California Environmental Law & Policy Update - December 2017 #5

by Allen Matkins
Contact

Focus

U.S. EPA officials are leaving in droves

The New York Times - Dec 22 More than 700 employees have left the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since President Trump took office, a wave of departures that puts the administration nearly a quarter of the way toward its goal of shrinking the agency to levels last seen during the Reagan administration. Of the employees who have quit, retired, or taken a buyout package since the beginning of the year, more than 200 are scientists and 96 are environmental protection specialists, a broad category that includes scientists as well as others experienced in investigating and analyzing pollution levels. Most of the employees who have left are not being replaced. The cuts deepen a downward trend at the agency that began under the Obama administration in response to budget constraints imposed by Congress that left the agency with about 15,000 employees at the end of his term. The reductions have accelerated under President Trump, who campaigned on a promise to dramatically scale back the EPA, leaving only what he called “little tidbits” in place.

Department of Interior to repeal hydraulic fracturing rule

The Hill - Dec 28 The Trump administration will take its final step to repeal the Obama administration’s 2015 rule setting standards for hydraulic fracturing on federal land. A formal notice from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) making the repeal final was posted publicly on Thursday and is due to be published in the Federal Registertoday. The rule mandated that companies disclose the chemicals they use during hydraulic fracturing, required them to cover surface ponds where hydraulic fracturing fluids are stored, and set standards for the construction of oil and gas wells at which hydraulic fracturing was conducted. The BLM’s notice of rulemaking did not address the question whether it ever had legal authority to enforce the regulation, an issue that had been litigated in federal court.

Department of Interior reinterprets federal law previously applied to prosecute accidental killings of birds at energy facilities

The Washington Post - Dec 26 The U.S. Department of the Interior has rolled back an Obama-era policy aimed at protecting migratory birds, stating in a solicitor’s opinion that it will no longer prosecute oil and gas, wind, and solar operators that accidentally kill birds. The new interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), which was issued on December 22, marks a win for energy interests that described the federal government’s previous position as overreaching. On January 10, before President Trump’s inauguration, the Interior Department had issued an opinion declaring that operators could face legal liability under the MBTA for the incidental deaths of birds ensnared by uncovered oil-waste pits or unmarked transmission lines. The MBTA, enacted in 1918, makes it illegal to “pursue, hunt, take, [or] capture” migratory birds without a permit. The recent solicitor's opinion rests on a narrowed interpretation of the meaning of “take.”

SoCal Gas cited for 'public nuisance' over new leak at Aliso Canyon natural gas facility

Los Angeles Times - Dec 22 Air quality officials last Friday cited Southern California Gas Co. (SoCal Gas) for a 50-minute gas leak at its Aliso Canyon storage facility early last week, charging the utility with causing a public nuisance by exposing nearby residents to foul odors. The South Coast Air Quality Management District said it received 15 odor complaints from residents in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of Los Angeles after the leak began at 4:55 p.m. on December 18, when a SoCal Gas methane monitor at the facility’s fence line measured concentrations of up to 66 parts per million — more than 30 times the typical level of 2 ppm, according to the air district.

North Orange County groundwater contamination named cleanup priority by U.S. EPA

The Orange County Register - Dec 24 The EPA has added a plume of contamination in North Orange County’s groundwater basin to a list of priorities for cleanup, a step some officials say brings it closer to federal Superfund status, which may give the EPA enforcement authority to clean it up, or to compel responsible parties to clean it up, and potentially to provide access to federal funding. The 5-mile-long plume, located mainly beneath an industrial area of Fullerton, includes manufacturing chemicals that Orange County Water District officials say migrated there from industrial sites over a period of years. A groundwater basin that serves 22 north county cities, including Anaheim, Fullerton, and Placentia, is threatened by the plume, but drinking water wells are constantly monitored and are safe at present, officials say. Nine companies have signed settlements and paid $21.4 million toward groundwater cleanup efforts, and some businesses have been cleaning up their own sites. The cost of full cleanup of the basin could exceed $100 million.

 

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.

© Allen Matkins | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Allen Matkins
Contact
more
less

Allen Matkins on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.