A Religious Awakening

Justice delayed is justice denied.

I’ve been going to temple since I was 3 years old. Although our family is very involved in the University Synagogue community, I’m certainly not a devout and strongly observant Jew. In fact, I always felt more Jewish by culture (lots of meals at Junior’s, Canters and Zucky’s growing up) than by faith.

I’ve always been struck by the fact that so much of the local environmental leadership is Jewish (Andy Lipkis, Felicia Marcus, David Nahai, Adi Liberman,  Fran Diamond, Madelyn Glickfeld, the late Dorothy Green, Sara Wan, David Beckman, Laurie David, and so many more). Clearly, the importance of social action in the community means a lot more than Tikkun Olam and Tu Bishvat.

Yet personally, the environmental ethics and priorities of the local Jewish community has never strongly influenced or impressed me. Until recently.

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No Poo at the ‘Bu

The septics prohibition - a major step towards cleaner water at Surfrider Beach

The septics prohibition - a major step towards cleaner water at Surfrider Beach & Lagoon. Photo: Jon Shafer

On Tuesday afternoon, the California State Water Board voted unanimously to support the Regional Water Board’s prohibition of on-site wastewater plants in the Malibu Civic Center area. Commercial facilities must be off septics by 2015 and residential sites must be off by 2019.

Opposition to the action was strong with Malibu’s City Attorney threatening litigation if the State Board upheld the prohibition. Malibu City Council members, local residents and the business community all opposed the prohibition citing cost concerns and Malibu’s new found commitment to Clean Water. Continue reading

Saving Surfrider

Citizens speak out for clean water at Surfrider.

The Surfrider Foundation, Malibu Surfing Assn., Santa Monica Baykeeper and Heal the Bay held a joint press event Thursday morning focused on cleaning up chronically polluted, iconic Surfrider Beach. More than 50 Surfrider locals joined the environmental and surfing groups at the rally, bringing  attention to the two decades of “F” Beach Report Card grades at California’s most famous beach. Everyone echoed the common-sense edict that a day at the beach should never make you sick.

The Battle of the Bu has been going on even before Malibu became a city 18 years ago. The history has been filled with broken promises from Malibu officials about moving forward and recycling wastewater in the Civic Center area instead of relying on septic systems and on-site wastewater treatment systems. One delay after another has occurred. The city most often cites lack of funding as an excuse for making no progress on a water recycling plant. During the decades of inaction, no beach or coastal lagoon has been the site of more studies — ranging from groundwater contamination to fate-and-transport studies to health effects analyses.

Finally, last year, the Regional Water Board passed a resolution prohibiting on-site wastewater treatment at all commercial properties in the Civic Center by 2015 and all residential properties by 2019. The residential ban, in particular, has been strongly opposed by the city and many residents.

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Nature’s Prescription

Thar she blows! Blues are teeming in South Bay now.

Despite my therapeutic summer vacation in Alaska, I have been feeling extremely bitter because of recent environmental events, with little faith in humanity’s ability to preserve nature and protect public health.  The American Chemistry Council’s successful multimillion-dollar campaigns to safeguard the rights of infants to ingest the potential carcinogen BPA and marine life’s right to swallow or become entangled in plastic bags would make any environmentalist angry.  Throw in LADWP’s legislative shenanigans to sidestep California’s once-through- cooling power plant policy and the city council and anyone can see why I’ve been feeling a bit cynical.

 Then came last Sunday. The Blues helped beat away the blues.

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State Senate: Industry Bagmen

The state Senate failed our urban waterways, such as the trash-strewn Compton Creek.

By now you’ve heard the horrible news that AB 1998, which would’ve banned single-use plastic bags at supermarkets and other selected retailers statewide, went down to defeat by a 21-14 vote in the California state Senate last night.  The bill garnered global attention as the world waited to see if the so-called Golden State could once again lead the way on environmental protection and sustainability. The Heal the Bay-sponsored measure also received unprecedented coalition support  from grocers, retailers, unions, cities, counties, and environmental groups. But the vote wasn’t close. 

Our staff and supporters worked round the clock to pass the bill, and it didn’t even matter.  Thousands of people called or wrote their state senators in support, and it didn’t even matter. Our ad agency partners at DDB crafted the brilliant “The Majestic Life of the Plastic Bag” mockumentary, which hundreds of thousands of people viewed, and it didn’t matter. The state’s elected leadership — Gov. Schwarzenegger, Senate pro-tem Steinberg and Speaker Perez — supported the bill, and it didn’t even matter.

With such an unprecedented organization effort, how did the bill fail so miserably?

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