California Environmental Law & Policy Update - July 2022

Allen Matkins


Supreme Court restricts EPA's authority to mandate carbon emissions reductions

Bullet Associated Press - June 30

In a blow to the fight against climate change, the Supreme Court on Thursday limited the extent of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, a major contributor to global warming. In his majority opinion in the case, West Virginia v. EPA, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that, "A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body," which it found lacking as to the power plant greenhouse gases regulation. The court's ruling, based upon the "major questions doctrine," will also impact the federal government's authority to regulate in other areas of climate policy, and potentially other areas where there has not been explicit congressional delegation of authority, including internet and worker safety regulation.


Huge reservoir near Bay Area could be expanded to store more water

Bullet The Mercury News – June 27

A major new construction project started at San Luis Reservoir last Friday — a $1.1 billion plan by the federal government to strengthen the huge earthen dam located between Gilroy and Los Banos and raise it 10 feet to reduce the risk of it collapsing in a major earthquake. But more than earthquake safety work is afoot. Water officials in increasingly drought-plagued California have been hoping another project can be attached to the seismic upgrade — an effort to build the 382-foot-high dam even higher to expand the size of the reservoir. Raising the dam by 20 feet rather than 10 feet would cost another $1 billion, but it also would create 130,000 acre-feet of new storage, enough water to supply the needs of at least 650,000 people for a year. The massive lake irrigates farmland across the Central Valley and also provides drinking water for Silicon Valley.

Wealth tax to fund clean air and wildfire programs qualifies for California’s November ballot

Bullet Fort Bragg Advocate-News – June 29

A plan to raise income taxes on some of California's wealthiest residents — individuals and couples making more than $2 million a year — and use the money to pay for increased electric vehicle rebates, more electric charging stations, expanded wildfire fighting resources, and other clean air programs has qualified for the November statewide ballot. The "Clean Cars and Clean Air Act," if approved by a majority of voters this fall, would generate $3 billion to $4.5 billion annually, according to the state Legislative Analyst's Office.

California may rely on carbon capture to meet 2045 net-zero goal

Bullet E&E News – June 30

California must capture carbon from factory smokestacks and directly from the air to achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2045, according to a draft plan from the California Air Resources Board. The plan estimates that about one-third of the needed emissions reductions in 2045 would come from greenhouse gas removal techniques. Concerns remain about the feasibility of carbon capture and whether it harms lower-income neighborhoods. The board directed staff to add to the plan more specifics on carbon capture before the board votes on a final plan later this year.

Newsom signs nation’s most sweeping law to phase out single-use plastics and packaging waste

Bullet Los Angeles Times – June 30

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Thursday the nation's most far-reaching restrictions on single-use plastics and packaging. The legislation heads off a November ballot measure that many lawmakers and the plastics industry hoped to avoid, and it puts California at the forefront of national efforts to eliminate polystyrene and other plastics that litter the environment, degrade into toxic particles, and increasingly inhabit human blood, tissue, and organs. The bill requires that by Jan. 1, 2028, at least 30% of plastic items sold, distributed, or imported into the state be recyclable. By 2032, that number rises to 65%. It also calls for a 25% reduction in single-use plastic waste by 2032.

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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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