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California Environmental Law & Policy Update
March 16, 2018
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EPA’s Pruitt says California cannot dictate nation’s auto emissions standards

THE WASHINGTON POST - Mar 13 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt said in an interview Tuesday with Bloomberg TV that EPA is not planning to set stricter fuel economy standards beyond 2025 and questioned whether states such as California—which has a waiver under the 1970 Clean Air Act giving it authority to set its own auto emissions standards—should be able to enact its own tougher emissions rules. In 2012, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration adopted rules applicable nationwide that require cars and light trucks to average 54.5 miles per gallon overall by 2025. President Donald Trump and Pruitt announced last year that they would revisit the emission standards for model years 2022 to 2025, and the EPA must announce by April 1 whether those limits can be attained or should be changed. Officials with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which is crafting its own vehicle emissions standards through model year 2030, have suggested they might be open to relaxing CARB’s 2025 standards in exchange for an agreement by the federal government to establish national emissions limits that extend to 2030. In his interview Tuesday, Pruitt indicated he had no interest in such a deal.


Federal court orders EPA to implement federal smog rules

REUTERS - Mar 12 The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Monday ordered the U.S. EPA to implement the 2015 Ozone Standards, which are intended to reduce smog. The order was the agency's latest setback in its effort to relax environmental protection, this time under the Clean Air Act. The court ruled that the EPA “has failed to perform a non-discretionary duty” to designate areas of the country that do not meet the standards set for levels of ozone, the main component in smog. Under the court order, EPA must now designate those areas by April 30.

Trump administration pursues Shasta Dam project over state objections

LOS ANGELES TIMES - Mar 15 The Trump administration is pushing forward with its plans to increase the height of Northern California’s towering Shasta Dam by the equivalent of nearly two stories, despite a state law that prohibits the 602-foot New Deal-era structure from getting any taller. To ease the project's path, senior Republican members of Congress, led by U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, are maneuvering to add an amendment into a must-pass budget bill this month without hearings or other public scrutiny. The amendment would ensure that Westlands Water District, which would be one of the biggest beneficiaries of a taller dam, would not be required to help pay for it. The sudden momentum behind raising the height of the dam—a plan the federal government only a few years ago put on the shelf amid concerns it was incompatible with state environmental laws—threatens to trigger a constitutional conflict that tests the state's authority over design and construction of projects on federal land within its borders.

Wildlife corridor at Orange County Great Park in Irvine unveiled, expected to fill missing link between mountains and coast

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER - Mar 13 A developing 2.5-mile long wildlife corridor at the eastern end of the Orange County Great Park that will give bobcats, coyotes, California gnatcatchers, and other wildlife species a way to move safely between the Santa Ana Mountains and the coast was unveiled on Tuesday. The $13 million wildlife corridor is part of 713 acres of the Great Park that developer FivePoint is building for the city, in exchange for the right to build thousands of homes around the park. The project will provide the missing link of a 6-mile wildlife pathway extending from the Cleveland National Forest to the Laguna Canyon area through freeways and developments.

New fees proposed to pay for California's contaminated water problem

SACRAMENTO BEE - Mar 14 The funds collected would pay for short- and long-term improvements to water infrastructure and help to address contaminated drinking water systems—including the 331 public water systems in violation of federal maximum contaminant standards—that affect primarily rural, low-income regions. Public water agencies urge the use of bonds and federal funding instead of the proposed fees, which would be collected by the State Water Resources Control Board from residents and businesses that use public water systems.

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