.” Critics worry that this could seriously dampen renewable energy in the region by making too expensive.

Los Angeles wrongly collection millions of dollars for trash service from residents who pay for private trash collection. Now the city is lagging on paying the promised double-billing refunds to residents. As reports, “In February the Bureau of Sanitation pledged to issue refunds for double-billing residents who did not actually have their garbage picked up by the city but instead paid independent companies for the service.” The acting head of public works said then agency would respond to questions within a week. 

Though you wouldn’t know it by the abundance of squirrels that seem to frolic in our city streets, western gray squirrels are actually dwindling in numbers in the San Bernardino mountains. As KCET reports, state officials have identified the skin disease mange as the culprit. The Department of Fish and Game points out that artificial feeding of squirrels in mountain communities lead to a higher population, so more are being wiped out by disease.

Image: watchsmart/Flickr