Please Pull the Plug…

epavideogame_1I guess Heal the Bay has been going after beach pollution in the wrong way over the last 20 years.  We’ve tackled the problem by authoring numerous statewide beach pollution bills, working with state Sen. Fran Pavley and the Davis and Schwarzenegger administrations to create and fund the Clean Beach Initiative to clean up California’s most polluted beaches, advocating for beach bacteria Total Maximum Daily Loads, and consistently upgrading our Beach Report Card.

But I guess the EPA under the Bush administration had the solution to beach pollution the entire time. Check out http://www.epa.gov/beaches/kids/games.html.

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Septic Policy

toilet1Nine years ago, I worked with then-Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson and the California environmental health agencies to draft Assembly Bill 885,which finally required the State Water Board to regulate water quality from septic systems in a systematic way.  Shockingly, the state had never required water quality performance standards for septic systems.  The cornerstone of the bill put tougher requirements on septic systems near nutrient and fecal bacteria impaired waters. It placed minimal siting, design and construction requirements on septic systems throughout the state, e.g. no more cesspools or wooden septic tanks.  The bill was written in response to beach and creek water quality problems caused or exacerbated by poorly operated, designed or sited septic systems.  Surfrider Beach and Malibu Lagoon, and Rincon on the Ventura-Santa Barbara county border were high-profile examples.

Nine years later, the State Water Board still hasn’t approved the regulations required by AB 885.  There were two multiple stakeholder negotiation processes that failed to reach agreement on final regulations.  The board has come out with numerous draft regulations, but it never approved them.  Recently, the panel came out with draft regulations and an Environmental Impact Report on the regulations.  I am convinced that the regs and the EIR were designed to upset anyone that has an on-site wastewater treatment system, regulates those systems at the local government level, or swims in waters polluted by such systems.  In short, the document pisses off everyone.

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Hope Over Fear

barackThe Golds were an FDR household. Both my Mom and Dad were born in Chicago soon after the beginning of the Great Depression and FDR was their President for their first 13 to 15 years of life.  During a time of unparalleled financial hardship followed by unprecedented global conflict, FDR was perhaps our most powerful president ever.  Notwithstanding some horrific decisions like the internment of Japanese Americans, FDR was a benevolent dictator that helped create Social Security, insured savings, the Conservation Corps and massive public works projects across the nation.  Putting people to work and giving them confidence that government would help the people through difficult times was the mission of the FDR administration. FDR started out his first term with the immortal line, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

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The Definition of Insanity

Cap Lady & Bag Monster (Santa Monica High School students) testified at the hearing making light of the hypocrisy of saving the plastic bag.

Cap Lady & Bag Monster (Santa Monica High School students) testified at the hearing making light of the hypocrisy of saving the plastic bag.

Late into the night Tuesday — the temporal fate of most environmental measures in Santa Monica — the Santa Monica City Council delayed the first reading of an ordinance that would ban the distribution of plastic bags after receiving a last-minute opposition letter from the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition. 

The draft ordinance called for a ban on single-use plastic bags and a fee on single-use paper bags within six months of final approval.  All good stuff, and the most far-reaching bag ordinance in the country.  In response, opponents sent a 17- page letter that threatened litigation if Santa Monica approved the bag ordinance without a full-blown EIR.

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License to Kill

toxicitystudy_cover_150x195On January 8, 2009, Heal the Bay released a report on the current state of the aquatic toxicity program in the Los Angeles region.  The report took about a year and a half to put together and never could have happened without an enormous amount of help from local Los Angeles Regional Water Board staff in getting mountains of data for our review. 

As you may have heard, the results are not pretty – a lot of the effluent coming from local sewage treatment plants and refineries is toxic to aquatic life.

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