California Environmental Law and Policy Update - July 18, 2013

by Allen Matkins

Environmental and Policy Focus

Pumping water underground could trigger major earthquake, say scientists

The Guardian - Jul 12

Pumping water underground at geothermal power plants can lead to dangerous earthquakes even in regions not prone to tremors, according to scientists. They say that quake risk should be factored into decisions about where to site geothermal plants and other drilling rigs where water is pumped underground – for example in shale gas fracking . There are already reports that pumping large quantities of water underground can induce minor earthquakes near geothermal power generation and fracking sites. New evidence, however, is said to reveal the potential for much larger earthquakes, of magnitude 4 or 5, related to the weakening of pre-existing undergrounds faults through increased fluid pressure. The water injection appears to prime cracks in the rock, making them vulnerable to triggering by tremors from earthquakes thousands of miles away.

Workshop planned for Prop. 65 rule changes

Biz Journal - Jul 10

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment will hold a public workshop July 30 on proposals to reform Proposition 65, which requires businesses to warn of the presence of carcinogens or reproductive toxins. Officials seek input for draft regulations that would significantly modify the way businesses are penalized for violations.

LADWP, Mammoth Lakes settle water issue

Rewire - Jul 12

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power announced Thursday that it has settled a two-year fight over water rights with the Mammoth Community Water District of Mammoth Lakes. The DWP withdrew two lawsuits and granted Mammoth Lakes continued use of water from an Owens River tributary in exchange for $5.8 million in water conservation projects. DWP officials accused the Mammoth Community Water District in early 2012 of improperly using water from Mammoth Creek, asserting water rights that they said Los Angeles has held since 1905. The creek has served as the main water source for the ski resort town's approximately 8,300 residents, many of them tourism industry workers.

Court defers to FDA on question whether genetically modified foods can be labelled "natural"

CourtHouse News - Jul 15

A federal judge in San Francisco asked the Food & Drug Administration to advise whether food manufacturers can label foods as "natural" when they contain genetically modified ingredients. The request from U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers results in a six-month stay of a proposed class action against Irving-based Gruma Corp., which sells tortillas, guacamole and other products under the brand name Mission. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim that Gruma was not entitled to use the description "all natural" on products that use corn grown from bioengineered, genetically modified seeds, and seek remedies for alleged unfair competition, false advertising, and other violations.

Settlement puts $237 million train line back on track

The Press Enterprise - Jul 10

An environmental group that sought to block a $237 million commuter rail project in Southern California has agreed to drop its lawsuit.

DOE: Climate change will disrupt energy supply

Utility Products Magazine - Jul 12

U.S. energy supplies will likely face more severe disruptions because of climate change and extreme weather, which have already caused blackouts and lowered production at power plants, a government report warned Thursday.

Wildfires Spur Surging Los Angeles Power Costs: Energy Markets

Bloomberg News - Jul 11

Los Angeles wholesale power will probably reach record premiums versus prices in San Francisco this summer as the long-distance transmission lines needed to make up for reduced local capacity are threatened by wildfires. Southern California power spreads have already jumped to their widest of the year as the region has been unable to replace the generating capacity lost with the permanent shutdown of the San Onofre nuclear plant. Hydroelectric output, which normally supplies about 15 percent of the state’s power, has dropped to the lowest level since 2008.


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