Originally published in the Equal Voice Newspaper on January 9, 2013bluetruck1

More parks and open space for families and children, and fewer diesel trucks spewing fumes into neighborhoods, were some of the biggest victories for the Environmental Health Coalition last year.

The coalition, works to protect public health threatened by toxic pollution in southern California.

Last year, the Environmental Health Coalition in San Diego, successfully shut down a Barrio Logan warehouse to stop its diesel trucks from polluting the air for nearby residents.

The neighborhood has one of the highest asthma rates, caused primarily, neighbors say, by pollutant-producing industrial businesses that are intermingled with homes, schools and parks.

The coalition also had a significant impact on the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan ‒ saving more than 40 percent of the land for parks and open space.

And in November, the California Public Utilities Commission adopted a number of the coalition's recommendations that will expand the reach of energy efficiency programs funded by ratepayers to low-income neighborhoods in San Diego.

The Environmental Health Coalition was started in 1980 as the Coalition Against Cancer. Since then, more information and awareness about relationship between serious health effects and the chemicals used in homes and workplaces has become available.

Thirty years later, Environmental Health Coalition has become a leader in the environmental justice movement and a resource for community-based organizations working on environmental health and justice, social justice, human rights, and environmental sustainability.

sid voorakkara and rafael castellanos for port commissionThe San Diego City Council will be choosing two new City appointed members to the San Diego Port Commission today. EHC's 30 years of working with with the Port and representing our members who live in communities adjacent to the Port tidelands gives us an important perspective on these appointments. Port Commission decisions have a direct impact on the health and well-being of all residents who live near the San Diego Bay.

EHC supports appointments of Sid Voorakkara and Rafael Castellanos to the Port Commission. Mr. Voorakkara's considerable experience in job creation and public health make him uniquely qualified to ensure the Port acts consistent with community health. Mr. Castellanos' expertise in real estate transactions will be invaluable to ensure more green and sustainable business practices at the Port.

We believe San Diego Port Commissioners should have experience in green practices so that the Port grows and operates in a way that protects the health of neighboring community residents. They must have a commitment to public and worker health and safety, protecting San Diego Bay, and to making the Port a regional leader in energy policy.

Specifically, the community is looking to the Port to support projects and planning to offset negative impacts of Port operations on neighbors in Barrio Logan and passage of an effective Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Plan. These actions are crucial to meeting environmental and health goals of an exemplary Port. Sid and Rafael should surely be in line with these goals.

EHC opposes the appointment of Richard Vortmann based on the legacy of pollution he was responsible for as the President of NASSCO for over 20 years. During Mr. Vortmann's tenure, NASSCO fought efforts to clean up toxic sediment and fought regulation of water and air pollution from its leasehold without consideration of the impacts on the health of neighboring communities. His legacy is not one that the City Council should allow to be continued at the Port.

Winter is officially here, so we should be pro-active in reducing energy use before we turn our heaters and furnaces on. These simple tips will allow us to take control of our energy bills and be more responsible for our energy use. You can save money on utility bills and reduce demand on power plants to decrease greenhouse gasses.
leticia ayala winter energy saving tips web

  1. Layer your windows to keep drafts out and heat in. Use the existing drapes and curtains at night to add layers.
  2. Because winter-time brings more time indoors and less hours of sunlight. When we’re indoors, we should take advantage of natural light available. if you haven’t replaced all of your home’s incandescent bulbs with CFLs yet, make that one of your New Years resolutions. Replacing your bulbs can save 30% on your energy use immediately.
  3. Televisions, DVD players and Cell phones chargers all use energy even when they’re not being used This is called “vampire energy” To stop the Vampire from sucking your energy, use a smart power strip, which completely disconnects some appliances from taking energy from the outlet.
  4. Use a shower timer like this to ensure you take less than five-minute showers and avoid the temptation to take longer, hotter showers in the winter because it's cold. It takes a lot of energy to heat water, so you're paying more for your water bill and your energy bill.
  5. A refrigerator thermometer is helpful to ensure your refrigerator is operating properly. Best operating temperature to help save energy is at 28 degrees. Colder than that can waste energy and warmer than that may indicate that your door seals need to be replaced or you may need a new, more efficient appliance.
  6. One of your best tools is your energy bill. Read your energy bill and track your month-to-month usage and set conservation goals for you and your family. It’s fun to work together to save energy and save on our utility bills.

Happy Holidays everyone! Get outside, have fun and enjoy San Diego. If you have any questions or want information on free energy audits contact us at (619) 474-0220

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INSTRUCCIONES

Joy WilliamsOne recent workday when I had to drive to work instead of taking the bus, I found myself, not surprisingly, stuck in traffic. However, I had some great news to think over as I inched along - EHC's statewide game-changing victory at the PUC. This victory will create more energy efficiency education in more homes and help produce more green jobs for San Diego and California

Just before I turned off the engine of my Prius, I looked at the thermometer – winter is coming and the evenings are getting cooler. But I knew that once I got in the house it would be nice and warm. Nice and warm not from heating the house all day, but from all the energy upgrades we have done over the past two years. We put in new windows, and the white glove guys at ASI tested our house and figured how to make our house energy efficient. We got a new furnace and new heating ducts, and we got new insulation to keep our indoor temperature moderate.

We also got a nice check from SDG&E to help cover our costs. (Thanks to the ratepayers for that! You and I are funding SDG&E's rebate program – the funds don’t come out of their profits or the goodness of their hearts. They are required to spend money to help people reduce energy use).

I walked to the front door thinking about our $37 SDGE bill that I had just opened—all smiles. And there, right in front of the door, was a box. I saw that SDG&E sent it. My first thought was to write "return to sender" on it and send it back, but curiosity got the better of me.

Inside were “eco friendly” gifts and a note thanking us for our energy upgrades. We got a ball cap and a t-shirt with the SDG&E logo and the statement that we are energy efficient. I like to wear hats and T-shirts, but I don’t like to wear black hats or black shirts.

Rule number one in being energy efficient: black clothes absorb heat and make you hotter; light colored clothes reflect heat and make you cooler.

I looked at the tags and found out that the shirt was made in the Dominican Republic.

Rule number two: to reduce fuel consumption, don’t buy clothes shipped long distances to reach you.

But there was more: plastic herb garden containers, a plastic lunch bag, and a plastic water bottle.

Rule number three in being energy efficient, don’t buy things you don’t need as it takes energy to make the product, energy to bring the product to you, and energy to bring the product to the landfill.

Memo to SDG&E:

We don’t want more “stuff.” Stuff creates greenhouse gases. Moving it around creates more. We also don’t want three more fossil fueled power plants in our region. What we DO WANT from SDG&E is for them to move quickly toward a sane energy future, with policies and resources that put local, renewable energy sources ahead of fossil fuels. EHC's victory at the PUC in early November established groundwork for those improvements. No, we didn't suggest that t-shirts be a different color, or that they give out lunch-boxes instead of lunch-bags. We said that low-income families benefit more from one-on-one education vs. radio commercials to help save energy. We said that more middle-income families like mine need access to energy upgrade rebates. We said to expand green job training and get people back to work.

Beyond our recent victory, I'd like SDG&E to get out of the way of progress and let localities form their own nonprofit electric cooperatives that offer choices to residents about what kinds of energy solutions they want.

That would be the perfect gift to thank me for energy conservation.