KPBS: The Shrinking Salton Sea Endangers Region’s Health

The Shrinking Salton Sea Endangers Region’s Health

Monday, January 15, 2018

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.

The Salton Sea at Red Hill Marina

“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.”

RELATED: A Look At The Incredible Shrinking Salton Sea

Dust swirls in windy desert valley

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.

You can continue reading this great article here.

Don’t Get Left in the Dark When Going Solar (from Patch.com)

Over 32,000 homeowners in the Southern California Edison territory have gone solar this year, and the vast majority are likely unaware of the financial impact they will experience due to Southern California Edison’s newly altered solar rates. A typical homeowner may lose thousands of dollars in savings over the lifetime of their solar power system if it is not designed to factor in the new solar rules and rates.

Under former solar rules, it was simple for solar companies to design a solar power system that resulted in a $0 bill for electric energy. A solar company looked at how much energy a household used on an annual basis and designed a solar power system to produce that same amount of energy per year, regardless of when the system produced energy or when the home consumed energy.

Since July 1, 2017, solar customers in the Southern California Edison (Edison) territory have been on new solar rules, which have forced all solar customers onto “time-of-use rates.” An in-depth analysis is now needed to design a solar power system because with time-of-use rates, Edison charges more for the electricity depending on when a home uses energy in a day, not just how much the home uses in a given month.

Read the complete article here.

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia Celebrates 2017 Legislative Victories and Outlines Priorities for New Year

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

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and Senator Ben Hueso

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.

#Coachella Rising: Aging Farmworkers, Unions, Organic Mangos & the #SaltonSea

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 complete article can be found by clicking here.

From the Salt Lake (City) Tribune: Commentary: Should you be forced to subsidize your neighbor’s #solar panels?

A great commentary on solar and how people that cannot afford it are actually subsidizing those that can…

Should Utahns who don’t want or cannot afford to install solar panels on their home be forced to pay for those who can? That’s the crux of the current net-metering debate in our state.

Net metering allows solar customers to sell excess electricity generated by their rooftop panels back to the utility companies.

A study last year found that solar customers, who rely on and use the electrical grid as much as traditional customers, are not paying their fair share for its use.

What’s more, under the current net-metering arrangement, Rocky Mountain Power, Utah’s electric utility company, pays three times more for energy generated by residential solar panels than it pays for energy generated by commercial solar farms.

As a result, solar customers essentially receive a $400 subsidy every year, which amounts to a $6.5 million cost to the utility company. If things don’t change, as more people install solar panels on their homes, that number could skyrocket to $78 million.

This is bad news for non-solar customers who will foot the bill when Rocky Mountain Power increases prices to cover these losses.

The situation is particularly urgent for low-income households that spend an ever-growing portion of their income on electricity and suffer greatly from higher energy prices. For the 198,000 Utah households that earn less than $30,000, 18 percent of their monthly budget is already swallowed up by energy costs.

Rooftop solar on a home.

What’s worse, a rate increase doesn’t just mean higher utility bills, it also means higher costs for everything else. Local grocery stores forced to pay higher energy rates to light their stores and refrigerate food will likely pass on that cost in the form of higher prices. For families struggling to make ends meet from one month to the next, increased electricity costs could be catastrophic.

And when you consider that more than 60 percent of the state’s 22,000 rooftop solar owners earn more than $100,000 per year, it’s easy to see that the current rate structure is a patently unfair transfer of wealth from less fortunate consumers who can’t afford solar panels to the more well-off Utahns who can.

To level the playing field for all Utahns and protect the more vulnerable in our community, Rocky Mountain Power submitted a request to the Utah Public Service Commission to create a fairer rate structure.

Of course, solar companies that care only about protecting their customers’ lucrative subsidy are attempting to block the correction.

They argue that many customers who choose solar to save money on their electric bills will be disinclined to do so if the new prices requested by Rocky Mountain Power go into effect. And they disingenuously claim that fixing the rate disparity is meant to stifle competition and will kill jobs and harm a “thriving” industry.

But they fail to recognize that cheaper energy prices make Utah a desirable locale for businesses. Utah enjoys some of the lowest energy prices in the country, close to 20 percent lower than the national average. A potential rate increase to cover the ballooning costs of net metering could jeopardize our state’s ability to attract and retain businesses and jobs across all industries.

Moreover, if the solar industry is propped up with forced subsidies from people who cannot afford the product or simply don’t want it, is it really thriving?

The Utah Public Service Commission must eliminate the unfair subsidy for rooftop solar users. For their part, instead of relying on an artificial boost, rooftop solar companies should strive to make products and services that are truly affordable.

Evelyn Everton is the Utah state director of Americans for Prosperity.

Original article can be found here: http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/commentary/2017/08/27/commentary-should-you-be-forced-to-subsidize-your-neighbors-solar-panels/

USDA Seeks Nominees for National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board

WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is asking fluid milk processors and other interested parties to nominate candidates to serve on the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board. The deadline for nominations is Jan. 12, 2018.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will appoint eight individuals to succeed members whose terms expire on June 30, 2018, and two members to fill vacant positions with terms expiring on June 30, 2019.

USDA will accept nominations for board representation in six geographic regions and two at-large positions. Nominees for the regional positions must be active owners or employees of a fluid milk processor. At least one at-large position must be a member of the general public.

The geographic regions with vacancies are: Region 3 (Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and District of Columbia); Region 6 (Ohio and West Virginia); Region 8 (Illinois and Indiana); Region 9 (Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee); Region 12 (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah); and Region 15 (Southern California).

Newly appointed members will serve three-year terms from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2021. USDA will also accept nominations to fill a vacant position in Region 4 (Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina), and a vacant at-large position, each to serve a one-year term expiring on June 30, 2019.

Fluid milk processors and interested parties may submit nominations for regions in which they are located or market fluid milk, and for at-large members.

To nominate an individual, please submit a copy of the nomination form and a signed background form for each nominee by Jan. 12, 2018, to: Emily DeBord, Promotion, Research, and Planning Division, Dairy Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Stop 0233, Room 2958-S, Washington, D.C. 20250-0233, or via email at emily.debord@ams.usda.gov. For nominating forms and information, visit the AMS website or call (202) 720-5567