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California Environmental Law & Policy Update
April 6, 2018


EPA to roll back car emissions standards, handing automakers a big win

THE WASHINGTON POST - Apr 2 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt announced Monday that he would revoke Obama-era standards requiring cars and light trucks sold in the United States to average more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025, a move that could change the composition of the nation’s auto fleet for years. The push to rewrite the first carbon limits on cars and SUVs, which came out of an agreement among federal officials, automakers, and the state of California, is sure to spark major political and legal battles. California has authority under the Clean Air Act to set its own emissions limits, and it has threatened to sue if its waiver is revoked and it is blocked from imposing stricter targets. Twelve other states, representing more than a third of the country’s auto market, follow California’s standards. The new federal carbon limits, as well as the status of California's waiver, are still being considered by Pruitt.

Department of Justice sues over California land use law

THE NEW YORK TIMES - Apr 2 The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday sued the State of California, Governor Jerry Brown, and the California State Lands Commission, claiming a land use law passed by state lawmakers in 2017 illegally blocks the federal government’s right to buy and sell federal land. The law at issue gives California the right of first refusal in any sale of federal lands in the state, an effort to prevent resource exploitation or development that would hurt the state’s interests. The state would have to raise the funds to buy the property at market value, or find a buyer. In its lawsuit, filed in the federal court for the Eastern District of California, DOJ seeks to have the law declared unconstitutional, alleging that Congress has given federal agencies the power to control the purchase and sale of federal land, including the parties to a transaction, the use of land, and when a sale will occur. According to the lawsuit, the California law has interfered with federal land sales at least four times since it was enacted, including property proposed for private redevelopment and veteran housing.

Metropolitan Water District backs away from plan to finance both delta tunnels

LOS ANGELES TIMES - Apr 2 The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) announced on Monday that it is dropping plans to fund a two-tunnel proposal as part of California’s WaterFix, opting to follow the state’s current plan to pursue a scaled-back one tunnel version instead. In a memo to the agency's board, MWD officials said the decision followed discussions with major agricultural districts that remain unwilling to make any financing commitments for the project, which originally proposed to re-plumb the state's water delivery system by building two tunnels to bypass the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. MWD staff will ask the board to vote next week to increase by $1 billion MWD's original $4.3 billion funding commitment for a reduced-size project. Although MWD has argued that two tunnels would provide more environmental benefits and more flexibility in export operations than one, some water experts have questioned whether a second tunnel is worth the added expense.

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