California Environmental Law & Policy Update - March 2019 #3

Allen Matkins
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President Trump signs largest wilderness protection bill in a decade

■East Bay Times - March 12

President Trump on Tuesday signed into law the largest wilderness preservation bill in a decade. The legislation, which passed the U.S. Senate last month by a vote of 92-8, designates 1.3 million acres of federal land in California, Oregon, Utah, and New Mexico as wilderness, the highest level of protection, under which logging, oil drilling, mining, and road-building are banned. Among its provisions, the measure establishes 375,000 acres of new wilderness — an area nearly 13 times the size of San Francisco — in the Mojave Desert, most of it on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

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Trump administration gives new life to development on huge Cargill Salt property in Redwood City

■The Mercury News - March 11

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has given new life to developing 1,400 acres of land owned by Cargill Salt in Redwood City. In a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies dated March 1, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler concluded that the land, which was a part of San Francisco Bay a century ago before it was diked and filled for salt-making, was formed before the 1972 Clean Water Act and therefore "is not subject" to it. Wheeler’s decision reverses an EPA determination to the contrary four years ago during the Obama administration. In 2012, Cargill and DMB Associates withdrew a proposal to build 12,000 homes on the site amid opposition from community groups and environmentalists. On Monday, however, the companies said they are moving forward with public meetings to develop a new project following the EPA’s ruling.

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White House proposes slashing EPA budget by 31 percent

■The Hill - March 11

President Donald Trump on Monday proposed significant budget cuts to the federal agencies responsible for overseeing the nation’s energy and environmental policies, including a 31 percent reduction in spending by the EPA and a 14 percent cut by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The fiscal 2020 budget proposal is consistent with President Trump’s 25 percent cuts proposed for the EPA in fiscal 2019 and 30 percent cuts proposed for fiscal 2018, and is supported by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. Like these earlier proposed EPA budget cuts, which were also rejected by Congress, it is unlikely these drastic cuts will be approved by Congress this year, particularly because Democrats are now the majority in the House of Representatives.

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Proposed legislation seeks restrictions on diesel emissions

■San Francisco Chronicle - March 8

State Senator Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, last Friday introduced legislation that would direct the California Air Resources Board to require a 40 percent reduction in diesel emissions by 2030 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050, cuts that some experts say would not be possible without a major overhaul of the trucking industry. SB44 will likely face major opposition from trucking companies and other businesses that transport products in big rigs. Heavy- and medium-duty buses and trucks make up 7 percent of the vehicles on California’s roads but contribute 20 percent of the heat-trapping carbon emissions released into the atmosphere, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit science advocacy organization.

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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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