Environmental and Policy Focus

Coastal California residents using far less water

Associated Press - Nov 4

Residents in coastal communities use far less water than their inland counterparts, but still find ways to cut back even more, residential per-capita water use figures released for the first time Tuesday show. The State Water Resources Control Board is collecting per-capita data to better target conservation efforts as farms go fallow and reservoirs dry up. Governor Jerry Brown called on Californians to reduce water use by 20 percent when he declared a drought emergency in January. Regional water use ranges from 84 gallons per-person, per-day in the San Francisco Bay Area to 252 in the Colorado River basin, which includes San Bernardino and Riverside. The figures exclude industrial, agricultural, and business water users.

U.S. reaches settlement with Hyundai and Kia in historic greenhouse gas enforcement case

EPA - Nov 3

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a historic settlement with the automakers Hyundai and Kia that will resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations based on their sale of close to 1.2 million vehicles that will emit approximately 4.75 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in excess of what the automakers certified to EPA. The automakers will pay a $100 million civil penalty, the largest in Clean Air Act history, to resolve violations concerning the testing and certification of vehicles sold in America and will spend approximately $50 million on measures to prevent any future violations. Hyundai and Kia will also forfeit a combined 4.75 million greenhouse gas emission credits that the companies previously claimed, which are estimated to be worth over $200 million.

Groups sue EPA over smog in air basin

KPCC - Nov 3

Persistent high levels of ozone in Southern California led four health and environmental groups to file a lawsuit on Friday against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to take stronger steps to reduce the pollution. Adrian Martinez, a staff attorney for Earthjustice, which is representing three of the plaintiffs, said that the EPA failed to protect local residents in September when it approved a smog reduction plan submitted by the South Coast Air Quality Management District. At the heart of the lawsuit is a perceived loophole in the Clean Air Act that allows for areas considered to be in extreme non-attainment with acceptable pollution levels to credit untapped new technology with future reductions. Martinez said that consideration allows too much leeway when it comes to actual planning.

Sacramento arena opponents file another court appeal

Sacramento Bee - Nov 4

The ground has been broken, but opponents of the new Sacramento Kings arena nonetheless filed a new court appeal Tuesday in what has been a fruitless effort so far to stop the $477 million project. The plaintiffs, who claim that the city’s approval process violated the California Environmental Quality Act, filed notice of appeal on Tuesday in an effort to overturn an October 17 decision by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley. Besides seeking to overturn Frawley’s decision from last month, they had earlier appealed his ruling in July that denied them an injunction that would have prevented construction from getting underway. If that timetable slips by more than a year, and the building isn’t open by 2017, the NBA has the option to buy the Kings and move them out of town.

Appellate court rejects San Diego County’s climate plan

San Diego Union-Tribune - Oct 29

An appellate court has ruled that San Diego County’s climate action plan intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is insufficient. The decision by a panel of California’s 4th District Court of Appeal upholds a San Diego County judge’s decision in a suit brought by the Sierra Club, which argues the plan lacks the necessary specifics and enforcement mechanism to achieve the goals. The county adopted the climate action plan as part of its 2011 General Plan update that guides land use throughout the unincorporated area. The appellate court ruled that the plan does not fulfill the county’s commitment under the California Environmental Quality Act by specifically lacking detailed deadlines and measures to ensure emissions are reduced.