California Environmental Law & Policy Update - February 2015

Allen Matkins

Environmental and Policy Focus

High-speed rail project runs afoul of kit fox conservation requirements

Fresno Bee - Feb 2

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared the California High-Speed Rail Authority and Federal Railroad Administration to be out of compliance with their environmental commitments for construction of the bullet-train line in the Fresno-Madera area after a contractor’s preliminary work infringed on habitat for the endangered San Joaquin kit fox. In a January 26 letter to the rail authority and the Federal Railroad Administration, Fish and Wildlife deputy assistant field administrator Dan Russell chastised the rail agencies for work done by prime contractor Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons on two pieces of property that were considered kit fox habitat before getting proper authorization from wildlife officials. The San Joaquin kit fox, the smallest species of fox in North America, has been on the federal endangered species list since 1967.

State's toxic releases post 50 percent gain, EPA says

Los Angeles Times - Jan 30

The amount of toxic chemicals released in California jumped 5 percent in 2013 over the year before because of a surge in disposal by a hazardous-waste landfill in Kern County, according to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Clean Harbors Inc.'s Buttonwillow landfill reported disposing of more than 11 million pounds of copper and related compounds in 2013, a more than six-fold increase over the previous year. The numbers were made public this month in a U.S. EPA database called the Toxics Release Inventory, which tracks large industrial facilities' emissions of chemicals that pose a risk to human health and the environment. Although the company acknowledged that it was largely responsible for the increase, it further noted that its "receipt of this waste was into a properly secured and regulated landfill."

Californians are using less water, but more restrictions still likely

KQED - Feb 3

December’s rains enabled Californians to finally meet Governor Jerry Brown’s call for a 20 percent reduction in monthly water consumption, but more restrictions loom as the state adapts to long-term drought conditions. California is by no means out of trouble, despite a survey released Tuesday that showed an unusually rainy month helped residents cut water use by 22 percent statewide from December 2013 levels. Per capita water use has been cut in half in the last six months. San Francisco ranked near the lowest usage rates among California cities in December, at 40 gallons per person per day.

Air quality monitored at San Ysidro border crossing

San Diego Union-Tribune - Feb 3

On a rooftop overlooking the nation’s busiest border crossing, environmental authorities are making their first effort at measuring the effect of some 50,000 daily vehicle crossings on the region’s air quality. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District have unveiled a monitor at the San Ysidro Port of Entry that offers real-time readings of the level of fine particulate matter that can enter the lungs and pose a hazard to human health. The EPA has provided $110,000 in funding to the air pollution control district for a two-year monitoring project. So far, the results have shown no appreciable difference in air quality at the border compared with other parts of San Diego County.

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Allen Matkins

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