Citing severe drought conditions, the California State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday sent notices to approximately 4,300 water users in the agriculture-rich Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta urging them to preserve dwindling supplies by reducing their water usage. The Board also said that about 2,300 senior rights holders may see severe restrictions as the summer progresses. Although farmers’ water rights will not immediately be terminated, access to water diversions from the State Water Project, managed by California, and the Central Valley Project, managed by the federal government, will be curtailed. With a number of lakes and reservoirs below 50% of average capacity, California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of drought emergency in 41 of 58 counties, including the entire delta region.
In a comment letter submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday, the attorneys general of California and nearly a dozen other states warn that the SEC's current climate disclosure rules are inadequate given the gravity of the climate crisis and the transparency investors crave. The California-led coalition argues that mandatory climate disclosures are "essential" not only to the SEC's mandate to protect investors, but also to "ensure efficient capital formation and allocation." The pressure from states came ahead of Tuesday's deadline set by the SEC for the public to weigh in on the agency's climate change disclosure rules.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Thursday approved the transfer of the license for the Lower Klamath Hydroelectric Project from PacifiCorp to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation and the states of Oregon and California, as co-licensees. The transfer brings North Coast tribes one step closer to their decades-long goal of dam removal to restore struggling salmon runs. Removal of PacifiCorp’s four dams will open 420 miles of salmon spawning habitat, improve water quality, and reduce critical temperature conditions that cause and increase disease in fish.
In a one-line order on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court took a step toward allowing San Francisco and Oakland to sue five major oil companies in state court for their role in emissions that increase global warming. The Court declined review of a U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in 2020 that the cities’ public nuisance claim was unrelated to federal air pollution laws and could be pursued in state court. The oil companies will have another chance, however, to try to remove the cases to federal court a second time if another legal basis is established to maintain federal jurisdiction. The two cities allege that the companies profited from products they knew were causing dangerous rises in temperatures and sea levels, forcing higher government expenditures on sea walls and other protections.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday announced that it will begin a status review of the Santa Ana speckled dace, a tiny fish native to Southern California, along with the Temblor legless lizard, in response to a petition filed last year by the Center for Biological Diversity. According to the Center, dams, water diversions and urbanization have eliminated Santa Ana speckled dace from three-quarters of their former stream habitats. Most of the lizard’s habitat is privately owned and highly developed for oil and gas drilling that threatens it through habitat destruction.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff on Wednesday issued a tentative decision rejecting a lawsuit by the Samuel Lawrence Foundation alleging that the California Coastal Commission abused its discretion when it issued a permit allowing Southern California Edison to dismantle buildings and other infrastructure—including a pair of spent fuel pools—at the now-shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. The court has 60 to 90 days to issue a final ruling.