SEACRET

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Noted environmentalist Santa Claus isn't giving coal to bad kids this year

Apparently even Santa Claus is concerned with global warming and the possible effects of all that heat on his North Pole headquarters.

As a result, he reportedly is no longer giving out lumps of coal to bad kids this year, according to investigative reporters at AboveAverage.com. Instead, he's handing out solar panels, obviously a more sustainable gift than coal but one that the kids will hate anyway!


Photo: https://aboveaverage-xbarkgu.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/solarpanel-notcoal-800x0-c-default.jpg; Fair Use

Get all the exclusive details here: 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

EPA's final fracking report unable to calculate severity or frequency of drinking water contamination

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today issued it's final report on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water supplies. Although the report identifies several areas of concern in the "fracking" process with the potential to cause problems, EPA was unable to conclusively characterize the severity or frequency of fracking impacts on drinking water.



The tone of the final report appears to be less dismissive of fracking concerns as the previous EPA "draft" report seemed to be. However, although it gives detailed information about potential vulnerabilities to drinking water resources, EPA said it was not designed to document specific impacts that have occurred.

Nevertheless, the latest findings are sure to do nothing to lessen the debate between those who favor the practice and those who vehemently oppose it.

"The value of high quality science has never been more important in helping to guide decisions around our nation’s fragile water resources. EPA's assessment provides the scientific foundation for local decision makers, industry, and communities that are looking to protect public health and drinking water resources and make more informed decisions about hydraulic fracturing activities,” said Dr. Thomas A. Burke, EPA's Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA's Office of Research and Development. "This assessment is the most complete compilation to date of national scientific data on the relationship of drinking water resources and hydraulic fracturing."

Hydraulic fracturing is a process that involves injecting large volumes of water and chemicals into oil and gas containing formations underground to break or "fracture" those formations to facilitate the production of oil and natural gas that might not otherwise be recoverable. 

Critics have claimed the practice is unsafe and should be banned everywhere, pointing to examples of drinking water wells contaminated with methane gas and other harmful chemicals, as well as the increased frequency of earthquakes that they claim is the result of fracking.

Supporters have pointed to a fracking history of over 40 years that has shown little, if any, of the problems critics describe in the overwhelming majority of sites that have been fracked.

The new report looked at every step of the hydraulic fracturing process, including some areas that arguably are common oil & gas industry practices for non-fracked wells. These include:

(1) Acquiring water to be used for hydraulic fracturing (Water Acquisition),
(2) Mixing the water with chemical additives to make hydraulic fracturing fluids (Chemical Mixing),
(3) Injecting hydraulic fracturing fluids into the production well to create and grow fractures in the targeted production zone (Well Injection), 
(4) Collecting the wastewater that returns through the well after injection (Produced Water Handling), 
(5) Managing the wastewater through disposal or reuse methods (Wastewater Disposal and Reuse).

According to the Executive Summary in EPA's latest report, the agency's review of peer reviewed scientific data led it to identify those areas in which impacts from hydraulic fracturing activities CAN be more frequent or severe, including:

  • Water withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing in times or areas of low water availability, particularly in areas with limited or declining groundwater resources;
  • Spills during the management of hydraulic fracturing fluids and chemicals or produced water that result in large volumes or high concentrations of chemicals reaching groundwater resources;
  • Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into wells with inadequate mechanical integrity, allowing gases or liquids to move to groundwater resources;
  • Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids directly into groundwater resources;
  • Discharge of inadequately treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater to surface water resources; and
  • Disposal or storage of hydraulic fracturing wastewater in unlined pits, resulting in contamination of groundwater resources.

For more information:  










Saturday, December 10, 2016

Lawyers for climate scientists, what a shame

We just read the following post about how important it is for climate scientists to be aware of what they do from a legal standpoint.

How did we as a society come to this?

Here's a link to the article from our friends at RealClimate:

Defending Climate Science


Photo: RealClimate website - Fair Use

Make America Great, er, uh, Gasp Again! More on Trump's dismantling of environmental protections

People concerned with the environment - the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat - continue to reel with the picks made by Donald Trump for federal positions that directly influence how this nation addresses environmental protections.

The picture below was taken in late 1977 - early 1978. It shows black carbon emissions resulting from something called a "green push" from a coke manufacturing facility located just across the Mississippi River near the U.S. Defense Mapping Agency in St. Louis, MO.


Photo - © Frank J.  Maccioli

The smoky release was a common and daily sight before environmental regulations were implemented to stop these emissions. Regulations that were opposed by industry as too costly and harmful to business. Sound familiar?

Based on Trump's choices to lead his team so far, we might be seeing a lot of these gains in pollution control reversed. We hope it doesn't get this bad. Lots of people in addition to California Environmental News are just as concerned as we are. 

Here's an Op-Ed from the New York Times that discusses it. It's a great read:

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Millions appalled as Trump nominates oil industry lackey, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, to head agency

Follow the money. For those who think our government is for sale, recent actions by our future President have done little to allay those fears.

The health and welfare of millions of Americans is about to take another hit with the news that President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Photo: Scott Pruitt, www.ok.gov website. Fair use

Pruitt is the Attorney General for Oklahoma and for several years, with the backing of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the oil industry, has fought to prevent new EPA regulations from being implemented, particularly those that address man-made climate change.

Pruitt is a climate change denier and seemingly does whatever the fossil fuel industry asks him to do. Correspondence protesting environmental regulations sent on his letterhead to government agencies and officials, under his signature, has reportedly been actually written by energy industry lobbyists. These include letters to EPA, the Department of the Interior, and President Obama, among others.

Coupled with the previous announcement that the notorious global warming skeptic Myron Ebell will be leading Trump's effort to revamp federal agencies that deal with environmental issues, this latest nomination has raised a firestorm of protest among environmentalists.

Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters said that having Pruitt lead the EPA is "...like the fox guarding the henhouse."

Said Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen, "Every American should be appalled that ...Trump just picked someone who has made a career of being a vocal defender for polluters to head our Environmental Protection Agency."

Monday, December 5, 2016

Is Trump empire angling to make millions from climate change? Ivanka to meet with Al Gore today.

The eyebrows of many who follow the topic of climate change and global warming were raised today with the news that Ivanka Trump, the daughter of President-elect Donald Trump, will be meeting with former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore today.

Ms. Trump has previously indicated her interest in the subject, reportedly hoping to make it her signature issue. Although her father was not scheduled to attend the meeting, CNN has just reported that both he and his daughter met with Mr. Gore.


Photo: Ivanka Trump - Facebook profile picture, Fair Use

Many observers have noted the spider web of potential business conflicts of Donald Trump's many family businesses with his upcoming responsibilities as President. Some have said that the Trumps may try to use their new position of power to influence contract negotiations involving their private businesses.

Indeed, Ivanka previously sat in with the President-elect's meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month. The meeting soon proved controversial when it became known that she was also in the process of trying to get a licensing deal with a Japanese retail firm, Sanei International. That firm's parent company is the Bank of Japan, which is owned by the Japanese government.

Given her father's previous descriptions of climate change as a hoax and a marketing tool, is Ivanka's interest in the subject one of environmental activism or one of a business person checking out all of the angles, using her new position as a close advisor to her President-elect father to "make a buck?"

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Say goodbye to snow skiing in California - man made climate change to reduce Sierra snowpack by 50%

A new study led by UCLA climate researcher Alex Hall indicates that if we don't take climate change seriously and control greenhouse gas emissions, then we can expect a reduction in snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains by over 50%.

DodgeRidge Grab

Dodge Ridge Ski resort in Pinecrest, CA
Photo By IanGad (DodgeRidge) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons


Utilizing some new modeling techniques, the researchers were able to make predictions on a relatively narrow geographical area. The study, published in the American Meteorological Society's online journal, found that temperatures could rise by 7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century causing the decline in snowpack.

Additionally, the loss of reflected heat due to the loss of snowpack will lead to additional warming, further exacerbating the situation.

Obviously, those who enjoy snow skiing and those who own and operate snow skiing facilities should be very, very concerned about this future situation.

Learn more here and at this link.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Trump picks "fanatical ideological clown" Myron Ebell to gut EPA, millions of lives may be at risk

President-elect Donald Trump has made one of his first moves to fulfill his many anti-environmental campaign promises. He has appointed Myron Ebell, one of the world's leading climate contrarians, to lead Trump's effort to redesign - some would say "dismantle" - the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and rebuild it in Trump's image.


Photo: Myron Ebell Facebook Page, Fair Use

Under Ebell's guidance, the new administration appears to be willing to throw in the trash existing and proposed EPA regulations that address not only climate change, but also those that protect the health and lives of millions of Americans.

This is all being done under the mistaken belief that environmental regulations are based on faulty science and do not benefit the public.

Ebell has been called a "fanatical ideologue" and a "nut" by David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council and a "clown" by others who, to say the least, do not think highly of his expertise (or lack of it) or his opinions.

He directs environmental and energy policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Much of the funding for that organization comes from the fossil fuel industry, in particular large coal producers such as the Murray Energy Corporation.

Ebell also chairs the Cooler Heads Coalition which refers to global warming as a hoax and a myth based on flawed scientific, economic, and risk analysis. Ebell is not a scientist but has referred to those who are experts in the field as third-, fourth-, and fifth-rate scientists.

Every single argument that Ebell has raised about climate change being a hoax or that there is no scientific consensus has been easily rebutted. For a comprehensive list of such nonsensical claims as his, try this link: Skeptical Science

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Is climate change forcing Trump to focus on interplanetary colonization?

As the dust begins to settle and much of the shock starts to wear off, The Guardian reports that President-elect Trump plans to scuttle all NASA directed work on the environment in favor of deep space exploration.

Maybe he wants to get a head start on interplanetary colonization before climate change screws up everything on Earth?


Video: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Read the full article here: 


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Climate change and national security, it's a real issue

As a bitter election year comes to an end in the United States, an issue that saw little discussion or debate by any of the major political parties nonetheless remains - human caused climate change.

It's real and it's a fact. Those who deny it need to get over their "beliefs" and listen to people who know what they are talking about - climate scientists - and stop their nonsensical claims that it is a hoax.

You're wrong. It isn't. Get over it.



Photo: The Madhouse Effect, Amazon, Fair Use

One aspect of climate change that is often given short thrift is its effect on international conflicts. Although one could argue that there are no climate change "models" that accurately predict when or if people will start fighting each other because the world is getting warmer, there are some things to consider seriously.

Like:

What happens if the world's population continues to increase faster than the production of food to feed everyone?

What happens if increased droughts and storms lead to a decrease in agricultural yields?

What happens when temperature increases adversely impact major agricultural areas?

And most importantly, what happens when nation states and/or political factions within those nation states see their food and water supplies diminishing compared to their neighbors?

All of these areas are addressed in a new book, The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazyby Michael E. Mann and Tom Toles. Mann, one of the foremost scientific experts in the field, and Toles, a Pulitzer Prize winning political cartoonist, have put together a unique product that utilizes both written text and cartoons to address the problem of climate change.

If you are looking for some exceptional reading on the subject, you should check it out. An excellent summary of some of the issues discussed in the book can be found here:

Why Climate Change is the Biggest Threat to National Security

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Is your recycled Patagonia fleece hoodie hurting the environment?

For years and years people concerned with the environment have been reminded to recycle as much of the waste that they generate as possible. By sending waste aluminum cans, paper, glass, and plastic to recycling centers, those concerned with environmental degradation felt comfortable that they were doing their part to reduce their contribution of waste.

In addition, many of these same people looked to buy new things that were made of recycled material. Some of these products are fleece and other types of clothing made from recycled plastic and other synthetic materials. One such company, Patagonia, has made the sale of such clothing a key part of its business plan.



Well, did you know that by purchasing such clothing that you may be contributing to one of the biggest environmental problems of which most people are unaware?

Many of you have heard of recent legislation to ban plastic microbeads in consumer products. Used in such items as exfoliants and other skin and body care products, these pieces of plastic are so small that they aren't collected at waste water treatment plants and enter the environment in treated waste water sent to oceans and rivers. Once there, they can enter the food chain leading to more environmental problems, both to wildlife and the animals (including humans) who eat them.

Similarly, it now appears that fabrics made from recycled plastics are causing the same, if not bigger, problem. When these articles of clothing are washed, tiny fibers break off during the washing process (think lint like material) and get sent along with the washing machine waste water to a treatment plant. Just like microbeads, many of these fibers (up to 35%) are too small to be collected and enter the environment with the plant's effluent.

The following article discusses the problem in more detail:

Patagonia admits there's a problem with synthetic clothes

Thursday, November 10, 2016

California approves plastic bag ban

Lost in all the hoopla of the Presidential election this week was that California voters affirmed their support for a plastic bag ban that was supposed to have taken effect more than a year ago.

California Proposition 67  passed by a 52 - 48 margin, thus enabling the requirements of Senate Bill 270 to immediately take effect. A companion piece supported by the plastic bag industry, Proposition 65, would have required monies that grocers take in for selling non-plastic bags be directed to environmental causes. That measure failed, with 55% of the vote opposing it.


Photo By Andrea Westmoreland from DeLand, United States (Great Blue Heron Swallows Fish in Plastic Bag!) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


For those in the dark about the issue, or, those who simply question why it is such an important environmental issue, here is a good source of information to learn why it was enacted: Plastic Ban Info

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Before the Flood - was DiCaprio too wishy-washy or not?

The new climate change film, Before the Flood, has making a lot of news lately. Currently being shown on the National Geographic Channel and available for free streaming on iTunes, the film features actor Leonardo DiCaprio as he travels the world searching for answers to what many say is the most pressing environmental problem facing the world today.


Some people have commented that the message of the film isn't harsh enough in warning of the dangers of uncontrolled anthropogenic emissions. Others say the film presents everything in just the right manner for the general public.

Have you seen it yet? What do you think? let us know in the comments section below.




Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Free America Recycles Day event in Bakersfield on November 12, 2016

Bakersfield and Kern County residents looking for a way to get rid of certain unwanted or unusable items should head to the Rabobank Arena next week. A free, drive-thru recycling event will be taking place on Saturday, November 12, 2016, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. in the arena's South Parking Lot.

Items accepted include electronics, batteries, large and small household items, passenger vehicle tires (limit 4), used motor oil filters, used clothing, shoes, linens, surplus construction materials, paper shredding waste (limit - 2 file size boxes), and other recyclable material.

For further information, call 661.831.2321.



Monday, October 31, 2016

Stunning new map shows every river basin and its tributaries in the U.S.

One of the bread and butter issues that many environmental professionals deal with are spills into the navigable waterways of the United States. 

A new map that shows every river basin in the United States,and its tributaries, may cause many sleepless nights for those professionals who must determine whether a spill of hazardous material has impacted a navigable waterway, whose definition is not what the layperson may think it is.



See it for yourself at this link: U.S. River Basin Map

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

VW settles part of emissions cheating scandal

Volkswagen (VW) has agreed to a $14.7 billion settlement with U.S. and California authorities to resolve its unprecedented emissions cheating scandal, according to an announcement by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) yesterday. 

Part of a partial Consent Decree issued by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, the agreement is the largest in automaker history. In addition to CARB, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) approved the edict.


Photo: USEPA, Fair Use

The scandal was revealed after CARB engineers discovered that VW had installed "defeat devices" in certain 2.0-liter diesel powered passenger vehicles sold under the VW and Audi nameplates. The devices prevented federal and California required emission control equipment from operating properly unless the system detected that the vehicle was undergoing an emissions inspection, at which point its programming caused the equipment to do what it was required to do by law.

Approximately 500,000 such vehicles were sold in the United States between model years 2009 and 2015. About 71,000 were sold in California. The scandal was particularly notorious because the vehicles were promoted as ones that utilized clean diesel technology, thus encouraging potential owners and lessees to choose the vehicles because they were duped into thinking that they were doing their part to help the environment.

 A similar scandal involving 3.0-liter engines sold in VW, Audi, and Porsche vehicles, is not part of this agreement.


  • Buy back, terminate leases, or provide approved emissions modifications for nearly 475,000 2.0-liter TDI diesel cars in the U.S.;
  • Provide cash payments to owners/lessees;
  • Pay for environmental remediation; and
  • Promote zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) technology.


California will receive about $1.2 billion to mitigate environmental damage caused by VW's cheating.

“The court’s approval of the largest settlement for California under the Clean Air Act sets in motion a public process that will develop a range of projects to mitigate the harmful health effects of smog,” said CARB’s Chair Mary D. Nichols. “While we continue to pursue penalties for these violations -- and a resolution for 3.0-liter vehicles which were also equipped with defeat devices -- this decision sends a clear message that California will continue  to ensure cars and tailpipes meet the standards designed to protect the public from pollution and smog.” 


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Arctic will be free of ice by 2040, impacting the rest of the world

Here's a very well done video discussing the impacts of man made climate change / global warming on ice in the Arctic and the resulting problems that can be expected worldwide. The makers of the video speculate that the Arctic will be ice-free at current melt rates as soon as the year 2040 - that's less than 25 years away!





http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/before-the-flood/videos/5-things-to-know-about-the-warming-arctic/



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A new battery powered Mercedes AA Class

Just for a change of pace, here's a very funny "commercial" dealing with a new electric car from a luxury car manufacturer.

Enjoy!




Thursday, September 29, 2016

APCD issues another caution notice for blowing dust from gusty winds

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (APCD) has issued another cautionary health notice today for residents of the Valley.



APCD officials are expecting northwesterly gusty winds across the entire San Joaquin Valley Friday afternoon, September 30, through Monday, October 30, 2016. They expect that the winds will generate more blowing dust that will contain potentially unhealthy levels of particulate matter 10 microns and smaller (PM10).

The winds will be resulting from an expected cold front accompanying a low pressure area moving in and out of the Valley as a high pressure system builds behind it.

Exposure to PM10 pollution can cause serious health problems, including asthma attacks, bronchitis,and aggravate those with lung or heart diseases, as well as increasing the risk for respiratory infections.

Whale poop helps solve climate change problems

How the world responds to man-made climate change involves a very complex, expensive, and politically divisive array of potential solutions and lifestyle adjustments. However, one natural process of which you may have been unaware involves the largest mammals in the world: whales.

As explained in the excellent video below, whales play a primary role in the ecology of the oceans, and, as a result, the world as well. Just like the rest of us, they need to eat to survive, and, well, they need to relieve themselves afterward too.



So why is this important one may ask?

When their waste products are released into the ocean, they provide vital nutrients for algae and plankton growth in the upper reaches of the ocean.  In addition to providing a source of food for ocean fish and animal life, plant plankton also adsorbs CO2 from the atmosphere, thus providing a sink (or removal process) for CO2 emissions as well.

Scientists have estimated that before whaling populations were decimated by decades of hunting, whales were indirectly responsible for removing tens of millions of tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. Therefore, efforts by environmental groups and governments to stop whaling activities will not only lead to a resurgence of whale populations, but also result in more CO2 being removed from the atmosphere.



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

NAS scientists blast Trump's climate change ignorance

"Human-caused climate change is not a belief, a hoax, or a conspiracy. It is a physical reality. Fossil fuels powered the Industrial Revolution. But the burning of oil, coal, and gas also caused most of the historical increase in atmospheric levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. This increase in greenhouse gases is changing Earth’s climate."

The above is the first paragraph from an open letter signed by 375 National Academy of Sciences scientists, including 60 Nobel Prize winners. The letter is meant to emphasize the urgency of taking measures now to address the consequences of man-made climate change.



The letter also calls out the ignorance of the Republican nominee for President of the United States, Donald Trump, for his stated plans to remove the USA from previous international agreements to address this worldwide issue.

The letter states, "Thus it is of great concern that the Republican nominee for President has advocated U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accord. A “Parexit” would send a clear signal to the rest of the world: "The United States does not care about the global problem of human-caused climate change. You are on your own." Such a decision would make it far more difficult to develop effective global strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change. The consequences of opting out of the global community would be severe and long-lasting – for our planet’s climate and for the international credibility of the United States."

Trump has previously expressed his opinions on climate change, including a much ridiculed tweet from several years ago that it is a Chinese conspiracy. In fairness, he later claimed that this tweet was a joke, however, he has on numerous other occasions publicly stated that he does not believe in man-made climate change.

You can view the entire letter at this link: Open Letter on Climate Change

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

APCD issues health warning due to smoke from fires

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District today issued a "health cautionary" statement for residents of the Valley because of wind blown smoke from fires outside the area.


Soberanes Wildfire

Photo Credit: By TJRC (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Smoke from two fires in Monterey County (Soberanes Fire) and Santa Barbara County (Canyon Fire) is blowing into the Valley via wind currents. Particulate matter and other pollutants from those fires may cause respiratory problems and other health issues, including an increased risk for stroke and heart attacks.

The full alert can be found at this link: APCD Smoke Advisory

Thursday, September 15, 2016

2017 Healthy Air Living Kid's Calendar contest

Hey, do you know a kid in Kindergarten through high school that has a talent for art and an interest in the environment? It's time for the annual Healthy Air Living Kid's Calendar for 2017, sponsored by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.



Twenty-thousand copies of the calendar will be printed and distributed for free to schools, churches, non-profits, community groups, and healthcare facilities. Here's a link to last year's calendar: 2016 Calendar

The entry deadline is Oct. 3, 2016. Click here for more info: 2017 Calendar Rules

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Are you a climate change skeptic and a Catholic? The Pope says you better get with the program!

Continuing what he started a year ago with his noteworthy encyclical, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis yesterday added a new work of mercy for all Catholics to perform - caring for the planet, including the environment and all of its inhabitants.

Marking the September 1st day of prayer for creation, the Pope further strengthened his bona fides as an environmentalist, calling upon all Catholics to lower their carbon footprints and become advocates for long-term economic and political systems that are just and sustainable instead of being focused on short-term profits and politics.


Franciscus in 2015


Pope Francis

Photo Credit: Casa Rosada (Argentina Presidency of the Nation) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The head of the Vatican Office for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal  Peter Turkson, summarized the process as one that begins by recognizing the harm humans have already done by being selfish, greedy, and irresponsible. 

He said, The first step in this process is to humbly acknowledge the harm we are doing to the earth through pollution, the scandalous destruction of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity, and the spectre of climate change—which seems nearer and more dangerous with each passing year. And to realize that when we hurt the earth, we also hurt the poor, whom God loves without limit.




Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Will So Cal have enough natural gas (and electricity) this winter because of Aliso Canyon restrictions?

We all remember the uproar caused last year when a natural gas leak developed at the Southern California Gas Company's Aliso Canyon gas storage facility. The uncapped leak spewed about 100,000 tons of natural gas into the atmosphere (almost 1 million pounds per day of methane).



Site of Aliso Canyon well leak
Photo Credit: Earthworks, Creative Commons license, Fair use 

After several months, the leak was stopped and severe restrictions were placed on the facility's ability to store (inject) additional gas until certain safety requirements were met. In the meantime, questions have arisen as to whether there will be sufficient gas available this coming winter for the company's customers, including power companies that utilize natural gas to generate electricity.

To address this, the California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, California Independent System Operator, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power yesterday announced that a new winter draft action plan has been prepared that analyzes certain demand scenarios businesses and residents may face. The plan requires, among other things, that gas be brought in from other sources if necessary, and that certain curtailments may be required.

A public workshop to discuss the plan will be held this Friday, August 26, in Diamond Bar, CA.

For more information:

Draft Action Plan

Public Workshop

Friday, August 19, 2016

Harley-Davidson joins the cheater parade - EPA issues massive fine for illegal aftermarket emission control defeat devices

Perhaps wanting to show that anything a German company (Volkswagen) can do, an American company can do better, the Harley-Davidson motorcycle company apparently has been selling aftermarket "performance" devices since 2008 that resulted in higher exhaust emissions than allowed by U.S. law.


Photo: Harley_Davidson website, Fair Use

In a settlement announced yesterday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), government officials said that the company manufactured and sold 340,000 illegal devices called "super tuners" that caused motorcycles to emit higher levels of air pollutants than the company previously certified to EPA. Additionally, the company sold over 12,000 motorcycles that were never certified as meeting Clean Air Act (CAA) emission standards.

In order to avoid additional possible penalties and protracted legal battles, the company agreed to do the following:

  • Buy back, stop selling, and destroy the illegal devices
  • Only sell such devices if they are certified to meet CAA emission standards
  • Pay a $12 million civil penalty
  • Spend $3 million to mitigate the excess emissions caused by the defeat devices through a project that will replace conventional wood stoves with cleaner-burning stoves.

“Given Harley-Davidson’s prominence in the industry, this is a very significant step toward our goal of stopping the sale of illegal aftermarket defeat devices that cause harmful pollution on our roads and in our communities,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden, head of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Anyone else who manufactures, sells, or installs these types of illegal products should take heed of Harley-Davidson’s corrective actions and immediately stop violating the law.”

“This settlement immediately stops the sale of illegal aftermarket defeat devices used on public roads that threaten the air we breathe,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Harley-Davidson is taking important steps to buy back the ‘super tuners’ from their dealers and destroy them, while funding projects to mitigate the pollution they caused.”

For it's part, Harley-Davidson apparently refused to admit that it did anything wrong. As reported by the Associated Press, Harley's government affairs director, Ed Moreland, said the settlement is not an admission of liability and the problems were merely the result of it interpreting the law differently than EPA does.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

More bad news for Kern County - parts of Lake Isabella and Kern River unsafe for people and pets

Things continue to get worse for Kern County's water environments with the news today that parts of Lake Isabella and the mighty Kern River may be unsafe to enter.

Only a week after declaring Lake Ming in Bakersfield unsafe for human contact, the Kern County Public Health Services Department issued a cautionary notice today for Kissack Cove at Lake Isabella and that portion of the Kern River that contains the Keyesville Recreation Area and the Calloway Weir Area.




Lake Isabella, Photo Credit: ©Frank Maccioli

The reason for the notice: potentially harmful blue-green algae (cyanobacteria). The algae bloom is characterized as having a bright green color with streaks that look like spilled paint. They can also appear as floating foam, scum, or mats with a blue-green, white, or brown color. 

Exposure to the algae can cause rashes, allergic reactions, irritation, and gastrointestinal problems. At high levels, serious illness and death are a possibility. Additionally, animals exposed to it can suffer diarrhea, vomiting, convulsions, and death.

The algae was determined to be present following testing by the California Water Resources Control Board. Additional testing is underway.

In the meantime, Kern County officials gave the following advice:


• Stay away from scum, and cloudy or discolored water.
• Do not use these waters for drinking or cooking. Boiling or filtering will not make the water safe.
• Do not let pets or livestock go into or drink the water, or go near the scum.
• Do not eat shellfish from these waters.
• For fish caught here, throw away guts and clean fillets with tap water or bottled water before cooking.
• Call your doctor or veterinarian if you or your pet get sick after going into the water.

EPA and DOT adopt new heavy duty engine program of standards that will pay for itself in two years through fuel savings

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced new and more stringent requirements for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. The new rules will reduce CO2 emissions by over 1 billion metric tons and result in fuel savings for vehicle owners significant enough to recoup their investment in the new technology in less than 2 years.




Video: USEPA, Standard YouTube License, Fair Use

The fuel savings amount to over 2 billion barrels of oil, equivalent to about $170 billion. In addition, the net benefit to society is estimated to be $230 billion, a benefit-to-cost ratio of nearly 8:1.

“The actions we take today on climate change will help lessen the impacts on future generations,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “This next phase of standards for heavy- and medium-duty vehicles will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while driving innovation, and will ensure that the United States continues to lead the world in developing fuel-efficient technologies through the next decade and beyond.” 

“Today’s ambitious but achievable announcement is a huge win for the American people, giving us cleaner air, more money saved at the pump, and real benefits for consumers across the supply chain,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Today’s action preserves flexibility for manufacturers to deliver on these objectives through a range of innovations and technology pathways.”


For more information, click on the video above or the following link: EPA & DOT medium- and Heavy-Duty vehicle Standards

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Third world water issues hit Bakersfield and Kern County - Lake Ming declared unsafe for human contact

We've been reading a lot recently about the extremely contaminated water issues in the Rio Summer Olympics recently. Despite promises to the contrary by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Rio de Janeiro and Brazilian officials, raw sewage continues to flow into the waters where Olympic swimmers and boaters will be competing. The solution according to officials? Don't swim with one's mouth open.



Photo: Lake Ming - Kern County website, Fair Use

A similar situation has just occurred here in Bakersfield with an announcement today by the Kern County Public Health Department (KCPHD). Testing of samples collected by the KCPHD has revealed that "potentially" harmful bacteria levels are present in Lake Ming, a very popular local recreation spot.

Although the KCPHD described it as "potentially" harmful, nevertheless it issued a no contact advisory for people to avoid water from the lake. The bacteria can be ingested or enter one's body through a skin cut or sore. If this happens, one can become sick, develop a rash, or contract an infection.

The Director of KCPHD, Matt Considine, said, "Issuing a no contact advisory is a preventative measure. We will continue to test and monitor bacteria levels."

Warning signs have been placed around the lake. The signs will not be removed until further testing reveals that bacteria levels are at safe levels.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Elon Musk blames CARB and other car companies for $293.2 M Tesla 2nd quarter loss, says regulations are not stringent enough

Those who follow environmental and business news are used to hearing business and industry complaining that stringent environmental regulations are a major roadblock for profitability. In a twist to that familiar refrain, the leader of the world's largest electric car company blamed its latest huge quarterly loss, in part,  on air pollution regulations that weren't stringent enough!

As reported by The Los Angeles Times and others, Tesla Motors Inc., disappointed investors again by reporting a second quarter loss of $293.2 million yesterday. In explaining what happened, Tesla CEO Elon Musk gave several reasons, but, the most interesting one - or the most bizarre - was his claim that California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations were "pathetic," implying that they were not stringent enough.




Video Credit: Tesla website - Fair Use


A significant portion of Tesla's business model involves the sale of zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) environmental credits. Under CARB air pollution regulations, ZEV credits can be traded or sold between those who need them to offset emissions from their fossil fuel fired cars and those who generate them by selling electric cars with no emissions such as the Tesla Model S.

According to The Times, Tesla sold about $170 million in emission credits last year. However, Musk apparently believes the standards that help to set the price for those credits are "pathetically low."

Musk added. "There's massive lobbying by the big car companies to prevent CARB from increasing the credit mandate, which they absolutely damn well should. As a result, you can barely sell the credits for pennies on the dollar. CARB should damn well be ashamed of themselves."

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

General Mills expands E.coli flour recall

There's another nationwide food scare of which everyone needs to be aware, this time involving baking flour and cake mixes.

As a result of determinations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, General Mills has recalled some of its flour and cake mix products because they may be infected with E. coli bacteria. Several instances of food borne illnesses have been traced to the consumption of uncooked batter and dough made with raw flour.

The problem was first identified a few months ago, followed by additional notices, most recently on July 25, 2016.

Approximately 50 people have become ill as a result of the contamination, 13 of them hospitalized, one of those with a form of kidney failure.

 Case Count Map: People infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O121 & O26, by state of residence, as of July 25, 2016

General Mills said that the problem has not been linked to products that were properly cooked. The danger exists only if uncooked dough or raw flour is consumed.

The company recommends that you check the published lists of affected products (see links below) to see if you have any of them. if so, you should write down the product name, UPC code (bar code), & Better if Used By Date, throw the product away, then contact General Mills for a replacement coupon.

For more information, click on the following links:

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Climate change film competition accepting entries from the public now

Are you interested in climate change? Do you want to do something about it? Do you have an idea that you think can shake up the world? Are you creative, good with a video camera, maybe have some editing skills?

Well, there's a new event that may be just right for you. It's called the Film4Climate Global Video Competition 2016.

If you are between the ages of 14 and 35 and can put together either a Public Service Announcement (PSA) or a short film dealing with your ideas for climate change solutions, then here is your chance to help change the world.

Participants will be competing for up to $8,000 in prize money and other special awards.The films will be judged by a stellar panel of filmmakers and political leaders, with the jury led by none other than acclaimed director Bernardo Bertolucci.

The winners will be announced at COP 22 in Morocco.

Click on the following link and video for more information on how you can enter this unique competition. Entries should be submitted to film4climate.net by September 15, 2016.

Film4Climate Competition Teaser from Connect4Climate on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Please note that links to Examiner.com articles no longer work

A lot of the posts that have been made on this site included links to articles at Examiner.com. Please note that AXS, the owner of Examiner, decided that Examiner would cease operations as of July 10, 2016. AXS also decided not to archive any of the old articles.

As a result, if you happen to scroll through this site and click on some of the old Examiner links, you will now get directed to totally unrelated webpages at AXS.com, which is an entertainment website.

Sorry about that - it's out of our control.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Will our fossil fuel addiction still overshadow renewable energy?

I think by now, most people have accepted that global warming or climate change or whatever you want to call it is real and caused by the actions of humans. Numerous reviews of peer-reviewed scientific research have shown that about 97 percent or more of the people who are the most knowledgeable on the subject agree with that.

The real arguments now are what do about it, when and/or whether they will get done, and what will happen if the right actions aren't done.

A key part of those arguments involves the reduction of fossil fuel usage and the increased usage of renewable energy sources. However, a recent report by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy will add considerable fire to that discussion.

According to the EIA, renewables are getting cheaper and more widely used across the world than ever before. However, and this is a significant point, the use of coal, oil, and natural gas, along with a growing world-wide population, is also still growing. As a result, the EIA says that world-wide fossil fuel demand will continue to increase for the next three decades.


Photo: California Air Resources Board, Fair Use

A recent news article on Alternet.org (see link below) about the EIA report describes the reason for this as being an addiction to fossil fuels. According to the article, although the growth of wind and solar power will outpace other forms of energy, that pace will not be sufficient to overcome increased energy demand. Renewables provided about 12 percent of all energy in 2012. However, in 2040, fossil fuels will still be providing about 78 percent of the world's energy. Furthermore, oil, coal, and natural gas will each have larger shares of the world energy market than all renewables combined.

Here's a link to the article, which is full of some sobering statistics and what will happen as a result of this addiction to fossil fuels:

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Volkswagen/Audi/Porsche recall plans for emission cheating scandal rejected by CARB


In another setback for Volkswagen/Audi and Porsche related to their emissions cheating scandal, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced yesterday that it had rejected proposed recall plans submitted by the companies as incomplete and deficient in several areas.

The plans were made to address the repair of certain Auxiliary Emission Control Devices (AECDs) and defeat devices in 3.0 liter, diesel passenger cars made for model years 2009 – 2016. Approximately 16,000 Volkswagens, Audis and Porsches sold in California are affected by this decision.


Photo: Audi advertising image, Fair Use

The decision was unexpected by many following the case because CARB had recently approved plans submitted by the companies for 2.0 liter diesel vehicles.


You can read CARB’s press release, which includes links to the actual rejection letters and other information concerning the violations at this link: VW/Audi/Porsche 3.0 Liter Diesel Plan Rejection


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Clouds aren't where they used to be because of man-made climate change

A recent article in The Washington Post reported that new scientific research dealing with clouds has confirmed what many climate change models had already predicted.


photo: F. J, Maccioli

Apparently, the “location” of clouds has changed dramatically over the last 30 years. The reason appears to be due to increased greenhouse gas concentrations and a recovery from radiative cooling caused by volcanic eruptions.

Published in the journal, Nature, the research found that mid-latitude storm tracks have retreated poleward, subtropical dry zones have expanded, and the height of the highest cloud tops has increased at all latitudes.

The research shows that the observed cloud changes agree with those predicted by climate change models, thus further supporting the case for anthropogenic (man-made) climate change.


The study was prepared by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, the University of California at Riverside, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Colorado State University.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Climate change and the Amazon rainforest - a history



“At first I thought I was fighting to save rubber trees, then I thought I was fighting to save the Amazon rain forest. Now I realize I am fighting for humanity.” – Chico Mendes, an environmentalist and union leader who was murdered by those opposed to his activities.



Photo: Council on Foreign Relations, Fair Use

Next to the burning of fossils fuels, the largest source of global greenhouse emissions is deforestation. Halting this practice and reversing it could reduce global GHG emissions by about 33 percent, according to scientists with expertise in this area.

Over the last several years, many people have discussed the negative impacts on climate change caused by deforestation. For those of you familiar with the subject, or, those of you who doubt or have little interest in it, the Council on Foreign Relations has put together an excellent representation of what has happened over the years to the Amazon Rainforest – the largest in the world -  and its impact on climate change, the economy, politics, indigenous peoples, and the environment.

It’s very well done – a must-see worthy of further discussion. Click on the following link to see the entire presentation:




Friday, July 8, 2016

Environmental Justice Advisory Committee to hold climate change advisory workshops

A series of public workshops to obtain input on addressing air pollution and how to help California meet its 2030 greenhouse gas reduction goals will be held this month across California.

A key goal of the workshops is to engage California residents from low income and minority communities that have historically had the most exposure to air pollution.

Organized by the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee (EJAC) and assisted by the California Air Resources Board (ARB), the input will be used for the state’s Climate Change Action Plan, also called the Scoping Plan, that will be the blueprint for reducing California’s GHG emissions 40 percent by 2030.


Photo: California Air Resources Board, Fair Use

The first meeting will be held on Monday, July 11, in San Bernardino.  The other July meetings include:

San Diego (Thursday, July 14); Oakland (Tuesday, July 19); Wilmington (Monday, July 25); South Los Angeles (Tuesday, July 26); Fresno, Modesto, and Bakersfield (Thursday, July 28); and Sacramento (Friday, July 29).

Additional meetings will also be held this fall.

For more information on times and location, please click on this link: