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Enforcement Program Focuses on California’s Metal Recyclers

The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced today that an investigation referred to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office has resulted in the filing of 19 criminal charges against a Sun Valley scrap metal recycler for allegedly releasing hazardous chemicals. The charges are the first to stem from a statewide initiative that found alleged hazardous waste violations at 40 out of 42 metal recycling companies, most in environmentally burdened communities

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Number of SLO wells contaminated with toxic solvent grows

The number of domestic wells in south San Luis Obispo contaminated with a toxic industrial solvent has grown to between 11 and 21 and those numbers could go even higher as a two-week-old investigation continues.

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Carrillo Holdings’ selling spree – $12.2M Santa Barbara property caps off year of deals

In 2011, Paladin Law Group helped Carrillo Holdings negotiate a landmark agreement, the Regional Water Quality Control Board – Central Coast Region under the California Land Reuse and Revitalization Act of 2004 giving the buyer-developer immunity for the contamination that has plagued the site for decades.  The story was a familiar one, a shopping center contaminated with dry cleaning solvents that made it difficult to sell given the risk to the buyer.  Taking advantage of Brownfields laws designed to encourage the cleanup and reuse of underused urban properties subject to liability from historic contamination, Carrillo Holdings was able to accomplish a focused on-site cleanup and sell the property for a substantial profit.

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Bike Coalition Shifting into High Gear

Long-time bike commuter, Bret Stone, provided pro bono legal support to help the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition purchase the property that houses its community cycling center and DIY bike repair shop.  The Brownfields site had been contaminated by historic dry cleaning operations.  Stone negotiated the transaction and related environmental protections to a successful close.

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California to set chromium limit for drinking water supplies

The state Department of Public Health is adopting the nation's first-ever drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium, a carcinogen found in water supplies across the state.

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Flat Demand For Attorneys Stumps BigLaw, But Inspires Others

While flat demand for outside lawyers has behemoth law firms struggling to change their business models, upstart boutiques and non-law-firm service providers are tailoring legal advice and leveraging technology to reinvent how services are delivered to clients, chipping away at work traditionally done by BigLaw in the process, experts say.

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Leaky sewer lines delivered TCE to homes

A report commissioned by the city is boosting suspicions that early semiconductor companies spread pollution throughout northeastern Mountain View by dumping toxics into leaky sewer lines.

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First Solar signs PPAs with four California cities for 40MW Kingbird plant

US thin-film panel maker and PV project builder, First Solar, has signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) for electricity generated by a planned 40MW project in Kern County, California.

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Nitrate pollution continues for decades after fertilizer use

Nitrates from agricultural fertilizer could continue to leach into groundwater for at least 80 years after initial use, according to researchers who conducted a long-term study of nitrogen uptake.

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Speed Bump for Channel Cargo Ships?

Two types of titans travel to the Santa Barbara Channel by the thousands. One is the largest mammal on earth: the endangered krill-eating, water-spouting blue whale. The other is the behemoth, oil-burning, smoke-spewing cargo ships that local environmentalists and air quality managers have been lobbying for decades to rein in

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Pollution offset program proves difficult for Santa Rosa

A first-of-its-kind program in California requiring Santa Rosa to offset pollution from its wastewater treatment plant by cleaning up other problem properties in the watershed is struggling to find enough suitable projects.

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Toxics cleanup dispute at former railyards in Sacramento

Workers in Sacramento's downtown railyard this summer unearthed a disconcerting find: a large container of contaminated soil, likely buried by the Southern Pacific railroad company, which once used the property to build and fix locomotives.
It wasn't the first such surprise. A few months before that, they had dug up an old tank.
The discoveries are adding fuel to a behind-the-scenes disagreement over how much contamination remains in the 240- acre property – once known as the biggest industrial complex west of the Mississippi – and who will pay to get rid of it.

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Nitrate contamination rules coming

A University of California, Davis study released in March identified agricultural fertilizers as the main contributor to contaminated groundwater. Nitrates, which can cause birth defects and other problems, have made the well water unsafe in several economically disadvantaged communities in the San Joaquin Valley.

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Court strikes down EPA pollution rule

A federal appeals court Tuesday struck down a key Obama administration air pollution rule meant to protect Eastern residents from polluters in neighboring states, saying that the Environmental Protection Agency must grant states more time to implement protections.

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Chromium 6 suspected at Disney Studios

Federal and state regulators are investigating whether a vintage air conditioning system at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank played a role in contaminating groundwater with chromium 6, a cancer-causing heavy metal widely used in aerospace manufacturing and other industries.

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Sustainability Gold for the 2012 London Olympics

With the 2012 London Olympics drawn to a close, so starts the task of breaking down parts of the 500-acre Olympic Park that housed the world’s finest athletes for the past two weeks. But, the London 2012 Organizing Committee and the Olympic Delivery Authority are already two steps ahead. In their effort to keep this year’s games both water and energy efficient, these groups designed and built Olympic park with sustainability in mind.

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Insurance firms lose fight over Stringfellow cleanup

The state of California is likely to receive tens of millions of dollars more from insurance companies to clean up the Stringfellow Acid Pits toxic waste dump as a result of a ruling Thursday by the California Supreme Court.  In a unanimous decision, the high court said consecutive insurance policies by various companies required each to pay up to their policy limits for damage caused by the Riverside County waste site. The companies wanted to restrict liability to just a share of the damage that occurred during the time each insurer's policy was in effect.

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Small businesses lead the way with economically wise and climate-smart strategies

The Air Resources Board held a ceremony to present the winners of the CoolCalifornia.org Small Business Awards, honoring their environmentally sound business strategies that reduce expenses.  Paladin Law Group is the first and only law firm to receive such an award.

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Aerojet, Boeing agree to $35 million settlement for Sacramento County groundwater contamination

Without fanfare, Sacramento County has reached a $35 million settlement with Aerojet-General Corp. and Boeing Co. to put to rest years of negotiations over the costs of replacing groundwater contaminated a half century ago in eastern Sacramento County.

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Formaldehyde Cancer Link Could Spur Modest Tort Wave

Attorneys are primed for a wave of toxic torts over exposure to formaldehyde, which U.S. regulators identified as a "known carcinogen" last summer - but plaintiffs could be hard-pressed to show that low doses of this ubiquitous chemical actually gave them their cancer, experts say.

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Greener than thou? Be sure before you make any claims

Every business wants to be green. And many businesses want to highlight their efforts to customers or clients.  But before you dash off to make claims about the sustainability or eco-friendliness of your business, take the time to ensure you can back them up. Green claims these days are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, and you could be fined if you don’t. But perhaps even worse, your business could be accused of greenwashing – misleading consumers about environmental or sustainability practices to boost profits.

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Chromium 6 cleanup slated for contaminated lot

Despite efforts to stop it, the chemical Chromium 6 has been seeping into Glendale groundwater for years at the site of a defunct plating company. By early next month, that will start to change.

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Groundwater nitrate contamination grows in California farm areas

Nitrate contamination of groundwater in some of the state's most intensely farmed regions has grown worse in recent decades and will continue to spread, threatening the drinking water supplies of more than 250,000 people, according to a new study.  The research, conducted by UC Davis scientists, underscores the complexity of dealing with nitrate pollution, which is largely the result of nitrogen leaching into aquifers from fertilizers and manure applied to cropland. High nitrate levels have been linked to cancer and reproductive disorders and can be lethal to infants.

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Study: Thousands face drinking-water cancer risk

Nitrate contamination in groundwater from fertilizer and animal manure is severe and getting worse for hundreds of thousands of residents in California’s Central Valley farming communities, according to a study recently released by researchers at the University of California, Davis.

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Erin Brockovich: Research Into Upstate New York Tourette's Case Only Preliminary

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich has corrected misinformation regarding her investigation into the medical mystery in an upstate New York town where a group of teenagers has displayed symptoms similar to Tourette syndrome, saying that her research is still preliminary.  Nearly two dozen people, including one 36-year-old, in the upstate New York village of LeRoy are now experiencing uncontrollable tics, seizures and outbursts they might have been caused by a chemical spill in the town more than 40 years ago.

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EPA to drill 30 new wells in Burbank, Glendale, NoHo for hexavalent chromium monitoring

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will drill about 30 new wells deep below the San Fernando Valley next month to better define a toxic underground chemical plume that regulators admit they still don't understand.  The EPA will install the groundwater wells to monitor for chromium-6, or hexavalent chromium, the metal pollutant that environmental crusader Erin Brockovich famously helped expose in Hinkley.

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Dry Cleaning Solvent Is Likely Carcinogen, EPA Concludes in First Update Since 1988

The Environmental Protection Agency formally concluded that a widely used dry cleaning solvent is a likely human carcinogen, paving the way for the agency to reconsider drinking water and other standards for the chemical.  The agency released its final assessment of perchloroethylene, or perc (CAS No. 127-18-4). That assessment had not been updated since 1988.

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Cap and Trade Curbed Acid Rain: 7 Reasons Why It Can Do The Same For Climate Change

A candidate for president emphasizes the environment on the campaign trail. He promises to update the Clean Air Act to address a grave and growing pollution threat. He wins. Three weeks after taking office, he addresses a joint session of Congress. “The time for study alone has passed, and the time for action is now,” he declares.  If you guessed climate change was the threat and Bill Clinton or Barack Obama the speaker, guess again. The new president was George H.W. Bush, and the grave and growing threat was acid rain. Five months after uttering those words, the Bush administration sent Congress a bill that amended the Clean Air Act (CAA). Included was the architecture for the world’s first large-scale application of cap and trade to control pollution, an allowance-trading system for sulfur dioxide (SO2), the major contributor to acid rain. Bush signed the bill into law in November 1990.

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Energy 'fracking' boom tainted by EPA finding contaminants in drinking water

A controversial method of drilling for oil and natural gas appears to be the cause of groundwater pollution in a central Wyoming town, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday in its first statement implicating what proponents see as the next great energy boom.

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State sues over bottles' 'biodegradable' labeling

A plastic bottling company and two bottled-water companies are selling their products in California in containers labeled "biodegradable," a designation that is both false and illegal, Attorney General Kamala Harris said Wednesday in a lawsuit.  The suit seeks to remove the bottles from store shelves throughout the state using a 2-year-old California law that prohibits labeling any plastic food or beverage container as biodegradable.

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California becomes first state to adopt cap-and-trade program

The California Air Resources Board on unanimously adopted the nation's first state-administered cap-and-trade regulations, a landmark set of air pollution controls to address climate change and help the state achieve its ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The complex market system for the first time puts a price on heat-trapping pollution by allowing California's dirtiest industries to trade carbon credits. The rules have been years in the making, overcoming legal challenges and an aggressive oil industry-sponsored ballot initiative.

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Brown signs water re-use bill

Backyard gray-water irrigation systems could become commonplace as a result of new legislation.  Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 849 by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, which says cities, counties and other local government agencies cannot prohibit gray-water systems, except in areas where special circumstances exist.

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Is Your Dinner 'All Natural'?

From ice cream to salad dressing, and potato chips to pet food, health-conscious grocery shoppers can choose an "all natural" version of just about anything.  But one item ingredient-conscious consumers can't pluck off the shelves: an official definition of "natural."  A recent spate of consumer lawsuits allege that food companies are playing fast-and-loose with the "all natural" designation, effectively committing fraud against the shopping public. But determining fraud becomes complicated when the federal government itself concedes the rule book is vague.

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Napa residents collaborate on sustainable solutions

The city of Napa began working on the community portion of its sustainability plan Thursday with the help of more than 60 residents who turned out to a public meeting.  The city’s sustainability arm, CleanGreenNapa, hosted the meeting, during which attendees brainstormed ideas as to what a sustainability plan for the community should include. 

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SC Johnson Settles Lawsuits Over Greenlist Logo

SC Johnson has settled two class action lawsuits that challenged its Greenlist logo -- an image the company put on products that met its internal standards for less-harmful products -- by agreeing to stop putting the label on Windex bottles.

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California cap and trade plan cleared by court

An appellate court is allowing California to go ahead with a market-oriented cap-and-trade system of pollution credits to combat global warming while state officials appeal a judge's order to look harder at alternatives that some environmentalists prefer, such as a tax on carbon fuels.

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Skepticism grows over products touted as eco-friendly

Environmentalists and some consumers are questioning the claims of an increasing number of companies and items promoted as green.

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L.A. Unified sues over contamination at new Glassell Park campus

The Los Unified School District is suing the city of Los Angeles in a bid to recoup the $4 million it spent to remove toxic soil from the site of a new $239 million high school.  The federal lawsuit alleges that solvents and other toxic chemicals seeped from an empty city-owned lot into the soil of a nearby site where the school is scheduled to open for the 2011-12 school year.

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Brown signs renewable-source electricity bill, promises more jobs

Gov. Jerry Brown signed far-reaching energy legislation that will require California utilities to obtain up to a third of their electricity from wind, solar and other green sources.

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Verdict mixed in toxic contamination trial

A federal jury delivered a mixed verdict in a major toxic contamination case, finding the cancer-causing chemical hexavalent chromium migrated into a Merced-area neighborhood via the air and in a canal, but not through groundwater.

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Davis Superfund site gets solar-powered cleanup

Chemical pollution in a small waste pond west of Sacramento reached such virulent levels that a dog died after swimming in it in the 1980s and federal regulators warned it would take two centuries to clean up.  Now the site is using high-tech gear - including an array of solar energy panels - that will shorten the decontamination process.

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MIT Grad's Invention Means Real 'Green' Beer

The anaerobic methane digester, installed last year at Magic Hat Brewing Co. in Vermont, extracts energy from the spent hops, barley and yeast left over from the brewing process -- and it processes the plant's wastewater. That saves the brewer on waste disposal and natural gas purchasing

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California releases first state-approved K-12 environmental curriculum in U.S.

The California Environmental Protection Agency released the nation's first state-approved K-12 environmental curriculum this month to school districts statewide.  Instead of generic chemistry lectures, students will learn how chlorine-containing molecules from products such as aerosol cans and refrigerators chew away -- through chemical reactions -- the protective ozone layer over the Earth's poles. They learn how atmospheric carbon dioxide keeps the planet warm through the "greenhouse effect."

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State violated law in passing greenhouse gas plan

The California Air Resources Board violated state environmental law in 2008 when it adopted a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gases and again last year when it passed cap-and-trade regulations, a San Francisco Superior Court judge has ruled in a tentative decision.

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Redevelopment money fight heats up as state controller announces it will audit 18 agencies

Turning up the heat on cities and counties in California, state Controller John Chiang announced Monday that his office will scour the books of 18 redevelopment agencies across the state to make sure dollars are being spent as the law intends.

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Olin extracts $2.5 million in perchlorate deal

Eight years later, and the contamination of drinking water in the South Valley is still haunting residents.  An agreement between Olin Corp. - the company that was found responsible for polluting the area's groundwater - and the Santa Clara Valley Water District was reached in March, ultimately awarding Olin $1 million. Meanwhile, ratepayers will continue to pay for the perchlorate cleanup debt until 2013.

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Fiji Water Targeted in ‘Greenwashing’ Class Action Suit

Fiji Water Company has been named in a class action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, Calif. that alleges the company has profited by greenwashing claims that it’s water products are carbon negative—which means that the production, packaging and shipment of the water removes more carbon pollution from the atmosphere than it releases into it.

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Greywater Report looks at wastewater's potential

About 50% of the water used inside U.S. homes can be reused to irrigate landscapes and flush toilets, according to a greywater report released by the Oakland-based Pacific Institute  last week. The Overview of Greywater Reuse examined the application of greywater systems worldwide to determine how the wastewater generated from sinks, baths, showers and clothes washers could be reused to reduce demand for more costly, high-quality drinking water.

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Benicia may pay share of Arsenal cleanup bill

The City of Benecia and other property owners hope to avoid becoming collateral damage in a war to clean up the Arsenal. The project is expected to cost several millions of dollars and take a decade to complete, and so far the Army is ducking any responsibility, state officials say.  That means existing property owners -- including the city -- may be on the hook financially for upfront cleanup costs, though property owners later may be able to sue the Department of Defense for reimbursement.

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USGBC, LEED Targeted by Class-Action Suit

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and its founders have been named as defendants in a class action lawsuit filed in federal court. Filed on behalf of mechanical systems designer Henry Gifford, owner of Gifford Fuel Saving, the lawsuit was stamped on October 8, 2010 at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Among other allegations, the suit argues that USGBC is fraudulently misleading consumers and fraudulently misrepresenting energy performance of buildings certified under its LEED rating systems, and that LEED is harming the environment by leading consumers away from using proven energy-saving strategies.

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On 10/10/10, a global party against global warming

Bill McKibben is inviting everyone to the 'Global Work Party,' which pairs grassroots environmental activism with political engagement. For a complete list of events in your area, visit www.350.org.

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Federal Trade Commission Proposes Revised "Green Guides"

The Federal Trade Commission today proposed revisions to the guidance that it gives marketers to help them avoid making misleading environmental claims. The proposed changes are designed to update the Guides and make them easier for companies to understand and use.  The changes to the “Green Guides” include new guidance on marketers’ use of product certifications and seals of approval, “renewable energy” claims, “renewable materials” claims, and “carbon offset” claims. The FTC is seeking public comments on the proposed changes until December 10, 2010, after which it will decide which changes to make final.

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Pollution spikes despite years of cleanup

Despite nearly three decades of clean-up efforts at a central Palo Alto Superfund site, groundwater contamination from a leaky underground chemical tank has dramatically concentrated in some small areas, according to a new water-quality report.

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As solar power developers search for sites, N.J. tries to cash in

New Jersey is looking for cash in some unlikely places these days, like its toxic waste dumps and overflowing landfills.  These unloved hallmarks of long-lost industries and careless planning may actually be able to pay for their own cleanup, if state regulators and solar developers can figure out how to make their transformation economical.

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Energy-saving LED light bulbs: false claims?

The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against Lights of America Inc. this week alleging false performance claims for some of the company's LED light bulbs.  The environmentally friendly bulbs, which were sold at major retailers such as Walmart and Costco, don't burn as brightly or as long as advertised, the FTC said in the suit.

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EPA wants companies to reveal chemicals used in controversial gas extraction method

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has asked nine companies to voluntarily reveal the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing, a method used to extract natural gas by injecting fluids into rock formations deep underground.

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Santa Cruz City Council asks community for advice on climate plan

The conversation about making Santa Cruz a more energy efficient town - including less water use, fewer car trips and more solar energy - warmed up Tuesday as city leaders looked to the community for advice on how to make a proposed "climate action plan" successful.  The city's climate change action coordinator has studied city fuel logs, PG&E records and regional transportation reports that gauge vehicle miles traveled to come up with estimates of Santa Cruz's greenhouse gas emissions.

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Recycling Land for Green Energy Ideas

Thousands of acres of farmland here in the San Joaquin Valley have been removed from agricultural production, largely because the once fertile land is contaminated by salt buildup from years of irrigation.  But large swaths of those dry fields could have a valuable new use in their future — making electricity.

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Nichols: No Solo Cap-and-Trade

Cap and Trade is a lonely business. But according to the state's top regulator in charge of implementing it, California won't go it alone.  Mary Nichols, who chairs the state's Air Resources Board, made the remark in a Silicon Valley panel discussion today. The ostensible topic of the event was renewable energy but it turned into a pep rally against Proposition 23, the statewide ballot measure designed to halt California's comprehensive climate law, AB 32. Nichols was joined on the panel by executives from Google, PG&E and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, all of whom voiced strong opposition to Prop 23.

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Cleaners brace for solvent phase out

Dry cleaners across the state must begin phasing out machines that use a solvent that is both effective and potentially carcinogenic.  However, what may be good for air quality and safety puts a hefty costs on businesses struggling in the down economy.

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The Story of the Safe Cosmetics Act

Every day millions of people cover their bodies in a variety of cosmetics and personal care products hoping to look more attractive, but there is a price to pay for beauty (and I’m not talking about how expensive cosmetic products are). Independent testing in the United States and the European Union has determined that some cosmetic products contain substances known or suspected to cause cancer and reproductive toxicity that can harm the mother, fetus, and nursing children. Dangerous chemicals have a knack for showing up in our every day products, from toys that our children play with to the cosmetics in our bathroom cabinets, and that is why California has taken the lead in passing legislation to protect its residents.

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A gamble on the river pays off

Heather Wylie was a key instigator of what must be the biggest, most important boating expedition ever undertaken on the Los Angeles River. That adventure cost Wylie, then a 29-year-old government biologist, her job — and $60,000 salary — with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But it helped save the L.A. River.

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Airport officials want cleanup costs covered

Bob Hope Airport officials are fighting an EPA order to share in the $108 million tab to clean up contaminated groundwater created by former aerospace manufacturing at the site.  Airport officials have asked a federal judge to order Lockheed Corp., also listed in the order, to cover the airport's portion of the cleanup costs.

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Toward Sustainable Capitalism

Sustainable capitalism seeks to maximize long-term value creation. It explicitly integrates environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into strategy, the measurement of outputs, and the assessment of both risks and opportunities. Sustainable capitalism challenges us to generate financial return in a long-term and responsible manner.

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Crackdown on copper: threat to wildlife, water

The push is on across California to reduce pollution from the toxic metal copper.  Regulators, legislators and port managers across California are trying to tackle copper pollution with more environmentally friendly products, proposed laws and cleanup orders.

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Not-so-biodegradable graduation gowns

Those 'green' gowns may not be so environmentally friendly after all.  Many high school and college graduates get an "A" for social consciousness, having opted to wear "green" caps and gowns as they accept their diplomas this month. But what they're really getting is a postgraduate course in greenwashing, and the cynical ways corporations will exploit their desire to protect the environment.

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Gulf oil leak sets off 'unbelievable array' of legal issues

Fishermen and property owners along the Gulf Coast have filed hundreds of lawsuits since April against oil company BP and its contractors amid a legal landscape that has changed dramatically since the Exxon Valdez tanker spill sullied Alaska's Prince William Sound 21 years ago.

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Game Changer: California's Green Building Code

He’s been called a maverick, a game changer and sometimes just plain crazy for trying to rewrite the California Building Standards Code to greatly increase water and energy efficiency standards, to lower the use of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) in building materials, and to increase the percentages of construction waste that must be diverted from landfills. But under a directive from the Governor’s office, Dave Walls, executive director of the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC), along with a collaborative team of state agency and industry stakeholders, did just that. The new green building code, now known by its acronym, CALGreen, has officially been adopted.

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Judge OKs California's shift of funds from redevelopment to schools

State officials dodged a $2-billion bullet Tuesday when a judge ruled that last year's shift of funds away from redevelopment agencies to pay for schools was legal.  In a 26-page ruling, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly said the state was within its rights to move the money. The maneuver saves more than $1.7 billion in the current budget year and $350 million for the 2010-2011 budget year.

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Maryland Passes 'Benefit Corp.' Law for Social Entrepreneurs

Maryland today became the first state to legally create a new corporate form known as a “benefit corporation” that will let social entrepreneurs codify their missions in their corporate charters.

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The HIP Investor: Make Bigger Profits by Building a Better World

What do leaders from business, investing, government, social organizations and academia say about the best run, most competitive companies? Author R. Paul Herman created the HIP methodology for investors worldwide to realize Human Impact + Profit.

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How to develop a sustainable water strategy

In 20 years' time, water availability will be 40 percent below where it needs to be to support a growing global population. That is the stark warning from the 2030 Water Resources Group, a collection of industry experts, academics and NGOs which earlier this year produced a report detailing the scale of the looming water crisis.

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Whittaker-Bermite cleanup at crawling pace

Cleanup of the Whittaker-Bermite site - a nearly 1,000-acre chunk of polluted land in the middle of Santa Clarita - is taking considerably longer than expected due to the complexity of the task, officials said.  Meantime, the clock is ticking on an insurance policy that is paying the lion's share of the cleanup. In 2004, a rough estimated cost for both the soil and the groundwater projects was $200 million.

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Chevron is putting solar technologies to the test

The oil giant is checking out possible candidates to power its global operations. To gauge performance, an 8-acre site near Bakersfield has been filled with 7,700 solar panels from seven firms.

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Can Tax Incentives Bring Back Manufacturing to California?

California might be expensive and highly regulated, but the state continues to try to woo manufacturers with tax credits and other incentives.  The California Energy Commission will use approximately $95 million of the $226 million it received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to try to get heavy green industry to move here.  And the governor is developing his own plan too.

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Rays of Hope

Local governments can use their power as regulators and property owners to promote solar projects.

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Wine industry sets standards for sustainability

California wineries and vineyards that prove they tread lightly on the land can now be certified as “sustainable” through a new program launched Wednesday.  The voluntary program, created by two industry trade groups, sets minimum standards for wineries and vineyards that want to tout their green accomplishments to consumers.

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State adopts greenest building codes in U.S.

Newly constructed hospitals, schools, shopping malls and homes in California will be some of the greenest in the world, after a state commission voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the most stringent, environmentally friendly building code standards of any state in the nation.

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Top 10 environmental stories of 2009

The environment is a single system—something which can easily be lost given our focus on national and state borders and the boundary between water and land. That interconnectedness makes the case for an annual roundup of the most important developments affecting the planetary ecosystem.

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Largest Environmental Bankruptcy in U.S. History Will Result in Payment of $1.79 Billion towards Environmental Cleanup and Restoration / Largest recovery of money for hazardous waste clean up

As a result of the largest environmental bankruptcy in U.S. history, $1.79 billion has been paid to fund environmental cleanup and restoration under a bankruptcy reorganization ASARCO, a leading producer of copper and one of the largest nonferrous metal producers in the US.

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EPA says greenhouse gases are harmful

The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded greenhouse gases are endangering people's health and must be regulated, signaling that the Obama administration is prepared to contain global warming without congressional action if necessary.  Announcement comes as Obama prepares to attend climate conference

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US, stricter controls are called on organic personal care products

On November 5, 2009, the USDA National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) passed a recommendation for "solving the problem of mislabeled organic personal care products." The recommendation urges the US Department for Agriculture National Organic Program (NOP) to make sure that any use of the word "organic" on a personal care product is backed up by third-party certification to USDA organic standards.

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America's Most Toxic Cities

Poor air quality, lack of clean water and a high rate of superfund sites make these metros most contaminated.

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Solar Flare Ups

A fight over the future of clean energy is pitting environmentalists against one another.  California's new solar gold rush is generating far more conflict than current. At issue is not whether we should green the grid, but how to do so: Should we build massive solar-powered generating plants deep in the Mojave Desert on ecologically sensitive public lands to take advantage of some of the most sun-drenched landscapes on earth? Or would it be just as effective, with less impact on the environment, to deploy thousands of smaller solar arrays closer to civilization-on abandoned farms, urban "brownfields," and rooftops? 

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Hasta La Vista, Power-Hungry TVs

California is set to outlaw flat-screen models that soak up energy. Manufacturers and merchants are fuming.

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San Diego sues several parties involved in bay cleanup

San Diego has sued more than a dozen current and former companies, along with the Navy and the port district, to minimize any city payments for cleaning up tainted sediment in San Diego Bay.  Lawyers for the city said in the federal lawsuit that the defendants are responsible for costs associated with what could be a $100 million mandate to remove contaminated muck from the bay bottom.

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Eskimo Village Loses Global Warming Suit

A federal judge in California has dismissed public nuisance claims an Alaska Eskimo village brought against 24 oil and gas companies for allegedly endangering their health and welfare by producing large quantities of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and melt sea ice as a result .

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Dr. Bronner's sees lawsuit as defence against 'organic' label

In April 2007, Dr Bronner's Magic Soaps filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court, under the state's unfair-competition law, against numerous personal-care brands using 'organic' claims on their labels.

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California moves toward stringent chromium 6 standard for drinking water

California took the first step Thursday toward setting a drinking water standard for chromium 6 that could force cities and water districts to undertake costly treatment.

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California Sticks Toe in Green Chemistry Pond

While lots of places and people are interested in sustainable chemistry, California has become a pioneer in requiring it.  In about a decade, California's "green chemistry" laws are expected to start affecting most products made in or brought into the Golden State, including fuel, building materials and retail items. Proponents predict that the regulations not only won't drag down the state's currently ailing economy further but will act as a tonic - creating more jobs than the Internet, as one regulator phrased it.

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Local government can help pay for solar panels

Homeowners and business owners who can't afford the high-cost of installing solar panels to help them cut their electricity bills may get help from their local governments under a bill that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law this week.  The legislation, AB811, allows cities and counties to offer low-interest financing to residents and business owners who want to make energy improvements such as installing solar panels or replacing air conditioning or heating units with energy-efficient models. The loans would be repaid on their annual property tax bills.

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At Wal-Mart, Labeling to Reflect Green Intent

Shoppers expect the tags on Wal-Mart items to have rock-bottom prices. In the future they may also have information about the product's carbon footprint, the gallons of water used to create it, and the air pollution left in its wake.  As the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores is on a mission to determine the social and environmental impact of every item it puts on its shelves. And it has recruited scholars, suppliers, and environmental groups to help it create an electronic indexing system to do that.

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Modesto awarded $18M in groundwater lawsuit

A San Francisco jury has awarded $18.3 million to Modesto in a long-running lawsuit the city filed 11 years ago against producers of dry cleaning chemicals that leached into soil and polluted groundwater.

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Chemical Companies Cleared in California Groundwater Pollution Case

After five months of trial in San Francisco Superior Court, a jury cleared a handful of chemical companies on Monday of nearly all the claims brought against them by the city of Modesto, Calif., in the latest phase of a decade-old groundwater pollution case.  The jury did award Modesto about $18.3 million in damages to cover cleanup costs, but that amount could be nullified by settlements the city has already reached with other defendants.

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State demands Maryland Parkway pollution cleanup, reimbursement

A Nevada agency on Monday sued several businesses and landowners it says are responsible for pollution from a dry cleaning plant on Maryland Parkway, demanding they clean up the pollution and reimburse the state for its costs to deal with contaminated air and groundwater in the affected area.

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Supreme Court lets Shell off the hook in pollution cleanup

California will pay more and companies pay less to clean up a polluted San Joaquin Valley site under a closely watched Supreme Court decision Monday.  Capping an excruciatingly long legal battle, the court by an 8-1 margin limited the liability of two major railroads for chemical spills in the Kern County town of Arvin. The court also absolved Shell of liability for the Arvin site, in a ruling could help restrict corporate liability in other future pollution cases as well

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Valley to clean up after dry cleaners

Cities around the Valley are wrestling with a legacy of environmental contamination: a chemical used for decades by dry cleaners.  Now suspected of causing cancer, the chemical has permeated underground water and soil. Cleanup is necessary, but expensive, and there's no easy way to pay for it.

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EPA selects 50 polluted sites for stimulus money

For decades, the New Bedford Harbor was a dumping ground for industrial metals and other contaminants. But now that harbor and 49 other polluted and hazardous waste sites are a step closer to a major cleanup.  Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson on Wednesday singled out 50 sites, in 28 states, that will share $582 million in newly approved federal stimulus money to continue cleanup operations.

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Local dry cleaners say mandatory machinery upgrades hit budgets hard

Considering the recession's effect on his downtown Visalia dry-cleaning business, Greg Smith says now isn't the best time to shell out more than $75,000 for new dry-cleaning machinery.  But he doesn't have much choice.  A December 2006 regulation handed down by the California Air Resources Board set a timeline for all drycleaners in the state to phase out the use of cleaning solvents with perchloroethylene - also known as "PCE" or "Perc." The chemical has been used heavily by the industry for at least 70 years.

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California agency failed to collect $100 million for cleanup of contaminated sites

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Is Your Dinner 'All Natural'?

From ice cream to salad dressing, and potato chips to pet food, health-conscious grocery shoppers can choose an "all natural" version of just about anything.  But one item ingredient-conscious consumers can't pluck off the shelves: an official definition of "natural."  A recent spate of consumer lawsuits allege that food companies are playing fast-and-loose with the "all natural" designation, effectively committing fraud against the shopping public. But determining fraud becomes complicated when the federal government itself concedes the rule book is vague.

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