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May 11, 2012 | By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times
Despite strong opposition from environmentalists, the state Assembly on Thursday approved controversial legislation that allows a solar energy developer to bypass local agencies in seeking to build a large-scale power plant in a valley that is home to desert tortoises, golden eagles and bighorn sheep. The nation's leading environmental groups see K Road Power's proposed 663-megawatt Calico Solar plant as one of the most ecologically damaging renewable energy projects in the California desert.
April 20, 2012 | By Aaron Wiener, Los Angeles Times
KLEINENSIEL, Germany - When the German government shut down half the country's nuclear reactors after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, followed two months later by a pledge to abandon nuclear power within a decade, environmentalists cheered. A year later, however, criticism of the nuclear shutdown is emerging from a surprising source: some of the very activists who pushed for the phaseout. They say poor planning of the shutdown and political opportunism by the government have actually worsened the toll on the environment in Germany, and Europe, at least in the short term.
April 18, 2012 | By Neela Banerjee, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - TheU.S. Environmental Protection Agencyissued regulations that for the first time will curtail air pollution from natural gas wells that use a controversial production technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The regulations will limit emissions of volatile organic compounds, which react with sunlight to create smog. The rules also will curb carcinogens and methane, the main component of natural gas and a potent contributor to climate change. The rules are expected to affect about 11,000 new wells annually that undergo fracking and an additional 1,200 that are re-fracked to boost production.
April 12, 2012 | George Skelton, Capitol Journal
SACRAMENTO - Good reform ideas are a dime a dozen. Look in any faculty lounge. But successful strategies for implementing those ideas are rare. Espousing sweeping reform that can't be enacted because it's politically unacceptable is a common habit of profs, pols and pundits. There also are idealists unwilling to compromise, who'd rather strike out than bunt the runner to the next base. California Forward, a blue-ribbon reform group, is none of that. But the think tank provides a case study of how difficult it is to enact significant change when confronted by the status quo. Not that every proposed reform is golden or all status quo rotten.
April 6, 2012 | By Julie Cart, Los Angeles Times
AMARGOSA VALLEY, Calif. - April Sall gazed out at the Mojave Desert flashing past the car window and unreeled a story of frustration and backroom dealings. Her small California group, the Wildlands Conservancy, wanted to preserve 600,000 acres of the Mojave. The group raised $45 million, bought the land and deeded it to the federal government. The conservancy intended that the land be protected forever. Instead, 12 years after accepting the largest land gift in American history, the federal government is on the verge of opening 50,000 acres of that bequest to solar development.
March 26, 2012 | Tony Barboza
As the sun sets over the ocean, the six crewmen on the Cape Blanco are starting a long night's work off the far side of Santa Catalina Island, putting on orange slickers and hard hats to fish for the milky white mollusks that have become California's most valuable catch. Below the gentle waves off the side of the boat swims an immense school of market squid. Capt. Nick Jurlin, pacing impatiently with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, is eager to pull in as much of it as possible.
March 24, 2012 | By Michael J. Mishak, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Goleta, Calif. -- Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday that he was taking a closer look at a controversial method of oil extraction known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," as he seeks to help California maintain its role as one of the country's top crude producers. Speaking to business leaders at a renewable energy conference in Goleta, Brown said he was studying fracking, which oil companies are touting as a potential key to tapping previously unreachable deposits in the Golden State.
March 24, 2012 | By Ann M. Simmons, Los Angeles Times
A coalition of environmental groups has filed suit against Los Angeles County, claiming the county's decision to allow the development of a massive residential project along the Santa Clara River would harm the waterway, destroy wildlife habitat and despoil cultural sites. According to the suit, filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the county would allow irreversible damage by approving the first phase of the Newhall Ranch development. Construction would also involve unearthing and desecrating American Indian burial sites and would threaten the California condor and the rare San Fernando Valley spineflower, the suit alleges.
February 12, 2012 | By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times
The bid to bring a large-scale desalination plant to Southern California cleared a major hurdle Friday when water regulators approved a permit for a Huntington Beach facility to turn seawater into drinking water. Connecticut-based firm Poseidon Resources is proposing a seawater desalination plant on a 12-acre site next to a coastal power plant, which is adjacent to a popular state beach. According to the company, it would be the largest such facility in the Western Hemisphere.
February 5, 2012 | Julie Cart
Construction cranes rise like storks 40 stories above the Mojave Desert. In their midst, the "power tower" emerges, wrapped in scaffolding and looking like a multistage rocket. Clustered nearby are hangar-sized assembly buildings, looming berms of sand and a chain mail of fencing that will enclose more than 3,500 acres of public land. Moorings for 173,500 mirrors -- each the size of a garage door -- are spiked into the desert floor. Before the end of the year, they will become six square miles of gleaming reflectors, sweeping from Interstate 15 to the Clark Mountains along California's eastern border.
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