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California Environmental Law & Policy Update
December 7, 2018


U.S. to ease oil drilling controls protecting imperiled bird

ASSOCIATED PRESS - Dec 6 Land management documents released by the U.S. Interior Department show the Trump administration intends to open federally-owned lands in Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, California, Idaho, and Oregon to leasing and allow waivers that would permit oil drilling that encroaches into the habitat of the greater sage grouse. The new plans remove the most protective habitat designations for about 13,000 square miles of public land. The Trump administration also proposes to eliminate some requirements that prioritize leasing for oil and gas production outside sage grouse habitat. Critics warned the changes could wipe out grouse colonies.

Delta water deal backed by Senator Feinstein, Governor Brown, and Rep. McCarthy

SACRAMENTO BEE - Nov 30 Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, the House majority leader, with the endorsement of Governor Jerry Brown, are proposing to fold an extension of expiring provisions in the 2016 Water Infrastructure for Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act into the year-end spending bill that Congress must pass this month. The legislation would make hundreds of millions of federal dollars available for California water storage projects. It would also give the federal government’s Central Valley Project and the State Water Project more flexibility to increase water deliveries to the south at certain times of the year, leaving less water in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for Chinook salmon and other endangered species. At the same time, the State Water Resources Control Board is scheduled to vote, on December 12, on a proposal to divert more of the San Joaquin River’s flow to fish, leaving less for farms and cities.

U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear environmental challenge to border wall

REUTERS - Dec 7 The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear conservation groups’ appeal of a ruling by a California federal judge, rejecting their claims that the Trump administration had pursued wall projects along the U.S.-Mexico border without complying with applicable environmental laws. The plaintiffs had alleged that construction operations would harm plants, rare wildlife habitats, threatened coastal birds, and other species, and that environmental review was not pre-empted by immigration enforcement laws.

Target agrees to $7.4 million settlement in California over allegations of illegal hazardous waste disposal

SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE - Dec 5 Target Corporation has agreed to pay a $7.4 million settlement in California for allegedly disposing of batteries, light bulbs, medical waste, and other environmentally hazardous materials improperly in landfills across the state. The settlement stems from allegations that the company violated a $22.5 million stipulated judgment from 2011 over similar allegations of improper disposal of hazardous retail waste. The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office and San Diego City Attorney’s Office were parties to the settlement, along with 21 other district attorneys, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and the Los Angeles city attorney.

Tiny salamanders could stand in the way of massive dam raising project

REDDING RECORD SEARCHLIGHT - Dec 5 An environmental organization has filed a lawsuit seeking to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to determine whether three salamander species living around Lake Shasta should be protected under the Endangered Species Act, with possible repercussions for the $1.4 billion Shasta Dam project. If USFWS determines that the Shasta salamander, Samwel Shasta salamander, and/or the Wintu Shasta salamander are threatened with extinction, the federal government would have to find a way to conduct a $1.4 billion dam-raising project without damaging the habitat of these species.

Bill proposes adding over 100,000 acres to the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

SAN GABRIEL VALLEY-TRIBUNE - Dec 5 A sweeping conservation bill introduced Wednesday by U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris would add 109,000 acres to the 346,177-acre San Gabriel Mountains National Monument established by President Barack Obama in 2014, to include hiking trails north of Pasadena and create a federally designated recreation area along the San Gabriel River. Harris’ legislation mirrors two bills re-introduced by Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena in 2017 after they languished for two years in a previous Congress.

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