Court orders Glendale-based Kernen Construction Co. to pay $2M penalty for toxic stormwater runoff
Lost Coast Outpost – May 5
On Sunday, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, ordered Humboldt County-based Kernen Construction Co. to pay more than $2 million in civil penalties for violating the federal Clean Water Act by allowing stormwater laden with pollutants to discharge into Hall Creek, a salmon-bearing tributary of the Mad River. The company admitted liability for contamination of stormwater with pollutants such as lead, copper, aluminum, pentachlorophenol, and zinc due to insufficient stormwater controls. In addition to the civil penalties, the parties now have 30 days to meet and confer to see if they can reach agreement on injunctive relief to address and prevent future violations.
Senator Alex Padilla moves to protect one million acres of California land
The Mercury News – May 4
U.S. Senator Alex Padilla introduced legislation on Monday that would protect and improve access to one million acres of land and 500 miles of rivers across the state. Padilla’s bill would expand the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, established by President Barack Obama in 2014, by 109,143 acres, protect 245,000 acres of wilderness in the Central Coast, and protect about 317,000 acres of public lands as wilderness in Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties.
Poseidon wins key seawater desalination permit
Los Angeles Times – April 29
Poseidon Water won a key approval last Thursday in its long quest to build a seawater desalination plant on the Orange County coastline. But the permit from the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board does not ensure construction of the $1-billion plant on the grounds of an old power plant in Huntington Beach. Poseidon still needs a construction permit from the California Coastal Commission and, most critically, a binding deal with a public agency to buy 50 million gallons a day of purified seawater.
U.S. proposes ending rule that weakened wild bird protections
The San Diego Union-Tribune – May 6
The Department of Interior on Thursday unveiled a proposal to cancel a rule adopted in the final days of the Trump administration that blocked prosecutions of unintentional bird deaths by industry. The Biden administration in March issued a legal opinion citing court rulings that said the 102-year-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act was “unambiguous” that killing protected birds was unlawful ”at any time or in any manner.” Interior officials said they will take public comment through June 7 before making a final decision.
Biden’s plan would boost conservation of U.S. lands and waters
Associated Press – May 6
The Biden administration this Thursday detailed steps to conserve nearly one-third of America’s lands and waters by 2030, relying on voluntary efforts to preserve public, private, and tribal areas while also helping to tackle climate change and create jobs. The plan recommends a series of actions, including expansion of a federal grant program to create local parks, especially in cities and other “nature-deprived communities”; grants for Native American tribes to support tribal conservation priorities; expansion of fish and wildlife habitats and corridors; increased access for outdoor recreation; and creation of a “civilian climate corps” to work on conservation and restoration projects nationwide.
EPA moves to cut a group of powerful greenhouse gases
NPR – May 3
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday announced a new regulation that, beginning in 2022, would dramatically decrease production, import, and use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs—a class of greenhouse gases that are used in refrigerators, air conditioners, and building insulation—over the next 15 years. It marks the first concrete regulatory step the Biden administration has taken to tackle planet-warming emissions since the president announced ambitious goals to cut U.S. emissions by half in the next decade.
$47 million settlement reached in World Logistics Center lawsuit
The Press-Enterprise – April 29
Developer Highland Fairview and a coalition of environmental groups last Thursday signed a $47 million settlement agreement intended to reduce the environmental impact of the proposed 40.6 million-square foot World Logistics Center warehouse complex in Moreno Valley. The project, comparable in size to 700 football fields and likely to be one of the world’s largest logistics centers, has been the subject of legal challenges for over five years. The settlement requires Highland Fairview to invest up to $12.1 million in electric vehicles, use solar electricity to generate at least 50% of each warehouse’s demand, create electric vehicle charging infrastructure, electrify the complex, and take measures to reduce the center’s impacts on air quality, local wildlife, and area residents.