Media Splash

Media attention rightly places heat on the Hump's owners. Photo:

About 100 outraged protesters came out to the beleaguered Hump restaurant during lunchtime today, shouting their displeasure with the Santa Monica eatery serving endangered whale meat. The Hump didn’t even bother opening due to the buzz surrounding the protest. 

Sea Shepherd organized the rally and members of  “The Cove” production team, Pelican Rescue and PETA all turned out in force. A couple of folks came dressed in Orca costumes, amid shouting and protest signs that included “Dump the Hump,” “Free Willy,” “The Hump Blows” and “Just Sei No!”  One sign included owner Brian Vidor’s supposed phone number.

Sea Shepherd will continue holding court at The Hump all day and into the night.

Media coverage of the protest was extensive, including broadcasters from Japan. Keeping the public pressure on the restaurant encourages the strongest possible actions from the Feds, which have filed charges against the restaurant for violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Hopefully, the Feds will seek at least $200K fines and jail time.

Also, Santa Monica’s city attorney should report back to the City Council at the March 23 meeting about possible action against the Hump, which sits on city-owned land. Short of putting human body parts on the menu, there isn’t anything worse than serving whale to restaurant customers. So business license revocation or lease termination are critical potential actions that the Santa Monica City Council could take. Stay tuned for possible Santa Monica government action.

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In Credible

Melting glaciers speak for themselves. There's no need for so-called experts to embellish the truth in soundbites.

Overly zealous scientists, politicians and enviros embellish the truth in order to make a point all too frequently. The controversy over exaggerated or incorrect facts and dates on the global impacts of climate change is just the latest example. The truth twisting has to stop.  It hurts the cause.  It creates distractions and inertia in a time when degradation is the dominant direction of most ecosystems.

The environment is screwed up enough that there’s no need to stretch the truth. I first shared that thought with Heal the Bay’s founding president, Dorothy Green, following a press conference on sewage spills in the late 1980s. Dorothy overstated the impacts of sewage spills in Santa Monica Bay at the event. The Bay was a mess. Large sewage spills and beach closures were commonplace, even during the summer. Bottom-dwelling fish like white croaker and Dover sole had tumors and fin rot.  A dead zone sat in the middle of the Bay.  She didn’t have to exaggerate. The horrific facts were enough to inspire people to take action.

That advice I gave to Dorothy long ago still rings true.

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Steamed With the L.A. Times

The Times ignores that the Scattergood power plant in El Segundo is in violation of the Clean Water Act.

The Los Angeles Times finally ran its long-awaited article on the state’s proposed rule to phase out California’s ecologically devastating once-through cooling power plants over the next 12-14 years. Not surprisingly, reporter Jill Leovy missed the point.

She omitted any discussion of the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act to use Best Available Control Technology to reduce larval entrainment and fish impingment in power plants. Federal courts all the way up to the Supreme Court have upheld the requirement, under section 316b of the act.

And once-through cooling (OTC) doesn’t fit anyone’s definition of Best Available Control Technology. Energy plants that use OTC literally suck the life out of the ocean, diverting millions of gallons of seawater via intake pipes to cool themselves. Somehow, the fact that every coastal power plant in California is in gross violation of the Clean Water Act didn’t get included in the article.

The Times piece didn’t include any information from the reporter’s interviews with the State Water Board or the energy agencies (California Energy Commission, Public Utilities Commission and the California Independent System of Operators) that support the draft policy.

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Apocalypse Now

Does end of world mean the end of HtB?

As a father of three, I end up going to a lot of movies. Last weekend, I saw the world nearly destroyed in the action film “2012.” Not that I’m biased, but the highlight of the movie is definitely the annihilation of Los Angeles. As John Cusack drives a gravity-defying limo through the crumbling Westside, two Heal the Bay billboards crash violently to the ground (check out 1:33 in this trailer).

I guess if the world is coming to an end, healing the bay becomes less of a priority. Besides, after director Roland Emmerich gets done with L.A., I’m pretty sure Santa Monica Bay no longer exists post apocalypse. In the film, the Santa Monica Pier (including our aquarium!) and my neighborhood slide into the abyss of what’s left of the bay. (Tragic indeed. I can’t even imagine the fecal bacteria counts after the 10.9 quake.)

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I Give Up!

What's Evian spelled backwards?

What's Evian spelled backwards?

Heal the Bay has spent years fighting the environmental scourge of marine debris. We’ve organized thousands of beach and river cleanups and we led the fight for the California Ocean Protection Council’s Marine Debris Action Plan.  In addition, we’ve fought for bans on Styrofoam and plastic bags and we came up with a flotilla of bills tackling marine debris.  All of this effort was in response to the environmental consequences of our addiction to single-use plastic packaging.

Now that I’ve seen the incredible roller-skating, rapping baby ad for Evian water, I’ve reconsidered Heal the Bay’s position.  Clearly, flying over French water in petrochemical plastic packages makes people feel young again.  Climate change be damned.  Those babies are so darned cute and boy can they skate!

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Grading the Media

press_sf_carolann_500x375Last week marked an interesting time for me.  I missed my first Beach Report Card press conference in 19 years to complete a leadership fellowship with the Aspen Institute. As the 20th approached, I felt a combination of anxiety and anticipation. I wanted to be at the press conference in Santa Monica, but I couldn’t be in two places at once.  I also wanted to see how well Heal the Bay staff would do without me serving as the lead spokesperson on California’s beach water quality issues.

The end result?

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The Coolest Guy in the Room

xin_5620306202011390701623Yesterday, I was lucky enough to attend the Obama town-hall meeting at the home of the Cobras: Miguel Contreras High School in downtown L.A. Jeff Carr, the city’s gang czar, reverend and friend, kicked off the afternoon’s festivities with a rousing, moving speech. Then, as at any big game, a singer belted out the national anthem.

By now, the crowd had already been worked into a frenzy. Mayor Villaraigosa and Gov. Schwarzenegger hyped the heavyweight champ: the President of the United States.

A deafening roar of applause and shouts of adulation enveloped Obama as he walked through the crowd. The electricity felt as if Springsteen or Bono had walked on stage.

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