PaliHi Students Engage Caruso at Climate Crisis Rally

LA Mayoral candidate Rick Caruso engages students at Global Climate Strike demonstration in Pacific Palisades on September 23, 2022.

By: BILL BRUNS, Circling the News Contributor

Late last Friday afternoon, September 23, as the Global Climate Strike demonstration was ending on Sunset Boulevard in Pacific Palisades, one student shouted, “There’s Rick Caruso!” The Los Angeles Mayoral candidate (versus Karen Bass) was across the street, walking his dog while touring his mall, Palisades Village.

At a red light on Sunset Boulevard, students received honks of support.

Several HRW Student Task Force members from Palisades Charter High School waited for a green light, then ran across Sunset and talked Caruso into visiting their rally.

“What are you trying to accomplish here?” Caruso asked the students, who were joined by members of a new community organization, Resilient Palisades. (Watch Rick Caruso speak with STF members)

“We are trying to raise awareness of the climate crisis on the political agenda,” said Madelyn. “Politicians should really be focused on the climate crisis.”

“I agree with you,” said Caruso, who waved to several drivers that honked as they went through the intersection. His dog stood calmly at his side.

“This issue is important now, and we have to take action now,” said Ellery.

“Ellery is right—the problem has to be handled now; it should have been handled a long time ago,” said Caruso, who praised the students for “making noise and bringing it to people’s attention.”

After Caruso mentioned a water-recycling program at his Palisades mall and emphasized how “we should be pushing everyone to be doing the right thing for our environment,” a student asked, “How exactly are you planning on doing that as mayor?”

Caruso cited several highlights from his plan.

One, “We need recyclable water. We have billions of gallons that go into the ocean; we should be putting it (back) in our natural aquifers and filter the water so we can use it over again.”

Second, “We need to change our power plants to hydrogen, which is completely clean burning, and take out natural gas burning, to lower CO2 emissions. We have got to advance the solar agenda, but it’s very inefficient and hydrogen is very efficient.”

A demonstrator asked, “So your agenda is to create new infrastructure. How would it be funded? We already have the technology to create solar, but we don’t have the infrastructure to have hydrogen power.”

Caruso responded, “No, you can take a power plant and convert to hydrogen very easily. We’re testing hydrogen at a power plant in Utah and it’s working well. We could bring it [the technology] out here to L.A. and we’d have zero emissions.”

PaliHi environmental science teacher Steve Engelmann introduced himself and pressed Caruso, noting that “the majority of hydrogen is not produced with green energy.”

“We are testing green hydrogen,” Caruso said.

Engelmann replied, “So the question is: It takes energy to produce green hydrogen, and that is where solar can help make that hydrogen.”

“I agree with that,” said Caruso. “I think you go after every technology and see what does the best. And then let’s adopt the best practices.”

Gesturing to Engelmann, Caruso told the students, “You’ve got a great teacher right here. Keep it up—I’m proud of you guys.”

He then headed back to his mall to attend a Zoom meeting.

During the demonstration, three fire trucks came speeding along Sunset, horns blaring, and a protestor shouted, “The planet’s on fire!”

Students demanded  climate action at the rally on Friday, chanting, “What do we want? Climate Justice! When do we want it? Now. “


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6 Responses to PaliHi Students Engage Caruso at Climate Crisis Rally

  1. Charlie S says:

    Congratulations to these passionate students for taking this urgent issue to the streets.
    Based on his answers and his history, perhaps Mr. Caruso should have stayed on the other side. Even though he boasts in interviews and debates of how his malls and apartments and resorts are Leed Certified and environmentally friendly, the reality is very different.

    His developments required a tremendous amount of energy to build and produced a lot of waste, some of which was dumped into nearby Portrero Canyon. The Palisades Village uses so much electricity that they had to bring in their own, dedicated power line. The streetlights were, originally, gas burning, ala Disneyland in the 50s. The Christmas lights are beautiful but they are on all year long.

    Imagine the amount of carbon released from the millions of buses and trucks and cars coming and going to or from his properties. Or maybe the dozens of his oil burning classic cars in his private garage/floor in Palisades village, his jet, his yacht, his houses.

    To hear Mr. Caruso give an uneducated and disingenuous answer to these kids’ most important life issue makes sense given the reality. Perhaps someone else will care.

  2. Steve Engelmann says:

    I would like to give Rick Caruso credit for walking across the street and speaking with climate protesters on September 23rd. This was not on his schedule. In the exchange with demonstrators he mentioned that the Palisades Caruso development had solar on its roof. He also complained that he wanted to cover the entire Grove development with solar, but the LA DWP would not cooperate. This point confused me as he once served as commissioner of the DWP. This would have also been a great moment for Caruso to state that as mayor he would work to reform LADWP to become a willing partner in these projects, both commercial and residential. Pali High is currently working through a proposal to place solar panels across its campus. The electricity generated would supply 100% of the high school’s energy needs with extra to be put onto the grid. Both LAUSD and LADWP are collaborating on this project. Why couldn’t Caruso with his connections do the same.

    Out of curiosity I went on Google Earth and took a look at both the Palisades and Grove developments. There is solar on both, but only a fraction of the flat roof top. Just north of the Grove is CBS. I was impressed. Almost all of their parking area is shaded with solar and about 70% of the building roof top. I’m sure CBS had the same challenges in dealing with the DWP. I see this as wasted opportunities. How would Mayor Caruso resolve these issues.

    One last point. Caruso mention the IPP power plant in Utah as running on green hydrogen. This power plant used to burn coal and LA DWP is its largest customer. According to the IPP website, green hydrogen will begin to be used to make electricity starting in 2025. At that point green hydrogen will only be 30% of the mix. The goal is to ramp up to 100% green hydrogen by 2045. The economics of this project is still up in the air and LA rate payers will be funding it. While I think green hydrogen at IPP should be explored, I see this as a distraction. 2045 is too late. There are numerous economically tested solutions to our energy needs available today. Roof top solar and conservation can provide immediate answers to the climate crisis and will pay for themselves long before 2045.

    Both mayoral candidates need to do a better job at explaining to voters how they will address the climate crisis. Between heat waves, drought, wildfires, air quality, sea level rise and climate justice issues there is a lot to talk about.

  3. Kathleen Jensen says:

    This was some great reporting by CTN. Photos & video of impromptu interview with Rick Caruso, led by Pali High students & their environmental science teacher was very informative.

  4. Mo McGee says:

    Many thanks to Steve Englemann for his fact-based comments on Rick Caruso’s encounter with the Global Climate Strike demonstrators. He brought rare clarity to the discussion.

  5. Lifelong Palisadian says:

    Thank you to all of the previous responders for your informative comments. I would love to know where this magical pipeline is that carries reclaimed water to the local parks. I don’t recall the construction of any such thing. This may also explain comments on Nextdoor, etc., about sewage issues and pumping at Carusoville. If the reclaimed water is being passed on to the storm drain from Carusoville, then it would simply flow through the park to the ocean. Although there is a (not yet functional) water reclamation system in Temescal Canyon, likely it does not collect water from Carusoville. Caruso’s comments are not surprising; his success comes from telling people whatever they want to hear, and nobody holds him to account to deliver.

  6. Steve D. says:

    It’s fascinating to read the article and then compare it to the comments. I can’t help but think they did not read the article before commenting or are just blinded by their enthusiasm for Karen Bass. Charlie S. implies that if not for Caruso building a mall, people would stay home saving us millions of vehicle trips as well as damage from the construction itself. Caruso did not say the Utah plant is running on green hydrogen. He said it is “testing” running on green hydrogen. He also did not say there was a magical pipeline that carries reclaimed water to local parks. He said they have “a water recycling program.” He added that we should be recapturing and treating stormwater for reuse which is exactly what we should do.
    I suppose this will not be read as everyone has moved on but it’s cathartic to write. Be smarter and quit mindlessly regurgitating the inane narrative that Caruso is the devil and Bass is a saint. The reality is much more nuanced.

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