California Environmental Law and Policy Update - September 2014

Allen Matkins
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Environmental and Policy Focus

Federal agency to resume leasing for hydraulic fracturing in California

ABC News - Aug 28

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will resume issuing oil and gas leases next year for federal lands in California after a new study found limited environmental impacts from hydraulic fracturing and other enhanced drilling techniques, the agency said last week. The move will end a halt that has stood since a federal judge ruled in 2013 that the federal agency failed to follow environmental law in allowing hydraulic fracturing on public land in Monterey County.

Limited water presents challenge for natural gas hydraulic fracturing

Los Angeles Times - Sep 2

Extracting natural gas for energy from shale rock deep underground requires lots of water, but much of the world's shale gas is in regions where water is already scarce, including part of California, according to a study issued Tuesday. The amount of recoverable natural gas from shale formations would increase global reserves by nearly half, the report from the World Resources Institute found. That's a potentially enormous boost for the international economy and for reduction of greenhouse gases that cause climate change, as gas used for power generation burns more cleanly than coal. But increased oil and gas development raises thorny questions about how to allocate water in areas where it's limited.

High-speed rail opponents petition California Supreme Court

Sacramento Business Journal - Sep 3

Central Valley residents who have sued the California High-Speed Rail Authority asked the state Supreme Court on Tuesday to review an appeals court ruling that granted the agency access to voter-approved bond funds. In their petition, the plaintiffs argue that the prior ruling contradicts legal precedent on the enforceability of voter-approved bond measures. They contend the agency violated Proposition 1A by moving forward with construction before securing all environmental clearances or lining up all the funding needed for the train’s initial segment.

Bill requiring disclosure of railroad crude oil cargos heads to governor

Sacramento Bee - Sep 2

A bill by Sacramento Assemblyman Roger Dickinson requiring more disclosure about crude oil rail shipments has passed the Legislature and has been sent to the governor for his consideration. The bill is the last of several steps taken by the Legislature this summer to deal with safety concerns about the growing phenomena phenomenon of 100-car oil trains rolling through Sacramento and other California cities on their way to coastal and Central Valley refineries. The bill, AB 380, orders railroad companies to provide state and local emergency officials with information about oil and hazardous materials that may be shipped through their jurisdictions.

Investigation finds no cover-up at San Onofre

San Diego Union-Tribune - Sep 2

An investigation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has concluded that Southern California Edison did not conceal information from agency inspectors looking into the 2012 breakdown of the San Onofre nuclear plant, according to documents made public Tuesday. Edison retired the twin-reactor plant last year after struggling with the rapid degradation of newly installed steam generators.

EPA staff recommends significantly more stringent ozone standard

Los Angeles Times - Aug 29

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency staff said last week that the nation should tighten smog rules significantly, a step that would improve air quality in California but force costly new requirements on government and industry. The EPA staff recommendation is the final step before the rule goes to the agency's leadership and the White House. As a result of lawsuits by environmental and health groups, the agency must propose a new ozone rule by December and the final rule by October 2015. California would be particularly affected because much of the state does not meet the current, weaker standard for ozone that has been in place since 2008.

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