California Environmental Law and Policy Update - July 2014 #2

by Allen Matkins
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Environmental and Policy Focus

House holds hearing on proposed ‘Waters of the United States’ rule

Association of California Water Agencies - Jul 9

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing to examine the impacts of EPA’s proposed “Definition of the ‘Waters of United States’ Under the Clean Water Act” rule on July 9th. The full Committee hearing, entitled “Navigating the Clean Water Act: Is Water Wet?”, provided members the opportunity to ask EPA Deputy Administrator Robert Perciasepe questions about the rule. Mr. Perciasepe was the only witness at the hearing, and members grilled him about specific issues in their districts.

EPA to meet with agricultural interests to support its proposed rule defining

Modesto Bee - Jul 8

The Environmental Protection Agency is beginning a push to garner support within farm communities for its proposed regulation defining "waters of the United States." EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will be in Missouri Wednesday and Thursday to promote the proposed rule with farmers and agribusiness leaders. Republican lawmakers in both houses of Congress have argued that the proposed rule oversteps federal authority and would bring routine farm practices under the purview of government regulators.

California Supreme Court dismisses City of LA's lawsuit over Kern County ban on sewage sludge disposal

Fresno Bee - Jul 7

The California Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit filed by the City of Los Angeles to challenge a Kern County ordinance that would have barred the continued disposal of tons of sewage sludge as fertilizer at a Kern County farm. The court held that the City missed a 30-day deadline to file the suit in state court after a federal court dismissed its previously-filed case.

Bill would delay application of cap-and-trade to transportation fuels

Sacramento Business Journal - Jul 7

A Fresno Democrat has introduced a bill, AB 69, which would change AB 32, California's landmark greenhouse gas emissions law. The bill, proposed by Assemblyman Henry Perea, would delay by three years a rule under AB 32 that would extend cap-and-trade requirements to transportation fuels. It is based on the premise that application of AB 32 to transportation fuels would increase gasoline prices for consumers, since refiners, who would have to purchase credits to offset the environmental effects of their products, would pass these costs on to consumers.

In Chevron fire's wake, dissension plagues oversight agency

SFGate.com - Jul 7

The federal agency that investigated the Chevron fire in Richmond in 2012 is racked by dissension over how to overhaul the nation's refinery inspection efforts in reaction to the blaze, and now Congress is getting involved. At the root of the turmoil is the chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, Rafael Moure-Eraso, an appointee of President Obama, who has advocated tougher oversight since taking over the agency in 2010.

Los Angeles County to spend $4 million on copper pollution study in marina

Los Angeles Business Journal - Jul 8

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on June 17 to fund third-party tests at various points in the marina off Marina Del Rey over the next five years at a price tag of $4 million. The vote is a reaction to a decision in February by the Regional Water Quality Control Board to require an 85 percent decrease in copper toxicity in Marina del Rey over the next decade in order to meet a total maximum daily load (TMDL) limit under the federal Clean Water Act. In the case of Marina del Rey, this could mean dredging the harbor at great expense and requiring boat owners to strip copper paint from their hulls and apply nontoxic coatings. The L.A. County Supervisors seek a site-specific analysis to determine what levels of copper are harmful in the marina. Environmental groups, who support the Water Board's decision, protest the study claiming it will delay implementation of the TMDL.

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