California Environmental Law & Policy Update - October 2016 #2

by Allen Matkins

Environmental and Policy Focus

SoCal air board proposes stricter regulations for smog-reduction plan

Los Angeles Times - Oct 7 The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) released a proposal last Friday to add more stringent regulations to a smog-reduction plan, originally released in June, which has faced criticism for its voluntary, industry-friendly approach. The revised plan includes additional regulations to cut emissions from diesel backup generators, water heaters, furnaces, and other appliances. The agency also added a commitment to identify and consider new measures targeting oil refineries, ports, warehouses, and other large facilities that are said to be responsible for much of the pollution in the nation’s smoggiest region. The SCAQMD may end its Regional Clean Air Incentives Market cap-and-trade program for smog-forming emissions and replace it with more traditional air emissions regulations. A final version of the smog-reduction plan is expected to go to SCAQMD’s governing board for adoption by February 2017.

SF Bay ecosystem collapsing as rivers diverted, scientists report

SFGate - Oct 8 According to a new study conducted by The Bay Institute, an environmental group, the ecosystem of the San Francisco Bay and its estuary—including the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, Suisun Marsh and the bay—is collapsing due to human extraction of water from the rivers that feed the estuary. The study, sponsored by the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, a quasi-governmental agency, concludes that the “collapse” is pushing the delta smelt toward extinction and threatening various fish species, birds and marine mammals that depend upon the estuary’s complex food web. The findings reinforce conclusions already reached by state regulators and are intended to buttress the environmental case for potentially drastic water restrictions in San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area, and among farmers in the northern San Joaquin Valley. Last month, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) proposed to revise the water quality requirements for salinity in the San Joaquin River system, which would require that Californians leave far more water—40 percent of what would naturally flow during spring—in the system in an effort to save fish species. The SWRCB is taking public comment until Nov. 15 and plans to issue the final water quality requirements next spring.

Residents fight ammonia plant near Bakersfield

Courthouse News Service - Oct 10 A group of Kern County residents have sued the county in superior court, seeking to set aside approval of an ammonia manufacturing plant proposed by Grannus LLC on a site southwest of Bakersfield until the county conducts the required environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The plaintiffs allege the county approved the site plan even though the application did not include the required forms, reports or studies and did so without holding a public hearing on its decision to deem the project exempt from CEQA. Plaintiffs claim the ammonia plant – which also includes an 11 megawatt electrical generation plant, laboratory, water treatment and discharge buildings, an ammonia storage tank, and a 6-mile natural gas pipeline – will exacerbate the area’s already poor air quality and threaten several endangered species. They are seeking an injunction to halt construction of the plant pending compliance with CEQA and the local land use plan.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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