California Environmental Law and Policy Update - May 24, 2013

Environmental and Policy Focus

Interior Department offers new rules for 'fracking'

Los Angeles Times - May 16

The U.S. Department of the Interior proposed new rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on federal land Thursday. The proposed rules have already drawn criticism from fracking opponents, who argue that they weaken restrictions contained in an earlier draft.

Gov. Brown eases farm water restrictions

CourtHouse News - May 21

California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order Monday aimed at easing water restrictions for farmers, following two dry winters in a row. The order directs the State Water Resources Control Board and Department of Water Resources to expedite the review and processing of both transfers and existing water rights claims for the 2013 growing season. Governor Brown hopes this step will help to alleviate the impact of dwindling water reserves on San Joaquin Valley farmers.

Judicial ruling stalls LA Metrolink extension

Railway Age - May 20

A judge has rejected an environmental impact report (EIR) for a proposed Metrolink line, ruling that the Riverside County Transportation Commission failed to address such issues as train wheel noise and pedestrian safety. The ruling stalls the 24-mile, $232.7 million project that would extend Metrolink regional passenger rail service from Riverside to Perris.

Ontario, San Bernardino County set to sue LAWA

San Bernardino Sun - May 17

Attorneys representing several cities and San Bernardino County, all of which oppose a plan to modernize Los Angeles International Airport, say they are in the process of commencing a lawsuit against Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the agency that oversees LAX. The action comes after LAWA declined to respond to multiple requests for mediation on its environmental plan for the airport, which was approved by the Los Angeles City Council in late April.

Lawsuit aims to protect migrating swallows from netting

Los Angeles Times - May 20

A coalition of environmental groups has filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing transportation agencies of violating migratory bird laws by installing protective netting across two bridges in the Petaluma, Calif., area that has injured and killed dozens of migrating cliff swallows.

FDA food safety regulations delayed again as court grants extension in lawsuit

The Huffington Post - May 21

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and two consumer groups asked a California federal judge on Friday for more time to create new deadlines for the release of highly anticipated food safety rules. The judge granted the order on Tuesday, giving them until June 10 to agree on a timeline. The groups, the Center for Food Safety and the Center for Environmental Health, sued the FDA last August after it missed statutory deadlines to propose rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Groups sue over Del Norte County highway project

The Sacramento Bee - May 15

Three conservation groups have filed a lawsuit in state court last week to try to stop a highway-widening project in Northern California they say will threaten ancient redwoods and endanger salmon runs. The three groups -- Friends of Del Norte, the Environmental Protection Information Center, and the Center for Biological Diversity - challenge a California Department of Transportation project that would widen sections of highways 197 and 199 in Del Norte County.