The Los Angeles program received $38 million from the city. A small portion of the money comes from private funds.

According to city data, one-third of adults in Los Angeles are unable to support their families on income from full-time work alone.

“When you provide resources to families that are struggling, it can give them the breathing room to realize goals that many of us are fortunate enough to take for granted,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said when the program began.

That breathing room came at an opportune time for Ms. Barajas. After graduating from high school in 2017, she pushed aside dreams of college and began working a string of retail gigs — Claire’s, Old Navy, Walmart. She set aside $300 from her paycheck each month to help cover her family’s rent.

“I had to work,” she said. “We had no foundation, no money in our pockets.”

Last year, Ms. Barajas, 22, received funds from an extension of the child tax credit. She used some of the money for essentials like clothes and food.

On a recent afternoon in Chatsworth, a Los Angeles neighborhood, Ms. Barajas reflected on how the money from the guaranteed income program was helping her stay afloat. She moved out of her mother’s apartment in April, after an argument. Since then, she and her daughter, now 15 months old, have slept on friends’ couches and sometimes stayed at pay-by-the-week motels.

For now, they are living at a 90-day shelter for women and children. Ms. Barajas hopes to attend community college this fall, but is focused first on finding a job. Many mornings, she scrolls her iPhone looking at postings before her daughter wakes up.

Most of the money from the guaranteed-income payments goes toward food, diapers and clothing, but she’s trying to save several hundred dollars, enough for a security deposit for an apartment she hopes to move into with a friend.

“I’m one emergency away from having to spend money and then live on the streets and become homeless,” she said. “A lot of people are just hanging on with the smallest amount of wiggle room financially.”

Zohna Everett, who was part of the Stockton program, knows how it feels to live within that razor-thin margin.

Before the program began in 2019, she was driving for DoorDash five days a week, bringing in about $100 a day. Her husband at the time worked as a truck driver, and the rent for their two-bedroom apartment was $1,000. To help earn gas money, Ms. Everett sometimes collected recyclables and turned them in for cash.

“The money was a godsend,” Ms. Everett said of the Stockton program, adding that while enrolled in it, she got a contract job at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., on a production line.

Until then, Ms. Everett, 51, had been in a perpetual state of hustle, never stopping long enough to realize her exhaustion. After the payments started, she noticed she was sleeping better than she had in years.

“A weight truly was lifted from me,” she said.

The payments stopped during the pandemic, but she then received stimulus money from the federal government. She had started to save some money, but after a case of Covid left her with persistent fatigue and breathing problems, she recently took a leave from her Tesla job.

“With this pandemic, there is a lot of struggling,” she said. “There needs to be a permanent solution to help people.”

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California Officials Warn Of Possible Blackouts Due To Extreme Heat

California is experiencing a major heatwave that may cause a statewide blackout due to extreme temperatures.

California’s beaches are about the only bearable place to be as the state endures what is now a week of scorching, triple-digit temperatures.

The state’s electric grid operator anticipates its highest demand ever in the month of September. 

“This heat wave is on track to be both the hottest and the longest on record for this state and many parts of the west for the month of September,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom. 

Now leaders are increasing the urgency of their warnings to Californians about rolling blackouts if they can’t conserve enough electricity to avoid forecasted shortfalls. 

The operator said the state’s grid narrowly avoided outages Monday. 

They issued a level three alert Tuesday evening, just one step away from ordering rolling blackouts. 

“Just go out early in the morning, and then stay home. That is how I would describe it. It is hot,” said Marilyn Abrams, who is visiting Southern California.  

The temperatures have offered no help to firefighters battling more than a dozen blazes across the state. 

Near Los Angeles, the so-called Fairview Fire is now deadly and is blamed for two deaths. 

The fire is burning uncomfortably close to homes. 

Firefighters feared it would explode in the hot, dry conditions this week. 

The temperatures are not isolated to California. 

Medford, Oregon hit 105 degrees Fahrenheit Tuesday. 

And in Vegas? 112 degrees.  

In Sacramento it hit 114 degrees. 

In Utah, Salt Lake City is having its hottest summer on record. 

Fish are washing up dead in the Lost Creek Reservoir where a shrinking water level heats up faster during the day, and deprives fish of oxygen. 

“Less fish is always a bad thing, right?” said Tom Thomson, a Utah fisherman. 

“Hoping to see more snow and get more water here,” said Steven Randall, a Utah paddleboarder. 

Further east in Denver, students were released early as highs hit the upper 90s challenging older schools without A/C. 

It’s been a challenge to keep people safe and keep the power on in an oven-hot West. 

Source: newsy.com

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Southern California Fire Forces Evacuations, Shuts Down Some Roads

More than 5,000 acres are burning in a southern California fire, causing evacuations near Santa Clarita amid triple-digit temperatures.

In southern California, a brush fire is billowing smoke into the skies near Los Angeles. 

At more than 5,000 acres and just over a quarter contained, the Route Fire is forcing evacuations near the city of Santa Clarita.

But the fire is burning near a reservoir, giving firefighters a leg up in containing it from the air.

That’s despite dangerously high temperatures across most of California this week. With highs in the triple digits and already dry conditions, it’s a cocktail of fire danger.

Gov. Newsom addressed Californians this week, as a week of scorching temps tests California’s infrastructure.

“How can we maintain our resilient mindset, how can we work our way through these things and how can we thrive, not just survive, in an era of such extremes?” Gov. Gavin Newsom asked.

Officials are still asking residents to limit air conditioner use in the afternoon to prevent strain that could threaten the grid.

“The problem that California faces on these hot days is almost entirely air conditioning,” said Severin Borenstein, energy and economics expert at UC Berkeley. “If we can get people to increase their thermostat settings just a few degrees, turning it from 75 to 78, that takes a huge load off the system.”

It’s now a burning urgency to find long-term solutions.

“No one denies heat waves have existed long before climate change, but their duration and their intensity have never been more challenging,” Gov. Newsom said.

Source: newsy.com

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55 Million People Under Heat Alerts In Western U.S.

Much of Southern California remains under an excessive heat warning, with the state’s grid operator warning of record temperatures.

Leaders in the West have been digging in for days of dangerous temperatures. 

“Projected to be as high as 122 in California, in Death Valley, tomorrow,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom.  

Across the West, there are blazing hot highs. 

Major cities from Washington to Arizona hit triple digits Wednesday; with even hotter temperatures in the forecast.  

In Salt Lake City, schools without air conditioning are trying to keep students cool as temperatures approach 100. 

“This school, Sunset Junior, was built in 1963, so it wasn’t constructed to have air conditioning,” said Doug Anderson, the dean of the Davis School District in Utah.  

Air quality is diminishing in impacted areas. 

“On days that are especially hot, like we have coming this week, ozone is extra high,” said Scott Epstein, the program supervisor at South Coast Air Quality Management District. 

In the San Francisco Bay area, experts are worried a toxic algae bloom is already killing off scores of marine life, and could get much worse in the heat. 

“This is a fish kill of unprecedented magnitude in San Francisco Bay. It’s an uncountable number of fish, literally uncountable,” said Jon Rosenfield, a senior scientist at San Francisco Baykeeper.   

Governor Newsom is worried primarily about strain on the electric grid. 

“Energy reliability becomes more and more challenging, energy reliability becomes more and more stressed because demand increases at the same time supply decreases,” said Newsom. 

He worries dwindling water supplies will make hydroelectric plants more fragile and will contribute to the strain. 

“We are anticipating this extreme heat to be a length and duration the likes of which we haven’t seen in some time,” said Newsom.

He is aware this is not a short-term problem as record-breaking heatwaves strangle infrastructure and human tolerance from China to Europe. 

Source: newsy.com

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The World’s Relationship With Nuclear Energy Is Changing

By Newsy Staff
August 17, 2022

Though the idea of nuclear energy has historically been unpopular, the debate has now changed toward a push for more of it.

After decades of shutting down nuclear plants across the country, there is now a sudden growing political movement to hit the brakes, with much of it being led by environmental scientists.

A study from Pew Research Center found that nuclear power was barely more popular than coal and oil among the U.S. public, as vast majorities of respondents were instead in favor of increasing wind and solar energy intake. Despite this, the Biden administration announced $6 billion to keep current nuclear plants operational, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom is now pushing to keep the state’s last remaining nuclear plant, the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, open. 

So, how has the debate around nuclear energy changed, and why are we seeing this sudden shift for a less popular energy source?

In the postwar period, nuclear power plants began springing up around the country, encouraged by President Dwight D. Eisenhower who famously made his “Atoms for Peace” speech at the U.N. But, that wasn’t enough to calm the fears of nuclear armament and attacks as the U.S. headed into the Cold War. 

Nuclear power plants depend on fuel rods where fission occurs, or in other words, the splitting of an atom. The rods are surrounded by water which helps keep them cool. The fission creates heat, which boils the surrounding water to make steam. The steam is what powers a turbine to make energy.

If, for some reason, the fuel rods get too hot, that can cause a meltdown.

In 1979, the first major accident happened at a U.S. power plant. The Three Mile Island incident was a partial meltdown of a plant in Pennsylvania, where cleanup took over 20 years. Conflicting studies haven’t conclusively determined whether the disaster led to health problems, such as a rise in cancer in the area, but the image was already set in the public’s mind. The number of nuclear plants being built and kept open plummeted.

Further high-profile disasters made a lasting impact worldwide: In 1986, the Chernobyl disaster in the Soviet Union had horrific and deadly consequences. Then in 2011, Fukushima plant meltdown only added to the list, even though there were no reported deaths. These disasters also reinforced national security concerns about plants being potential targets of terrorist groups or wartime enemies, like Russia in Ukraine.

There are a number of things that have changed in recent years: Safer technology is being developed for future facilities, and now that China and Russia have overtaken the U.S. in the number of nuclear plants, there are new concerns about being energy independent.

But, one of the biggest reasons for the recent shift is climate change.

Nuclear power is still crucial to the energy grid. It still generates about 20% of the U.S. electricity supply, and it’s the single largest non-fossil energy source in the U.S. and second globally. Advocates say nuclear is going to be essential in order to meet emission goals in the fight for climate change.

Nuclear is what’s known as a “firm” energy source, meaning it’s always able to meet demand and produce energy. Renewables, like wind and solar may also be clean, but they are limited by things like the weather or time of year. 

So, the infrastructure needed for solar and wind energy to match nuclear’s output just can’t be built fast enough to quickly replace both fossil fuels and nuclear. As a result, nuclear often just gets replaced by fossil fuels, which can be seen in cases from plant closures in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and more.

There’s no easy solution when it comes to nuclear power. And as the country races to meet its emissions goals, it seems clear that existing nuclear power plants will be part of the strategy in some way.

Back in California at the Diablo Canyon plant, the governor announced last week plans to keep the plant open for another five to 10 years. The plant’s scheduled closing date was 2025. Gov. Newsom plans to use federal funds as a loan to The Pacific Gas & Electric company, which provides energy to millions of households in California, to keep the facility running.

The U.S. isn’t alone in rethinking the plant closures. Many parts of Europe are also rethinking nuclear energy — both as countries race to meet climate goals, and as they struggle with an energy crisis spurred on by the Russian invasion in Ukraine.

Some of these major sudden policy reversals could unfold as early as this fall.

Source: newsy.com

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Interior Department Restricts Water Supply To Multiple Western States

The Colorado River supplies water to tens of million of people, but restrictions will reduce many western states’ supply.

In the West, drying lakebeds and shrinking rivers are reaching a breaking point. Now the Department of the Interior is slashing water supplies to several western states, as the Colorado River shrinks and the vital Lakes Powell and Mead which it feeds get lower and lower.

“I wish I had a crystal ball for what will happen in the Colorado River basin,” said Simone Kjolsrud, water resource adviser to Chandler, Arizona. “When you live in the desert you have to have that conservation ethic of embracing that desert lifestyle.”

In Arizona, cities are now planning around a coming cut of 21% of the state’s original water allocation. 

Part of a package of cuts was announced Tuesday. That also includes slashes to supply for Nevada and parts of Mexico. 

“We have known for decades that there’s a real possibility that our water supplies would be cut, and so for the most part the cities have planned very proactively,” said Kathryn Sorensen, researcher at ASU Kyl Center for Water Policy.

Cities near Phoenix are now contending with some of the steepest cuts in the West, amid some of the most dire water conservation efforts ever.

The Interior Department is now looking to save some 2 to 4 million acre feet of water over the next four years under the right conservation conditions. One acre foot can supply three houses for a year.

“We have invested in infrastructure,” Kjolsrud said. “We’ve been storing water underground that we can access during times of surface water shortages. We’re not anticipating that in the next few years.”

Still, the cuts aren’t good news for the millions who rely on the Colorado River and the $15 billion agricultural industry.

“If we got some good rains in here that would go ahead and green up,” said Nancy Caywood, an Arizona farmer.

Lately, Caywood hasn’t been doing much farming, though it’s her job.

She’s giving tours of her land instead to make up for the money she’s losing – without any crops to sell.

“I drive around, and I look at empty canals,” Caywood said. “Literally I burst into tears over it a couple of times because I’m thinking it’s just such a hopeless situation.”

At a nearby farm, her son is leasing land to supplement income.

“I don’t know if there’s going to be enough water to keep going, if he’s gonna run out, with his allocation,” Caywood said.

Arizona is the hardest hit of the southwestern states that rely on the emptying Colorado River. Seven states — Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California — were told to come up with a plan to cut their overall water use by 15% next year.

But the ensuing fight, with upper basin states fighting to keep their allocations amid growing populations and lower basin states fighting to ward off the deepest cuts, left the state governments at an impasse, prompting the federal government to make the cuts for them.

“We will lose 10% of our water supply by 2040,” California Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

California has no cuts under the plan, but it’s not lost on Gov. Newsom that the state still faces a dwindling water supply. He just unveiled a plan to invest billions in water recycling, storage and desalination. 

“What we are focusing on is creating more supply… creating more water,” Gov. Newsom said.

The cuts announced Tuesday are just a teaser of what could be ahead, as the Interior Department looks to save far more water coming from the critical Colorado River. 

Source: newsy.com

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