Supreme Court reinstates streamlined permitting for pipelines, but not for Keystone XL project
Bloomberg Law – July 6
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday reinstated a streamlined permitting program, known as Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP12), for pipelines across the country, except for the embattled Keystone XL project. The Trump administration and industry parties are challenging a Montana lower court’s ruling barring the use of the NWP12 fast-track permitting program for pipelines at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and asked the Supreme Court to revive the permitting process while that appeal is pending. The decision is a relief for developers working on other pipelines but means prolonged delays for the TC Energy Corp. Keystone XL project, set to move oil from Canada to the U.S.
Endangered California condors in Sequoia National Park for the first time in 50 years
Los Angeles Times – July 8
For the first time in nearly 50 years, California condors have been spotted at Sequoia National Park, wildlife officials announced. The majestic scavengers, the largest land birds in North America, with a 9.5-foot wingspan, once inhabited areas stretching from California to Florida and Western Canada to Northern Mexico. They were listed as endangered in 1967 by the federal government, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Researchers say lead poisoning is responsible for half of all condor deaths in which a cause is identifiable.
Scientists affirm adequacy of Kern hydraulic fracturing reviews
The Bakersfield Californian – July 6
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists have signed off on a series of hydraulic fracturing permits in western Kern County, allowing the well-completion technique to proceed after Governor Gavin Newsom put in place new review procedures prompted by environmental concerns and regulatory conflict-of-interest accusations. The permit authorizations disclosed last Friday by California’s Geologic Energy Management Division cover a series of hydraulic fracturing operations that Aera Energy and Chevron have proposed in Belridge and Lost Hills. The governor put in place a de facto ban on new hydraulic fracturing permits in June 2019 and then in November ordered that pending permit approvals be reviewed by LLNL for completeness.
Baja California governor accuses U.S. companies of water theft
The San Diego Union-Tribune – July 4
An independent audit of Baja California’s water agency alleges that former employees of the utility colluded with international corporations to defraud the state of at least $49.4 million, according to an auditor and the state governor. Baja California officials have alleged that local and international corporations — including Coca-Cola, FedEx, and Walmart — for years took water for use in their Mexican factories, retail stores, and distribution centers without fully paying for it. The auditor concluded that some companies also installed their own clandestine drainage systems to illegally discharge contaminated water into Tijuana’s already strained storm drains and canal in order to conceal their illegal water usage. That contaminated water feeds into the Tijuana River, which flows through Tijuana toward the San Diego coast.