Category Archives: Environment

California Governor Newsome Loses Power || Oct 11 2019

The Blame Game: Gov. Newsom slams PG&E over ‘unacceptable’ power outages and failure to fix systems  || LA Times

 

“At a news conference Wednesday evening, PG&E officials signaled that these types of massive shut-offs during fire season might be the new normal.

Sumeet Singh, vice president of PG&E’s community wildfire safety program, said customers should anticipate similar shutdowns in the future until the utility has finished its wildfire safety plan, “unless the weather changes significantly and the vegetation condition and the fuel-loading condition, and land and the forest management, changes significantly within the state.”

“We understand that this power shut-off is difficult for our customers and communities. Please check on your neighbors, friends and family and know that we will work safely, and quickly as possible, to restore power across the region,” Singh said.

The power shut-offs have prompted backlash, with some residents saying they create a whole new set of dangers as they try to keep up with news about fires. Critics worry that communications and evacuations will be hampered when the power is out, especially if traffic signals don’t work and cellphone service is affected.

There also was concern about how those with health issues who rely on electrically powered medical equipment to stay alive would cope without power.

.. ..

The outage prompted UC Berkeley to cancel classes for a second consecutive day. University officials say some buildings are running on generator power for “life safety, animal care and support of critical research infrastructure.” However, the generators cannot power the entire campus.

The Oakland Zoo also remained closed after the region lost power overnight. The zoo had closed ahead of the planned blackout, and staff rushed out to purchase additional generators to power exhibits for animal safety. The gas they have will power the generators for about four days, Darren Minier, assistant director of animal care, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

In Southern California, residents have anxiously watched how the power shutdowns have affected other parts of the state, wondering if it was a glimpse of what was to come for them.

.. ..

About two hours northwest of Sacramento in Clearlake, residents entered their second full day without power. At the local Safeway, which had a generator to provide electricity, customers searched for ice and charcoal hoping to save or cook the groceries in their refrigerators.

At a nearby senior center, PG&E set up a charging station in a back room for cellphones and medical equipment. At least 150 people had visited Wednesday, said representative Conrad Asper. By lunchtime Thursday, there had been more than 250.

Paul Spillane, 79, expressed what was a common sentiment at the center: frustration with PG&E.

“I think it’s an outrage,“ he said of the blackouts. “I say it’s the three most miserable days I’ve had since I’ve been up here. I haven’t been eating properly or anything.“

Amee Peterson, 66, said she feels so dirty from a lack of hot showers that she’s considering boiling water on the barbecue to wash her hair. On Wednesday night, she ate cake for dinner because she couldn’t cook. Peterson, who has post-traumatic stress disorder, fibromialgia and other conditions, said she received automated calls warning her of the blackout, but they were not specific. When the power cut out at 1 a.m. while she was reading a book, she was surprised. Even more frustrating, she said, has been the lack of clarity on when power might return.”

….read more at: LA Times

Homeless Issue In Orange County Update || Oct 05 2019

Orange County reached settlement that allows cops to arrest homeless people in some areas ||   TGP

 

“Orange County, Calif., reached a settlement Tuesday that will allow law enforcement to immediately arrest homeless people in certain locations, including the John Wayne Airport, flood control channels and high-risk wilderness areas.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors settled two federal lawsuits filed last year aimed at efforts to clear out hundreds of homeless people who were camped out along the Santa Ana riverbed near Angel Stadium, Los Angeles’s Fox 11 reported.

The settlement reached Tuesday allows Orange County to create two zones to enforce nuisance laws—one in which homeless people can be arrested immediately, another that requires police to first seek help from social workers.

Homeless individuals will be arrested immediately in areas that include John Wayne Airport, flood control channels and high-risk wilderness areas. Police in other designated areas will have to first reach out to social workers to place homeless people in shelters. If transients refuse services, police are allowed to put them in jail.

“If it seems obvious that a patient has a medical condition then they will be transported to a county clinic for assessment” before being placed in a shelter, Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do said.”

…read more at: KTTV LA – Fox News

Trump Proposes Changes to EPA Rules on Methane Leaks || Aug 29 2019

EPA Moves to Revoke Rules on Oil Industry Leaks of Methane, a Damaging Greenhouse Gas || KTLA

 

“The Trump administration moved Thursday to revoke regulations on methane leaks from oil facilities, a proposal environmental advocates said would renounce key federal authority to regulate the climate-damaging gas.

The proposed rule follows President Donald Trump’s directions to remove “unnecessary and duplicative regulatory burdens from the oil and gas industry,” Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.

Exxon Mobil and some other oil giants — wary of blowback from growing public concern over global warming — joined environmental groups in urging the Trump administration to drop the rollback on methane controls, although several state-level and national industry groups welcomed the easing.

The step would be the latest in a series unwinding the Obama administration’s efforts to cut climate-changing emissions from the oil, gas and coal industries, including a 2016 rule regulating oil-industry methane leaks as a pollutant under the federal Clean Air Act.

Trump has pushed to open vast expanses of U.S. wilderness and coastline to oil and gas drilling, speed construction of petroleum pipelines and ease regulations on the industry, dismissing calls from scientists in and out of government for rapid cuts in oil, gas and coal emissions to stave off the worst of climate change.

…President Barack Obama’s administration had cited legal authority under the Clean Air Act to require companies to detect and stop methane leaks at oil and gas sites. The Trump administration contends that Obama’s EPA skipped required legal steps in making that decision, and its proposal Thursday seeks public comment on the issue.

The Obama-era requirements to find and fix methane leaks imposed “a disproportionate effect on small businesses” in the oil industry, Milito said. “A lot of mom and pops would have their wells shut in, elderly people with wells on their properties that could be shut down” under the rules to be rescinded.

But the rollbacks on emissions from oilfields, storage sites and pipelines have split the oil industry, worrying some in the industry about growing blowback in a world increasingly mindful of climate change.”

….read more at: KTLA

So Much for the ‘myth’ Illegals commit less crime than citizens | Aug 23 2019

DOJ: 64% Of Federal Arrests In 2018 Were Of NON-U.S. Citizens | TGP

 

“In fiscal 2018, 64% of all the arrests made by the federal government were of non-U.S. citizens, according to a report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics.

For comparison, In 1998, 63% of all federal arrests were of U.S. citizens.

“The country of citizenship of persons arrested by federal law enforcement changed notably over time. From 1998 to 2018, Mexican citizens’ share of federal arrests rose from 28% to 40%. Citizens of Central American countries’ share of federal arrests rose from 1% to 20% during the same period, while U.S. citizens’ share of federal arrests fell from 63% to 36%. Federal arrests of Central Americans rose more than 30-fold over two decades, from 1,171 in 1998 to 39,858 in 2018. The number of federal arrests of Mexican citizens (78,062) exceeded the number of federal arrests of U.S. citizens (70,542) in 2018,” said the Department.

Immigrant crime has also soared.”

…Read more at: The Gateway Pundit

 

Asylum Requests up 1700 per cent on the Southern Border | June 21 2018

The Fraudulent Parent Problem on the Border

| Townhall

“President Trump signed an executive order this week allowing adults who illegally enter the United States with children, claiming to be family units, to be detained together in federal facilities.

The question of a valid parental-child relationship is at the center of how the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services handle detainment. Because of fraudulent documentation, profits to smugglers, and false asylum claims, there is essentially no way to prove or verify adults traveling with children are indeed their parents.

In April 2016, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley warned about catch-and-release policies enabling the smuggling industry.  In the past, any non-Mexican or Canadian individual illegally crossing the border with a child was considered a family unit, processed and released into the interior. Current zero-tolerance policies require they be detained until prosecution.

“A recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report confirmed that human smuggling rings are exploiting children in order to prevent the detention of the undocumented immigrants they’re smuggling into the United States. They are pairing children with unrelated adults, knowing adults who enter the United States with children won’t be detained,” he said.

“At least one Honduran interviewed by DHS officials reported that children are kidnapped or adopted then smuggled with their unrelated adult “family member” to the United States. This smuggling practice has bolstered an underground market for counterfeit birth certificates according to the report, which was prepared by the DHS Human Smuggling Cell.  Once in the U.S., these children are vulnerable to labor or sex trafficking,” he continued.

Fast-forward to 2018 and this is still the case.

“If there’s no documentation to confirm the claimed relationship between an adult and a child, we [separate] if the parent is a national security, public or safety risk, including when there are criminal charges at issue and it may not be appropriate to maintain the family in detention together,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said at the White House Monday.

“We also separate a parent and child if the adult is suspected of human trafficking.  There have been cases where minors have been used and trafficked by unrelated adults in an effort to avoid detention,” she continued. “And I’d stop here to say, in the last five months, we have a 314 percent increase in adults and children arriving at the border, fraudulently claiming to be a family unit.  This is, obviously, of concern.”

Current and former Border Patrol and ICE agents who have worked extensively on human trafficking cases continue to have these concerns. Worse, they’re alarmed the majority of current media coverage is downplaying the smuggling angle.

“You can never really verify who the parents really are,” former Border Patrol and Customs Special Agent Jason Piccolo said during an interview with Townhall. “Especially in light of adult males showing up with kids.”

In 2015, Piccolo blew the whistle on the Obama administration releasing unaccompanied minors to unvetted, criminal sponsors. During that time, he served as the sole ICE and Enforcement and Removal Operations representative to the White House Security Council’s DHS Human Smuggling Cell. It was his job to disrupt or dismantle human smuggling organizations domestically and internationally.

“Without doing some kind of in-depth interview or interrogation or some kind of biometrics [DNA] there’s no way you can tell if the kids are actually family,” he said.

Piccolo explained how adults and children are given fake documents, including birth certificates to “prove” they are “related.”

“They’re given fake documents in order to get through Mexico and a lot of times they’ll give those fake documents back,” he said.

Smugglers are hired for as much as $20,000 per person and pair unrelated adults to unrelated children. The entire purpose is to claim asylum, valid or not, with the understanding that “family units” are apprehended and then released to the interior of the United States. Since 2008, asylum claims have ballooned by 1,700 percent according to DHS data.

Under the Obama administration, 80-90 percent of individuals making asylum claims with children were released after being processed and given a court date. Inevitably, they started living in the U.S. illegally for years to come. This is the policy the Trump administration is trying to change.

“When they’re presenting themselves they’d get an asylum interview and they’d get released,” Piccolo said. “It was widely known that the human smuggling cell knew that aliens coming in from South America stated that they were told if they were a family unit they would be released at the border.”

Piccolo suggests a joint effort with USCIS, DHS and FBI is necessary for vetting and that a joint task force must be developed to do interviews and interrogations of adults traveling with children.

“If you really want to fix this problem you have to really vet these adults,” he said. ”

….Continue reading more @ Townhall

 

SpaceX Leaps to the Top with Latest Launch | Feb 08 2018

What it took for Elon Musk’s SpaceX to disrupt Boeing, leapfrog NASA, and become a serious space company

|| Quartz

“The Space Exploration Technology rocket factory is a large, white hangar-like building near Los Angeles international airport, with a parking lot filled with late-model motorcycles and Tesla electric cars. The vast metal structure once churned out 747 fuselages for Boeing. When you get through the front doors, past security and a cubicle farm stretching the width of the building, there it is: Science fiction being wrought into shape, right in front of you.

Right in front of all the workers, too. The company’s two-floor cafeteria is practically on and overlooking the manufacturing floor. Designers and accountants can eat lunch watching technicians build space capsules and rocket stages. There’s a lot to see: Rockets, like good suits, are bespoke objects, hand-made to order; a SpaceX tour guide says much of the work is too precise for robotic assembly.”

….Continue reading @  Quartz

 

Video: Falcon Heavy blasts off, boosters land at Cape Canaveral

|| Spaceflightnow.com

 

video here: spaceflightnow.com

 

“This is our family cause” – Nuclear Waste Protest in San Clemente | Dec 31 2017

Protesters hit the San Clemente streets to voice opposition for nuclear waste burial on the beach at San Onofre

|| Orange County Register

San Clemente student Jill Greene, 14, marches with dozens of others against the plan to bury toxic waste from the now defunct San Onofre Nuclear plant on the beach. They marched through downtown San Clemente on Saturday, Dec 30, 2017 after a rally.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

“Monique and Todd Furuike can’t remember the last time they joined a protest. It definitely was the first time for their children, Blake, 13 and Presley, 11.

But when they heard about a group gathering in San Clemente on Saturday to oppose plans to bury 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste at San Onofre State Beach, Monique and Todd knew they wanted to rally as a family.

“I think it’s important to see what we’re doing as adults, about what we feel passionate about. My kids are beach kids … we have our annual San Onofre beach day,” said Monique Furuike, who drove from Huntington Beach for the protest. “It’s important to see what’s going on around them. There’s so many different causes. This is our family cause.”

More than 100 people showed up at the San Clemente Community Center, some clutching signs with statements such as “kids should grow, not glow” and “it’s better to be active, proactive, reactive than radioactive!” before protesters marched up Avenida Del Mar and El Camino Real.

The latest protest follows similar efforts in recent weeks at Laguna Beach, then Huntington Beach, where opponents to the nuclear waste burial are trying to make a last-ditch effort before spent fuel is buried in the ground in a cliff near the ocean on Camp Pendleton land between Orange County and San Diego at the shuddered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station .

There’s no concrete date on when the fuel is going to be placed in the canisters, but it could be as soon as mid-January, said Lori Donchak, a San Clemente council member who has followed the issue for a decade.

“If something were to go wrong with the storage, water knows no boundaries,” Donchak said. “It will go straight into the ocean and affect all of California. There’s no reason to believe this part of the country is exempt from natural disaster.”

A spokesperson for Southern California Edison, San Onofre’s operator, did not respond in time for this story’s deadline on Saturday.

Plans to transport the spent fuel to Yucca Mountain in Nevada were taken off the table years ago, and officials haven’t figured out what to do with the nuclear waste other than storing it temporarily on site, in multi-billion-dollar canisters, just a short distance from shore.

In 2015, shortly after the California Coastal Commission gave Southern California Edison the green light to build on-sight storage, the nonprofit group Citizens Oversight filed suit to stop it.

The suit claimed the commission, which must review and approve or disallow seaside projects, failed to adequately evaluate other storage spots or the Holtec system that will entomb the waste. The suit also argues that Southern California Edison presented the spot just a few hundred feet from the beach as the only option.

The Coastal Commission said it followed state law and Edison argued that the new dry storage system is an expansion of an already-existing “safe, secure facility to temporarily store the spent nuclear fuel.”

The highly radioactive fuel will be much safer in the steel-and-concrete bunker than in the pools where it currently cools, Edison said. All waste is slated to be in dry storage by 2019.

Edison has little choice, it has argued. The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over the transport, monitoring and storage of spent nuclear fuel and has the legal obligation to permanently dispose of it – not just from San Onofre, but from every commercial reactor in the nation.

Edison produced electricity at the site for 40 years, creating millions of pounds of radioactive waste. The reactors were shut down in 2012 after steam generators malfunctioned.

In August, Citizens Oversight, SCE and the Coastal Commission struck a deal to take specific steps toward eventually removing nuclear waste from the region. But details about how that might happen remain vague.

Under terms of the settlement, Edison agreed to spend up to $4 million to hire a team of experts in fields such as nuclear engineering, siting, licensing, transportation, and radiation detection to develop plans to relocate San Onofre’s 3.6 million pounds of spent fuel.

One site the team is supposed to consider is the Palos Verde nuclear plant in Arizona, a site where Edison has a financial stake. The team also is supposed to explore temporary storage sites in New Mexico and Texas.

Already, some spent fuel has been sitting in storage bins – cooling for years – at San Onofre. Some experts argue the proposed dry storage, the steel-and-concrete bunkers, offer greater protection against earthquakes, fire, tsunamis and terrorist threats. And getting it into canisters for dry storage by 2019 is the first step toward transferring it off-site when a facility becomes available, proponents argue.

But concerned citizens in Orange County argue the canisters are below standards used around the world and not nearly as thick as they should be.

Placing the fuel just 100 yards from the water is risky, especially in an area that is due for a major earthquake, said Todd Furuike.

“I think it’s important the public knows of all these risks,” he said as he marched with the group. “That’s how we’ll put pressure on the federal government to respond.”

Torgen Johnson, of Solana Beach, spoke to the group gathered on a grassy lawn before they took to streets to protest.

“The waste is going to outlast recorded history by a huge amount,” he said. “We got our lights on for a few moments, now we have to babysit this fuel for eternity.”

He pointed to his four kids, Layse, 10, Enzo, 8, Coco, 6 and Del Mar, 3.

“We have to keep them safe, and their great, great, great, great grandchildren safe from this stuff,” he said. “It’s thinking about protecting your families and people who aren’t even on the planet yet.”

He was optimistic the crowd’s voice would be heard.

“It’s going to take people like you to speak up,” he said. “We have a big problem, but we have a big crowd and a lot of spirit here. I hope that all of you stay engaged in this fight.”

…Continue reading more @ OC Register