Bob Danziger - Video, Music, Sound and a book or two

Robert Nathan Danziger; J.D., D.F.A. (hon)





The Sounds of Steinbeck's Chinatown.  Originally produced for the International Steinbeck Festival at the National Steinbeck Center, Salinas, California (May 2012)


Four books: 

Steinbeck and the Sounds of the Filipino American Experience (2012).  For the National Steinbeck Center Exhibition "Filipino Voices Past and Present."

Japantown in Chinatown (2011).  For the National Steinbeck Center Exhibition "Japanese History in Salinas Chinatown."

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Energy Independence (2010); and 

The Rules Implementing Sections 201 and 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978: A Regulatory History, published  by Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, JPL Publication 80-64, 1980.


Selected law review and professional articles are listed below.



Awarded the Gold Medal for Best Original Music by the International Film & Television Festival of New York (1987) for the short-form video “Sunlaw Cogeneration.”


Five albums (Never Dreamed, Best of Bob Danziger, One Rock, 1910 Nocturne, and Unspoken Dreams) on iTunes, CD Baby, and other download sites. 


The sound sculpture Steinbeck’s Chinatown was composed as part of an exhibition program by the National Steinbeck Center and CSUMB in Salinas, California. Steinbeck's Chinatown ran from April to July at the National Steinbeck Center. The 2010 sound sculpture focused on the Chinese families that lived in the Monterey area generally and Salinas’ Chinatown specifically.  

In 2011 Japantown in Chinatown accompanied the National Steinbeck Center Exhibition "Japanese History in Salinas Chinatown." an Exhibition and sound sculpture focused on the Japanese families in and around Chinatown. 

In 2012, Steinbeck and the Sounds of the Filipino American Experience for the National Steinbeck Center Exhibition "Filipino Voices Past and Present."

The sound sculpture 1910 Nocturne played as part of the exhibition Painting by Moonlight at the Monterey Museum of Art (April 2009 to December 2009). 


As a studio musician, played acoustic percussion on Some Things Never Change by Supertramp (1999) and Meteor by The Shazam (August 2009).  The Supertramp album achieved platinum sales in Germany and France.


Teaching and Lecturing:  Panetta Institute, Panel member and Question Selection Committee, 2010 Panetta Institute Lecture Series, The Second Decade 2010 - 2020. Our Environment: Can we Save the Planet that Sustains Us? Lecturer, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Cal-State University Monterey Bay, From Electric Vehicles To The Smart Grid: The Evolving Framework for New Energy Technology, October 2009.   Also in 2009 gave the lecture “The Emerging Framework for New Energy and Environmental Technologies,” at Stanford University, California Institute of Technology - Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Monterey High School, Carmel Foundation, Retired Military Officers Association.   Previously a Lecturer at Stanford University at Hopkins Marine Station and the Genetics Department (2003 to 2009); Adjunct Professor – Alternative Energy law at Whittier College School of Law (1980 to 1982); and, teacher in the Solar Energy Installers Course in the Prison Industries program at Corona-Norco State Prison (1980).  Also lectured at Rice University, UCLA, and Pepperdine.


Consultant, lawyer, inventor, and/or member of advisory board: Examples are Khosla Ventures (biotech due diligence); Jet Propulsion Laboratory (smart grid); National Semiconductor (smart grid), Goal Line Environmental Technology (catalysis, nanotechnology), Calera (cement from seawater and CO2), Gridpoint (smart grid, electric and hybrid vehicles); Google (electric and hybrid vehicles), Carmel Highlands Inventions (electricity from the non-carbon portions of coal, acid mine drainage remediation, in-situ coal gasification); and Cogentrix (CO2 management options for coal-fired power plants focusing on making wood or masonry-substitute materials from greenhouse gasses). Expert witness for the U.S. House of Representatives on the impact of tax policy on research and development (1980 – 1981).



Invention: Eight patents issued.  Two patents are for a method of making high-quality cement from the greenhouse gases and other pollutants from power plants. Two patents are for catalyst chemistry for ultra-low emissions from gas-fired power plants, and two for mechanical systems for pollution control.  Another patent is for “The Walking Chair,” a medical assistive device I invented to help with my back problems. The eighth patent is for making electricity from the non-carbon parts of coal while simultaneously de-acidifying acid mine drainage. Also have had involvement with hundreds of research and development activities, including unique musical instruments and a substantial portion of GE’s Ecomagination portfolio.



Honors and Awards:

  • Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts; California State University Monterey Bay; September 2011
  • Established Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Lowest Achievable Emissions Rate (LAER) designation for NOx, CO, and ammonia, and established new Best Available Control Technology (BACT) standard
  • Set several world records for safety, reliability, capacity factor, and emissions reductions
  • Designated a “Pioneer Qualifying Facility” by the California Public Utilities Commission
  • Clean Air Award, South Coast Air Quality Management District (1998)
  • City of Los Angeles Commendation by the City Council (council members from the 6th, 10th, and 11th districts) “for good citizenship, social conscience and many contributions to making people breathe easier through the development of forward-looking innovative pollution-control equipment for industrial applications” (June 7, 1996)
  • ASCAP Special Award for Adult Alternative, Jazz, World, Special Event, Movie, or Television (July 1996)
  • Gold Medal for Best Original Music by the International Film & Television Festival of New York (1987).






Whittier Law School

JD, Alternative Energy Law, 1975–1978, Law Review


Private Tutors

Chemistry, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, physics, 1975–1977


Committee of Bar Examiners

College equivalency exam, 1975


Selected Law Review and Professional Articles:


"Solar Energy Financing: Variable Loan Payments in an Energy Savings-Paid Loan Program," 1 Whittier Law Review 13, 1978. 


"Renewable Energy Resources and Cogeneration: Community Systems and Grid Interaction as a Public Utility Enterprise," 2 Whittier Law Review 81, 1979.


"Solar Energy and Cogeneration: When is a Net Producer of Energy Subject to Regulation as a Public Utility?" Published in the Proceedings of the National Conference on Technology for Energy Conservation, January 1979.


"Amelioration of Regulatory Risk Through Cogeneration Design Parameters" presented at the Pacific Energy Association Meeting, Long Beach California, 1981.


"The SCONOx Catalytic Absorption System for Natural Gas Fired Power Plants: The Pursuit of Zero Emissions" presentation to Air and Waste Management Association, June 14 – 18, 1998 in San Diego.


"Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Proposed Rules for the Federal Photovoltaic Utilization Program," Federal Register May 9, 1979.


"Final Rules for the Federal Photovoltaic Utilization Program, 44 Federal Register 64776 (1979).



Lives in Carmel, California, with his wife, decorative arts scholar Martha Drexler Lynn, Ph.D.


June 2012

Quotes and Compliments



Breathing Out

Robert A. Jones, Column in the Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, February 5, 1997


Sometimes it’s the little stories that are most fun.  They can tell us more about ourselves, and how we operate as a culture, than the big stories.  This little story begins down in Vernon, the belly of the industrial beast in L.A.  If it’s big and ugly, it probably gets made in Vernon.  As the saying goes, Vernon may not be hell; it just smells like it.


Smack in the middle of Vernon sits a little company known as Sunlaw Energy Corp.  In 1995, Sunlaw did a remarkable thing.  It built a new generating plant for electricity at the corner of Downey and Fruitland.

Nothing so remarkable about that except this plant probably spews fewer pollutants than any other fossil-fuel plant in the world.  In fact, “spews” is the wrong word to use with the Sunlaw plant.  On a moderately smoggy day in L.A., the emissions coming out of its stack are cleaner than the air surrounding it.

Or to put it another way, the plant is five times cleaner than required by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.  It’s more than twice as clean as its nearest rival and many times cleaner than most plants.

Sunlaw was created by a man named Robert Danziger.  As an industrialist, he is hard to classify.  He’s had previous lives as a jazz musician and scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  He is a large man, very large, and when standard golf clubs didn’t fit him he designed his own.  The living room of his house has been converted to a sound studio.

After World War II, this city was full of entrepreneurs like Danziger, men who habitually poked into the margins of things, making and sometimes losing several fortunes in their lives.  Now, most of them are gone.


But Danziger remains.

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Ronald Reagan himself could not have dreamed up a better example of capitalism at work.  No public monies had been spent.  The air gets cleaner, toxics get reduced and jobs get created.

Robert A. Jones, Los Angeles Times



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“Bob Danziger is a visionary.  His willingness to take financial, personal and political risks to develop cleaner better energy technologies resulted in redefining ‘best’ in best available technology.  Without Bob’s commitment to our ecological future we would clearly have a less healthy environment.”

—Hon. Leon G. Billings, MD House of Delegates, Chief of Staff to Senate Majority Leader Ed Muskie and principal author of the Clean Air Act



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 “Bob was a one-man think tank for GE in the 1980s.”

—Lorraine Bolsinger, General Electric Vice President for Ecomagination



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“Seeing you at the Air Resources Board the other day and hearing your perspective on your upcoming retirement, I felt compelled to drop you a few lines to acknowledge your contribution to cleaning up the air.

From the days of working with you while I was at the South Coast Air Quality Management District, it has been a great pleasure to see the tremendous progress that you had orchestrated through Sunlaw and the research and development being performed with the creation of Goal Line.  You were always committed to reducing emissions from stationary sources to the maximum extent possible.  The demonstration you have carried out at your powerplant has surprised many people and delighted many others, myself included.  The continuing advances in this technology for stationary source applications and the extension to mobile source applications provides us with great encouragement for the future.  The outstanding performance of the technology operating over a long time has made believers out of skeptics to the point at which it seems that the measurement techniques have not kept pace with the ability to control the emissions.  What a wonderful accomplishment!

Bob, we are wishing you a long and active retirement.  I also want you to know that you have made a major impact in advancing state-of-the-art emissions controls.  Your personal commitment, perseverance, financial support and dedication to do the right thing will benefit many for years to come.  Please accept my humble thanks and congratulations.


With very best wishes,”

Alan Lloyd, Chief Scientist, South Coast Air Quality Management District; Chairman, California Air Resources Board; and Secretary, California Environmental Protection Agency


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“Bob Danziger is truly a person whose thinking is outside of the box.  I became aware of biology.  Subsequent conversations ranged from the problem of global warming and the generation of alternative forms of energy.  Bob introduced me to microbial fuel cells, a process by which electricity can be generated by a variety of different microorganisms.  It was clear that Bob, whose vast experience in energy production was intrigued by the phenomenon, and he suggested that we put together a small version of one commonly used type of fuel cell.  We did using microorganism found in soil, mulch and manure.  Now, here is one of Bob’s thinking out of the box ideas, “Why don’t we see if we can generate electricity from the non-carbon parts of coal?”  I thought this to be a very odd idea, but when I read that certain species of bacteria live in coal I realized that he might be on to something.  What I don’t know whether he was aware of the coal-eating bacteria or was it his canny mind that led him to the idea.  In brief, we were able to generate electricity from coal without combustion and went on to improve our fuel cell design to produce greater amounts power.  I relate this story as only one example of the strength of Bob’s thinking.  One learns this within one’s contact with this extraordinary person.”

—Paul Levine, retired professor, Stanford, Harvard, and Washington Universities


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“I met Bob through a mutual friend, who thought Bob’s and my shared interest in environmental science might lead to some interesting chemistry.  Well it was like alchemy with our meeting leading to a collaboration, friendship and golden moments and golden accomplishments.  Bob’s knowledge and grasp of environmental issues led to me to ask him to give a guest lecture in my class in marine pollution.  And his interest in the class, the students and the subject resulted in his semester-long participation and an incredible experience for the undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students taking the course.  Indeed, this led to his being recruited as a co-instructor with me when the course was offered the next year.

What Bob brings to the table is intensity, commitment and creativity.  Intensity and commitment were clear in his quick mastery of the regulatory issues on the government side, with Bob easily digesting an immense literature on the legislative, advisory and political side of marine pollution issues.  This combined with his knowledge and experience on the business side of these issues provided a wealth of experience to the class.

Creativity is the other important side of interacting with Bob.  I recount one example that has been extremely important in my research and teaching.  It was Bob’s reframing of my research area.  This area is on a cellular mechanism for keeping pollutants out of cells.  My fellow scientists refer to these as efflux transporters, as molecular motors that act to pump pollutants out of cells.  Bob reframed the way the entire field now talks about this mechanism.  What Bob called them was “bouncers.”  And this is now how all my colleagues refer to them.  It is a brilliant metaphor, easy for the listener to understand that these are indeed bouncers, but instead of ruffians, the bouncers are keeping toxic things out of the cells.  This renaming, reframing, recasting is an important aspect of Bob’s creativity.  It is his quickness in understanding complex issues and then creating a simpler way of looking, understanding and solving the problem at hand.”

—Dave Epel, Jane and Marshall Steel Professor of Biological and Marine Sciences, Stanford University


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“Bob is truly the pioneer of our current private electricity infrastructure in the United States and Australia.  He has pushed for open accounting in the power generation groups and pushed for environmental awareness and accountability back when the other companies pushed against it.  Bob was instrumental in making Los Angeles’s air cleaner and made it a much better place to live and work for hundreds of people.  Many of those were children that needed that helping hand.

Bob can do anything he puts his mind to but more importantly, he has taken on many tasks that people say cannot be done, but he gets them done.  It has always been a pleasure working for and with Bob on many projects and task over the last 20 plus years.  I would recommend Bob for any project but highly recommend him for the nearly impossible project!”

—Tim Smith, Vice President, Wellhead Electric


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“I first met Bob when a friend who was playing in his band around ten years ago invited me to a gig.  From there I have used Bob as a percussionist on two albums in the last three years and was absolutely impressed with his ability to elevate any given theme to a level of greatness and the never ending supply of unexplored sonic landscapes.”

Reinhold Mack, music producer


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“Bob’s sound sculpture, ‘Nocture 1910,’ has been the audience hit of ‘Made in Monterey,’ our 50th anniversary exhibition.  Danziger’s keen intellect, savvy technical expertise and wit produce an audio component which made our late 19th and early 20th century paintings come alive.  This fruitful collaboration has proven to be a model for how we approach all future exhibition projects.”

Michael Whittington, Director, Monterey Museum of Art

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 "Bob Danziger:  Thank you for the information on intervals.  Anyone lucky enough to know you knows no dissonance."

—Roger Love, author and voice teacher

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“I’ve recently renewed a working relationship with Bob that began in 1978 when JPL was helping lead the early U.S. efforts to develop renewable energy and hybrid vehicles, hoping to solicit his help in defining meaningful roles for JPL in the alternative energy arena.  His insights, broad background, and real world experience and perspective have proven even more valuable than I had hoped.  And his grasp of both the big and the small—global and local—perspectives was amply evidenced at the labwide JPL seminar he gave here recently.”

—Bob Easter, Manager, Program Development Studies, JPL


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“Bob Danziger brings tremendous value to the table, including a unique combination of creativity, deep knowledge and seasoned experience in the alternative energy and environmental technology industries.  I greatly admire his dedication to developing clean energy solutions, as well as his integrity and generosity—all of which are borne out in his numerous successes and recognitions in business and in life.  It is no mistake that this Renaissance man has been termed brilliant.  Bob is an antidote to the business as usual that has helped bring us to this climate change juncture, and a model for the kind of businessperson we need in this age.  I highly recommend this wise man and exceptional person.”


After reading the book:


“I’ve finally been able to read your draft manuscript—I read most of it night before last and then nibbled at bits and pieces of it on my way to and from work on the metro until, sadly, it was all gone.  Bob, this is incredibly funny.  You’re a great storyteller.  This is going to be a great book and it will sell.

In addition to being incredibly laugh-out-loud funny, your stories inspire.  They will inspire folks trying to make their way in the sustainable energy and environment world, but also anyone who’s trying to follow their heart, be authentic and make a difference.  What a gift.

Thank you for sharing it with me.”

—Montina Cole, Counsel, Schiff, Hardin LLP


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“Bob is many things—a true renaissance man.  A former client of mine, I have found Bob to be great to work for, and work with.  He is beyond bright, a great strategist and an outstanding musician.  I can always rely on Bob to want to do the ‘right’ thing.  He is truly selfless.  In the years that I’ve known him, I’ve found Bob to be a truly inspirational human being.  We’ve continued a friendship, and Bob is one of those very few people that cause me to say, ‘I’m really glad to know that guy.’”

—Mark Abramowitz, President, Community Environmental Services


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“It has been my privilege to know and work for Bob as a legal advisor for over 20 years.  Throughout this time, Bob has impressed me as one of the most innovative, principled and thoughtful individuals I have ever encountered.  As the CEO of Sunlaw Energy Corporation, he created and managed two cogeneration plants in Vernon, California, that were among the most efficient, safe and clean facilities that have ever been operated.  In addition, as the co-founder of Goal Line Environmental Technologies (now known as EmeraChem, LLC) he was the originator of some of the most environmentally effective technologies that have been created to reduce the harmful emissions from power plants.  Bob to his credit has always put the environment ahead of his own business and financial interests and his tireless efforts to improve the air quality in Southern California through the use of innovative technologies have been well documented.

Rarely am I impressed by anyone but Bob is unique in marrying ethical business practices with concerns for the environment with an overall view to exponentially improving the health of our children and generations to come.  I applaud him for all he is done and no doubt will accomplish in a career that has no horizons or boundaries.”

—Nicholson Thomas, Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP


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“My Dear Bob Danziger, your book is a hoot!  When I read, I keep a notebook by my side but after making a dozen or so notes, decided to just read.  And let me tell you, it made my day and a half.  I’m a fast reader but found myself slowing down, so as not to miss anything.


There were lots of sweet moments.  I loved your discussion on music and how it attracted deer and other animals.  It should be a film.


You are a very, very funny man and adorable, to boot.  Thanks for sharing, dear heart.  And thanks for being such a wonderful friend and champion of Los Angeles history.”

—Carolyn Cole, Founder, Shades of LA


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Bob’s an imaginative guy with a diverse set of talents including music, law, business, engineering and science.  He blends several decades of experience in these areas into one package.  

Brent Constantz, CEO Calera Corporation


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“Bob is one of the great business partners imaginable.  He brings tremendous intellect, creativity, and energy to every project.  His word is his bond, and loyalty and trustworthiness are among his strengths.  We have been through good times and turbulent seas together and I look forward to the next opportunity to work together.”

—Bob Hilton, Vice President, Business Development, Alstom Environmental Control Systems


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“Bob is my top Smart Grid advisor, senior management consultant and reference energy expert, perfectly balancing these roles throughout his engagement with National Semiconductor.  His superlative, out of the box strategic thinking, the experience of decades in executive roles in the energy industry, always dreaming of new possibilities and new worlds in the realms of both technology and business—are only matched by an exceptional insight into organizational, business and product development, and executive and board-level stellar influencing skills.  Bob is a wonderful person to be around, he is the perfect mentor—his advice is invaluable to my business, and my personal and professional development.”

—Lucian Ion, National Semiconductor, General Electric


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If you’ve ever wondered when and why the original pronunciation of the planet Uranus (“Your Anus”) was changed to the arguably more genteel sounding “Urine Us,” this could be the book for you.  If you’re not in the mood for yet another scientific explanation of anything, better yet.  But if you’d fancy being “a fly on the water cooler” . . .  of the “Fly by Uranus” Voyager space mission that spawned the unceremonius name change as a public relations afterthought . . .  this is definitely the book for you . . .  scientists without the science and, as you will learn from the chapter in “Your Anus,” sometimes without even pants.


Bob Danziger remembers the lighter moments that punctuate every human endeavor, in his case the serendipitous journey from musician – to college droput (Bob left after three months to join an experimental band) – to experimental musician – to law school graduate – to space law pioneer – to energy cogeneration consultant – to clean air industrialist – to large wood sculptor – to scientific environmental thinker at large – and back.  Instead of pursuing music as a full-time career, Bob brought his unique musical perspective to his many competing interests – space, energy, community financing of projects never done before, to name a few.  To be sure, Bob provides an overview of the evolution of the private sector energy business that was born and has grown up in the last thirty years.  His company, Sunlaw, is credited by many as the pioneering private sector energy company.  Fiercely combining work with play, Bob none-the-less learned his lessons the hard way.  Many in the energy establishment resisted Sunlaw’s catalytic converter technology (adopted by the EPA under President Clinton as the industry standard), which put cleaner air out of the stacks than the atmosphere it entered, at a cost of pennies.  Some among those with no interest in clean air called Bob “the most hated man in the energy business.”  Fortunately for the reader, Bob chooses to remember only the good times.



If you want to delve into the politics of the energy business there are other books that go there.  For the meat and potatoes of energy science, you could read one of the papers Bob continues to present at institutional think tanks such as Stanford and the Jet Propulsion Lab at CalTech.  But for those who wonder what a person like Bob was thinking at the start of their unique journey, I offer the inlaid inscription on Bob’s giant Purple Heart Wood sculpture that graces the entrance of my home.  Lifted from Bob’s resignation letter to the band that swept him out of Antioch College thirty plus years ago, as a kind of “sneak preview” of what was to follow, the inscription reads:


“Where complexity melts

to reveal alternate proposals

irregular in shape

but remaining as a window

Through which you must leap.”


Bill Straw—Blix Street Records, March 2010

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“As Chairman Emeritus of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), I was dismayed to hear that Sunlaw has been forced out of business; its equipment sold and sites razed.  This is a major loss for all air breathers in southern California and the fight for clean air all over the world for a number of reasons:


Sunlaw was the most co-operative powerplant or industrial facility in the history of the SCAQMD, its facilities were always open and friendly to inspections, data requests and even going so far as to volunteer data, time and personnel.


Sunlaw was by far the most aggressive powerplant or industrial facility in the history of the SCAQMD in reducing emissions whether required to or not.  I know that you have been the driving force behind this positive attitude not only in thought but in deed.


I have found Sunlaw, over its entire 16 years of operation, to be scrupulously honest and competent with respect to its emission monitoring equipment, personnel, procedures and use of the highest integrity independent testing companies.

I also know that the new emission control technology known as SCONOX would not be here today if it had not been developed by you and your team who were unwilling to use old ammonia based polluting technology because of your commitment to clean air.


The SCONOX technology, as first developed by Sunlaw, demonstrated 2.0 ppm NOX on a 3 hour rolling average basis and was declared to be Best Available Control Technology (BACT).  It was declared so twice by the US EPA as being capable of achieving the lowest emission rate for all classes of gas fired turbines.  Even more remarkable, these new emission standards were set without the use of ammonia.  I am also aware that the SCONOX technology continues to demonstrate thousands of hours of commercial operation at 1.0 ppm or less NOX at numerous installations throughout the United States.


As I closely followed Sunlaw over the last 10 years, in addition to the subsequent maturity of the SCONOX product, I have concluded that SCONOX has never received credit for the absence of ammonia emissions and subsequent formation of particulates, from power generating facilities, nor the fact that the technology virtually eliminates many other hazardous air pollutants.  The reason for such a lack of recognition is a mystery to me, considering the vast amount of data and requests given to the SCAQMD and the US EPA.

What saddens me most was the failure of the Nueva Azalea Project proposed by Sunlaw.  This Project was, by a wide margin, the cleanest powerplant ever proposed in the history of the SCAQMD, and to the best of my knowledge, the cleanest of its type ever proposed in the world.

If it had been aggressively supported by both the SCAQMD and the California Energy Commission, a new standard for clean power generation would have been set, once again elevating the SCAQMD to the world leader in applying new technologies for cleaner air.

As Sunlaw closes down their operation, I would like to commend you for your personal and financial commitment (and mostly for your courage) in attempting to develop clean and efficient power generation in southern California and around the world.  The SCAQMD is losing a great ally and friend.

I wish you all the best of luck in the future and consider my past relationship with you and your people to be one of the bright spots in my career.


Very truly yours,

Henry W. Wedaa

Chairman Emeritus

South Coast Air Quality Management District”

—Henry Wedaa, Clean Air Pioneer