California Environmental Law and Policy Update - July 25, 2013

by Allen Matkins

Environmental and Policy Focus

Interior Chief defends federal hydraulic fracturing regulations

Bloomberg - Jul 18

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell drew on her experience as a former oil-industry engineer to defend proposed federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on publicly owned land. Testifying to the House Natural Resources committee last week, Jewell faced criticisms from Republican lawmakers, who said the department’s proposed rule on fracturing, or fracking, will lead to unnecessary production delays. The use of fracking, in which water, sand and chemicals are injected underground to break apart rocks and free trapped gas, has soared as new technologies have opened up more and deeper resources of oil and gas. Interior’s rules would set minimum standards for well construction, disclosure of chemicals and water management when fracking is used on federal lands. Lawmakers told Jewell that state regulators best know the local geology and the federal government should leave the regulation to them. “The states vary in their understanding of hydraulic fracturing,” Jewell said. Some states, such as Wyoming, have strong rules, while “in many cases, the state rules don’t exist or are out of date.”

California officials wrestle with handling trade secrets on hydraulic fracturing

Los Angeles Times - Jul 17

State officials have been flooded with more than 20,000 comments and suggestions regarding proposed regulations of hydraulic fracturing, officials said Wednesday. Members of the California Water Commission voiced concerns of their own Wednesday about whether the state should treat the recipes for some fracking liquids as trade secrets, not to be disclosed to the public.

Study finds hydraulic fracturing chemicals didn't spread

Modesto Bee - Jul 18

A landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site, the Department of Energy told The Associated Press.

Dole doesn't have to warn of lead under California law

Bloomberg - Jul 24

Dole Food Co. and Nestle SA's Gerber unit won a tentative ruling that they don’t have to warn consumers about lead contained in their baby food, packaged fruit and juices. Judge Stephen Brick in California Superior Court in Oakland said that the companies, and other food makers facing a state lawsuit, showed that each of their products is below the regulatory “safe harbor” exposure level, and no warnings are required under California’s Proposition 65 toxins-warning law.

Groups oppose listing of frogs, toads under Endangered Species Act

AgAlert - Jul 10

An outpouring of comments on proposed listing under the federal Endangered Species Act of two California frog species and the Yosemite toad has prompted reopening of the public comment period. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said listing the species for protection could include designating about 1.8 million acres in 17 California counties as critical habitat and restrict grazing and recreation activities on public land. The deadline for comments on the proposal had closed in late June, but the FWS said last week it plans to reopen the comment period as a result of public requests. Groups representing farmers, ranchers and rural Californians, including the California Farm Bureau Federation, submitted comments in late June and said the FWS had ignored scientific findings that conclude livestock grazing is an unlikely factor in declines of the species’ populations.

CA court requires state to enact drinking water standards for hexavalent chromium

WaterWorld - Jul 23

The California Superior Court of Alameda recently required the state's Department of Public Health to proceed with setting a standard to protect Californians from unsafe levels of hexavalent chromium in drinking water.

California water agencies urge overturn of court's Sucker Fish ruling

San Bernardino Sun - Jul 25

California water agencies have filed arguments in a federal appeals court challenging a lower court judge's decision that upheld the expansion of the Santa Ana Sucker fish's critical habitat, much of which is in the Inland Empire. Representing 440 agencies that deliver much of California's water, the Association of California Water Agencies filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals on the 9th Circuit outlining water agencies' concerns about the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's decision to double the critical habitat area for the small, algae-eating fish. Other public agencies have echoed the California Water Agencies' concerns. The agencies contend that expansion of the habitat violated federal guidelines of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, which they said requires that federal, state and local agencies work together in a cooperative way.

Court of Appeals rejects AB 32 rules, but allows them to stay in place for now

Metropolitan News - Jul 17

The Fifth District Court of Appeal has rejected the California Air Resources Board’s Low Carbon Fuels Standards, as applied to diesel, but said the agency could enforce them while it rewrites them. Justice Donald Franson Jr., in a 95-page opinion filed last week, said the board had complied with most of the legal requirements for adopting the standards, which were mandated by AB 32, the Global Warming Act of 2006. But in rushing to meet the act’s Jan. 1, 2010 deadline, the ARB “ran afoul of several procedural requirements imposed by” the California Environmental Quality Act and the Administrative Procedures Act, the justice said.


Written by:

Allen Matkins

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