Crisis Averted

The DWP came to its senses on AB 1552.

Last week the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power gutted and amended a pending state bill (AB 1552) and inserted new language that would have significantly eased newly established rules for how power plants suck in ocean water to cool themselves.  DWP leaders went on the offensive against these regulations, even though an existing city policy on Once Through Cooling legislation doesn’t exist. They moved forward without a city council vote on the proposed legislation. (And in an interesting bit of timing, lawmakers introduced the measure just as the L.A. City Council commenced its two-week summer break.) 

Instead of trusting public process, which considered both economics and grid reliability, the DWP crafted AB 1552 as a cynical exemption that applied only to itself. If the bill became law, DWP would have been able to skirt the intent of the new policy by receiving severely weakened flow reduction targets for its OTC plants in comparison with similar facilities statewide.  The utility even had the nerve to write in a new definition of technical feasibility that is completely inconsistent with the federal Clean Water Act and last year’s Supreme Court ruling on the issue.

Fortunately, the DWP came to its senses late this week and dropped the offensive gut-and-amend legislation, thereby averting a horrible precedent at the state legislature. Even before the clandestine backroom shenanigans began in Sacramento, DWP initiated discussions with the State Water Board last week. Discussions on the DWP compliance plan strategy were promising enough this week to lead the utility to shelve the bill.

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Crunch Time for AB 1998

We’re rounding third and headed for home. After pulling out all the stops (and clichés) by “trashing our friends” and sharing the joys of the natural history of “The Majestic Plastic Bag” (200,000 views and counting of the Jeremy Irons voiceover homage to Attenborough), AB 1998 needs 21 votes in the Senate to pass. A simple majority.

With the measure having the support of the California Grocers Assn., the grocers union, numerous counties and cities and the entire environmental community, you would think that the days of the plastic bag would be numbered. Unfortunately, like those Damn Yankees, never count out the American Chemistry Council: the evil empire of the lobbying world.

In a new low of cynicism, the ACC is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars opposing AB 1998 through a cynical multimedia campaign. Check out the 30- second blast that’s been polluting the Sacramento airwaves! That puts Hannity’s ravings to shame!

More clichés: It is crunch time. We’ve come this far in our quest to ban the scourge of the seas.  Let’s close the deal.  We need your help! I implore you to call your local state Senator and urge them to support AB 1998. The vote is this week, so there’s no time to waste, not even a moment to spare.

Don’t let the polluters buy their way out of yet another environmental regulation.  Enough is enough.  Call your state senator now!

Into the Wild

Alaska's Exit Glacier Trail: a scenic hike thousands of miles from L.A. both literally and figuratively

Sorry about the blog blackout, but I just got back from a family vacation to Alaska. My first trip to the land of Denali, fjords and tundra didn’t disappoint. I’ve dreamed of going to Alaska since my fifth-grade report on Seward’s Folly.

I went on my first cruise (as painful as I thought, but we saw incredible wildlife and glaciers) and visited Glacier Bay National Park. The naturalist on board struggled to provide a reason for glacial recession. I guess climate change hasn’t quite infiltrated the cruise ship spiel the same way as Bingo Night and Oktoberfest promotions.

On the cruise excursions to Ketchikan (site of the proposed bridge to nowhere!), Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and College Fjord we saw grizzlies eating coho and black bear gobbling sockeye at salmon runs, numerous bald eagles, Steller’s sea lions and sea nettles (kayaking). We also witnessed a dozen humpback whales, including six feasting on salmon at a current convergence.

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