California Environmental Law and Policy Update - May 29, 2013

Environmental and Policy Focus

California's third cap and trade auction sells out, at record price

Clean Technica - May 24

The state’s third carbon allowance auction was held last week, and businesses snapped up all available 2013 allowances, setting a record price level in the process. The May 16 auction was California’s third, and sold more than 14.5 million allowances for $14 per ton, up from $10.09 in the first auction in November 2012. With just over six months left until California links up to Quebec’s cap and trade market through the Western Climate Initiative, the system’s growing strength is apparent and stands as yet another example of how the EU Emissions Trading System’s collapse isn’t the end of cap and trade.

Wal-Mart pleads guilty in U.S. hazardous waste cases, to pay $82 million

Reuters - May 28

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Tuesday said it would pay nearly $81.63 million to the federal government as it pleaded guilty to charges that it improperly discarded hazardous waste such as bleach and fertilizer years ago. The U.S. Department of Justice said that in cases filed by federal prosecutors in California, Wal-Mart pleaded guilty to six counts of violating the Clean Water Act by illegally handling and disposing of hazardous materials at U.S. stores.

Limits on sea wall permits spark debate

The Reporter - May 29

The California Coastal Commission is imposing a 20-year cap on permits to build sea walls along Solana Beach, California, stoking a decades-old argument over public beach access and property rights amid climbing sea levels.

Environmentalists sue Orange County toll road agency

Los Angeles Times - May 28

A group of environmental organizations sued Orange County's toll road agency this week, alleging that a new proposal to extend one of its highways does not account for a variety of ecological and economic impacts as required by state law.

Court rejects farmers' lawsuit over runoff fees

The Record - May 25

A Superior Court judge in Sacramento rejected a challenge by farmers to a per-acre fee for polluted runoff from irrigated agricultural lands. The farmers argued that the fee violated the so-called "ag waiver" that exempts agricultural lands from Clean Water Act permit requirements. The decision could speed new rules regulating polluted runoff from farms, rules that growers say will be costly and burdensome.

California environmentalists fear fracking fight a distraction

Reuters - May 28

As California sets the ground rules for hydraulic fracturing in the Monterey oil formation, a hard-to-reach shale reserve that is the largest in the United States, some environmentalists worry that politicians, regulators and fellow activists are fighting the wrong battle.

California approves tougher recycling regulations for mercury thermostats

Waste Age - May 28

California has approved mercury thermostat regulations that set high targets for recycling and collecting used thermostats.