Tuesday, December 31, 2002  [!]

Happy New Year's Eve!

Be as safely insane as you wanna be tonight! Have a happy new year's celebration. What's turning into a new year's tradition: breaking plates in the last five mintues of the year. (inspired by the plate-breaking scene in the movie Tortilla Soup, a treasured Christmas present last year was a set of Plates For Breaking... One was broken at 11:55pm 31 December 2001. I think that two will be broken tonight at 11:55).

Failing New Year's (2002) Resolutions I think it was in January of 2002 I said I hoped to upgrade my computer to OS X. Nope. Didn't do it. All year. Just ordered a big ol' disk drive; after all the data's backed up, I can reformat for OS 9/OSX. So January 2003 will see me onto OS X.

Reef Madness California Coastal Commission (CCC) ruled unconstitutional: SF Gate, Sacramento Business Journal. The CA legislature appoints a certain number who sits on the commission. Additionally, the legislature writes laws; in effect this makes the legislature both the law-writing arm and the law-enforcement arm through the coastal commission. All this came from a local (to me, at least) non-profit venture to create a reef off of Newport Beach (where I grew up) from old tires. The reef would support undersea life. CCC approval was part of the plan and they said "no" to the project. So the group behind the reef challenged the constitutionality of the CCC itself.

the OC Register has more of the story about the Balboa pier reef project.

At the center of the argument is Rodolphe Streichenberger, a French aquaculturist and environmentalist who welcomed the aid of developers when his fight with the Coastal Commission turned costly.

The story began in 1986, when Streichenberger, who had little training in marine science, founded the Marine Forests Society, a nonprofit volunteer group in Balboa. His goal: create 50 kelp forests off the California coast to create marine habitat. "I came to plant the sea," Streichenberger said.

Although his group did briefly grow some kelp, it failed in its overall attempt to build a large, permanent kelp forest off Balboa. Streichenberger later abandoned plans for establishing such beds up and down the coast. Instead, he modified his experimental work, moving to create a man-made reef upon which mussels would grow. The reef would be composed of 1,500 used tires that he deposited on a barren seafloor a short distance from shore.

The Sacramento Bee notes the way in which the CCC has been corrupted in the past: "In what was arguably the commission's worst moment, Commissioner Mark L. Nathanson went to prison in 1993 for extorting payments from people seeking permits to build on the Southern California coast."

What I want to know is how this brouhaha affects the offshore drilling of oil, as described in the Salon article Bush to California: Choke on this, about how the Bush administration is working with the oil and auto industries to undermine California's environmental regulations

It's a battle that seemingly pits a libertarian, laissez-faire philosophy against the liberal belief in government intervention -- except for the awkward fact that the Bush administration's own intervention against California's environmental regulations is a classic case of the sort of Big Government meddling conservatives usually deplore. Whatever happened to that Republican Party standby, states' rights?

"The Bush administration talks until they're blue in the face about respecting state authority on environmental issues," says Drew Caputo, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group. From drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to snowmobiles in Yellowstone, the Bush administration argues that they're only supporting what locals want. But not in California. "Basically their position is, 'we respect state authority, but only when the state agrees with the oil industry,'" says Caputo.