California Environmental Law and Policy Update - March 15, 2013

Environmental and Policy Focus

California considering 25 projects for carbon offset credits

Bloomberg News - Mar 8

California, the second-largest carbon-polluting state in the U.S. behind Texas, will decide whether to award its first carbon offset credits for 25 projects designed to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. The candidates for offset credits include a project to improve forest management practices to avoid emissions related to timber harvesting and several to destroy biogas at farms, according to a list posted on the state Air Resources Board’s website. All of the projects must be reviewed by a certified “offset verifier” and then by the Air Board itself before being deemed eligible.

Tactics divide agencies in Chevron probe

San Francisco Chronicle - Mar 10

A grand jury probe targeting Chevron in last year's Richmond refinery fire has created a rift between the federal agency investigating the incident and environmental regulators seeking possible criminal charges against the oil company, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. Grand jury proceedings normally are secret unless the panel hands down indictments. But the federal probe into whether Chevron violated laws as a result of the Aug. 6 blaze has come to light because the U.S. attorney in San Francisco and the Environmental Protection Agency want to compel the lead investigator for a federal fact-finding agency to testify - and the agency is resisting.

Bill proposed to ban lead ammunition in California News - Mar 12

Environmental groups are pushing legislation to ban lead ammunition in California to prevent toxins from poisoning scavengers that eat animal remains left by hunters. Final language of the bill was introduced Monday by Assembly Member Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, who said the legislation would remove a lingering source of pollution from the environment. It was sponsored by three major environmental groups — Defenders of Wildlife, Audubon California, and the Humane Society of the United States.

Navy offshore training program near California Coast rejected by California Coastal Commission

The Huffington Post - Mar 8

The California Coastal Commission on Friday rejected a Navy explosives and sonar training program off the Southern California coast that critics said could harm endangered blue whales and other sea life. Commissioners meeting in San Diego ruled unanimously that the Navy lacked enough information to back up its argument that the threat to marine mammals would be negligible.

Regulators withdraw Napa River, Sonoma Creek vineyard runoff waiver

North Bay Business Journal - Mar 8

State water-quality regulators this afternoon announced the withdrawal of a proposed conditional waiver program for vineyards in the Napa River and Sonoma Creek watersheds from state-set limits on erosion and plans to regulate vineyard water runoff under more general requirements. Agricultural trade groups generally had been in favor of the concept of the waiver program because it allowed the industry to police itself under third-party environmental-quality certification programs already in widespread use in the North Coast.

Sen. Pavley amends her proposed fracking legislation

The Signal - Mar 11

Senator Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, earlier this week announced several key amendments to her bill to regulate the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for oil and gas within California.

Alaska oil leases debated in 9th Circuit

CourtHouse News - Mar 8

The Native Village of Point Hope and the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, along with 10 environmental groups, have appealed a federal District Court ruling to the 9th Circuit, alleging that new oil and gas leases in the Chukchi Sea, located in the Arctic Ocean between Alaska and Siberia, may threaten marine life. In 2008, U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline refused to cancel the leases, but remanded them to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and ordered it to analyze the environmental impacts of natural gas development, determine whether missing information in the environmental impact statement was necessary for analysis, and determine whether the cost of obtaining the missing information was exorbitant. The BOEM completed a final supplemental environmental impact statement in 2011 that Beistline said "adequately considered" impacts of the leases and he dismissed the case. Last week, opponents of the leases asked the 9th Circuit to reconsider approval of the leases.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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