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California Environmental Law & Policy Update
May 26, 2017

Environmental and Policy Focus

White House proposes cutting EPA budget by over 30 percent

Washington Post - May 23 Under the White House’s latest budget proposal, released Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would fare worse than any other federal agency. The proposal would reduce the agency’s current funding by more than 31 percent, to $5.65 billion. The plan would eliminate several major regional programs, including ones aimed at restoring the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, and Puget Sound, as well as EPA’s lead risk-reduction program. The White House also proposes nearly halving categorical grants, which support state and local efforts to address everything from pesticide exposure to air and water quality, to $597 million. It would slash funding for the Superfund cleanup program, which helps restore some of the nation’s most polluted sites, despite the fact that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt lists it as one of his priorities. A deal reached recently by lawmakers to fund the government through September left the EPA largely untouched, reducing its budget $81 million below the current operating level — about a 1 percent cut.

Fighting Trump on climate, California becomes a global force

New York TimesWashington Post - May 23 As President Trump moves to reverse the Obama administration’s policies on climate change, California is pushing back on everything from White House efforts to roll back pollution rules on tailpipes and smokestacks, to plans to withdraw or weaken the United States’ commitments under the Paris climate change accord, an international compact to reduce greenhouse pollution. California has tried to forge its own international climate pacts, which has set the stage for a confrontation between California—the world’s sixth-largest economy—and the Trump administration. A critical question that could thwart the state’s efforts to aggressively address climate change is whether the EPA will revoke the waiver granted by President Nixon that permits California to set fuel economy standards exceeding federal requirements.

House approves bill seeking to reverse EPA pesticide rule

ABC News - May 24

The House on Wednesday passed the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017, a Republican-backed measure reversing an EPA requirement that those spraying pesticides on or near rivers and lakes obtain a permit. EPA already regulates pesticide safety under a different statutory scheme that gives the agency authority to place restrictions on when and where spraying can occur. The current EPA rule was put in place after a lawsuit was filed by environmentalists and commercial fishermen, who claimed the agency was failing to adequately prevent pesticide contamination in protected waters, and was upheld by a federal appeals court in 2009. The bill now heads to the GOP-dominated Senate, where a similar version previously failed to pass under threat of a veto by then-President Barack Obama.

California proposes stricter rules after natural gas blowout

U.S. News & World Report - May 19 The California Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources proposed stiff new regulations last Friday for underground gas natural storage facilities. The rules follow the massive, four-month long Southern California Gas Co. leak at Aliso Canyon that was capped early last year and drove 8,000 families from their Los Angeles-area homes. The proposed regulations are intended to prevent future leaks and would set standards for stronger well construction, daily testing for leaks, and more rigorous inspections of well integrity. The regulations would overlap with some of the stiffer requirements already put in place at Aliso Canyon, where 45 of the 114 wells have now passed rigorous tests and the remaining wells are out of operation.

City settles lawsuits challenging modernization projects at Los Angeles International Airport

Los Angeles Times - May 24 The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday agreed to settle lawsuits brought by Culver City and Inglewood that alleged the potential environmental impacts of the $14-billion modernization projects at Los Angeles International Airport were not properly evaluated. Officials said the settlements smooth the way for construction of ground transportation improvements, including a people mover in the central terminal area, a transportation center, a consolidated car rental facility, and upgraded roads. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Culver City and Inglewood will participate in planning future development at LAX and will receive funds from Los Angeles World Airports to implement transportation projects.

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