Environmental and Policy Focus

Federal Appeals Court rejects challenge to new highway linking LA and Long Beach

Courthouse News Service - Oct 31

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court ruling rejecting a challenge by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) of the proposed State Route 47 Expressway connecting Los Angeles and Long Beach. NRDC had claimed that the air quality analysis conducted by state and federal transportation agencies was inadequate with respect to localized impacts in cities like Wilmington of particulate matter pollution generated by the new road. The district court rejected the argument on summary judgment in 2012, and a unanimous three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit affirmed that ruling, holding that the “hot-spot” analysis was not required and that the transportation agencies had taken the required “hard look” at the project’s impacts and at the project’s alternatives.

State Supreme Court rejects opponents’ appeal of Treasure Island environmental review

SFGate.com - Oct 31

A $1.5 billion residential and commercial development on San Francisco’s Treasure Island moved closer to construction Wednesday when the state Supreme Court turned aside an appeal of the city’s environmental review of the project. City supervisors approved plans for the former Navy base and adjoining Yerba Buena Island in 2011. The project, scheduled to take 15 to 20 years, includes up to 8,000 homes, 25 percent of them classified as below-market affordable housing, along with commercial and office buildings, 500 hotel rooms, a ferry terminal, and 300 acres of parks, playgrounds, and open space.

Farmers sue state over drought water decisions

Fresno Bee - Oct 28

East San Joaquin Valley growers, represented by the Friant Water Authority, are suing state water authorities over drought decisions, claiming east-side communities and farms received no federal water after the state improperly denied deliveries to a separate group of landowners with senior water rights. The case was filed Friday in Fresno County Superior Court against the State Water Resources Control Board, which issued emergency orders this year to divide California’s drought-strained water supply. The Water Authority represents some 15,000 growers who buy water from Millerton Lake and irrigate 1 million acres from Chowchilla to Bakersfield.