California Environmental Law and Policy Update - March 11, 2014

by Allen Matkins

Environmental and Policy Focus

California lawmakers pass $687 million drought plan

San Francisco CBS Local - Feb 27

California lawmakers have passed a $687 million plan to provide immediate relief to drought-stricken communities. The package includes emergency money for communities running low on drinking water and farming communities where fallowed fields are leading to unemployment. The plan redirects money in the state budget and draws from two bonds previously approved by voters. It includes $472 million in accelerated grant funding for water conservation and recycling projects. Another $15 million will go to communities running low on drinking water supplies while $47 million provides food and housing assistance for people in drought-stricken communities.

EPA restricts sulfur in gasoline to reduce auto emissions

LA Times - Mar 3

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a final rule on Monday, March 3 to restrict the amount of sulfur in gasoline. The rule will reduce sulfur emissions from automobiles, and bring the rest of the country's fuel supply in line with California's current sulfur standards. The new national rule for "Tier 3" gasoline calls for reducing the amount of sulfur in fuel by two-thirds. Similar low-sulfur gasoline is already in use in California, Europe, Japan, and South Korea. The low-sulfur gasoline should be available at the pump by January 2017.

State Court of Appeal finds City of Woodland’s approval

The SacBee Business News - Feb 28

A three-justice panel of the Third District Court of Appeal ruled on February 25 that the City of Woodland’s approval of a proposed regional shopping mall failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The court found that four of the five mitigation measures in the project’s final environmental impact report (EIR) “are too speculative, vague and noncommittal to comply” with CEQA. In a 49-page opinion, the appellate court, in reversing the decision of the trial court, found that the City “did not properly assess the merits of the mixed-use alternative” to the project – called Gateway II – and that the impact report is flawed in its failure to consider energy impacts created by increased traffic, the construction itself and the mall’s operation generally.” Gateway II would expand the existing Gateway center next to Interstate 5, home to Costco, Target and Best Buy. The expansion would sit on 61 acres with 340,000 square feet of retail space, including big-box sites and 22 acres for auto dealerships.

Lawsuit settled over Bay Area plan for land-use, transit

SF Gate - Bay Area News - Feb 28

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments released a joint statement saying they had reached an out-of-court settlement with the Building Industry Association of the Bay Area over "Plan Bay Area," a nine-county regional plan that addresses transportation planning and funding and land-use strategy. According to the regional agencies' statement, MTC and ABAG agree to monitor regional development patterns, including keeping track of types of residential development and issuance of building permits. Three lawsuits by other parties challenging "Plan Bay Area" are still pending.


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