California Environmental Law and Policy Update - February 21, 2013


Environmental and Policy Focus

California holds second auction of carbon credits

The Sacramento Bee - Feb 20

California held its second auction Tuesday for carbon-emissions allowances. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) sold more than 22 million allowances, each one containing the right to emit a ton of carbon. CARB will wait until Friday to release prices and other results from the three-hour electronic auction. The minimum bid price was $10.71 a ton.

Doubts voiced on fracking oversight at California hearing

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.

BLM sued over Solar Energy Zones

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.

Plan to remove bike rentals, horseback ride providers in Yosemite alarms locals

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.

BP ready for trial in Deepwater Horizon case

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.

Shale exploitation in California: Big reserves, big reservations

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.

Sierra Club fights growth at Lake Tahoe

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.

Study finds climate change impact on stream flow differs according to location

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.

Deadline for NY fracking impact study missed, regulations delayed

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.

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