Environmental and Policy Focus
SFGate - Feb 13
Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer proposed emergency drought legislation Tuesday ahead of President Obama's planned visit to Fresno. The legislation, co-sponsored by Oregon Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, would speed environmental review of water projects, and give state and federal officials "operational flexibility" to move water south from the delta to San Joaquin Valley farms. The bill would also authorize $300 million in emergency aid and drought relief projects such as upgrading city water systems and helping farmers conserve water.
Los Angeles Times - Feb 11
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday moved to exert more control over the deep underground injection of diesel fuel to extract oil and natural gas—its first foray into addressing the potential contamination of water from the controversial technique. Although EPA has been allowed since 2005 to regulate the use of diesel in hydraulic fracturing, until this week, it had not done so. The EPA otherwise has little authority to regulate fluids used in hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” which involves pumping water, sand, and chemicals into shale formations to unlock trapped oil and gas. The EPA’s new guidance defines five substances as diesel, for which a permit will now be required for their use in hydraulic fracturing.
Los Angeles Times - Feb 10
California is on track to reach its target for reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, but much tougher choices loom if the state is to meet its goal for the year 2050, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) said in a report released Monday. The changes needed to slash emissions enough to reach the mid-century target will be so great that the state should set an interim goal for about 2030, according to CARB.
Los Angeles Times - Feb 12
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) on Wednesday filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to have tufted puffins listed as endangered or threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act in California, Oregon and Washington, where only about 4,000 remain in scattered colonies. “The tufted puffin populations in these three states are roughly 10% to 15% of what they were just three decades ago,” Brad Sewell, a senior attorney with the NRDC, said in an interview. “In California alone, there are just a few hundred of them left, mostly on islands near San Francisco and north to Oregon."
CourtHouse News - Feb 5
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster sued California Attorney General Kamala Harris in Federal Court, claiming that a California law requiring all eggs sold in the state to come from hens housed in commodious cages violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Missouri claims that the "clear purpose" of the law, AB1437, "to protect California farmers from out-of-state competition." The law, which takes effect in 2015, will require Missouri farmers to either "incur massive capital improvement costs to build larger habitats for some or all of Missouri's 7 million egg-laying hens" or to "walk away from the state whose consumers bought one-third of all eggs produced in Missouri last year," the complaint states.