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November 14, 2007

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I don't mean to make light of the drought in the Southeast. We have been through them in CA as well. Our experience, echoed by North Carolina, is that people can save both water and energy at exceptional rates with the proper encouragement. This includes appeals to public mindedness, financial incentives and making conservation cool. We just need real leadership and a reality-based understanding of the issues.

The southeast doesn't get six or eight month droughts every year; they have no way to handle it when one occurs. Unfortunately.

I was ticked at the report of the place that's using hundreds of thousands of gallons of water every month. That's just - it makes people mad here in CA when people do that during a drought when we're being asked to save water: what must it do there? (I have a reaction when I see people using a hose on their lawn or their driveway. I haven't told anyone off - yet - but I feel like I should.)

Mimikatz, I think this might be the graph you mentioned: per-capita GDP v per-capita emissions.

mimi- the "tough energy efficiency standards" started in the very late 1970s, after the California Legis created the California Energy Commission in 1975. The first round of standards didn't kick in until about 1980 or so, but the CEC had a policy of updating them every 3-5 years, so they have been continuously updated since 1980 and become more stringent each cycle. The original standards applied to new buildings and new appliances (appliance standards since preempted by US DOE), but didn't require retrofits of existing buildings. We encouraged utility-sponsored programs to handle retrofits.

Another thing to keep in mind wrt greenhouse gases is that California air quality standards effectively preclude coal plants. So unlike many parts of the country, California has no coal plants in its boundaries, although it does rely on coal-fired generation in other states -- Utah, Arizona -- connected via high-voltage transmission. Using fuels other than coal for electricity means that California had a major advantage well before greenhouse emissions per se became a major issue. But the policies from the 1970s-90s made the transition to alternative energy projects much easier, and the CEC never let up, even during the Reagan/Wilson years.

California has no coal plants in its boundaries

And what coal it has, is soft coal.

I've been reading Geology of the San Francisco Bay Region from UC Press. It mentions the Black Diamond mine (coal) near Mt Diablo (they miss Tesla and its mine), and has a photo of the hole in Bodega Head where the nuclear power plant was planned to go - before they discovered the fault through the site!

During the last seven-year drought I took some European clients to lunch at a Santa Barbara high-end restaurant. As we sat in the sun on the veranda sipping our iced tea, one of them pointed out the vivid green of the grass in front of the hotel. "I thought you were going through a bad drought? Why is the grass so green? Aren't you conserving water?"
"It's painted green" was my reply. "If they watered the lawn they'd get a ticket."
Yeah, we know how to conserve...and we could conserve a heck of a lot more. We're working on further conservation at my house, as I think there's a real possibility of another dry winter. Drip systems instead of sprinklers. Not running the water the whole time I wash dishes. Quick showers. Etc. I'm involved in a several year project to change my home into as close to a neutral footprint as I can. It's damned expensive.
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Enough of the folk stories. California has the resources and innovative Tech industry to allow it to lead the world in alternative energy generation and manufacturing. The photovoltaic industry alone, with our expertise in solid state electronics, is an obvious area of potential leadership. We aren't doing anywhere near what we should and I think it's because we're comfortable, we're scared to spend any money, and the utility companies have a long record of buying/threatening the state legislators into submission.

A silly thing like a fault didn't stop the Diablo Canyon nuke plant by San Luis Obispo.

marksb

This one was, literally, right where the reactor was supposed to go. One half would eventually have gone to Alaska.

(They reinforced the reactor buildings at Diablo Cyn. Been there, seen them. That fault is farther away from the plant.)

The midwest has been hit very hard by the drought as well. In Indiana and Kentucky, people just literally cannot find hay for their livestock and if they do, instead of 3.25/bale it is closer to 7 or 8 or more/bale.

Good for CA and the info that hit yesterday about the progress a university research crew is claiming on hydrogen energy is really hopeful.

Seamus--that's the graph. Don't know why I couldn't find it.

Yes, the CA conservation programs date from Jerry Brown and the 1970's. They were not undone by GOP governors Deukmejian and Wilson, though they were less enthusiastic, and improved under Davis and then Schwarzenegger. There has been a great deal of support for clean air in SoCal, because it is more of a problem there. CA managed to improve air quality while vehicle miles traveled increased. We also have a long history of hydro power and even geothermal to obviate the need for coal-fired plants.

Schwarzenegger has really gotten behind the drive to cut emissions and energy use. It really makes me wonder what he would do if the GOP nominates a global warming denier.

I still remember in the spring of 1979, when the water behind Lexington Dam reached spillway level: people were pulling off Highway 17 to park and walk alongside the spillway, just to watch the water go down it. (The lake had been completely empty the summer before, only mud left at the bottom, not entirely because of the drought.)

That was only a two-year drought. I can't quite wrap my head around the ones that scientists are saying are possible: fifty and a hundred years long.

Oregon is another place where going green has saved some major bucks. See Portland for further info.

Every other year our cars get smog checked here in CA, and we have to pass in order to get our renewal's. I don't have a problem with getting our air cleaner but the DMV places a Test Only on older cars so you have to go to a Test Only smog test and they are NOT competitive in pricing as is regular smog checks. That is one thing that could be better managed and not price gouged (partially in fault of the gov't - DMV re Test Only). I pay around 50 dollars for this test and regular smog checks can be 29 dollars. Okay next...energy bill yes is low here mine is usually around 25 dollars. Gas is low here as well.. 10 dollars summer but winter goes almost to 90 dollars. Next subject water..yes we get water shortages here as well - drives me insane when the condo's next door has a sprinkler system that is broken constanly and the thing will keep running if a certain neighbor does not go and turn it off manually - ahem. What I can't understand is why this nation has not undertaken what the Roman civilization has done and built a network of aqueducts that take the water away from the floor ravaged plains to the dry dessert (or anyone esle) areas. Okay end of rant...whew.

oh by the way....green tech is on the rise...large corporations have now caught on there is money to be made. Solar is going to get expanded upon in the utilities sector and so is wave tech.

L.A. panel passes ambitious eco-focused building plan
By Margot Roosevelt, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
3:02 PM PST, November 15, 2007
The city Planning Commission today approved an ambitious package of rules that would require new buildings in Los Angeles to cut energy use by 5%.

Specific measures include wiring buildings for solar-energy systems, using high-efficiency heating and air conditioning units, and installing toilets and shower heads that use less water. In addition, half of construction materials would have to be made from recycled material, and low-irrigation landscaping would be mandated for lots above 1,000 square feet.

Buildings with more than 50 units or 50,000 square feet of floor space will have to meet tougher national standards established by the U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington-based nonprofit that is working with cities across the country.
[snip]
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Alyx: that's because older cars are responsible for most of the pollution.
(I don't know about you, but I like being able to breathe.)

aqueducts: Owens Valley, Colorado River, California Water Project. Every one of them moving water - CWP provides a lot of the water for the San Joaquin Valley agricorps. (I've thought of it for years as 'that d*mned water project'.)

electricity and natural gas: mostly from out of state (TX and Louisiana). Talk to FERC.

Late to the gathering, but I brought a link:
http://www.drought.unl.edu
This is a website run by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln called the National Drought Mitigation Center. There's a link to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which I've been consulting most of the summer here in North Carolina.

PJ ...I like to breathe as well, I don't mind them cleaning the air I am all for it, but to price gouge the testing is not called for.

alyx, is it price gouging, when that's their only income source, and they have to buy the same testing equipment as repair places? I don't think so. The cheaper places are cheap because they can tweak the smog system (and charge for it at least once) until it does pass.
(I had a car that was twenty years old and still passing its checks. But I also kept it tuned and repaired, which was much more expensive than the test. One year I had to replace the converter. One year it was a valve that it took three tries to get the right part to put in.)

I also remember what the air was like before smog regulations (can you say burning eyes, every day?). I don't want that back.

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