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Environmental Groups Look Ahead To 2010

A wind farm is under construction at the Campo Reservation east of San Diego, seen here on January 3, 2010.
Jessica Plautz
A wind farm is under construction at the Campo Reservation east of San Diego, seen here on January 3, 2010.

KPBS asked leaders of several San Diego and Orange County environmental groups what the top environment stories or issues will be important in 2010.

Here are their responses, which have been edited only for grammar or space considerations, and reflect the opinions of the respondents.

Serge Dedina, Executive Director of WILDCOAST:

  1. Tijuana River Valley and South San Diego County beach pollution.
  2. Developing a system of marine protected areas off of the coast of San Diego and Southern California.
  3. Impact of global climate change on natural ecosystems and native and endangered wildlife.

Morgan Justice-Black, Outreach Coordinator of I Love A Clean San Diego:

  1. Land management/smart development - Managing our land in a way that balances development with open space issues, keeping in mind the importance of San Diego as a bio-diversity hot spot.
  2. Water - specifically addressing water quality and water conservation in both the residential and business sectors.
  3. Sustainable energy - Identifying renewable energy opportunities and developing a strong sustainability energy infrastructure.

Laura Hunter, Co-Director Clean Bay/Sustainable Energy Campaign for the Center for Environmental Health:

  1. How will San Diego respond to climate change (For example: Energy retrofits, creation of green sustainable jobs, moving away from reliance on dirty energy and toward cleaner and renewable energy options.
  2. Water reuse.
  3. Conservation - for energy, water, land, species and habitats.
A sign displays current fire danger as extreme in Southern California.
Justin Sullivan
A sign displays current fire danger as extreme in Southern California.

Marco Gonzales, Attorney for Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation:

  1. Climate Change: As AB32 regulations are promulgated and implemented, I believe we're going to see a change in how certain projects are designed. In particular, larger multi-phased projects will have to lead the way in decentralized energy production and design-based efficiencies. I'm thinking Chula Vista Bayfront development, San Diego Convention Center, and San Diego city "schoobrary."
  2. Water Supply: Statewide water bond. We're not done with the desalination debate. We have a once-through-cooling regulation coming out in January. Indirect Potable Reuse is now being considered throughout California, and we'll see substantial movement on San Diego's IPR pilot project. Coupled with global climate destabilization discussions and regulation, I think we'll start to see a more aggressive push toward mandatory conservation, incentives for exterior water use reductions, and ultimately, even development moratoriums are possible.
  3. Transit. (I like to be hopeful this will rise in focus/importance). SANDAG is proposing to spend god-awful amounts of money on highway widening and but a pittance on transit expansion. There is more focus on transit funding than ever before, and more folks participating in the often-veiled SANDAG processes. If we any sort of spike in gas prices (meaning up to or over $4) like we had last year, I think it'll change people's minds towards more public transit options. As a corollary, transit will become a driver in land use decisions, particularly redevelopment. I believe the movement towards urban densification, along with expansion of rail-based transit, will be big discussion topics in 2010.

Angela T. Howe, Legal Manager / Surfrider Foundation:

  1. I think plastic bag ordinances and the issue of plastic in the ocean will still be very prominent (especially given the Scripps Institution of Oceanography voyage to the North Pacific Gyre and pending report on their findings).
  2. The Poseidon desalination fight is ongoing and will be looped in to the call for recycled water in San Diego.
  3. Aquaculture is also something I hear about frequently due to the Hubbs-SeaWorld proposal off the coast.

David Hogan, Consultant for The Protect Our Communities Foundation:

  1. The fight over the Sunrise Powerlink will heat up in 2010 due to decisions on the project by the U.S. Forest Service and Corps of Engineers and these along with the 2009 BLM decision will in turn spawn new lawsuits. The powerlink is a major issue in and of itself, but the fact that so many other enormous, harmful, and unnecessary projects like wind development in eastern San Diego and Northern Baja and the Stirling solar facility are linked to the powerlink really make it a linchpin.
  2. Another crucial issue that has and will generate more attention in 2010 is the Forest Service and other agencies' continued insistence that the chaparral ecosystem is a menacing potential inferno vs. an ecosystem to respect and cherish as means are sought to reduce the risk of wildfire to people. More fights will take place over agency plans to focus on burning or mechanically chewing up vast chaparral landscapes instead of focusing on limiting new unsafe development and making existing home structures safe.
The location of the recently-approved Carlsbad Desalination Plant.
Google Maps
The location of the recently-approved Carlsbad Desalination Plant.