Dorothy’s Law

About 125 people came out to the beach at Santa Monica Pier on a cloudy Sunday to share their favorite Dorothy Green stories. Some people came as far as San Francisco, Sun Valley and Denver to reminisce about Dorothy’s amazing achievements, tireless work ethic, big heart, and sense of humor. The County Lifeguards paid tribute to Dorothy, the founding president of Heal the Bay who passed away in October, as one of their own with a boat offshore and Capt. Angus Alexander’s inspirational words at the podium.

Any event with Dorothy had to include an environmental action and her memorial was no different. Paula Daniels, Conner Everts and I put together a version of “Dorothy’s Law”: a common-sense legislative solution to California’s dysfunctional water supply management.

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A Bailout Solution

Auto industry executives, from left, General Motors Chief Executive Officer Richard Wagoner; Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Robert Nardelli; and Ford Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally, testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Big Three strike out on the Hill. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The Big 3 domestic automobile manufacturers struck out with Congress on their first attempt at a $25 billion bailout. Not much doubt that they will be back for more at-bats in the coming weeks. Too many jobs at stake and too powerful of a D.C. lobby.

Maybe, just maybe, Congress will condition a bailout to expedite a shift to higher gas mileage cars.  Maybe with local Rep. Henry Waxman as the new chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, there can be a trade of moving the 35 mpg CAFE standards from 2020 to 2015 as part of the deal. That would be a deal worth making.

If Congress can’t come up with a bailout that benefits the environment, then I have a different solution.

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Cynical About the ‘Bu

Malibu Creek, Lagoon and Civic CenterOn Thursday, the Regional Water Board unanimously approved a resolution requiring Board staff to negotiate a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Malibu for permitting on-site wastewater treatment systems (OWTS, or septic systems).  In addition, staff was ordered to move forward on an OWTS moratorium for the Malibu Civic Center area.  Both of these actions must come back to the Board within one year.

The Board and staff are to be commended for moving forward on this critical measure.  Also, props to Malibu for playing nice today.  Mayor Pam Conley Ulich set the tone in her testimony.  Malibu supported the resolution, thereby avoiding a potentially contentious situation.

So why aren’t I happy?

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Now the Hard Work Begins

The Ocean Protection Council, created by the governor to coordinate state efforts to protect our seas in response to Fred Keely legislation, on Thursday unanimously passed its comprehensive marine debris action plan.  This means that a bipartisan California government body has adopted the blueprint for abating California’s contribution to the marine debris crisis. While it doesn’t have the force of law, the plan spells out specific steps the state legislature must take if it is to clean up our oceans.

Despite the fact that 60+ workers from the polystyrene industry were bused in to oppose the plan, the OPC approved the plan with minimal changes.

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Worth the Wait…

dscf00321On Thursday morning, the California Ocean Protection Council will hopefully approve its long-awaited marine debris action plan. The plan was drafted by Drew Bohan, OPC’s executive director and dedicated ocean activist, and state staff in response to the OPC’s far-reaching marine debris resolution nearly two years ago.

Despite the long wait, the plan is pretty good. It calls for the prohibition of polystyrene take-out food packaging, a ban on smoking at state beaches and recommendations for the installation of cigarette butt receptacles at clubs and bars and outside offices, as well as the redesign of single-use packaging to reduce their likelihood of becoming marine debris (e.g. leashed or tethered bottle caps).

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Land of Smoke

dykkeegypt

Diving near Sharm is a respite from polluted skies.

The Aswan Dam in southern Egypt is enormous. On one side sits the 300-mile long Lake Nasser. The lake is teeming with crocodiles and Nile perch, but the Sahara comes right up to its shores. The dam itself is over two miles long and provides hydroelectric power for about 40% of the nation. North of the monolithic structure is the tamed Nile, a series of croc-free lakes created by the dam and the 10 locks between Aswan and Cairo. Like California, agriculture controls the fate of the Nile with wildlife as the loser.

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Greetings from Egypt

Untreated effluent discharging from sugar cane factory into the Nile.

Untreated effluent discharging from sugar cane factory into the Nile.

I’m on a tourist ship floating down the Nile from Luxor to Aswan, and I am not alone. There are dozens of other ships with 150 tourists each from all over the world sharing the same experience at the same time.

The juxtaposition of the modern and the ancient is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The world’s longest river is lined with sugar cane farms, cattle and water buffalo grazing, fishermen in row boats with small nets, and towns with a skyline of mosque minarets. The Nile itself is visibly polluted with the plastic refuse from tourism, agricultural discharges, trash burning on the river banks, and the ever present cattle on the shore. No one swims in the Nile. Egypt’s population is nearing 100 million and nearly all of their water comes from the Nile — and all of their sewage goes right back in.

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