Los Angeles Times - Feb 13
State lawmakers voiced doubts at a February 12 hearing that the Brown administration's proposal to regulate hydraulic fracturing is tough enough to protect public health and safety — and questioned whether the state's oil regulators could be trusted to enforce it. State senators convened a joint legislative hearing to review the draft regulations, which represent California's first attempt to govern the controversial drilling process known as "fracking." Although the proposed rules would require energy companies to disclose many of the chemicals they inject deep into the ground to break apart rock and release oil, some lawmakers said the regulations should go further, including advance notice to nearby landowners and water monitoring around fracking operations.
Solar Energy - Feb 14
Solar Energy Zones, areas designated for solar development by the Department of the Interior (DOI) on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), have been challenged in court by three conservation organizations: Western Lands Project, Desert Protective Council, and Western Watersheds. The groups contend that the DOI failed to consider alternatives focused on developing solar on rooftops, lots and degraded lands. BLM has designated 285,000 acres of federally managed land identified as Solar Energy Zones throughout California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.
Mammoth Times - Feb 15
The Tuolumne River and the Merced River in Yosemite Valley were recently designated as Federal Wild and Scenic Rivers, in an attempt to preserve their beauty and ecological integrity into perpetuity. The draft Environmental Impact Statement addressing the National Park Service's plans for both rivers was released a few weeks ago. It includes proposals for restoring meadows that have been damaged, removing structures from areas close to the river, and more. In Mono County, however, two seemingly innocuous items—removing commercial horseback riding concessionaires and bike rentals from the valley floor – have local residents concerned.
TIME - Feb 15
BP says it has failed to reach a settlement in advance of next week's civil trial on the Deepwater Horizon accident and is ready to defend itself vigorously against allegations of gross negligence. At issue in the trial will be the causes of BP's well blowout in the disaster that killed 11 workers.
The Economist - Feb 21
Shale exploitation in North Dakota has lifted incomes and brought unemployment down to 3.2% of the workforce, the lowest level in the country. California, with unemployment at 9.8% and America’s highest poverty rate, may be sitting on the largest deposit of shale oil in the continental United States, leading some to wonder if the state's salvation lies 10,000 feet beneath them.
CourtHouse News - Feb 18
The Sierra Club has filed suit against the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, claiming its new rules for Lake Tahoe would open more than 300 acres of undeveloped land to "resort recreation" on the California side. Friends of the West Shore, a nonprofit community organization, joined the Sierra Club in its federal complaint.
PhysOrg News - Feb 21
A new analysis of river basins in the western United States suggests that climate change will have the greatest impact on summer stream flows in those waterways that might seem less vulnerable – the large, snow-fed rivers that originate in the high Cascades and other mountain ranges.
The Huffington Post - Feb 13
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) had faced a February 13 deadline to complete its comprehensive environmental impact study of drilling for gas using high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said last week that the deadline will be missed, meaning regulations due to be released Feb. 27 will be delayed.