U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service faces suit over removal of endangered species protections for gray wolves
The Hill – November 9
Last Friday, a coalition of conservation groups filed a notice of intent to sue over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) decision, finalized late last month, to remove endangered species protections for gray wolves. The FWS rule lifts more than 45 years of protections for the wolves, except for a small band of Mexican gray wolves present in Arizona and New Mexico. The notice argues that the basis for the decision was both legally flawed and not based on the best available science, citing a peer review commissioned by the government that was critical of the delisting proposal.
SoCalGas should be fined $255 million for fighting climate action, watchdog says
Los Angeles Times – November 6
The consumer watchdog arm of the California Public Utilities Commission, the Public Advocates Office (the Office), has recommended that the nation’s largest gas company, Southern California Gas Co., be fined $255 million for trying to block energy efficiency rules and local gas bans. In a briefing filed last Thursday, the Office detailed several actions by SoCalGas that it said warrant significant fines, including efforts to block rules requiring more efficient water heaters and furnaces and advocacy against local building codes that limit gas hookups. In a letter to SoCalGas Chief Executive Scott Drury last week, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-San Pedro) said actions uncovered by the Office “paint a clear and deeply concerning portrait of SoCalGas’ attempts to systematically undermine greenhouse gas reduction targets.”
Governor Newsom and Attorney General Becerra among those challenging sale of oil and gas leases in Kern
Bakersfield Now – November 9
The California Air Resources Board, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Center for Biological Diversity have joined forces in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to challenge seven Kern County oil and gas leases sold by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The plaintiffs allege that the sale of the leases was based on a flawed programmatic environmental review finalized in December 2019. That review opened up more than one million acres of public lands in Central California to oil and gas drilling.
The Sorghum Solution? The Salk Institute’s plant-based research to battle climate change gets a boost
The San Diego Union-Tribune – November 10
When energy nerds talk about carbon capture and sequestration, CCS for short, the discussion normally centers on finding ways to take carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuel power plants, transporting it to a storage site, and depositing it so the CO2 does not enter the atmosphere. But researchers at the Salk Institute in La Jolla take a different approach to CCS, which is to remove carbon from the atmosphere by developing better varieties of plants, such as sorghum, in which larger quantities of CO2 can be sequestered. The Institute’s plant-based solution to help fight climate change — called the Harnessing Plants Initiative — received a $2 million donation from Sempra Energy this week. Salk researchers estimate that if 70 percent of a group of target crops were converted into carbon-sequestration-enhanced crop plants worldwide, between 1.5 to 6 gigatons of CO2 could be sequestered each year – the equivalent of up to one-third of human-caused CO2 emissions that accumulate in the atmosphere each year.
Valley Air District’s emissions bank likely to change following damaging state review
VPR – November 10
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (District) on November 20 is set to release its annual equivalency demonstration report, detailing how well its clean air programs are meeting federal requirements for reducing emissions. The report will likely contain significant changes to the District’s emissions reduction credit (ERC) program, which allows businesses to offset emissions increases by purchasing ERCs that the District had issued when emissions were reduced or eliminated elsewhere. The changes come in response to a California Air Resources Board review published this past summer that suggested the District had over-estimated and even miscalculated ERCs it had granted to businesses for offsetting their emissions. The District’s ERC program fell under scrutiny after a 2018 report from an environmental advocacy group argued that at least dozens of ERCs are out of date and lack the documentation to justify the millions of pounds of pollutant emissions they offset. CARB carried out its own review of the ERC program and published its findings in June. Among other conclusions, it suggested that the air district had over-valued many of its ERCs.
Metropolitan Board advances major recycled water project
Los Angeles Sentinel – November 12
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) board voted on Tuesday to begin environmental planning work on what the district says would be one of the largest advanced purified wastewater treatment plants in the world. MWD officials said the approval marks a significant milestone for the Regional Recycled Water Program, a partnership between the MWD and the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts (LACSD) to reuse water currently sent to the ocean. The proposed project would take cleaned wastewater from LACSD’s Joint Water Pollution Control Plant in Carson and purify it producing up to 150 million gallons of water daily — the amount used by more than 500,000 homes. The water would initially be used for groundwater replenishment and storage, and by industrial facilities.