California plans to ban sales of new gas-powered cars in 15 years
The New York Times – September 23
California plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars statewide by 2035, Governor Gavin Newsom announced this Wednesday. In an executive order, Governor Newsom directed California’s regulators to develop a plan that would require automakers, over the next 15 years, to sell an increasingly larger proportion of zero-emissions passenger vehicles in the state until such vehicles make up 100 percent of new auto sales. The plan would also set a goal for all heavy-duty trucks on the road in California to be zero emissions by 2045 where possible. Governor Newsom’s executive order also sets a goal of terminating issuance of new permits for hydraulic fracturing by 2024. The governor said he would work with California’s legislature to set rules that would better protect vulnerable communities from nearby fossil-fuel extraction and help the state’s energy industry transition away from oil and gas.
Senator Wiener says he will move to ban hydraulic fracturing in California, following Governor Newsom’s lead
San Francisco Chronicle – September 24
A trio of California lawmakers plans to introduce a bill to ban the fossil fuel drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing in an effort to expand the state’s fight against climate change. State Senator Scott Wiener is working with two other legislators on the matter after Governor Newsom embraced a plan this week to phase out the practice. Senator Wiener said he would like to introduce the bill as soon as lawmakers reconvene in December. The proposal would not affect conventional drilling practices. Attempts to ban hydraulic fracturing have failed in years past, as did a recent bill that would have established buffer spaces between homes and oil wells.
Joshua trees protected under the California Endangered Species Act in historic vote
The Desert Sun – September 22
The California Fish and Game Commission this Tuesday voted 4-0 to approve the western Joshua tree for the next stage of protection under the California Endangered Species Act. This marks the first time the state law has been used to give protection to a species that is primarily threatened by the effects of climate change. The tree will now receive protection under the Act for the next year as the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife studies whether the species is at enough risk to need full listing as threatened. Joshua trees were denied protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, a decision that is being challenged in federal court. The commission also voted to allow an emergency exemption under the Fish and Game Code for 15 solar projects in Kern and San Bernardino counties to continue with their plans to remove Joshua trees during construction.
Open-ocean fish farm proposed off San Diego coast could be first in federal waters
Los Angeles Times – September 20
A partnership between Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute and Pacific6 Enterprise is teaming to create what could be the first fish farm in federal waters. The proposed Pacific Ocean AquaFarm would be located about four miles offshore of San Diego and would generate 5,000 metric tons of sushi-grade yellowfish each year. Environmental review of the project application, filed earlier this month, will be led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and is expected to take about 18 to 24 months to complete. Environmental groups have opposed previous offshore aquaculture operations, arguing that they pose risks to marine life, can foul the water, and undermine wild fisheries.
EPA questions science linking widely used pesticide to brain damage in children
The Hill – September 22
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this Tuesday released a risk assessment that diminished studies linking chlorpyrifos, a widely-used pesticide, with adverse health effects, including brain damage in children. In its new assessment, EPA argued that “despite several years of study, the science addressing neurodevelopmental effects remains unresolved.” This conclusion represents a reversal of position by EPA since 2016, when agency scientists, citing evidence of the health effects of chlorpyrifos on farmworkers and children, recommended banning the compound. Since then, a number of states, including California, have banned chlorpyrifos in the absence of federal action.
Port of Oakland pays EPA $300K fine for sediment dredging in violation of Ocean Dumping Act
SFGate – September 24
The Port of Oakland paid a $300,000 fine to the U.S. EPA for violating the Ocean Dumping Act, EPA officials announced on Thursday. A company hired by the Port of Oakland, The Dutra Group, which will also pay a fine, dredged over 6,000 cubic yards of sediment from Berth 35 before it was tested for toxicity and approved for disposal. The Dutra Group said that adjacent areas had already been permitted, but that area was dredged out of sequence inadvertently while a permit for that area was still being processed, prompting the fine.
Friant-Kern Canal project moves forward
The Sun Gazette – September 23
On September 18, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released final environmental documents for its plan to repair a 33-mile stretch of the federally-owned Friant-Kern Canal. The final environmental impact statement represents a significant milestone in beginning work to restore flows to the lower third of the 153-mile long canal, which delivers water to more than one million acres of highly productive farmland between Fresno and Bakersfield. This stretch of the canal has lost 60% of its original conveyance capacity due to subsidence—a sinking of the earth from groundwater extraction—which was accelerated during California’s historic drought from 2012-2017.