April 14, 2013 (San Diego) – Dear EarthTalk: What would you say are the most important steps we need to take as a nation to counter the impacts of climate change?
- Ned Parkinson, Chino, CA
Americans care more about the environment than ever before and the overwhelming majority of us acknowledges that climate change is real and human-induced. But still we continue to consume many more resources per capita than any other nation and refuse to take strong policy action to stave off global warming—even though we have the power to do so.
April 14, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: I know that some of us are genetically predisposed to get cancer, but what are some ways we can avoid known environmental triggers for it?
- B. Northrup, Westport, MA
Cancer remains the scourge of the American health care system, given that four out of every 10 of us will be diagnosed with one form or another during out lifetime. Some of us are genetically predisposed toward certain types of cancers, but there is much we can do to avoid exposure to carcinogens in our environment.
EAST COUNTY LEADERS AMONG THOSE SPEAKING OUT APRIL 15 AT SAN DIEGO EVENT ON ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ISSUES
April 13, 2013 (San Diego) – A growing movement seeks to build awareness of social and environmental justice issues related to energy production. While the world has jumped on the “green bandwagon” in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and use of fossil fuels and nuclear, how much difference are alternatives such as wind and solar power really making? What are the unforeseen consequences on communities, public health and the environment? Why isn’t the media reporting on these issues?
On April 15, prominent environmentalists and community leaders will speak on local experiences and on growing national/international movements seeking social and environmental justice. Speakers at the event titiled “Energy Projects, Fracking, and Rights of Mother Earth” include Donna Tisdale, chair of Boulevard Planning Group and co-founder of two nonprofits battling big energy projects in East County, Terry Weiner with the Desert Protective Council and Solar Done Right, attorney Bill Pate who handled a legal challenge to the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility, Peg Mitchell with SanDiego350.org and Citizens Climate Lobby, and Carlos Pelayo, Asociación de Jornaleros y Trabajadores de Casa.
April 13, 2013 (San Diego) – Echo Eden along with community partners San Diego Loves Green, Live Fit Films, Regenerative Homes and Heartland Coalition announce the Earth Day Food Forest Campaign in San Diego. Together these organizations have come together to help launch the first phase of a new regional community garden initiative that they are spearheading for the San Diego region. Community members are invited to do something meaningful this Earth Day and support this project by buying a 5' to 7' fruit or nut bearing tree that can either be planted in the first of its kind Food Forest or in your own yard.
By Nadin Abbott
April 12, 2013 (San Diego)— County Supervisors directed the Chief Administration Officer, by a 3-2 vote, to come back in 120 days with options for a comprehensive renewable energy plan, including time and cost estimates. The measure was introduced by Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who believes it is time to stop the ad hoc way of authorizing each proposed energy development.
Jacob, who represents the 2nd district in East County where most of these projects are proposed, said before the vote that this is “a double edge sword” for her. Projects already underway will be grandfathered in and not affected, according to Jacob’s instructions. She emphasized this point to Industry members present who raised opposition to this plan.
April 12, 2013 (Mt. Helix) – The Fourth Annual East County Earth Day, a free, family-fun event, will be held at Mt. Helix Park and Amphitheater on April 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Co-hosted by The Jarrett Meeker and Mt. Helix Park Foundations, East County Earth Day will feature eco-friendly vendors, live music, speakers, an art contest, wildlife presentations, an Earth Day scavenger hunt and games for children.
Vendors include Birch Aquarium, The California Wolf Center and I Love A Clean San Diego with interactive environmental and wildlife presentations.
Wind ordinance on agenda for May 9
April 8, 2013 (San Diego’s East County ) – On May 8, County Supervisors will hear a controversial wind ordinance that would make it easier to build wind turbines in some areas of East County.
But this Wednesday, April 10, the agenda will include a proposal by Supervisor Dianne Jacob for staff to develop a comprehensive renewable energy plan including options to integrate the proposed wind ordinance into a renewable energy plan, as well as examining options such as the San Diego Energy Foundation's proposal with emphasis on rooftop solar. Supervisors meet at 9 a.m. at the County Administration Center, 1600 Pacific Coast Highway in San Diego. If approved, staff would then have several weeks to come back with proposed language.
Below is the exact language from the agenda:
April 4, 2013 (Lakeside) – The Solana Center in partnership with the County of San Diego and the Resource Conservation District will be hosting a free rainwater harvesting workshop in Lakeside on April 13th from 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. at the Resource Conservation District, 11769 Waterhill Road.
Join the Solana Center and the County of San Diego to learn how rainwater collection can benefit your home and garden and which system is best for you! Workshop will include a hands-on installation of a rain barrel and cost-effective tips on how to build your own. Pre-register at: www.solanacenter.org/event/free-rainwater-harvesting-workshop
APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS FHFA RULING BARRING RESIDENTIAL PACE, BUT COMMERCIAL PACE ADOPTION CONTINUES IN CA
San Diego clean energy lender FIGTREE provides up-front funding for businesses to finance energy, water savings
Photos provided by FIGTREE and SunUpEnergy
April 2, 2013 (San Diego) – Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing is alive and well in California despite last month’s surprise 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. The Court ruled that the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) was within its rights as a ‘conservator’ of mortgages held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in issuing a ruling against PACE, effectively putting the brakes on residential PACE financing for homeowners across the U.S..
Despite that setback, adoption of commercial PACE programs is continuing, reports commercial PACE provider FIGTREE Energy Financing of San Diego. FIGTREE is the first company in California to successfully raise private capital for commercial PACE projects via a multi-jurisdictional bond issue.
Editor's note: This is a victory born in the Idle No More Movement for Native rights, which has spread from Canada to the U.S. ECM recently covered Idle No More speakers in San Diego, including local Kumeyaay members.
By Sarah Hales-Ried (reprinted with permission of San Diego Loves Green)
March 28, 2013 (Ottaway, Canada)--After over two months and 1600 kilometres (approx. 994 miles) of walking, the journey of Nishiyuu - a Cree word meaning “the people” - reached Cam-nada's Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, on Monday, March 25. That same day, Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, formally welcomed eight First Nation communities into Canada's First Nations Land Management regime.
Your right to challenge clearance projects may be taken away
UPDATE: COMMENT PERIOD EXTENDED TO APRIL 8
By Miriam Raftery
Updated March 28, 2013 (San Diego's East County)--The California Board of Forestry and CalFire has released a proposal to target about 38 million acres (1/3rd of the entire state) to be burned, chewed-up, or sprayed with herbicides. This increases its habitat clearance program five times over current levels in what the California Chaparral Institute (CCI) calls a “major threat” to wildlife.
Robert S. Taylor Jr., a fire specialist with the National Park Service, has also blasted the proposal as a “very poor use of public funds” that would cause irreversible environmental damage. “I strongly recommend that Cal Fire withdraw the current proposal and produce a new one based on best available science," he wrote. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has also criticized the plan.
By Laura Chapman
March 28, 2013 (San Diego's East County)--We all know about going "green" around our homes. Recycling newspapers, plastic and aluminum has become so commonplace that we actually look for recycling bins when we're out and about. How many times have you gone to a dinner party and helped with the cleanup by asking, "Do you recycle?" All of this is aimed at the goal of reducing our individual carbon footprints. If we can all lower the amount of carbon by-products released into the atmosphere we'll be taking proactive steps to bolster our fragile eco-system.
Now the green movement has spread beyond homes and businesses and out into the travel industry. Yes, you can see the world and still go green.
By Janis Mork
March 22, 2013 (El Cajon)- East County’s newest farmers’ market had its grand opening yesterday on the Prescott Promenade in downtown El Cajon. Many people came, young and old, single and families, all flocking to check out what this market had to offer. Shoppers found a unique blend of fresh produce, unique ethnic and multicultural foods, fresh flowers, baked goods, hot entrees and specialty foods.
An International Rescue Committee (IRC) spokesman thanked the public for coming out and supporting the new market, which benefits not only the community, but also local refugees who are growing some of the fresh produce sold here.
By Miriam Raftery
March 20, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Pattern Energy has claimed that a Merlin Avian Radar system at its Ocotillo Express Wind Facility will detect eagles and allow turbines to be shut down to save them from the whirling blades. Avian radar is also proposed at other wind projects proposed in East County.
But now ECM has learned that an eagle was killed at Pattern’s Spring Valley Wind project near Great Basin National Park in Nevada. According to Bureau of Land Management documents, Pattern had claimed in Appendix F, its Avian and Bat Protection Plan, that it planned to install three separate radar systems at the Spring Valley project to prevent deaths of birds and bats, including both Merlin and Vesper technology.
Pattern did not respond to an ECM request for comment. The death, along with mounting evidence indicating avian radar is failing to protect birds at wind sites, raises serious concerns over the fate of eagles in our region, where three more wind farms are proposed in San Diego’s East County.
The week-long festival includes keynote speaker, Leilani Munter, the world’s No. 1 Eco-Athlete.
March 15, 2013 (San Diego)--All next week, San Diego State University's Associated Students will host GreenFest, a week-long festival that educates the campus community about sustainability, while promoting school spirit. The keynote speaker, Leilani Munter,is the world’s number one eco-athlete. For full schedule and details, please read more.
Measure will lead to taxpayer savings, energy efficiency
March 14, 2013 (San Diego)--County Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Dave Roberts want to save taxpayers’ money and quickly bring more energy-saving projects like solar to the region.
Several days after meeting with San Diego Mayor Bob Filner to discuss energy issues, Roberts and Jacob on Tuesday pushed for more green energy and less reliance on fossil-fuels in the county’s unincorporated area. Roberts called for a working partnership with the city of San Diego “on all things green”.
By Miriam Raftery
March 13, 2013 (Boulevard) – Iberdrola’s Tule Wind project has been slapped with a federal complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The lawsuit was filed by two nonprofits in San Diego’s Rural East County, the Protect Our Communities Foundation and Backcountry Against Dumps.
If built, Tule Wind’s phase I would include 67 turbines on federal land, each nearly 500 feet tall in rugged McCain Valley, a federal wildlife management and popular recreation area. Additional turbines are planned on adjoining state, tribal and private property. Turbines would be close to campgrounds and homes in rural Boulevard, a predominantly low income community in East County where numerous other massive-scale energy projects have already been proposed. (See map showing cumulative impacts.)
“Eastern San Diego County is targeted as a rural sacrifice industrial energy and transmission zone without benefit of equal protection under the law,” said Donna Tisdale, also a plaintiff in the suit.
Mayor Filner announces major solar initiatives
By Hugh Moore, Treasurer, San Diego County Green Party
March, 8, 2013(San Diego) -- When Dr. Jill Stein ran on a platform for President of the U.S. calling for the New Green Deal , I doubt that she imagined her platform would be the newest initiative of the Mayor of San Diego or the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. San Diego having a long history of being more than a little to the right on the political spectrum a shift to the left would have seemed unlikely just a few months ago.
However, Mayor Bob Filner just announced his new solar initiative, planning to put solar panels on every city building within five years. And this is not the end of the initiative. Mayor Filner wants the whole County to become the leader in alternative energy production with a goal of ending up with all the power used in the County being produced by solar and other renewable sources. This initiative is being supported by two of the five San Diego County Board of Supervisors (Dianne Jacobs and Dave Roberts).
BILL WOULD LET ENERGY COMPANIES REMOVE NESTS AND EGGS, EXEMPT COMPANIES FROM PENALTIES FOR KILLING EAGLES, HAWKS AND OTHER RAPTORS
By Miriam Raftery
March 9, 2013 (Sacramento)—Wildlife experts are reacting with outrage to AB 516, a bill in the California Legislature that would allow energy and utility companies to obtain “take” permits authorizing destruction of birds, eggs and nest that stand in the way of electrical transmission infrastructure.
SDG&E was caught flying helicopters too close to protected eagle nests at least four times during construction of Sunrise Powerlink. Those incursions in three East County locations resulted in removal of one pilot and suspension of others, as well as grounding, GPS tracking and other regulatory enforcement actions. But if this bill goes through, such activities could occur without penalty in the future.
SOUND AND ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELD EXPERTS RAISE SERIOUS CONCERNS OVER IMPACTS OF PROPOSED WIND PROJECTS ON NEIGHBORS IN EAST COUNTY
High EMF levels found in tests at Campo, Manzanita and Ocotilllo among residences near turbines
By Miriam Raftery
March 12,2013 (Campo) – Acoustical experts warn that sound generated by proposed Shu’luuk, Tule and Manzanita wind projects will cause severe negative health impacts on neighbors – and further, new studies suggest that noise impact assessments created to justify these and other projects relied on errors in computer modeling that severely underestimate sound levels.
New noise and infrasound findings
At the Campo Shu’luuk Wind project, massive wind turbines and solar panels are proposed just 500 feet from private properties with homes and 1,320 feet from tribal homes (or less if owners sign a waiver). But a major new study commissioned by a public health department in Wisconsin involving five different acoustic experts found high levels of low-frequency noise at homes abandoned by residents as far as 7,000 feet from turbines. The Brown County Board of Health concuded that residents’ complaints of health problems at the Shirley Wind project are valid and related to long-term exposure to wind turbines.
By Miriam Raftery
March 9, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) –Industrial-scale energy projects on Bureau of Land Management lands are pushed through by energy companies touting jobs and economic booms to communities. Not mentioned is the potential loss of tourism revenues if people stop coming to recreational areas that are visually blighted. That’s been a fear voiced by residents near McCain Valley and Ocotillo, both scenic public recreation areas where wind projects are slated or recently completed.
Now preliminary data from the Bureau of Land Management reveals a 12% drop in the number of visitors to the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area over the past year. Sunrise Powerlink construction was completed in June 2012. Is the loss of 72,275 visitors due to the massive high voltage towers that dune buggies and other off-road enthusiasts now must dodge in the desert?
JUDGE GRANTS INJUNCTION TO PROTECT PHOTOGRAPHER AFTER THREATS BY PATTERN ENERGY’S PROJECT MANAGER AT OCOTILLO WIND
Update March 16, 2013: A second restraining order has been granted to Jim Pelley, the other ECM photographer threatened by Pattern Energy's manager, Russell Graham.
By Miriam Raftery
March 7, 2013 (El Centro)—Superior Court Judge Richard Bohlander today granted an injunction for civil harassment relief to protect freelance photographer Parke Ewing following a violent threat made by Russell Graham, construction manager at Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Express Wind Facility.
Ewing’s photos and videos of the project have appeared in East County Magazine as well as on his own Facebook Page and a website documenting the project’s impacts on the desert and the community.
Participants from across the county to join to explore and protect the Upper San Diego River
On March 9 and 10, San Diego River Park Foundation is heading to the headwaters to Save the Source! This weekend, they will be coordinating six events to engage the community in exploring and caring for the upper San Diego River watershed. The lineup of events this year includes two nature hikes and a water quality hike, an open house and tour of the newly con
served Fisherman’s Camp at Boulder Creek Preserve, a trail maintenance project at the Eagle Peak Preserve, and an open house at the Santa Ysabel Backcountry Visitors’ Center.
FOREST SERVICE SEEKS PUBLIC COMMENTS ON CHANGES PROPOSED TO CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST AND OTHER SOUTHERN CA FOREST MANAGEMENT PLANS
Public meetings set, including March 26 in Alpine and March 27 in Ramona
March 8, 2013 (San Diego) – Forest Service officials are seeking public comments on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for a Proposed Amendment to the Land Management Plans for the four Southern California national forests (the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres, and San Bernardino).
The environmental impact statement analyzes the proposal to modify the existing land use zones allocations in selected inventoried roadless areas to include more back country non-motorized and recommended wilderness areas. It also analyzes the proposal to modify the land management plan monitoring framework. The statement evaluates alternatives for both topics, including an alternative that would recommend most of the study area as wilderness. The environmental impact statement can be found on the project webpage at: http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=35130
March 6, 2013 (San Diego) — You don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the “greenest” day of the year. This year, Waste Management of Southern California recommends green tips for making your St. Patty’s Day even greener.
“With St. Patrick’s Day quickly approaching, now is the best time to start making green choices for an environmentally friendly holiday,” said Eloisa Orozco, Area Communications Manager for Waste Management of Southern California. “If each of us took a few small steps to reduce the waste we produce or increase the amount of materials we recycle during the holidays, we’d save a tremendous amount of material, energy and landfill space. There is no shortage of ways to cut down on wastefulness.”
Reprinted with permission from San Diego Loves Green.
By Roy L. Hales
March 6, 2013 (San Diego) -- According to a recent "Golden Eagle Threat Alert" by the Wildlife Research Institute (WRI), “human activity is causing the rapid extirpation of our last remaining Golden Eagle Territories.” They claim that over the past few decades, the number of San Diego’s “active golden eagle territories” has dropped from 103 to 49.
The US Fish & Wildlife Service states that wind turbines kill almost half a million birds every year. More recent studies suggest the number is much higher, somewhere between 13 and 39 million birds. Many of these are raptors.
Over two-thirds of study participants report chronic sleep deprivation and breathing disorders
By Billie Jo Jannen
A special report for East County Magazine
March 5, 2013 (San Diego’s East County)--A university research team that specializes in studying health and social challenges of minority populations is now focusing on quantification of reported illness among Manzanita tribal members who live along the row of wind turbines erected five years ago by the neighboring Campo tribe.
Lead researcher Arcela Nuñez-Alvarez, Ph.D., of the National Latino Research Center said the numbers, so far “…show some trends that I think deserve more attention.” Preliminary numbers in the small population being studied show that 68 percent of the households are suffering from chronic sleep disorders – an oft-mentioned complaint of people who live near turbines – and the same percentage reported respiratory problems.
March 14, 2013 (Sacramento)--A new bill in Sacramento aims to let energy companies remove nests that stand in the way of big projects, even during nesting season. The measure would allow take permits to be issued, meaning energy companies would face no penalties if they inadvertently kill bird species normally protected, such as red-tailed hawks.
“Any work around these nests could be easily delayed unit late June after the young have left their nests,” wildlife biologist Jim Wiegand told ECM, adding that the measure should be killed.
ECM investigations have previously led to fines and grounding of helicopters used by SDG&E due to violations of no-fly zones around protected eagle nests. Two massive industrial wind projects are proposed in eagle habitat in McCain Valley and Jewel Valley, where take permits or removal of eagle nests may occur.
Read full details at the Riverside Press Tribune:
By Miriam Raftery
March 2, 2013 (San Diego) -- U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel this week dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Quechan Indians over cultural resource impacts of the Ocotillo Express Wind Facility. In addition, the federal judge denied motion sought by the Desert Protective Council to protect raptors at the site.
"It is discouraging that our democratic system of checks and balances has broken down in relation to the administration's determination to usurp our public lands for industrial energy development,” said . Terry Weiner, Imperial County Projects and Conservation Coordinator at the Desert Protective Council. “ If we can no longer count on the courts to force our federal agencies to adhere to their own laws, how are the American citizens supposed to protect our national natural and cultural heritage for future generations?"