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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
View a Facebook page created by Ortiz with photos of wildlife at Lindo Lakes.
June 22, 2013 (Lakeside) – Migratory shorebirds at risk for nesting areas drying out will be saved, thanks to an inquiry from Lakeside resident Billy Ortiz, a volunteer with the Lakeside River Park Conservancy.
“I am happy to inform that as of June 21, 2013 San Diego County Parks and Recreation is pumping fresh water into Lindo Park Lake’s East basin,” Ortiz informed ECM today. The decision is a result of a request made in late May by Ortiz, also an ECM photographer and publicity chair of the Lakeside Hisotrical Society.
(Image: View from Boulevard’s Tierra Del Sol Road of the Sierra Juarez mountain range looking across Jewel Valley and Jacumba Valley—where real people and diverse wildlife now reside. Wind turbines close to 500 feet tall have been proposed by Enel Green Power on the Tierra Del Sol ridgeline in the foreground and on the distant Sierra Juarez ridgeline in Northern Baja by SDG&E’s parent Sempra. – Bill Parsons photo)
June 20, 2013 (San Diego's East County) -- The County’s Board of Supervisors are being sued for approving their Wind Energy Ordinance & Plan Amendment last Month. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) complaint was filed last week by Stephan C. Volker, of Volker Law, on behalf of two rural East County grassroots non-profit groups: Protect Our Communities Foundation (POC) & Backcountry against Dumps (BAD).
They are challenging the vote approving the Wind Energy Ordinance and Plan Amendment, which they claim “gutted” the Boulevard Community Plan, approved by the Supervisors in August 2011, and violated two passages in the first Article of the California Constitution:
June 20, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – I had to chuckle when I checked my email late last night.
That morning I had posted a press release called, “A Year Later, SDG&E’s Sunrise Powerlink Delivering on What it was designed to do.” It was up for hours before it dawned on me that anyone reading the title, but not opening the article, would assume it comes from San Diego Loves Green. So I changed the title to “SDG&E says Sunrise Powerlink is delivering on what it was designed to Do.” The most important part of the article was a paragraph in which SDG&E described the projects already feeding the grid:
June 20, 2013 (Campo) – By a 34-44 margin, the Campo tribe’s General Council has voted against the Shu’luuk Wind project, a proposal to lease reservation land to Invenergy, according to Donna Tisdale, Chair of the Boulevard Community Planning Group. Tisdale indicated she has multiple sources on the vote outcome.
ECM has contacted the Campo Band of Mission Indians to request comment on the outcome.
The project may not be dead, however, as proponents hope to have another vote in the future.
(Image left: taken from Supervisor Dianne Jacob’s website)
By Roy L. Hales
June 17, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – There has been a great deal of talk about little places like Campo, Boulevard and Ocotillo ever since construction began on the Sunrise Powerlink. There have been multiple lawsuits as environmentalists, Native Americans and other East County residents have fought to protect their habitat, ancestral lands and homes from the encroaching pace of “development.” As much of this area lies within the East County District represented by County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, I sought her perspective about what is going on.
June 18, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – I disagree with one of the statements County Supervisor Dave Roberts made in his recent editorial. I do not think the County Board of Supervisors is as powerless, in regard to the final decision about wind farms going onto the Federal and tribal lands in East County, as he seems to think. I suspect that, if they were willing, the Board could bring a lot of assistance to the East County residents fighting to preserve their quality of life.
By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss, E - The Environmental Magazine
June 17, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: Could it really be true that we are in the midst of the worst drought in the United States since the 1930s?-- Deborah Lynn, Needham, MA
Indeed we are embroiled in what many consider the worst drought in the U.S. since the “Dust Bowl” days of the 1930s that rendered some 50 million acres of farmland barely usable. Back then, drought conditions combined with poor soil management practices to force some 2.5 million Americans away from the Great Plains, only wreaking further havoc on an already devastated Great Depression economy. The lack of native prairie grasses or cover crops to keep the soil in place meant large swaths of formerly productive agricultural land turned to dust and blew away in so-called “black rollers.”
While we have learned a lot about maintaining soil quality since, drought conditions today are nevertheless taking a heavy toll on agricultural productivity, fresh water supplies and the economy—especially as the effects of global warming start to kick in more seriously.
June 17, 2013 (San Diego)-- San Diegans will decide which local environmental nonprofit organization is most deserving of the ECO Ambassadors People’s Choice Award and a grand prize of $25,000 from San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). The eight local organizations that are finalists were announced at a breakfast ceremony on May 28. They were selected to participate because their programs exemplify environmental stewardship, innovation and responsibility.
By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss, E - The Environmental Magazine
June 10, 2013 (San Diego) --Dear EarthTalk: I'm concerned about toxic ingredients in my cleaning supplies, especially now that I have young children. Where can I find safer alternatives? -- Betsy E., Hartford, CT
It is true that many household cleaners contain potentially toxic substances, so parents especially should make an effort to keep them out of the reach of children or, better yet, replace them with safer alternatives.
June 6, 2013 (Campo) – On Sunday, June 9, the Campo Band of Mission Indians’ general council ( tribal members age 18 and over) will be asked to vote on whether to approve or reject Invenergy’s Shu’luuk Wind Energy project proposed to be built on the reservation, according to a meeting notice and agenda obtained by ECM.
ECM has also obtained a letter sent by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Robert Eben, Superintendent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Riverside. The EPA letter raises serious concerns over the project’s Draft Enviornmental Impact Statement (DEIR), concluding that there is “Insufficient information” on impacts of three project versions and that health impacts of noise and low-frequency sound on nearby residents have been ignored.
Activist who filmed removal of bald eagle nest by wind developer faces multi-million lawsuit
By Miriam Raftery and Sholeh Sisson
June 5, 2013 (Ontario, Canada) -- Esther Wrightman, the Canadian activist who documented Nextera Energy's removal of a bald eagle nest to make way for wind turbines, now faces a multi-million dollar lawsuit by the multi-national corporation. Why? Because she created a parody version of the company's logo which read "NexTerror" and "NextError."
The company makes the bizarre claim that Wrightman's logo on a wind resistance blog could somehow confuse its corporate customers. But supporters of Wrightman contend the suit's real motivation is to silence a strong voice of dissent. Nextera also pressured Wordpress to remove the logos, but Wordpress has put the logos back up, finding that no law was broken.
(Image left: Jim Wiegand, of Save the Eagles, sent me this amplification of an image from Google Earth with the explanation, “The blades hung out past the search area. They only looked in the cleared/gravel area around the turbine.”)
Some people are reminiscent of Old Testament Prophets speaking to a people that do not want to listen. While they may not speak in the name of God, they know something is wrong and dedicate their lives to righting it. Jim Wiegand has assumed that mantle in his defense of America’s eagle population. He sometimes uses words like “fraud” and “complacency,” which I find difficult to hear – we often underestimate the extent to which denial, lack of responsibility and hard heartedness guide decisions – but I am also beginning to wonder if they are appropriate. There are very definitely appear to be forces at work to trying stop us from making a conscious choice.