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
11:42 am
Tue April 30, 2013

As 'Fracking' Debate Heats Up, Weighing Risks Key to Possible Monterey Shale Boom

Much of the Monterey Shale formation lies beneath the San Joaquin Valley. (file photo)
Credit Kathleen Masterson / Capital Public Radio

Could California be on the verge of a new gold rush? That’s the finding of a new study from USC about the potential economic impact of oil that lies deep beneath the Central Valley, known as the Monterey Shale. But extracting that oil isn’t easy, and it would require the use of a number of advanced techniques, including hydraulic fracturing.  And that’s attracted concerns from environmental groups and state regulators. Valley Public Radio’s Joe Moore reports on some recent developments in the fracking debate.

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Environment
11:33 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Several Bills Would Regulate 'Fracking' in State

In Colorado, fracking operations are underway. (file photo)
Credit Kathleen Masterson / Capital Public Radio

Ten bills that would regulate hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” for oil are working their way through the California legislature. The proposals range from requiring more scientific study to a moratorium. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the industry opposes almost all of the bills.

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Agriculture
2:08 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Environmental Advocates Call For Phasing Out Strawberry Pesticides

Credit Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

Some environmentalists say hazardous strawberry pesticides should be banned in California by 2020. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, strawberry growers say finding an alternative to fumigants is difficult.

On the steps of the Capitol, farm workers, environmentalists and health leaders called on the state to phase out soil fumigants used most heavily in strawberry production. They say fumigants have a wide range of health effects, are highly volatile, and drift from where they are applied. Martha Arguello is with Physicians for Social Responsibility.

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Government & Politics
5:37 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

White House Touts 'Strong Cities' Effort in Fresno, Rerouting Planned Bus Line

President Obama meets with mayors participating the Strong Cities, Strong Communities program, including Fresno's Ashley Swearengin in March 2012
Credit EPA.gov

A federal effort to cut red tape and better use existing  resources to help economically struggling cities like Fresno is beginning to pay off, according to Obama administration officials. 

In a statement issued Thursday, Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz praised the "Strong Cities, Strong Communities" (SC2) program for supporting communities like Fresno.

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Government & Politics
1:30 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

With Competing Political and Legal Pressures, Brown Defends Prison Realignment

California Governor Jerry Brown (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown is taking hits both inside and outside the State Capitol as he faces a stinging federal court order to reduce California’s prison population - and impassioned calls to expand it.  Katie Orr has more from Sacramento on the events Tuesday that show the competing political and legal pressures surrounding the governor.

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Health Care Reform
12:54 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

California Considers Expanded Roles for Nurses in Primary Care

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Most counties in California have a shortage of primary care doctors. And with millions more people in the state expected to get health coverage next year, lawmakers are proposing ways to make sure basic care is available in areas that need it. One bill would allow nurse practitioners to treat patients without consulting a physician. Health care reporter Pauline Bartolone reports on what it might mean for patients.

Some nurse practitioners in California already see patients without a doctor in the room. Patients like Anastacia Casperson.

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Government & Politics
6:44 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

California Undocumented Driver License Bill Moves Forward

Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo (file photo)

Under current law, if you don’t have a Social Security number, you can’t get a license to drive in California. But proposed legislation would change that. Katie Orr reports from the Capitol.

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Government & Politics
6:35 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Governor's Brown's Sacramento Loft Broken Into

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown says he had an unwelcome visitor at his Sacramento loft a couple of days ago when he and his wife weren’t home:

“A guy jumped – got in, got up to the roof, jumped down on the balcony and was trying to break in. and one of my neighbors called the police.  And he was arrested and I think he’s out on his own recognizance,” says Brown.

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Innovation
11:34 am
Tue April 23, 2013

''Mini Maker Faire' Highlights Fresno's Quirky Creativity, Innovation

Chris McCoy, with the depart of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley, tinkered with a 3D printer at the event.
Ezra Romero Valley Public Radio

In a region of the country known for its agriculture exploits and groundbreaking farming techniques a new sort of innovation is developing.  The Fresno Grizzlies along with Fresno Idea Works held the first ever Mini Maker Faire in Fresno on Sunday. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra Romero has this report.  
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It was a regular day at the ballpark. The crack of the bat, the crowd cheering as a player hits a ball out of the stadium and Parker -- the Fresno Grizzlies mascot – making the audience smile between innings.

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Health
9:30 am
Tue April 23, 2013

CDC To Hold Valley Fever Symposium in Bakersfield, McCarthy Says

Congressman Kevin McCarthy has enlisted the help of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to raise awareness of valley fever, and to encourage the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to waive a fee needed to put a valley fever skin test on the market.
Credit Shelby Mack / The Bakersfield Californian

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will visit the San Joaquin Valley later this year to train public health professionals and the public in recognizing and defending against valley fever, Congressman Kevin McCarthy said Monday after an in-depth meeting with the agency and its director.

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Commentary
9:18 am
Tue April 23, 2013

Commentary: Time For Fresno to Embrace Food Culture, Not Just Commerce

Del Rey farmer and performance artist Nikiko Masumoto
Credit http://whatwecouldcarry.wordpress.com/biography/

Earlier this year, the Fresno Food Expo brought together valley food businesses with regional and national buyers, as well as hundreds of ordinary local residents. But Del Rey farmer and guest commentator Nikiko Masumoto says all the buzz about food products, left her dreaming of something more meaningful, a focus on local food culture.

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Health
9:07 am
Tue April 23, 2013

Valley's Need For Medical Interpreters Could Increase With Health Law

Experts predict there will be an even greater demand for medical interpreters when the Affordable Care Act is implemented in 2014. (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

When Mailu Lor translates for a Hmong patient, she can’t just repeat the doctor’s orders, word for word. That’s because the Hmong language often doesn’t contain advanced medical terminology, or names for diseases, like diabetes.

“Hmong language is a very difficult language,” Lor said. “We don’t have any dictionary for medical terminology.”

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Health
1:26 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Soda Tax Proposal In Front of California Lawmakers This Week

Credit Valley Public Radio

  A bill that would impose a tax on soda in California goes before lawmakers in Sacramento this week. Health care reporter Pauline Bartolone says a similar measure failed last session.

The state-wide law would tax sugary drinks such as sodas, energy drinks and sweet teas one cent per fluid ounce. Democratic Senator Bill Monning says something must be done to curb alarming rates of obesity and preventable diabetes.

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Health
12:53 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

California Builds Clinics Under Federal Health Law, But Hiring Doctors May Be A Challenge

Clinica Sierra Vista in Arvin, CA - (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Starting next year, millions of people will gain new health coverage under the federal health law.  In California, dozens of clinics are gearing up for the expansion, with new funding to build clinics and expand old ones.  But as Pauline Bartolone reports from Sacramento, it may be a challenge to find the physicians to staff the new centers.

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Environment
11:05 am
Mon April 22, 2013

California in Violation Of Safe Drinking Water Act

Credit Valley Public Radio

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says California is in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The federal government has provided the state one-point-five billion dollars to make loans and grants to water systems across the state. But since October 2012, about a half billion dollars remains unspent.

EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld says in many cases the money has been committed, but the projects are not “shovel-ready”. As a result, other communities’ drinking water needs remain unmet.

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Agriculture
5:55 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

USDA to Give Hispanic and Female Farmers More Time to File Discrimination Claims

Decades of discriminatory practices by the U.S. Department of Agriculture against women and Hispanic farmers are playing out in a $1.3 billion claims process. FM89’s Rebecca Plevin reports on a new deadline for those who allege discrimination.

For around 20 years, critics say the USDA’s farm loan program denied applicants because of their gender or race, and gave white male farmers preferential treatment in their dealings with the agency.

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Health
6:17 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Doctors, Lawmakers Propose Ways to Increase Number of Doctors

file photo
Credit Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

California physicians and lawmakers are trying to draw attention to a shortage of doctors in the state. They made the point jointly in Sacramento Tuesday. As Pauline Bartolone reports from Sacramento, they agree more doctors will be needed to see millions of people who will start enrolling in coverage next year.   

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Government & Politics
6:07 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Pay Day Lending Battle Continues In California

Credit Valley Public Radio

A bill being heard in the California Senate Banking Committee Wednesday would limit the number of payday loans consumers could take out and give them longer to pay the loans back. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

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Environment
12:37 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Governor Brown Says CEQA Changes Aren't Likely

California Governor Jerry Brown - file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown says he likely won’t be able to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act, (CEQA) this legislative session. He says he believes it would be difficult to move the process forward.

But the comment took Democratic Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg by surprise. He says he intends to continue fighting for his legislation that makes changes to CEQA.

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Business & Economy
11:34 am
Tue April 16, 2013

Bill Would Phase Out Plastic Bags in California

Democratic Senator Alex Padilla has introduced legislation that would ban single-use plastic bags at all grocery, convenience, liquor stores, and at pharmacies.
Credit Office of Alex Padilla

Plastic bags may not be an option much longer at California grocery stores. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban the bags. Despite previous attempts, supporters believe this time the bill will pass. Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento.

California retailers hand out more than 14 billion single use plastic bags every year. The state’s own figures show only 5 percent are recycled. Mark Murray is with Californians Against Waste.

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