Los Angeles City Council approves phaseout of oil drilling
ABC News – January 26
The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday directed the city attorney to draft an ordinance to prohibit oil and gas drilling in Los Angeles, to change zoning laws to make drilling illegal, and to study how to legally phase out existing wells. The council also created a jobs program to transition oil and gas workers to other industries. The decision comes after a decade of complaints from residents about various health problems they blame on air pollution from oil well sites. Representatives from oil and gas industry groups oppose these types of measures, saying they would raise gas prices, eliminate jobs and make the region more dependent on foreign oil.
EPA moves to reject industry request to change assessment of health risks posed by ethylene oxide
The Hill – January 26
The EPA on Wednesday proposed rejecting an industry request to change the findings on which it relies regarding the risks posed by ethylene oxide, which is used to make other chemicals and to sterilize medical equipment, and which the agency considers to be cancer-causing. In a new proposal, EPA said that it wants to continue to rely on its 2016 findings regarding the dangers of inhaling the chemical, which underpin its 2020 regulations on the substance. In doing so, EPA is rejecting industry requests to rely instead on an assessment by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that found inhalation of ethylene oxide to be significantly less dangerous than EPA found it to be.
Environmental justice groups sue over incinerator pollution
The San Diego Union-Tribune – January 27
Community groups in New Jersey and California are suing EPA, seeking more stringent emissions standards under the Clean Air Act for trash incinerators — many of them in predominantly minority communities. Amendments to the Clean Air Act in 1990 obligate EPA to set performance standards for large incinerators that burn 250 or more tons of trash per day, and to update those standards every five years, according to one of the lawsuits. The most recent deadline for an update was in 2011, but EPA failed to act, the lawsuit alleges.
Critically needed repairs to Friant-Kern Canal begin
Visalia Times Delta – January 27
After years of planning, critically needed repairs to the sinking Friant-Kern Canal broke ground on Tuesday. The $187 million first phase of the project will restore flows to a 10-mile stretch of the canal in eastern Tulare County. Excessive groundwater pumping during California's droughts has caused the ground beneath the canal to sink more than 13 feet, restricting the waterway's ability to carry water to farms and communities. With looming groundwater management laws that place limits on pumping, surface water that the canal carries from the Sierra Nevada to the Valley floor will become increasingly important.
Federal agencies sued for underestimating risks of oil spills off California coast
Courthouse News Service – January 26
In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday in federal district court in Los Angeles, an environmental group alleges that the recent oil spill near Huntington Beach proves that a 2017 government analysis of the risk to endangered species from oil and gas drilling off the California coast was based on incorrect assumptions about the size of potential spills. The lawsuit asks the court to order the suspension of new oil and gas drilling permits off California's coast until the Department of the Interior and responsible federal agencies have adequately analyzed the risk to various seal, whale, and other threatened and endangered species.
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