Green Scene

SAN DIEGO 350 ACTIVISTS PRESENT AT THE MARCH FOR REAL CLIMATE LEADERSHIP

 

Reprinted with permission from Reporting San Diego

By Nadin Abbott

February 7, 2015 (San Diego) On Feb. 6, at the stroke of midnight, the busses left the Old Town Transit center parking lot. On board were activists from SanDiego350, as well as students from King Chavez Community School in downtown San Diego with their teacher, Keith Fowler.

WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN OFFERS GARDEN CLASSES

February 6, 2015 (Rancho San Diego) -- If you're looking for some creative ideas for landscaping your yard, the Water Conesrvation Garden has classes coming up on Hillside Gardening February 7th and Garden Design February 28th.  The Water Conservation Garden is located at Cuyamaca College in the Rancho San Diego area of El Cajon.

Below are details.

A DARK DAY FOR DEMOCRACY: SUPERVISORS OVERRIDE BOULEVARD'S ELECTED PLANNING OFFICIALS, FORCE INDUSTRIAL-SCALE SOLAR ON RURAL TOWN

 

By Miriam Raftery

View video of full hearing: http://sdcounty.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=9&clip_id=1660

Note: Tune in Friday to our radio show on 89.1 FM from 5 to 6 p.m. to hear interviews with Boulevard residents and a hydrologist sharing their views on this outcome.  Jim Whelan, a representative of Soitec project property owners Hamann and Gibson was invited and refused to participate.

 

February 4, 2015 (San Diego) – Boulevard residents fought down tears in stunned disbelief today (photo, left) as San Diego Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to approve Soitec’s Tierra Del Sol and Rugged Solar projects, overriding a unanimous vote by Boulevard’s elected planning group that opposed the projects. Collectively the two massive projects will cover 1,185 acres (the equivalent of 185 city blocks) of rural terrain with thousands of concentrated solar tracking panels, each 48 feet wide by 30 feet tall.

Only Supervisor Dianne Jacob voted against the project, following an extensive speech in opposition. She called county staff’s finding that the project was compatible with rural community character “absolutely incomprehensible to me.”  Jacob pointed out that the General Plan is supposed to assure environmental stewardship, preservation of agricultural lands, open space and community character, among other qualities – all of which will be destroyed if the Soitec projects are built.

EARTHTALK(R): CONSERVING WILDLIFE THROUGH DNA

 

 

From the Editors of E - The Environmental Magazine

January 26, 2015 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: How are scientists using DNA to conserve wildlife? -- Jake Summerlin, Newark, NJ

Traditionally, conservation biologists have relied on field observation and sample and statistical analysis to help them understand the dynamics behind species loss, but today genetics is taking on an increasingly important role in helping quantify the biodiversity around us and even save some threatened species.

PRESIDENT PROPOSES WILDERNESS PROTECTION FOR 1.4 MILLION ACRES IN ALASKA

 

Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

January 25, 2015 (San Diego's East County) - The U.S. Department of the interior announced Sunday that President Barack Obama plans to ask Congress to designate  12 million acres of Alaska’s 19 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness to protect it from oil and gas drilling.

THE ITSY BITSY TEENIE WEENIE YELLOW POLKA DOT CLIMATE MODEL

 

By Roger Coppock

January 23, 2015 (San Diego)--What will global warming do to our planet?  Specifically, if we continue with "business as usual," burning fossil carbon fuels and dumping CO2 into the atmosphere in increasing amounts, what temperatures will our children see at the turn of the next century?  When climate scientists make projections like these, they use mathematical tools called "Climate Models."  Climate models are collections of mathematical formulas describing our planet.  Usually, these formulas are represented by a computer program.  These computer programs are typically monstrously large and very complex.

SOITEC TO SHIFT FOCUS AWAY FROM SOLAR

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 23, 2015 (San Diego)—Soitec Solar may exit the solar business, Greentech Media reports.  A quarterly report indicates the company plans to “refocus” efforts on its electronics business .

Greentech’s article indicates that the language may be vague, but the publication predicts, “…the message is clear: Soitec is exiting this business as quickly as possible.” 

The news comes as San Diego Supervisors are poised to vote Feb. 7 on whether to approve massive  industrial solar projects proposed by Soitec in Boulevard.

IRS WILL REQUIRE SMALL WIND TURBINES TO BE CERTIFIED

 

Distributed wind industry views performance and quality assurances at the Federal level as a positive step for successful deployment of distributed wind projects in U.S.

January 20, 2015 (Washington D.C.)--The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued Notice 2015-4 providing new performance and quality standards that require certification of small wind turbines – defined as having a nameplate capacity of up to 100 kW – in order to qualify for the 30% federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC).

SUPERVISORS TO HEAR SOITEC SOLAR'S CONTROVERSIAL BOULEVARD PROJECTS IN FEB. 4 HEARING

County planners approved despite serious environmental and financial issues; rural group vows to sue if approved

By Miriam Raftery

January 19, 2015 (Boulevard) – Rural  planning group chairs and environmentalists are blasting county planners for approving Soitec Solar’s controversial industrial scale solar projects.  Planners largely ignored evidence that the projects could deplete groundwater supplies, threaten wildlife and create fire hazards—as well as Soitec’s precarious financial position.

Next up, San Diego Supervisors will hold a hearing on the project February 4th.  At least one citizens’ group, Backcountry Against Dumps (BAD) has promised to file a lawsuit against the County if Supervisors approve the projects, which would cover 1500 acres with approximately 8,000 massive solar trackers, each 30 feet high.

COLORADO RIVER IS MAJOR ECONOMIC DRIVER IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, REPORT FINDS

 

By Chris Thomas, Public News Service, CA

Photo: Palo Verde Dam near Blythe, Calif., by Sandra J. Owen-Boyce, U.S. Geological Survey.

January 18, 2015 (Los Angeles) — A little more than half the economy of Southern California is dependent in some way on the health of the Colorado River system, according to a new report that quantifies the value of the river to the seven Western states that use it.

PICKER ROLLS OUT REFORMS AS NEW PRESIDENT OF CA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION

 

Massive release of emails between CPUC and utilities also ordered by administrative law judge

By Miriam Raftery

January 18, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Taking the helm of the scandal-ridden California Public Utilities Commission, new president Michael Picker announced reforms aimed at ending back-door access by utilities to state regulators and improving transparency to the public.

NASA FINDS 2014 WARMEST YEAR SINCE 1880

 

By Roger Coppock

January 17, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)--NASA's Goddard Institute For Space Studies has reduced global temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Their "GISS Analysis" uses satellite measurements of night lighting to locate population centers.  GISS uses this population map to statistically remove the artificial warming of cities, known as the "Urban Heat Island Effect," or UHI, from the NOAA's ground station data.  In the opinion of this author, that correction makes the NASA GISS's data the most reliable estimate of the near surface temperature of our planet.  Please see:

SDG&E POWERS UP NEW EAST COUNTY SUBSTATION PROJECT

 

East County News Service

January 17, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) announced last week that the new East County (ECO) Substation project has been energized and is now operating as an integral part of SDG&E’s electric transmission system.

WIND TURBINE BURSTS INTO FLAMES IN OCOTILLO

By Miriam Raftery

January 17, 2015 (Ocotillo) –A wind turbine at the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility burst into flames on January 15th.  East County Magazine photographer Jim Pelley, an Ocotillo resident, caught the incident on video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGYvHM5KlJs&feature=youtu.be. The Siemens 2.3-108 turbine was a 2.3 megawatt  model with 108 meter blades.  The turbine (#110) is located along a mining road.

“There were no injuries,” Jeff Grappone from Siemens told ECM.  An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire, he stated in an e-mail.  The equipment impacted (six turbines on one circuit) has been de-energized, a safe perimeter established and the tower is being monitored continuously, he indicated.

MILHOLLAND SOLAR AND ELECTRIC CELEBRATES 25TH ANNIVERSARY

 

 

East County News Service

January 5, 2015 (El Cajon)--Milholland Solar and Electric, the premier solar installation and electrical contractor in Southern California, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

NASA LAUNCHES SATELLITE TO MEASURE SOIL MOISTURE

CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST FOUNDATION PRESIDENT JACK SHU SPEAKS OUT ON SANDAG’S DECISION TO APPEAL TRANSPORTATION CASE TO STATE SUPREME COURT

 

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

Hear our interview with Jack Shu, Cleveland National Forest Foundation president: http://kiwi6.com/file/5au8a9h2fw

 

 

December 31, 2014 (San Diego)—Jack Shu, president of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation (CNFF), sat down for an in-depth interview with East County Magazine on KNSJ radio.  CNFF and other environmental groups filed a lawsuit challenging the regional transportation plan proposed by the San Diego Association of Government (SANDAG) .  California Attorney General Kamala Harris joined the suit in support of environmentalist.

CNFF contends that instead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as state law requires, SANDAG’s plan will increase them by 700 percent (see chart). 

San Diegans rely 95% on automobiles for transportation and only 3% on transit, yet SANDAG’s plan calls for more freeways instead of expanding transit in the near future.  San Diego also has the seventh worth ozone pollution in the nation as well as serious asthma issues, CNFF argues, yet SANDAG failed to provide a health impact analysis in its plan.

An appellate court and trial court agreed with plaintiffs that SANDAG failed to adequately address air pollution and climate change concerns, yet SANDAG voted 20 to 1 to appeal to the California Supreme Court.

MONARCHS MAY BE LISTED AS ENDANGERED SPECIES

 

December 31, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--Monarch butterflies may warrant protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service states.  Monarch populations have dropped up to 90 percent in the last 20 years due to loss of milkweed plants that the butterflies need to lay their eggs and nourish caterpillars that emerge from cocoons.

POPE TO URGE ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE--AFTER MEETING WITH A SAN DIEGO SCIENTIST

 

East County News Service

December 29, 2014 (San Diego)—Pope Francis, who has voiced concerns over climate change impacts, is set to issue an edict calling on 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide to take action on climate change—and a San Diego scientist may have played a role in influencing the Pope to take action.

SANDAG MAKES $15 MILLION IN GRANTS AVAILABLE TO FUND SMART GROWTH AND BIKE/PEDESTRIAN PROJECTS

 

Applications Due March 20

December 26, 2014 (San Diego)--To incentivize projects that promote smart growth, as well as increase walking, biking, and transit usage, SANDAG is calling on local jurisdictions to submit applications for $15 million in competitive grants available under its TransNet Smart Growth Incentive Program (SGIP) and TransNet Active Transportation Grant Program (ATGP).

GOV. BROWN NAMES MICHAEL PICKER, EX-AIDE, TO CHAIR CPUC

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Michael Picker during a visit to the University of San Diego

December 25, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Following the resignation of disgraced California Public Utilities President Michael Peevey, Governor Jerry Brown has appointed his former renewable energy advisor, Michael Picker, to head up the CPUC as president of the board. Picker also served in the same capacity for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration.

BLEAK OUTLOOK FOR SOITEC’S SOLAR PROSPECTS

 

Despite company’s woes, county releases EIR on Soitec’s proposed Boulevard projects. A hearing is set for January 16, with the deadline for public comment  January 14.

By Miriam Raftery

December 22, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) -- The future for Soitec Solar is far from bright.  The company’s stock shares plummeted 57 percent on Monday,  reaching an all-time low. The plunge led Reuters to advise investors to avoid Soitec “like poison.”

The free-fall occurred after the company announced that the main project in its solar division has been cancelled and that the company will be scaling down its San Diego facility.  Tenaska Solar Ventures cancelled its deal to use Soitec’s concentrated photovoltaic panels at a facility in Imperial County. In addition, San Diego Gas & Electric spokeswoman Jennifer Ramp says that the utility “does not have any contracts with Soitec.” That statement conflicts with claims previously made by Soitec, Voice of San Diego reports in an article titled “The Darling of San Diego Solar Manufacturing Is on Its Death Bed.”

Despite this precipitous news, ironically the County of San Diego released the final environmental impact report (EIR) on Soitec’s four proposed industrial-scale solar projects in Boulevard.  A hearing on the projects are set for January 16th, which public comments due by January 14th at 4 p.m. , according to Mindy Fogg, planning manager for the County.

WIND COMPANY THAT SUED TO BLOCK RELEASE OF BIRD DEATH DATA PLEADS GUILTY TO KILLING BIRDS IN WYOMING

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 19, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Pacificorp pled guilty this week in U.S. District Court in Wyoming to violating the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) in connection with the deaths of protected birds, including golden eagles, at two of the company’s wind projects in Wyoming.

WIND TAX INCENTIVES EXTENSION PASSES CONGRESS

 

East County News Service

December 17, 2014 (Washington D.C.) – A bill to extend the wind production tax credit and investment tax credit, along with other tax incentives for wind energy developers, has passed both houses of Congress and is now on President  Barack Obama’s desk.

WIND ENERGY COMPANY SUES TO BLOCK RELEASE OF BIRD DEATH DATA TO MEDIA

 

Photo: Hawk at Ocotillo wind farm; photo by Jim Pelley

By Miriam Raftery

December 16, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – A lawsuit filed by Pacificorp, a wind energy corporation, seeks an injunction to halt the Associated Press from obtaining reports filed by the company with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service documenting deaths of eagles and other protected bird species at its wind energy facilities. Pacificorp, which is owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, claims disclosure would cause “irreparable harm” to the company.

GLOBAL WARMING: HAS ANYONE REALLY DONE ANYTHING?

 

 

 

 

By Roger Coppock

 

 

The first article of this series showed that bone dry East County San Diego warmed more than twice as fast as the rest of the globe.  ( http://eastcountymagazine.org/why-san-diegos-east-county-global-warming-... )  In this second article, we'll measure the success of past solutions.  In the final article of this series, I'll suggest solutions.

BRIBERY SCANDAL ENSNARES CARLYLE GROUP & RIVERSTONE HOLDINGS: PARENT COMPANIES BEHIND OCOTILLO WIND AND QUAIL BRUSH PROJECTS

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 9, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--Corporations behind the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility  and the failed Quail Brush gas-fired power plant in San Diego are being sued in federal court amid revelations of bribery allegations and a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

SOLAR POWER INSTALLATIONS SOAR ACROSS U.S.

 

East County News Service

December 9, 2014 (Washington D.C.)--Installation of solar photovoltaic energy in the United States grew 41 percent last year – with 1,354 megawatts added last year, the Solar Energy Industries Association reports.  The U.S. now has a whopping 16.1 gigawatts of photovoltaic, plus another 1.4 gigawatts of concentrating solar power capacity.

SANDAG VOTES TO APPEAL TRANSPORTATION PLAN DECISION TO STATE SUPREME COURT

 

East County News Service

December 7, 2014 (San Diego)—By a 20 to 1 vote, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) has voted to appeal a ruling on its 2050 Regional Transportation Plan to the California Supreme Court.  Oceanside Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery cast the lone vote against filing the appeal.

SUPERVISORS VOTE TO EXTEND TRAIL SYSTEMS AND ADD GNATCATCHER HABITAT

 

California Gnatcatcher, Photo via Wikimedia Commons

East County News Service

December 4, 2014 (San Diego)—San Diego County Supervisors voted this week to approve purchase of 345 acres of open land to extend trail systems and to protect habitat for the endangered California gnatcatcher.

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