California Governor Declares State Of Emergency As Wildfires Rage Across The State By Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesJustin Sullivan/Getty ImagesDavid McNew/Getty Imagesate of emergency in hopes of putting more muscle into the fight against the flames. Fires are blazing in at least 18 areas, mostly in the dry northern part of the state, amid triple-digit temperatures and strong winds, SFGate reported.“California’s severe drought and extreme weather have turned much of the state into a tinderbox,” Gov. Brown said Friday. “Our courageous firefighters are on the front lines, and we’ll do everything we can to help them.”The state of emergency declaration is meant to allow for the mobilization of more firefighters and to secure additional disaster response supplies. The state’s National Guard sent a fleet of eight helicopters to help fight the flames on Thursday, but so far the fires are still not under control. In Lake County, where some of the fiercest fires are burning, just 5 percent has been contained.In addition to mobilizing more supplies and firefighters, the state of emergency relaxes environmental rules and rules restricting trespassing on private property, which allows firefighters to cross properties and more readily fight the fires.“It eliminates a lot of the red tape or procedural hurdles you can have when multiple catastrophic incidences are colliding,” Brad Alexander, a spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, told the Sacramento Bee.California has regularly seen wildfires over the years, however, the ongoing fires are reported to have been particularly intense. The state has suffered from a prolonged drought, high temperatures and unusually severe weather in recent months.More residents were required to evacuate areas affected by the wildfires Friday, in addition to at least 650 residents who were forced to leave their homes last week. As many as 7,000 firefighters are currently battling the flames, and a handful of homes are reported to have been destroyed. Tara Wallis, executive producer of KTLA, a southern California news station, tweeted a photo of wildfires threatening the home of pop singer and television host Lance Bass.Authorities are concerned that thunderstorms, expected this weekend, could trigger additional fires, theLA Times reported.on July 31 2015 8:29 PM EDT
Amid California drought, fears rise of trees dying, falling By CHRISTINE ARMARIO8 hours ago LOS ANGELES (AP) — As Californians and the communities they live in cut back water use and let lawns turn brown, arborists and state officials are worrying about a potentially dangerous ripple effect: City trees going neglected and becoming diseased or even falling.With cities ordered to reduce water use by 25 percent during the state’s four-year drought, many residents are turning off sprinklers — not realizing that trees can be permanently damaged by a sudden reduction in the amount of water they receive.”You don’t want to be cutting back the water to the trees,” said Ruben Green, an arborist with Evergreen Arborist Consultants in Los Angeles. „The tree can’t adjust.”Across the state, 12 million trees died over the past year due to lack of water, according to the U.S. Forest Service. While the bulk of those deaths occurred outside urban areas, conservationists and officials are now focusing on cities, where mandated water reductions are becoming visible in drying limbs and scorched leaves.Fears that parched trees could pose a danger were heightened this week when a 75-year-old, 75-foot-tall pine tree fell on a group of kids from a camp at a Southern California children’s museum, leaving a boy and girl hospitalized with serious injuries. An independent arborist and another from the city of Pasadena are conducting an investigation into the cause, which has not been determined to be drought-related.Green visited the site of Tuesday’s tree collapse and said it appeared unlikely the drought was to blame because the area around the tree looked well irrigated and its root system appeared compromised — a sign of rot, decay or injury, not necessarily the drought.TreePeople tree care manager Jessika Mitchell waters a tree at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center Mar …Still, the collapse highlighted concerns about the health of urban trees. Los Angeles alone has more than 25 square miles of parks and some 327,000 trees.Green and other arborists said they have seen an increase in the number of diseased trees in the city. As they get less water, they become more prone to illness caused by pests. In addition to bark beetles, Green has seen a newer pest drilling tunnels in the trunks of „dozens and dozens of trees.”Arborists say the number of falling trees and limbs does not appear to have risen in Los Angeles, but there are concerns that could be next. They also are worried that if a strong El Nino brings a wet California winter, already distressed trees will collapse when a storm hits.”We’re really right on the brink of starting to face more serious issues,” said Cindy Blain, executive director of California ReLeaf, a nonprofit network of urban and community foresting groups around the state. „This is a critical time.”A new six-person crew removes potentially hazardous trees from Los Angeles parks. So far this year, it has moved out 550 trees — surpassing the 300 removed in an average year.TreePeople volunteers Josh Landau, left, and Dante Osorio place mulch around a tree at the Los Angel …”They are starting to fail due to the drought, and we want to make sure these trees don’t potentially pose a hazard to the public,” said Laura Baurenfeind, principal forester with the city parks department.Turf areas in city parks are being watered three times a week, down from at least five when drought regulations were not in place. To help nearby trees compensate, the city and nonprofits are installing makeshift basins to filter water to trees.Meanwhile, a public education campaign is underway. California ReLeaf has partnered with Save Our Water, a coalition of the California Department of Water Resources and Association of California Water Agencies, to better inform residents about proper tree care during the drought.Blain said many of the people she’s spoken with say they have forgotten about their trees or gotten worried and began watering at the tree’s base. Trees should be watered from the edge of their canopy.If a tree goes too long without enough water, it will become unable to soak up liquid at all.Like many Californians, Bruce Birkett has reduced lawn watering at his childhood home in Los Angeles in response to the drought. Recently, though, he’s watched in grief as the giant cedar in the front yard became brittle and brown.”That was hard,” he said, „watching this lovely tree looking poor.”_Follow Christine Armario on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cearmario .
365 companies, investors throw weight behind EPA’s Clean Power PlanBy Michael Walsh11 hours ago Hundreds of companies and investors sent a letter to 29 governors in the U.S. on Friday to show their support for the Clean Power Plan to slash carbon emissions in the electricity sector.Related Stories
The Environmental Protection Agency’s plan establishes pollution standards for existing power plants, for the first time limiting the amount of carbon dioxide they can pump into the air.General Mills, Nestle, Staples, Adidas and Mars were among the 365 businesses and investors — which ranged from small companies to industry giants — to sign the letter organized by Ceres, a Boston-based sustainability nonprofit.“Our support is firmly grounded in economic reality. Clean-energy solutions are cost effective and innovative ways to drive investment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” the letter reads in part.Mindy Lubber, the president of Ceres and a founding board member of the organization, said the businesses signed the letter to dispel the myth that any sort of regulation would be bad for the economy.“It’s not the case. They don’t see it that way. They were quite interested in the EPA rules, and for good reason. They are about making a better economy,” she said in an interview with Yahoo News.A windmill farm is seen in front of smoke from the Lake Fire in the San Bernardino National Forest, …The EPA developed these standards under theClean Air Act of 1973, which requires the agency to regulate the emission of pollutants. It was passed to protect human health and the environment from air pollution.The Union of Concerned Scientists said power plants account for nearly 40 percent of the nation’s CO2 emissions.Lubber said climate change is already adversely affecting not only public health but also the economy. Billions of dollars have been lost in the real estate and insurance sectors alone, she said.“We’re seeing agriculture companies all but shut down a quarter of their farms because of climate-related changes,” Lubber added.She pointed to the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act as examples of reasonable legislation to set a level playing field for businesses and protect them from environmental harm.Employees of a solar farm company take notes between panels at the farm in Nakorn Ratchasima provinc …Ceres described the letter as “an unprecedented show of business support for tackling climate change.”The EPA first proposed the Clean Power Plan, a central component to President Obama’s climate change strategy, on June 2, 2014.“Right now there are no national limits to the amount of carbon pollution that existing plants can pump into the air we breathe, none,” Obama said just days earlier, on May 31, 2014. “We limit the amount of toxic chemicals like mercury, sulfur and arsenic that power plants put in our air and water, but they can dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air. It’s not smart, it’s not safe and it doesn’t make sense.”The EPA estimates that the plan would reduce emissions from the electricity sector to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.It sets state-by-state targets for reducing carbon emissions with flexible outlines for how they could be achieved, such as investment in renewable energy. But states will ultimately be responsible for drafting their plans for reaching the targets laid out by the EPA.Employees of a solar farm company take notes between panels at the farm in Nakorn Ratchasima provinc …The Energy Information Administration, a nonpartisan branch of the U.S. government,released an economic analysis of the Clean Power Plan offering a range of approaches for state compliance.It found that wind energy development makes for perhaps the most cost-effective option for reducing carbon emissions and reaching those targets for nearly all of the regions.The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the industry’s trade association, says wind played a dominant role in the analysis because the price of installing windmills has been declining steadily and windmills are essentially pollution-free.“In their base case for what would be considered their best guess, they found that wind was responsible for almost 50 percent of the most economic compliance with the Clean Power Plan,” Tom Vinson, vice president of federal regulatory affairs at the AWEA, said in an interview with Yahoo News. “One of the reason wind does so well in these economic analyses is that it is so affordable now, with costs coming down nearly 60 percent over the last five years and the ability to lock in a price today for the next 20 years or longer.”The Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group for the solar industry, similarly says solar can help states transition off of fossil-fuel-dominant energy portfolios.The plan has come under fire by the oil and gas industries and some energy-producing states.Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has called for open defiance of the plan, which he called Obama’s “attack on the middle class.”“Think twice before submitting a state plan — which could lock you in to federal enforcement and expose you to lawsuits — when the administration is standing on shaky legal ground and when, without your support, it won’t be able to demonstrate the capacity to carry out such political extremism,” he wrote in an op-ed for the Lexington Herald-Leader.McConnell said the regulations would shrink the economy of his home state by close to $2 billion and destroy countless jobs.Many expect the start date to be delayed by two years, from 2020 to 2022, in the final plan to give reluctant states more time to comply.
Dentist posed for photo with body of Cecil the lion, says hunter By Susan Njanji14 hours ago Johannesburg (AFP) – Professional Zimbabwean hunter Theo Bronkhorst told AFP Friday he did nothing wrong on the hunt that killed Cecil the lion, adding he was shocked to find the animal was wearing a tracking collar.Related Stories
Bronkhurst’s client, US dentist Walter Palmer, has gone into hiding amid a global outpouring of anger after he used a bow and arrow to shoot Cecil, a popular draw for tourists at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.Bronkhorst also revealed that Palmer, who paid $55,000 for the hunt, had posed for a photograph next to Cecil’s body as is normal for trophy hunters.”I don’t believe I failed in any duties at all, I was engaged by a client to do a hunt for him and we shot an old male lion that I believed was past his breeding age,” Bronkhorst said in telephone interview.”I don’t think that I’ve done anything wrong.”He also revealed that Palmer had a trophy picture taken with the body of Cecil the lion.Cecil was a major tourist attraction at Zimbabwe’s largest game reserve in Hwange National Park, …”That was taken with the client’s camera, so I don’t have access to it, and quite frankly I would never ever give it out to anybody if I had it,” Bronkhorst said.”Both I and the client were extremely devastated that this thing had a collar on because at no time did we see a collar on this lion prior to shooting it.”We were devastated… I left the collar there at the bait site and unfortunately that was stupid of me and negligent of me.”Bronkhorst was granted bail by the Hwange court on Wednesday after being charged with „failing to prevent an illegal hunt” when he led the expedition in early July.He is due to stand trial on August 5.Protesters stand in the parking lot of Dr. Walter Palmer’s River Bluff Dental Clinic on July 29, …- Death threats -„We had obtained the permit for bow hunting, we had obtained the permit for the lion from the council,” Bronkhorst told AFP, speaking from Bulawayo.”We had done everything above board.”I don’t foresee any jail sentence at all, I think it’s been blown out of proportion by social media and I think it’s been a deliberate ploy to ban all hunting and especially lion hunting in Zimbabwe.””Palmer is a totally innocent party to this whole thing, and he has conducted and bought a hunt from me that was legitimate.”Bronkhorst added that Palmer had stayed in Zimbabwe only three days and that the two had not been in contact since news of Cecil’s death triggered worldwide fury at the hunters’ actions.”I sincerely regret taking such a magnificent animal that happened to be an icon that I didn’t even know existed,” he said.”It has probably changed my family’s life, my business, forever… We have had many, many death threats.”Bronkhurst said he believed sustainable hunting was essential for conservation.”We grew up hunting, our forefathers grew up hunting, and it is part of our culture,” he said.”If you cannot have a sustainable offtake of wildlife, you’re not going to have wildlife because no farmer is going to look after them if they cannot make money from them.”