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California Environmental Law & Policy Update
November 2, 2018
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Automakers fight Trump administration’s auto emissions rollback proposal

THE HILL - Oct 29 Major automakers are pushing the Trump administration to abandon its plan – dubbed the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule – to roll back fuel efficiency standards for cars set by the Obama administration. General Motors Co., Toyota Motor North America, Ford Motor Co., and American Honda Motor Co. have all filed comment letters with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation expressing varying levels of opposition to the plan, citing its potential to create litigation and regulatory uncertainty, stall long-term strategic industry planning, exacerbate climate-related environmental impacts, and slow industry readiness for a widely acknowledged transition to vehicle electrification. The comment letters state that automakers want rules that cover cars made through 2026 to increase in stringency, but they want the agencies to take into account factors like low gasoline prices and consumers’ fears of electric vehicles when formulating them. A coalition of 20 states and six cities, led by California, said the SAFE proposal is “unlawful in multiple respects,” while adding that it does not meet required legal standards.


In opposition to local utility and Trump administration, SF Supervisors back state plan to revive Delta

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE - Oct 30 The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s resolution pledging the city’s support for the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) proposal to revive California’s San Joaquin River system, including the languishing Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. This resolution puts the Board in opposition to the city’s water department, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), which opposes the plan in a bid to protect its stake on the Tuolumne River and prevent potential water shortages, aligning it with Central Valley agricultural suppliers and their allies in the Trump administration. The unlikely alliance has created a powerful bloc that has so far succeeded in sidelining the state’s restoration effort. The mostly symbolic resolution stops short of telling the quasi-independent SFPUC what to do, but it sends a signal to the agency about where the supervisors stand and that more severe action could follow. The SWRCB is slated to vote on the proposal next Wednesday.

Two lawsuits filed to challenge Newland Sierra project approvals

SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE - Oct 29 Two lawsuits were filed in San Diego County Superior Court last week to challenge the San Diego County Board of Supervisors’ 4-0 approval of the Newland Sierra housing development. Both lawsuits allege the nearly 2,000-acre site of the proposed 2,135-home development, roughly five miles northwest of downtown Escondido, is crucial for the migration of wildlife and is located in a high-risk fire area. The plaintiffs in the respective suits are the Center for Biological Diversity and the Endangered Habitats League, and a coalition of local businesses, conservation groups, and 25 individual community members. Meanwhile, the County Registrar of Voters is still verifying more than 117,000 signatures on petitions calling for a countywide vote in 2020 on an initiative to overturn the supervisors’ approval of the project.

U.S. Supreme Court upholds protections for sea otters along California coast

KEYT - Oct 30 The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied commercial fishing organizations’ petition to restore the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “no-otter zone” in Southern California, a victory for threatened sea otters along the California coast. Congress established the “no-otter zone” in 1986 as part of a plan to relocate sea otters to San Nicolas Island to establish a thriving otter population there and to satisfy the fishing industry's complaints that otters interfered with their fishing activities. Under the “no-otter zone” policy otters were excluded from an area extending from Point Conception in Santa Barbara County to the Mexican border. At the time, the agency suggested the relocation program would help protect the threatened species, but many of the relocated otters died as the result of being captured or transported

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