California Environmental Law and Policy Update - August 2014

by Allen Matkins
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Environmental and Policy Focus

Richmond approves massive Chevron refinery project with $90 million in community benefits

Contra Costa Times - Jul 30

Chevron's five year-plus quest to initiate a $1 billion upgrade to its century old refinery, the largest in Northern California, received a boost on Tuesday when its latest plans were approved by a divided Richmond City Council. The vote followed a last minute deal between Chevron and city staff that increased Chevron's community investments and required installation of safety and piping upgrades as part of the project.

Petroleum trade group challenges ban on hydraulic fracturing in Compton

Bloomberg - Jul 24

The Western States Petroleum Association, a trade association representing petroleum companies, alleged in a complaint filed on July 21 in Los Angeles County Superior Court that a Compton, California city ordinance prohibiting hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas activities in and around the city exceeds its police powers, is preempted by state law, and was adopted without due process.

EPA reaches San Francisco Bay pollution settlement

San Jose Mercury News - Jul 28

Six East Bay cities, including Oakland, Berkeley, and Alameda, and the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), have reached an agreement with the EPA that calls for upgrading aging sewer pipes to help prevent sewage overflows and spills reaching San Francisco Bay. Under the $1.5 billion agreement, EBMUD, the Stege Sanitary District, and the cities will assess and upgrade their sewer system infrastructure, including at EBMUD's three wet water treatment facilities. The cities and water districts will also pay a total of $1.5 million in civic penalties.

Third lawsuit filed against Richardson Grove highway widening project

Eureka Times-Standard - Jul 29

A third lawsuit has been filed against Caltrans' highway-widening project through Richardson Grove State Park, which claims that the state agency failed to properly analyze and address the environmental impacts of its plan as required by a 2012 federal court decision. The complaint was filed on July 28 in federal district court by the same plaintiffs who had previously filed a federal and state lawsuit against Caltrans after the agency approved the project.

L.A. Councilman Mitchell Englander pushes for environmental review of oil drilling site near Porter Ranch

Los Angeles Daily News - Jul 29

Councilman Mitchell Englander is urging the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning to conduct a thorough environmental review, including an environmental impact report, of a proposed drilling plan in Aliso Canyon. The plan was prepared for Long Beach-based The Termo Co., which already has 18 wells at the site. The Termo Co. proposes to drill 12 new oil wells at the Aliso Canyon Oil Field, located north of Porter Ranch.

Citrus growers, legislators push for putting water bond on ballot

Fresno Bee - Jul 29

Farmers, legislators, and agriculture leaders this week urged public support for an $11.1 billion bond measure, drafted in 2009 and slated for inclusion on the ballot in November, that calls for water storage, water recycling, groundwater protection, and restoration of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Santa Barbara council approves additional funds for desalination plant reactivation

Noozhawk - Jul 29

The Charles E. Meyer Desalination Facility in Santa Barbara has a valid operating permit, but has been on standby status since the mid-1990s, and it needs about $30 million in upgrades (and another $1.8 million in preliminary design) before it can become operational again. Meanwhile, the California Coastal Commission and other regulatory agencies are requiring environmental studies before the plant can reopen. City Council members started the reactivation process in May, and this week approved spending $644,000 for additional environmental studies and specialized legal services.

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