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California Environmental Law & Policy Update
March 23, 2018


San Diego regional water board issues tentative order requiring federal agency to investigate cross-border contamination

The San Diego Union-Tribune - Mar 20

The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board agreed to take the first step toward filing a lawsuit against the federal government to stem the cross-border flow of contaminated water from Mexico into the Tijuana River Valley on the U.S. side. Voting in closed session on Monday, board members authorized staff to prepare a 60-day notice of intent to sue the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), a bi-national agency that is charged with resolving water and boundary disputes on the U.S.-Mexico border, for violations of the Clean Water Act. The previous Friday, the Board had issued a tentative investigative order to IBWC calling for preparation of a water and sediment quality monitoring plan.

Climate change lawsuits against oil companies to be heard in state court

Bloomberg - Mar 16

Several California cities and counties seeking to hold Chevron, BP, Exxon, ConocoPhillips, and Shell accountable in court for contributing to climate change will make their case in California state court, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria ruled last Friday. Judge Chhabria’s decision, rendered in cases filed by San Mateo County, Marin County, and the City of Imperial Beach, conflicts with an order issued February 28 by U.S. District Judge William Alsup, from the same district as Judge Chhabria, who determined that cases filed by San Francisco and Oakland would remain in federal court. Similar lawsuits filed by Santa Cruz County and the cities of Santa Cruz and Richmond are also before Judge Chhabria, and could also be remanded back to state court.

Environmental groups sue San Diego County to block carbon credit plan for new development

The San Diego Union-Tribune - Mar 19

Several environmental groups joined the Sierra Club over the weekend in suing San Diego County over its plan to allow developers to offset their area projects' greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing carbon credits associated with projects located anywhere in the world. The Sierra Club argues the County has no way to verify the quality of the credits and that it should require all such offset programs to be located within the County itself. The state’s cap-and-trade program allows businesses to buy credits generated outside of California, but the state independently verifies the quality of the offset projects and limits use to just 8 percent of a regulated company’s total emissions.

Palo Verde Irrigation District drops water lawsuit against MWD

The Desert Sun - Mar 20

The Palo Verde Irrigation District (PVID), which serves the Palo Verde Valley and the agricultural city of Blythe, has dropped a lawsuit filed in 2017 against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) over what the PVID had called a “water grab.” The dispute over Colorado River water began after MWD spent more than $250 million buying parcels of farmland across the Palo Verde Valley, and then renting the land to growers under leases that impose water-saving limits and charge higher rents if farmers fail to reduce water usage. PVID filed a request to dismiss the case last Friday ahead of a meeting with MWD officials scheduled for March 26, at which the issue of control over water use within the PVID service area would reportedly be discussed. MWD and PVID officials are hopeful that dismissal of the suit will lead to more productive conversations between the parties.

Democrats block attempt to expand Shasta Dam

The Sacramento Bee - Mar 19

Democrats in Congress have stalled an attempt to jump start an expansion of Shasta Dam, California’s largest reservoir and a major water source for the Central Valley. Their objections blocked a Republican move to allow the $1.3 billion project to move forward without full up-front funding and despite objections from Governor Jerry Brown’s administration. State law currently bars the dam from being enlarged.

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