California Environmental Law and Policy Update - September 16, 2013

by Allen Matkins

Environmental and Policy Focus

Lawmakers approve bill to aid Sacramento NBA arena

Modesto Bee - Sep 12

On the last day of the legislative session, and only after last-minute negotiations and bill revisions, California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg won overwhelming approval in both houses of the California Legislature of Senate Bill 743, which smooths the way for a new downtown arena in Sacramento. The legislation, when signed by Governor Brown, will make good on an agreement with the National Basketball Association and a group of prospective owners of the NBA Sacramento Kings, who kept the Kings in Sacramento, thereby thwarting a possible team move to Seattle. The bill includes limited measures that modify environmental review requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Steinberg shelves main environmental measure to aid arena effort

Sacramento Bee - Sep 11

Following last-minute negotiations with Governor Brown, state Sen. President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg shelved SB 371, his main CEQA reform bill, and instead pushed forward with an alternative bill – SB 743, described in the previous news item that includes provisions to assist in development of Sacramento’s downtown arena.

Judge sets showdown date for California’s bullet train

San Francisco Business Journal - Sep 9

The California bullet train authority and its opponents have been given a November 8 court date to present arguments about how to deal with the authority’s violations of Proposition 1A. Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny ruled last August that the agency overseeing the bullet train — the California High-Speed Rail Authority — failed to comply with financial and environmental promises made to voters when they approved Prop. 1A in 2008. That proposition authorized almost $10 billion in bonds for the bullet train project. The entire project is expected to cost $68 billion.

Bill approved to increase bonding for oil drilling

Daily Democrat - Sep 8

The Assembly voted Friday to approve Senate Bill 665 by Sen. Lois Wolk, legislation to strengthen outdated bonding requirements to help ensure that oil and gas drilling operators, not taxpayers, are responsible for the cost of repairing environmental damage incurred during drilling. The bill must now be taken up for a Senate vote on amendments taken to the bill in the Assembly.

BLM to update environmental impact report for Blythe Solar Project

KCET News - Sep 4

Department of the Interior had already signed off on a 1,000-megawatt solar thermal project outside of Blythe in Riverside County in 2010, but significant changes to the project's design—now a 485-megawatt photovoltaic facility—have prompted the department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to go at least part of the way back to the drawing board. On August 30, the BLM announced it would be preparing a new Environmental Impact Statement for the Blythe Solar Power Project, proposed for the eastern foothills of the McCoy Mountains just west of Blythe.

Two L.A. City Council members propose ban on hydraulic fracturing for oil

Los Angeles Times - Sep 4

Council members Paul Koretz and Mike Bonin propose changing city zoning laws to stop hydraulic fracturing and related oil extraction methods. The two Los Angeles City Council members say the environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing, or fracturing underground rock formations to reach oil reserves, are too great and should be banned.

Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors passes moratorium on hydraulic fracturing

Santa Cruz Sentinel - Sep 10

As the last of the state Legislature's attempts to regulate hydraulic fracturing was all but gutted, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed a moratorium the controversial oil production practice. And it likely will soon make that ban permanent.


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Allen Matkins

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