Posts Tagged ‘particulates’

Save the EPA from Republican bomb-throwers with a Smogtown Op-Ed in the NY Times, and other green news

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

* A snippet from my editorial in today’s New York Times “Room for Debate” online roudtable about whether Republican presidential candidates calling for the EPA’s dissolution have a point or are just giving red-meat to a fatigued, job-hungry people:

” … In national politics, California may be seen as Exhibit A for over-regulating the environment. But anyone making that argument must ignore what the state was like before the Environmental Protection Agency. Its rules and enforcement have made California a livable, thriving state. Now, if you’re a Republican presidential candidate irate about America’s wheezy economy, it’s easy to go Red Queen and call for guillotining the E.P.A. Scapegoating regulators as job-killing obstructionists can pump up the faithful, but it doesn’t reflect well on America’s environmental maturity. None of the White House hopefuls mention the expected $2 trillion in health and environmental benefits from the Clean Air Act by 2020. Few of the greenhouse skeptics, in fact, even broach fresh air at all, perhaps because they hail from states where it was never toxic …”

Read our book, Smogtown: the Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles, and you’ll see just how instrumental California’s smog epidemic was in galvanizing an environmental ethos that led to creation of the EPA itself. The effects of those untamed, brown-exhaust-blowing tailpipes spawned a bureaucracy.

And now for something completely greener, we think.

* San Joaquin Valley toxic dump agrees to spend $1 million to better manage hazardous waste. From the L.A. Times:

“A toxic waste dump near a San Joaquin Valley community plagued by birth defects has agreed to pay $400,000 in fines and spend $600,000 on laboratory upgrades needed to properly manage hazardous materials at the facility, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday. The penalties were part of a consent decree that capped an 18-month investigation by the EPA and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control into the Chemical Waste Management landfill about 3 1/2 miles southwest of Kettleman City, a community of 1,500 mostly low-income Latino farmworkers. Company records revealed at least 18 instances over the last six years in which toxic waste had to be excavated from the landfill after it was learned that the laboratory had mistakenly concluded the material met treatment standards, EPA officials said …”

* The California-led greenhosue gas cap-and-trade was supposed to be a shiney achievement of former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration. It’s turned out to be something much more complicated, divisive and legally perilious than anyone believed. Still, the state Air Resources Board remains behind it through the court challenges and liberal backlash. Having covered the Anne Sholtz caper with the smog cap and trade here in Southern California, color me skeptical about how much a green market will achieve. Then again, this is the West Coast where we build the future day by day. From the L.A. Times:

“The California Air Resources Board voted to reaffirm its cap-and-trade plan Wednesday, a decision that puts the nation’s first-ever state carbon trading program back on track, for now. The on-again, off-again rules have been years in the making and are meant to complement AB 32, California’s landmark climate change law that mandates a reduction in carbon pollution to 1990 levels by 2020. The air board adopted a preliminary carbon trading plan in late 2008 but was sued by environmental justice groups in 2009. A San Francisco judge in March ordered the air board to more comprehensively analyze alternatives to the market-based trading system, such as a carbon tax or fee. In a unanimous vote in Sacramento on Wednesday, the board adopted the revised environmental analysis while still affirming its original decision. But the board’s vote may not forestall another legal challenge. The original plaintiffs argued in Wednesday’s hearing that the revised analysis still failed to adequately consider other options. UCLA law professor Cara Horowitz said “most assuredly” the matter would be back before the court. Board chief Mary Nichols said she has not always supported cap and trade in part because it would be difficult to administer. “I had my doubts,” she said, adding that many details remain to be hashed out. “It is a form of California leadership that involves some risk. This is still the most viable of the alternatives to achieve the goals of AB 32.” Originally scheduled for implementation next year, industry compliance with the cap-and-trade program will now take effect in 2013 …”

Puff (as in particulates) and stuff (as in melting icesheets) and burying CO-2

Thursday, September 24th, 2009


Los Angeles’ cancer alley – an un-love story of vulnerable lungs, put-upon people and a globalized transhipment mecca that coughs out our biggest air pollution threat. There’s a new environmental justice army (well, sort of new) tackling the issue.  From today’s fine L.A. Times story:

” … Eight years ago, he ran into an old friend at a sweatshop protest in a Glendale mall: Gilbert Estrada was working on a master’s thesis on highway building through East L.A.’s Mexican neighborhoods. They traded tales of aching chests from air pollution, of chemical spills that sparked evacuations in elementary school, and of playing around 55-gallon drums marked with skulls and crossbones …”

And in case you thought smog was now our the green version of a red-headed stepchild, check out this story about the Obama White House and EPA reviewing an important ozone standard.  MSNBC reports.

Is it really possible to keep greenhouse gases from even hitting the air? A New York Times story looks at one model.

“Poking out of the ground near the smokestacks of the Mountaineer power plant here are two wells that look much like those that draw natural gas to the surface. But these are about to do something new: inject a power plant’s carbon dioxide into the earth …”

Plus, a GW call for world unity. How’s that working out? Link (from N.Y. Times) Could be the issue of our time.


Green propoganda, corporate-style, from Newsweek:

“… Hotels are not the only offenders in this kind of petty green fakery. Environmentalism is “in” at the moment, and corporations feel great pressure to prove their credentials. But it’s not easy being green. Some companies, like those at the top of NEWSWEEK’s 2009 Green Rankings, have embraced conservation for real. They build headquarters with solar panels and rainwater collection systems; they think of the environmental impact of every aspect of their businesses and actually change the way they do things to reduce waste. But this is labor intensive, often expensive, and takes commitment. Faced with that, many corporations take a different approach: They don’t do much of anything to change the way they do business, but make a big show of their dedication to Mother Earth …”

The mob gets in on the pollution racket. Like duh. From MSNBC.

” … Giordano said the former mobster, Francesco Fonti, from the Calabria-based ‘ndrangheta crime syndicate, has claimed the mob sank “hundreds” of barrels of illegally disposed of waste …”

Catch-up (not ketchup) Thursday: smog polls, animal cancers, freeway “congestion pricing,” climate change and moms. People, we’ve got a polluted ground to cover. Yes, even during summer.

Thursday, July 30th, 2009


Californians are less concerned about smog and global warming than they used to be. Here’s the story about the poll in the Los Angeles Times.

Why some scientists now believe climate change is worse than many imagined is the focus of this Newsweek piece. “Shock” is not a word you want to hear.

Freeways and air pollution are synonymous, especially in L.A. To save the teetering roadways and remmants of our old lifestyle, authorities will now allow solo drivers into carpool lanes on two freeways for a price. Basically, we have to try gimmicks like this to slowly kill the freeway with piecemeal deterrence wrapped up in putative innovations. My two cents, anyway. L.A. Times link

Moms and the planet – an aside from our little interview last month on KCRW’s “Which Way L.A.?” Click here.

Effects of pollution on animals. Follow the turtle. Story

Addition by subtraction – particulates and YOUR life span

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009


If one ever wondered where environmental abstractions ended and tangible gains began, check out this latest study.

From an L.A. Times piece

“For those wondering just how much effect cleaning up the air can have, researchers now have a much fuller picture.

Reductions in particulate air pollution during the 1980s and 1990s led to an average five-month increase in life expectancy in 51 U.S. metropolitan areas, with some of the initially more polluted cities such as Buffalo, N.Y., and Pittsburgh showing a 10-month increase, researchers said Wednesday.

The reductions in pollution accounted for about 15% of a nearly three-year increase in life expectancy during the two decades, said epidemiologist C. Arden Pope III of Brigham Young University, lead author of the study appearing today in the New England Journal of Medicine … “

The dawn of understanding about particulates followed decades of focus on smog catalyst ozone, carbon monoxide and other emissions. It’s all covered in our book, Smogtown: the Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles.

We’re back to regular posting, BTW, after the Holiday break. Hopefully the bleeding economy won’t swallow our digital network.

Eye-opening new health study about smog

Friday, October 10th, 2008

It came out of Harvard, where some of the best research on the intersection between epidiemology and air pollution has occurred historically. After examinging 2.7 million deaths through 48 states, researchers at the university’s School of Public Health inserted doubts where they’d been conventional wisdom before: that men were more susceptible to smog’s effects than women. The fairer sex, they found, actually were more vulnerable to ozone pollution, for which Los Angeles’ airshed is notorious, then men, and that African Americans as a class were more sensitive to it than other ethnicities.

From a wider perch, this new assertion shows that despite our hopes and presumption the world knows everything it needs to about air pollution, that environmental golden oldie in an age of preoccupation (and yes, some hysteria) about global warming, we surely don’t know everything. In fact, we may just be at the skin layer of knowledge about it.  Our book, Smogtown: the Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles, delves deeply into the region’s chemical skies and how doctors and scientists battled a skeptical Establishment convinced air pollution at its essence was a temporary nuissance and not the disease agent we all know it is today. To read the entire MSNBC story, click here.