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California Environmental Law & Policy Update
June 23, 2017

Environmental and Policy Focus

EPA to reduce staffing by more than 1,200 this summer

Washington Post - Jun 20 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans on shedding more than 1,200 employees by early September through up to $12 million in buyouts and early retirements, as part of a broader push by the Trump administration to shrink a government entity the president once promised to eliminate “in almost every form.” The departures would amount to about 8 percent of the current 15,000-person workforce of the EPA, where a hiring freeze also remains in effect. The agency’s buyout plans will need approval of the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget, which Trump administration officials hope to receive later this month.

Vote on precedent-setting cap on oil refinery emissions delayed

East Bay Times - Jun 21 The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) board on Wednesday postponed adopting limits on emissions of greenhouses gases from oil refineries—a first of its kind in the nation—in response to complaints from both environmental groups and oil company workers that the public was not given enough time to review last-minute changes. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra also weighed in to support the requested postponement. The board agreed to wait at least two months before adopting the proposed emissions cap.

Orange County water agency asks Governor Brown to prioritize water pollution cleanup

Orange County Register - Jun 16 Orange County Water District (OCWD) officials this week urged California Governor Jerry Brown to place a five-mile plume of contamination underlying the cities of Fullerton, Anaheim and Placentia on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Priority List in order to make it a federal “Superfund” site. Such listing would then require those companies responsible for the contamination to fund its cleanup under the EPA’s supervision, according to a letter sent to Brown from the regional office of the EPA, with costs not covered by those parties to partially be paid for by the state. Manufacturing businesses in Fullerton and Anaheim once dumped industrial solvents known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), into the ground. Over decades, the VOCs have leached toward the underground aquifer that supplies northern parts of Orange County with about 75 percent of its drinking water. So far, the state has pledged $1 million toward conducting a study on the cleanup.

House Bill aims to streamline process for dam and reservoir construction

McClatchy - Jun 20 The House on Thursday passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., that aims to help California capture and save water during wet years for use in future dry seasons. The bill provides for streamlining the process for building dams and reservoirs by having the federal Bureau of Reclamation serve as a “one stop shop,” coordinating between federal agencies that oversee water storage projects to speed up the process. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., is pushing a similar bill in the Senate.

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