California Governor Jerry Brown earned CLCV's endorsement when he ran for governor (again) in 2010, and he's earned decent scores on our annual California Environmental Scorecard since then. He's been a champion for California's pioneering climate change solutions; in fact, he spoke to a group of scientists this week, warning "it's over" in five years, unless we do more to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that are cooking the planet. But lately, environmentalists are "seeing red" over Brown's proposal to borrow $500 million from the state's cap-and-trade revenues.
Planning a weekend away? Or with gas prices hovering around $4 a gallon — maybe not planning one? Don’t despair. Metro can be your ticket to new countries, customs and cuisines. And the cost? Just $5 for an easy-to-use Metro Day Pass.
Like all truly international cities, Los Angeles is a rich blend of cultures that have produced variegated neighborhoods and world-class cuisines. You may have explored some neighborhoods but do you know them all?
Take Ethiopia. The Metro Local 217 Fairfax Avenue bus, which stops at the Metro Red Line Hollywood and Highland Station, cruises west on Hollywood then south on Fairfax. A few blocks beyond Wilshire Boulevard is Little Ethiopia: a neighborhood of delicious restaurants (Meals by Genet) and lovely, colorful shops selling clothing in colors as bright as the African sun.
Or how about Cambodia? Admittedly, there’s neither jungle nor Angkor Wat in Long Beach but if you close your eyes just a little you can pretend to be in the steamy Southeast Asia country tucked between Thailand and Vietnam. It’s easy if you’re dining at one of the many restaurants (Sophy’s Fine Thai and Cambodian Cuisine) in Cambodia Town. So hop on the Metro Blue Line and hop off in what could be Phnom Penh — except for the great Southern California weather — and dine on grilled fish, rice, noodles and coconut soup prepared with fresh herbs and veggies.
What about Japan? Everyone knows that Little Tokyo is in downtown L.A., just a short walk from Union Station. But does everyone know that it’s possible to reach it easily aboard the Metro Gold Line to the Little Tokyo/Arts District Station? Not only are there dozens of good restaurants (Suehiro Café). There is great shopping for clothes, shoes, gifts, computer accessories and Asian foods of all kinds in one of the many markets. At night there’s karaoke for the brave of heart.
Then there’s Mexico, of course. There may well be hundreds of Mexican and Central American neighborhoods around Los Angeles and they are filled with shops and entertainment venues and supermarkets and restaurants. Along the Metro Gold Line in East L.A. there are many great places (Al & Bea’s Mexican Food for bean and cheese burritos and Cinco Puntos Mexican Foods for hand-made tamales). So find your way to Union Station and board the Metro Gold Line toward Atlantic Station. Nearly every station on the East Side Gold Line offers something delicious to eat.
Or take the Metro Purple Line to Korea Town for barbecue. (Tahoe Galbi is a few blocks west of the Wilshire/Western Station.) Think of Korean barbecue as thin strips of beef, pork, chicken and seafood grilled at the table and served with half a dozen or more vegetable side dishes. Think of it as an excellent way to overeat.
And what about Chinatown, just off the Metro Gold Line Chinatown Station. There are dozens of restaurants and shops selling goods from all over Asia, often at excellent prices. The restaurants are like that too, with Chinese and Vietnamese (Via Café) standing shoulder to shoulder for our dining pleasure.
Are you adventurous? The Metro Green Line to Norwalk connects with Metro Local bus 173 south to Artesia and Little India. Along several blocks there are restaurants and shops with authentic Indian goods and foods (Surati Farsan Mart). Samosa, puri, dosa, thali. It’s worth the ride.
Have you explored Little Persia in Westwood? Don’t wait until the Metro Purple Line is completed in 2039. Hop on Metro Rapid 720 down Wilshire Boulevard to Westwood Boulevard. There are a number of shops and restaurants (Shamshiri) there to enjoy. And near the Metro Red Line Hollywood/Western Station — between Western and Normandie Avenue — there is Thai Town.
All this can be yours for the price of a $5 Metro Day Pass. And you don’t have to wait in line to clear airport security.
Following CAP’s piece yesterday that details exactly what it means to use gasoline to travel this Memorial Day weekend, here is an infographic that shows the cost of Big Oil. Gas prices are rising in the Midwest and spot crude oil prices for the West Texas Intermediate benchmark is nearly $5 per barrel higher than last year at this time.
The oil industry uses high prices to make big profits, spends them to keep their tax breaks, and then pushes for more dirty, unconventional oil like Canadian tar sands — which will not have any impact on gasoline prices.
Shiva Polefka is a Research Associate for Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress where Michael Conathan is the Director of Ocean Policy.
Yesterday Terry McAuliffe, Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate, revealed newfound support for oil and gas exploration off the Commonwealth’s coast. The Washington Post reported that he now backs legislation sponsored by Virginia’s Democratic U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine that would open offshore areas to oil and gas exploration.
Offshore oil drilling is viewed by Virginia politicians on both sides of the aisle as a budgetary panacea, in part because of the economic activity drilling would create, but perhaps more so because the Warner-Kaine bill would direct a portion of drilling royalties back into the commonwealth’s coffers. But the bottom line is that any development carries with it massive risk to the state’s environment and the current economic drivers that rely on healthy and accessible oceans and coasts.
A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers analysis of Virginia’s tourism industry reported that the sector supports more than 200,000 jobs, yielding an economic impact of more than $20 billion in 2011, and that Virginia’s beaches alone attracted nearly 10 percent of the state’s tourists. Virginia’s coast and ocean also support thriving fisheries; in 2011 fishermen landed 247,000 tons of seafood in Virginia, worth more than $191 million, ranking it the third largest seafood producer in the country by weight.
As Gulf Coast states painfully learned in 2010’s Deepwater Horizon disaster, offshore drilling accidents can devastate robust tourism industries, the health of marine ecosystems, and both the productivity and the reputation of the marine fisheries supported by those ecosystems. Unfortunately, Congress has so far failed to pass any reforms to reduce the risk of spills or blowouts, meaning the few regulatory reforms made by the Department of the Interior to improve offshore drilling safety in the aftermath of the Gulf spill could be rolled back by a future administration.
Drilling offshore Virginia would also be incompatible with another vital activity carried out along the state’s coast — keeping our nation safe. Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval complex in the world, is one of the state’s primary economic engines, supporting more than 71,000 military and civilian employees. Overall the Navy was responsible for more nearly $15 billion in economic impact in Virginia in fiscal year 2009.
In 2010 the US Department of Defense determined that 74 percent of the areas eyed for oil and gas leasing offshore Virginia would directly interfere with the extensive military activities that are carried out in the region, including ordnance training and aircraft carrier operations. As Virginia Representative James Moran put it, “When you come down to it, the Navy’s operations are much more important to the Virginia economy, let alone national security, than … drilling operations.”
Furthermore, most of the areas where the Navy did not find potential conflicts are either in major shipping lanes or off the northern part of the coast where Virginia’s desire to drill would come into conflict with their neighbors in Maryland where the sentiment is distinctly anti-drilling. After watching the oil gush in the Gulf of Mexico unchecked for more than a month, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley took an unequivocal stance, saying “I would be opposed to any drilling off the Chesapeake Bay.”
Virginia can still look to the ocean to shape its energy future, but rather than drilling for oil, the Commonwealth should be pursuing offshore wind energy development. McAuliffe’s campaign website notes that Virginia’s offshore wind resource could generate up to 3,200 megawatts of electricity “in just the 25 most promising offshore parcels” — development that would support as many as 11,600 jobs. Furthermore, the Department of the Interior’s “Smart from the Start” program has already identified sites for wind turbines off Virginia’s coast that would not conflict with either military operations or the shipping industry. As CAP has reported, offshore wind holds vast promise for producing clean energy at modest prices that will be stable over the long term — much more than can be said for oil or natural gas.
Rather than looking to the industries of the past and falling victim to another black gold rush that would compromise Virginia’s robust blue economy, Virginia’s leaders should instead look to a proven source of homegrown energy development that will create new jobs without jeopardizing current ones or contributing to our nation’s unsustainable thirst for climate-altering fossil fuels. Prioritizing development and protection of the state’s existing coastal-dependent industries like tourism, and fishing, and its world class military emplacements, while boosting support for renewable energy development is a common-sense approach to moving one of America’s most historic states toward a brighter economic future.
Photos by Anna Chen/Metro
Lots of celebration this morning at Leimert Park, which the Metro Board voted yesterday to fully fund as a station on the Crenshaw/LAX light-rail line. L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Mel Wilson, all Metro Board members, joined other local dignitaries and residents of South Los Angeles to mark the occasion as singers chanted, “There’s a train a comin’. “
“It takes a village to get a train to stop in Leimert Park. We did it together and we ought to be proud of that,” Ridley-Thomas said to the gathered crowd of about 200. “And I’m delighted that the board has approved funding to make this historic community a train stop.”
As we posted yesterday the Metro Board approved a motion, co-sponsored by Ridley-Thomas, to commit $80 million for the station, which will be built in what is considered a historic enclave of black business and culture. The Board’s decision came a day after the L.A. City Council committed $40 million of the city’s share of Measure R local return funds to Leimert Park.
“This is a celebration of you,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “Of a community that is vibrant, that has always been important to this town. As I ride into the sunset for a bit, I wanted to make sure we did this right … and I think we have.”
Just a quick note that we’ll be taking today off to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend. Have a safe, happy holiday and we’ll see you again on Tuesday.
And here’s the news release from Metro:
In time for the upcoming Memorial Day travel weekend, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) have officially opened an additional general purpose lane on the northbound I-405 between the I-10 and Santa Monica Boulevard in West Los Angeles.
The new 1.7-mile lane, which opened early Friday morning, May 24, is expected to provide congestion relief benefits for motorists navigating the northbound I-405 at the I-10 interchange, one of the most congested freeway interchanges in the nation.
“This is a major milestone for transportation in Los Angeles, especially for our Westside residents and commuters,” said Antonio Villaraigosa, L.A. City Mayor and Metro Board Member. “As one of our most congested interstate freeways, the opening of this nearly two-mile lane on the I-405 is both welcome and necessary. In 2008, with the passage of Measure R, we demonstrated a shared vision to build Los Angeles a world-class transportation system. This is only one step toward the completion of significant improvements to Los Angeles’ interstate freeways and public transportation networks.”
The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements contractor has completed major structure and widening work to allow the opening of an additional lane of traffic, including paving and lane striping that required a series of recent sequential night-time freeway closures at Santa Monica Boulevard.
The project team anticipates releasing another 1.4 miles of general purpose lane to reach north of Wilshire Boulevard in a second opening phase next month, June 2013.
The No. 1 lane closest to the freeway median will later be converted into the future High Occupancy Vehicle Lane.
This effort is designed to return portions of the project to full functionality as soon as possible to help reduce construction-related impacts to both motorists and West L.A. residents. Metro has committed to opening parts of the project as soon as they’re ready for public use.
“The immediate availability of this extra lane will add badly needed freeway capacity on one of our most congested interstate bottlenecks,” said Art Leahy, Metro CEO.
Opening of the new traffic lane will add capacity for 1,500 to 2,000 vehicles per hour on this congested portion of the I-405. Time savings will vary depending on time of day and real-time traffic conditions.
The contractor is now working aggressively on a phased delivery for remaining portions of future HOV lane segments.
The new lane configuration was developed in cooperation with Metro, the contractor and Caltrans to open early and safely.
“This portion of freeway lane is a small taste of the amazing benefits that will be fully realized when the entire I-405 carpool lane project is completed,” said Caltrans District 7 Director Mike Miles. “Caltrans is eager to add it to the 514 miles of carpool lanes in Los Angeles County currently.”
To date, the project has delivered key project milestones, including several new Wilshire on and off-ramps, widened Sunset Bridge, I-10 interchange improvements, Sepulveda Boulevard improvements from Montana Avenue to Sunset Boulevard, and new, greater capacity southbound I-405 Skirball on-ramp, among others.
In 2013 the project expects to complete utility work, Mulholland and Skirball bridges, remaining Wilshire Interchange Ramps, and conclude construction on most on- and off-ramps, retaining and soundwalls, underpasses and structures.
Completion of a mid-section of the project, however, has been extended due to increased scope of work, and is now forecast to be complete in mid-2014.
The 10-mile HOV lane construction project is a joint effort between Metro and Caltrans, and is being constructed by Kiewit Infrastructure West Co.
When done, the project will complete the last remaining gap of the entire I-405 HOV lane network, creating the longest continuous HOV lane in the nation.
The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University released their most recent survey this week:
The Yale survey, “Public Support for Climate and Energy Policies in April 2013,” dates back to 2008 and is an important barometer for public opinion on clean energy and climate issues.
In general, the year’s survey finds that support for prioritizing clean energy remains high, albeit with a recent dip, due in part to the increasing polarization of the American electorate.
Still, strong majorities support renewable energy and regulation carbon dioxide as a pollutant.
Here is more from what’s in the report, by the numbers:
- 87 percent say President Obama and Congress should make developing sources of clean energy a priority.
- While there are some programs at the federal level that have aided the development of clean energy and transportation, such overwhelming support shows that the government could and should do more. After all, fossil fuel extractors make bad neighbors. Some states are getting the message and clean energy development creates jobs. Colorado recently moved to strengthen its Clean Energy Standard. Other states’ clean energy sectors face threats. North Carolina has been fighting off efforts to repeal its clean energy standard this year (that fortunately failed).
- 70 percent say global warming should be a priority for the President and Congress.
- There are billions of reasons to make it one. President Obama has more than three years left to make it a big one.
- 59 percent think the U.S. should cut greenhouse gas emissions on its own — even if other countries do not.
- 33 countries and 18 sub-national jurisdictions will price carbon in 2013. This comprises 850 million people and nearly a third of the global economy. China has a pilot carbon trading program in 7 cities and provinces, and is seriously considering an absolute cap on its carbon emissions. The EU has had one for years. The ball is in America’s court, and there are some easy solutions to pursue.
- 70 percent think industry should be doing more to address global warming, and 52 percent think the President should.
- So does Steven Chu, the last Energy Secretary.
- 68 percent want to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant.
- Putting a price on carbon finds support in unexpected quarters, such as conservative economists, prominent Republicans, and large corporations.
- 61 percent want to regulate it through a carbon tax on fossil fuel companies that pays down the debt.
- Other polls have found similar support for putting a price on carbon as a way of paying down the debt — yet even larger majorities support making clean energy a priority. The Congressional Budget Office recently released a report making the budgetary case that doing nothing about climate change will cost more than spending money now to regulate carbon.
- 59 percent want to eliminate all fossil fuel subsidies.
- Which is important, as the U.S. is the world’s largest fossil fuel subsidizer. It would help the budgetary situation, not to mention help level the playing field for new renewable industries.
- 55 percent support requiring utilities to produce more than 20 percent renewable power, even if it costs more.
- The legislation is there — whether Congress will act is another story.
- 50 percent have not heard of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Were your opinions reflected in the poll?
by Brad Johnson, campaign manager for Forecast the Facts
The nearly $300 million climate-resiliency initiative established by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg using Sandy relief funds will not address climate pollution, according to a city official.
The New York City Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR), formed in November 2012, will release a report this month indicating how $294 million in federal funding from the Superstorm Sandy relief act should be spent to increase the city’s “climate resiliency.” The report “will present policy recommendations, infrastructure priorities, and community plans, and identify sources of long-term funding” in addition to the emergency federal funds — but it apparently will not include an accounting of the carbon footprint of that infrastructure development.
In an email, SIRR spokesperson Daynan Crull told Forecast the Facts that because the initiative’s job is to “protect New York City against future climate threats,” it “does not directly address energy generation vis-à-vis fossil fuels”:
SIRR’s directive is rebuild and protect New York City against future climate threats, so it does not directly address energy generation vis-à-vis fossil fuels. However, New York City has been a global leader in environmental urban policy, pioneering PlaNYC — one of the most comprehensive sustainable and environmentally conscious policy programs ever established for a major city. It is upon this foundation that SIRR is built. Indeed PlaNYC established the New York City Panel on Climate Change, which is supporting SIRR’s work with the best climate science available.
Crull’s statement makes no sense — if SIRR’s plan is to “protect New York City against future climate threats,” it must necessarily “address energy generation vis-à-vis fossil fuels.” One cannot wall off energy use and infrastructure planning into separate boxes. This announcement is especially troubling because it is not clear that New York City is increasing any of its investments in renewable energy or carbon pollution reduction in response to Sandy. Instead, the city is moving forward with new fossil-fuel infrastructure, including a fracked-gas pipeline planned to cut through the Rockaways.
In 2011, PlaNYC set relatively strong climate-pollution goals for the city: a 30 percent reduction from 2006 levels of carbon pollution by 2017, with hopes of achieving an 80 percent reduction by 2050. However, much more ambitious targets are technologically possible — Stanford researcher Mark Jacobson has detailed a strategy for getting New York State’s energy use carbon-free by 2030. And no climate plan for New York City is complete without goals for divesting the financial industry from fossil-fuel producers like New York’s richest man, David H. Koch.
SIRR’s work will update 2011′s NYC Vision 2020 Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, which included a chapter on climate resilience, defined incompletely by the planners as “adaptation strategies” to climate change impacts such as sea level rise and more intense storms. The devastation of Superstorm Sandy gives the waterfront plan’s recommendations new and tragic urgency — one of the stated goals was to “develop a better understanding of the city’s vulnerability to flooding and storm surge.” The waterfront plan did not explicitly call for resilience measures to emphasize carbon reduction, an unfortunate oversight that looks to be continued.
It is possible that the public word from SIRR is misleading. The climate-resiliency plan is being developed in consultation with the New York City Panel on Climate Change, co-chaired by climate scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig and urban environmental scientist William Solecki; the NYC Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, led since December 2012 by Sergej Mahnovski, a renewable-energy expert; and Goldman Sachs vice president Marc Ricks, a lead architect of PlaNYC.
Despite the official word that the SIRR plan will not address fossil-fuel energy generation, there are reasons to hope that the plan will promote infrastructure investments that are intended simultaneously to protect New York City residents from the damages of climate-change-related threats and to reduce the pollution that fuels those threats — and provide true climate resilience.