California Environmental Law & Policy Update - May 2019 #4

Allen Matkins
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EPA plans to change approach to analyzing health risks of air pollution

Bullet The New York Times – May 20

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to change the way it calculates the health risks of air pollution, making it easier to roll back the Obama-era Clean Power Plan rule because the new calculation would result in far fewer predicted deaths from pollution, according to five people with knowledge of the agency’s plans. The EPA originally forecast that replacing the Clean Power Plan with a less stringent proposed measure known as the “Affordable Clean Energy Rule” would have resulted in an additional 1,400 premature deaths per year. The five sources, all current or former EPA officials, said the new modeling method will appear in the agency’s analysis of the final version of the replacement regulation, known as the Affordable Clean Energy rule, which is expected to be made public in June.

News

California Senate passes bill targeting controversial Mojave Desert water project

Bullet Desert Sun - May 22

The California Senate on Tuesday approved Senate Bill 307, which would require additional environmental review for groundwater transfers across desert areas, the latest attempt to block a water project proposed in the Mojave Desert by Cadiz Inc. The company is proposing to pump 16.3 billion gallons of groundwater out of the desert's aquifer and transport it to the Colorado River Aqueduct. Critics of the project argue that it could have a deleterious effect on the groundwater in the Mojave Desert and cascading effects on wildlife, even though the proposed project passed a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review.

Appeals court says environmental review sufficient for oil drilling in canyon area

Bullet Ventura County Star - May 21

A California Court of Appeal this month upheld a decision by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors (Board) almost four years ago permitting California Carbon Co. to drill for oil in the Santa Paula Canyon area without additional environmental review. The Board had found that a relatively brief CEQA addendum was sufficient enough to support the continued operation of 17 wells and drilling of 19 new sites. The court’s decision has the effect of extending the permit for the company’s operation until 2045. Several environmental groups sued the county, claiming that drilling on a site not covered in the original 1978 environmental report could harm steelhead trout, California condors, and water quality in the Santa Paula Creek.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission gives SoCal Edison go-ahead to resume moving nuclear waste at San Onofre

Bullet San Diego Union-Tribune – May 21

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Tuesday gave Southern California Edison, operator of the shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, the green light to resume transferring canisters filled with nuclear waste from wet storage pools to a newly constructed dry storage facility at the plant. All transfers at the plant had ceased in August 2018 after a 50-ton canister of used fuel was accidentally left suspended on a metal flange for about 45 minutes from a height of about 18 feet as it was being lowered into a storage vault. U.S. Representative Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, has launched his own task force to study safety challenges at the plant and has called for the NRC to employ an inspector at the facility.

Water-rights dispute between Fallbrook, Camp Pendleton ends after nearly 70 years

Bullet San Diego Union-Tribune – May 21

After 68 years of litigation and more than a half-century of settlement talks, a water rights dispute between the Fallbrook Public Utility District and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton has officially ended. A federal judge last month signed off on the Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project, an agreement that calls for captured river water to flow to the Marine base, where it will be stored as groundwater in local aquifers. The water can then be pumped back to Fallbrook through a bi-directional pipeline, thereby reducing Fallbrook’s dependence on expensive imported water.

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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