Local legislators divided on measure
Photo: Bobcat family in Lakeside, photo by Billy Ortiz
September 13, 2013 (Sacramento) – A bill to prohibit trapping of bobcats around public parks and wildlife refuges in California is now on the Governor’s desk awaiting signature. The bill, AB 1213, would also prohibit trapping bobcats on private property without the landowner’s permission.
An estimated 1,813 bobcats were killed in the 2011-2012 license season, up 51% over the prior year. The vast majority of those (1,499) were taken by trappers, the rest by hunters. Bobcat pelt prices have soared from $78 in 2009 to over $700 today, the Los Angeles Times reported.
September 12, 2013 (San Diego) – Jim Bell, a San Diego expert on developing cost-effective and life-support-system-effective (low and carbon free) economies, will present his findings on creating a sustainable future at the Low Carbon Earth Summit in Xi’an, China, held September 26-28. Founder of the Ecological Life Systems Institute, a division of the Heartland Coalition, Bell will instruct conference attendees how efficient energy use and renewable energy development are foundational to the long term success of regional and national economies worldwide. He will also show how renewably produced, carbon free electricity can be used to make regions and countries renewable energy, water and food self-sufficient, in life-support sustaining ways. Additionally, he will show how true-cost and cradle to cradle pricing can be used to create real, mutually beneficial, free-market economies.
September 11, 2013 (La Mesa) – Sullivan Solar Power invites the public to two free events on solar energy in La Mesa:
- La Mesa Solar Luncheon on Saturday, September 21st at 11:00 a.m.at the La Mesa Community Center (4975 Memorial Dr.). will provide opportunities to, learn about solar technology, how to determine if solar is right for your home, rebates and incentives, and local case studies. The presentation will last one hour; lunch will be provided. RSVP: 1.800.SULLIVAN.
- Solar Open House on Saturday, September 28th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in La Mesa at 7430 Orien Avenue. Utility rates went up as much as 39% recently. Learn about solar technology, rebates and incentives, and the SDG&E rate hike from solar industry experts while talking to property owners that went solar. Call 1.800.SULLIVAN for more information.
Update September 11, 2013: This agenda item has been postponed until September 25th due to the absence of Supervisor Greg Cox.
Hear ECM’s radio interview with Supervisor Dianne Jacob on this issue: http://k002.kiwi6.com/hotlink/uuv0z6n9db/diannejacob-energyplanhearing.mp3
By Miriam Raftery
September 7, 2013 (San Diego) Updated September 8, 2013 –On Wednesday morning, Supervisors will consider approval of the first phase of a “Renewable Energy Work Plan” to support renewable energy development – and determine just what types of renewable energy the County should pursue. This includes an overview of energy resources available in the unincorporated areas including East County, a cost analysis of renewable energy options, and consideration of consumer choice alternatives for purchasing power from a source other than SDG&E, such as through community choice aggregation.
By Miriam Raftery
September 8, 2013 (Ocotillo) – A new dust storm, flooding and more white foam flowed through Ocotillo today, heightening residents’ concerns about impacts of Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Facility on this desert community.
At 4:40 p.m. a storm hit, sending massive amounts of dust into the air, this time coming directly from project access dirt roads created by Pattern Energy, according to Jim Pelley, who shot this video. Soon after, a storm brought flash flooding, which residents claim is worsened by drainage changes made by the wind developer. The flood brought a repeat of an unknown white sludgy substance washing across the desert floor and into the town.
“The white foam is back moving across the project. It was a bit eerie,” said Pelly, who took video of today’s white foam flood as well.
September 7, 2013 (San Diego) - The non-profit San Diego Renewable Energy Society (SDRES) invites property owners, building and corporate sustainability managers county-wide to join San Diego’s leading solar and energy efficiency innovators and contractors for an interactive, behind-the-scenes tour of seven cost-cutting commercial energy solutions during the Commercial Leg of the San Diego Renewable Energy Society's 13th San Diego Sustainability Tour, September 20, from 10 am to 4:30 pm.
By Paul Kruze
September 5, 2013 (San Diego)-- A small but passionate group of local environmentalists and workers for Sullivan Solar Power, a local solar panel installation company, gathered in front of Sempra Energy’s downtown corporate offices on August 28 to protest the energy conglomerate’s backing of California Assembly Bill 327. Opponents here and at protests elsewhere in California said the bill would irreparably gut incentives for energy conservation and rooftop solar development.
Introduced by Assemblyman Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno), the proposed bill was approved by the California Senate Energy Committee late last week, with major amendments. If passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, it would replace what utilities and other supporters say are outdated restrictions on how electrical rates are decided and approved.
By Miriam Raftery
September 5, 2013 (La Mesa) – Four years ago, Helix Water District took back management of Lake Jennings from the County. But now the board is weighing options to reduce its operating costs or raise revenues generated by the 9,700 acre reservoir in Lakeside. Those options include closing the lake, offering a long-term lease to a neighboring district, or privatizing the lake’s facilities by turning over management to a company such as KOA, which operates campgrounds nationwide.
On September 13 at 10 a.m., the District will hold a public workshop at its administration building, 7811 University Avenue in La Mesa. You can also send comments to the board at email@example.com
September 6, 2013 (La Mesa) – The City of La Mesa is holding its sixth annual “Sustain La Mesa” Environmental Festival September 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Harry Griffen Park, 9550 Milden Street, La Mesa. The free event is presented by the La Mesa Environmental Sustainability Commission and will feature hydroponics, solar cooking, composting, electric vehicles, kid’s crafts and more.
By Miriam Raftery
August 30, 2013 (Ocotillo) -- Thursday’s storm brought an unwanted surprise to residents of Ocotillo, where floodwaters swept through the desert town carrying a white, foamy sludge. You can see a video of the sludge flood on our website at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cqtr8mKDbEo&feature=youtu.be
East County Magazine photographer Jim Pelley lives in Ocotillo. He and other residents say that they have never seen the white foamy sludge before the Ocotillo Wind Energy facility was built.
“What is it?” he asked. “What effect will it have on our sole source aquifer?” The underground aquifer provides the town’s only source of drinking water. Pelley also wants to know if the contaminated water will be harmful to animals. “It has been so dry out here, I’m sure all of the wildlife is very thirsty and will be drinking this water.”
SDG&E offers programs to assist low-income ratepayers, those with medical needs, and FLEX alerts for energy savings
By Walt Meyer
August 31, 2013 (San Diego)--Although temperatures have finally climbed to the normal range for the end of August, so far it’s been a mild summer, with temperatures below average, and for much of San Diego County, having things a few degrees cooler means not having to turn on the air conditioning. Hot summer days pose the biggest challenge to keeping the juice flowing without brownouts.
While renewable promise a long-term solution, in the short term, with San Onofre offline, likely permanently, the generating power of Southern California will be severely tested in a heat wave. As the region moves deeper into what is likely to a bad fire season, blazes near power lines also pose another imminent threats to the fragile power grid.
There is another good reason to try to keep the A/C off and switch to renewable: starting September 1, SDG&E is imposing a major rate increase. The rate hike will affect Tiers 3 and 4, but not Tiers 1 and 2 at all, which means many ratepayers in more temperate areas may not see any increase, but those who are usually have rates in the higher tiers will see their rates go up.
An ECM special investigation continues, finding links between rise in dust storms across outhwest, Valley Fever epidemic, and installation of large-scale desert solar and wind projects
By Miriam Raftery
August 26, 2013 (Ocotillo)--A second dust storm has struck Ocotillo on Auugust 25, just two days after an earlier dust storm swept through the desert community. Dust billowed thousands of feet into the air, dwarfing a 500 foot tall wind turbines scarcely visible in the above photo. East County Magazine photographer Jim Pelley was in the midst of the storm and shot videos:
WILDLIFE OFFICIALS DISPUTE AP STORY ON EUTHANIZING DESERT TORTOISES, BUT SHELTER’S FUTURE STILL IN QUESTION
San Diego Zoo, which manages the shelter, disputes AP report
By Miriam Raftery; photo courtesy of the San Diego Zoo
August 29, 2013 (San Diego) – Earlier this week, Associated Press ran a story which stated, “Federal funds are running out at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center and officials plan to close the site and euthanize hundreds of the tortoises they’ve been caring for since the animals were added to the endangered species list in 1990.”
But the San Diego Zoo, which managers that center, told East County Magazine that while the center’s funding is in question, no healthy tortoises will be euthanized. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has also issued a press release finding fault with AP’s reporting.
August 28, 2013 (San Diego) – Green Experts Academy is holding a forum to discuss what will become of the Green Vision for the City of San Diego and the region as the city transitions to another Mayoral election and administration. It will be held on September 26 from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Cricket Communications Inc. Headquarters 5887 Copley Dr., San Diego.
August 26, 2013 (San Diego) – Dear EarthTalk: Might another possible source for ethanol be discarded pastries from bakeries? For that matter, wouldn’t fermenting unsold bananas, oranges and apples from grocery store produce departments be able to provide an ample supply of fuel?
-- Curious in Warren, PA
Food waste is indeed an untapped resource with great potential for generating energy. Some one third of all food produced around the world gets discarded uneaten, and environmentalists, energy analysts and entrepreneurs are beginning to take notice. Diverting even just a portion of this waste to so-called waste-to-energy (WTE) systems could free up large amounts of landfill space while powering our vehicles and heating our homes, and thus putting a significant dent in our collective carbon footprint. Perhaps that’s why WTE is one of the fastest growing segments of the world’s quickly diversifying energy sector.
By Miriam Raftery
Photos by Jim Pelley
August 23, 2013 (Ocotillo ) – It looked like a scene out of the 1930s, when factory-scale farms removed topsoil in the Midwest, creating dust storms that swept across the western states, reducing vast areas to a Dust Bowl. Is history repeating itself?
Residents of Ocotillo and other desert communities across the Southwest have recently voiced worries that industrial-scale wind and solar projects that stripped bare the earth would cause dust storms. Yesterday, a monster-scale dust cloud rolled across Ocotillo, blackening the sky and obscuring even the wind turbines that tower 500 feet above the town.
Reprinted with permission from San Diego Loves Green
By Roy Hales
August 22, 2013 (San Diego) – Almost 38% of the votes cast in favor of AB 327 last month came from Assembly Members who list “electric utilities” among their top ten campaign contributors. That is a lot of money and it is worth noting that these were not the only “yes” votes that received money.
"EDISON HATES SOLAR" VIDEO PARODY SPARKS THREAT OF LEGAL ACTION; LATINO GROUP KEEPS AIRING VIDEO, REFUSES TO BE INTIMIDATED
Group vows to continue fight for solar, reveals lobbying of Latino legislators by utilities industry
August 19, 2013 (Los Angeles) – In response to a letter written by Southern California Edison demanding that a parody video posted on the website www.SaveRooftopSolar.com be removed from YouTube, leaders of Presente.org have refused to remove the video. Instead, they vowed to continue their efforts of exposing Southern California Edison and other energy companies that have lobbied against solar panel initiatives throughout California.
These utility companies have targeted Latino legislators throughout the state in an attempt to abolish solar panel initiatives and to stop working class families from gaining access to this a major form of sustainable energy, the group said. The video titled "Edison hates rooftop solar" released by Presente.org and the Other98.com , satirizes Southern California Edison and the other companies who have taken part in these efforts.
Prosecutor contends Bittner more concerned with economic gain than well-being of raptors;
Bittner data used to justify wind and other energy projects in San Diego/Imperial Counties, Mexico & elsewhere
By Nadin Abbott and Miriam Raftery
August 13, 2013 (San Diego)—U.S. Magistrate Judge David H. Bartick sentenced John David Bittner of Julian, president of the Wildlife Research Institute in Ramona, to three years probation and a $7500 fine. Bittner pled guilty to unlawful taking of a Golden Eagle without a permit and failing to file any data reports for a four-year period on birds that he had banded. The government could have imposed up to a $100,000 fine and a one-year prison sentence, but instead hope to induce Bittner to turn over years of missing data as a condition of probation.
"We support the Justice Dept’s vigilance in prosecuting Bittner for his serious transgressions and unlawful behavior,” said Donna Tisdale with the Protect Our Communities organization. ““When unethical and basically corrupt experts like Bittner side with industry over avian protection—our beautiful birds literally get clobbered with the blunt end of the turbine blade.”
But she suggested that the fine amounted to a slap on the wrist in light of the more than $600,000 that Bittner’s Wildlife Research Institute raked in through consulting fees for corporations. Iberdrola and Pattern Energy hired him to write reports justifying their wind projects, Tule Wind in McCain Valley and the Ocotillo Express Wind Facility. Sempra Energy also hired Bittner as its eagle consultant for its massive Energia Sierra Juarez Wind in Baja California.
WOLF EXPERTS HOWLING OVER EXCLUSION FROM REVIEW OF FEDS’ PROPOSAL TO REMOVE WOLVES FROM ENDANGERED SPECIES PROTECTION
By Miriam Raftery
August 12, 2013 (Julian) – Erin Hunt, general manager of the California Wolf Center in Julian, is concerned that the federal government is “stacking the deck” by excluding wolf experts from participating in a peer review of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to remove grey wolves from protection as federal endangered species in all lower 48 states. Delisting is proposed even in areas where wolf populations remain at risk, wildlife experts warn.
Public comments are being accepted until September 11 on the controversial proposal. The California Wolf Center has details at www.californiawolfcenter.org and comments may be submitted to Sally Jewell, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior which oversees the USFW, here.
Sixteen scientists have signed a letter accusing the USFW of misrepresenting their conclusions to justify the delisting of wolves from the federal endangered species list.
By Miriam Raftery
August 12, 2013 (Ocotillo) – When Pattern Energy presented its proposed Ocotillo Express Wind Facility project to Imperial County Supervisors, the company promised that massive industrial wind turbines would be no louder than a refrigerator or a library. But now residents are complaining that noise levels are far louder—and they’ve provided a video to bolster their claim.
The problems foreshadow issues that East County residents could soon face when similar gargantuan wind turbines slated to be built in East County are completed -- turbines 500 feet tall with blade spans the size of football fields--far larger than any located in our region thus far.
On August 7, with many turbines still off-line due to safety issues after a blade fell off, ECM photojournalist and Ocotillo resident Jim Pelley took the following video to show the high noise levels to which area residents were being subjected: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF8eMvb4570&feature=youtu.be Since then, the problem had gotten even worse, residents say, with more turbines now back online.
Secretaries of Interior and Energy invited to showing of "Who Are My People?"
By Roy L. Hales
August 6, 2013 (Las Vegas) – It is no coincidence that the Las Vegas premiere of “Who Are My People?” is on August 13. National Clean Energy Summit 6.0 takes place the same day.
BILL IN CONGRESS COULD MANDATE SMART METERS NATIONWIDE, TAKE AWAY CONSUMER RIGHT TO OPT OUT IN CA AND OTHER STATES
By Miriam Raftery
August 4, 2013 (Washington D.C. ) –Two members of Congress (Jerry McNerney, D- Stockton, CA and Matt Cartwright, D- PA) have introduced the Smart Grid Advancement Act of 2013 (HR 2685) that would require the Secretary of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator to take designated actions if they find that use of smart grid technologies save energy and money. Congressman Scott Peters from San Diego (D-52) is a cosponsor of the bill.
But opponents say this could require all electricity providers (including rural cooperatives and municipal utilities) to join the ‘smart’ grid and install ‘smart’ meters, and that it could negate states’ rights to regulate smart meters and wireless appliances. The bill could lead to an overriding of state laws and regulations that give consumers power to opt out of having smart meters, which produce electro-magnetic frequency radiation that have raised health concerns, opponents warn. It could lead to requiring energy-saving appliances to include wireless transmitters.
Originally posted July 27, 2013 on San Diego Loves Green
By Roy L. Hales
I recently asked one of San Diego’s better known engineers, Bill Powers, a number of questions about the Sunrise Powerlink and rooftop solar energy. These are his answers.
July 30, 2013 (Rancho San Diego) – For those with a knack for sales interested in joining the emerging green workforce, Cuyamaca College is offering a free course on selling solar energy systems.
The 36-hour course is provided through the San Diego/Imperial County Environmental Training Center based at Cuyamaca College and will give students a working knowledge of one of the fastest-growing segments of the green-collar industry.
July 29, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: Hurricane Sandy brought more sea water onto shorelines than I’d ever witnessed before and many communities near where I live are now being required to raise their homes up. What is the prognosis for sea level rise in the years immediately ahead?
-- Scott P., Fairfield, CT
Since sea level measurements were first recorded, in 1870, global averages have risen almost eight inches. The annual rate of rise has been 0.13 inches over the past 20 years, which is close to twice the average from the previous 80 years. Future estimates for sea levels vary according to region but most Earth scientists agree that sea levels are expected to rise at a greater pace than during the last 50 years.
By Miriam Raftery; photo by Daren Sefcik
July 17, 2013 (Borrego) – The 43rd annual sheep count in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park was completed July 5-7.
“This year we tallied 332 bighorn, which replaces the 2011 count as the second largest tally in sheep count history at Anza-Borrego,” states a letter to volunteers from coordinators Steve Bier and Mark C. Jorgensen.
The numbers don’t tell the whole story, though. The count did not include some portions of the park where populations may be under the most stress—and at least two dead sheep were found during the count due to apparent dehydration.
Update July 15: The property owner has granted a brief stay to allow Coyote Canyon Caballos d'Anza more time to relocate the herd. The nonprofit group asks public help to contact federal and county elected officials and the Bureau of Land Management to urge that relocation on public lands in San Diego be approved and expedited. Actions that could be taken include the county adding these wild horses to its protected species list and the BLM approving the horses for relocation to the Beauty Mountain area in northeast San Diego County.
By Miriam Raftery
July 14, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Plans to restore San Diego’s heritage herd of wild horses to public lands is in peril. An eviction notice has been served on the nonprofit organization that recently found and brought back the last descendants of San Diego’s original wild horses. Unless the property owner backs down, the horses will be evicted on Monday, July 15.
July 1, 2013 (Alpine) – The Back Country Land Trust (BCLT) has owned and managed open-space landscapes in San Diego’s East County for over 20 years. The best example of these conservation lands is Wright’s Field preserve in the community of Alpine. Located in the heart of this small foothill town, Wright’s Field is a 230-acre nature preserve, saved from development in 1990 and preserved as open-space for wildlife, habitat conservation, and recreation such as hiking, biking, and horseback riding.