environment

Overhaul of Environmental Law Dead for the Year

Aug 23, 2012
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

A last-minute effort at the State Capitol to overhaul California’s complex environmental review process for development projects is dead for the year. A big push from business and labor groups to reform the law came to an abrupt halt today.

With just two weeks left in the legislative session, some business and labor groups are pushing to change California's complex environmental review process for building and construction projects.

Jim Earp is with a coalition of construction unions. He says the law gets abused by being used to stall new development.

“It's not always just about how many end up in lawsuits, its, and this is particularly true in public infrastructure projects, how much the delay adds to the cost of that project.”

Around 40 environmental and public health activists from the San Joaquin Valley staged a rally today at the state capitol, pushing for a wide range of regulatory and legislative actions that they claim will improve air quality in the San Joaquin Valley.

The Central Valley Air Quality Coalition traveled to Sacramento to gather public support and to meet with legislators on a number of environmental issues. The group is asking the legislature to fund more air quality monitors in the Valley and in the Sierra, as well as to restore a monitoring site in Arvin that had been moved.

State Water Resources Control Board

Two major environmental groups have filed suit against the California State Department of Public Health for what they call a failure by the state to set rules for the safe amount of a toxic chemical in drinking water. Hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium-6, gained widespread attention as the chemical that sickened residents in the film Erin Brockovich. 

Residents in the Fresno County town of Easton get their water from backyard wells. But many of those wells recently tested above the official limit for certain toxins. It's just the latest case of rural San Joaquin Valley residents struggling to find safe water to drink. Dan Morain of the Sacramento Bee reports.

California’s top wildlife official lost that job today seven months after he shot a mountain lion in Idaho. As KPCC’s Julie Small reports, the state Fish and Game Commission voted him out of office.

It wasn’t illegal for commission president Dan Richards to kill the cougar, or to pose with his prey for a photograph that later circulated online.

California banned mountain lion hunts decades ago - but Idaho and many other states allow them.

Lance Johnson / Licensed under Creative Commons from Flickr user LanceJohnson http://www.flickr.com/photos/lancejohnson/5703722259/

UC Merced may be less than a decade old, but the struggling economy and environmental concerns are already leading campus officials to explore the possibility of directing some of the university's future growth to off-campus locations. 

Public health officials in Tulare County are urging residents to avoid the waters of the Kings River after a sewage spill Monday night in Reedley.

According to officials at around 8:00 p.m. Monday night, a problem at the City of Reedley's Wastewater Treatment Plant on Olsen Avenue resulted in a spill of 63,000 gallons of untreated sewage. At least some of the sewage flowed into the Kings River, which is immediately to the east of the plant. 

California High Speed Rail Authority

A new study suggests that the proposed high speed rail project could have big environmental benefits for California.

The study, released by UC Berkeley, compared the future sustainability of high speed rail with plane and car travel. It found a mature high speed rail system would use less energy and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Researchers accounted for more fuel efficient cars and planes in the future. And they looked at different levels of ridership when calculating greenhouse gas emissions.

Many of California’s state parks were saved from closing this year thanks to operating agreements with nonprofits and private organizations.  Others are on the rocks – or narrowly avoided closure, like Benicia State Recreation Area, which we heard about yesterday.  But one state park in Nevada County offers quite a different story. As Amy Quinton reports in the second of our two-part series, the entire community pulled together to save South Yuba River State Park.

UC Merced Study Rates Valley's Progress on Environment

Jul 18, 2012

Researchers say the Central Valley has made environmental improvements, just not as much as they'd like. That's according to a new study released today by UC Merced and The Great Valley Center.

The results of the study indicate that watersheds are reaching normal levels, wetland habitat restoration is on the rise, urbanization is slowing, and key air quality indicators are improving. Director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute, Roger Bales, says these are important indicators in the quality of land, water, and air in the region.

State Park Scrambles as It Faces Two Week Deadline

Jul 17, 2012
Capitol Public Radio

It's been a rollercoaster ride for California state parks. A year ago, the Department of Parks and Recreation selected 70 parks to close on July 1st as a result of budget cuts. But operating agreements with private partners have kept 40 of the parks open.

Now it appears all but a handful will stay open, but nobody knows for how long. In the first of a two-part series looking at the state of California's state parks reporter Kathleen Masterson visited one still struggling to stay open.

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California High Speed Rail Authority

The California High Speed Rail Authority has released a Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project section between Fresno and Bakersfield. The Authority has provided alternative routes in response to public dissatisfaction with the proposals in the original report released last year.

Frank Oliveira of the group Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability, says he's still concerned with the revised draft, as he isn't convinced the Authority has done what they can to understand the effects the high speed rail could have in the Valley.

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Earlier this week, the National Trust for Historic Preservation issued its annual list of the nation's most endangered historic sites, and for the second year in a row, Central California is in the spotlight. And this year, the preservation group is focusing attention on efforts to save several historic stone bridges in Yosemite National Park. FM89's Joe Moore has this report.

Planning Commission Rejects Jesse Morrow Mountain Mine

May 30, 2012
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

This afternoon the Fresno County Planning Commission rejected plans for a controversial hard rock mine on Jesse Morrow Mountain, on Highway 180 east of Fresno.

The vote had been delayed from a meeting in February, in which several hundred people spoke out against the plan. Residents today weighed in on the proposal from multinational mining company CEMEX, citing concerns about traffic, aesthetics and air quality.

The project will likely be appealed to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Southern California based Berry Petroleum has been given the go ahead by California's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources to move forward with plans to use steam to extract oil at the Midway-Sunset oilfield near Taft in Kern County. The move comes after the company made some changes to its system to monitor conditions at the site, according to Division head Tim Kustic.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Take a drive east on Highway 180 from Fresno toward Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and you’ll see a landscape as varied as the Valley itself. Neatly arranged orchards give way to the lush green basin of the Kings River, and the rustic towns of Centerville and Minkler. And just as the highway begins its climb into the Sierra foothills, off to the left, the first hill you see is Jesse Morrow Mountain.

This week on Valley Edition we look at the steps parents and educators are taking to stop bullying of teens, especially over their sexual orientation. We'll also learn about the controversial plan to mine a scenic and culturally significant mountain on Highway 180 near Reedley and Sanger. We'll close the program with a profile of Arts Visalia's upcoming "Sofa Art" show.

Segment 1: Last month, Forbes magazine released its ranking of the nation’s ten "most toxic" cities, and Bakersfield and Fresno were ranked #2 and #3. While concerns about the Valley's air and water quality are nothing new, this report brings new national attention to the efforts to deal with these problems. In this segment, we examine the efforts to clean up the air with Sayed Sadredin, Executive Director and Air Pollution Control Officer for the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

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