Environmental and Policy Focus

California lawmakers introduce sweeping new measures to increase renewable energy, cut fossil fuel use

San Jose Mercury News - Feb 10

Last Tuesday, California lawmakers unveiled a sweeping set of bills intended to implement an aggressive package of greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets proposed by Governor Jerry Brown in his January State-of-the-State address. If enacted, the legislation would in the decades ahead trigger fundamental shifts in the kind of cars Californians drive and the way they power their homes and businesses. The bills would beef up the state's investments in clean energy, increase building efficiency standards, and cut gasoline use in half by requiring cars and trucks to meet tougher emissions and gas mileage standards.

California water officials eye new restrictions in drought

The Fresno Bee - Feb 17

As the California drought drags on, water officials are considering expanding mandatory outdoor water restrictions on homeowners and adding new limits on water use in restaurants, hotels, and decorative fountains. At an informational meeting Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board also appeared ready to extend existing rules imposed last summer to boost water supplies. That would mean Californians still wouldn’t be able to wash cars with hoses that don't shut off, and must limit watering their lawns. The emergency regulations also authorized agencies to fine water wasters up to $500 a day, though such stringent enforcement has been rare.

Disney settles long-running allegations of Clean Water Act violations

The Hollywood Reporter - Feb 12

The Walt Disney Company has agreed to a settlement to end a six-year-old lawsuit over water pollutant discharges at its motion picture studio lot in Burbank, California. In the original 2009 lawsuit filed by Environmental World Watch and local residents, Disney was alleged to have discharged pollutants in its wastewater near its Burbank studios. Later, the plaintiffs shifted to allegations that Disney violated the Clean Water Act by not having a permit for the discharge of landscape irrigation runoff and fire-line flushing. In the settlement, Disney admitted no liability and is not required to obtain a permit, but it agreed to install drop-inlet filters in six to eight catch basins to capture the water runoff from parking lots and roads at its movie studio lot.

Environmental group sues U.S. Fish & Wildlife over delayed consultation regarding pesticides

Courthouse News Service - Feb 17

The Center for Biological Diversity alleged in a new lawsuit that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to complete interagency consultation on the effects of three pesticides, atrazine, alachlor, and 2,4-D, on the Delta smelt and the Alameda whipsnake, two endangered species in the California Bay Delta. In February 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requested a formal consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service on the pesticides' likely harmful effects on the species. Such consultations are required by Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. Nearly six years later, Fish and Wildlife has still not completed the consultation, according to the lawsuit.

U.S. EPA chief hints at easing interim deadlines for power plant greenhouse gas reductions

Reuters - Feb 17

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said on Tuesday that the agency might ease an interim deadline for states to meet tougher carbon emission standards for existing power plants after state regulators and electric utilities complained that meeting the deadlines could destabilize electricity supplies. Ms. McCarthy told an audience of state utility regulators meeting in Washington that she was giving them a "big hint" the agency may loosen the interim targets, under which each state would need to show an assigned average emission reduction between 2020 and 2029. The proposed rule, due to be finalized by mid-summer, is a centerpiece of the Obama administration's climate change strategy.

Lead fuel warning signs to go up at Napa airport

Napa Valley Register - Feb 17

Signs warning of potential air pollution dangers of leaded fuel fumes from small airplanes will go up at Napa County Airport and 22 other California airports. The move comes about because of a recent lawsuit settlement among the Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health and 30 defendants that sell or distribute fuel at airports.