Sunday, November 29, 2009

California Energy Commission stands up to lobbyists, 5-0

Despite strong lobbying and opposition from the Consumer Electronics Association, the California Energy Commission (CEC) voted to require TV manufacturers sell sets in 2011 33% more efficient then now and by 2013 49% more efficient. The rules apply to sets smaller than 58 inches. (Regulations will be coming for sets larger than 58").

Almost 1000 TV models now comply with the 2011 standard, and even 300 sets comply with the 2013 rules; some argue the standard is really targeting the laggards.

Many CEC energy efficiency regulations have been adopted by other states over the years. California is a leader in efficiency and one reason by electricity use per capita has been flat, given the state's generally robust growth since the 1970s.

The new regulations will:
  • reduce energy use (i.e. save us money)
  • encourage other states and federal government to follow
  • encourage the industry to innovate
Even some of these new TVs still use over 200 watts. (Can you cook an egg?)

Californians replace their 35MM TVs about once every 9 years.

More information in this SJ Mercury Article. and one from Sacramento Bee.

Here's a guide to TVs from NRDC.

And here is a video from Newsy TV, which presents a few viewpoints:

By the way, who is the California Energy Commission? Can you give one fact: During the 1970s energy crisis, Arthur Rosenfield, now a Commissioner, walked around Lawrence Berkeley Labs at night turning off the lights and discovered one of the golden rules of energy savings: conservation.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

PG&E and Renewable Energy

While on the subject of California electricity, this is a particularly useful Cleantech article on status of PG&E's renewable sourcing, officially known as RPS (renewal portfolio standard).

-using compressed air for storage ??
-pumping water to higher levels at night ??

PG&E says it is now at 14% renewable and will make its 20% goal, just not by 2010.

And is anyone familiar with Marin Clean Energy ?

A Tale of California Electricity

In 40 minutes, Ron Hofmann gave a good introduction to the players, recent history and a few of the problems facing California electric utilities and consumers, at the last Citris talk of the UC semester.

The 1970s oil shock gave rise to the California Energy Commission (CEC) which helped put into place policies and programs that enabled California to have flat per capita electricity use since, with economic and population growth, while the US had an increase of about 2% per year.

But deregulation in 1996 was not so successful as 'gamers' - legal or otherwise, and just Enron - quickly took advantage of new separation of wholesale (supply-side) market. Previously, the electricity industry had been a "vertically integrated industry" (production, distribution, transmission). Hofmann described the rolling blackouts in 2000-1 as deliberate lack of supply, i.e. withholding of capacity.

California's energy load, of course, peaks with summer air-conditioning load - at about 50% above the year round average (i.e. an additional 40,000 MW) which requires inefficient, dirty "peaker" plants be brought online.

This is hardly a new problem but technology now exists to manage this load - it is "low-lying fruit."

Pre-deregulation utilities offered customers incentives to allow the utility to control supply to each home. (Anyone know more about this?) After deregulation, this could not be done.

The technology the industry now wants to implement is called "Demand-Response or (DR)" and uses pricing and signals (e.g. smart meters) to manage load, summer or not. "In crisis, people cooperate, but is not sustainable," said Hofmann, who added "the process must be automated." With prices and signals (DR), the price of electricity will rise on hot afternoons.

The customer will decide (in advance) what should happen next. With smart meters now going in (PG&E for example expects to finish the change over by 2012), the hardware, software, protocols now need to be created.

There are plenty of stakeholders in the electricity industry: regulators (federal, state), the energy suppliers (Calpine?), the grid operator (Cal ISO), the utilities and, oh yes, us. Hofmann said regulators should decide the WHAT (the rules for DR) and the utilities decide HOW to implement the rules. Unfortunately, the "us" is not so well represented. With DR or generally.

What he is referring to is the software, hardware, wires etc. from the smart meter to the appliance (washing machine) or thermostat in your house, part of the demand-response apparatus. [It sounds a bit like the 1980s when we tried to add fax and answering machines to our home telephone line and AT&T said, "whoa, that's our equipment - you can NOT just plug stuff into it."]

The electric industry is promoting a proprietary DR protocol and hardware called "Zigbee" for connecting appliances to the smart meter. Hofmann, however, spoke highly of open source alternative from PIER (the research arm of California Energy Commission) which is developing open source openADR and wifi for interconnections between appliances and meter.

Please don't misunderstand - this is about hardware, software,wires, how two machines talk to each other and the size or shape of the plugs. In Demand-Response (DR), the customer still decides - but in advance - what will happen during peak times, but DR is the way process is then automated. If you decide, in advance, you want to run the washing machine and air conditioner when it is 100 degrees, you still can - you will just pay a lot more for it. If, on the other hand, you decide allow the utility to control when the washing machine goes on, that too will happen, and you will pay less for it.

We will see how Demand-Response evolves and the appliances in our homes are operated.

More on Ron Hofmann:
Please join us for the next CITRIS I4energy lecture at the Banatao Institute at Berkeley this semester:

"A Perspective on Energy Challenges in California"
Ron Hofmann [Senior Advisor, CIEE]

12:00 p.m., Friday, November 20
Banatao Auditorium, 3rd floor, Sutardja Dai Hall, UC Berkeley

The full seminar schedule for the fall can be found at As always, these talks are free, open to the public and broadcast live online at mms://, and questions can be sent via Yahoo IM to username: citrisevents.

In 1996, California deregulated its wholesale electricity market and left it up to the regulated investor-owned utilities to manage retail electricity costs for consumers.

Four years later, this paradigm fell apart in large measure because consumers had no incentive and timely mechanisms to reduce load when electricity supply prices began to rise.

Mr. Hofmann will provide a brief overview of the California electricity crisis of 2000-2001, a history of what the PIER program has been funding in demand response over the past 8 years, and a perspective on California's energy challenges going forward.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors: 0; Planet Earth -19 on Vehicle GHG

Despite a February 2008 grant and signed agreement with the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District (MBUAPCD), today the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted unanimously, with negligible debate, to walk away. The grant and project is to determine County mobile GHG emissions and devise 'policies and programs' to reduce or eliminate them. The RTC will now perform the study. It apparently took the County 19 months to realize they couldn't do it. BOS: 0; Earth -19.

According to John Presleigh of the SCC Public Works Department the reason was that MBUAPCD had awarded a $10,000 grant for a project that would cost Ecology Action, a partner on the project, $50,000 to do. He did not know the reason for 19 month delay.

However, upon examining public information later made available by the Public Works Department, a slightly different story is presented. For the County, Thomas Bolich of SCC signed the "Grant Acceptance Agreement" with MBUAPD which had these features:

-"total cost" $23,250; $10,000 from the grant with remaining $13,250 that "Grantee attests having secured the balance of $13,250"

-though a 2 year grant, the document specifies the project should have ended 3/31/09

-Attachment 1 "Sources of Other Secured Funds, $13,250 - Ecology Action" ($12,750 for "personnel" and $500 for "grant administration")

-Attachment 2 "Grantee has secured all other funds necessary to implement the Project"

I was also shown a 6/24/08 MBUAPCD letter informing the County and CEO of Ecology Action that the agreement would be extended the agreement by 3 months through 4/30/10 because of fires and smoky conditions.

To a non-lawyer it is clear that the funds were in place; a deal had been made; partners in place; and now the County wants to walk away.

The Public Works Department had no further information. Attempts to reach Supervisors Coonerty and Stone, or John Presleigh were unsuccessful. Questions submitted in advance to the BOS meeting were not answered. The RTC staff I spoke with were only vaguely aware that this project was coming their way and had no further details.

  • Is this a breakdown of so-called "public-private partnershp"?
  • A BOS abdication of responsibility for acting on climate change?
  • A failure of government oversight?
  • Is this why the Commission on the Environment, chaired by Ecology Action CEO Johnson, would not answer questions about specific GHG emissions, targets, policies - despite knowing EA,a private organization, had exactly this obligation (and couldn't do it)?

We look forward to the answers.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Toshiba - Corporate Shift on Climate Change?

As a followup to one of Dr. Nielsen's points Friday at Citris, namely the rapid shift in corporation thinking toward the view that climate change is a strategic risk and also "business opportunity", the Financial Times today ran an article about Toshiba's new strategy to invest in stable, secure green technology and lessen its reliance on low margin "flashy consumer gadgets."

The company's new president, Norio Sasaki, who came rose to the top from the company's nuclear division, wants to double investment in its 'energy business' over the next 3 years.

This includes large systems for hydro, high-efficiency "clean coal" technologies, solar, efficient electricity transmission, and promising lithium-ion batteries for cars. And, yes, nuclear power, which Toshiba has considerable expertise.

[You didn't think Toshiba was doing this for 'social responsibility,' did you?]

[Update] Here's an SJ Mercury article, suggested by Steve Terry, about a new corporate based initiative to push the US toward 14 million electric vehicles by 2020, Nissan, FedEx, PG&E . (Americans have 250 MM cars; about 1 MM are hybrids.)

Full Story

Open Letter to Santa Cruz City Council

November 16, 2009

Dear City Council Members:

At the last meeting, I inquired about the status of a few items related to climate change, reducing energy consumption, vehicle miles traveled, etc.

When I ran out of time, Mayor Mathews suggested I submit some of the questions which I did.

With the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference fast approaching, and our Congress ineffectual, the world will soon take full notice of our "... abandonment of moral responsibility...." [Rajendra Pashauri, Chair of IPCC].

As I do, many Santa Cruz citizens want to know what measures the City is taking, now, to reduce CO2 and energy in accord with the latest science.

Where are we on joining the UK's 10:10, for example? Where I can read the 2008 GHG Inventory report, promised in September? Which ideas are we implementing from the blue chip "Moving Cooler study?

Thank you.

Jim Rothstein

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Optimism .... Despite No Climate Treaty?

Speaking Friday in Berkeley after the announcement that a binding treaty would not be signed in Copenhagen, Dr. Niels Christian Nielsen gave a thoughtful but cautiously optimistic talk about recent trends that may mitigate climate change. However, he also pointed out there will be "winners and losers" and one loser may be the United States.

Citris is "Center for Information Technology and Research in the Interest of Society", a partnership industry and between UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Merced and UC Santa Cruz. Its goal is to spur research developments into viable companies and industries. One of Citris' main themes is "Energy and the Environment".

Dr. Nielsen is a leading worldwide expert on energy and climate change policy. The title of his talk was "Issues and Challenges Leading up to COP-15: The U.N. Summit on Climate Change." His logic is simple but compelling:

First, several parts of the world have already embraced renewable energy and built economies around it. Not mega solar or wind projects, just enough to be sustainable and encourage economic growth. He described a poor area in southeastern Anatolia (Turkey) that wanted wind powered electricity for villages. The Turkish government ordered enough new mid-size (75kW) high-performance turbines and asked the manufacturer to build some of the turbines in region. The manufacturer agreed.

The Turkish government ordered solar-powered pumps for drip-irrigation, and asked the manufacturer to build some of the pumps in region. A manufacturer again agreed. Next, the government asked textile makers if they wanted organic cotton and partnered with them.

Dr. Nielson's point is Turkey is a first adopter and is making economic progress while being committed to renewable. Parts of Chile and Argentina have similar programs to build their economies.

And in his native Denmark, if today every Dane had an electric car, the country now has sufficient wind energy infrastructure to recharge all the car batteries - at night and without adding one more turbine.

These areas could be the 'winners.'

His second reason for optimism is a shift in corporate thinking about climate change. Rather than sending lobbyists to Washington, corporations are now seeing a greater strategic 'risk' in the climate change 'uncertainty.'

This is not about 'corporate responsibility;' it is about a giant insurance company worrying about its core liability. Or about Siemens and GE, which joined in the past few weeks in a call for climate 'clarification' because they can not do long-term strategic planning. Dr. Nielson sits on 12 boards and said this trend is isn't just Google or Ben & Jerry's; it is new and about companies like IBM, Intel, BP, Shell, i.e. mainstream corporations. And, of course, the companies see opportunities in renewables.

The third reason for optimism of global action is China. They have been a 'brilliant' negotiator, in solidarity with developing countries and in solidarity with BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China):

We in the US use 5 times the energy per capita as the Chinese (and twice EU or Japan). Are we going to cut consumption or is China going to cut growth?

There are some 170 countries who are already to make a treaty, many simultaneously preparing their infrastructures, but they will sign only if the developed countries who made this mess act first.

Dr. Nielsen didn't say it, but the implication is the worldwide pressure on the US is going to become intense.

Which brings this to the final point, winners and losers. Turkey, Chile, Argentina, Denmark and others who make the leap to renewable sources will be poised to grow economically. And China.

China has 'gotten religion.' They certainly do have a polluted country; they are opening a new coal-fired electric plant almost once per week and they do make mistakes, but they are also committed - at the highest levels - to developing a leadership position in batteries, electric cars, smart grid and renewables. By leadership, Dr. Nielsen means they may come to dominate whole industries in the way the US dominates in IT: jobs (white, blue & green), investment, expertise, markets, marketing, security, research and development - but manufacturing alone.

The United States is "playing a weak hand very badly." Every day that Congress does not act on climate treaty, or developing renewable infrastructure, or stimulating demand for non-fossil fuels is a day we will not get back.

On the one hand, he is optimistic a fundamental change is underway with renewables and corporate attitudes climate change. But, on the other hand, there will be "winners and losers." Where do you think the new Texas turbines are being built? (Ask me about Shenyang, China.)

We are close to the 'tipping point' where the US will not be able to catch up and the ramifications for this country will be enormous.

Citris Events

Video of Dr. Nielsen's talk

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Brown Act, Conflicts - Filed Against County Environmental Commission

Press Release (11/12/09)

Brown Act, Conflicts Complaint Filed Against: Santa Cruz County - Commission on the Environment

For additional information:
Jim Rothstein

Today an environmental citizen filed a complaint against Santa Cruz County's Commission on the Environment (COE), alleging violations of the California Brown Act (open meetings and documents) and County's Conflict-of-Interest Laws. In accordance with the Brown Act, the filing was submitted to the County District Attorney office for review and possible civil and criminal action.

"All citizens deserve timely information about the latest science and policy alternatives in regard to the environment and climate change, free from any conflict of interests" said Jim Rothstein who filed the complaint on behalf of Santa Cruz County citizens. Several of the Commissions have a funding relationship with local government, or wish to.

"On the surface, the [COE's] meetings seem to be open, even polite, but as soon as you ask to read the documents, seek data or ask to attend a working group an invisible wall goes up, for example they'll say meetings listed on the agenda are private 'internal staff planning meetings' " he added. "They hadn't even updated the agenda or minutes in the 5 months before I called about an August 26 meeting." "Several times the Chair would tell me I have 'good questions' and they'll answer it in a future document, but refuse to give a release date. Another time I asked the same question at two meetings; only to told each time it would answered at the next meeting - but it wasn't. When I asked what COE to do in preparation for UN's Copenhagen Conference they made a joke out it before answering 'no plans.' This is all a disservice to the public which empowers the COE."

The Brown Act was originally enacted in 1953 and has been updated since. It places the burden on government to prove why a meeting must be shielded from public participation. Like all laws, enforcement is the key.

The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.

The District Attorney's office receives 5-10 Brown Act complaints each year and decides which to pursue. But, Robin Giysin, the DA Civil Affairs coordinator said "We've never filed a Brown Act suit."

Acknowledging this, Rothstein said "The Board of Supervisors created this Commission and ultimately they are responsible; I've told them about the problems." Rothstein said his original intent in attending COE meetings was to "do something" about climate change and environment. He wasn't surprised to learn the COE felt exempt from County's conflict-of-interest rules, but stunned that they'd actually admit it. He hopes the COE will be able to focus on public service, but he wants to return to working on environmental issues and policy. He feels the County needs a strong independent group, based on science and community, to provide policy guidance. "We have wonderful scientific organizations in this County; we need to listen and act accordingly."

The Commission on the Environment meets monthly and the public may attend. The Chair is Virginia Johnson, CEO of Ecology Action. COE staff is Nancy Gordon, a senior level staff member with Santa Cruz County.

More on Brown Act and Santa Cruz County Codes:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cash for Appliance Clunkers, Clothes Lines in Santa Cruz

Rebates for Energy Efficient Home Appliances
Beginning next April, California expects to receive about $35MM under the ARRA (stimulus) Act to offer rebates for purchasing energy efficient home appliances. It will be first come, first served, with $100 for new washing machines, $75 new refrigerators (sorry, no wine coolers) and no dryers (more below). Manufacturers can add additional rebates. You must recycle your old one. New appliances must meet the EPA's Energy Star rating and possibly even higher state requirements. (Note: $35MM means about 375,000 appliances; 1 for every 32 households in California; we have 10MM households)
More from the California Energy Commission.

No Dryers - Back to the Clothes Line
Why no dryers? Dryers are energy hogs, using 6-10% of household electricity.
Here is a SJ Mercury News article about a Santa Cruz woman claimed to reduce her monthly electric bill from $100 to $40 just by using the clothes line. [But, um, she does 14 loads a week!]

1000 flags
Digress to China for a moment, where everyone is buying new energy efficient washing machines, air conditioners, but no dryers. Everywhere I went in that country, north or south, east or west, I got the same answer: "We like the fresh smell." In fact, almost all Chinese apartment buildings have some kind of terrace (open in the south, enclosed in the north) that is always filled with laundry. That's laundry hanging over the side or handing in the hallway, rooms, everywhere.

When I said to one friend that terraces are often considered a luxery in the US, she immediately burst out: "Where do you dry the clothes??" (Needless to say, few outdoor BBQ in China.) By the way, Chinese rinse clothes nightly and never wear torn or dirty clothes. (I didn't say they were designer clothes.)

Giant TVs and California Energy Commission
Good news (?) is you can have a big TV, but the bad news is only if it uses less than 142 watts. [Depending on your viewpoint you might not see any good or bad there.] In any event, the Consumer Electronics Association, with 5 minutes before the deadline, submitted a request for a review, thus halting a vote (NRDC) by the California Energy Commission on this energy saving measure. 142 watts is doable, would save us money but the CEA is an example of an industry doing everything in its power to turn "back the clock."

Here's an interested Blog on No Impact Week
When DOE Secretary Chu talks about low-lying fruit sitting on the ground, he's probably referring to turning hot water from 140F to 120F (saving 500 lb of CO2); replacing incandescent bulbs with CFL (or LED); checking insulation - all of which SAVE money, as well as reduce energy use per captia in this country which is 4 times EU or Japan! This NRDC Blog is more interesting and useful than I am.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lead, UCSC and the Sublities of Life

[I write about this because (1) it's interesting (2) it happening in Santa Cruz, UCSC and (3) in era of climate change we need our scientists and their clarity, precision, intellectual honesty more than ever before.]

Never thought I'd find seminars like "How Bacteria Breathe Arsenic" interesting, but after reading Toxic Truth (the fight against the scientists who fought against lead) or Ecological Intelligence (the full lifecycle impact of food and products we create and use) or reading about certain plants that can absorb the heavy metals in a brownfield (or, um, urban gardens), I have become very curious about the interplay of biology, chemistry and the environment and our health. A subject studied at UCSC's Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology Department.

[I was educated in a prior century where physics and then electronics seemed to be the key.]

"Toxic Truth" also describes a young scientist probing for environmental lead, A. Russell Flegal, who later joined UCSC's faculty. So when I heard about a public lecture honoring the 10th anniversary of UCSC's Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology Deptartment, I couldn't resist.

Dr. Howard Hu gave the talk last Tuesday:
"Lead Toxicity: Twenty Years of Research on the Poison that Keeps on Poisoning

Lead is just one of the thousands of toxins we've put into the environment. It is a "success" story because scientists and doctors got it out of paint, cosmetics, gasoline and out of our blood stream - only after decades of fighting corporations. (A little bit like climate change? Or smoking?) Thousands of other toxins have never been studied.

The amount of lead in our bodies, yours and mine, is "low" but still far above what pre-industrial revolution man had in his/her body. How "low" is safe? Maybe no level.

Unfortunately, the lead is now in our bones, in "low" doses, because the body is tricked into thinking lead is calcium. So we all now have "low" levels of lead - in our bones, if not blood. And what does "low" levels of lead do?

That is what Dr. Hu reported to about 100 scientists and students, in very clear, accessable lecture.

Here's a myth for you: As we age, our arteries naturally constrict and our blood pressure tends to rise. True? Seems plausible and the data seems to support it. But it is false. Only people in industrialized societies have this pattern. People in rural societies do NOT exhibit this pattern.

And nobody knows why.

What Dr. Hu and people in his field look at amount of lead in people's bones. Of course, there is a range - some have more lead, some less, even though it is all "low" level. There are studies, over time, of groups of individuals and what diseases they contract. Turns out that people with higher lead (still "low") have much higher liklihood of also having hypertension. Again, nobody knows exactly why, but is clearly observable.

And not just hypertension, but also higher likelihood of ALS, tooth loss.

What Dr. Hu studies is the interaction of "low" does of lead and the body's chemisty and genetic makeup. Lead interferes with all kinds of processes, but it also seems to interact with certain genes, or gene variations.

In fact, Dr. Hu has raised some interesting possibilities that lead exposure at very young age, perhaps even through the mother, can result in higher incidence of disease (or is this accelerating 'aging') later in life. In the middle, we have NO signs of illness. There is NO known level of lead that is safe.

These guys are the our heroes because they are pulling away the veil of "better life through chemistry" that I grew up and moving us toward a better understanding our own planet. [Chemistry certainly can make life better, but life is simply more complicated and subtle than we all thought it would be.]

Maybe they are getting closer to sublties of life itself.

Santa Cruz Commission on Environment, Brown Act

I have attended meetings of the Santa Cruz County Commission on the Environment and have had several emails with the staff. The Environment, of course, is a vitally important subject and the public needs to be both informed and engaged.

However, I have found the workings of this Commission opaque, as well as falling short in several areas related to content, speed, possible conflicts, engagement of the public.

California has the Brown Act to make meetings open. I have notified my Supervisor (Coonerty) that though I am not a lawyer it seems quite clear to me the SCC Commission on the Environment has been operating in violation of the letter and spirit of Brown Act.

I like this part of the Act:
The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the
agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.
Here is related information in Santa Cruz County code, section 2.38.

Finally, here is the "demand letter" I sent:
(Also my September 25, 2009 letter)
November 4, 2009
Dear Nancy Gordon:
cc: Allison Endert (Supervisor Coonerty's Office)

Under 54960.1 of the Brown Act and Santa Cruz County 2.38.130, 2.38.230, 2.38.270 Chapter 2.54 plus other appropriate laws, do here and in all prior oral/electronic/written communication since August 2009 demand of the Santa Cruz County Commission on Environment:
  • full disclosure and transparency of all COE activities
  • public access and participation in all COE activities, including subcommittees, task forces, working groups etc.
  • conflict of interest policy and personal statements (section 2.38.270)
  • bylaws and resolutions authorizating subcommittees (section 2.38.130 B, 2.38.230 A)
  • correction of inaccurate minutes and omissions
  • make public: all work-in-progress, all data, all draft reports, all electronic or email correspondence; all consultant reports or drafts, all ICLEI reports or drafts, etc.
  • all other information necessary for the Board of Supervisors and citizens of Santa Cruz County be fully and timely informed the issues covered in your subject area ..."...such as energy, environmental health, business, climate change, ecological science, education, housing development, transportation, agriculture, water, biotic resources, land use planning"
I am not a lawyer. The citizens of this county need to be informed on the issues, risks, facts, related to the environment, especially reducing green house gases and reducing energy consumption. Nothing less than full disclosure, transparency, and public engagement is acceptable.
Jim Rothstein

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Climate Action, plastic bags Board of Supervisors, Nov 3

Received an email from Ross Clark, City of Santa Cruz's Climate Coordinator, the year 2008 Climate Greenhouse inventory report would be ready "any day" now.

Another report, the City's Climate Action Plan is in draft form (private?) and will available "soon after the new year."

At this morning's County Board of Supervisors Meeting most of the discussion was about Arana Gulch Master Plan, which calls for an asphalt bicycle lane that an EIR says will cause serious harm to a rare, endangered plant. The issue has divided the environmental community, but appears to have the votes to pass, Supervisor Mark Stone asked for time to review the information.

I spoke for 3 minutes during Open session re: Climate Change, thanking Supervisor Coonerty for the Oct 24 proclamation as International Day of Climate Action. But I stressed the need now for action, before the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December:
  • full disclosure/full transparency of all the data, goals, reports that the County has, even if not complete, such vehicle miles traveled, energy use, ICLEI draft reports, etc. and referred to my September 25, 2009 letter
  • Asked that by Thanksgiving, finish what they have, release whatever they have and start to act
  • By act, I refered to UK's 10:10, Bablyon, NY's 12x12, Secretary Chu's "low-lying fruit", read "Moving Cooler" report even if they don't like it
  • Also, start educating and engaging the public. If adults can not calculate the CO2 released by driving to the mall, teach our children to.
  • Other ideas (before I ran out of time): 1 day a week "no car", green roofs (not just solar) and stressed again the need to act, not send to committees, task forces, etc. the science has changed.
I was disappointed with Supervisor Stone's plastic bag initative which was sent to COE and Public Works to draft an ordinance (and return in 6 months) After the meeting ending, he said it would be better if State of California acts on this. I asked him why he couldn't write the ordinance? Is Santa Cruz so different from the other municipalities working on this? He seemed to fear "litigation."

I also asked him about banning single-use coffee cups, but he smiled and said one issue at a time.

More on plastic in Linda Fridy's Mid-County Post article.

My own thoughts:
One issue at a time? How much time does our local government think we have? 6 months to write an ordinance?? And I also thought "single-use" was an adjective, so I immediately began to think: what else is "single-use" in everyday life? After all, "single-use" is a relatively new idea. Before McDonald's, ok before Michael Jackson, we didn't throw everything away after 1 use - I can remember that.