By Carl Franzen
(Note: Last January Donald Cohen wrote here of the conservative political animus against new, green lighting technologies – namely, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). The following repost of a May 12 Talking Points Memo feature looks at the evolution of another alternative to wasteful incandescent lighting – illumination by light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
Battle lines were drawn in Las Vegas, Nevada this week at the 23rd annual Lightfair International trade show, an exposition of the latest in artificial lighting technology.
Spurred in part by the controversial, misunderstood, national phase-out of energy inefficient incandescent bulbs that began in January, companies are racing to develop light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs that meet the new energy standards, and yet will provide the same lighting quality that consumers are used to getting from the old, inefficient incandescents.
There they go again. The Heartland Institute, which The New York Times rather generously describes as a “libertarian organization,” recently felt compelled to yank a line of billboards comparing believers in climate change to mass murderers and dictators. “I Still Believe in Global Warming. Do You?” asked one billboard featuring a picture of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. More boards had been planned for Chicago, in a run-up to the institute’s Seventh International Conference on Climate Change, a kind of Coachella for climate-change deniers. Those ads showed photos of Charles Manson, Fidel Castro and Osama bin Laden.
Apparently even some of Heartland’s fellow climate-change deniers began feeling a little queasy over the campaign and so the Windy City-based group killed its plan. Not with any remorse, however. Institute president Joseph Bast released this statement:
“We know that our billboard angered and disappointed many of Heartland’s friends and supporters .
First the Beverly Hills Unified School District ended its tradition of allowing B.H.-adjacent kids to attend that posh city’s schools. Now the local PTA is fighting tooth and French nail to keep subway trains from traveling under Beverly Hills High School via the proposed Westside Subway Extension. The subway has been planned to run through a nine-mile tunnel connecting the current Wilshire and Western terminus of the Purple Line to downtown Santa Monica.
The PTA, according to a Los Angeles Times piece, has released a scare video that predicts “a doomsday scenario” in which students could be incinerated in the event a train somehow ignites a plume of subterranean methane gas left over from the oil wells the school was built on. But if the school is sitting on such a potential box of dynamite, why isn’t it shut down immediately – with or without a subway?
I received no less than 25 emails celebrating the passage of the 2035 SCAG RTP within the past few weeks. This stands for the Southern California Association of Governments’ Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy. Environmentalists, low-income groups and housing groups all cheered the vast improvements to the way regional planning organizations look at future development. This new, more comprehensive view ideally would address the twin goals of creating more economically vibrant communities and improving our environment.
ClimatePlan, the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network and MOVE LA, among other groups, have praised the projected greenhouse gas, “vehicle miles traveled (VMT)” and traffic congestion reductions, as well as the forward-looking goals of increasing non-motorized transportation use, such as bicycles and walking.
Yet while there is much to take heart in, I started to ask myself: Could the SCAG plan have aimed even higher?
I salute the planners and community activists who brought a progressive vision and spent many long hours working on shaping the plan into what it is.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s preliminary budget will come before the Los Angeles City Council today. There’s lots there to consider, from hundreds of millions of dollars for rebuilding local power plants and renewable energy to hundreds of millions more to replace an aging distribution system.
Buried in the budget is a piece of good news that deserves some recognition. The LADWP’s $88 million energy efficiency budget is looking more respectable than it has in the past and more on par with other utilities. Last year, the Department spent $50 million. This year’s budget is not quite where it should be, but it’s moving in the right direction.
That is due in large part to a campaign led by RePower LA, a citywide coalition of community groups, environmentalists, small businesses and IBEW Local 18 committed to expanding energy efficiency investment in a way that leads to career-path jobs,