Potential Plastic bag ban fails in California

photo by Sascha W., flickr

photo by Sascha W., flickr

The story just broke. The California Senate has rejected a ban on single use plastic bags.

The usual arguments were made, particularly that jobs would disappear if the bill passed. The one ray of light here is that The bill will be allowed to be reconsidered, meaning it could be back before a Senate committee or the Senate floor. But given that the Senate has been the stumbling block in the past (the Assembly passed a similar bill last year), one wonders if it will have any chance the next time around.

You can read the details of the story here.

Judge rules that corporations are not people

We the PeopleIn a landmark decision, a Pennsylvania judge has ruled that corporations are not “persons” under the Pennsylvania Constitution, and that corporations cannot elevate their “private rights” above the rights of people

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Members of American Chemistry Council called out by lawmakers

All is not clean with the chemistry industry. And its corporate members may soon be held to account.

The letter sent to American Chemical Council’s Cal Dooley, asked the ACC to take immediate action to address the behaviors of its member companies by expelling the members from their council or accounting for the member company’s actions.

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New California law requires commercial and apartment recycling

California's new law requires businesses and apartments to recycle

Generally considered at the forefront of environmental regulations, California now has another green law in place. Governor Jerry Brown just signed a bill that requires all California commercial businesses, institutions and apartments to implement recycling programs.

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Commercial recycling may become mandatory in California

Recycling bins may soon become mandatory fixtures for businesses in California

As someone who writes extensively about all forms of green, I was shocked recently to discover that here in my hometown, and the entire state of California, it isn’t mandatory for businesses or apartments to recycle – it’s an option. The fact that the recycling movement began here in sunny California back in 1973 makes it’s difficult to fathom why.

A  local city Supervisor for Recycling & Hazardous Waste told me that a majority of businesses here don’t recycle, choosing to load up their dumpsters and trash bins with all their recyclables instead. When offered recycling bins and pick-up for free, the collective thought was “no thanks.”

All that may be about to change.

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California legislature fails to ban plastic bags

Single use plastic bags end up littering roadways across the U.S.


Even with backing from key environmental groups, California’s state Senate failed to pass a ban on single-use plastic bags that consumers continually get from retail outlets in the state.   

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Can burning tires be a "green" industry?

Geneva Energy's Illinois factory burns tires to generate electricity

Geneva Energy's Illinois factory burns tires to generate electricity

An Illinois factory is seeking to become designated “green”. Thing is, they burn shredded old tires to generate electricity.

Geneva Energy LLC had been hoping the Illinois legislature would approve a proposed bill that would allow it to be added to the state’s list of renewable energy sources. Tires were, they reasoned, what they termed “reusable resources” – resources that were out there and although not really renewable, were plentiful enough.

Illinois senators,  however, didn’t agree, defeating the measure last night in a 26-17 vote.

The bill’s sponsor in the Illinois House, Rep. Will Davis (D-Homewood), said passing this measure would help keep jobs in the town of Ford Heights and allow Geneva Energy LLC to apply for tax credits and grants afforded to wind farms and solar energy producers. The town currently has an unemployment rate of 29 percent.

Old tires have definitely become a resource for enterprising companies to transform into something useful. And job creation is definitely critical, especially in an area with such high unemployment.

How do you readers weigh-in on this issue?

Senate websites lack accurate information on climate and energy issues

senate-websites-fail1Grist- a noted website for environmental and news-related accuracy – reviewed the websites of US Senators, grading them on how well each explained a senator’s positions on climate change and energy policies. They were rated (the sites, not the Senators) on a variety of points:

  1. whether or not he or she agrees with the scientific consensus on climate change
  2. whether a site lists criteria for how the lawmaker will evaluate a climate bill  
  3. whether it describes a senator’s positions on  various energy policies

What they found was an amazing lack of accurate information – from Democrats and Republicans alike. And, without a grading curve, they scored poorly – 53 senators got a C or worse. That’s 53 out of 100, folks. And there were quite a few F’s! These folks are the one who are supposed to be leading the way in what’s good for the country?

Two  past climate legislation sponsors , John McCain and Joe Lieberman, had sharply differing scores. Lieberman (I-Conn.) scored 20 on the 25-point scale—a relatively high score. McCain (R-Ariz.) scored a 7.   Senators from Pacific states (California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii) had the highest-scoring sites, averaging 17.3 points out of 25. Next were Northeastern senators, with an average score of 17.1.

According to Grist’s report, “The range of information on climate and energy, from useful to useless, is par for the course for congressional sites, according to John Wonderlich, policy director of the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington group that works to promote transparency in government.”

Okay, so see for yourselves how your own US Senator scored Then perhaps it’s time to educate our legislators. If they’re the ones making the laws, shouldn’t they have all the facts first?

US Government considering bulldozing 50 cities to create green space

Urban sprawl to be bulldozedUrban sprawl reached its zenith in the ’90′s. But with today’s recession and roller coaster gas prices, sprawl has often turned to blight from dwindling populations and bankrupted businesses.

The Obama administration is reportedly considering plans to raze sections of 50 economically depressed US cities, condensing these both the towns and city services. Dubbed “shrink to survive, this program could turn bulldozed districts into forests, meadows and parks.

Decreasing population and recession may mean bulldozing neighborhoods

Decreasing population and recession may mean bulldozing neighborhoods

A proposal currently underway in Flint, Michigan would serve as the model for such a venture. Originally the home of General Motors,  Flint now suffers from a higher-than-average unemployment rate (about 20 percent) and a rapidly dwindling population. Local politicians claim the city must reduce as much as 40 percent to avoid bankruptcy. Genesee County treasurer Dan Kildee was reportedly approached by the Obama administration to look into other areas of the country that would  benefit from a similar size reduction.

The Brookings Institution - a nonprofit public policy organization -  has identified 50 cities that would be likely candidates for such a “shrinkage”. Surprisingly these include metropolises like Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Memphis, and other former industrial hotspots.

Though perhaps a radical concept, environmentalists are excited about the prospect of gaining so much green space. Urban sprawl has wrecked havoc and, increasingly, devestation n wildlife. This could be an excellent way to “give back”.

Recycle – Your House?

All tha's left after deconstructing the Barry's home is the asbestos-ridden drywall and the stucco exterior.   Photo: Jim Stevens/McClatchy Newspapers
All that’s left after deconstructing the Barry’s home is asbestos-ridden drywall and the stucco exterior. Photo: Jim Stevens, McClatchy Newspapers

A Danville, California couple proved that recycling comes in all forms and sizes.

Mike and Tricia Barry recently tore down their 2,250 square foot home, then hired a company to deconstruct it piece by piece, recycling just about everything.

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