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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Note: This is another segment of an interview with Huntington Beach mayor  Keith Bohr, conducted in November, 2008.

Water Conservation in Huntington Beach.

Q: What are some specific things we can do in Huntington Beach to conserve water?

Mayor Keith Bohr, Huntington Beach, California

Mayor Keith Bohr, Huntington Beach, California

Well you start with education before you make it a law. Don’t water down your driveways, sweep them. Do your sprinklers every other day. Only do them for five minutes.

People already know that. Right? They’ve been educated about that.

There’s still room for a ton of improvement. I’m trying to educate my gardener still. It’s a constant battle. What they’re doing with groundwater replenishment, that’s huge. A huge expense and I think it’s been well worth it. Don’t go make it salt water and try to desal it. Let’s capture it early. Put it in, let it filter itself through the whole normal process basically. I say do all three prongs. But then as we get closer, mandatory; it’s the law, you get fines if you get caught watering your driveway down. If you have a swimming pool like I do you can’t change that water but once every five years. You end up going on a shared water system and you get punished like on an electric bill.

Do you think there’s any chance of getting that passed on this new city council?

I would like to maximize the education and figure out how the gap relates on those tiers, like how many kids and people are in your household. You have to do several things to hit different baselines. If you have six kids obviously you should use more water than somebody who has no kids…When I lived in a condo for 15 years I had an electric bill of $15. Then I moved into a house where’s it’s several hundred and I go `holy schmoley, what’s going on?’ I went to fluorescents. So you pay attention. So the tier system would help incentify that, right? You think that water’s cheap. It is. You think of water, it’s something that’s so fragile and so scarce, it is…So it makes you wonder why it isn’t already more incentified. So I think that one of the things that we absolutely are going to. I don’t know if that’s going to happen on our term or not, but we need to start looking at that, absolutely. (more…)

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This is Part II of a series of excerpts from a lengthy OC Voice interview with Mayor Keith Bohr of Huntington Beach. We spoke to the mayor about the long delayed efforts to clean up the ASCON toxic waste site in southeast Huntington Beach and the nearby desalination plant planned by Poseidon Resources Inc.

Note that the interview was conducted last November, when George W. Bush was still president of the United States and prior to the ASCON study session referred to in the interview.

By John Earl
OC Voice

Q: There hasn’t been any change at ASCON toxic waste dump in southeast Huntington Beach for decades now. In every election every city council candidate has said we want to clean that up. Fundamentally, not a thing has happened.

H.B. Mayor Keith Bohr. PHOTO/OC VOICE

H.B. Mayor Keith Bohr. PHOTO/OC VOICE

Something has happened. We’ve had the polluters identified. They said ‘Yes we’re responsible.’ And they have five or six alternative plans that are listed by the Department of Toxic Substances. And we’re supposed to have a study session the first quarter of next year that says this is what DTS recommends as the clean up solution. And then we have to have the neighborhood talks. All of the cleanup choices include thousands of truck trips. Do you want it cleaned up to the point that you can put residential on it? I think that’s probably too expensive and the clean up people don’t want to do it and I think the neighborhood would probably say ‘We’d love that but we probably don’t want to do five years or whatever it is of clean up.” So we are moving. (more…)

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Part 3 of a series

By John Earl
OC Voice

Poseidon Resources Inc.’s website claims that the desalination plant it wants to build in southeast Huntington Beach, at Newland and Beach avenues, will be a “cost-effective solution to provide residents with a safe and reliable water supply by using existing structures—at no cost to taxpayers.”

NOT THE VIRGIN MARY: The OC Voice took this photo of the city's new seal and later noticed the mysterious man in the background.

NOT THE VIRGIN MARY: The OC Voice took this photo of the city's new seal and later noticed the mysterious man in the background.

Elected officials who voted to approve the desalination plant three years ago have consistently echoed Poseidon’s claim: Poseidon would privately own and operate the plant for its own profit and for its investors—a strictly free market affair with no taxpayer investment or risk, they said.

City council representative Don Hansen praised the project’s supposed free market values to a crowded city council chamber before he gave Poseidon his vote along with three other council members, Keith Bohr, Gil Coerper and Cathy Green.

“My belief is that the market is going to drive the majority of these decisions. I truly believe that,” Hansen said.

If the Poseidon desalination plant is not profitable, he added, it “will never see the light of day. And it’s purely born on private investment dollars, the risk that they [Poseidon] are going to take.”

In a candidates’ debate last year, Hansen warned that “We’re going to need the water” and reassured again that “It’s not us building the plant. It’s all private investment.”

If all goes well for Poseidon, its Huntington Beach plant will produce 50 million gallons of drinking water per day by sometime in 2011. It still needs to obtain additional government permits and must work out a franchise agreement with the city first.

Poseidon plans to build an almost identical desalination plant in the city of Carlsbad. That project is further along in the permit process and if financing comes through it could start construction this summer. Poseidon’s CEOs dream of building large desalination plants at other California coastal locations as well.

Hansen’s appeal to the free market instincts of the voters is persuasive in a city where the call for smaller government is almost a religious doctrine. But attributing either Poseidon project to to free-market karma is misleading because the company could benefit from as much as $1 billion in taxpayer supplied subsidies that would make it easier for Poseidon to attract the private sector financing that it also needs but still lacks in order to build and operate the two plants. (more…)

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Sarah S. Mosko
OC Voice

For the nine in ten Americans who know next to nothing about nanotechnology (NT), there is little time to waste in getting up to speed because, ready or not, the NT revolution is well underway with new nano-engineered consumer products entering the market weekly.

Multi-walled carbon nanotubes exhibit unique properties. Photo courtesy of PEN.

Multi-walled carbon nanotubes exhibit unique properties. Photo courtesy of PEN.

Another reason, as voiced by consumer protection, health, and environmental organizations, is that NT products are being sold without adequate safety testing and government oversight.

The actual number of NT products in commerce is unknown because there is no labeling or reporting requirement, but over 800 have been tabulated by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN), an online inventory of manufacturer-identified NT goods funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

In 2007, at least $147 billion in global manufactured goods incorporated NT, encompassing such varied products as cosmetics, clothing, food, food packaging, and dietary supplements.  PEN estimates that figure will reach $2.6 trillion by 2014. (more…)

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By Sarah Mosko
OC Voice

It’s not much of a stretch to liken America’s relationship with cells phones to a once sizzling romance that ends in good bye.

Given all the environmental costs of cell phones, certainly the most eco-friendly cell is the one you already own.

Given all the environmental costs of cell phones, certainly the most eco-friendly cell is the one you already own.

Fated love affairs typically begin with blind infatuation and fiery passion before reality sets in, cooling the embers enough to allow more guarded, sometimes less attractive aspects of the self to surface. Interest wanes until the love object is abandoned or replaced by an alluring new one.

Americans relate to cell phones in much the same way. An old phone, with once novel features that drew fascination, is discarded with hardly a thought when an updated model makes it seem obsolete.

That consumers replace cell phones about every two years–with Californians purchasing in a single year nearly one new cell for every two state residents–makes this analogy seem less silly.

A parallel can be drawn too between the innards of a cell phone and what is revealed when one person lets another peek inside:  it’s not all pretty. Some nasty materials lurk behind the bright shiny casing, making cell phone disposal a knotty environmental issue, analogous to ending, with minimal damages, a relationship gone sour. (more…)

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By Sara Mosko
OC Voice

surfers

Surfing might seem like an earth-friendly sport, but a closer look reveals that the environmental impact may be more than you realize. Photo c1967 at Old Man’s Beach, San Clemente, California.

At first glance, surfing might seem like an inherently earth-friendly sport. Surfers paddle out and catch waves by sheer force of will and muscle. No need for fossil fuel-burning speed boats to get around. And, surfers have a reputation for caring about ocean pollution.

But a closer look reveals that, like most human activities, the environmental impact is far from nil and, consequently, there’s a nascent movement within the surfing industry to clean up it its act.

The Essentials
The bare necessities of surfing are surfboard, wetsuit, good waves and wheels to and fro. The waves are courtesy of Mother Nature, but the choices surfers make to otherwise outfit themselves determine the toll on the environment.

Lightweight polyurethane (PU) boards swathed in fiberglass cloth and polyester resin have been the industry mainstay since heavy wood boards were ditched in the 1950s. Because both PU and polyester are petrochemicals, the enviro impact starts with environmental degradation during petroleum extraction.

Then there’s the emission of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) during PU synthesis from two petrochemicals-a  ‘polyol’ plus a highly volatile and toxic compound called TID. The foam molding stage eats up plenty of energy and more air polluting VOCs are given off when the board is glassed. (more…)

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By John Earl
OC Voice

(Part 1 of a series on desalination)

Poseidon Resources Inc. and the four Huntington Beach city council members who voted in 2006 to approve the company’s request to build a desalination plant in the city’s southeast section promised that the project would be paid for with private funds-at no cost to the city’s taxpayers.

L-R: Huntington Beach Councilmembers Don Hansen, (Mayor) Keith Bohr, Gil Coerper, Cathy Green.

L-R: Huntington Beach Councilmembers Don Hansen, (Mayor) Keith Bohr, Gil Coerper, Cathy Green.

But Poseidon, a multi-national equity investor and developer of privatized water systems, currently controlled by “zombie” bank, Citigroup (which is being bailed out by federal tax funds), could directly and indirectly benefit from $1 billion in public funds, about 70 percent of that courtesy of taxpayers in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties and the rest paid for by taxpayers across America through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) signed into law recently by President Barack Obama.

The subsidies would also be directed at a nearly identical Poseidon desalination plant in the city of Carlsbad and would help ensure but not guarantee that both plants are cost effective for Poseidon to build and to operate. Under the city approved plan, Poseidon would build the desalination plant in Huntington Beach next to the AES power generating station at Beach and Newland streets. Poseidon’s plant would suck in 127 million gallons of seawater per day through existing AES cooling pipes to create 50 million gallons of per day or 56,000 acre feet of drinking water each year.

Poseidon would sell 3.2 million gallons of converted seawater per day to the city, a small fraction of its total daily water usage from other source, at five percent less than it pays the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) for water. The other 47.8 million gallons per day would go to MWDOC’s member districts at government subsidized prices. Jobs would be created by the building and operation of the plant and the city’s tax base would go up, according to predictions made by Poseidon and city staff. (more…)

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