Environmental and Policy Focus
Long-term money a big boost for California's high-speed rail
Contra Costa Times - Jun 17
Gov. Jerry Brown scored a win for California's $68 billion high-speed rail project by persuading fellow Democrats to dedicate a steady future funding source for it in the state budget. The $108 billion, 2014-15 general fund budget approved Sunday includes $250 million this year from the state's cap-and-trade greenhouse gas emissions fund. More important to rail supporters is the promise of 25 percent of all future cap-and-trade revenue each year, an amount that could total $3 billion to $5 billion per year in coming years. Rail officials believe the ongoing revenue will be enough to leverage bond borrowing and start work on new parts of the project, such as a segment connecting northern Los Angeles County to Burbank. Both the project and the use of cap-and-trade emissions fees to fund it, however, remain controversial.
L.A. to test Jordan Downs soil for lead contamination
Los Angeles Times - Jun 13
State environmental regulators with the Department of Toxic Substances Control have ordered Los Angeles housing officials to test the soil in the Jordan Downs housing project in Watts to determine whether lead contamination on a vacant, city-owned parcel extends onto land where more than 2,500 of the city's poorest residents live. The investigation stems from the housing authority's plan to remove and replace thousands of truckloads of contaminated soil from 21 acres of former industrial land next to the housing project. The parcel to be cleaned up is slated for the first phase of a plan to expand and rebuild the 1940s-era housing project by spending $700 million to transform it into a mixed-income "urban village" of up to 1,800 new apartments.
California to impose fee on crude oil rail shipments to fund spill prevention and cleanup
Sacramento Bee - June - Jun 16
California leaders have included several safety provisions in this year’s state budget with the aim of preventing toxic spills and fires as oil companies ship more crude oil on trains through cities and wildland areas. Beginning in the coming fiscal year, the state will apply a 6.5-cent fee on oil companies for every barrel of crude that arrives in California on rail, or that is piped to refineries from inside the state. The resulting funds, estimated at $11 million in the first full year, will be allocated for oil spill prevention and preparation work, and for emergency cleanup costs.
Chevron Richmond modernization project report criticized by state Attorney General's Office
Contra Costa Times - Jun 10
The Attorney General Kamala Harris' office criticized the City of Richmond's draft environmental impact report on a $1 billion proposal to expand and modernize Chevron's Richmond oil refinery. In a 10-page letter to the city, the office said the company needs to do more to reduce safety risks and air pollution. The letter, dated June 6, also directly challenges an assertion that the 1,100-plus-page report is among the most comprehensive ever prepared involving an oil company seeking to modernize facilities. The letter immediately raised concerns by one city councilman that the city's review of the mammoth project could drag on for several more months, and that it could trigger a lawsuit similar to one that halted a similar project several years ago.
Park bond proposed to help pay for L.A. River revitalization
KCET - Jun 10
Fresh from the City of Los Angeles' victory in gaining a $1-billion support for the Los Angeles River revitalization, community leaders are now looking to find funding sources that could help the city and state fund 50 percent of that $1 billion price tag. A proposed park bond--the first since the 2002 Proposition 40 resources bond, which made $2.6 billion available to complete 1,888 projects--is being crafted by senators Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) and Fran Pavley (D-Agora Hills).