Cheap, Clean Energy Pushes California Electricity Prices Below Zero

California has been a leader in renewable energy. How it manages energy over-abundance may determine whether other states follow its clean-energy lead. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

By Leslie Kaufman for Inside Climate News – For a time this spring in California, as the snow melted above hydroelectric dams, the sun shone on solar arrays, and the wind whipped through turbines, the state was confronted with both a blessing and a curse. It arrived as an overwhelming flood of cheap, clean electricity. At times it drove wholesale prices below zero. And it has left grid operators in California, and in other parts of the country, wondering how to cope with the upending of power markets by abundant renewable energy. California has led the pack in adding renewable energy to its grid. How it manages the challenges of energy over-abundance may determine whether other states follow in its clean energy footsteps. Some worry that if California bungles the transition to clean energy, it could undermine the state’s own incredibly rapid solar build-out—from 300 megawatts on the grid in 2008 to nearly 15,000 megawatts today—which has put California well ahead of its milestones toward deep decarbonization. The crux of the issue that arose this spring is that in the middle of some days, California produced so much renewable energy it drove wholesale electricity prices below zero…

Study: Legal Pot Will Boost California Economy By $5 Billion

adrian-shareve

By Andrew Buncombe for Independent – The economy of California – poised to create a market for legal marijuana – could see its economy boosted by as much as $5bn, according to a new study. The report by the University of California Agricultural Issues Centre, says that the legalisation of the drug will provide the state a further reason for tourists – or at least some tourists – to visit. Yet it also warns that around 30 per cent of people who use cannabis may remain in the illegal market, in order to avoid the financial impact of regulations that require marijuana to be tested, tracked and taxed at 15 per cent of its retail value. The Los Angeles Times said that state officials developing the regulations, hope they will be able to persuade the majority of cannabis users to go through the legal market. Lori Ajax, director of the state Bureau of Marijuana Control, which commissioned the report, told the newspaper: “It’s going to take some time. While it’s unlikely that everyone will come into the regulated market on Day One, we plan to continue working with stakeholders as we move forward to increase participation over time.”

Media Groups Concerned About Death Threats To California Newspaper

noose_outside_valley_mirror_office_42117

By Staff of RSF – RSF first learned of threats against the twice weekly newspaper The Sacramento Valley Mirror last April, after the paper’s editor and publisher Tim Crews reached out by email. According to Crews and his attorney, he and reporter Larry Judkins began receiving threatening phone calls and complaints after they covered a local death in late March. In addition to the calls, Crews also sent RSF a photograph of a noose that had been left in front of the door to the paper’s offices in downtown Willows, California on April 21. “This threat, in broad daylight, means to us that the perpetrators, who are trying to warn us off a series we are working on, are operating with impunity,” Crews told RSF. “Since learning of the threat against the Valley Mirror, RSF has been closely monitoring the case, says Margaux Ewen, Advocacy and Communications Director for RSF’s North America Bureau. “Due to the lack of any serious development in the investigation to date and events of the last month where journalists in the United States have been arrested, manhandled and even physically assaulted for attempting to ask questions, it’s important that we implore the local authorities to take threats of violence against the press very seriously.”

At $75,560, Housing A Prisoner In California Now Costs More Than A Year At Harvard

Inmates walk in file at San Quentin State Prison. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

By Staff of Associated Press -The price for each inmate has doubled since 2005, even as court orders related to overcrowding have reduced the population by about one-quarter. Salaries and benefits for prison guards and medical providers drove much of the increase. The result is a per-inmate cost that is the nation’s highest — and $2,000 above tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses to attend Harvard. Since 2015, California’s per-inmate costs have surged nearly $10,000, or about 13%. New York is a distant second in overall costs at about $69,000. Critics say with fewer inmates, the costs should be falling. “Now that we’re incarcerating less, we haven’t ramped the system back down,” said Chris Hoene, executive director of the left-leaning California Budget & Policy Center. For example, the corrections department has one employee for every two inmates, compared with one employee for roughly every four inmates in 1994.

Fresno State Cancels A Middle East Studies Professorship Amid Alleged Right-Wing Pro-Israel Pressure

Stephan Savoia/AP

By Murtaza Hussain for The Intercept – LATE LAST YEAR, the California State University at Fresno began soliciting applicants for a newly created Edward Said Professorship in Middle East Studies, a teaching role named after the late Palestinian-American public intellectual. In a job posting, the school described the role as a “tenure-track, academic-year position” teaching courses on the Middle East and helping develop the school curriculum on the region. Said was famously known as an advocate of Palestinian nationalism in the United States as well as the author of the groundbreaking work of cultural criticism “Orientalism.” Last week, however, after months of evaluating candidates, Fresno State abruptly announced that it would not be filling the role this year. While the school cited “procedural errors” as a reason for the cancellation, academics at the school, including one professor who resigned in protest, are claiming that the school is engaging in an act of academic censorship. In a resignation letter issued last week, Vida Samiian, the longtime dean of Fresno State’s College of Arts and Humanities, said that a pressure campaign had targeted the search committee for the professorship, and that the school had balked at having four Arab-American finalists for the role.

Folsom Prisoners Declare Hunger Strike, Mainstream Media Silent

From liberationnews.org

By Staff of PSL – Folsom State Prison, also known as Old Folsom, is the second oldest state prison in California, behind San Quentin, and is highly recognized as one of the first maximum security prisons. Folsom State Prison is also known for the executions of over 90 inmates over the course of 20 years in addition to being where former Black Panther, Eldridge Cleaver, was held for a short period. The decades of oppression behind bars has never failed to produce resistance by those most affected. This most recent hunger strike was declared in response to the harsh conditions that prisoners in Administrative Segregation Units are facing. Prisoners are given food without plates or bowls and they’re not given any cups to drink water from thus being forced to eat from plastic bags and drink from old milk cartons. Mail is withheld from prisoners for months without any explanation. The prison refuses to provide them with basic rehabilitation programs or even cleaning supplies for their cells. Prisoners have reached out to multiple people and have received no response or help for the conditions that they are forced to live with on a day to day basis.

Residents Sue To Block Nuclear Waste From Being Stored Near California Beach

Drums of nuclear waste in a salt shaft at New Mexico's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. (photo: Brian van der Brug/LA Times) go to original article

By Staff of Democracy Now – Environmental activists in California are fighting plans to store 3.6 million pounds of highly radioactive nuclear waste on a popular beach in San Diego County. In 2012, a radioactive leak at the San Onofre nuclear power plant forced an emergency shutdown. The plant was fully closed by June 2013. Now residents are fighting the permit issued by the California Coastal Commission to store the millions of pounds of nuclear waste in thin, stainless steel canisters, within 100 feet of the ocean. We speak to Ray Lutz, founder of Citizens’ Oversight, which has filed a lawsuit challenging the expansion of the nuclear waste storage facility.

California Court Upholds Berkeley Cellphone Warning

A California court has upheld a law that forces retailers to warn customers about the potential health risks of cellphones. 

On Friday, a Ninth Circuit panel of judges ruled in favor of a Berkeley, California law which requires retailers to display warnings about the possibility of health risks from cellphones. The 2 to 1 decision rejects a legal challenge from the Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA), a wireless industry trade group who challenged Berkeley’s so-called “Right To Know” ordinance in June 2015. The group claimed the law violates the First Amendment by forcing retailers to spread a message that they say is misleading.

Circuit Judge William Fletcher disagreed, writing that because Berkeley’s cellphone warning is “purely factual” and is offering protection of public safety, it does not violate the First Amendment.

“Berkeley’s compelled disclosure does no more than to alert consumers to the safety disclosures that the FCC requires, and to direct consumers to federally compelled instructions in their user manuals providing specific information about how to avoid excessive exposure,” Fletcher wrote. “Far from conflicting with federal law and policy, the Berkeley ordinance complements and reinforces it.”

Circuit Judge Michelle Friedland was the dissenting vote. Judge Friedland says the law promotes a “misleading” message that  “carrying a cellphone in one’s pocket is unsafe.”

The Berkeley ordinance informs cell phone users that, “If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF [radio frequency] radiation.”  The ordinance also warns that the risk is higher in children. U.S. District Judge Edward Chen originally put a halt to the Berkeley law in September 2015 because of one line of text that was deemed unscientific. The language of the ordinance was later changed and then approved.

The CTIA filed their challenge shortly after, stating that the use of the word “radiation” was “fraught with negative associations” and would cause economic losses. Judge Fletcher Circuit Judge Morgan Christen found that the organization failed to provided proof that the ordinance would result in fewer cellphone sales.

Judge Friedland, on the other hand, said the ordinance was obviously designed to send a message: “carrying a phone ‘in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra’ is not safe.”However, she said, “That implication is a problem for Berkeley because it has not offered any evidence that carrying a cellphone in a pocket is in fact unsafe.”

Friedland skepticism in the possible dangers associated with cellphone use has been repeated by CNN and others. To be clear, there are studies which have found some association with possible negative health affects. As Digital Trends notes, “studies in both Australia and India have found that men who use their cell phones most frequently (and keep them in their pants pocket) had lower sperm counts than those who used cell phones less often. Other studies have also suggested a link between radiation exposure from cell phone usage and certain types of brain cancer.”

There are also studies which have concluded there is no risk of cancer or other illnesses from the radiation released by cell phones. An 18-month study from Denmark compared cancer rates in 360,000 cell phone users to adults without cellphone subscriptions and found no connection to brain or spinal cord tumors. Still, many health advocates are cautious about the growing use of cell phones and a lack of studies.

“If industry does not want to advise people about the fact that phones are not tested next to the body, then they should get the FCC to change its requirements for radiation testing. They cannot do this because, if phones were tested next to the body, they would be found to emit too much radiation to pass current standards,”  Dr. Robert Morris, Environmental Health Trust’s Senior Medical Advisor, stated.

Wherever you fall in this discussion, it seems that City of Berkeley is not the only institution warning people about potential dangers related to the technology. As Activist Post reported, the Athens Medical Association of Athens, Greece, held a conference on April 1st regarding “Non-Ionizing Radiation and Its Effects on Human Health.”  The conference featured lectures and concluded with 16 recommendations to reduce exposures and human health adverse effects. The recommendations include, “Restrict cell phone use when children or pregnant women are near,” and “Keep mobile phones away from your body.”

What are your thoughts? Is the Berkeley ordinance another example of the State attempting to tell business owners how to run their business? Is there any danger to cell phone use? And if so, is there a cover-up happening? Leave your thoughts below.

By Derrick Broze for Activist Post – On Friday, a Ninth Circuit panel of judges ruled in favor of a Berkeley, California law which requires retailers to display warnings about the possibility of health risks from cellphones. The 2 to 1 decision rejects a legal challenge from the Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA), a wireless industry trade group who challenged Berkeley’s so-called “Right To Know” ordinance in June 2015. The group claimed the law violates the First Amendment by forcing retailers to spread a message that they say is misleading. Circuit Judge William Fletcher disagreed, writing that because Berkeley’s cellphone warning is “purely factual” and is offering protection of public safety, it does not violate the First Amendment. “Berkeley’s compelled disclosure does no more than to alert consumers to the safety disclosures that the FCC requires, and to direct consumers to federally compelled instructions in their user manuals providing specific information about how to avoid excessive exposure,” Fletcher wrote. “Far from conflicting with federal law and policy, the Berkeley ordinance complements and reinforces it.”

Half Of California’s Energy Met With Solar For First Time

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By Danielle Ola for PV Tech – From the hours of 11am to 2pm on 11 March, the total solar share of gross demand exceeded 50%, according to the EIA. Source: Flickr/ lindalino. On 11 March, for the first time ever, over 50% of California’s power needs were met with solar power, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). From the hours of 11am to 2pm, “the total solar share of gross demand probably exceeded 50%,” the EIA said – noting that it was a combination of residential and commercial rooftop generation that constituted 4 million kWh of electricity during peak time. During the same time window, wholesale electric rates dipped below zero, compared to the average price of between US$14-$45MWh in March between 2013 and 2015.

California Judge Enables Cancer Warning On Monsanto’s Roundup

From sustainablepulse.com

By Staff of Sustainable Pulse – Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Kapetan previously issued a tentative ruling on January 27 in Monsanto Company v. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, et al. Judge Kapetan formalized her ruling against Monsanto on Friday, which will allow California to proceed with the process of listing glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, as a chemical “known to the state to cause cancer” in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, better known as Proposition 65. Note: California has still not finalized the labeling of Roundup under Proposition 65 or set the safe harbor levels.

San Francisco Plans Free College Education To Residents

Paul Chinn, The Chronicle

By Nanette Asimov for San Francisco Chronicle – City College of San Francisco will be free of charge to all city residents under a deal announced Monday by Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Jane Kim that college trustees hope will lead to an enrollment jolt and more state funding for the school. Under the agreement, which is expected to take effect in the fall, the city will pay $5.4 million a year to buy out the $46-a-credit fee usually paid by students. The city’s contribution will also provide $250 a semester to full-time, low-income students who already receive a state-funded fee waiver.

The 2019 #Calexit Independence Referendum

yescalifornia.org / The Dawn News

By Staff of The Dawn News – In the Spring of 2019, Californians will go to the polls in a historic vote to decide by referendum if California should exit the Union, a #Calexit vote. You will have this historic opportunity because the Yes California Independence Campaign will qualify a citizen’s initiative for the 2018 ballot that if passed would call for a special election for Californians to vote for or against the independence of California from the United States. This is a very important question. It is the responsibility of this campaign to explain what a yes vote will mean for you, your family, your community, our state, our country, and our world. We have designed this website to answer many of these questions and look to you to ask more.

California Just Threatened To Stop Paying Taxes If Trump Cuts Federal Funding Over Sanctuary City Status

From occupydemocrats.com

By Grant Stern for Occupy Democrats – The State of California’s elected officials are exploring ways to combat President Trump’s Executive Order cutting off funding to sanctuary cities. National legal experts say that Trump’s sanctuary cities order is unconstitutional because, at its core, the order is an attempt to commandeer state and local officials in violation of the 10th Amendment. California’s Democratic leaders believe there are numerous federal programs receiving state funds as well, which they will seek to cut, to make up for anything Republicans siphon out of their budgets. San Francisco’s CBS affiliate reports that the federal government only spends 78 cents in California for every tax dollar sent from that state to Washington…

Judge Blocks Monsanto’s Bid To Stop California From Listing Glyphosate As Carcinogenic

Monsanto's best-selling Roundup herbicide.
Flickr

By Lorraine Chow for Eco Watch – In its lawsuit, Monsanto claimed that the listing was unconstitutional because the OEHHA delegated law-making authority “to an unelected and non-transparent foreign body that is not under the oversight or control of any federal or state government entity.” However, California lawyers argued in its motion to dismiss the lawsuit that the IARC’s scientific determinations are “the gold standard in carcinogen identification.” According to the Associated Press, Judge Kapetan will issue a formal decision soon. OEHHA spokesman Sam Delson told the AP that state regulators are waiting for the judge’s formal decision before moving forward with the warning labels.

California City Wins $22 Million Against Shell Oil Over Toxic Drinking Water

The city of Clovis won its more than three-month-long civil trial against the chemical manufacturing giant Shell Oil Co. over the cleanup of a toxic chemical found in drinking-water wells around the city of 108,000 people. MARK CROSSE Fresno Bee file

By Andrea Castillo for McClatchy DC – The city of Clovis won its more than three-month-long civil trial against chemical manufacturing giant Shell Oil Co. over the cleanup of a toxic chemical found in drinking-water wells around the city of 108,000 people. The chemical is 1,2,3-trichloropropane, or TCP, which is a waste product from making plastic. TCP was in farm fumigants last used in the 1980s, which were injected into the ground to kill tiny worms called nematodes. A jury on Wednesday awarded the city nearly $22 million, finding that Clovis residents were harmed by the design of the fumigant, that Shell did not prove the benefits of its product outweighed the risks, and that those risks were known at the time it was sold.