December brings connotations of the holiday season. Office parties, vacations, holiday shopping, football bowl games, family gatherings, overeating, lighting the menorah, and Christmas lights and trees. For Heal the Bay, this December is anything but a time to ease into the new year. As always, there is our push for year-end giving. Tis the season for charitable write offs. Also, once again, Heal the Bay is spearheading the Day Without a Bag event. Over 25,000 bags will be given away at over 150 locations throughout L.A. County on Dec. 16 as a reminder to bring reusable bags whenever you go shopping. Once again, partners include L.A. County, Los Angeles, other cities, retailers, grocers and other environmental groups. This year, the event has spread across much of the state with counties from San Diego to San Francisco participating.
However, this December is as busy as any previous December I can remember. Tomorrow, the city of Los Angeles Energy and Environment committee will finally hear the Low Impact Development ordinance. The Department of Public Works-crafted ordinance has been ready to go since January, but it is finally coming up tomorrow morning. In essence, the ordinance will require new and redevelopment to capture and use or infiltrate 100 percent of the runoff generated by a three quarter-inch storm. If the LID ordinance gets approved by city council, the long term benefits for L.A. and the region will include improved water quality, enhanced flood control, greener communities and augmented groundwater supply.
On Dec. 10, the State Lands Commission is scheduled to vote on Chevron’s EIR to continue mooring oil tankers off its El Segundo refinery. The vote could just be to approve or deny the EIR, but the Commission can modify terms of the annual lease (Chevron only pays a little over a million bucks a year to unload crude and park tankers in the middle of Santa Monica Bay) or grant them a lease of up to 30 years. Chevron is pushing hard to get approval ASAP because the composition of the State Lands Commission changes from Governor Schwarzenegger, Lt. Gov. Maldonado, and Controller Chiang to Governor Brown, Lt. Gov. Newsom and Chiang in January. A 30-year lease at a million bucks a year is bad economic business for California. A smarter play would be to grant a 10-year lease and for the state to obtain the true economic value of leasing the Bay to Chevron for its corporate economic gain. Also, Heal the Bay commented on numerous safety issues and oil spill response issues pertaining to Chevron’s continued long term operation of the mooring.
On Dec. 14, the State Water Resources Control Board is scheduled to vote on an amendment to the Once Through Cooling policy for power plants. The ink on the existing policy is barely dry, but LADWP is seeking regulatory relief from the policy through a broad and precedent setting amendment rather than proceeding through the process laid out in the existing policy — a result of over five years of studies, hearings, guidance from the energy regulators, and workshops. Three other power companies have sued for regulatory weakening, so the policy is definitely under attack statewide. A successful amendment to the policy at a time before the policy has ever been used would open the floodgates for power companies to get their own regulatory relief from the policy. Heal the Bay is pushing hard for the State Board to require DWP to go through the policy process in the spring rather than approving a policy gutting amendment on the 14th. The USEPA and about 20 environmental and fishing industry groups also oppose the amendment.
On Dec. 15, history could be made at the California Department of Fish and Game Commission hearing in Santa Barbara. The Commission will vote on a final Marine Protected Area network for Southern California. The two year process has been quite contentious and the recommended network does not fully meet the Scientific Advisory Team’s guidelines. However, the compromise network, with very weak protection off of Palos Verdes and a disappointing level of protection off of Catalina, has been approved by the Blue Ribbon Task Force and vetted by the Commission. If the vote follows form for the previous MPA networks, the Commission should approve the Integrated Preferred Alternative on the 15th. The end result would be an MPA network that covers two thirds of the California coast. The Southern California network generally meets scientific guidelines for the rest of the region and includes some extraordinary areas like the submarine canyon off of Point Dume. Most importantly, the network would provide significant protection for marine life in state waters that should lead to significant recovery of numerous depleted populations and to more robust ecosystems in California coastal waters.
No matter what, this will be a December to remember for coastal waters and watersheds. Hopefully, those memories will be good memories. Other than that, there isn’t much going on in the marine conservation and pollution prevention arena locally this month. Just eggnog, candy canes, unwrapping gifts, and opening holiday cards. Happy holidays.
Filed under: Environmental Education, Environmental Leaders, Heal the Bay, L.A. DWP, Legislation, Marine Life, Marine Protected Areas, MPAs, Oil, Plastic, Power Plants | Tagged: Chevron, Day Without a Bag, Low Impact Development, MPAs, once through cooling |