California appellate court overturns Monterey County fracking ban
Courthouse News Service – October 12
A California appeals court on Tuesday set aside a Monterey County measure banning hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” of oil and gas wells on the ground that local regulation of oil and gas extraction in California is preempted by state law. “If a local regulation conflicts with a state law, the local regulation exceeds the local entity’s power,” wrote Justice Franklin Elia on behalf of the unanimous panel in the Sixth Appellate District of the California Court of Appeals. The judgment effectively dooms Measure Z, a ballot measure passed in 2016 seeking to ban fracking, a method of oil and gas extraction whereby liquid is injected into the substrate of the earth to create enough pressure to withdraw fossil fuels from the rock layers.
California attorney general launches investigation into Orange County oil spill
Los Angeles Times – October 11
The California Department of Justice has launched an investigation into an oil spill of up to 131,000 gallons of crude oil into the waters off the Orange County coast, Attorney General Rob Bonta said on Monday. He said his office has not determined whether civil or criminal enforcement is proper at this time. The U.S. Coast Guard criminal investigations unit and the Orange County district attorney’s office are already conducting criminal investigations into the spill.
California sues to stop companies from releasing toxic chemicals near Pittsburg plant
SFGate – October 14
In a news release Wednesday, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced that the state filed a civil suit against several major chemical companies to stop them from dumping and releasing toxic materials from a chemical manufacturing plant near Pittsburg. The complaint names several companies and their affiliates, including Corteva Inc., Dow Chemical Company and E. I. Du Pont De Nemours and Co., and alleges that they are illegally treating wastewater with hazardous levels of toxic chemicals and operating numerous tanks that release uncontrolled toxic emissions into the air. The Pittsburg facility is located less than a mile from the Corteva Wetlands, and meets the shore of New York Slough at the confluence of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers before they flow into the Suisun Bay, San Pablo Bay and eventually San Francisco Bay.
State gets federal ultimatum over oilfield injection problems
The Bakersfield Californian – October 8
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued an ultimatum to California oil and water agencies that have fallen years behind schedule in their efforts to bring the state's oilfield injection program into compliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). A September 16 letter from the director of the EPA’s water division gave the California Natural Resources Agency and the State Water Resources Control Board 30 days to update their proposed plan for completing final paperwork for exempting certain underground aquifers from the SDWA by no later than Sept. 30, 2022.
Port of San Diego to electrify freight trucks, cranes, even some tugboats by 2030
The San Diego Union-Tribune – October 12
According to a pledge adopted by the Port of San Diego’s Board of Port Commissioners on Tuesday, the tens of thousands of diesel freight trucks deployed to Port facilities must transition to battery-electric or another zero-emission technology by 2030. The goal, part of a sweeping Maritime Clean Air Strategy, comes five years ahead of a state-mandated transition of heavy-duty trucks to electrification, and exceeds the pace of transition at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, locals 94 and 29, opposed the transition, which they argue will jeopardize their jobs as companies seek out cheaper places to do business.
California law to ban gas-powered lawn equipment
Associated Press – October 9
Governor Gavin Newsom on Saturday signed a new law that orders state regulators to ban the sale of new gas-powered equipment using small off-road engines (including gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers), a move aimed at curbing emissions from such equipment. The California Air Resources Board has already started working on a rule to accomplish this, a lengthy process scheduled to conclude early next year. But the law Newsom signed on Saturday removes any doubt, ordering the agency to apply the new rule by Jan. 1, 2024, or as soon as regulators determine it is “feasible,” whichever date is later.