Green Scene

PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT SIGNED

Photo credit:  thebadastronomer | Flickr

East County News Service

December 16, 2015 (Paris) - World leaders from 195 nations have signed a landmark climate change accord in Paris.  The goals are ambitious, but there is no binding mandate to reach them.  That’s because the U.S. refused to agree to mandates, since that would have required approval by Congress, a politically unachievable feat given current control by Republican leadership that denies climate change is a problem.

SAN DIEGO GOES GREEN, ENACTS HISTORIC CLIMATE CHANGE PLAN

By Miriam Raftery

December 16, 2015 (San Diego)—By a unanimous vote, the San Diego City Council  on Tuesday enacted a plan to address climate change that may be the most ambitious in the nation. The plan sets a goal for the city to attain 100 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2035, also reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent in 2020 and 50 percent by 2035.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer told Councilmembers, “We are a city where the quality of the environment is essential to our quality of life.”  Faulconer said the plan will create jobs and preserve the city’s leadership in the clean-tech industry, also improving public health and air quality, reducing dependence on imported water, and increasing use of clean energy.

Climate Action Campaign announced the San Diego is the largest American city to commit to producing all of its energy from renewable resources.

INDIGENOUS LEADERS SLAM JERRY BROWN, UN FOR BACKING POTENTIALLY "GENOCIDAL" CARBON TRADING





By Dan Bacher

Reprinted from EcoReport; originally published at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/12/10/18780871.php

Photo: Indigenous leaders challenged California Governor Jerry Brown's support of pollution trading and fracking after he spoke at Paris Climate Summit on December 8. Photo courtesy of Rae Breaux.

December 14, 2015 (Paris)--"REDD is a carbon offset mechanism which privatizes the air that we breathe and uses forests, agriculture and water ecosystems in the Global South as sponges for industrialized countries pollution, instead of cutting emissions at source," said Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. "REDD brings trees, soil, and nature into a commodity trading system that may result in the largest land grab in history. It steals your future, lets polluters off the hook and is a new form of colonialism. NO to Privatization of Nature!”

At the end of his keynote address at the World Climate Summit in Paris on Tuesday, December 8, Indigenous leaders heckled Governor Jerry Brown, challenging him on his support of controversial carbon trading polices that represent “a new form of colonialism” that could potentially cause genocide.

SDG&E ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FOR CITY’S CLIMATE ACTION PLAN

 

 

 

East County News Service

December 12, 2015 (San Diego)--On December 15th the San Diego City Council will vote on the City of San Diego's ambitious Climate Action Plan. In response, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) issued the following media statement:

“SDG&E has a long history of partnering with the City of San Diego to lower the city’s carbon footprint. In fact, we recently celebrated the completion of a six-year sustainability effort with the City of San Diego, San Diego Green Building Council and Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, which reduced Balboa Park’s greenhouse gas emissions by 5,549 metric tons each year—the environmental equivalent of taking nearly 1,000 cars off the road.

MY WORLD INTERRUPTED

 

 

By Esau Sinnok, Arctic Youth Ambassador

Source: U.S. Department of the Interior

December 10, 2015--Close your eyes and picture your best memory with your family and friends. If you're like me, that memory is filled with the warmth and comfort of a familiar home. I hope that, unlike me, you are never asked to put a price on that home because of the effects of climate change.

Welcome to Shishmaref, Alaska, population: 650. We're a small Iñupiaq community where everyone knows each other. Shishmaref is a barrier island that has been eroding and flooding for the past 50 years -- even before disruption from climate change was widely recognized.

Over the past 35 years, we've lost 2,500 to 3,000 feet of land to coastal erosion. To put this in perspective: I was born in 1997, and since then, Shishmaref has lost about 100 feet. In the past 15 years, we had to move 13 houses -- including my dear grandma Edna’s house -- from one end of the island to the other because of this loss of land. Within the next two decades, the whole island will erode away completely.

CALIFORNIA UTILITY COMMISSION'S "CARBON-POLLUTING POWER GRAB" FACES LEGAL SCRUTINY

 

Legal action taken to address backroom dealing and  approval of Carlsbad Gas Plant 

East County News Service

Photo:  Gas power plant in Ruskin, Florida

December 7, 2015 (San Diego)--Earthjustice, an environmental legal organization representing the Sierra Club, filed an appeal today in California’s First District Court of Appeal challenging the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC)  decision that would allow San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) to build a controversial gas-fired power plant in Carlsbad.  The environmental groups call the CPUC’s action a “carbon polluting power grab.”

ANZA-BORREGO FOUNDATION OBTAINS FINAL LINK IN WILDLIFE CORRIDOR FROM DESERT TO LAGUNA MOUNTAINS



 

Source: Anza Borrego Foundation

 

December 2, 2015 (Borrego Springs) — Anza-Borrego Foundation (ABF), official partner of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, today announced final elements in conservation of the Lucky 5 Ranch in the Laguna Mountains, northeast of San Diego.

ABF purchased just under 1,130 acres and obtained a conservation easement on 433 acres to fulfill decades-long efforts by California State Parks, ABF, The Nature Conservancy, and others to connect the 4,245-acre ranch to adjacent pieces of federal and state conservation land, creating a major parcel of exceptional natural beauty and biological importance. The acreage will eventually become part of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

CLIMATE SUMMIT BEGINS IN PARIS; CHINA JOINS EFFORTS TO SAVE PLANET

 

 “Tackling climate change is a shared mission for mankind.” – Chinese president Xi Jinping

“We are at the limits of suicide.” – Pope Francis

“Our nations share a sense of urgency about this challenge and a growing realization that it is within our power to do something about it.” – U.S. President Barack Obama

By Miriam Raftery

November 30, 2015 (Paris) –Around the world, an estimated million people took to the streets to call for action to save the planet as world leaders convene today in Paris for an international climate summit. But in Paris, where large public gatherings are banned due to a state of emergency declared after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks, thousands of Parisians instead brought their shoes, lining them up along the march route in a silent yet powerful expression.

French President Francois Hollande said he cannot separate the “fight with terrorism from the fight against global warming,” adding that leaders must face both challenges to leave children “a world freed of terror” as well as one “protected from catastrophes.”

SDG&E MOVES AGAINST COMMUNITY CHOICE

 

By Suzanne Potter, Public News Service

Photo credit: Laura Musikanski/Morguefile

November 29, 2015 (San Diego)-- Environmental organizations are mobilizing to fight one of the state's three biggest power companies over an issue known as "community choice aggregation," a movement by cities to create nonprofit agencies to buy and sell power to consumers.

San Diego Gas and Electric just announced it is forming a separate marketing entity to lobby against the idea. By law, the utility can't use ratepayer money for that purpose.

RAMONA AMONG COMMUNITIES THAT FELL SHORT OF OCTOBER WATER USE GOAL

 
By Liz Alper
 
December 1, 2015 - Earlier this year, the state of California issued a decree in an effort to conserve water.  KUSI reports that overall, San Diegans have done a good job with their water conservation.  However, nine cities fell short of their water use goal for the month of October, according to a report released Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board.  The community of Ramona is also among those who fell short.

TURN BLACK FRIDAY GREEN: DISCOVER THE UPSIDE OF OUTSIDE

County News Service

November 21, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)--Do you really want to go shopping on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving? What with the congested parking mall lots, the crowds and the lines; you might want to consider Green Friday instead.

County Parks and Recreation has declared Friday, Nov. 27 Green Friday to prompt families to spend more quality time together by discovering the “Upside of Outside.”

County Parks has 124 parks and preserves spread throughout the County with locations ranging from the beach to the valleys, the mountains to the desert. Altogether you’ll find more than 350 miles of trails, scenic vistas, numerous playgrounds, picnic tables galore, fountains, historic sites, lakes, creeks, ponds and more.

EXPANDING THE TROOPS TO SOLAR INITIATIVE

 

Thanks to a grant from Wells Fargo, Grid Alternatives announced it is expanding the troops to solar initiative

Originally Published on PVSolar Report

By Amy Forman

November 20, 2015 (San Diego's East County) - GRID Alternatives announced the expansion of their services to veterans with the Troops to Solar initiative.

WARNER SPRINGS RANCH RESORT FORMS CONSERVANCY TO PRESERVE AND SUSTAIN OVER 1,000 ACRES OF HISTORIC LAND

 

Warner Springs Ranch Habitat and Cultural Conservancy oversees protection of the resort currently under renovation

November 16, 2015 (Warner Springs)--Warner Springs Ranch Resort has formed the nonprofit Warner Springs Ranch Habitat and Cultural Conservancy to protect and manage the property’s numerous historic, cultural and natural assets.

HOW UTILITY SCALE SOLAR IMPACTS THE LAND

 

Originally Published on the ECOreport

By Roy L Hales

November 13, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) - The joint study from Stanford University and UC Riverside reads like a report card. The authors recognized that, “solar energy has one of the greatest climate change mitigation potentials” of all renewable energy sources. It can play a leading role in helping the United States reach its’ goal of reducing emissions to 80% of 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This would require covering a great deal of land surface.  Using current technology, close to 71,428 square kilometres  (44,383 sq.  miles), or an area roughly comparable to South Carolina, could be covered with panels. Rebecca R. Hernandez et al examined more than 160 sites in California to find out how utility scale solar impacts the land.

OUR PLANET, OUR HOME WINNERS ANNOUNCED

East County News Service

November 14, 2015 (La Mesa)--Winners of La Mesa’s K-8 Our Planet, Our Home Environmental Literacy and Art Contest have been announced. Mayor Arapostathis has kindly agreed to hand out the awards at the Block Party on November 14 at 11:15 a.m. at the Farmer’s Market site on Allison Avenue near La Mesa Blvd, and the winning flat artwork will be exhibited for one month in the foyer of the La Mesa Library.

The contest is a cooperative effort of the City's Environmental Sustainability Commission, the La Mesa Urban Trails grant from the County, the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District and the La Mesa Library branch. Sponsorship and prizes for the contest were contributed by SDGE and the Water Conservation Garden.

GOVERNOR ORDERS STATE LAWS SUSPENDED TO COMBAT BARK BEETLES, ALSO SEEKS FEDERAL AID

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: U.S. Forest Service

November 10, 2015 (Sacramento) - Governor Jerry Brown has declared an emergency in California due to a voracious pest – bark beetles that have killed 22 million trees statewide, including vast tracts of forests in San Diego’s East County.  Tens of millions more are at risk of dying if nothing is done – also raising the risk of wildfires.

The governor is seeking federal help and meanwhile has directed state officials, utilities and local governments to take 19 steps to fight the bark beetle infestation. Brown suspended several state laws to allow his orders to be carried out immediately.

SALTON SEA RESTORATION PROJECT BEGINS

 

Hear our recent interview on KNSJ with Bruce Wilcox, manager of Environmental and Salton Sea programs: http://k003.kiwi6.com/hotlink/gye4bao14c/Newsmaker-BruceWilcox-IID-Salto...

 

November 9, 2015 (Salton Sea)--The Salton Sea is an ecological disaster poised to get even worse in three years, when water flowing into the lake from the Colorado River is scheduled to be shut off. Already, the inland lake smells like rotten eggs, contaminated by toxic run-off. As it evaporates, pollutants threaten air quality in both Imperial and San Diego counties. It also threatens the many migratory and waterfowl birds in this rich but vanishing habitat.

But this week, the tide is beginning to turn. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is beginning the first restoration project at the Salton Sea along Red Hill Bay on the southern shore. The project will flood 420 acres of exposed lakebed with water from the nearby Alamo River and the lake, creating wetland habitat for migratory birds and also keeping toxic dust out of the air, while still leaving room for energy companies to tap the region’s vast geothermal potential.

Audio: 

BALLOT INITIATIVE WOULD END PRIVATE UTILITIES, CREATE STATEWIDE PUBLIC UTILITY DISTRICT

 

East County News Service

November 8, 2015 (Sacramento) – California’s Secretary of State has approved signature gathering for a ballot initiative that if approved by voters, would end private utility corporations such as San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric.

Under the measure, the state would buy out the companies and operate a publicly owned California Electrical Utility District that would set electricity rates, build infrastructure and provide power. Bonds or taxes could be levied to fund costs. The measure’s backer, Ben Davis Jr., contends the state can provide power at lower rates for California customers and notes that nationwide, public utilities have 15% lower rates on average than privately owned utilities.

GARDEN BIDS FAREWELL TO EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JOHN BOLTHOUSE

 

Photo:  John Bolthouse, at San Diego Concert Band performance in the Garden

November 7, 2015 (El Cajon)--The Water Conservation Garden today announced the departure of John Bolthouse, who has served as the organization’s Executive Director since February 2012. The Garden’s board of directors extends its deepest gratitude for Bolthouse’s innumerable contributions to The Garden over the years.

“John has truly been a visionary for our organization, leading The Garden into a new era,” said The Garden Board of Directors President Elyssa Robertson. “His planning, forethought and efforts over the past 3 years have provided us with the framework and clear vision for The Garden’s continued success. On behalf of the board of directors and Garden staff, we wish John the absolute best for his next exciting venture.”

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION REJECTS KEYSTONE PIPELINE

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 6, 2015 (Washington D.C.) --  Today, President Barack Obama announced that after six years of review,  the U.S. State Department has decided that the Keystone XL  Pipeline “would not serve the national interest of the United States.  I agree with that decision,” the President said.

Obama indicated that the pipeline would be “neither a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others.”  He then laid out key reasons why his administration has rejected the pipeline.

First, he indicated, “The pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy…What we should be doing is passing a bipartisan infrastructure plan that, in the short term, would create more than 30 times as many jobs per year as the pipeline would, and in the long run, would benefit our economy and our workers for decades to come.”

TISDALE FIRES BACK, DEFENDS NONPROFIT B.A.D.’S EFFORTS TO BATTLE BIG ENERGY PROJECTS

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 6, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – East County Magazine has twice named Donna Tisdale our “Newsmaker of the Year” for her tireless efforts to battle massive energy projects and stand up for rural residents.  She also received the People’s Mic Award from KNSJ  Radio for her advocacy as a backcountry warrior.

But now the warrior is under attack by a series of articles (1) (2) (3) published by Voice of San Diego.  The articles criticize Tisdale and her nonprofit, Backcountry Against Dumps (BAD) for suits filed in Imperial County over desert solar projects. In essence, the series faults cash settlements paid to farmers and claims eight suits yielded no environmental benefits.

But now Tisdale is firing back in a detailed response that contends VOSD’s stories contain false statements  in a “misinformation campaign” she likens to Big Tobacco and Big Oil’s efforts to mislead the public.  “It is no coincidence that San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E’s) Mitch Mitchell is on the VOSD Board of Directors,” she observes, noting that BAD has challenged numerous SDG&E projects.  She denies personal financial gain alleged by VOSD (which presented zero evidence of such).  While the VOSD article addresses issues in 8 lawsuits not in San Diego County, BAD has filed three times that many (24), many of which did result in big wins for the environment in our region-- or developers backing off projects completely, facts that VOSD failed to report. 

Below is Tisdale’s rebuttal in full:

READER’S EDITORIAL: THE STORY OF A FLORIDA COMPANY TAKEOVER OF JACUMBA’S WATER

 

By Howard W Cook, former chair, Jacumba Sponsor Group

Photo: Lake Jacumba

 

November 1, 2015 (Jacumba Hot Springs)--A massive project poses an unprecedented risk to Jacumba Hot Springs' water supply. 

BACKGROUND

Jacumba Hot Springs is an old town going back to 1860 and blessed with a productive hot spring and several other good wells. It is located 70 miles East of San Diego on Old Highway 80 in a valley spread out on both sides of the border. Its high desert transition zone location at 2800 feet just before nearby Interstate 8 plunges to the desert seem an unlikely place for a water takeover by Nextera, a Florida Green Energy developer.

PLANTSRAVAGANZA! WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN HOSTS FALL PLANT SALE NOV. 7

 

Planstravaganza! Among San Diego County’s Most Diverse Water-Wise Plant Sales; Vendors, Professional Consultations Available

 

October 29, 2015 (Rancho San Diego)--The Water Conservation Garden is hosting its annual Fall Planstravaganza! on Saturday, November 7 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help San Diegans make the most of the region’s fall-to-spring planting season and save water while they do it.

The event boasts the most diverse drought-tolerant plant sale in San Diego County. Retailers and growers will sell shrubs, trees, perennials, succulents and more, making the event one-stop shopping for fall and winter gardening essentials.  Plants that get planted during the mild San Diego fall planting season will reward gardeners with strong root systems that allow the plants to establish to their potential by the spring, particularly with this year’s upcoming El Nino. 

SOLAR CITY PROGRAMS EMPOWER COMMUNITIES AND HOMEOWNERS

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

 

 

Hear our exclusive interview with David Guefen, Solar City in San Diego: http://k003.kiwi6.com/hotlink/p9k7v10vp9/Newsmaker-DavidGuefen-SolarCity_and_SolarFoundation.mp3

October 12, 2015 (San Diego)—Solar City, the largest solar company in the U.S., has launched some of the most ambitious and empowering programs in the solar industry.  The company can even act as your utility company, enabling you to get a solar system for no money down and start saving on your utility bill from day one.   Average savings per home run 20 to 60 percent on utility bills, says David Guefen with Solar City San Diego.

The company is also giving back through programs that provide free solar to schools in impoverished countries, giving free solar power to families in military housing, and offering a rewards program for referrals. (If you buy a system from Solar City and mention East County Magazine, our nonprofit will receive a reward. Just click the ad in this story.)

But the window to go solar with maximum incentives ends December 31st, when a 30% federal tax credit is set to expire or be slashed.

Audio: 

FEINSTEIN HOLDS PUBLIC MEETING ON THREE PROPOSED NATIONAL MONUMENTS IN CA

 

By Suzanne Potter, Public News Service

Photo: Mojave Trails area in the southern California desert. Credit: Bryn Jones

October 22, 2015 (Palm Springs)  -- Senator Dianne Feinstein is drumming up support for three proposed national monuments in the southern California desert by holding a public listening session this afternoon at the Whitewater Preserve near Palm Springs.

U.C. STUDY FINDS MOST UTILITY SOLAR SITES IN CALIFORNIA ARE INCOMPATIBLE WITH ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 20, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) –  Increasingly, San Diegans are drawing power from large desert solar facilities built in Imperial County, with similar facilities slated for the farthest east portions of our County in Boulevard and Jacumba.  The projects are being pushed forward to help meet California’s ambitious goal to have 40% of electricity from renewables by 2030 under a new law approved by Governor Jerry Brown.

But now a new study by the University of California, Berkeley finds that reliance on remote solar projects creates environmental problems. 

HERO PROGRAM HELPS HOMEOWNERS SAVE MONEY IN EAST COUNTY, SAN DIEGO

 

 

 

 

 

East County News Service

October 17, 2015 (San Diego's East County) -- New, updated HVAC systems offer ways for homeowners to save energy, and therefor money in their wallets. But some homeowners may avoid updating their systems because they are afraid of what seems like a high cost to install.

Now with the new Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) program, that doesn’t have to be a concern. HERO offers financing for approved energy and water efficient products, as well as renewable energy products, for homeowners in San Diego. With the program, homeowners can get low, fixed-rate financing options and payment plans that can vary from five to 20 years, making it as easy as possible for homeowners to upgrade their heating and air conditioning units and better protect the environment.

SUPERVISORS APPROVE SOITEC’S RUGGED SOLAR PROJECT IN BOULEVARD

 

Photo: SOITEC panel at Newberry Springs, similar to panels approved for Boulevard.

By Miriam Raftery

October 16, 2015 (Boulevard) – By a 4 to 1 vote with only Supervisor Dianne Jacob opposed, the Board of Supervisors this week approved a revised version of the controversial Rugged Acres industrial solar facility and rescinded approval of an earlier plan.

A judge had tossed out the original environmental impact review because massive battery storage facilities were added after public comment was closed.  Supervisors approved a revamped plan with the energy storage facility removed.

Supervisor Jacob stated, “I strongly support solar but I believe it belongs on rooftops of both single family homes and businesses and a solar farm in the right location,” Jacob said. “This project would potentially industrialize our back country which was never meant to be. The project can no longer live up to the promises and major use findings that are needed for approval.”

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