California Environmental Law and Policy Update - December 19, 2013

Environmental and Policy Focus

California plans tighter control of hydraulic fracturing, but not enough for some

New York Times - Dec 13

California oil and gas companies using hydraulic fracturing to tap the nation’s largest oil shale formation will face comprehensive regulation for the first time next year under interim rules issued this week. The interim rules take effect on Jan. 1, and will be replaced a year later by permanent regulations now being developed. In September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law, SB 4, that established guidelines for the permanent regulations. SB 4 covers many phases of the well stimulation and drilling process, analysts say, but falls short of what many environmental groups want.

Big disparities in air pollution detected in L.A. neighborhoods

Los Angeles Times - Dec 13

Smog is an irritation for anyone living in Los Angeles, but exactly where in the city you live can make a huge difference in your in your exposure to air pollutants, a new study has found. The study by UCLA researchers compared four Los Angeles neighborhoods and found striking disparities in levels of air pollutants known as ultrafine particles, even over short distances. A zone of the Westside neighborhood of Mar Vista, for example, has much higher levels of ultrafine particles than the Eastside’s Boyle Heights, according to the study.

Judge rules against state agency over Santa Susana Field Lab

Los Angeles Daily News - Dec 16

A Superior Court judge granted a preliminary injunction Monday against California's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), saying the state agency failed to comply with environmental laws while overseeing Boeing's demolition and disposal of buildings at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. The ruling, handed down by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Allen Sumner last week, sided with community activists who argued that DTSC allowed Boeing to utilize unlicensed dumps, in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act. The groups have said the buildings, which were once used for nuclear research, "remained contaminated with high levels of radiation" and that demolition would release unknown toxins.

Sacramento officials release environmental study of downtown arena

The Sacramento Bee - Dec 16

Sacramento city officials reached a major milestone today in their effort to construct a new downtown arena with the release of a draft Environmental Impact Report, which examines the project's effect on the environment, including traffic, pollution, and noise impacts, pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act.

Appeals court upholds San Francisco’s plastic bag ban

San Francisco CBS Local - Dec 12

A state appeals court has upheld a San Francisco law banning the use of non-compostable plastic bags at checkout stands in retail stores and grocery markets. The 2012 law, an expansion of an earlier measure, prohibits most single-use plastic checkout bags and requires stores to charge 10 cents for paper or compostable plastic bags. The ordinance was upheld Tuesday by a three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeal in San Francisco. The court ruled on a challenge by the Los-Angeles-based Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, a manufacturers’ association that has been battling plastic bag laws around the state.

Ocean View School District claims Huntington Beach trash dump sickens students

CourtHouse News - Dec 16

Children are getting sick from a Huntington Beach trash dump that blows toxic dust, chemicals, and odors into their school, the Ocean View School District claims in court. The school district has sued trash hauler Rainbow Transfer/Recycling and two affiliates, Rainbow Disposal and Rainbow Environmental Services, in Superior Court. The school district accuses the trash company of gross negligence, liability for ultrahazardous activities, nuisance and trespass.