environment

After Years Of Effort, Plastic Bag Ban Heads To Governor

Sep 3, 2014
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.

Climate Change Means Less Sierra Nevada Runoff

Sep 2, 2014
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.

California Senate Passes Groundwater Management Plan

Aug 28, 2014
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.

Water Bond Deal Draws Rare Unity At Capitol

Aug 14, 2014
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.

Rising Gas Prices Could Be Bad News For Politicians

Aug 7, 2014
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.”

Brown Calls For New, Smaller Water Bond

Aug 5, 2014
Jerry Brown
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.

Clock Ticking on California Water Bond Deal

Aug 5, 2014
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.  

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

Aug 2, 2014
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.

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:

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.” 

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

Jul 24, 2014
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.

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. 

State and Federal Agencies Announce Salmon Restoration Plans

Jul 22, 2014
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.

Enforcement of Watering Rules Varies Around State

Jul 21, 2014
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.

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.

New Survey Says Californians Overwhelmingly Support Statewide Groundwater Plan

Jul 17, 2014
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.

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.

Fines Now Possible for California Water Wasters

Jul 15, 2014
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.

Groundwater Helping Farmers Endure California Drought, UC Davis Says

Jul 15, 2014
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.   

Drought Could Cost California Economy $2.2 Billion In 2014, Says Study

Jul 15, 2014
John Chacon / California Department of Water Resources

The California economy could lose $2.2 billion this year because of the drought. Max Pringle reports on a UC Davis study that shows the agriculture industry alone could lose $1.5 billion.

The study says California will have to make do with a third less water this year and that could lead to 430 thousand acres of fallow farmland. Former UC Davis Economist Richard Howitt says the pain won’t be spread evenly throughout the state.

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