Valley Public Radio News

Hear local reports on the economy, government, education, health and the environment on Valley Public Radio during All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Valley Edition. 

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Environment
6:23 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Proposal Could Raise The Cost Of A Yosemite Visit

Yosemite National Park (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A visit to Yosemite National Park may soon become more expensive. On Monday the park service announced a plan to raise the single vehicle entry fee from $20 dollars to $30 for a seven day pass. The cost of an annual pass would also rise from $40 to $60. 

The proposal would also raise campsite fees, and the cost for hikers and motorcyclists:

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Science
5:37 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

NASA Spacecraft Will Help California Address Drought and Floods

NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive spacecraft is slowly lowered into place at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in preparation for shipping to California's Vandenberg Air Force Base on October 15th.
Credit NASA / JPL-Caltech

Scientists may soon have a more accurate way to predict the extent and severity of droughts, floods and even the amount of food California can produce. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, a NASA spacecraft getting set to launch will measure soil moisture, one of the most important components of the earth’s water cycle.

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Drought
5:19 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

California Drought To Persist, Even Worsen

Credit National Weather Service - Hanford

Predictions suggest the California drought is likely to persist, and even worsen in some areas. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center says complete drought recovery is "unlikely this winter' in California.

Kevin Werner is NOAA's Western Region Climate Director.

He says the 2012-to-2014 period is the driest on record in California.

And low reservoir storage reflects that.

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Government & Politics
5:43 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

California Supreme Court Declines To Hear High Speed Rail Case

file photo
Credit High Speed Rail Authority

The California Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal of two lawsuits that challenged the way California plans to pay for High Speed Rail. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the decision paves the way for the project to move forward.

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Government & Politics
12:45 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Supermajority Fight Shapes California Legislative Races

Credit Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

The California governor’s race and statewide ballot measures may claim most of the spotlight this election season. But below the radar, a handful of pivotal legislative races could shift the balance of power at the state Capitol. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on the battle for a Democratic supermajority.

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Business & Economy
8:45 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Fits and Starts: Central Valley Economy Beginning To Bounce Back

Tom Barcellos, owner and operator of T-Bar Dairy stands in front of his Holstein herd in Porterville, Calif. (Tulare County)
Julia Mitric Capital Public Radio

As brutal as the Central Valley economy has fared over the last several years, it’s starting to bounce back. Our series “Fits and Starts” on California’s uneven economic recovery continues with a look at the Central Valley.  

The collapse of the housing market devastated cities like Stockton and Modesto. But the Central Valley’s agriculture industry weathered The Great Recession just fine. It even saw record growth, with one painful exception: dairy.

“It was a bloodbath,” says Tom Barcellos, who owns T-Bar Dairy in Porterville.

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Business & Economy
8:45 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Fits and Starts: Bay Area Housing Boom Prices Out Some People

: Joann Avila (left) and Lorraine Nessel, with their dog Bijou, in the West Oakland home they’ve rented for the last six years. They’re moving out in December because their landlord is moving back in.
Capital Public Radio / KPCC

Editor's Note: Five years after the Great Recession officially ended, the California economy looks like a patchwork quilt. All this week, we feature a series from our partners at Capital Public Radio and KPCC on how the strength of California’s economic recovery varies depending on where you live. Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler kicks the series “Fits and Starts” with a look at the Bay Area, where the tech boom has driven the unemployment rate down – and housing prices up.
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  The recession hit Damon Grow swiftly and very hard.

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Tribal Gaming
4:53 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Fight For Control Of Chukchansi Tribe Escalates, Casino Shuttered

Member of a rival faction of the Chukchansi Tribe attempted to take boxes out of the casino but were stopped by Madera County Sheriff's Deputies.
Ezra David Romero Valley Public Radio

A tribal dispute that began Thursday night at a hotel and casino outside of Coarsegold continue Friday. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports on the standoff that led to the evacuation of 500 guests and employees.

The impromptu closure of the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino has left the mountain communities around it with more questions than answers.

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Wildfire
2:10 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Cal Fire Air Tankers Cleared To Fly After Yosemite Crash

File photo
Credit Twitter.com / CAL FIRE PIO Kevin Berlant / https://twitter.com/CALFIRE_PIO

Cal Fire's fleet of 22 firefighting air tankers are back in service. The planes were on a safety stand down after a tanker crash this week in Yosemite National Park. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

The Tuesday crash killed pilot Geoffrey Hunt as he was about to drop retardant on the Dog Rock Fire near Yosemite's west entrance.

The safety stand-down was intended to give officials time to inspect the remaining aircraft and allow other pilots time to recover.

Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott:

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Election 2014
8:46 am
Fri October 10, 2014

Proposition 46 Has Physicians and Attorneys At Odds

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

As the November election approaches, one state proposition has drawn the most money from top contributors. Proposition 46 would raise the cap on pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice cases. But as Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone tells us from Sacramento, the measure could change the way doctors practice.  

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Fracking
6:41 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

California Makes Changes To Fracking Regulations

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The state of California is making some changes to its new fracking regulations based on nearly 100,000  comments from the public. This is the third version of the regulations for fracking, which injects sand, water and chemicals underground to release oil.

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Environment
6:32 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Environmentalists Sue To Stop Bakersfield Oil-By-Rail Project

A coalition of environmental groups is suing Kern County to block the expansion of a railyard at the Alon Refinery in Bakersfield.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A coalition of environmental groups is suing Kern County over its approval of a project that would expand oil-by-rail shipments at a Bakersfield refinery. 

The Kern County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the railyard expansion at the Alon Refinery on Rosedale Highway in September. The project would allow the refinery to process crude oil from the Midwest, delivered to Bakersfield by train.

Kassie Siegel is with the Center For Biological Diversity, one of the groups in the lawsuit. 

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Government & Politics
2:27 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

California Hospitals Preparing For Potential Ebola

A microscopic image of the Ebola virus.
Credit US Centers For Disease Control

There have not been any diagnosed cases of Ebola in California. But hospitals are preparing, just in case. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

Emergency rooms in California are now asking for travel histories from patients. The change follows the case of a man in Dallas who contracted the Ebola virus in Africa and then flew to the United States. 

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Election 2014
12:30 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Potential School District Reserve Cap Drives Debate Over Prop 2

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

This November, California voters will be asked to weigh in on Proposition 2 – the constitutional amendment that would create a state budget reserve. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, a little-known new law tied to Prop 2 has some school officials and parents upset.

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Election 2014
12:26 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Prop 45 Would Give Insurance Commissioner Final Say on Health Premiums

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A measure on the November ballot would give California’s elected insurance commissioner power to reject health insurance premium increases for people in individual and small group plans. But as Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento explains, that policy change would be more complicated than it seems.

When the Affordable Care Act set up a state-run health insurance marketplace, it created a framework through which more than a million people signed up for health care within months. But it also created a new state agency that insurance companies must answer to. 

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Government & Politics
9:52 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Biden Stumps For Renteria, Padilla In Bakersfield

Vice President Joe Biden speaks at CSUB in a rally for Alex Padilla and Amanda Renteria.
Credit Diana Aguilera / Vall

It was a classic political stump speech at CSU Bakersfield Tuesday as Vice President Joe Biden worked to lend some White House prestige to congressional hopeful Amanda Renteria and Secretary of State candidate Alex Padilla. 

Biden: "Ladies and gentleman, you're not going to get two better choices than the two people standing behind me, so don't let them down."

Speaking before a packed crowd at CSUB's Icardo Center the Vice President delivered a speech that hit on two major issues, immigration and the middle class. 

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Wildfire
6:09 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Cal Fire Air Tanker Crashes Near Yosemite While Battling Dog Rock Fire

A Grumman S2T air tanker like the one that crashed Tuesday fighting a fire near Yosemite. (file photo)
Credit Cal Fire

An air tanker that was battling a wildfire burning near the Arch Rock entrance to Yosemite National Park crashed on Tuesday afternoon. 

Emergency crews reached the wreckage in steep and rugged terrain in the evening and found the solo pilot dead. The name of the pilot is being withheld pending notification of family.

The Grumman S2T was based out of the Hollister Air Attack base. It was operated by Cal Fire and was assisting federal crews in fighting the 130 acre Dog Rock Fire. 

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Election 2014
1:17 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Voters To Decide Fate of $7.5 Billion Water Bond

The site of the proposed new dam at Temperance Flat on the San Joaquin River, near the back of Millerton Lake.
Credit US Bureau of Reclamation

On November 4th, California voters will decide the fate of a $7.5 billion bond intended to improve the state’s water system. Proposition 1 is one of the most closely watched measures on the ballot. Proponents of the bond say it would provide safe and reliable water, opponents say it wrongly focuses on building more dams. And as Capital Public Radio’s Amy Quinton reports, the bond has divided some environmental groups.

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Election 2014
11:47 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Prop 47 Seeks To Reduce California Prison Population

file photo
Credit Casey Christie / The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

Proposition 47 on the November ballot would reduce some drug possession and theft-related felonies to misdemeanors. Opponents say it would put dangerous criminals back on the streets or in local jails. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

Proposition 47 would change felonies to misdemeanors for some nonviolent property and drug crimes: Grand theft, shoplifting, receiving stolen property, writing bad checks, check forgery and drug possession.

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Drought
5:22 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

New NASA Images Document Loss Of Water In Central Valley

This trio of images depicts satellite observations of declining water storage in California as seen by NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites in June 2002 (left), June 2008 (center) and June 2014 (right). Colors progressing from green to orange to red represent greater accumulated water loss between June 2002 and June 2014.
Credit NASA GRACE

A new set of satellite images released by NASA shows the dramatic loss of water storage in the Central Valley due to California's long term drought. According to research by NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Team, the Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins together lost 12 million acre feet a year between 2011 and 2014, largely due to agricultural groundwater pumping.

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