January 30, 2016 (Lakeside) – On Tuesday, February 2, the Lakeside Community Planning Group is expected to vote on over $250,000 in improvements to Lindo Lake Park. Final public comments will be heard from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the meeting in the Lakeside Community Center, 9841 Vine Street in Lakeside. After several community workshops, planning group members are set to approve a final design concept from among four plans considered.
January 28, 2016 (San Diego) – By a 3-2 vote, the California Public Utilities Commission today voted to retain net energy metering that supporters say is crucial to support growth of rooftop solar power. Though some changes will be made, the ruling protects compensation for consumers who produce surplus solar power for the grid.
Hailed as a victory for rooftop solar advocates, the decision has drawn praise from environmentalists but criticism from San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E).
January 28, 2016 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – Jacumba Solar LLC has cancelled its contract with the Jacumba Community Services District to purchase water for a large-scale solar project.. The project would include over 81,000 solar panels on 304 acres near the SDG&E substation.
“I I think it’s for the best,” Eric Kallen, vice chair of the Jacumba Community Services District, told East County Magazine.
The contract called for Jacumba Solar to pay a $100,000 “gift” on signing with an additional $250,000 lump sum payment due January 15th. The District was to provide 40 acre feet of water with an option for Jacumba Solar to purchase 28 additional acre feet if needed for construction, plus three or four acre feet a year long-term for maintenance after the project was built. The solar projecrt was proposed by Nextera, a Florida-based company.
Photo: Scientific Visualization Studio/Goddard Space Flight Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
“Climate change is the challenge of our generation, and NASA’s vital work on this important issue affects every person on Earth. Today’s announcement not only underscores how critical NASA’s Earth observation program is, it is a key data point that should make policy makers stand up and take notice - now is the time to act on climate.” – NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
January 26, 2016 (San Diego)--2015 was the warmest year worldwide since modern record-keeping began in 1880, according to a new analysis by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a separate analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“The Water-Wise Garden Tour” Will Showcase Drought-Tolerant Home Gardens
January 21, 2016 (El Cajon)—The Water Conservation Garden invites the public to its first annual Water-Wise Home Garden Tour. The tour will highlight a variety of five beautiful gardens utilizing an array of color, variety, and low water usage. The gardens also emphasize plants from semi-arid regions of the world including Australia, New Zealand, Southwestern U.S. and South Africa.
January 19, 2016 (Los Angeles) – Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) announced yesterday that its relief well drilling to stop the massive Aliso Canyon natural gas leak north of Los Angeles is “proceeding ahead of schedule and the company expects to stop the leak by late February, if not sooner.”
The relief well drilling began December 4th and must reach a depth of 8,500 feet. “Once the well is sealed, it will be taken out of service permanently,” a SoCalGas press release states.
In addition, the company announced it has abandoned its earlier proposal for a gas capture system to burn off leaking gas because of safety concerns expressed by its engineers. State regulators had also expressed concerns that the plan could potentially result in a fire.
January 18, 2016 (Alpine) – Clearing local watersheds of the arrundo donax, a hardy bamboo-like, non-native plant that is a major fire fuels hazard, and other invasive species is tough work. To clear a four-mile stretch of Alpine Creek required contacting owners of about 700 private and public parcels, mapping the terrain and securing liability insurance and contracts. So far, the initial work has been done on about 50 parcels, funded mainly by private donations. But a lot more work is needed, including maintain those parcels already cleared.
Leak at So Cal Gas facility exposes nationwide problem of aging gas infrastructure at hundreds of sites
By Miriam Raftery
January 17, 2016 (Los Angeles)—The news sounds like the plot of a disaster thriller movie, but it’s real. The worst environmental disaster since the BP oil spill, a methane gas leak that began Oct. 23 at a storage well in Aliso Canyon in northern Los Angeles has pumped over 85,000 metric tons of methane into the air. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, each day of the leak spews as much climate pollutant into the air as 4.5 million to 9 million cars.
The leak at the site operated by Southern California Gas (a Sempra Energy company that also supplies San Diego’s gas) is endangering health and safety of residents as well as contaminating the environment and pumping a powerful climate pollutant into the atmosphere. But it may soon get a lot worse.
A Los Angeles Times investigation reveals that efforts to plug the leak has been halted—after a backwash from those efforts caused a crater 80 feet long, 30 feet wide and 25 feet deep, leaving the wellhead itself exposed and now at risk of a catastrophic blowout. Access to control valves are cut off, documents revealed. Should a massive explosion and fire occur with a 10-mile-long plume of methane over suburban neighobrhoods, the scenario would be horrifying.
13 projects will boost conservation, habitat, water recycling and more
Source: County Water Authority
January 17, 2016 (San Diego) -- The San Diego region has been awarded $31.1 million in grant money by the state Department of Water Resources for a variety of projects that will increase local water supplies, decrease water demands, improve water quality, manage storm water, restore habitat and enhance species.
The awards include several East County and inland region projects, notably expansion of Padre Dam’s advanced water treatment reclamation facility, a program to improve water quality in disadvantaged rural communities, habitat recovery at Sweetwater Reservoir, water-wise educational programs for Lemon Grove and Spring Valley schools, water capture and grey water reuse in the Chollas Creek/Encanto area, as well as rehabilitation of the San Diego River headwaters including removal of invasive plant species, feral pigs, unauthorized trails/campgrounds and restoration of sites.
January 16, 2016 (San Diego) – The National Park Service has announced it must change the names of some of its most iconic landmarks due to a copyright claim filed by Delaware North, the former park concessionaire. Items slated for name changes include the historic Ahwahnee Hotel and Wawona Hotel (both Native American names), as well as Curry Village, Yosemite Lodge and Badger Pass http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/article54736110.html).
January 14, 2016 (Alpine)--The Cleveland National Forest Foundation (CNFF), Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation (CERF), and Save Our Forest and Ranchlands (SOFAR) announced that they have filed a lawsuit challenging the County of San Diego’s approval of a firearms training facility for military and law enforcement at Covert Canyon within the boundary of the Cleveland National Forest outside of Alpine.
The suit seeks an injunction and restraining order to shut down commercial firearms training at the facility, among other remedies.
The lawsuit cites alleged violations of the California Environmental Quality Act, abuse of discretion in changing the use classification of the commercial firearms shooting facility, and violation of the California Land Conservation Act of 1965 (commonly referred to as the “Williamson Act”).
Top scientist claims evidence of neonicotinoids harming bees was silenced by agrochemical companies
By Brigitte Garcia
January 13, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week issued a ruling that neonicotinoids used on cotton and citrus crops harm bees -- but the same pesticide used on other crops does not, Associated Press reports. Some bee experts have argued that neonicotinoids are a major cause of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). The controversial statement pleased neither environmentalists concerned over bee declines, nor Bayer, the maker of neonicotinoids.
January 9, 2016 (Boulevard) – Efforts to block the massive Rugged Solar project in Boulevard appear to have hit a dead end. On December 11th, Judge Wohlfeil confirmed his tentative ruling to dismiss a writ of mandate filed by Backcountry Against Dumps (BAD). The challenge claimed the project violated California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements on groundwater and fire issues, among others.
“BAD has chosen not to appeal based on a variety of issues and realities,” BAD founder Donna Tisdale told East County Magazine. Our attorney may never see the fee award ordered by Judge Wohlfeil, or a final decision could be strung out for years.”
January 4, 2016 (La Mesa) -- Journey Community Church in La Mesa is bringing new light this year to the community. This month Journey has completed one of the largest solar conversions in East County, San Diego. The church on Center Drive owns a seven-acre campus of buildings, including offices, meeting rooms, classrooms, a thrift store, and a food bank as well as commercial businesses that rent space. Overall, the 207 kilowattsystem carbon reduction is the equivalent to 4,302 cars being removed from the road, 3,658,582 gallons of gas not being used, 26,484 trees being planted and could power 5,951 homes or 453,489 lightbulbs.
December 30, 2015 (Alpine) –After 19 years of working to create gardens friendly to birds, butterflies and other creatures, the nonprofit Center to Instill Respect and Preservation for Garden Wildlife, or CHIRP, is coming to an end.
The board of directors voted in November to dissolve the nonprofit after financial challenges, as many nonprofits have faced in recent tough times. “I feel it is time for me, the founder and executive director, to move on,” Maureen Austin wrote in a letter published on the Alpine Community Network.
CHIRP, a garden club known for organizing the popular Sage & Songbirds garden tour each year, gained national fame for Alpine after helping the community become first in the nation to receive a Community Wildlife Habitat designation from the National Wildlife Federation. Austin voiced hope that Alpine will continue to nurture habitats for wildlife to retain the designation, adding that she will happily help transfer NWF’s annual status report to another organization or individual.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
December 9, 2015 (San Diego)—The Paris climate summit with global leaders culminates on December 12th. On that same date, a climate action march is planned in San Diego’s Balboa Park from 12 noon to 3 p.m., starting at 6th and Laurel.
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.”
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.
December 1, 2015 (San Diego) – While world leaders met in Paris at a global climate summit on Monday, San Diego City Council’s Environmental Committee also convened –and voted unanimously to send an ambitious climate action plan to the City Council.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.