Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: Waters off Catalina Island among the most polluted, CA leads nation in green jobs

Happy Thursday, Southern California! That screeching sound you hear is a million Angelenos taking to the streets in an effort to avoid this weekend’s Carmageddon. Or not. Only next Monday knows! In the meantime, here’s this Thursday’s green news.

Catalina Island is known for its crystal clear waters and pristine wildlife. But as the Los Angeles Times points out, its waters are harboring a dirty secret – they are among the most chronically polluted in the country. Largely because of the city of Avalon’s outdated sewage system, human waste flows mostly unchecked into the groundwater and into Avalon Bay. The city is planning a $5.1 million project to clean, repair and replace miles of sewer lines and make improvements at its sewer plant. 

In better news, the Los Angeles Times reports that California leads the nation in green jobs. As the Los Angeles Times writes, “The Brookings Institution report, which is likely to draw more debate over what constitutes a 'green' job, found that almost 320,000 people work in such jobs, and 90,000 of them are in the L.A. metropolitan area.” The jobs include installing solar panels, making electric vehicles and running organic farms.

So you know perchlorate, a toxic ingredient found in rocket fuel and fireworks? That chemical that is found in the groundwater of all states, but particularly in California which has been home to a thriving aerospace industry? The chemical that, when ingested, causes thyroid problems and fetal development issues? (Sick of question marks? Me too.) The Los Angeles Times reports that a new study from the U.S. Government Accountability Office concludes that “The Bush White House played a role in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's controversial 2008 decision not to regulate the drinking water contaminant perchlorate.” The Obama administration reversed this decision in February. 

At least one local fisherman is unhappy with the state’s new marine protected areas for some of the Southern Californian coast. As the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot reports, the Fish and Game Commission has announced that as of Oct. 1, fishing and the prohibition of removing plants, animals and other marine life (like shells) will be enforced in certain restricted coastal areas. Fishing enthusiast David Hansen writes that while the state believes it is doing the right thing by protecting marine resources and allowing species to replenish, “I wonder, however, how a boy with a fishing pole is going to hurt anything. This is not Japanese whalers slaughtering whales; this is not shark fin soup. This is a murky, heavy-handed law with questionable restrictions.” Note: We originally called this a "no fishing" law. But it is formally known as the Marine Life Protection Act, which they made to protect the economic, educational and environmental interests off California's coast.

And from Southern California to the world. reports that experts have already declared 2011 the costliest year for natural disasters. Offering up a picture montage of the various devastations that have struck including the Queenland’s flood of Australia to the June wildfires of the American southwest, gives us a sobering view of the emotional and economic tolls of natural disasters thus far.

Image: ralphman/Flickr