Redwood City salt ponds subject to environmental protections, federal judge rules
San Francisco Chronicle – October 5
A federal court ruled this Monday that an area containing salt ponds in Redwood City are waters of the U.S. subject to protections under the Clean Water Act — rejecting the opposite conclusion reached by the Trump administration’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which itself was contrary to the conclusion reached by the EPA during the Obama administration. The ruling, issued by Judge William Alsup in the Northern District of California, represents a victory for local environmental groups that have long sought to prevent development of the 1,365 acres of Redwood City salt ponds. The site’s current owner, Cargill Inc., has been considering development of the site since about 2009, but the court's ruling adds another hurdle to any development plans.
Governor Newsom announces plan to conserve 30% of California’s land and coastal waters
The Mercury News – October 7
Saying more needs to be done to preserve nature as a way to help address climate change, Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday committed the state to a goal of setting aside 30% of California’s land and coastal waters for conservation by 2030. Newsom's executive order directs the state’s Natural Resources Agency, in collaboration with the California Environmental Protection Agency and other California departments, the federal government and various stakeholders, to draw up a plan by Feb. 1, 2022, to achieve the goal in a manner that protects the state’s economy and agriculture industry while expanding and restoring biodiversity. The order also includes goals to promote healthy soils, restore declining populations of bees and other pollinating insects, and expand natural storage of carbon.
California water probe finds PFAS in majority of tested wells
Bloomberg Law – October 7
According to findings released this Wednesday by the State Water Resources Control Board, 60 percent of California’s public water supply wells that were tested in a study started in 2019 contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), so-called forever chemicals. The sampling of the wells for PFAS contamination also found that groundwater and surface water sampled at airports far exceeded the PFAS concentrations detected in water near landfills and public supply wells. The ongoing state survey is also evaluating PFAS concentrations associated with chrome-plating operations, bulk fuel terminals, and refineries. In addition, The state Department of Toxic Substances Control is evaluating PFAS in carpets, rugs, treated textiles, and food packaging.
NASA’s smaller-scale Santa Susana cleanup plan sets off angry responses
Los Angeles Daily News – October 2
NASA last Friday announced its selection of a relatively modest approach to cleanup of chemicals at the site of an old San Fernando Valley nuclear testing lab. The choice angered local cleanup advocates because the decision broke with a longstanding agreement for a much more robust cleanup. Citing the need for “less excavation” and a soil cleanup that it says is more cost efficient than the more extensive options, NASA opted for a “suburban residential cleanup” at the site of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. The agency said this approach would protect the environment while following U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines and heeding state cleanup standards. Opponents of the agency's new plan argue that it would leave 84% of the contamination untouched, potentially impacting the half-million people who live within 10 miles of the site.
California legislation bans toxic chemicals in cosmetics
Associated Press – September 30
Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed the Toxic Free Cosmetics Act, banning two dozen toxic chemicals from being used in cosmetics, making the state the first in the nation to prohibit the use of the hazardous ingredients for that purpose. The chemicals are known to cause cancer, reproductive harm, and hormone disruption, said the author of the bill, Democratic Assembly member Al Muratsuchi. All the toxins have already been banned by the European Union, but California is the first U.S. state to prohibit its use. Another piece of legislation signed by Newsom requires companies to disclose possibly harmful ingredients being used in personal care products.
SCAQMD votes to address pollution problems in South Los Angeles
Los Angeles Times – October 3
The South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Governing Board has voted to add South Los Angeles to a list of areas considered disproportionately affected by pollution and in need of assistance. The board, at a meeting last Friday, also directed the district’s staff to pursue additional funding to help support emission-reduction efforts in the area. The list is mandated by Assembly Bill 617, signed into law by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017, which requires the California Air Resources Board to reduce emissions in communities that have been affected by more than their fair share of poor air quality.