Farm to prison project advancing

This story was reported for Seaside Courier on May 19, 2014.Farm_to_prison_project_advancing_-_Seaside_Courier_News_-_2014-07-02_08.57.54.png

An Encinitas resident is overseeing a new effort to have inmates at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in Otay Mesa grow their own food behind prison walls.

The Farm And Rehabilitation Meals (FARM) program being developed at the prison will enable up to 20 inmates to grow fruits and vegetables on three acres. The farm includes a large warehouse for a seed propagation area, classroom space, three large planter boxes and a raised planting bed for inmates using wheelchairs.

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Water quality change on tap for California brewers

Drought_s_impact_on_beer_It_is_90_percent_water_-_10News.com_KGTV_ABC10_San_Diego_-_2014-06-27_09.39.46.pngThis story was reported for 10News on April 13, 2012.

When it comes to brewing beer, San Diegans take it seriously.

San Diego County is home to 87 of the 423 craft breweries in California, including Stone Brewery, the 10th largest craft brewery in the nation.

The local craft brewing industry also saw sales of $781.6 million in 2013 and was described as “one of the fastest growing segments of the San Diego regional economy,” according to a February 2014 report by the National University System Institute for Policy Research.

But with 90 percent or more of beer being made up of water, California’s drought could mean a change in how San Diego’s booming craft brewery industry operates.

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Colorado River Water Shortage for Western States Foreseen in U.S. Study

FireShot Screen Capture #005 - 'Colorado River Water Shortage for Western States Foreseen in U_S_ Study - Government - Poway, CA Patch' - poway_patch_com_groups_politics-and-elections_p_colorado-river-water-shortage-fThis story was reported for Patch on Dec. 12, 2012.

The Colorado River won’t be able to support the growing population of Western states including California, says a federal study released Wednesday.

The study—conducted by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation over the course of three years—says the river will be an estimated 3.2 million acre-feet short of meeting demand by 2060.

The shortage amount would support roughly 3 million households.

The study—which examines how Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming will be affected—projects that 76.5 million people will rely on the Colorado River Basin by 2060.

Currently, 40 million people benefit from the river.

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What made San Diego prepared for the earthquake?

This story was reported for the San Diego News Network on April 5, 2010.

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Experts agree the strongest earthquake in decades struck Southern California Sunday.

With the severe magnitude of the 7.2 temblor, many are left wondering why there isn’t more damage in San Diego. Experts say it’s because the county was well-prepared.

“There are three components that have created a resilient community,” said Ron Lane, San Diego County’s director of emergency services. “A well-trained first responders system, a prepared citizenry and building codes that are made with earthquakes in mind. This was a good wake-up call for San Diego and I encourage San Diegans to think about what happened yesterday.”

San Diego State University geology professor and seismologist Kim Bak Olsen noted that geography played a major role in the relatively minor damage done in San Diego.

“If the 7.2.-magnitude earthquake happened right on the fault in the San Diego area, we would have seen a lot of damage, no doubt about it,” Olsen said. “It’s really a question of how far away buildings are from the fault.”

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UC San Diego professor of structural engineering Benson Shing cited modern construction standards as well.

“It was the quality of construction in San Diego and really, it was luck,” he said.

Shing said that the Easter earthquake isn’t necessarily a wake-up call, but a reminder that buildings in the region built before the 1930s need to be properly retrofitted.

But Lane acknowledged that the buildings that need to retrofitted in San Diego are few and far between.

“We have over 800,000 buildings in San Diego County and all but 1,200 are built to those standards and certainly that made a big difference,” he said. “I think we saw in Haiti what would have happened if we didn’t have building codes — it’s a stark contrast.”

It was a different story south of the border, where Mexico has a mix of modern and outdated construction.

So far, the quake has claimed two lives in Mexico, one of which occurred when a house collapsed. At least 100 people were injured.

The twin border towns of Calexico, Calif., and Mexicali, Mexico, suffered damage to buildings and dealt with disruption to utilities.

Modern construction standards likely prevented widespread destruction in fast-growing Mexicali, which underwent a boom of new housing in the past two decades, said Jose Restrepo, Shing’s colleague at UCSD.

By contrast, there was no building code in Haiti, where the death toll exceeded 200,000 and more than 250,000 buildings were destroyed.

Though another earthquake didn’t immediately occur as some experts expected, Olsen said Southern Californians may have to prepare for another earthquake in the next decade.

“There is a 30 to 40 percent chance a 7.5-magnitude or larger earthquake will happen,” he said. “We know it’s going to happen, we just don’t know exactly when. Yesterday’s earthquake increased the chance of it happening.”

Associated Press writer Alicia Chang contributed to this report. Hoa Quach is the political editor for the San Diego News Network.


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Experts say relying on oil puts Americans at risk

This story was reported for the San Diego News Network on March 19, 2010.

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As the threat of climate change increases and America becomes more dependent on foreign oil, national security is compromised, said panelists at a state Senate hearing Friday.

The California State Senate Select Committee on Climate Change held a hearing at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography to discuss the challenges the nation faces regarding energy use and national security.

A group of three senators, including Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), and six climate and national security experts, agreed that the continued use of oil at the U.S. rate of consumption — the U.S. uses 25 percent of the world’s oil — would compromise national security. As the recession deepened and oil prices spiked, the problem was made worse.

Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn used Iran as an example. Iran is home to an abundance of oil, which the U.S. pays for when it goes to market; so, he said, U.S. dollars are funneled into Iran’s economy.

“The oil we buy helps to fund the terrorist action,” he said. “The more we buy oil, the more we’re giving to a regime that’s fighting against our young men and women.”

Electrification Coalition director of policy Sam Ori said since 1970 the U.S. has spent an excess of $5 trillion on oil. The number is tied to oil spikes during a down economy despite the constant need for oil.

Though the solution would require a joint effort by lawmakers and Americans to rely more on sustainable resources, said experts, two military representatives said their goal is to reduce the military’s oil consumption by 30 percent by 2020.

Major General Anthony M. Jackson, the commanding general of the Marines Corps Installations West, said the sector created an Expeditionary Energy Office to examine ways of finding sustainable resources. So far, the Marines are using less generators, more wind turbines and solar panels to charge equipment.

Rear Admiral William French, the commander of the Navy Region Southwest, said 32 percent of the its budget is devoted to paying for utilities. The Navy Region Southwest has been able to reduce consumption by 18 percent in the last six years. Like the Marines, they’ve relied more on sustainable energy.

The hearing was a part of the Senate Committee’s Implementation of Assembly Bill 32, a four-year-old legislation known as the Global Warming Solutions Act. The bill allows the California Air Resources Board to find ways for California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We have a lot of pressure at the Legislature and in Congress,” said Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Walnut Creek). “The economy has slowed our environmental efforts. I think we have to realize it’s not just an environmental choice, it’s the future of the U.S. both economically and militarily.”

McGinn told the committee and attendees the problems of the economy and climate are “inextricably linked” and solutions will be difficult to identify.

“Climate change poses a serious threat to our national security,” he said. “It’s the worst type of threat because we don’t have a specific name identity, no hot spot to fight … It’s a very, very complex and ongoing problem that can become seriously dramatic.”

Hoa Quach is the political editor for the San Diego News Network. Follow her on Twitter or add her on Facebook.


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