A friend of ours in the Coachella Valley sent us a link to this MentalFloss.com article from 2009. In her email to us she wrote:
“If you haven’t seen this article on Keeler, CA, I thought you might want to read it. Keeler is a “living” ghost town of about 60 or less population in the Mojave. Its history is too reminiscent of what could happen in the not too distant future at the Salton Sea. This is a scary scenario for sure, but is extremely relevant in so many important ways.”
People talk about the Salton Sea being “Owens Lake on steroids.” Judge for yourself after you have read the article by clicking here. One more reason to pass Prop 68, the California Clean Water and Parks Act (SB5).
IID, CAISO settlement promotes local renewable energy development
Imperial Irrigation District and the California Independent System Operator announced this week the two parties have reached a settlement that ends existing litigation between them.
As a result, more climate-friendly energy from the IID service area can be delivered to the rest of California.
“For IID, this has always been about ensuring basic fairness, a level playing field and protecting our balancing authority and our ratepayers for the sustained benefit of the region,” said Kevin Kelley, IID general manager.
As part of the settlement, CAISO has agreed to upgrade one of IID’s power lines (S-Line) that will allow more electricity to flow from the Imperial Valley to other markets. CAISO has also agreed to do more to help promote geothermal development, a priority for the district, in the Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area.
Both parties also agreed to establish a local coordination working group to address important issues that may arise in the future.
Resolving the dispute gives the parties a common platform to move forward on issues that both agencies care about, Kelley added.
Located in what is considered the “renewable energy capital of the world” IID can serve as a conduit for renewable energy development in the west, helping California meet its aggressive renewable energy and climate goals while creating added economic development and job opportunities in a region that desperately needs them.
Wind/solar advocates point to continued cost reductions due to technological learning.
Wind/solar opponents point to continued value declines due to intermittency.
It tuns out that these two effects cancel out fairly evenly.
Wind and solar will thus remain as subsidy-dependent as they are today.
There can be no doubt that wind and solar power will be important players in the energy system of the future. Over the past decade or so, these sources have grown almost as fast as nuclear power did in the seventies (see below). Since 2010, wind and solar have achieved an almost perfectly linear expansion of about 5.5% of global electricity production per decade (2.3% of global primary energy per decade).
Although wind and solar are settled as important energy players, the magnitude of their contribution to the future energy system is a topic of vigorous debate. The advocate camp points to the continued cost declines of these technologies, often claiming that wind/solar power will soon achieve competitiveness without subsidies, spelling the end of conventional power sources. The following graphs from IRENA for wind and solar illustrate this argument.
The following article appeared on E&E News. We are posting this article because it highlights the work of an incredible public health champion, Aide Munguia-Fullton, a nurse that runs the Imperial Valley Child Asthma Program. A local leader in environmental justice.
Shrinking lake spawns public health nightmare
IMPERIAL COUNTY, Calif. — A dust bowl is coming, and people here are scared.
Aide Munguia-Fulton, a nurse who runs a community program for children with asthma, has been seeing referrals for assistance soar in the last three years as the Salton Sea has begun receding due to water management schemes and a persistent drought.
Receiving 400 referrals last year alone, Munguia-Fulton has funding to enroll no more than 200 kids a year. She’s managed to include more children, but she knows the lake is expected to shrivel more quickly starting at the end of 2017, exposing thousands of acres of a dusty, toxin-laced salt bed and exacerbating already high asthma rates.
Munguia-Fulton has worked here for more than two decades, and, three years ago, she too was diagnosed with asthma. Just as she tells her patients, she hides indoors from unrelenting dust on windy days. She carries a dust mask with her at all times.
She doesn’t know how the cash-strapped area will cope if air quality continues to deteriorate.
“I am so concerned for our hospitals that are going to suffer the heavy loads,” Munguia-Fulton said. “We have to be prepared. And I know we are not.”
The recession of California’s largest lake (350 square miles) is exposing a lake bed saturated with arsenic, lead, cadmium and other toxins. By the end of 2017, the shrinking will accelerate under terms of state-backed water transfer from this agricultural area to coastal San Diego (Greenwire, June 13).
More than 100 square miles of toxic salt flat could be uncovered in the coming decades. The Pacific Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, estimates that by 2045, the lake bed could be putting 100 tons of dust per day into the air.
That dust — called coarse particulate matter by regulators — is by nature dangerous because it can penetrate deeply into the lungs. It will make breathing even more difficult in an area whose air quality already ranks among the nation’s worst because of dust from farms and desert.
That pollution is broadcast from this remote corner of southeast California by frequent wind storms whose gusts hit 80 mph.
It’s a “really salty dust, it burns your eyes,” said Bruce Wilcox of the California Natural Resources Agency. “It only lasts for 15 to 20 minutes. But it’s the longest 15 to 20 minutes of your life if you are standing in it.”
Winds carry that dust toward some 650,000 people — a population that’s expected to double in the next 30 years.
Hit hardest by prevailing north-to-south winds is the Imperial County near the Mexico border. With the state’s highest childhood asthma rates, the county is more than 80 percent Hispanic, suffers a 20 percent unemployment rate and nearly more than 1 in 3 of its children live in poverty.
North of the Salton Sea, asthma rates are also high as shifting winds carry dust there.
And new data suggest asthma rates are rising closer to the lake, local health officials say.
West Shores High School principal Richard Pimentel slips on a cowboy hat before stepping outside. It is a nod to fashion as a response to the region’s harsh desert sun.
The school sits about halfway up the western side of California’s Salton Sea. Modern buildings, concrete patios and walkways and an artificial turf sports field stand in stark contrast to the desert community that surrounds the campus.
Tumbleweed and sand are common fixtures of the town’s yards.
“We are about 30 miles from anywhere,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel’s manner is relaxed and comfortable as he walks among his students during lunchtime.
A smile, a question or a joke come easily.
“They’re my kids,” Pimentel said. “You have to take responsibility and ownership of that. These folks have entrusted me with the welfare of their kids. It’s a big deal.”
Pimentel can guide and encourage, but he cannot shield his students from the dust that swirls in this windy desert valley.
“Any time there’s any kind of a wind, you see the dust clouds,” Pimentel said.
The dust in those clouds contribute to the Imperial Valley’s highest in the state asthma rates, and most people who live here expect things to get worse. That is because the Salton Sea is shrinking, exposing thousands of acres of possibly toxic lakebed to the hot sun and the region’s powerful winds.
Inside the nurse’s office at West Shores High, Pimentel unlocks a metal cabinet. It contains plastic bags from more than 40 of his students who need to bring prescription medicine to school so they can cope with their asthma.
He holds one up and looks through the translucent material.
This is an excerpt from a press release posted on Imperial Valley News:
CA Parks/Salton Sea
With the success of SB 5 – Park Bond voters across our state will soon have
the opportunity to invest $4 billion for parks, recreation and safe drinking water with 20% of the bonds funding designated for disadvantaged
communities. This measure additionally allocates $200 million dollars to fund the 10-Year Salton Sea Management Plan, $10 million for the New River parkway and specifically prioritizes funding for Imperial County State Fairground improvements.
“By bringing human health impacts to the forefront of these conversations we have been able to garner greater state support and resources toward Salton Sea mitigation.”
Climate Change/Air Quality
“The passage of AB 398 – Cap-and-Trade Reform and AB 617 – Air Quality established a comprehensive, statewide program that will allow us to achieve our ambitious climate goals, while ensuring the market stability necessary to retain industry jobs and address vital public health and air quality issues. Importantly, these measures will help further climate equity in disadvantaged areas and directs the Air Resources Board to help region air districts to identify communities in need of air quality monitors; often low income communities of color that historically have been disproportionately impacted by pollution. The community plans developed will be essential to mitigating problems and improving air quality for our families”
“We will continue to fight for our region to receive its fair share of climate investment funds.”
You can read the entire list of accomplishments by clicking here.
A great article from New America Media on California’s #SaltonSea:
Forty one years ago I was a young organizer for the United Farm Workers in the Coachella Valley, helping agricultural laborers win union elections and negotiate contracts. Suspicion of growers was a survival attitude. I was beaten by the son of one rancher in a vineyard, while trying to talk to people sitting in the vines on their lunch hour. When I met with workers in another field, my old Plymouth Valiant convertible was filled with fertilizer and its tires slashed.
By those standards, I could see that HMS Ranch Management, which manages day-to-day operations for ranch owners, was different. I’m sure Ole Fogh-Andersen, who ran the company, would have preferred that the laborers he employed voted against the union. But when they did vote for it in 1976, he sat down and negotiated. It took quite a while — he was no pushover. But Ruth Shy, a former nun who taught the virtues of patience and persistence, got most of our union committee’s demands into the agreement. I did the field job of keeping everyone on board.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently seeking nominations from a diverse range of candidates to serve on the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT). This is a great opportunity for concerned citizens to assist the agency in advancing its mission to protect human health and the environment.
EPA established NACEPT in 1988 to provide advice to the EPA Administrator about a broad range of environmental policy, technology and management issues. Members serve as representatives of academia, business and industry, non-governmental organizations, and local, state, and tribal governments. EPA is seeking nominations from candidates representing all sectors noted above.
Individuals with a strong background in the following fields are encouraged to apply: data management/monitoring, social science, economic initiatives, public health, biodiversity, community sustainability, environmental policy/management, and environmental justice.
The following criteria will be used to evaluate nominees:
Professional knowledge of environmental policy, management, and technology issues, particularly issues dealing with all facets of citizen science.
Demonstrated ability to assess and analyze environmental challenges with objectivity and integrity.
Middle/Senior-level leadership experience that fills a current need on the Council.
Excellent interpersonal, oral and written communication skills, and consensus-building skills.
Ability to volunteer approximately 10 to 15 hours per month to the Council’s activities, including participation in face-to-face meetings, video/teleconference meetings and preparation of documents for the Council’s reports and advice letters.
In order to fill anticipated vacancies by April 2018, nomination packages should be received by January 3, 2018.