Environmental and Policy Focus

Obama to designate portion of San Gabriel Mountains a national monument

Los Angeles Times - Oct 8

President Obama plans to announce Friday that he will set aside roughly half of the San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument, bringing stronger federal protections to the range to shield it from crowding and pollution. Obama will designate about 350,000 acres of public land in the Angeles National Forest as the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, officials said. To address fierce opposition from San Bernardino County officials and other critics, the new monument is expected to exclude portions of the range extending into the western reaches of the county, including the mountain communities of Wrightwood and Mt. Baldy. Some fear the new status will hamper growth and fire safety.

Court upholds water releases for salmon on north state rivers

KQED - Oct 2

A federal judge in Fresno has ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation did not violate the law when it made special reservoir releases last year to help salmon in Northern California’s Klamath River survive the drought rather than save the water for farms. But U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill wrote in his ruling that the next time the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation wants to release Trinity Lake water for Klamath River salmon, it needs to cite better legal authority because the 1955 law it relied upon applies only to the Trinity River, and not to the Klamath River downstream. The Westlands Water District and the San Louis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority in the San Joaquin Valley had sued the bureau to stop the releases, arguing the water should have been saved for farms facing the drought.

EPA sends California $183 million for additional water infrastructure repairs

EPA - Oct 2

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld announced more than $183 million in funding to invest in California for statewide improvements in local water infrastructure and the reduction of water pollution. The funding will be used for water quality projects that will reduce water pollution, improve municipal drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, make water and energy projects more efficient, and provide technical assistance to communities.

Railroads sue California over new crude oil safety requirements

News10.net - Oct 8

The major railroads operating in California are suing the state to block implementation of new regulations imposed on crude oil transportation by rail. Union Pacific Railroad, BNSF Railway Company, and the Association of American Railroads claim the new state law expanding the scope of state Office of Spill Prevention and Response is preempted by federal law. Senate Bill 861, which took effect July 1, imposes a 6.5 cent fee on every barrel of oil entering California to fund the new oil spill protections. Previously, the fee was only charged on oil arriving by sea. The railroads' lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Sacramento Federal Court, claims the federal government already prescribes elaborate safety standards governing rail car design and operation, capacity and type of crude being transported.