Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: Shell's toxic legacy and more BP drama

Carson’s Carousel residents unhappy about toxic soil contamination. KPCC reports that nearly 300 homes sit on the site of a former crude oil reservoir operated by Shell in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. “Soil tests for hydrocarbon show elevated cancer risk for hundreds of homes. Scientific sampling found benzene above levels the state deems safe in about 15 percent of homes tested.”

Can Pasadena farmers trademark the term “Urban Homestead”? GOOD reports that the “Dervaes family, who operate a fifth-of-an-acre farm in Pasadena, just outside Los Angeles … trademarked the terms Urban Homestead® and Urban Homesteading®, and they’ve started going after bloggers who use the terms without crediting them.”

Bark beetles threaten more of California’s conifers. According to The California Report, “In the last decade, tiny forest-dwelling beetles have wiped out pine trees on millions of acres in the Canadian and American West, including Southern California. With warmer temperatures, bark beetles in Northern California could become more prolific. And more will survive the winter.” (via Climate Watch)

California hopes its carbon market sparks innovation. Reuters devotes a special feature to California’s cap-and-trade plan: “The plan will have an impact that extends well beyond the state’s borders. If the carbon market can create jobs, cut emissions and operate efficiently, other states would be more likely to give it a whirl. If it flops, they won’t.”

Oakland’s Fruitvale Transit Village is cited as “a case study of environmental justice in action” by the US Department of Transportation. NRDC’s Switchblog describes a tour of the sustainably-designed town, “a multi-layered, inclusive, highly walkable, multiple-use development built around the Fruitvale neighborhood’s BART (rail transit) station.”

In BP oil spill news: BP says spill settlement terms are too generous. Reports NY Times: “The planned payments far exceed the extent of likely future damages because they overstate the potential for future losses, the company insists in a strongly worded 24-page document that was posted on the fund’s Web site Thursday morning.” LA Times also reports on the news.

In national news: House Republicans fire White House climate advisers. Reports Climatewire: “House Republicans and 13 Democrats passed a measure last night eliminating the salaries of President Obama’s international climate change envoy and other top officials, a defiant GOP challenge that will further complicate tough budget negotiations looming with Senate Democrats.”

Photo: Residents of Carson’s Carousel neighborhood voiced anger and frustration at a public meeting Thursday, where water regulators said they’re readying a cleanup order for soil contamination under their houses. (Molly Peterson/KPCC)