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Tribe and Environmentalists Sue San Diego County Over Landfill Proposal; Call Area Sacred

San Diego County's environmental agency has been sued over contentious plans to build a landfill in the rural, northern part of the county. The proposed Gregory Canyon landfill has motivated an adamant group of opponents to fight the project to the death---day by day. But the private developers of the landfill show no signs of stopping either, as they have been trying to get the project completed for almost two decades. So far, $60 million has already been spent on the plans by Gregory Canyon Ltd. The lawsuit was filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, RiverWatch and the Pala Band of Mission Indians on the grounds that various state laws have been violated by the Department of Environmental Health. The tribe considers areas near the landfill sacred, such as Gregory Mountain and Medicine Rock. The AP reports that Robert Smith, tribal chairman, commented “We must not allow these precious and irreplaceable sacred sites to be desecrated by the Gregory Canyon garbage dump.”

The lawsuit states the following:

“(We) oppose the construction and operation of the proposed landfill for numerous reasons, including that it would forever threaten the adjacent San Luis Rey River and the groundwater resources along the river that supply drinking water to thousands of residents of San Diego County. […] The proposed landfill also would negatively impact air quality, endangered species, traffic an traffic safety ...(would) create unacceptable levels of noise, and desecrate Gregory Mountain and Medicine Rock, two sites considered sacred by the Pala Band...”

Jim Simmons, Gregory Canyon Landfill Project Manager, called the lawsuit, which is the latest trying to stop the landfill, “meritless” and that “This landfill design incorporates the most innovative technology available that both respects and protects its surroundings.” The county recently approved a major permit for the construction of the landfill, a decision that prompted the new lawsuit.

Beach Bummers: Annual Water Quality Report Card; 8 in LA County Receive F Grade

Beach
The summer months are approaching, so it’s as good a time as any to know which of the state’s beaches score well for water quality. The non-profit Heal the Bay has released its annual Beach Report Card and 21 percent of California beaches scored perfect A-plus grades. Overall, most state beaches had good to excellent water quality scores, with 400 of 445 locations receiving an A or B grade during the summer dry time period. However, there is great disparity between dry and wet weather water quality, which Heal the Bay argues is the result of insufficient efforts to reduce storm water runoff pollution. When it comes to those beaches that ranked the worst, 4 out of 10 were in Los Angeles County. Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay, commented that “Despite numerous individual beach success stories, this year demonstrated that there hasn’t been progress reducing major beach pollution sources like the Los Angeles River, Malibu Creek and Topanga Creek.” Long Beach in particular saw its grads drop by 40% after three years of improvement.

Overall, beaches in San Diego, Orange and Ventura counties ranked very well, and an "A" grade was given to 90 percent of Bay Area oceanside beaches for the absence of potentially harmful bacteria.

Top 10 beaches with the poorest water quality statewide
1. Cowell Beach -- at the wharf (Santa Cruz County)
2. Avalon Harbor Beach on Catalina Island (L.A. County)
3. Cabrillo Beach harborside (Los Angeles County)
4. Topanga State Beach at creek mouth (L.A. County)
5. Poche Beach (Orange County)
6. North Beach/Doheny (Orange County)
7. Arroyo Burro Beach (Santa Barbara County)
8. Baker Beach at Lobos Creek (San Francisco County)
9. Colorado Lagoon (Los Angeles County)
10. Capitola Beach -- west of the jetty (Santa Cruz County)

You can read the full report card here.

Beach Bummers: Annual Water Quality Report Card; 8 in LA County Receive F Grade

Beach
The summer months are approaching, so it’s as good a time as any to know which of the state’s beaches score well for water quality. The non-profit Heal the Bay has released its annual Beach Report Card and 21 percent of California beaches scored perfect A-plus grades. Overall, most state beaches had good to excellent water quality scores, with 400 of 445 locations receiving an A or B grade during the summer dry time period. However, there is great disparity between dry and wet weather water quality, which Heal the Bay argues is the result of insufficient efforts to reduce storm water runoff pollution. When it comes to those beaches that ranked the worst, 4 out of 10 were in Los Angeles County. Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay, commented that “Despite numerous individual beach success stories, this year demonstrated that there hasn’t been progress reducing major beach pollution sources like the Los Angeles River, Malibu Creek and Topanga Creek.” Long Beach in particular saw its grads drop by 40% after three years of improvement.

Overall, beaches in San Diego, Orange and Ventura counties ranked very well, and an "A" grade was given to 90 percent of Bay Area oceanside beaches for the absence of potentially harmful bacteria.

Top 10 beaches with the poorest water quality statewide
1. Cowell Beach -- at the wharf (Santa Cruz County)
2. Avalon Harbor Beach on Catalina Island (L.A. County)
3. Cabrillo Beach harborside (Los Angeles County)
4. Topanga State Beach at creek mouth (L.A. County)
5. Poche Beach (Orange County)
6. North Beach/Doheny (Orange County)
7. Arroyo Burro Beach (Santa Barbara County)
8. Baker Beach at Lobos Creek (San Francisco County)
9. Colorado Lagoon (Los Angeles County)
10. Capitola Beach -- west of the jetty (Santa Cruz County)

You can read the full report card here.

Breathe Easy? CAPCOA Releases Report on CA’s Progress Toward Clean Air

We recently relayed that the American Lung Association had released a report that graded each county in the state of California for its air quality. While the ALA noted that the Golden State experienced some improvement in its overall air quality, many counties were shown to rank poorly in ozone pollution. Notably, the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association has released a report of its own that provides some balance on the state of California’s air quality and the progress that has been made. The State’s 35 local air-quality agencies collaborated on the effort that shows there have been significant reductions in ozone pollution over the past 30 years and a reduction in the total number of unhealthy air quality days for the past decade as measured by the Air Quality Index. Commenting on the findings, CAPCOA President and Air Pollution Control Officer of the Placer County APCD Thomas J. Christofk stated that “While we are each working at the local level to address the unique challenges and circumstances in our respective air basins, we are also working cooperatively to realize our common goal of cleaner, healthier air Statewide.”

CAPCOA has noted that while there areas worse than others, such regions have established remarkable improvement in occurrences of violations for these pollutants since the formation of local air quality agencies. Highlights from the report include:

  • “In fact, since 1980, Reactive Organic Gas (ROG) and Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions from stationary sources have been reduced by 74 percent and 68 percent, respectively. During the same period, ROG and NOx emissions from all sources, including mobile and area-wide sources, have been reduced by 68 percent and 39 percent, respectively.
  • The San Joaquin Valley and the South Coast Air Basin continue to face significant challenges in meeting the federal health-based standards for ozone and fine particles

The report lists the following counties as having no unhealthy air days in 2010: “Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Kern (non-San Joaquin Valley portion), Lake, Los Angeles – Antelope Valley portion, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, San Benito, San Bernardino – Mojave portion, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Solano, Sonoma, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Ventura and Yolo.”

You can read CAPCOA’s full report here.

Breathe Easy? CAPCOA Releases Report on CA’s Progress Toward Clean Air

We recently relayed that the American Lung Association had released a report that graded each county in the state of California for its air quality. While the ALA noted that the Golden State experienced some improvement in its overall air quality, many counties were shown to rank poorly in ozone pollution. Notably, the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association has released a report of its own that provides some balance on the state of California’s air quality and the progress that has been made. The State’s 35 local air-quality agencies collaborated on the effort that shows there have been significant reductions in ozone pollution over the past 30 years and a reduction in the total number of unhealthy air quality days for the past decade as measured by the Air Quality Index. Commenting on the findings, CAPCOA President and Air Pollution Control Officer of the Placer County APCD Thomas J. Christofk stated that “While we are each working at the local level to address the unique challenges and circumstances in our respective air basins, we are also working cooperatively to realize our common goal of cleaner, healthier air Statewide.”

CAPCOA has noted that while there areas worse than others, such regions have established remarkable improvement in occurrences of violations for these pollutants since the formation of local air quality agencies. Highlights from the report include:

  • “In fact, since 1980, Reactive Organic Gas (ROG) and Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions from stationary sources have been reduced by 74 percent and 68 percent, respectively. During the same period, ROG and NOx emissions from all sources, including mobile and area-wide sources, have been reduced by 68 percent and 39 percent, respectively.
  • The San Joaquin Valley and the South Coast Air Basin continue to face significant challenges in meeting the federal health-based standards for ozone and fine particles

The report lists the following counties as having no unhealthy air days in 2010: “Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Kern (non-San Joaquin Valley portion), Lake, Los Angeles – Antelope Valley portion, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, San Benito, San Bernardino – Mojave portion, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Solano, Sonoma, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Ventura and Yolo.”

You can read CAPCOA’s full report here.

Report Card: California Counties Graded Poorly for Air Quality by the ALA

Pollution
California leads the way in the latest rankings from the American Lung Association's air quality report card, but not in a good way. So what’s the Golden State’s latest claim to fame? Our counties top the list for some of the worst air quality in the country. According to the vice president of national policy and advocacy for the ALA, there are millions of people who live "where the air is dirty enough to send people to the emergency room, dirty enough to shape children's lungs and cause deaths." That being said, the state’s overall air quality has improved slightly. American Lung Association in California president and CEO Jane Warner commented that “Air pollution is making people sick and cutting lives short.”

Here are the top ten most ozone-polluted counties:

1. San Bernardino
2. Riverside
3. Kern
4. Tulare
5. Los Angeles
6. Fresno
7. Sacramento
8. Kings
9. El Dorado
10. Nevada

You can view stats and grades for each county here, as well as info about particle pollution and groups at risk. You’ll notice that many counties have received an F grade.

Report Card: California Counties Graded Poorly for Air Quality by the ALA

Pollution
California leads the way in the latest rankings from the American Lung Association's air quality report card, but not in a good way. So what’s the Golden State’s latest claim to fame? Our counties top the list for some of the worst air quality in the country. According to the vice president of national policy and advocacy for the ALA, there are millions of people who live "where the air is dirty enough to send people to the emergency room, dirty enough to shape children's lungs and cause deaths." That being said, the state’s overall air quality has improved slightly. American Lung Association in California president and CEO Jane Warner commented that “Air pollution is making people sick and cutting lives short.”

Here are the top ten most ozone-polluted counties:

1. San Bernardino
2. Riverside
3. Kern
4. Tulare
5. Los Angeles
6. Fresno
7. Sacramento
8. Kings
9. El Dorado
10. Nevada

You can view stats and grades for each county here, as well as info about particle pollution and groups at risk. You’ll notice that many counties have received an F grade.

Bill Would Allow Local Governments to Take Over State Park Operations Due to Budget Cuts

State_parks_color_logo_300_305
State legislators are looking to local governments to keep state parks open if budget cuts threaten to shut them down. Under a bill introduced by State Sen. Sam Blakeslee, counties and cities would be able to take over a park’s operations for 1-5 years if it is slated to be closed. According to Blakeslee, communities that are near parks benefit from the economic boost that they provide, and billions are spent each year on expenses related to state parks. Consequently, the bill argues that it is in the interest of the state and local governments to keep parks open for business, whether or not they are actually run by the state.

Another bill that is also related to keeping parks alive is from state Sen. Tom Harman. Under the legislation introduced by Harman, the private sector would be relied upon to provide funding. Specifically, the public would have to be notified about an impending closure so that the private sector would have time to seek permission to take over a park’s operations. Offers will not involve deal-making; rather, they will be considered and all entities will receive a response. While both bills are options for parks to deal with the state’s poor economic realities, there is concern about the privatization of the parks system. The Tribune reports:

“Both proposals, Blakeslee said, have revived concerns among critics in conservation circles and public employee unions about whether Republicans seek to privatize state parks. He said his bill concentrates on local government and volunteer involvement in part to allay fears about the profit motive. ‘There's a lot of opportunity to expand volunteerism,’ he said.”

You may recall that in the November election, voters turned down Proposition 21, which would have funded state parks by increasing the state's vehicle license fee. Gov. Brown is proposing millions in cuts for the state parks system, which comes on top of the $14 million in cuts that Gov. Schwarzenegger implemented in 2009. Some park closures seem inevitable in light of the state’s budget woes, but relying on local governments may not gain much traction, as they have funding issues of their own to worry about without taking on the management of state parks.

Bill Would Allow Local Governments to Take Over State Park Operations Due to Budget Cuts

State_parks_color_logo_300_305
State legislators are looking to local governments to keep state parks open if budget cuts threaten to shut them down. Under a bill introduced by State Sen. Sam Blakeslee, counties and cities would be able to take over a park’s operations for 1-5 years if it is slated to be closed. According to Blakeslee, communities that are near parks benefit from the economic boost that they provide, and billions are spent each year on expenses related to state parks. Consequently, the bill argues that it is in the interest of the state and local governments to keep parks open for business, whether or not they are actually run by the state.

Another bill that is also related to keeping parks alive is from state Sen. Tom Harman. Under the legislation introduced by Harman, the private sector would be relied upon to provide funding. Specifically, the public would have to be notified about an impending closure so that the private sector would have time to seek permission to take over a park’s operations. Offers will not involve deal-making; rather, they will be considered and all entities will receive a response. While both bills are options for parks to deal with the state’s poor economic realities, there is concern about the privatization of the parks system. The Tribune reports:

“Both proposals, Blakeslee said, have revived concerns among critics in conservation circles and public employee unions about whether Republicans seek to privatize state parks. He said his bill concentrates on local government and volunteer involvement in part to allay fears about the profit motive. ‘There's a lot of opportunity to expand volunteerism,’ he said.”

You may recall that in the November election, voters turned down Proposition 21, which would have funded state parks by increasing the state's vehicle license fee. Gov. Brown is proposing millions in cuts for the state parks system, which comes on top of the $14 million in cuts that Gov. Schwarzenegger implemented in 2009. Some park closures seem inevitable in light of the state’s budget woes, but relying on local governments may not gain much traction, as they have funding issues of their own to worry about without taking on the management of state parks.

Nuclear Power Plant Closer to Reality in Fresno County? Obstacles Remain

California currently has a moratorium on the development of new nuclear plants, which has been in place for decades; however, that’s not stopping local proponents of a new plant in Fresno County from being deterred by a long list of obstacles. In light of the natural disaster in Japan and the havoc it created for the country’s nuclear power, the public may be all the less inclined to support nuclear power facilities, but John Hutson, CEO of the Fresno Nuclear Energy Group, has pointed out that safety won’t be an issue due to technological advancements. We relayed a year ago that Areva, a French company that is a leader in developing nuclear power plants in the world, has been working with the Fresno Nuclear Energy Group on a plan that could bring “two 1,600-megawatt reactors to generate electricity in western Fresno County as part of a 5,000-acre energy park,” as reported by the Fresno Bee. To finance such a projects, billions in funding will be necessary, but some of the groundwork on planning the plant has already been accomplished. The Fresno Bee reports:

“Hutson said the proposed Fresno County plant would be far safer than the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan, where workers have been battling desperately to prevent three nuclear reactors from melting down. The threat in Japan included overheating spent fuel in four ponds near reactors. Hutson's group plans to ship the Fresno County plant's used nuclear fuel rods to a recycling facility in France, which would eliminate the need to find a long-term disposal site in the U.S. The lack of safe, long-term disposal sites has led to California's 34-year moratorium on new nuclear power plants. In a bid to circumvent the moratorium, the Fresno County plant would be marketed as a water-treatment system that also generates electricity.”

While the plan has faced opposition, it has also received the support of the Madera County Board of Supervisors and Phil Larson, chairman of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors. For more, see here.

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