Fracking Waste is Being Dumped Into the Ocean Off California's Coast

Surfers play near an oil rig off the Santa Barbara coast | Photo: Peter Bo Rappmund/Flickr/Creative Commons License

ReWire has reported previously on a form of oil well enhancement in California that doesn't get much attention from the press, namely, offshore fracking. At least 12 rigs off the coast of California inject proprietary mixes of potentially dangerous chemicals into undersea rock formations at high pressure. They do this in order to break those rocks up which makes it easier to pump out the crude.

That's the process commonly known as fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing. The fluid pumped into the wells usually gets pumped back out again as wastewater. And if you suddenly have an uneasy feeling about where those offshore rigs dispose of that wastewater, you may well be correct. About half of the state's offshore rigs pump at least some of their wastewater right into the Santa Barbara Channel.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, oil rig operators have federal permits to dump more than nine billion gallons of fracking wastewater into California's ocean waters each year. That's enough wastewater to fill more than 100 stadiums the size of the Rose Bowl brim-full of toxic waste. And CBD wants the Environmental Protection Agency to do something about it.

Wind Project on Tribal Land Dies Quietly

Wind turbines near Campo | Photo: Joel Price/Flickr/Creative Commons License

It's official: a wind power project that would have generated up to 250 megawatts of power with as many as 85 turbines in the San Diego County backcountry is off the table.

The Shu'luuk Wind Project, proposed by the firm Invenergy for up to 4,000 acres of the Campo Indian Reservation, suffered a mortal blow last June when the tribe's General Council voted 44-34 to oppose the project. Opposition stemmed from concerns over quality of life, the risk of fire, and perceived health impacts of the project.

Though the project's proponents had suggested last June that they might seek another vote on the project, the tribe subsequently canceled its lease with the project's proponent Invenergy. On Thursday, the Bureau of Indian Affairs announced that it was cancelling the project's final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), thus sticking the proverbial fork in Shu'luuk Wind.

California Approaches 4 Gigawatts of Utility-Scale Solar Output

California beats solar records without even counting rooftop installations like this one in Covina | Photo: WalMart/Flickr/Creative Commons License

As the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System seems to slowly come online, California is setting new peaks for solar power generation. A record of just over 3,600 megawatts in peak solar power output reached on Friday seems to have already fallen.

On Friday, the state's utility-scale solar facilities contributed 24,183 megawatt-hours of power to the state's grid, according to the California Independent System Operator (CaISO). The state's peak solar output reached 3,605 megawatts, a new record.

But that record may be history, as CaISO's automatically generated renewable energy output figures for today seem to indicate that the state's wholesale solar output just edged past 3,800 megawatts for about twenty minutes starting at about 10:30 a.m.

California Bill Aims to Accelerate Number of Electric Vehicles

One million electric vehicles in 10 years is the goal of a new bill introduced in Sacramento. The "Charge Ahead California" bill is geared toward improving air quality, especially in low-income communities most impacted by pollution.

Michelle Kinman, clean-energy advocate for Environment California, one of the bill's sponsors, said the bill would expand current rebate programs for electric vehicles "by improving access to credit for low-income community members, as well as looking to do some pilot programs for car-sharing and putting charging infrastructure into multi-family apartment units."

One-third of all electric vehicles in the nation are in California, which Kinman called a great start. But, she said more needs to be done because seven of the 10 worst-polluted cities in the United States are in California, according to the state chapter of the American Lung Association.

Local Group Wants Renewable Development in L.A., Not Owens Valley

Monument at Manzanar | Photo: ken-ichi/Flickr/Creative Commons License

California's second-largest county wants to designate almost ten percent of its land for renewable energy development, and a cultural protection group is taking up metaphorical arms against the core of the proposed policy. In doing so, it's turning NIMBYism on its head.

In Inyo County's 2013 Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment, published Wednesday on the Inyo County Planning department website, County planners describe 14 "Renewable Energy Development Areas" (REDAs) in Inyo that cover 609,502 acres of mostly public land. That's more than 950 square miles, more than nine percent of the total land mass of the county, an area about the size of Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose combined.

About 190 square miles of that total would be in the scenic core of Inyo County: the Owens Valley. The Owens Valley and Owens Lake REDAs would make up 170 square miles of that in an nearly unbroken band running 40 miles between Independence and Olancha. And a group already fighting a proposed 1.8 square mile solar facility near the site of an historic wartime internment camp is calling on the county to remove the Owens Valley from consideration for landscape-level renewable energy development.

Opposition Mounts to Solar Project On Mojave Preserve Boundary

View of the North Array site's currently undisturbed desert tortoise habitat from the Soda Mountains.
| Photo: Courtesy Basin and Range Watch

If discussion at a recent gathering of activists is any indication, a nearly 4,200-acre solar project for a valley adjoining National Park land in California's Mojave desert will encounter near-unanimous opposition from green groups.

The Soda Mountain Solar project, described earlier here at ReWire, would place 358 megawatts' worth of solar panels on 2,557 acres on either side of Interstate 15 between Baker and Barstow. The project would also include about 1,600 acres of support infrastructure, including roads, operations buildings, and an electrical substation. Depending on the plant's configuration, the project's East Array would be built as little as a quarter mile from the boundary of the Mojave National Preserve, a 1.6 million-acre National Park Service unit, near Zzyzx, a former resort turned desert research center.

That perceived encroachment on the Preserve, along with the project's potential effects on desert bighorn sheep and other wildlife, prompted strong statements of opposition at a Sierra Club-sponsored meeting of California and Nevada desert activists over the weekend in Shoshone, a nearby community outside Death Valley National Park.

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