California Environmental Law and Policy Update - January 2014

by Allen Matkins
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Environmental and Policy Focus

Gov. Brown wants to use cap-and-trade fees to fund high speed rail project

Insurance For Less - Jan 8

Gov. Jerry Brown announced plans to provide new funding for California’s high speed rail project from corporate fees on greenhouse gases. The funds would help replace bond funds that were earmarked for the project but could not be used as a result of a court ruling issued last year. The Governor's plan to keep the rail project on track entails use of hundreds of millions of dollars in fees collected from businesses in the state’s greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade program. The strategy, however, may trade one set of problems for another. The use of the cap-and-trade funds to support the $68-billion rail line is generating opposition from a number of environmental groups. These groups, which include the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defence Council, and the Planning and Conservation League, have in the past allied themselves with the Governor, but on this issue they have questioned the use of the cap and trade program funds for this purpose.

EPA to require S. Calif. offshore hydraulic fracturing reports

Contra Costa Times - Jan 9

Oil and gas companies that are conducting hydraulic fracturing off the Southern California coast must report chemicals discharged into the ocean under a new rule released Thursday by federal environmental regulators. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published the requirement in the Federal Register, and it will become effective March 1.

L.A. City Attorney sues oil company

CourtHouse News - Jan 8

The City of Los Angeles sued Allenco Energy on Tuesday, alleging that odors from its oilfield are so noxious that residents of University Park have to keep their children indoors with windows shut. The complaint includes claims for unfair competition, violations of the Business and Professions Code Code, public nuisance, and violations of the California Health and Safety Code and Hazardous Materials Release Response Plans and Inventory laws.

Appeals court upholds San Francisco’s plastic bag ban

San Francisco Chronicle - Jan 5

A state appeals court has issued a ruling upholding San Francisco's ban on single-use plastic bags. The ordinance, which the City's Board of Supervisors adopted in February 2012, applies to all retail stores and groceries, thereby expanding a narrower earlier ordinance that covered only supermarkets and pharmacies. The ordinance prohibits the use in retail transactions of plastic bags that can be used only once, and requires stores to charge 10 cents for recyclable plastic or paper bags. It took effect for most stores in October 2012, and for groceries in July 2013. Similar measures are in effect in about 50 cities and counties in California and have survived legal challenges. Supporters say these ordinances reduce litter, waste and water pollution; opponents say the ordinances ignore the environmental detriments associated with the manufacture and use of alternative types of bags.

Chinook salmon receive experimental help

CourtHouse News - Jan 3

Starting January 30, Chinook salmon threatened by the Friant Dam in California will receive recovery help in the form of reintroduction of an experimental fish population by federal regulators. In a rule proposed last year, the National Marine Fisheries Service acknowledged that the Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River nearly wiped out the Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon runs because the operation of associated irrigation canals caused the river to run dry in many areas. Under the rule, an experimental population of Chinook salmon will be introduced for the second time into currently unoccupied areas of the San Joaquin River, Merced River and Kings River that are within the species' historical range. The fish, which will come from a hatchery, will be marked by fin clips or other methods of identifying fish, and they are not expected to stray into the independent populations in the Sacramento River basin. This program is the culmination of a decades-long dispute regarding the impact of the dam on the fish that began in 1988, when a coalition of environmental groups led by the Natural Resources Defence Council challenged the renewal of the dam authority's water service contracts

Truck pollution deadline extended

Stockton Record - Jan 1

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has agreed to refrain from enforcing new rules limiting diesel particulate emissions from truck engines until July of this year, so long as truckers demonstrate by the end of this month that they're making a good-faith effort to comply.

 

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Allen Matkins
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