California Environmental Law and Policy Update - February 7, 2014

Environmental and Policy Focus

Steinberg bill aims to ease California drought

The Sacramento Bee - Feb 3

California’s Senate leader is drafting legislation that would expedite help for communities facing what may become the worst drought in state history. The actions proposed by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, would set a July 1 deadline for state agencies to approve water recycling and stormwater reuse projects. It also would redirect millions of dollars intended for climate-change relief to projects that benefit water conservation. The measures are proposed as urgency amendments to Senate Bill 731, a pending bill drafted by Mr. Steinberg that makes changes to the California Environmental Quality Act.

Homewood ski resort redevelopment clears legal hurdle

Sacramento Business Journal - Jan 31

evelopment of a west shore Lake Tahoe ski resort may be able to move forward, with an announced settlement of a lawsuit between environmental groups and JMA Ventures, the owner of Homewood Mountain Resort. The master plan executive summary describes redeveloping the resort’s north base by adding a lodge and neighborhood, including both a hotel and condominiums; and developing up to 99 condominiums at the resort’s south base. The company indicated the settlement would clear an obstacle to redeveloping the ski resort on Tahoe’s western shore, which it hopes to begin next year.

Hazardous waste hauler fined $243,000 for abandoning drums of toxics

The Los Angeles Times - Jan 27

A man accused of illegally storing more than 200 drums of hazardous waste at a San Joaquin County truck stop has been fined $243,000 and barred for life from transporting such toxic materials, according to state regulators. In a civil complaint filed last year, the Department of Toxic Substances Control accused Jose G. Sosa of abandoning 228 drums filled with spent aerosol cans, flammable propellants, used motor oil and substances containing mercury. Local police found the drums in a trailer parked at Jimco Truck Plaza in Ripon, Calif. in 2010.

USDA to set up 'climate hubs' to help farmers amid climate change

Los Angeles Times - Feb 5

The Obama administration will set up 10 centers around the country to help farmers and ranchers adjust to the increasing frequency of severe weather and other risks associated with climate change. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the sites Wednesday, saying the goal was to help the agriculture industry adjust to new conditions, including extended fire seasons, invasive pests, flooding and drought.

U.S. lawmakers backing Keystone pipeline mull next steps

Reuters - Feb 4

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers voiced support on Tuesday for the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, and did not rule out using legislation to force the White House to approve the Canada-to-Texas project. Several U.S. senators and representatives encouraged President Barack Obama to bless TransCanada Corp's plan to build a line that would carry up to 830,000 barrels per day of oil sands crude from Western Canada and light, sweet crude from North Dakota to oil refiners in the Gulf of Mexico.