California Environmental Law and Policy Update - August 1, 2013

Environmental and Policy Focus

Groups concerned over California Environmental Quality Act revisions

Sacramento CBS Local - Jul 29

A coalition of business, housing and local government leaders is warning California legislative leaders that a plan to rewrite the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the state’s landmark environmental law, could lead to more lawsuits and make it harder to approve responsible projects – the opposite of what lawmakers seeking the overhaul hope to achieve. The group outlined its concerns to Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, in a letter obtained by The Associated Press. The group includes powerful organizations such as the California Chamber of Commerce, the Southern California Association of Governments, and the California Association of Realtors. The coalition is among many environmental, business and labor groups that have been privately working with the Democratic Senate leader to reform the four-decade-old law.

Federal push could pre-empt Prop. 65 reform

Sacramento Business Journal - Jul 30

State-level reform on Proposition 65, the voter-approved initiative that required businesses to post warning signs about the presence of toxic chemicals, will be in jeopardy — at least if Congress has its way. U.S. lawmakers are considering a proposal to expand federal environmental laws while banning states from enacting rules of their own. That would mean Proposition 65, passed in 1986, would be preempted by federal law if the proposal passes both houses of Congress.

California State Water Board Issues New Draft Industrial Storm Water Permit

Allen Matkins - Aug 1

The California State Water Resources Control Board recently released its long-awaited 2013 Draft NPDES Permit for the Discharge of Storm Water Associated With Industrial Activities (the "Draft Industrial General Permit"), proposing significant changes in the regulation of storm water discharges from industrial facilities. State Water Board staff expects to submit the final draft industrial general permit to the State Water Board for consideration in January 2014 and will conduct two informal web conference workshops on August 9 and August 14, 2013. In addition, a public hearing will be held on August 21, 2013, at 9:00 a.m. at Cal/EPA Headquarters, at 1001 I Street, Second Floor, in Sacramento, which is the only opportunity for oral comments on the draft permit to be submitted. All written comments and evidence must be received by the State Water Board by 12:00 noon on Thursday, August 29, 2013, to be considered.

Internal EPA report highlights disputes over fracking and well water

Los Angeles Times - Jul 27

One year ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finished testing drinking water in Dimock, Pa., after years of complaints by residents who suspected that nearby natural gas production had fouled their wells. The EPA said that for nearly all the 64 homes whose wells it sampled, the water was safe to drink. Yet as the regulator moved to close its investigation, the staff at the mid-Atlantic EPA office in Philadelphia, which had been sampling the Dimock water, argued for continuing the assessment. In an internal EPA PowerPoint presentation obtained by the Tribune/Los Angeles Times Washington Bureau, staff members warned their superiors that several wells had been contaminated with methane and substances such as manganese and arsenic, most likely because of local natural gas production.

Beverly Hills fights L.A. subway extension

CourtHouse News - Jul 30

Los Angeles County overlooked the dangers of building a 9-mile subway extension that crosses fault lines under Beverly Hills High School, the City of Beverly Hills claims in court. The city sued the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Superior Court, seeking an injunction against the Westside Subway Extension Project. Beverly Hills claims the project violates the California Environmental Quality Act, and wants the county to seek an alternate site.

State tightens smog rules for off-road vehicles

The Record - Jul 26

Dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles sold in California will have to meet tough new anti-smog requirements beginning with 2018 models.


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