California Environmental Law and Policy Update - May 2014

by Allen Matkins

Environmental and Policy Focus

California drought: plan would reverse aqueduct flow to send water back to farms

San Jose Mercury News - May 8

Water has flowed from Northern California's snow-capped peaks to the south's parched cities ever since the California Aqueduct was built in the 1960s. Now, amid one of the worst droughts in history, state officials are considering an audacious plan to send some of the water back uphill. State water engineers say using pumps to reverse the flow of the aqueduct would be a first in a drought. It would also be a complex engineering challenge, requiring millions of dollars to defy gravity. Still, water agencies in the desperately dry farmlands around Bakersfield say the investment is worth it to keep grapevines, pistachios, and pomegranate trees alive. Agencies as far north as the San Francisco Bay Area are talking about a similar project. The plan the department is evaluating was drawn up by five of the local agencies, or districts, that sell irrigation water to farmers. They would bear the cost of the project, which they have estimated at $1.5 million to $9.5 million. They hope to get approval from the state in June and start pushing the water uphill later in the summer. Long celebrated as an engineering marvel, the California Aqueduct is a 420-mile system of open canals and massive pipelines that serves millions of Californians, including those in the state's biggest population centers: the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

Supreme Court’s denial of review preserves environmentalists’ victory in urban runoff case

Los Angeles Times - May 5

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to review a long-running Los Angeles County case, handing a victory to environmentalists in a battle over polluted urban runoff that impairs Southern California's coastal waters. The justices let stand a federal appeals court ruling that held the Los Angeles County Flood Control District and the County liable for storm water pollution flowing into the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers from the region's sprawling storm drain system. The NRDC and the environmental group Los Angeles Waterkeeper sued the County in 2008, arguing that it was violating water-quality standards in its storm water permit. The County countered that it was not the source of pollution, which originates from thousands of sources all over the Los Angeles Basin. The high court's action does not end the case, however, which will now go back to the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to decide which entities are legally responsible for the subject discharges and what remedies to impose. Already, cities are adopting low-impact development rules that require large new projects to retain runoff on-site and let it seep into ground. The County and cities are considering construction of regional infiltration basins to collect runoff to recharge aquifers. They also will encourage the use of green infrastructure, such as using permeable paving in parking lots at schools and other public facilities.

Lawsuit targets San Francisco’s tech shuttle buses

KTVU - May 1

A lawsuit filed against the city of San Francisco seeks to block the use of commuter shuttle buses at Municipal Railway bus stops, arguing that the practice is illegal and that the city's plan to charge companies a fee for the use of the bus stops sidestepped state-mandated environmental analysis. A coalition of labor and housing activists filed the suit over concerns that the shuttle buses are causing an influx of highly paid workers from the Silicon Valley area into the city, driving up rents and housing costs, the group said. The lawsuit comes after the city's Board of Supervisor's rejected opponents' appeal of the approval of an 18-month pilot program by the SFMTA to charge companies providing private shuttle services $1 per stop for use of the city's public bus stops. The appeal sought an environmental impact report for the plan under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The SFMTA board of directors had previously found that the pilot shuttle bus program was exempt from CEQA requirements because the 18-month program is for fact-finding. According to the SFMTA, more than 35,000 private shuttle boardings occur each day in San Francisco. As part of the program, which currently is set to go into effect July 1, the agency will allow the private shuttles to use about 200 selected bus stop locations around the city. Google, which according to the city sponsors about 57 shuttle buses per day in San Francisco, has previously said that the program saves more than 20,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, the equivalent of taking about 4,000 cars off the road each day.

Controversial pipeline project in the Mojave Desert surges forward

San Bernardino County Sun - May 2

In a ruling last week, Orange County Superior Court Judge Gail Andler rejected all six challenges to the environmental review and approvals for the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project. The project will divert surplus groundwater from the Fenner Valley, about 40 miles northeast of Twentynine Palms and south of the Mojave National Preserve, to the Colorado River Aqueduct. The groundwater will then be sold to other water agencies for municipal and industrial use. The plan proposes pumping 50,000 to 75,000 acre-feet of groundwater a year from the aquifer during the project’s 50-year projected lifespan. Delaware Tetra Technologies and the Center for Biological Diversity filed the petitions challenging the project’s environmental approvals and groundwater management plan and other environmental groups joined in the litigation. Among their arguments was that the Santa Margarita Water District in Rancho Santa Margarita was not the proper lead agency for the project, and that the project’s environmental impact report did not include a proper project description. They also argued there was an inadequate analysis of the potential impacts to the water supply, air quality, and biological resources. The court's ruling rejected each of those arguments.

EPA considers stricter disclosure on hydraulic fracturing fluids

Reuters - May 9

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it wants to gather public comment on whether it should require chemical manufacturers to disclose the content of fluids used for oil and gas production, a possible step toward greater federal oversight of hydraulic fracturing. The agency on Friday released an "advanced notice of proposed rulemaking" that came partly as a response to a petition by the environmental group Earthjustice under a section of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The group had asked the EPA to require chemical manufacturers and processors to publish detailed information about the content of fluids used in hydraulic fracturing. It also requested that those companies submit all health and safety studies available on those fluid mixtures. Hydraulic fracturing is regulated on a state-by-state basis and currently does not face significant federal oversight. The oil industry has in recent years become more transparent about the mix of chemicals and fluids they use to hydraulically fracture thousands of wells across the country, disclosure of which is already required in many of the biggest oil and gas producing states. But environmental groups like Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council seek stricter oversight. The EPA had denied other parts of Earthjustice's 2011 petition, including a request for companies to conduct toxicity tests on hydraulic fracturing liquids.



DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Allen Matkins | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Allen Matkins

Allen Matkins on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.