Environment

News about energy and the environment

Ezra Romero/KVPR

Earlier this month Governor Jerry Brown declared the California drought over in all but Tulare, Kings, Fresno and Tuolumne counties.  Now the state says it won’t fund drought assistance programs past June. Tulare County is still seeing drought impacts and to continue drought assistance there it'll take about $4 million annually. More than $19 million has been spent on drought assistance in Tulare County alone.

Flickr User TVZ Design

Recent data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimate that carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere have risen close to 40 percent since before the industrial revolution. The effects of this rise on climate, sea levels and human societies are still being modeled, but one long-standing mystery for scientists has been how plants respond to rising CO2 levels, and how their ability to store the greenhouse gas feeds back into the carbon cycle.

John Chacon / CA Department of Water Resources

1,2,3-TCP is a known carcinogen that was used over 20 years ago as an industrial solvent and pesticide additive. The pollutant affects around 8 million people across the state and is now in the process of being regulated by the State Water Resources Control Board.

 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

For today's show, we're exploring the Valley's natural resources. Those can include lots of things, like water, historical artifacts, and animal species, but today we're focusing on rocks, minerals and ancient fossils. We’ll tell you how to find neat resources like these in and around the Valley, and how you and your kids can learn more about them. The audio version even features a few bonus geology puns!

GOLD IN THE REGION

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Some of the same people who warned state leaders about the probability of Oroville Dam failing are now sounding the alarm at San Luis Reservoir in Merced County.

It’s the first time since before the drought began that San Luis Reservoir in the hills west of Los Banos is nearly full at about 97 percent.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is defending the Trump administration’s policies on public land. The secretary took his message Friday to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.  

Zinke says he came out west to reaffirm his commitment to federally managed lands, including national parks. He spoke with reporters at an event in Kings Canyon National Park, a day after meeting with California Governor Jerry Brown, one of the president’s harshest critics.

Ezra David Romero

Farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta got some good news this week. For the first time since 2006 farmers and ranchers who buy water from the federal Central Valley Project will have a full water supply. The Bureau of Reclamation announced Tuesday they will increase deliveries from the 65 percent forecast in late February to 100 percent.

 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Les Wright oversees all of Fresno County’s crops. He’s the agricultural commissioner here. Often he’s meeting with growers and ranchers on their farms, but today he’s fielding calls from his Fresno office.

The reason? He says farmers are busy doing office work because the rain means they can’t be in the fields.

“Some are welcoming more rain, others aren’t,” Wright says. “I was talking to one of the major growers out on the Westside and they were trying to mud-in their onion seed because it was so wet.”

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

A new map released by NASA earlier this year shows that large portions of California are sinking. The worst of it is in the San Joaquin Valley. One of the main reasons is the over pumping of groundwater, especially in the last five years of drought.

All that sinking and all the snow melting in the Sierra has Central Valley water managers like Dustin Fuller worried.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

People love seeing black bears when they visit places like Yosemite National Park. They’re powerful creatures that can be docile or ferocious depending on the encounter. In such a highly visited place incidents with bears are bound to happen, and as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports the park has come up with a new plan to keep bears and people safe.

 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Two new reports out this week examine California’s oil fields and how the high-emitting oil extracted from many of them poses a threat to the environment and human health. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports that one of them is in Kern County.

 

NASA/Friant Water Authority

A new way to measure the snowpack from the sky is getting some positive results. FM89's Ezra David Romero reports officials hope new technology can reduce the risk of downstream flooding.

 

At the start of the year NASA crews began flying over the San Joaquin River watershed to measure the snowpack using laser pulses. This creates a way more accurate estimate of how much snow is the mountains than traditional snow surveying does.

 

National Geographic

The new documentary "Water & Power: A California Heist" takes a look at past and current water wars in California. It's told through the eyes of Valley voices like journalist Mark Arax and Bakersfield Californian Columnist Lois Henry. 

"This is a very serious issue," says the films director Marina Zenovich. "We show people in the film with wells going dry. One of our characters says watch out. You could be next."

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

All of the recent rain and snow in California is good news for farms and cities. The runoff flowing from the Sierra Nevada is so strong this year that’s it's moving huge boulders and tons of earth down rivers. That means gold is on the move as well and as Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports that has gold prospectors on alert.

 

Larry Riggs and his friends are hunting on a piece of private property near Oakhurst. There are no guns or fishing poles present. Just shovels, plastic bowls and buckets.

They’re panning for gold.

PPIC

Despite a rain and snowfall year that is among the wettest in memory, Central California's water supply and quality problems are not going away anytime soon. A new report from the non-profit Public Policy Institute of California looks at those issues and offers a variety of management solutions.

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