How California’s drought hurts us all

Since we became a nation of urban dwellers, we’ve inevitably lost touch with the weather and how it sustains us. We in the cities and burbs have come to see bad weather as a threat to our roof shingles and perhaps to our decorative shrubs. But there’s a whole sphere of existence out there that depends mightily upon the proper sunshine, rainfall and temperatures for its livelihood, and ours.

The five roadblocks to labeling GE foods in the US

When polled, the vast majority of Americans favor requiring food companies to label genetically modified foods. Yet the public has been thwarted on this front, leaving the world’s largest democracy to stand alone among advanced (and emerging) nations in keeping consumers in the dark about GMOs. What happened to transparency and consumer choice in America? Let’s take a look.

Food labeling proponents blame loss on well-funded opposition, and vow to continue the fight

California’s ballot measure Proposition 37, which would have required labeling of genetically modified foods, a precursor to probable labeling across the U.S., failed narrowly in Tuesday’s election.

The first major ballot-box test in the U.S. for labeling GMO foods was killed by a tidal wave of opposition spending by giant biotech firms and pesticide makers and multi-national food corporations, advocates of labeling said.

First CODA drives off the line, giving consumers another EV option

CODA, the innocuous looking sedan that boldly promises the best range of any electric car on the market, officially entered its production phase this week.

The first fully outfitted silver, all-electric five-passenger Coda rolled off the assembly line at the plant in Benicia, Calif., on Monday, as factory workers cheered and company executives pledged to kick butt in a field that includes the Nissan Leaf, the Chevy Volt and the pricey Tesla Roadster.

Time to cross off plastic bags off our grocery list

This whole debate about plastic bags once seemed a mite frivolous to me, next to some of the really mammoth issues confronting society — food scarcity, global warming, coal and oil pollution. I got that it mattered. But it seemed like a side trip on the road to sustainability, like a smaller matter that would eventually resolve on its own. I was more concerned about the carbon pollution from big industrial sources, and our cars and our homes, that comprise the Damocles sword threatening our children’s future.
We had big fish to fry.

Plastic bag ban fails in California

California’s state Senate rejected a proposed law to ban plastic bags in grocery stores late Tuesday, voting 21-14 against the measure that had passed the Assembly earlier this summer.
Despite the support of progressives, environmental groups and the California Grocers Association, the plastic bag ban proved controversial, with the American Chemistry Council, which represents plastics makers and the oil industry, ridiculing the law in ads that claimed it was the wrong focus for the legislature and would cost the state jobs.

Plastic bag battle heats up in Sacramento

In this video report from Sacramento, Nanette Miranda of KABC-TV reports on the battle over the proposed plastic grocery bag ban in California.
The story quotes American Chemistry Council’s Tim Shestek saying the bill “has ramifications beyond California if it were to pass.” Shestek defends plastic bags as having a “good environmental footprint” and as fully recyclable.
It’s unclear how many plastic grocery bags are recycled. The ACC runs a website about recycling plastic bags.

California sues mortgage companies over PACE loans

California Attorney General Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. is suing mortgage companies over their refusal to allow PACE funding for clean energy improvements on homes.
PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) money allows homeowners to finance energy efficiency projects like solar panels through their property taxes. Cities that offer the plans can sell bonds to generate the money for PACE loans, which are then attached to a homeowners’ property tax bill. The plan provides homeowners with the upfront money they need for big improvements, and allows them to stretch out their payments over 20 years, making large capital improvements like solar arrays possible.

California’s solar rooftops program reports bright early results

California’s ambitious solar incentive program is basking in early success, despite the poor economy, according to a hopeful mid-course report.
Three years into a 10-year roll out, the California Solar Initiative (CSI), a component of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Million Solar Roofs” plan, is already 42 percent of the way toward its state goals, according to a July 9 report to the legislature. That’s counting projects that are installed, holding reservations and in progress, according to collected data.
All told, California has more than 600 Megawatts of installed solar power connected to the grid at nearly 65,000 customer sites.

Xeriscaping: The path to water independence

xeriscapescene2.jpg

(Photo: Green Right Now)


There’s been a lot of talk lately about energy independence. Important, no doubt. But we need to think about preserving water too, and nothing works harder toward this goal – or offers as much creative satisfaction – as Xeriscaping. In this endeavor, one could say that being green means dialing down the green in your lawn, giving up some of that solid sheet of thirsty turf and committing more area to a low-water garden that features rocks, flowering plants, shrubs and low-growing trees. That is Xeriscaping, getting away from landscaping that drinks up too much precious water.

Bike commuting is green, healthy & cheap, so why don’t more people do it?

Bicyclist (Photo: Savo Ilic/dreamstime)

Bicyclist (Photo: Savo Ilic/dreamstime)

It’s May, which means it’s Bicycle Month. Cities and cycling clubs around the country are promoting bicycle riding by sponsoring group rides and bike commuter events , culminating around Bike to Work Day on May 21. But the presence on the American calendar of a designated month to encourage bicycle transportation underscores the fact that most people in this nation get around by driving cars, not by riding bikes.

Got milk? Got methane? Got US innovation!

By Barbara Kessler Green Right Now The cows are fighting back! After hearing that their methane emissions (of the personal variety) were contributing to greenhouse gas pollution, they decided to prove that they could take care of their own biowaste, thank you very...

California’s new auto emissions labels help sort out cleanest vehicles

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Just like you hunt for that Energy Star tag when examining a fridge or washer, people in California can now duck under the hood of any new 2009 model car to get an at-a-glance emissions rating.

The Environmental Performance sticker, mandated to begin on Jan. 1 for all new model cars, will include two scores, one rating the car’s smog emissions and the other its greenhouse gas output. The air pollutants for the latter include carbon dioxide emissions, which make up the greatest volume of greenhouse gases. Gas engine cars emit nitrous oxides, methane gases, hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide and other emissions.

California leaders positioned to green U.S. policy

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

For years, California has been a leader of environmental policy — writing it’s own stricter rules for pesticide controls, air pollution and waste disposal as it sees fit, regardless of whether the nation is following along.

In the 1990s, the state pushed the leading edge of a technology that many of us wish had been pursued more aggressively when it hosted a test of modern electric cars, a fairly successful experiment that was regrettably shoved into neutral by U.S. automakers.

We’re not in Kansas — or even Arizona or California — anymore

By Barbara Kessler

If global warming wasn’t so devastatingly tangible, it would sound like part of a doomsday cult. Consider these projections of the future for a swath of the U.S.

First up: Kansas, the American heartland, breadbasket to the world, a place of amber waves of grain…a place we might not recognize by century’s end.

Under projected global warming scenarios, Kansas will become hotter and drier, with more insects and more storms during the next several decades. By century’s end, western Kansas will be so arid, it will need 8 more inches of water to sustain crops there. Eastern Kansas will be wetter, but so warm that evaporation will claim the extra rainfall and southwestern Kansas will be a virtual desert. All this according to a report released last week by University of Kansas scientists Nathaniel Brunsell and Johannes Feddema for the Climate Change and Energy Project based in Salina, Kansas.

But wait, Dorothy, there’s more.

California’s message to cities: unsprawl

By Barbara Kessler

Once again, California is leading the way toward greener cities. Today, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation that addresses sprawl concretely (and one hopes that’s concrete mixed with recycled fly ash).

Many states and cities have talked about the need to shorten commutes and to connect work centers with fuel-saving public transportation. These talks have sometimes yielded more commuter rail lines, bike paths and awards for urban renewal projects. But just as often, they’ve produced more talk.

Dealing holistically with sprawl has seemed beyond the grip of many large cities where the citizenry and leadership have long equated bigger with better. (Need we name these Sunbelt perpetrators?)

Now California may help break the impasse. The bill, SB 375, signed today puts some green on the table – to push the issue beyond talk. It will link federal transportation funding to climate change goals, offering incentives to builders to keep their projects closer to city hubs and to build more affordable housing projects within major metro areas.

Denser urban population growth will mean shorter, fewer commutes, translating to lower fuel consumption, preserved agricultural land and cleaner air. Neat how those things all go hand in hand, huh? The re-direct will help the state meet its goal of reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Critics were miffed that during machinations, the building lobby won some exemptions from some other environmental requirements for those pursuing these incentives. But as we’ve seen in Congress, even crisis legislation can crack and falter if compromises aren’t made.

Copyright © 2008 | Distributed by Noofangle Media

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