Trump’s Cadiz relies on complicit Democrats

Posted on | September 5, 2017 | 3 Comments

As US Senator Dianne Feinstein, California Governor Jerry Brown and his Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom lined up behind California State Assembly Bill 1000 last Friday, it looked as though the blue state synonymous with Trump resistance had finally driven a stake through the heart of a Mojave groundwater mining project only viable because of 45th administration sleaze.

And yet, it hadn’t.

Rather, the fifteenth project on Trump’s infrastructure list, an eye-poppingly absurd private scheme to pump billions of gallons of groundwater from the Mojave Desert for export to Orange County, appears to have been saved by two up and coming Democrats, State Senate President pro tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) and State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens). 

Thanks to the committee chaired by Lara, the environmental protection bill went from near sure passage to somewhere between life support and dead in appropriations.

By contrast, by late Friday night, the Trump-backed Cadiz Water Project was soaring on the NASDAQ.  Read more

Change in a place sold for its climate

Posted on | July 20, 2017 | No Comments

A 1929 brochure of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, courtesy of the Oviatt Library, Cal State Northridge/KCET

Ask an Angeleno to name a plant that is as instantly synonymous with the Southland as the saguaro is with Arizona and the answer will be “palm.” Yet most of the palms dusting the Southland sky are species not native to the U.S. None has its origins in Los Angeles County. The same exotic rule pertains to most of the region’s iconic plants, be they bougainvillea, jacaranda, or bird of paradise. Nowhere else in the country have imported flora so overpowered the native. (Imagine if bamboo and not dogwood were the iconic plant of Virginia.)

Yet, California is different and Southern California is very different. Of the many factors that allowed our garden culture to un-moor itself from evolution, the most fundamental is water. We had it. When it ran low, we imported more. Only now that water has become scarcer and people more common are the plants we grow finally changing. Click here to keep reading “Water, Native Plants, and Southern California’s Long History of Unsustainable Gardening”  at KCET.

Weed cloth always fails

Posted on | March 27, 2017 | 5 Comments

Photo: Emily Green.

A failing parkway garden in central Los Angeles in which weeds have seeded in drifting mulch that is migrating off rumpled weed cloth. Photo: Emily Green

IF GARDENING know-how is the product of observation over time, then a guideline long overdue for orthodoxy is: Weed cloth always fails. Not sometimes, not most times, but always. Look for the evidence and you start seeing its black lumps protruding like coattails from shallow graves in parkways and tree wells across the country.

This is not about the practice of solarizing, which is a method of killing weeds by overlaying them with plastic sheeting until they cook to death, though there are far more wholesome ways to kill weeds or an unwanted lawn (see sheet mulching). No, this is about a porous synthetic textile also known as “landscape fabric” that has been designed to allow water to penetrate but not air or light, thus depriving weed seeds of two of three essentials for germination.  Read more

Rat-proofing row homes in Baltimore

Posted on | January 6, 2017 | 3 Comments

Bin hutches with planters imagined in front of a typical East Coast terrace of row homes. Drawing: Emily Green

When Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s mayorship of Baltimore is finally judged, her crowning achievement may be having provided residents with rat-proof trash cans. The stout green plastic bins that arrived early last autumn came in two sizes, enormous (roughly 60 gallon) and large (more like 40). After the city dropped them off, as is if over night, the cans radically reduced the amount of skimpily bagged food waste left out on city streets as trash collection days approached. It was so effective that in a recent round table assessing Rawlings-Blake’s tenure, NPR host Tom Hall and his guests were talking trash cans in the same breaths as the former mayor’s handling of the riots and a huge port development deal.

But, months after the roll out, with a new mayor, securing Baltimore’s trash remains a job half done. The former mayor’s veto of the single-use plastic bag ban mean streets and drains are still clogged by persistent waste. The city’s quaintest streets are too small for alley collection so the cans must live out front, where they are eyesores and open to unsavory contributions from passers by. Perhaps their biggest failing is that they only address one waste stream: trash. What rats lost in open garbage on Tuesdays, trash day, they won on Thursdays, recycling day. The new bins did nothing to deny rats greasy pizza boxes and glue-rich Amazon packaging. Read more

Forget it, Jake. It’s Cadiz

Posted on | June 8, 2016 | 1 Comment

Photo: Chris Clarke/KCET

Money flows uphill to money. Not a drop of water has been exported in a 22-year-old bid to mine Mojave Desert groundwater for Southern California cities, but many millions of dollars have gone to the speculators behind the scheme. Click on the image to read my commentary at KCET on the water grab known merely as “Cadiz.” Photo: Chris Clarke/KCET

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