Beginning February 12 in Carpinteria, Southern California Edison
will send representatives door-to-door to sign up South County
businesses for free energy efficiency upgrades. Every business
currently using fewer than 100 kilowatts of energy per month is
eligible for up to $5,000 worth of new lighting, refrigeration, and
other equipment, with free installation, to be paid for by the
California Public Utilities Commission, which draws funds from the
public goods fee included on monthly electrical bills. The program
is part of an effort to reduce the region’s energy consumption by
10 percent over three years.

The California Department of Fish and Game has asked freshwater
boaters to help prevent the spread of the invasive Quagga mussel,
which was found in California for the first time on January 17 in
Lake Havasu. If the tiny yet prolific Ukrainian mollusks manage to
get a foothold at Lake Cachuma – which is a reservoir as well as a
recreational boating lake – they could clog water distribution
pipes. Boaters using recreational waters are asked to help stop the
Quagga mussel by thoroughly washing their boat’s hull and draining
all water from the inside of boats after each use.

A small oil spill came dangerously close to a watering hole
frequented by endangered California condors in the Sespe Wilderness
on January 31. A broken wastewater line was discovered January 30
on an oil field owned by Vintage Productions California LLC. About
200 gallons of light crude that had been floating on the wastewater
flowed down Tar Creek until crews using booms, earthen berms,
suction trucks, and absorbent pads contained the slick three miles
upstream from the confluence of Tar and Sespe creeks.

Vandenberg Air Force Base reported that a falconry program has
successfully eliminated seagulls from the area to the extent that
not a single one has been reported in the last three months. The
trained falcons chase away seagulls and other birds that crowd the
nearby landfill in search of food. Vandenberg officials began
taking measures to eliminate the large numbers of birds in order to
prevent the spread of disease and to ensure safe take-offs and
landings at its nearby airstrip. A similar program has also proven
effective at landfills in Santa Maria.

A NASA scientist and pioneering researcher in the field of
global warming, Dr. James Hansen, spoke at UCSB on Monday to a
crowd that filled the 800-seat Campbell Hall and spilled into two
smaller lecture halls showing the lecture on TV screens. Hansen’s
lecture – which focused on the dangers fossil fuel consumption
poses to the planet, especially to many animal species – kicked off
a series that will continue through Earth Day, April 22.

An ethanol company looking to open a large-scale facility near
Santa Maria is expected to file application papers with the county
this week. With ambitious plans to break ground sometime this
summer, the Santa Maria-based American Ethanol is looking to meet
the fast-growing national demand for the corn-derived alternative
fuel by building a $200 million plant that would produce an
estimated 110 million gallons of the fuel each year. If it comes to
fruition, the American Ethanol facility would be the largest in the


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