Monday, October 4, 2010

Proposition 23

Proposition 23, which would suspend AB32, is on the November 2, 2010 ballot in California as an initiated state statute.

AB32 is known as the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The act, passed by the California State Legislature and signed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, is California's landmark clean air legislation. AB32 requires that greenhouse gas emission levels in the state be cut to 1990 levels by 2020. The process of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the state is slated under AB32 to begin in 2012.

Proposition 23, if enacted by voters, will freeze the provisions of AB32 until California's unemployment rate drops to 5.5% or below for four consecutive quarters. California's unemployment rate, which currently hovers around 12%, has been at 5.5% or below for four consecutive quarters just three times since 1980.

Read a summary of the ballot measure, a list of its major supporters and those who oppose it, and listings of donors and donation amounts for and against at

Costliest School in the Nation

Historic L.A. Hotel Finds New Life As School Campus
Karen Grigsby Bates, National Public Radio, September 13, 2010

Several elementary schools, high schools, and K-12 schools now make up the new Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools campus, located in one of the poorest, most densely populated parts of California.

The campus' six schools have been the focus of considerable criticism. The price tag for the entire campus totals approximately $578 million. And in a state awash in waves of red ink, that has attracted a lot of notice.

There have been detailed descriptions of the professional-quality science labs, the giant swimming pool and the chic faculty dining room (on the site of the Ambassador's coffee shop, designed by the city's most prominent African-American architect, Paul R. Williams).

Some critics have said, "They could have built a good school for a lot less."

Georgia Lazo, principal of one of the K-12 schools on campus, says, "It's a great facility and our kids deserve it, our community deserves it," she says.

The schools were built on a site formerly occupied by the hotel where Robert Kennedy was assassinated. Once the hotel was razed, officials realized the assassination wasn't the only bad luck at the site-- a methane gas field was discovered under the building. All told, the city paid $33 million to mitigate the problem.

Most state and local governments do not have the funds or property available to build schools on greenfields, however, as this and the Carson-Gore school case demonstrate, site selection guidelines and proper environmental due diligence can help prevent unplanned and costly investigations and remediation.

Read more here. (And here.)

New LA School Built on Contaminated Site

New school campus devoted to environmental themes
Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2010

The $75.5-million Carson-Gore Academy of Environmental Sciences opened this September for about 675 students. However, critics say the campus' location poses a long-term health risk to students and staff. School officials scrambled to replace contaminated soil with clean fill, remediate groundwater, install vapor mitigation and air monitoring systems, and put a 45 foot barrier in place between the school and a gas station prior to opening, adding up to a cost of about $4 million.

Construction crews were working at the campus up to the Labor Day weekend, replacing contaminated soil with clean fill. All told, workers removed soil from two 3,800-square-foot areas to a depth of 45 feet, which was impacted from over a dozen underground storage tanks that used to serve light industrial businesses in the area.
The underground tanks of an adjacent gas station may be an additional source. In addition, an oil well operates across the street, but officials said they've found no associated risks. Like many local campuses, this school also sits above an oil field, but no oil field-related methane has been detected. Groundwater about 45 feet below the surface remains contaminated but poses no risk, officials said.

Read more here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A New Type of Hybrid

Building on the success of the first hybrid tug launched into service at the Port of Long Beach in 2009, Foss will retrofit an existing tug with hybrid technology for service in San Pedro Bay, thanks to a $1 million grant from the California Air Resources Board. The project will be implemented through a partnership between Foss, the Port of Long Beach, and the Port of Los Angeles.

Foss will retrofit the Campbell Foss, a conventional dolphin tug currently assisting oceangoing vessels in the San Pedro Bay. The goal is to achieve significant reductions in pollution emissions while enhancing fuel efficiency and operational capabilities. Projected annual emissions reductions per year include:
  • More than 1.7 tons of diesel particulate matter
  • More than 53 tons of oxides of nitrogen
  • More than 1.2 tons of reactive organic gases
  • More than 1,340 tons of carbon dioxide
In addition, more than 100,000 gallons of diesel fuel will be saved each year.

Read more here. (Found via TriplePundit.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

More Open Space

East Bay district opens new Dublin Hills park
Caroline Jones, SF Chronicle, July 22, 2010

The East Bay Regional Park District has opened its newest park, Dublin Hills. The park, Dublin's largest, is 520 acres of grassy ridgetop just west of downtown. It boasts views of San Francisco, Mount Tamalpais, Mount Diablo and all points in between.

For a century, much of the land has been ranched by the Machado family. But over the past 20 years, the park district chipped away at the acquisition with easements and negotiations that culminated in this month's $2.5 million purchase.

Dublin Hills was a critical acquisition because it potentially will link to Pleasanton Ridge and the Calaveras Ridge Trail, a 30-mile ridgetop path from Las Trampas in Alamo to Mission Hills in Fremont.

Read the complete article here.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Making the Case for Ecosystem Services Valuation

Nature, Volume 465, Pages 985–986

On June 14, 2010, BP pledged $20 billion to an escrow account to pay for damage caused by the April 22, 2010 sinking of its Deepwater Horizon drilling platform off the coast of Louisiana. The beneficiaries of this fund are expected to be fishermen, hoteliers, charter-boat operators, and other Gulf-coast business owners who have lost income, as well as states and other entities with clean-up costs.

However, whether payment will ever be made for the loss of 'ecosystem services' is unknown. Ecosystem services benefit everyone but are owned by no one, such as the carbon sequestration provided by marsh plants and ocean plankton, or the buffering that coastal marshes provide to nearby communities from the Gulf's many hurricanes.

The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska raised similar questions, and sparked a flurry of research in the once-obscure discipline of ecological economics, which seeks to estimate quantities such as the 'replacement cost' of an ecosystem — or even an individual organism. (For example, killer whales cost $300,000 at the time; cormorants were $310.) The Gulf oil spill seems likely to inspire another surge of research in this field.

Ecological economist Robert Costanza at the University of Vermont in Burlington has already estimated a $34 billion to $670 billion price tag for the loss of Gulf ecosystem services.

Read more in "A Full Accounting", in the June 24, 2010 issue of Nature.

EPA Sets Stronger National Air Quality Standard for Sulfur Dioxide

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing a final new health standard for sulfur dioxide (SO2). This one-hour health standard will protect millions of Americans from short-term exposure to SO2, which is primarily emitted from power plants and other industrial facilities. Exposure to SO2 can aggravate asthma and cause other respiratory difficulties.

The EPA is setting the one-hour SO2 health standard at 75 parts per billion (ppb), a level designed to protect against short-term exposures ranging from five minutes to 24 hours, revoking the current 24-hour and annual SO2 health standards in the process.

The EPA is also changing the monitoring requirements for SO2. Any new monitors required by this rule must begin operating no later than January 1, 2013, and modeling as well as monitoring will determine compliance with the new standard.

EPA estimates that the health benefits associated with this rule range between $13 billion and $33 billion annually. These benefits include preventing 2,300 to 5,900 premature deaths and 54,000 asthma attacks a year. The estimated cost in 2020 to fully implement this standard is approximately $1.5 billion.

Read the full press release.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Another Reason to Buy Organic Strawberries?

(besides that they typically taste better)

The State of California has proposed approving the strawberry fumigant methyl iodide. The state would require further, stringent regulations on the use of the soil fumigant, going beyond the federal rules that allow for its use in other states. But the stricter measures have done little to quell the fears of opponents.

Methyl iodide is a replacement for methyl bromide, a pesticide that is known to contribute to depletion of the ozone layer and is being phased out under the Montreal Protocol on ozone-depleting substances. Methyl iodide is an effective pesticide and ozone-friendly, but it is a known mutagen, and it could cause cancer, nerve damage or fetal-development problems among workers and people living near fumigated fields.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the fumigant in October 2007, finding it safe for use. But a report by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) concluded in 2009 that the compound posed "significant health risks". The DPR commissioned an independent review, which stated amongst its findings that "adequate control of human exposure would be difficult, if not impossible". Nevertheless, the DPR decided on 30 April that further restrictions would make methyl iodide safe enough for use.

Read more here, in Nature News.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

NREL's Top 10 List of Green Power Programs

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released its annual assessment of leading utility green power programs. Under these voluntary programs, consumers can choose to help support additional electricity production from renewable resources such as wind and solar.

According to the NREL analysis, more than 850 utilities across the US now offer green power programs. Utility green power sales in 2009 exceeded 6 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), and represent more than 5% of total electricity sales for some of the most popular programs. Wind energy represents approximately two-thirds of electricity generated for green energy programs nationwide.

Using information provided by utilities, NREL developed a Top 10 list of utility programs for 2009 in the following categories:

  • total sales of renewable energy to program participants
  • total number of customer participants
  • percentage of customer participation
  • green power sales as a percentage of total utility retail electricity sales
  • lowest price premium charged for a green power program using new renewable resources

Ranked by renewable energy sales (kWh/year), Austin Energy in Austin, Texas sold the largest amount of renewable energy in the nation through its voluntary green power program. Rounding out the top five are Portland General Electric (OR), PacifiCorp (OR and five other states), the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (CA), and Xcel Energy (CO, MN, WI, and NM).

Ranked by the percentage of customer participation, the top utilities are City of Palo Alto Utilities (CA), Portland General Electric, Madison Gas and Electric Company (WI), the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, and the City of Naperville (IL).

NREL analysts attribute the success of many programs to continued efforts to raise awareness of the availability of green power options and the decrease in the rate premium that customers pay for green power. The average net price premium for utility green power products has decreased from 3.48¢/kWh in 2000 to 1.75¢/kWh in 2009.

See additional rankings and read the full press release here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

State of the Air 2010

Cities across the US are showing success in the fight for healthy air. But despite these gains, the American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2010 report concludes that healthy air remains elusive for most US cities.

The 11th annual report finds that 58 percent of Americans – more than 175 million – live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution. A decade of cleanup measures, including reductions in coal-fired powered plant emissions and the transition to cleaner diesel fuels and engines have paid off in cutting levels of deadly particle and ozone pollution. But some cities, mostly in California, had air that was more polluted than in the previous report.

Read more about the State of the Air report at the American Lung Association website. Also read the AP article about the findings here.

New California Geologic and Fault Maps

In honor of the agency's 150th anniversary, the California Geological Survey has issued new geologic and fault maps of the state.

The new maps are interactive and linked to Google Maps, enabling users to select faults and specific geologic areas of interest. The agency is preparing even more high-tech versions that will enable users to better zoom in to specific areas and specific faults. The new maps will be released online to the public soon.

Read an article about the new maps on SFGate.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Earth Day (or Week or Month) Events Near You

April 21 (Wednesday) - Earth Day Eve 2010: Creating a Healthy Future. Featuring John & Ocean Robbins, Mark Dubois, food, wine and live music. 7:00 pm Wed. $15 at the David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley.

April 22 (Thursday) - NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences, 6:00 - 10:00 pm. This NightLife is an extension of the Academy’s week-long Earth Day celebration. Among the activities included are a “green games” competition where you can test knowledge of environmental topics such as recycling and the carbon cycle to win some fabulous prizes, including tickets and signed baseballs from the SF Giants. Features music from DJ and Producer Michael Anthony and Drunken Monkey DJing downstairs in the Aquarium.

April 22 (Thursday) - The Oakland Public Library will give free reusable canvas tote bags. All library branches, Oakland. (510) 238-3134.

April 23 (Friday) - Bike-In Movie Night at Whole Foods, Oakland, 7:00 - 11:00 pm. A night of film and bikes benefiting the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. Featuring the films FOOD INC. at 8:00 pm and SILENT RUNNINGS at 10:00 pm.

May 1 and 2 (Saturday/Sunday) - Oakland Museum of California Re-Opening Celebration, Oakland, 2:00 - 6:00 pm. Continuous (31 hours!) round-the-clock free programs and events. Valet bike parking available.

May 2 (Sunday) - Urban Assault Ride, 9:00 am - 2:00 pm. A truly unique cycling event, quickly becoming one of the biggest in country. You and your teammate will set out on a city-wide quest for 'checkpoints' on your favorite two-wheeled steeds. At each checkpoint, you'll drop your bikes and complete a funky/adventurous obstacle course, then remount your bikes and hit the streets for more. The goal is to complete all the checkpoints in the shortest amount of time. Starts at Martin Luther King JR Civic Center Park, 2151 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Berkeley, California.

May 13 (Thursday) - Bike to Work Day. Urban cycling workshops, raffles, energizer stations, bike convoys, free repairs, and a pancake breakfast at Frank Ogawa Plaza. From 5:30 - 8:30 pm there is also the Bike Away from Work party on Telegraph Avenue in front of the Fox Theater. Features the Crucible's Art Bike Program, Beyond Bikes Art Exhibit, Cyclecide Heavy Pedal Bike Rides & Show, music, raffle prizes, awards, food and beer from Trumer Pils Brewery in Berkeley.

ARB’s Updated AB32 Scoping Plan Economic Analysis

A revised version of the EAAC Economic Impacts Subcommittee Report on ARB’s Updated AB32 Scoping Plan Economic Analysis is now available.

A public meeting to update the Board on AB32 Economic Analyses will be held on April 21, 2010 as a continuation of the March Board Meeting Agenda Item 10-3-6.

Date: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Time: 1:00-5:30 pm
Sierra Hearing Room, 2nd Floor, CalEPA Building
1001 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

ARB staff, experts and stakeholders will discuss several economic analyses relating to AB32. This Board agenda item will include an overview of recent economic studies of the implementation of the AB32 Scoping Plan and an opportunity for public comment. The agenda for the Board meeting can be found here.

Click here for further information on the EAAC.
Click here for additional information on ARB’s Updated AB32 Scoping Plan Economic Analysis.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Green Chamber Sponsors An Evening with Bill McKibben

The Green Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring an evening with author Bill McKibben on Thursday, April 22, 2010.

Twenty years ago, with The End of Nature, Bill McKibben offered one of the earliest warnings about global warming. Those warnings went mostly unheeded; now, he insists, we need to acknowledge that we've waited too long, and that massive change is not only unavoidable but already under way. Our old familiar globe is suddenly melting, drying, acidifying, flooding, and burning in ways that no human has ever seen. We've created, in very short order, a new planet, still recognizable but fundamentally different.

Bill McKibben is the author of The End of Nature, Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age, and Deep Economy. A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he writes regularly for Harper's, the Atlantic, and the New York Review of Books, among other publications.

The event will be held at Dominican University of California, San Rafael. There is a special reception at 5:30 pm at Creekside. Doors to Angelico Hall open at 6:00 pm and the lecture begins at 7:00 pm. The lecture and book signing are free. There is no RSVP, and seating is limited.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Report on AB32's Health and Economic Benefits

Minding The Climate Gap: What's at Stake if California's Climate Law isn't Done Right and Right Away
Manuel Pastor, Rachel Morello-Frosch, James Sadd, and Justin Scoggins, April 2010

Minding the Climate Gap: What's at Stake if California's Climate Law isn't Done Right and Right Away details how incentivizing the reduction of greenhouse gases—which cause climate change—from facilities operating in the most polluted neighborhoods could generate major public health benefits. The study also details how revenues generated from charging polluters could be used to improve air quality and create jobs in the neighborhoods that suffer from the dirtiest air.

The report is published by PERE, the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Environmental Economics

Paul Krugman has written an article for the New York Times Magazine on the economics of environmental protection and mitigating climate change.

An excerpt:
Like the debate over climate change itself, the debate over climate economics looks very different from the inside than it often does in popular media. The casual reader might have the impression that there are real doubts about whether emissions can be reduced without inflicting severe damage on the economy. In fact, once you filter out the noise generated by special-interest groups, you discover that there is widespread agreement among environmental economists that a market-based program to deal with the threat of climate change — one that limits carbon emissions by putting a price on them — can achieve large results at modest, though not trivial, cost. There is, however, much less agreement on how fast we should move, whether major conservation efforts should start almost immediately or be gradually increased over the course of many decades. 
Read the complete article here.

Visit the Sustainable Remediation Forum (SURF) Links page for links to additional information and reports on environmental economics, life-cycle assessment, sustainable and green remediation policy, and more.

California State Parks Foundation Newsletter

Monday, April 12, 2010


Wednesday, April 14th, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Frank Ogawa Plaza, 14th & Broadway, in front of Oakland City Hall

Free lunchtime event bringing together local green businesses, environmental groups, artists, and agencies.

Sponsored by the City of Oakland Public Works Agency.
For a complete list of participating groups:

EXPO Community Art Photo Event commemorating Earth Day 2010!
Assembly @ 11:30 (Plaza lawn), photo at NOON.

Oakland's Earth Day Timeline - Add your memories and hopes to this interactive exhibit charting environmental milestones and goals from 1970 to 2050!

Recycling opportunities:
  • Mercury Thermometer Exchange at the EBMUD booth. Bring your old thermometer in a zipper bag to prevent spills.
  • Recycle used household batteries at the Oakland Recycles booth next to the City Pavilion.
  • Recycle old cell phones at either the Universal Waste Management table.

Business Leaders needed for the reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act

As a part of its efforts with the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), the Green Chamber of Commerce urges you to support the creation of legislation that fundamentally reforms the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The main federal law that is supposed to ensure the safety of chemicals has not changed in 34 years. According to ASBC, more than 80,000 different chemicals have been produced and used in the US. The EPA has required testing on just 200 of these. Only 5 chemicals have been restricted.

Designing new chemicals to be inherently safer from the outset reduces the costs of regulation, hazardous waste storage and disposal, worker protection, and future liabilities.

Click here to learn more: The Business Case for Comprehensive TSCA Reform

For more information and to get more involved contact David Levine of the ASBC.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

EPA Moves to Revise Drinking Water Standards

The United Nations General Assembly designated March 22nd of each year as the World Day for Water, an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.

Perhaps it was coincidental that yesterday the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it is taking steps to overhaul US drinking water regulations.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced to the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) that the agency is developing a broad new set of strategies to strengthen public health protection from contaminants in drinking water. Specifically, this shift in drinking water strategy is organized around four key principles:
  • Address contaminants as a group rather than one at a time so that enhancement of drinking water protection can be achieved cost-effectively.
  • Foster development of new drinking water treatment technologies to address health risks posed by a broad array of contaminants.
  • Use the authority of multiple statutes to help protect drinking water.
  • Partner with states to share more complete data from monitoring at public water systems.
The EPA also aims to revise the drinking water standards for four carcinogenic chemicals: tetrachloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE), acrylamide, and epichlorohydrin.

There are ongoing efforts on 14 other drinking water standards, including potential revisions to the lead and copper rule, health risk assessments or information gathering for chromium, fluoride, arsenic, and atrazine, and ongoing consideration regarding the regulation of perchlorate.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Oakland City Council to Discuss Climate Action Plan

The Oakland City Council is holding a public meeting on Oakland's Energy and Climate Action Plan on Tuesday, March 30, from 5:30-8:30 at City Hall.

Click here for an overview of the ECAP development process.

Click here for a council meeting schedule.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Oakland Hills Canyon Saved for Open Space

Neighbors' work to save Butters Canyon pays off
Carolyn Jones, San Francisco Chronicle, March 5, 2010

Last week, a group of Oakland neighbors purchased the last of 13 parcels in Butters Canyon, capping a 9-year effort to preserve the 1/2-mile open space in perpetuity.

They did it entirely on their own, raising nearly $800,000 through yard sales, grants, loans and donations.

The Butters Canyon Conservancy, a nonprofit formed by a few dozen neighbors, will maintain the canyon and keep it accessible to bicyclists, hikers, dog-walkers and those just seeking relief from city life.

The effort started in 2001, when a developer planned to build a home in the secluded, steep canyon just south of Joaquin Miller Road. Afraid they'd lose their green oasis, which is also the headwaters of Peralta Creek, neighbors started raising money to usurp development plans.

Most of the funding came through Measure DD, a $200 million bond that Oakland voters passed in 2002. With help from city Councilwoman Jean Quan's office, the conservancy obtained more than $500,000 to purchase four of the properties. Three lots were donated, three were secured through conservation easements and remaining parcels already have homes on far corners.

Oakland has taken advantage of the slumping real estate market to save four other canyons, as well. The city has purchased Castle Canyon, 10 acres near Joaquin Miller Park, 5-acre Beaconsfield Canyon off Ascot Drive, and Dunsmuir Heights Canyon, 62 acres behind the Dunsmuir House.

Read the complete story here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Santa Clara Valley Aims to Recycle More Water

Expanded use of recycled water on tap for Santa Clara County
Paul Rogers, San Jose Mercury News, February 22, 2009

The Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) will vote on a plan today to build a new $52 million recycled water facility at the San Jose-Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant in Alviso that will convert sewage water to high-quality water, producing up to 8 million gallons a day.

The water will be suitable for a wide variety of industrial and irrigation uses, such as watering golf course greens, or redwood trees, which can be sensitive to recycled water's higher salinity, and pure enough under state health laws to recharge aquifers used for drinking water supplies. But that use is not being considered at today's meeting.

"We're not in a hurry to do it. We want to make sure it's what the community wants. We'd need five to 10 years of study," said Keith Whitman, water supply manager for the SCVWD. "And we'll certainly learn from what Orange County did."

Two years ago, the Orange County Water District opened a $485 million recycled water facility using the same treatment method that the SCVWD is now pursuing. The largest such plant in the world, it turns sewage water into 70 million gallons a day of recycled water that is blended with Orange County's aquifers.

To address public squeamishness, the Orange County agency conducted nine years of public meetings and outreach, and got a long list of medical leaders to endorse the project. Other places, however, like San Diego, have seen such projects stall over public opposition.

Read the complete story here:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Top Ten List: Sustainable CEOs

Triple Pundit created and published a (non-scientific) survey on their readership's Top Ten Sustainable CEOs.

The list:
  1. Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia (Owner/Founder)
  2. George Siemon, Organic Valley Company
  3. Mick Bremans, Ecover
  4. Jeffrey Hollender (Former CEO), Seventh Generation
  5. Jan Blittersdorf, NRG Systems
  6. BethAnn Lederer, Working Wonders
  7. John Mackey, Whole Foods
  8. Jeff Lebesch and Kim Jordan, New Belgium Brewery
  9. Eric Schmidt, Google
  10. Ray Anderson (Former CEO), Interface Carpet
The results in themselves spark several questions:
Does the perception of sustainability match the reality?
What do the results say about the consumership of the survey respondents?
How did the respondents balance the CEO's positive contributions to people, planet, and prosperity?

California State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has recently proposed to tie California state parks funding to proceeds from offshore oil drilling. This is a tradeoff that many, including the California State Parks Foundation, find unacceptable.

When a previous gubernatorial budget proposal aimed to eliminate half of state parks’ General Fund in 2009, then take the remaining half in 2010, California faced the likely closure of more than 80% of the entire parks system. Full closures were avoided only because parks users mobilized last summer under California State Parks Foundation's Save Our State Parks campaign.

In a major effort to secure a long-term sustainable funding mechanism, the foundation supports the California State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2010, which is in circulation to qualify for the November 2010 ballot. This funding, when approved by the voters, will provide a stable, reliable, and adequate funding source for the state park system, for wildlife conservation, and for increased and equitable access to those resources for all.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Teaching "Green"

New York City schools put stronger focus on environmentalism
Mireya Navarro and Sindya N. Bhanoo, New York Times, January 10, 2010

Rather than simply covering predictable topics like recycling and tree planting, the Green School alerts students to problems like sooty air and negative media representations of their neighborhoods.

"Green is not just the environment,” Jennifer said. “It's politics, government, social justice."

"We do a lot of things other schools are not doing," said Jose, 15. "I feel like we’re doing something important."

The Green School is a progressive alternative high school in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York that focuses on sustainability, the environment, science, social justice, experiential learning, and career planning. The students are encouraged to delve into local issues that may affect them and their families, like contamination in waterways like the Gowanus Canal, water quality, or the razing of low-scale housing.

"You can't have a kid in a violent neighborhood and say, 'Let's talk about the polar bear,' " said Karali Pitzele, one of the school's two co-directors.


Across the nation, the range of green schools form a fledgling network, finding eager partners in groups like the Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation, which provide lesson plans or money for field trips, and in private and government agencies that are making concerted environmental efforts in communities and cities.

Read the complete article here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

One person's trash is another person's treasure

Did you know that there are a multitude of alternatives to the disposal of materials or wastes, which help conserve energy, resources, and landfill space?

Service providers directly connect one-time or regular generators of traditional or even difficult-to-recycle materials with parties that can use those materials. Instead of paying for hauling and disposal, the generator gets revenue and the recipient gets a resource they need, typically at a lower cost or even for free. A handful of the many opportunities for direct recycling, reuse, and repurposing are listed below.
  • The mission of Califorma Materials Exchange (CalMAX) is to build reuse markets for materials from businesses, organizations, industry, schools, and individuals, and to find markets for nonhazardous materials that may otherwise be discarded. And, CalMAX is free.
  • Pensylvania Material Trader is a free online service established in 2004 by the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers' Environmental Management Assistance Program. This service is intended to help businesses find users for materials they have traditionally discarded.
  • NY WasteMatch is a free service, created and funded by the NYC Department of Sanitation, which facilitates the exchange of used and surplus goods and equipment from organizations that no longer need them to other entities that do.
  • Acting as an information clearinghouse, directory, and marketing facilitator for reusable industrial materials, the Illinois Industrial Material Exchange Service (IMES) deals with waste by-products, off-spec items, hazardous and nonhazardous materials, overstock, and damaged or unwanted materials.
  • The Industrial Materials Exchange (IMEX) matches up business industrial waste generators with waste users in the Pacific Northwest.
  • RecycleMatch is an online market for transforming commercial waste into value. RecycleMatch charges a percentage fee for each match that it makes based on the cost savings and revenue produced from each material match.
  • Biomass Trader is a free network of regional marketplaces (currently Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania) for buyers and sellers, as well as givers and takers, of biomass and biomass-derived products.
  • The British Columbia Electronics Materials Exchange (BC-EMEX) is a program from the Electronics Product Stewardship Association of B.C., Canada, that promotes the exchange (or sale) of electronic items priced from $0 to $99.
  • For more directly useable and commercial materials (for example, unused construction materials), Freecycle might be worth checking out. The Freecycle Network™ is a non-profit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free, made up of 4,873 groups with 6,877,000 members across the globe. Membership is free.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Green Remediation BMPs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Principles for Greener Cleanups outline the Agency’s policy for evaluating and minimizing the environmental "footprint" of activities undertaken when cleaning up a contaminated site. Use of the best management practices (BMPs) recommended in EPA's series of green remediation fact sheets can help project managers and other stakeholders apply the principles on a routine basis, while maintaining the cleanup objectives, ensuring protectiveness of a remedy, and improving its environmental outcome.

The first of the BMP fact sheets were recently released:

  • Site Investigation
  • Pump and Treat Technologies

Links to the BMP fact sheets are available under "EPA Documents and Guidance" on the SURF Links page.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Grace Period for Port of Oakland Truckers

Air board, Port truckers agree on upgrade
Kelly Zito, San Francisco Chronicle, January 5, 2010

A last-minute deal between California Air Resources Board (ARB) and Port of Oakland truckers will allow hundreds of big rigs to operate at the port for two weeks while they work to meet stricter requirements on diesel emissions that officially took effect on January 1st.

Regulations passed in 2007 prohibit large diesel trucks made before 1994 from operating at the state's ports and rail yards and require pricey filters on trucks made between 1994 and 2003.

The ARB said it has located an additional $11 million to aid the truckers. However, last week's showdown between policymakers and the trucking industry will probably play out again in different parts of the state over the next year, when similar rules affecting the rest of the trucking fleet in California - about 1 million trucks - start going into effect.

Read the complete article here: