California Environmental Law and Policy Update - September 2017

Allen Matkins

Environmental and Policy Focus

Key legislative vote could force tech billionaire to sell public route to beach

San Jose Mercury News - Aug 30 Lawmakers in Sacramento are considering a bill that could clear the way for California to use its power of eminent domain to purchase a public route through Martin’s Beach, located on the coast south of Half Moon Bay. Tech billionaire Vinod Khosla bought 89 acres surrounding Martins Beach in 2008 and closed a gate to a private road that the public had used for generations to access the shoreline. Senate Bill 42, sponsored by state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, would create a new account within the State Lands Commission that could accept outside donations, providing the agency with funds to take a public easement over the road by eminent domain. Hill’s bill has cleared the state Senate, but is now sitting in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, which must decide by Friday whether or not to advance the measure.

Court settlement looks to move nuclear waste from San Onofre

San Diego Union-Tribune - Sep 28 In a settlement approved Monday in San Diego Superior Court, the operators of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station agreed to make a good faith effort to find a location to move the 3.55 million pounds of nuclear waste that has accumulated on the plant’s premises, between the Pacific Ocean and one of the busiest freeways in the country. Southern California Edison (SCE) reached agreement with a citizen group and an individual who sued SCE after the California Coastal Commission in 2015 approved a 20-year permit for the utility to expand a storage system to place the plant’s spent nuclear fuel into heavy, dry casks on site. Under the agreement, SCE commits to make “commercially reasonable” efforts to relocate the spent fuel offsite, including to potential facilities in Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas. Even if a new location is identified, significant hurdles remain, including securing approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to transfer the nuclear waste.

Coalition forms to protect California’s threatened salmon runs

SFGate - Sep 29 A coalition of government agencies and advocates for sustainable fisheries came together Tuesday to launch a long-term effort to save California’s beleaguered salmon populations in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems. The Central Valley Salmon Habitat Partnership will include 21 members — state and federal water and wildlife agencies, plus groups representing conservationists, farmers, water suppliers, and the fishing industry — seeking to study, develop, and fund projects to restore and protect vital habitats.

Democrats seek $4 billion bond for water, flood control, and parks

Sacramento Bee - Aug 31 As torrential rains and dangerous flood waters pummel large swaths of Texas and parts of Louisiana, state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León has proposed Senate Bill 5, which would put on the June ballot for voter approval a $4 billion bond to fund water, flood, and parks projects across California. The bond would allocate $550 million for water projects, $750 million for flood control projects such as levee repair, and $2.6 billion for local and regional parks – including $800 million to build new parks in lower income communities. Lawmakers have until the legislative session ends Sept. 15 to send the measures to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.

States say EPA’s climate rule guidance is 'legally incorrect'

The Hill - Sep 1 A coalition of 13 states, including California, and seven cities and counties want the Trump administration to rescind a March 2017 guidance document that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent to states regarding compliance with the Clean Power Plan, a key climate change regulation developed during the Obama administration. In a letter sent on Thursday, the group argued that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt incorrectly informed states that if the Clean Power Plan takes effect, compliance deadlines will be extended. The group alleges Pruitt is using the guidance as a way of delaying, or, in effect, repealing the Clean Power Plan without going through the full regulatory process for formal repeal.

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.

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