CB Green Report: Federal Bailout Won’t Make A Dent in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Problems

California Water Salazar

Last week Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the federal government would provide California with $260 million to help update its antiquated water system and finance projects to relieve the state’s water woes. And California stands to receive a substantial portion of the $135 million in grants allocated for state water recycling and reuse programs. In essence, California is getting a water bailout.

There’s no questioning the fact that California’s water system needs the money. And with the recent placement of the Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta as the most endangered river system in the nation by American Rivers, it’s apparent that the state needs all the help it can get.

California’s massive system of reservoirs, pumps and canals, built a half century ago, was designed for a population half the size of the state’s 37.7 million, Salazar said after a helicopter tour of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the Associated Press.

However, the question that begs asking is – will the federal stimulus funds fix the Delta problems?

Spreck Rosekrans, an Economic Analyst for the Environmental Defense Funds, thinks the spending should be scrutinized because many of the problems associated with the environment in general and water projects in California and in the West in particular are that they’ve been paid for with subsidized dollars. And he bets that these projects would not have been cost-effective if the people who benefited from them had to pay for them. In fact, the projects would not have been constructed at all – like some of the California dams.

“We’ve sort of been on this campaign to get good sound economics into the environmental equation, said Rosekrans about the mission of the nonprofit organization, Environmental Defense Fund, which is known for using science to evaluate environmental problems as well as develop and advocate solutions in what many experts call a “nonpartisan, cost-efficient and fair” manner.

“Thinking that if we do so, we’ll make smarter choices. It’s not the only factor of course but it’s important.”

(more…)




CB’s Green Report: California’s Water System Gets Federal Bailout
Salazar & Schwarzenegger.jpg

Big news for California and its water supply — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar pledged $260 million in federal stimulus money to help California modernize its outdated water system and ease its water problems.

Salazar and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger went on a helicopter tour of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Wednesday. The federal official saw first-hand California’s overtaxed water system of reservoirs, pumps and canals (designed to supply water to only half of the state’s 37.7 million population), which were built more than 50 years ago.
The federal funds will help California deal with the drought and institute an updated system.

“It is time to modernize, it is time to make hard choices and it’s time for the federal government to re-engage in full partnership with the 21st century water system for the state of California,” he said to the Associated Press.

Salazar plans to use money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to create jobs in California and aid its water supply problems.

“From boosting water supplies and improving conservation to improving safety at our dams, these shovel-ready projects will make a real and immediate difference in the lives of farmers, businesses, Native American tribes and communities across California,” Salazar said to Reuters.

(more…)




CB’s Green Report: Drought Conditions Worsen Southwest Water Crisis

As if the fight over water from the Colorado River and Lake Mead could get any worse in the Southwest, the area is facing extreme drought conditions. A recent USA Today article reports that January and February 2009 are the driest beginning of any year since America started keeping precipitation records over a century ago. These low water levels are causing severe droughts in Texas and California, which exacerbates the water crisis in the Southwest.

USA-Today-drought-map-320.jpg

The map reflects the exceptional (brown-red), extreme (orange) and severe (dark yellow) water problems in California, Nevada and Texas.

USA-Today-Precipitation-Map320.jpg

Richard Heim, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center told USA Today that the 2.69-inch average rainfall across the U.S. in January and February is the least amount of moisture in those months since NOAA began keeping records in 1895.

USA-Today-Drought-Record-sm.jpg

The current dry spell started in Central Texas in 2007, and hit California along with the rest of the Southwest in 2006. Los Angeles only received 3 inches of rain during 2006-2007, its driest year on record.

As a result of these prolonged drought conditions in California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a drought emergency in February 2009.  For the first time in 15 years, Los Angeles is planning to implement a water rationing system – achieved “through price-enforced household conservation and tough new lawn watering restrictions.”

“The level of severity of this drought is something we haven’t seen since the early 1970s,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in unveiling his city’s drought plan, which also would put more water cops on the beat.

And to save endangered fish populations, the courts are reducing the amount of water taken from rivers (Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta water source in Northern California). Water officials also decided to cut their Sierra Mountains water source pumped to cities and irrigation districts by 85 percent according to Reuters. These measures highlights the growing tensions between farms/agricultural water uses and animals as well farms/agricultural versus urban/metropolitan water needs.

Thus, another major loser in the water fight are farmers and ranchers.

California farmers lost more than $300 million in 2008 and economic losses may accelerate to 10 times that this year as 95,000 people lose their jobs. Farmers will get zero water from the main federal supplier (Reuters).

As farms continue to suffer, major Southwest cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix are growing in population. People are moving to the warm sunbelt.

“For the last few years, the driest states, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, have been the fastest growing. And you know that can’t be sustained,” said James Powell to Reuters.  Powell is the author of “Dead Pool,” a book about global warming and water in the U.S. West.

It’s not surprising that California, the world’s eighth-largest economy, uses enough water to cover the state of Washington in a foot of water.  And approximately 80 percent of the water is used by farms growing crops like organic lettuce and rice. The drought induced water cutback to the farms will cause a dramatic decrease in California’s agricultural production —- which has serious economic implications as well as food supply ramifications.

And to make matters even worse, the droughts are making California more vulnerable to wildfires.  Last year, a record 500,000 Southern Californians had to vacate their homes because of fires.

State officials are using prison inmate crews to clear away brush and create fire breaks around communities to reduce the risk of wildfires, said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (USA Today).

A water shortage, drought conditions, fewer crops and the potential for fires is a red flag for an impending disaster.




CB’s Green Report: Obama Means Business on Green Energy

It only makes sense that this week’s Green Report focus on the environment and the Obama administration after his joint session of Congress address on Tuesday. The Pres has some big ideas to help the environment. In fact, his top priority was energy, which includes producing more renewable energy and reducing America’s dependence on oil from the Middle East. Woo hoo!

shaleland

Colorado Oil Shaleland

So, it comes as no surprise that President Obama is reversing more of former President George W. Bush’s policies on oil shale. In fact, his Administration recently removed the leases for another round of oil-shale development projects on federal lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. Ken Salazar, Obama’s Interior Secretary, withdrew a proposal for additional research and oil shale leases due to economic and environmental concerns. He thought the previous proposal in January for research and development on 1.9 million acres was flawed. Salazar told MSNBC that new proposals will “help answer critical questions about oil shale, including about the viability of emerging technologies on a commercial scale, how much water and power would be required, and what impact commercial development would have on land, water, wildlife, and communities.” Now, that’s environmentally responsible leadership.

And President Obama has plans to put his money where his mouth is. His proposed budget, released by the White House recently, would call for $15 billion a year to develop clean-energy technologies, which include solar and wind power. The funding to fight climate change and the country’s dependence on foreign oil would come from auctioning off carbon pollution permits, starting in 2012 (more on this below). Obama’s commitment to tackling climate change is fantastic but Congress is ultimately in charge of the budgeting. And the House and Senate haven’t written a bill yet that regulates greenhouse gases and collects money to do so. Let’s see what Congress and the President can devise to stop global warming.

factory_moe

Environmental change calls for big bucks and a new funding system. To pay for his environmental budget to fight global warming, Obama proposes a “cap and trade” system. Basically, the federal government would require companies like power plants and industrial facilities that emit greenhouse gases linked to global warming to purchase permits. It’s like a costly swap-a-roo. If a company exceeds their greenhouse gases limit (read: cap), then they must buy credits from those that are emitting less.

This new revenue stream could bring in $78.6 billion to the Treasury by 2012. And the auctioning of emission allowances as outlined by the Obama plan is predicted to usher in a whopping $645.7 billion between 2012 and 2019. This is no small change and no small difference. The plan would “cut total emissions 14 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050.”

And Obama’s thinking of the little guy too. His proposed plan would take 80 percent of the anticipated revenue (or $526 billion) and subsidize the higher energy costs of low- and middle-income folks through tax credits. And the rest of the dough would go towards alternative, clean energy initiatives. Good thinking Pres!




Missed Obama’s Economic Recovery Speech Tuesday? Find it here!

If you happened to miss President Obama’s speech last Tuesday, please check out the video below. In his joint session of Congress address, he offered a plan for economic recovery that included a focus on energy, healthcare and education. Check out his speech below!





The Green Report: Animals, Appliances and Archrivals

The fight over the environment continues. Round 1: Palin vs. Judd. In one corner we have the beautiful actress Ashley Judd and in the other one there’s Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. These ladies are not sparring off on presidential politics. No, this time it’s all about wolves and bears – or rather, killing them from airplanes. Judd is the new spokesperson for Defenders of Wildlife. She’s in a video (see below) where she goes off on Palin and Alaska’s predator control program.

Obama is making more moves on the energy front. This week, President Obama ordered the Energy Department to revise the energy standards of nine appliances: ovens (including microwave ones), lamps, beverage vending machines, residential dishwashers, commercial boilers and commercial air conditioners. These changes will make the appliances more energy efficient and reduce global warming emissions for the planet. And the Prez is thinking about consumers’ pockets too.

“This will save consumers money, this will spur innovation and this will conserve tremendous amounts of energy,” Obama said in remarks at the Energy Department, where he briefed staff on his plan for a new energy economy.

Way to go President O on the energy front.

ibex

Extinct. Resurrected. Extinct Again. That’s the story of the Spainish Ibex, a member of the mountain goat species. The Ibex was declared extinct back in 2000 after the last one was found dead in Spain. However, before it’s death, scientist preserved some of its DNA (yes..a bit weird). The scientists then used domestic goat genes in eggs to clone a female Pyrenean ibex (or bucardo). Tah dah! Dead extinct animal cloned..well not quite. Sadly, the baby ibex kid died shortly after birth. A little spooky but this experiment gives hope to scientists that want to clone animals on the brink of extinction.




CB’s Green Report: Stop Crying Detroit & Build Greener Cars

gmc_yukon_denalifront_left_view2007 Toyota Prius Touring Edition

GMC Yukon Denali vs. Toyota Prius Hybrid

Waaah Waaah Waaah Detroit
. Automobile makers are crying the blues at President Obama’s interest in imposing stricter emission standards on their vehicles. The president recently “ordered the government to reconsider whether California and other states could regulate vehicle emissions to help control greenhouse gas emissions, a reversal of a position taken by the Bush administration.” (At the moment, automakers say only the Toyota Prius hybrid and similar vehicles would meet those standards.)

In true Obama form, he emphasized his willingness to work with the carmakers to meet his administration’s goals: energy independence and stopping global warming.

“Let me be clear: Our goal is not to further burden an already struggling industry,” Obama said at the White House according to MSNBC. “It is to help America’s automakers prepare for the future.”

American automakers claim the emission modifications could potentially put them out of business because they would have to stop producing the larger, gas-guzzlers (read: more profitable vehicles). Although GM and Chrysler just borrowed billions of dollars from the federal government, it appears they were counting on the fat price tags of their less fuel-efficient and not low greenhouse gas emission vehicles like Cadillac Escalade (MSRP mid $60,000′s), Hummer truck (MSRP $60,000-70,000′s), and even the Saab 9-5 (MSRP $40,000′s).

“I think this is the pathway to their survival,” David Doniger of the National Resources Defense Council said to the New York Times. “If carmakers are going to survive in a world of volatile oil prices and global warming, they have to be making more efficient vehicles. When the economy comes back and people start buying cars again, they’re going to expect that gas prices are going to go up, and they’re not going to want the gas hogs that they used to want. Consumers’ tastes have changed in terms of what’s cool.”

Hey Detroit, you proved that you could make a hybrid Escalade. Surely, you can get to work on updating the technology for the rest of the cars, which gives options for larger families and is better for the environment. After all, Americans are paying for it – to the tune of $17.4 billion.

In other news…


Former Vice President Al Gore is urging Congress to support legislation to cap greenhouse gas emissions. In his recent testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Gore warned the government to not get so blindsided by the economic crisis that they forget to work on international global warming initiatives. In fact, he reminds them that “the economy, terrorism and the Iraq and Afghan wars are linked by a common thread – our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels.” In addition to the greenhouse gas emissions cap, there is another solution that both Obama and Gore agree on: the President’s economic stimulus plan. Obama’s proposal includes investments in clean energy and green jobs that Gore and others think will help the U.S. economy. Green thinking could add up to more green..dollars that is.

Check out Gore’s recent testimony before Congress on greenhouse gases.




CB’s Green Report: Science and Politics

greenpeace-land

How about politics played in the name of science and the environment? The environmental group, Greenpeace, recently led a coalition that bought the land designated for the expansion of London’s Heathrow airport. The group, which included actress Emma Thompson, owns the land that was allocated for Heathrow’s third runway. The director of Greenpeace, John Sauven, told the Associated Press that the new owners would never sell the land to the airport or government. The environmental group is concerned about the increase in greenhouse gases from the increased air traffic. They’ve written: Our Climate, Our Land on the property. The disagreement has ended up in the British Cabinet, which “appears divided over the issue, which pits environmental concerns — and Britain’s commitment to controlling climate change by reducing carbon emissions — against economic growth and job creation.”

Not politics as usual for the environment? During Lisa P. Jackson’s (Obama’s nominee) recent confirmation hearing to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.), she promised that scientists would not take the back seat to political decisions. Jackson vowed that the environment and science would come first under her leadership. Both Jackson and Senator Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, claim the Bush Administration let politics interfere with sound environmental policy.

“Science must be the backbone of what E.P.A. does,” Ms. Jackson said in her prepared opening statement according to the New York Times. “If I am confirmed, I will administer with science as my guide.”

We wish you the best Ms. Jackson, but somehow politics always rears its head – for better or for worse.

gray-wolf

And in animal news…. In the eleventh hour, the Bush Administration recently announced its plans to remove the gray wolves in the western Great Lakes and northern Rocky Mountain regions from the federal endangered species list. However, the gray wolves in Wyoming will remain on the list because the state hasn’t provided adequate protections for the species. Although some scientists claim the wolf populations have rebounded, environmentalists and animal rights groups think this plan could be a last ditch effort to remove federal protections.

And now that you’ve started on your green resolutions for 2009, how about a detox? We all had a lot of fun during the holidays. We probably drank and ate too much. Some of you may be interested in getting those toxins (like excessive alcohol, smoking, caffeine, etc.) out of your system. Well, Planet Green offers 5 ways to detox your mind and body, which may “help you lose weight, think clearly and feel good.” The site suggests cutting out processed foods, caffeine, alcohol; breaking a sweat; and even doing yoga. Maybe one of those detoxification methods would work for you!




CB’s Green Report: Penguins & Protest

Protection for some penguins but not “Happy Feet.” According to a recent AP story, the Bush Administration is proposing to add six penguin species to the endangered species list and one species, the African penguin, to the threatened species list. Yet, the stars of “Happy Feet” and “March of Penguins”, which are northern rockhopper and emperor penguins, have been denied protection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These poor penguins  will not be listed under the 1973 Endangered Species Act. Although grateful for the seven penguin protections, environmentalists are unhappy with the decision to not protect more penguin species. The government claims there isn’t sufficient evidence to warrant protections for certain penguins. “‘Penguin populations are in jeopardy, and we can’t afford to further delay protections,’ said Brendan Cummings, the oceans program director for the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, which requested in November 2006 that the administration protect a dozen penguin species.”

More greenies step up to Obama’s environmental challenge. President-elect Barack Obama is continuing to build his pro-environment team. He recently selected John Holdren, a Harvard University physicist, as his presidential science adviser. And Obama chose Jane Lubchenco, an Oregon State University marine biologist, as head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Both selections will be announced formally December 20. Political and environmental analysts think Obama’s recent choices, Holdren and Lubchenco, means he is likely to reverse Bush’s energy and global warming policies.

Let the protest begin. In Utah, the Bureau of Labor Management (BLM) has put up 132 parcels totaling about 164,000 acres for the auction of oil and gas drill leases. Environmentalists and concerned citizens are protesting the sale because “it threatens the state’s wild lands and will bring drilling rigs within view of some national parks.” These groups and even actor Robert Redford are also upset about the so-called “fire sale” because they claim the details were announced only two months ago and the process is too hasty. The auction is occurring only a month before Bush leaves the presidency. More than 100 protesters stood outside the auction with signs reading “Protect Wild Utah” and “Our Home Is Not for Sale.”

Are you still holiday shopping? Treehugger has a great list of gifts for greenies who are also health nuts. Some of the suggestions include Eco Mats, which are “free of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the unhealthy petroleum product linked to cancer and birth defects.” Or there is the green tea set for the friend or family member that’s into the health benefits of green tea or reducing their coffee intake. The site also features gift suggestions for almost anyone on your list. So, there’s still time to purchase gifts that are good for you and the environment.




CB’s Green Report: Post Turkey Day News

Free veggies anyone? More than 40,000 people showed up to pick free vegetables left over from the harvest at a Colorado farm about 37 miles north of Denver. The farm owners expected about 5,000 to 10,000 people to pick a few carrots and potatoes last Saturday. Instead, more than 11,000 cars showed up and the people picked the fields clean. Owner, Ms. Miller, told the Denver Post, “Overwhelmed is putting it mildly. People obviously need food.”

And in Los Angeles recently, Mayor Villaraigosa revealed his long-range plan to generate “enough solar power to meet one-tenth of the city’s energy needs by 2020.” His goal could be achieved if solar panels are installed on public and private energy generating facilities as well as on residents’ homes. This initiative will also help the city’s Department of Water and Power reduce its use of fossil fuels, like natural gas and coal, and benefit global warming reduction efforts. If the Mayor’s plan were successful, Los Angeles would become the “hub of the solar-energy industry.”

The White House may become a “green” house. In the recent Barbara Walters interview with President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, Obama said that he wants to make the White House green. He plans to work with the chief usher for house and evaluate his new home’s energy efficiency. When asked why the focus on greening the house, Obama said, “Part of what I want to do is to show the American people that it’s not that hard.”

Global warming is a global concern. Although the global economy is in the pits right now, HSBC bank’s second annual global poll found that 43 percent think climate change is a bigger problem than the financial crisis. And 78 percent of those polled want their countries to do their “fair share” of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Although the global citizens polled want their governments to fight global warming, invest in renewable energy (55 percent), and participate in climate talks (27 percent), as individuals, these people are less willing to change their own lifestyle than last year (47 percent in 2008 vs. 58 percent in 2007). Have they ever heard the expression that change begins with YOU?

So if you are a big greenie, where can you meet like-minded individuals? Funny you should ask. There is a new social networking site called Greenwala. The site is designed to help people learn more about being green, brag about their green works with family and friends.




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My Maltese puppy; lazy Sunday mornings; a day at the Beach; Yoga; breakfast anytime of the day; my gurls (and you know who you are); my family (I’m a daddy’s girl); making new friends; Los Angeles & Washington, DC; ocean views; Anguilla; healthy foods that don’t taste healthy; politics; "greenie" things; meditating; natural curls and movies.

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  • profileCARAMEL BELLA: This is my place to write about my adventures and mis-adventures in this thing called life. I discuss my passions: the environment, politics, art & culture, writing as well as yoga, health and spirituality. The one thing you can expect from this blog is that it is not what you expected. Thanks for reading! To reach me email thecaramelbella at gmail.

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