FROM David Pettit
Checking In on the Porter Ranch Disaster The natural gas leak in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of L.A. County is turning into a major disaster. Thousands of residents have been moved out of their homes. Schools have been relocated. People have suffered headaches, nausea, nosebleeds, and other symptoms. The leak was detected back in October. But it has taken until this week for Gov. Jerry Brown to get involved and declare a state of emergency. Meanwhile, cleanup could cost billions. And the leak is so bad, it’s impacting global warming emissions targets for the whole state. We get the ground-level and big-picture views.
California’s Courtship of Tesla Motors Tesla is churning out its electrically powered cars in the Bay Area — a “green” product in what claims to be the “greenest” state in the nation. Now Tesla wants to build a new battery plant… starting in 30 days. That would require big changes in California’s Environmental Quality Act, but negotiations reportedly are under way in the office of Governor Brown.
Will California See Another Oil Bonanza — for Better or Worse? California could be on the verge of another oil boom from the Monterey Shale Formation, which underlies much of the state, as new technologies might allow the extraction of billions of barrels of liquid petroleum. But will the environmental costs outweigh the benefits?
Will Fracking Tarnish the Golden State? Hydraulic fracturing, called "fracking," has created outrage in Pennsylvania and led to regulations in New York state. The oil-drilling practice is widespread in Southern California, and bills for a moratorium or an outright ban have been killed in Sacramento. A measure to provide increased regulation is still alive, but even environmental groups are divided.
Are California's Environmental Protections Bad for Business? Ronald Reagan advocated small government but, 43 years ago, he signed the California Environmental Quality Act , abbreviated as CEQA. The law has been given credit for both environmental preservation and protection of public health, but it's also accused of being bad for business. Now there's a move to make some major changes before the Assembly and Senate adjourn in less than three weeks.
The Economy, the Environment and the Port of Los Angeles After eight years of controversy, the LA City Harbor Commission has unanimously approved a new cargo facility to transfer containers from ships to train cars instead of trucks using the Alameda Corridor. Bob Foster, the Mayor of Long Beach, calls it a threat to the lives of school kids on his side of the border.
Can a Football Stadium Be 'Environmentally Friendly?' The developer AEG is demanding special relief from state environmental procedures as a condition for building an NFL stadium in downtown LA. It would still have to complete an environmental impact report, and challenges could still be filed in court. But AEG wants to speed up the procedure. The stadium hasn’t been fully approved, but AEG wants action now, before this year’s legislative session ends on Friday.
California's Budget Madness Comes to a Close...Sorta Twelve billion dollars in tax increases, $15 billion in spending cuts, $11 billion in borrowing? In the wee hours of this morning, despite the knowledge that as a Republican he would face “dire political ramifications,” State Senator Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria finally said, yes, acknowledging that “the ramifications for the people of California are far much greater.” So, you might think it’s all over. After all the wrangling, it’s still possible the state could run out of money. Crucial parts of the $42 billion deal will have to be approved by the voters.
Cleaner Trucks at the Ports The ports of LA and Long Beach handle half of all America's imports from overseas. Together, they are a principal economic engine for Southern California. But they're also a major polluter and a menace to public health, causing significant illness and premature deaths. On October 1, new rules go into effect that are expected to reduce diesel pollution from trucks by half—overnight.
Does Los Angeles Have the Greenest Carbon Footprint in the USA? Just a month ago, the American Lung Association said that aggressive efforts have improved air quality in Los Angeles. Instead of being America’s worst polluter, it is second worst after Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. But today the Brookings Institution , a well-regarded Washington think-tank, reports that Los Angeles is greener than Portland or San Francisco—in fact it’s carbon foot-print beats any city except Honolulu.
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.
Why Don't Facts Matter? "Fake News" may have a long history, but social media and 21st Century politics have brought it front and center. One reason for its appeal and its power is the tendency of so many people to cling to their beliefs — even when confronted with contradictory evidence. Today, another look at the Emotional States of America.
"Tough on crime" rhetoric sees a revival at Sessions' DOJ The pendulum swings between treatment-focused approaches to drug abuse and tough law enforcement. Now, after years of Obama-era "reforms," President Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions wants local police freed from federal restrictions to fight another "war on drugs."
Trump's ethical conflicts pile up as transparency diminishes President Trump's refusal to reveal his income tax returns is just one example of a lack of transparency that could be hiding conflicts of interest. Other conflicts are already obvious from his appointments. And he's being sued for using his job to increase his profits.