environment

Drought
5:15 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Forecasters Say Chances Are El Niño Won't End California's Drought

Forecasters say the chances are diminishing that El Niño will bring rain to California.
Credit National Weather Service - Hanford

Forecasters say the chances are diminishing that El Niño will bring rain to California. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center analysis shows a 60-to-65 percent chance of the warm ocean condition known as El Niño developing this fall and winter. The report also indicates a strong El Niño is not expected and a weak event is likely.

Michelle Mead is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

She says a weak El Niño won't end the California drought. 

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Environment
5:27 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

After Years Of Effort, Plastic Bag Ban Heads To Governor

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A bill banning single-use plastic grocery bags passed in the California legislature. It's up to Governor Brown to decide if it will become law. 

The effort to pass legislation banning single-use plastic bags lasted for years. Environmental groups have pushed bills to ban the bags in previous sessions.

But this year, after some tweaks to the bill during the session, lawmakers approved it. Dan Jacobson with Environment California says the key this year was cooperation.

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Drought
6:15 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Climate Change Means Less Sierra Nevada Runoff

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new study from UC Irvine shows climate change could reduce California’s water supply by changing mountain vegetation. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, even researchers were surprised how much could be lost.

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Drought
9:48 am
Thu August 28, 2014

California Senate Passes Groundwater Management Plan

The California Senate has approved a bill that would establish a groundwater management plan for the state.
Credit California Department of Water Resources

With days to go before the end of the legislative session, the California Senate passed a groundwater management plan Wednesday. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

Forty percent of California’s water comes from groundwater, yet the state has never had a plan to manage it. That could soon change if a measure approved in the Senate makes it through the rest of the legislative process.

The bill would require local governments to set up groundwater management agencies. The agencies would have five years to implement a management plan.

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Government & Politics
1:00 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Water Bond Deal Draws Rare Unity At Capitol

Gov. Jerry Brown and California lawmakers take a victory lap through the state Capitol Wednesday night after the Legislature passed a $7.5 billion water bond proposal for the November ballot.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

The saying goes that whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over. But a California Legislature that rarely shies away from a fight found itself in near unanimous agreement last night on a new water bond to replace the $11 billion measure on the November ballot. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

It was an issue that held the Capitol in suspense day after day. A deal was in doubt even into yesterday afternoon and a key election deadline loomed at midnight. But the end was surprisingly anticlimactic.

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Government & Politics
11:39 am
Thu August 7, 2014

Rising Gas Prices Could Be Bad News For Politicians

California’s Cap and Trade program could lead to an increase in gas prices next year. That’s causing some to call for a delay. (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Gas is already expensive in California. And upcoming changes to the state’s Cap and Trade program could increase prices at the pump even more. As Capital Public Radio’s Katie Orr reports, that could be bad news for drivers and politicians.
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Katie Orr:  “I’m standing at a busy Arco station in Sacramento. And with regular gas going for $3.69 a gallon, filling up my 15 gallon tank is going to be pricey. And coming changes to California’s Cap and Trade program may make it even more expensive.”

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Government & Politics
5:37 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Brown Calls For New, Smaller Water Bond

California Governor Jerry Brown has broken his silence on water bond talks. He’s opposing the $11 billion measure currently on the November ballot and proposing a $6 billion bond instead.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown wants to scrap the 11 billion dollar water bond scheduled for California’s November ballot and replace it with a smaller proposal of his own. Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler reports.
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Six billion dollars. That’s what the governor says he’s willing to spend. Not 11, like the existing bond; not eight or nine billion, like some of the proposals floating around the Legislature. Six billion. In an interview with Capital Public Radio, Brown put forth an argument of fiscal prudence for a state already 30 billion dollars in debt.

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Water
7:38 am
Tue August 5, 2014

Clock Ticking on California Water Bond Deal

Senate President Darrell Steinberg says the exact amount for a revised water bond is still up for debate. (file photo)
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California lawmakers are back from their summer break and facing pressure to craft a deal on a new water bond. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, time is running out.
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Legislative Democrats and Governor Jerry Brown want to replace the $11 billion bond currently on the November ballot with a smaller bond. Senate President Darrell Steinberg says the exact amount is still up for debate. Another big sticking point: which state agency will manage the restoration of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem.  

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Wildfires
7:39 pm
Sat August 2, 2014

More Than 25 Percent Of California's Firefighting Budget Already Up In Smoke

The state of California is burning through its fire fighting budget – less than a month into the new fiscal year.
Credit Capital Public Radio

Less than a month into the new fiscal year, California has already used up more than a quarter of the money set aside in the state budget for fighting wildfires.

CalFire has spent $47 million since July 1st, out of 209 million for the fiscal year that ends next June.

But H.D. Palmer with the governor’s Department of Finance says if the money runs out, the state will just turn to its budget reserve.

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Government & Politics
7:24 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Faced With Measure W, Fresno Council Revokes Water Rate Increase

Fresno City Hall (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council voted Thursday to repeal a city water plan they introduced in 2013, after a referendum petition known as Measure W threatened to put the repeal before voters.

Measure W began as a grassroots campaign and eventually collected 5500 signatures, enough to become a ballot measure. The water plan it helped repeal involved increasing Fresno residents' water bills to pay for a $410 million-upgrade to the city's water infrastructure. City Councilmember Steve Brandau:

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Environment
6:30 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

In California, 'Drought Shaming' Sparks Resentment, Snark

file photo
Credit Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

Despite constant warnings about California's drought, people across the state are actually using more water this year than last. Angst over water is nothing new, but the pressure to conserve is pitting neighbor against neighbor in something the New York Times has called “drought shaming.” 

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Environment
12:54 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

New Poll: Support For Global Warming Laws Drop If Energy Prices Rise

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A new Public Policy Institute of California poll finds a strong majority of Californians support the state’s laws to combat global warming. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, that support drops amid concerns about rising gas and electricity prices.

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Drought
11:02 am
Thu July 24, 2014

NASA Photos Document Drought's Toll On California Landscape

June 2014: Fallowed farms in the San Joaquin Valley can be seen in this image from NASA's MODIS instrument, taken June 24, 2014
NASA Earth Observatory

If you drive through Central California, it might be easy to forget the state is in the midst of a drought of historic proportions. Almond orchards and vineyards are green and full with crops awaiting harvest, and in cities green lawns still outnumber brown ones. 

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Environment
6:32 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

State and Federal Agencies Announce Salmon Restoration Plans

Federal and state agencies have announced their plans for restoring endangered salmon and steelhead populations in California’s Central Valley. (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Federal and state agencies Tuesday announced their plans for restoring endangered salmon and steelhead populations in California’s Central Valley.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plan will include re-introducing winter-run Chinook at cold water pools in Northern California and monitoring the water temperature to make sure it’s safe.  

Chuck Bonham with the  California Department of Fish and Wildlife says the ecosystem restoration plans could take 50 years or more to achieve the desired result.

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Drought
1:10 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Enforcement of Watering Rules Varies Around State

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California is enacting tough water restrictions after voluntary conservation efforts failed to work. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, the restrictions won’t be uniformly enforced.

Some communities already have strict local penalties in place. Others are just beginning to implement water shortage plans. In some cities a police officer may fine you for wasting water, in others water department employees might cite you.

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Drought
2:57 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

In Farmersville, Vilsack Announces Aid For Residents With Failed Wells

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $9.7 million in emergency water funding for 25 communities in California on Friday at an event in Farmersville.

California homeowners who have seen their wells fail during the drought are getting some assistance from the federal government. FM89's Joe Moore reports on today's  announcement from U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

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The well at Carlen Overby's rural Tulare County home went dry on July 4th, when she was taking a shower.

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Water
7:41 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

New Survey Says Californians Overwhelmingly Support Statewide Groundwater Plan

Credit California Department of Water Resources

An overwhelming majority of likely California voters say they favor a statewide groundwater management plan over the status quo. The results are part of a new survey released today. Capital Public Radio’s Max Pringle reports. 

The survey was commissioned by the non-profit California Water Foundation. It finds the prolonged drought has focused public opinion on the need to regulate groundwater. Pollster David Metz says few Californians think the state is doing an adequate job of managing.the resource.

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Government & Politics
7:37 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Fresno City Council Puts Off Measure W Decision, Asks For Study

Fresno City Hall (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fresno voters may get to weigh in on a referendum that would overturn a planned hike in water rates, but the final decision didn't come Thursday. 

Instead of moving forward with putting Measure W on the November ballot, or repealing the rate hikes - the city council voted to commission an expedited study on the issue.

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Water
7:01 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Fines Now Possible for California Water Wasters

file photo
Credit Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

A state agency took a major step to encourage water conservation Tuesday. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, it voted to allow large fines for wasting water.

The State Water Resources Control Board has adopted emergency regulations that allow local water agencies to levy fines up to $500 a day for people who waste water outdoors. Board Chair Felicia Marcus says collecting money isn’t the goal. Convincing urban water users to conserve is.

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Drought
6:37 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Groundwater Helping Farmers Endure California Drought, UC Davis Says

Pistachios in Kern County (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Research from UC Davis suggests California farmers are mostly able to maintain production during the drought because of their use of underground water– but environmentalists, scientists and farmers agree the practice is not a long term solution. Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

California farming will take a financial hit because of the drought. But for the most part, the UC Davis drought study says groundwater will supply what’s lacking in surface water. Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute says pumping groundwater can’t continue to go unregulated.   

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