California Environmental Law & Policy Update 9.08.23

Allen Matkins



Sweeping California water conservation rules could force big cuts in some areas

Bullet Los Angeles Times – September 7

With California facing a hotter and drier future punctuated by bouts of extreme weather, state officials are moving forward with a new framework for urban water use that could require some suppliers to make cuts of 20% or more as soon as 2025. Many of the suppliers facing the harshest cuts are located in the Central Valley and in the southeastern part of the state — large, hot, and primarily rural areas that have historically struggled to meet conservation goals. The proposed regulation would establish tailored goals for each urban retail water supplier in the state, providing them with more flexibility to account for local conditions, according to the State Water Resources Control Board. The move marks a shift away from the one-size-fits-all approach that has governed California water for years. If adopted, the new rules would require more than 400 urban water suppliers to come up with a new water-use budget every year beginning in 2025 and face hefty fines for failing to comply or meet their targets.


CPUC approves expansion of Aliso Canyon storage capacity, despite fears

Bullet Courthouse News Service – August 31

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted unanimously last Thursday to expand the natural gas storage capacity at Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon facility in Porter Ranch, the site of the largest methane gas leak in U.S. history. The plan to expand the facility from 41.2 billion cubic feet to 68.6 billion cubic feet faced strong opposition from residents of Porter Ranch, environmental groups, and certain elected officials. CPUC commissioners defended their vote as a necessary step to avoid price spikes and blackouts. The vote to allow SoCal Gas to expand its storage limit is an interim decision and could be rolled back by the commission in the future.

AQMD imposes 40 conditions on Chiquita Canyon Landfill to fix noxious odors

Bullet Los Angeles Daily News – September 6

According to testimony at a South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) hearing last Wednesday, the amount of noxious gases being released from the Chiquita Canyon Landfill in Castaic is increasing, resulting in additional health issues reported by residents in neighboring areas. The AQMD has received 2,100 complaints to date and has issued 59 notices of violation since April against the facility for releasing excessive amounts of gaseous sulfur. By unanimous vote, the AQMD board imposed an order which would allow the landfill to continue operating as long as it works on fixing the odor problems. Representatives of the AQMD and Chiquita Canyon LLC have signed the stipulated order, which contains 40 conditions requiring improvements to the landfill.

Riverside County declares emergency over toxic dumpsite leak

Bullet KTLA – September 5

Riverside County officials declared a local emergency this Tuesday in response to flooding and leakage of unknown materials from a local dump. Officials said flash flooding on September 1 caused a breach of the retaining berm at the Lawson Dumpsite on Torres Martinez tribal land near Thermal. On Saturday, the leakage prompted evacuation warnings for three nearby mobile home parks. The dump site was shut down in 2007 following years of environmental concerns from federal officials. In 2015, following a refusal to comply with orders and after years of legal efforts, Kim Lawson, Lawson Enterprises, and Torlaw Realty, Inc., were ordered to pay up to $42.8 million in cleanup costs, as well as $2,352,000 in civil penalties. Following the retaining berm breach over the weekend, officials are now asking for federal assistance. The dump site, although ordered closed, was never officially cleaned up.

Restored Delta tidal marsh fights climate change and attracts wildlife, native species

Bullet The Mercury News – September 6

Led by the state Department of Water Resources, the ambitious $73 million project to restore 1,187 acres of freshwater Delta tidal wetlands near Oakley – one of the largest such projects in the state – is a little more than half finished. When it is completed, scientists are hoping it will become a model for future restoration projects, climate change defense, and scientific research. “It’s taking in carbon at a rate compared to the top 1 percentile (of all ecosystems) in the world (annually),” said Katie Bandy, the department’s Dutch Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration project manager.

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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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