The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday released a memorandom stating that it will not pursue civil enforcement actions in Clean Water Act matters where states have already taken action seeking penalties under analogous state laws based upon the same “operative facts.” According to the memo, DOJ is taking this approach to avoid “piling on” and to ensure that federalism and due process are respected. The policy does not apply to criminal cases.
Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday released a final version of the Water Resilience Portfolio, a 141-page blueprint to help the state protect its water supply from the impacts of climate change. The portfolio, first released in draft in January, was revised to respond to comments from 200 organizations, and offers ways to improve physical infrastructure and water transfers, settle disputes between environmentalists and farmers, implement new recycling programs, improve soil health, expand wetlands and restore water and air quality near the Salton Sea. The blueprint advances support for the controversial $17 billion plan to tunnel underneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and directs state agencies to “accelerate” permitting for Sites Reservoir, a multibillion-dollar massive new dam.
Two coalitions of environmental groups filed lawsuits in federal courts this Wednesday—one coalition suing the Council of Environmental Quality in Virginia, and another coalition filing suit in California—over the Trump administration’s rollback of federal environmental review regulations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The administration finalized the changes earlier this month, seeking to speed up the permitting process for oil and gas development, road building, mining, and other infrastructure projects. The changes include limiting when environmental review under NEPA is mandated and capping how long federal agencies and the public have to evaluate and comment on any environmental impact of a project. The lawsuits are the first of several expected to challenge the administration’s NEPA regulations.
Colorado-based Crimson Pipeline LLC has agreed to pay $1.3 million in a settlement over a 2016 crude oil spill in Ventura County, according to a press release issued this week by the Ventura County District Attorney. The contractor who worked on the pipeline before the spill, CD Lyon, will pay an additional $300,000. According to the District Attorney, flanges were not properly tightened following a valve replacement operation, leading to the release of more than 44,000 gallons of crude oil. The leak was stopped before it reached the ocean, after a resident reported oil in his backyard to authorities. Crimson has more legal proceedings ahead, including a pending lawsuit filed in 2018 by homeowners affected by the spill.
In a settlement with the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Board), Monterey Mushrooms, Inc. has agreed to pay almost $1.2 million for unauthorized wastewater discharges to Elkhorn Slough tributaries. According to a press release issued by the Board, Monterey Mushrooms was found to have discharged a combined total of about 4.6 million gallons of process wastewater and/or polluted stormwater from two mushroom-growing facilities into the tributaries between January and April 2017. The wastewater contained ammonia, excessive nutrients, and suspended and floating material, which can harm water quality and aquatic habitat.