State Water Project will deliver no water to most communities next year
The Mercury News – December 1
In a stark indicator of California’s worsening drought, Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration announced this Wednesday that cities and farms should expect to receive virtually no water next year from the State Water Project, a massive system of dams, pipes, and canals that typically provides water to 27 million people from Silicon Valley to San Diego. The unprecedented announcement — with only small amounts of emergency supplies possible for some urban areas — means that unless this winter brings significant rainfall, more stringent conservation measures are likely in San Jose, parts of the East Bay, and other communities across the state in 2022. In normal times, the State Water Project supplies drinking water to two out of three Californians — and irrigates about 750,000 acres of farmland.
Biden administration proposes oil and gas drilling reform but stops short of ban
CNBC – November 26
The Biden administration last Friday proposed reforms to the country’s oil and gas leasing program that would raise costs for energy companies to drill on public lands and water, but stopped short of recommending an end to oil-and-gas leasing on public lands. The long-anticipated report, published by the Interior Department, recommended increasing royalty rates and rents for drillers, prioritizing leasing in areas with known resource potential, and avoiding leasing in areas that can be developed to protect wildlife habitat, recreation, and cultural resources. Drilling on public lands generates billions of dollars in revenue but contributes to roughly a quarter of the country’s planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.
Port of San Diego suspends in-water hull cleaning of boats with copper-based paint starting in December
The Log – November 30
The Port of San Diego (Port) is suspending the in-water hull cleaning of boats with copper-based paint in the Shelter Island Yacht Basin from Dec. 19 to Feb. 9, 2022. The suspension will allow the Port to conduct frequent inspections and weekly testing of copper levels in the water. The pause, implemented in partnership with the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, is part of the Port’s Copper Reduction Program, which aims to reduce copper pollution in the basin by 76 percent by Dec. 1, 2022, in compliance with federal and state standards.
Citing climate risks, California frequently denies fracking permit applications
San Francisco Chronicle – November 23
Governor Newsom pledged that the state would stop issuing new permits for fracking by 2024, but California has already begun to ban the oil extraction method in practice by frequent denials of fracking permit applications. Since July, the state has denied 109 permits to expand fracking. Many were rejected, in part, under a legal rationale the state has not used before: that fracking could exacerbate the effects of climate change. The rejections have drawn two lawsuits from opponents who say the Newsom administration has unlawfully imposed a de facto ban on fracking that makes the state more reliant on imported oil.
More than 400 toxic sites in California are at risk of flooding from sea level rise
Los Angeles Times – November 30
The results of a three-year study, dubbed Toxic Tides, released on Tuesday, present the first systematic look at the environmental justice ramifications of the effect of sea level rise on hazardous sites along the California coast. According to a new statewide mapping project led by environmental health professors at UC Berkeley and UCLA, the ocean could inundate more than 400 hazardous facilities by the end of the century due to sea level rise. Predominantly minority working class communities are five times more likely than the general population to live within half a mile of a toxic site that could flood by 2050, according to the study.