State's clean fuel standard poised to drive growth in biofuels industry
September 12, 2012 (Washington D.C.) – Despite a challenging year, the advanced biofuels industry continues to grow, according to a new report from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2). Biofuel production capacity has increased from 437 million gallons last year to more than 685 million gallons, the report shows. By 2015, the industry has the potential to produce 1.6 billion to 2.6 billion gallons of clean, renewable fuel.
By Jackie Hanson
September 12, 2012 (Lakeside)--Hi, I’m Jackie! I’m retired, but I keep busy tending a sizable property (that I try to coax into various gardens with mixed results) and caring for many animals (chickens, ducks, goats, horses, cats, and a dog). I’m also an artist and aspiring interior decorator, and I have so many plans and ideas that I can only hope to live long enough to bring them to fruition!
I’ve decided to write a column to share with anyone who’s interested in getting better at living less wastefully. I’m calling it “Becoming Green” because although I try to be a good steward of the earth, I am far from fully achieving that goal. In fact, I’m probably a lot like you, trying to do my bit to recycle and waste less water, but fighting an uphill battle, with bad habits that are hard to break and a busy life that distracts me from doing more.
September 11, 2012 (La Mesa) -- The Environmental Sustainability Commission invites students to enter the “Our Planet, Our Home” Environmental Literacy & Art Contest.
In this Centennial year, the students (our future!) are challenged with a theme: Big changes start with small steps, and every great development starts with a vision or dream. What solutions or inventions can you dream up to shape the kind of world you want to pass on to the youth of the next century?
E - The Environmental Magazine
Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss
September 11, 2012 -- Dear EarthTalk: Which are the most eco-friendly and non-toxic (to people, cats and sanitation systems) cat litters? -- Sam Barnes, Macon, GA
It makes sense that environmentally enlightened cat owners would want cat litter made from natural products that will not potentially compromise their health or that of their beloved pets. Many mass market cat litters contain significant amounts of silica dust which has been linked to upper respiratory issues in cats and even humans. Likewise, the chemical fragrances in many cat litters can also be toxic to cats.
September 9, 2012 (San Diego) – A new website, www.turbinesonfire.org, has been launched to raise public awareness about the dangers posed by wind turbines that explode into flames or are struck by lightning.
According to co-founder Sherri Langue with the North American Platform Against Wind, the site “acts as a red flag…to alert folks about this already looming and horrific, unregulated problem. Imagine the impact with thousands more turbines in North America.”
By Nadin Abbott
September 8, 2012 (San Diego)—There was tension in the air as the two legal teams got ready to present their case before District Judge William Q. Hayes.
Community Advocates for Renewable Energy Stewardship (CARES) lawyer, William Pate, observed, “This case is not about energy policies or government programs, it’s about the rule of law.” Pate argued that the government has to be ruled by laws, and that “it is no more complicated than that.” He also argued that government agencies, in this case the Bureau of Land Management, are run by people and that people make mistakes.
September 8, 2012 (San Diego) – The BLM expects to finalize its plan to fast –track solar projects as early as this month while ignoring written protests filed by several environmental groups (as previously reported by ECM http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/node/10908). The projects affect more than a quarter-million acres across six Southwestern states, including California.
September 5, 2012 (San Diego) – Smart City San Diego and the San Diego Zoo today announced they will install a solar photovoltaic canopy that will charge electric vehicles (EV) in the Zoo parking lot. Smart City San Diego is a collaboration that combines the resources of San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), City of San Diego, GE, UC San Diego and CleanTECH San Diego to drive projects forward that improve the region’s energy independence, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and assert San Diego as a clean energy leader.
ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS FILE FORMAL PROTESTS OVER FEDERAL PLAN TO EXPEDITE DESERT SOLAR PROJECTS IN 6 WESTERN STATES
by Terry Weiner
August 31, 2012 (San Diego)--Ocotillo California is an apron of desert fanning out broadly from the base of the rugged Jacumba and Inkopah Mountains, ninety miles east of San Diego and 60 miles west from Yuma Arizona. After winding down 16 miles of Interstate 8 from the agricultural town of Jacumba at 3,000 ft. to the desert floor at 500 ft., you will be treated to a view of a spectacular and relatively uncluttered Colorado Desert landscape. On a rare clear day, you can see the blue of the Salton Sea about 40 miles away. Mexico is just south on the other side of the Jacumba Mountains.
August 30, 2012 (Rancho San Diego)—The Water Conservation Garden invites the public to enjoy its 2012 Fall/Winter calendar of classes and events. Gardening classes help residents save water and money by focusing on water-smart landscaping techniques and plants. Classes are taught by professionals, with offerings for both adults and children. Pre-registration is required for all classes. To enroll call 619-660-0614 x 10. Below are descriptions of upcoming offerings on everything from landscape design basics to raising urban chickens.
Unsafe wiring and shallow foundations among hazards listed; where are the project's engineers?
By Miriam Raftery
August 28, 2012 (Ocotillo) – An attorney representing homeowners in Ocotillo has sent a “notice of dangerous conditions of public property” to San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). The letter alleges that at the Ocotillo Express wind project, Pattern Energy is in the process of burying over 80 miles of electrical lines “without the use of any conduit or casement to prevent electrocution.”
Photos taken by ECM photographers indicate lines are only 18-20 inches deep – far shallower than the 48 inches required by the project Environmental Impact Report. In addition, the letter alleges that turbine foundations are too shallow, that massive grading has caused flooding, and that these designs were done without licensed engineers signing off on key project components.
Governor , who wants to “crush” opponents of big energy projects, called CEQA reform “Lord’s work”
“Governor Brown is dangerous to the financial and environmental health of California, and I am extremely disappointed in his short-sightedness.”--Laura Cyphert, Cedar Fire Survivor and cofounder of the East County Community Action Coalition
By Miriam Raftery
August 23, 2012 (Sacramento)—In a stealth effort that shocked enviornmentalists, business groups succeeded in gutting a bill in the State Assembly and inserted language to essentially repeal the California Enviornmental Quality Act (CEQA) . The measure passed the Assembly yesterday and advanced to the State Senate. But today, State Senate President Darrell Steinberg and the bill’s author, Michael Rubio, held a press conference to announce that the measure will not be taken up before the end of the legislative session next week.
Sierra Club California director Kathryn Phillips voiced relief, calling SB 317 “one of the worst attacks on environmental protections that we’ve seen in the 40-year life of the law.”
WIND TURBINES ARRIVE IN OCOTILLO AS RESIDENTS COMPLAIN OF “DUST BOWL” , THIRD WORLD CONDITIONS AT PATTERN ENERGY'S OCOTILLO SITE
Story by Miriam Raftery; photos by Jim Pelley and Parke Ewing
"I feel like we are living in a third world country." -- Jim Pelley, Ocotillo resident and ECM photographer
August 23, 2012 (Ocotillo) – Workers have begun constructing the first of 112 industrial wind turbines near the small town of Ocotillo on federal Bureau of Land Management property adjacent to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
But as towering turbines eclipse mountains and desert skies, dust released from scraping desert soils bare and excavating massive turbine foundations have residents complaining that their community has been turned into a “dust bowl” while government officials turn a blind eye to conditions that pose hazards to their health.
FEDS DRAW CRITCISM FOR HEARINGS ON SACRED SITES: TRIBES ASK WHY NO RECORDINGS WERE MADE NOR NOTES TAKEN
Tribal representatives say Interior Dept. is not sincere about resolving concerns over sacred site desecrations by renewable energy projects on public lands
By Miriam Raftery
August 21, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)—Why did the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) host the first in a series of five “listening sessions” with Native American leaders ostensibly to address tribal concerns over impacts of renewable energy projects on public lands—yet didn’t bother to take notes or record the sessions?
Why are no listening sessions scheduled in California or anywhere near our state, where some of the most controversial renewable energy projects are being built atop the graveyards of Native Americans’ ancestors?
August 21, 2012 (Ocotillo)--Pattern Energy has begun clearing beautiful desert near Anza-Borrego State Park for the nearly 16 square mile Ocotillo Express Wind project. Once completed, the facility will consist of 112 wind turbines, each one standing over 400 feet tall, and requiring wide new roads carved into the fragile desert soil.
Photographer Phillip Colla gives us a birds-eye view of the beginning phase of the destruction with a series of images available at his website. The photos were made possible by aviation support provided by LightHawk.
Reposted with permission; original published August 14, 2012 at http://www.mojavedesertblog.com/2012/08/desert-lands-policy-wind-industr...
By Shaun Gonzales
August 20, 2012 (Mojave Desert)--If you have been listening to the past few stakeholder conferences for the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) -- an inter-agency effort to protect desert ecosystems while identifying areas suitable for renewable energy in California's deserts -- then you know that representatives from the California Wind Energy Association (CalWEA) sound disappointed as their plans to industrialize much of California's desert wildlands meet resistance. Some of the DRECP's proposed development focus areas would only accommodate 2-17% of the nearly 2 million acres to which the wind industry initially requested access. The wind industry expressed frustration during the meetings, wondering aloud why they cannot bulldoze desert, carve hundreds of miles of new roads, and set up massive wind turbines standing over 400 feet tall across public lands.
DEPT. OF ENERGY TO ISSUE PRESIDENTIAL PERMIT FOR ENERGIA SIERRA JUAREZ CROSS-BORDER TRANSMISSION LINES
By Miriam Raftery
August 19, 2012 – Yesterday the Federal Register included notice that the U.S. Department of Energy has announced it will issue a Presidential permit to Energia Sierra Juarez U.S. Transmission, LLC (ESJ) to construct, operate, maintain and connect a 230 kV electric transmission line across the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego’s East County. Read the notice: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-08-17/html/2012-20234.htm
August 18, 2012 (San Diego's East County) -- The following presentation is available to anyone wishing to offer it to an organization that wishes to support improved fire safety for our region through adoption of an emergency resolution.
Click here to view the presentation.
Click here to view the resolution, which is initially being presented to the San Diego County Democratic Party's Council of Clubs and Central Committee, but can be adopted by any organization.
By Miriam Raftery
August 14, 2012 (Ocotillo) – Like a mirage rippling across the desert, they came.
A caravan of vehicles rumbled into the Ocotillo Express wind construction site on Saturday, filled with area residents and tribal members from across the southwest prepared to form a blockade to halt the project that is destroying their community. They came from as far away as Yuma, Arizona, and Los Angeles to take a stand in the sand.
But on this sweltering August morning, the bulldozers were silent—and the protesters claimed victory.
August 14, 2012 (Escondido) – The fire season has started and it’s important to be prepared. Waterwise Botanicals, 32183 Old Highway 395, Escondido is offering a free seminar on August 25 on “Fire Safe Landscaping with Succulents”. The seminar will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and will be held outdoors.
COURT HEARING SEPT. 7 FOR RESIDENTS SEEKING TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AGAINST OCOTILLO EXPRESS WIND
Pattern has created an “imminent harm to public safety”, suit alleges
By Miriam Raftery
August 14, 2012 (Ocotillo) – The U.S. District Court in San Diego will hear a case filed by a group of Ocotillo residents, Community Advocates for Renewable Energy Stewardship [CARES] requesting a temporary restraining order to shut down construction on Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Express wind project.
According to the suit, a Pattern Energy employee filed a declaration revealing that Pattern never engineered or submitted final grading plans. The wind developer claimed “very little actual grading” while in fact grading 149 acres of underground trenches, 286 acrsd of turbine pads and 42 miles of roads, some three times as wide as the project approvals allowed.
Plaintiffs allege that Pattern and the Bureau of Land Management “have created an imminent harm to public safety by approving the installation of the cheapest and weakest type of wind turbine foundation…without geotechnical or structural engineering to ensure compliance with State and Federal standards.”
August 13, 2012 (San Diego) - East County Magazine editor Miriam Raftery was interviewed last week by KPBS radio regarding the County Supervisors' impending vote on Tule Wind and related issues.
Listen to that interview here: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2012/aug/08/tule-wind-project-key-vote/. Hear a followup story on the vote approving the controversial project here: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2012/aug/09/tule-wind-project-gets-green-light/.
TAKE A STAND IN THE SAND: PROTESTERS SEEK TO SAVE OCOTILLO & OTHER PUBLIC LANDS FROM DESTRUCTION SATURDAY MORNING
By Miriam Raftery
August 9, 2012 (Ocotillo) -- Ove 360 million acres of public lands are targeted for industrialization with renewable energy development. Among the first of these large-scale projects is Ocotillo Wind, a 12,500 wind project now under construction just over the San Diego-Imperial County line on the border of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park that has left horrified residents convinced this is anything but green.
"Ocotillo is the beginning--and must be the end. San Diego mountains and wilderness are next for destructive energy projects," reads a flyer that asks the public to join in a "Take a Stand in the Sand" event on Saturday, August 11 at 7 a.m.
Indeed, today San Diego Supervisors voted to approve the Tule Wind project in McCain Valley, the first of several industrial wind projects proposed in San Diego's East County.
Energia Sierra Juarez Substation and Cross-Border Transmission Lines Also Approved in East County
By Miriam Raftery
“This will impede firefighting efforts to a frightening degree…a wind-drive fire is not going to stay in the backcountry. We must not roll the dice…There are other, safer alternatives….I also have serious problems about an energy policy that depends on the stability of Mexico.” –Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who voted against both projects
“I’m opposed to green energy…I don’t think the Department of Energy should be putting subsidies in this….but the state has mandated renewable and we have to comply.” – Supevisor Bill Horn, who voted for both projects
August 9, 2012 (San Diego) – The irony was enormous. San Diego’s Board of Supervisors yesterday spent much of the morning debating whether cell phone towers five feet taller than current ones would mar community character on Mount Helix. In the afternoon, three of the five Supervisors then threw county height limits to the winds—voting to approve 500-foot-tall industrial wind turbines in scenic McCain Valley over the objections of numerous backcountry residents.
By a 4-0 vote, Supervisors also approved a power substation and cross-border transmission lines designed to bring power up from the massive Energia Sierra Juarez wind project proposed in Mexico.
Company ties, history of fires and failures, raises troubling questions
By Miriam Raftery
August 6, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – After researching problems with Gamesa wind turbines and blades, ECM asked Iberdrola PR representative Michelle Sinning whether Iberdrola plans to use Gamesa products at the Tule Wind site in McCain Valley.
“I haven’t heard anything about Gamesa,” Sinning said. She indicated she would obtain a statement and get back to us by tonight's deadline (she didn't), but added that Iberdrola will not make a decision on which suppliers to use until after contracts are signed in order to have flexibility to take advantage of the best “pricing and innovations” on the market.
Perhaps Ms. Sinning should do her homework.
By Miriam Raftery
August 2, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)—On Wednesday, August 8, San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors are expected to hold hearings on two controversial projects in East County. Supervisors will weigh whether to overturn a Planning Commission recommendation not to approve five industrial wind turbines on private land as part of the larger Tule Wind project in McCain Valley.
The Board is also expected to hear an appeal filed by residents asking Supervisors to reject the Planning Commission’s approval of the Energia Sierra Juarez cross-border Gen Tie (power lines) major use permit.