environment

Fracking
5:32 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Independent Scientific Study On Fracking In California Released

The oil extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing is much different in California than in other states. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, that’s the finding of the first independent scientific assessment required under the state’s new fracking regulations.

California has shallow, vertical fracking wells that require about 140,000 gallons of water per well to extract oil. That’s millions of gallons less than other states. But the fluids contain more concentrated chemicals.

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Environment
4:16 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Supreme Court Gives Environmental Groups A Win By Passing On Smelt Case

Delta smelt (file photo)
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court could have big consequences for both valley farmers and the environment. The court decided today not to hear a case brought by local ag groups and southern California water agencies that sought to overturn protections for the Delta smelt under the Endangered Species Act.

The move lets stand a lower court decision that upheld restrictions on the amount of water that can be pumped out of the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta. 

Trent Orr, an attorney with Earthjustice says the decision is an important one. 

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Agriculture
5:35 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Six Things To Know About Central Valley Agriculture In 2015

Valley melon farmer Joe Del Bosque (file photo)
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

2014 was a year of ups and downs for the valley's largest industry, agriculture. The year began with virtually no rain and snow and fears of another dust bowl.

And while farmers and ranchers had a tough year, most survived and some even thrived. Rising milk prices boosted the bottom line for California dairymen and women and crops like tomatoes actually set new records.

So what will 2015 bring? We asked two industry experts to join us and offer their perspectives on six issues that will help define the valley's largest industry in the new year:

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Business & Economy
1:24 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Falling Crude Prices Have Oil Industry In Kern County Worried

Oil production near Taft in Kern County
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The recent drop in oil prices may be a good thing for consumers at the gas pump, but has oil producers in Kern County worried. For a look ahead at what this means for the economy of the south valley in the new year, we talked to John Cox, energy industry reporter for the Bakersfield Californian on FM89's Valley Edition. 

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Environment
10:06 am
Wed December 31, 2014

Winter Snow Survey Better Than Last Year But Not Good Enough

California’s first winter snow survey paints another fairly bleak picture of the potential for runoff restoring water levels in the state’s reservoirs. (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California has had greater than normal precipitation this year, but not greater than normal snowfall. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the first winter snow survey shows the amount of water in the snow statewide is 50 percent of average.

One third of the state relies on water that comes from melting Sierra snowpack. Frank Gehrke with the Department of Water Resources says manual readings show water in the snow on Echo Summit is four inches, just 33 percent of average. He says it’s not enough to fill the state’s reservoirs.

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Government & Politics
10:49 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Fresno Adopts New 'Smart Growth' General Plan

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council approved a new general plan last night that for the first time attempts to but the brakes on suburban sprawl. 

Over the next two decades, the plan calls for about half of the city's future growth to take place within the existing city limits and the rest in new growth areas like west of Highway 99 and in Southeast Fresno. 

Mayor Ashley Swearengin called the council's 5-2 vote historic, and a new direction for the city.

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Drought
5:27 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

California Needs 11 Trillion Gallons Of Water To End Drought

Water scientist Jay Famiglietti
Credit UC Irvine

California needs one and a half times the maximum volume of water in Lake Mead, the largest US reservoir, to end its drought. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, NASA scientists released the finding today.

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Environment
5:02 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Storms And Muddy Delta Water Lead To Voluntary Pumping Cutback

The Delta Mendota Canal is used to transport water from the Delta to Central Valley Project customers in the San Joaquin Valley.
Credit U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Mid-Pacific Region

The recent storms that have hit northern and Central California have much brought needed rain and snow to the state. But they also created a new problem for the operators of the massive pumps in the Delta that supply users in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California - too much water. 

Ara Azhderian is with the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority in Los Banos. 

Azhderian: "With all that water comes a whole lot of mud and trash and debris as well, so a little too much of a good thing too fast."

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Drought
3:30 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Strong Storms May Not Improve California Water Supply Much

Pine Flat Lake east of Fresno on the Kings River (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Northern California storms are causing water levels to rise in the state’s reservoirs. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the rain won’t do a lot to improve the state’s water supply.

California now has above average rainfall at the eight monitoring stations in the Northern Sierra. But the storm is not going to come close to ending the state’s drought. The Department of Water Resources says California would need five to ten more storms this season. Doug Carlson with DWR says storms have also been too warm.

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Environment
12:25 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Infill Is Key To Fresno's New General Plan, But It's Also Controversial

Credit Heather Heinks / City of Fresno General Plan Update

The Fresno City Council is scheduled to hear public comments on the city’s new 2035 general plan in meeting at the Convention Center this evening. The move is the last step before a vote next week on the document that will chart the city’s growth for decades to come.

City planning director Jennifer Clark says the new General Plan attempts to answer a question that has perplexed city leaders for decades:

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Drought
12:51 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Study Says California Drought Caused By Natural Climate Patterns

Folsom Lake as seen in 2011 (top) and 2014 (bottom)
Credit CA Dept of Water Resources

A new study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says natural occurring climate patterns –not climate change- are the primary drivers of California’s drought. 

The NOAA study says a high-pressure atmospheric ridge off the West Coast blocked important winter storms from California for three winters. Ocean surface temperature patterns made the ridge much more likely. The decreased precipitation is almost the opposite of what climate change models project.

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Environment
3:47 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Californians Conserved Less Water In October

Credit Valley Public Radio

For the second straight month, California’s water conservation rate has declined. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the State Water Resources Control Board says the reason behind the drop isn’t clear.

You could call it “conservation fatigue.” But the reason behind California’s diminishing conservation rate is more complicated than that. The statewide rate dropped from 10.3 percent in September to six-point-seven percent in October. Eric Oppenheimer with the State Water Resources Control Board says one reason for the difference may be the season change.

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Environment
11:20 am
Wed November 12, 2014

Water Levels In California's Reservoirs Continue To Drop

Pine Flat Lake east of Fresno (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The water in some of California’s major reservoirs is nearing historic lows. The Department of Water Resources says statewide, all reservoirs are currently holding about 57 percent of their historic norms.

But levels are dropping significantly in some of the major reservoirs. Maury Roos, is the Chief Hydrologist with DWR. He says the Lake Oroville Reservoir is near the lowest level it’s ever been.

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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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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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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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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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