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.