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California Environmental Law & Policy Update
June 2, 2017

Environmental and Policy Focus

Defying Trump, California forms climate alliance with two states

San Francisco Chronicle - Jun 1 Moving quickly to fill a climate leadership vacuum opened by President Trump, the governors of California, New York, and Washington on Thursday announced a new alliance of states dedicated to fighting global warming and urged others to join them. The move came within hours of Trump’s statement that he will pull the United States out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord, casting it as a threat to American jobs. An angry California Gov. Jerry Brown called Trump’s decision “tragic” and “insane,” pointing out that the state’s economic growth has surged even as it boosts its use of renewable power and ratchets down greenhouse-gas emissions.

Bay Area climate change policy moves forward

East Bay Times - May 31 The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) took a big step Wednesday toward becoming the first in America to cap greenhouse gas emissions from oil refineries. BAAQMD agreed to move toward a June 21 vote on a pared down proposal to limit emissions from the Bay Area’s five oil refineries. Top managers at the air district proposed narrowing the refinery rule to impose limits only on greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane linked to global warming. Previously, BAAQMD also had proposed to set refinery-wide caps for other pollutants that contribute to smog and fine soot particles, the latter of which can lead to strokes and premature deaths. But air district staff said Wednesday that capping the soot and smog pollutants could interfere with state and federal permit requirements applying to refineries.

California wheat farmer seeks reprieve from Trump Administration for wetlands violation fine

Sacramento Bee - May 31 John Duarte spent five years fighting the Obama administration’s Justice Department over charges that he violated the federal Clean Water Act by damaging wetlands while planting a wheat crop on his Northern California farm. He lost his case, and faces a $2.8 million penalty. Last week, Republicans who head the House agriculture and judiciary committees asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reconsider the government’s case against Duarte. Duarte’s case began five years ago, when the federal government accused him of illegally tearing through fragile wetlands on his 450-acre Tehama County farm. A judge in Sacramento last summer sided with the government, which pressed for a $2.8 million penalty and an order requiring Duarte to restore the wetlands on his property and elsewhere. Duarte, who owns a Modesto-area nursery business, said the final cost of addressing the violations could exceed $20 million. 

Oakland targeted in bid to cut trash flow into SF Bay

San Francisco Chronicle - May 30 A deluge of trash is flowing through Oakland’s storm drains and depositing so much litter in San Francisco Bay that regulators are threatening to levy fines if the city doesn’t do something to stop the flow. Despite spending millions of dollars over the years on garbage cleanup, Oakland has the Bay Area’s worst record for limiting the rubbish that pollutes creeks, lakes, and the bay, according to the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. The flow of waste violates mandates set by the Board to reduce storm drain litter this year by 70 percent compared with 2009. If the city is still in violation on the July 1 deadline, it could face fines of up to $10,000 per day. The Board's trash-reduction goals were set eight years ago after it required local agencies to measure the garbage flowing from storm drains. 

Hearing on San Onofre nuclear waste disposal is pushed back to August

Los Angeles Times - May 30 The California Coastal Commission has rescheduled its next hearing over the 2015 permit that allows Southern California Edison to bury 3.6 million pounds of spent nuclear fuel from the San Onofre nuclear power plant along the San Diego County coast. The hearing, previously scheduled for the July commission meeting near Monterey, has been pushed back to the August meeting in Malibu so more residents of San Diego and Orange counties will be able to attend. The 2,200-megawatt nuclear power plant, located on the San Diego County coast, was closed in January 2012 after a faulty steam generator leaked a small amount of radiation. The 2015 permit was strongly opposed by environmentalists and others worried about burying nuclear waste on the beach, within 50 miles of where more than 8 million people live. 

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