Posts

Solutions at Home

Image
How often do you find yourself looking outside for solutions to our environmental crises -- Federal regulation, conservation of wildlands, and the greening of industry.  These are all efforts that need to be pursued, but I end up spending so much time reading NEPA analysis or sending in public comments on proposed projects that I may lose sight of what is truly within my power to change.  That is why it was refreshing to learn that the US Green Building Council, and the Sierra Club's My Generation Campaign and San Gorgonio Chapter sponsored a home energy efficiency seminar in Southern California.  The seminar is part of a series that will focus on increasing awareness of efficiency and local clean energy (i.e. rooftop solar) solutions in underserved communities.  I hope to have advanced notice of future seminars in this series, and I will advertise them here on the blog.

In the face of environmental disaster -- particularly energy sources that destroy our wildlands and pollute ou…

Sierra Club Senior Staff Dismissive of Industry Impacts

Image
Pet cats kill 1.4 to 3.7  billion birds in the US each year, according to a study conducted by scientists with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service.  This is a significant problem that bird conservation groups have tried to address for years, although the revised numbers are very startling.   Unfortunately, this disaster is used by some industry advocates to belittle another cause of avian mortality -- wind turbines.  Sierra Club senior editor Paul Rauber broadcast a Tweet and a blog post this week giving credence to this false logic, implying that if one cause of bird mortality is significantly greater than another, the lesser cause can be ignored.

In a Tweet featuring a chart comparing annual bird mortality by wind turbines to bird mortality by cats, Mr. Rauber stated: "If bird fatalities are an argument against wind power, say goodbye first to Puss."  Mr. Rauber apparently found the infographic from another organization's tw…

Rooftop Solar Reaffirmed

I wrote last weekend about a last minute motion by three Los Angeles City Council members who sought to kill a feed-in-tariff proposed by the city's utility company, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP).  I am happy to report that the motion was not approved, and the feed-in-tariff will survive (thanks to the folks who went to the council meeting and spoke up, and for the supportive council members!).  The feed-in-tariff is hopefully one of LADWP's initial steps toward generating more clean energy locally, and relying less on far away power plants that destroy desert wildlands.

Wall Street Eyes Rooftop Revolution
Also this week, a report released by financial services firm UBS made waves.  The company assessed that rooftop solar's growth in Europe is about to boom (keep in mind, Germany alone has already installed thousands of megawatts of rooftop solar). Because the cost of energy from rooftop solar panels is now cheaper than energy from the grid in some Eur…

Every Day a Day of Service

Image
Not long ago I posted about my opportunity to clean up open desert near my sister's home.  Trash of all sorts -- plastic bags and cups, newspapers and cardboard boxes -- had been strewn about a couple of acres of habitat in the western Mojave.   It does not take much time or effort to make a significant difference, and two other organizations committed to clean communities and deserts have proven this.  It's our community. Our public lands.  Keeping the places we love in clean and pristine condition is our responsibility. 

One of the efforts I learned about is organized under the Facebook page called the One a Day Picker Uppers -- more of a lifestyle than an organization.  Christina Lange told me about this effort, and members of the group's Facebook page pledge to pick up at least one piece of litter each day.  There are already over 200 members, and photos from across the US of pieces of trash cleaned up by civic-minded folks. The idea behind this is that if each person…

Inauguration 2013

Image
The President made a clear commitment in his inaugural address today that his administration will tackle climate change and pursue "sustainable" energy.  Let's fight for a local clean energy path that replaces fossil fuels, and preserves wildlands.


Los Angeles May Cancel Rooftop Solar Plans

Image
Update:  Rooftop solar prevails! The Los Angeles City Council denied the motion that would have jeopardized the rooftop solar incentives!

Come on, Los Angeles!  Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP - the utility company for the California metropolis), approved a feed-in-tariff that would have expanded its local solar generation capacity by 100 megawatts.  The cost would probably be pennies per month for most households.  The benefits -- clean energy generated in the city, replacing toxic fossil fuels, and more jobs.

Apparently some members of  the Los Angeles City Council are not on board, and have proposed a motion to send the feed-in-tariff back to "committee". Anybody familiar with politics knows that this is an early stage of death for the clean energy policy.  According to Run on Sun's blog, the L.A. City Council opponents of rooftop solar are members Jan Perry, Bernard Parks and Mitchell Englander.  Hopefully the other Los Angele…

EPA Proposes Significant Emission Controls at Navajo Coal Plant

Image
The EPA this week took a significant step toward reducing harmful emissions from the Navajo Generating Station (NGS), one of the largest coal power plants in the southwest, although the emission reductions will be delayed by a compromise between the EPA and the plant owners.  Located in Page, Arizona, the NGS ships its 2,250 megawatts of energy to multiple utility companies, and spews over 19 million tons of carbon dioxide each year.  The EPA's proposed rule specifically targets NGS' nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, which adversely impact our respiratory health and deposit a smoggy haze in 11 National Parks and wilderness areas in the southwest, including Grand Canyon National Park.

The EPA's proposed rule would reduce NOx emissions from NGS by 84%, equal to 28,500 tons each year, but compromises with the plant owners by extending a 2018 deadline to install selective catalytic reduction (SCR) scrubber technology until the year 2023, according to an EPA press release.  SCR t…