California Environmental Law and Policy Update - September 2014 #3

Allen Matkins
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Environmental and Policy Focus

California acts to manage statewide groundwater issues

Allen Matkins - Sep 19

Faced with record drought and depleted groundwater supplies statewide, the California Legislature has enacted, and Governor Brown on September 16 signed, new legislation designed to move statewide groundwater management forward in the decades to come. The new laws, Senate Bills 1168 and 1319, and Assembly Bill 1739, do not radically alter groundwater management in the short-term. They do, however, set the stage for a possible statewide system of management ultimately supervised by the State Water Resources Control Board. Generally, for many at-risk basins, the law mandates (and for other areas encourages) “groundwater sustainability agencies” to adopt “groundwater sustainability plans” in coming years.

Plan to boost clean energy in the California desert released

Reuters - Sep 23

California and the federal government on September 23 released an ambitious plan to combat climate change by accelerating the building of large renewable energy projects in the state’s sun-soaked desert while setting aside millions of acres for conservation. The goal of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan is to identify areas ripe with renewable energy potential that would also have minimal impact on species such as the desert tortoise and a wide variety of avian life. The plan is intended to spur development of up to 20,000 megawatts of power from solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources over the next 25 years.

Billionaire must let public access Martins Beach, judge rules

SFGate.com - Sep 25

Vinod Khosla, the wealthy owner of beach property near Half Moon Bay who provoked a bitter dispute when he cut off public access to the beach, must let the public back in, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Barbara Mallach ruled Wednesday. Khosla had closed the only public access gate to the Martins Beach property, which includes 45 leased cabins, in September 2010, citing the high cost of maintenance and liability insurance. The court ruled that Khosla’s action in blocking public access to the beach required a coastal development permit that he had not obtained.

Court curbs California's nuclear plant cleanup

Courthouse News Service - Sep 19

Legislative efforts to regulate cleanup of a nuclear plant outside Los Angeles unconstitutionally exceed state authority, the Ninth Circuit ruled on September 19. The 22-page ruling affirms an April 2011 decision by U.S. District Judge John Walter, who said that federal law concerning the regulation of nuclear activity pre-empted California's Senate Bill 900, passed in 2007. SB 900 required making the Santa Susana Field Laboratory suitable for subsistence farming: a more stringent set of standards than the Department of Energy had adopted. In affirming Walter's finding Friday, Judge Andrew Kleinfeld said the state law governing cleanup of a nuclear site, "violates the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity."

California water wholesaler supply drastically drained

CBS News - Sep 22

The giant wholesaler that provides drinking water for half the California population has drained two-thirds of its stored supplies as the state contends with a punishing drought, officials said on September 22. Without plentiful rain and snow in coming months, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California could consider cutbacks to its regional distributors next year. If such limits are approved, that could lead to rationing or cuts for households in portions of Southern California.

Sacramento air quality officials sued over crude oil trains

Modesto Bee - Sep 23

A Bay Area environmental group has filed a lawsuit against the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District for failing to require an environmental review of a crude oil transfer station at McClellan Business Park. The group, Earthjustice, accuses local air quality managers of quietly rubber-stamping permits for InterState Oil Company, allowing it to use McClellan as a site for the transfer of highly flammable crude oil from trains into tanker trucks headed to Bay Area refineries.

 

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