California Environmental Law and Policy Update - June 2014

by Allen Matkins
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Environmental and Policy Focus

California is ahead of EPA on climate rules

Los Angeles Times - Jun 5

In 2006, when California adopted AB 32, its landmark global warming law, it acted virtually alone. Now, the state may be in a position to cash in on its early action as EPA tries to catch up with its new proposed rule that would mandate the nation's power plants to cut greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels. AB 32 is stricter in some respects, and broader, than the Environmental Protection Agency's power plant emissions rule, formally proposed Monday. If the rule is finalized in its current form next year, California will be in a position to comply with it, and to profit from its head start, and other states may seek California's help.

Navy plan for San Diego can go ahead

Courthouse News - Jun 5

The U.S. Navy's plans to redevelop a 16-acre naval complex on a waterfront site in downtown San Diego will not require further environmental review. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller rejected California Coastal Commission's lawsuit against the Navy and developer Manchester Pacific Gateway. The Commission had claimed that the $1.3 billion project had grown substantially since it was approved more than 20 years ago, and that new environmental review was required.

BP, Anadarko may face billions in fines on spill ruling

Bloomberg - Jun 5

BP Plc and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. could face billions of dollars in fines after an appeals court ruled they were liable for pollution law violations as co-owners of the well that blew out and started the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld a lower-court decision that allows the U.S. to seek a maximum fine from London-based BP of $18 billion if it’s found grossly negligent for its actions surrounding the spill. Anadarko, which owned a 25 percent interest in the well, is facing a maximum penalty of $4.6 billion. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who made the initial ruling, will determine the size of the fines, based on factors including the degree of fault and attempts to respond to the crisis.

Sacramento arena opponents drop referendum, continue with lawsuits

Sacramento Business Journal - Jun 2

A group opposed to development of the new downtown Sacramento arena has abandoned plans to try to put the matter before the voters in a referendum, but members of the group haven’t given up on two lawsuits challenging the project. James Cathcart, treasurer of the group Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork, said one suit, contesting the environmental impact report for the project, is still active. Another, alleging an illegal gift of public funds from the City of Sacramento to the ownership of the NBA's Sacramento Kings, is in the process of being amended, he said. On Sunday, STOP announced on Facebook it wouldn’t proceed with another bid at a voter referendum, after attorneys for the group announced such a plan on May 20, when the Sacramento City Council approved the arena plan.

California Senate rejects bill to halt hydraulic fracturing

Reuters - May 29

Last week, the California state Senate rejected for the second year in a row a bill that would have put a temporary halt to the oil-producing practice of hydraulic fracturing in the state. The measure failed with a handful of Democrats joining Republicans in defeating the bill. Opponents now hope that California’s Democratic Governor Jerry Brown will halt the practice via executive order, although the odds of that happening are slim. Brown said as recently as this month that hydraulic fracturing is good for the state because it is better to produce oil in California than import it.

Nation's largest ocean desalination plant goes up near San Diego – the future of the California coast?

Contra Costa Times - May 29

Crews are building what boosters say represents California's best hope for a drought-proof water supply: the largest ocean desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere. The $1 billion project will provide 50 million gallons of drinking water per day for San Diego County when it opens in 2016. Since the 1970s, California has dipped its toe into ocean desalination – talking, planning, and debating. But until now, for a variety of reasons – mainly cost and environmental concerns – the state has never taken the plunge. Fifteen other desalination projects are proposed along the coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco Bay.

Study finds medical pot farms draining California streams dry

San Jose Mercury News - Jun 2

Some drought-stricken rivers and streams in Northern California's coastal forests are being polluted and sucked dry by water-guzzling medical marijuana farms, wildlife officials say – an issue that has spurred at least one county to try to outlaw personal grows. State fish and wildlife officials say much of the marijuana being grown in northern counties under the state's medical marijuana law is not being used for legal, personal use, but for sale both in California and other states where marijuana is still illegal. Officials say until the federal government recognizes California's medical marijuana laws, growers will continue to operate clandestinely to meet market demand for their product due to fear of prosecution.

 

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