environment

High Speed Rail
3:30 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

High-Speed Rail CEO: No Construction Yet, But Work "Under Way"

A rendering of the state's planned high speed trail.
California High Speed Rail Authority

California’s High-Speed Rail Authority is asking contractors that want to build the second stretch of Central Valley track to step forward.  It also says work on the project’s first phase is “under way.”  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, actual construction has not yet begun – despite promises that it would by now.

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California's Delta: Inside and Out
6:05 am
Thu October 17, 2013

California Water Series Part 4: The Delta - A Place Called Home

Mark Morais, left, owner of Giusti's and bartender Mark Rogerson, right.
Curtis Jerome Haynes

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is home to a half million people. In the fourth part of our series, we examine the culture of the Delta and talk to residents about their concerns over its future.

Before I set out to do this story, I’d only been to the Delta a few times. And when I had, it was just a scenic drive from Sacramento down Highway 160, which parallels the Sacramento River. Turns out, that’s not the ideal way to get to know the Delta.

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Water
3:48 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Perea: California Water Bond Needs Fixing Before It Goes To Voters in 2014

Assembly Member Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno)
Credit The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

The state's twice-delayed water bond needs more tweaking - and a diet - before it goes to voters in November 2014. That was the message delivered by Assembly member Henry T. Perea on Tuesday, as he spoke on Valley Public Radio's Valley Edition.

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California's Delta: Inside And Out
12:44 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

California Water Series Part 3: Food, Farms and Delta Water

Workers pack cantaloupes on Joe Del Bosque's farm
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

California is the nation’s largest agricultural state. It would not be possible without water from the Delta. Farmers say the water is their lifeblood, but it’s been cut back year after year.

California's farms and ranches generated nearly $45 billion in revenue last year. Without water exported from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to arid Central Valley land, much of the produce we get in restaurants and grocery stores wouldn't come from California.

At Magpie Cafe in Sacramento, co-owner and Chef Ed Roehr sits down just as the lunch crowd is thinning.

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California's Delta: Inside and Out
6:00 am
Tue October 15, 2013

California Water Series Part 2: The Delta's Fragile Ecology

out on a boat on Montezuma Slough in the Suisun Marsh.
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was once a vast tidal marshland and inland estuary. Now thousands of miles of fragile levees surround artificial islands below sea level. More than 90 percent of wetlands have disappeared, and native fish are dying.

Suisun Marsh is the largest brackish water marsh on the West Coast. It’s at the Delta’s western most edge.  University of California Davis researchers set out on a boat in Montezuma Slough, which connects the Sacramento River to Suisun Bay.

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California's Delta: Inside and Out
6:27 pm
Sun October 13, 2013

California's Water Supply, A 700-Mile Journey

Chrisman Pumping Plant at the Grapevine
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

Both the federal Central Valley Project and the State Water Project rely on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to bring water to central and southern California. Amy Quinton takes us on a 700 mile journey following California's water supply.

Engineers drive me through a tunnel on an electric cart. We’re going down to the Hyatt Power Plant, which lies under rock at the bottom of the Oroville Dam.

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Government & Politics
6:02 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Planned Farm At Running Horse Site Draws Opposition From West Fresno Residents

Pastor Booker T. Lewis opposes a proposal to allow agriculture operations in areas zoned for homes.
Rebecca Plevin Valley Public Radio

About a dozen West Fresno residents and advocates gathered in front of Fresno City Hall today to express their disapproval of a text amendment that would pave the way for Granville Homes to plant a 360-acre almond orchard in their neighborhood.

Among them was Venise Curry, a West Fresno resident and physician. She’s concerned the proposed operation could expose residents to dust and pesticides, and harm their air and water.

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Environment
6:02 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Despite Shutdown, Rim Fire Recovery Moves Forward

The Forest Service's Emergency Stabilization-Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) is working to remove safety hazards and prevent soil erosion in the fire area
Credit US Forest Service BAER Team

National parks across the country may be off-limits to visitors due to the government shutdown, but in the Sierra, it hasn’t stopped efforts to recover from the Rim Fire.

A crew of around 50 fire response specialists are still on the job in the Stanislaus National Forest and in Yosemite National Park.

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Commentary
1:07 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

When It Comes to Sustainability, Look to Huron

file photo
Credit Ray Leon / Zocalo Public Square

Rey Leon works on sustainability in the city of Huron, California. Sustainability is a common enough word on the California coast, where hybrid cars, organic food, and solar power are status symbols as green as the money that buys them. But what does sustainability mean in Huron, population 6,733?

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Environment
10:52 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Two New Water Bond Alternatives Draw Lawmakers' Scrutiny

file photo
Credit http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/

California lawmakers are taking a closer look at two new water bond proposals that would replace the measure currently set for next November’s ballot.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on Tuesday’s committee hearing at the Capitol.

One of the two alternative water bond proposals comes from Senator Lois Wolk and focuses on restoring the area she represents: the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

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Government & Politics
9:30 am
Fri September 20, 2013

California Public Utilities Commission Authorizes Ride Sharing Networks

file photo
Credit Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

The state of California is putting its stamp of approval on high-tech ride sharing networks. The state Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously Thursday to authorize the increasingly popular peer-to-peer networks, but with some very specific requirements. Max Pringle reports from Sacramento.

More and more people needing rides these days are clicking smart phone apps to arrange them with local networks. John Zimmer, co-founder of San Francisco-based Lyft, says the networks will now have state endorsed vehicles and drivers.

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Environment
6:07 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Ninth Circuit Upholds California Emissions Law

file photo
Credit Capital Public Radio

Environmentalists are celebrating a court ruling Wednesday upholding California’s low emission fuel standards. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, fuel manufactures say the law is unfair. 

California consumes nearly 20 billion gallons of gas and diesel every year, the most in the country. Because the market is so big, state regulations have a far reaching impact.

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Environment
2:28 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

In Kern County, Plans for Hydrogen Power Plant And Fertilizer Factory Ignite Debate

Tiffany Rau, a spokesperson for Hydrogen Energy California explains how the project's carbon capture element works.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

In the small Kern County community of Tupman, the 2013 pistachio harvest is well underway. 

Chris Romanini's family has been farming this land, just west of Interstate 5, where the valley's fields meet the Elk Hills for decades. 

It's probably not the first place you'd think of when it comes to the effort to reduce CO2 emissions and combat global warming. But just a few hundred yards away from this orchard, plans for a $4 billion power plant and fertilizer factory could soon make the Tupman area known for a lot more than those pistachios. 

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Government & Politics
10:39 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Amended CEQA Bill Passes Legislature

Democratic Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg says he’s pleased with the California Environmental Quality Act changes he pushed through at the end of this year’s session – and he won’t be carrying a broader CEQA overhaul next year.

“It's always easy to say, oh, it wasn't everything that somebody else thinks it should be.  Well, I thought what was presented last year went way too far.  So I think this is an excellent result and represents real, responsible reform," says Steinberg.

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Environment
6:15 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Brown Promises to Sign Minimum Wage, Fracking Bills

California Governor Jerry Brown has indicated that he will sign a bill that would regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which passed the Assembly today. The bill is generating fierce debate. Max Pringle reports from Sacramento.

Fracking is when energy companies pump pressurized water and chemicals into oil wells to maximize output. Democratic Assembly member Adam Gray says the measure gives much needed oversight to an under-regulated industry.

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Environment
5:38 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Electric Bill Increase or Fairer California Power Rates?

File photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Legislation that could add a flat fee of up to 10 dollars a month on some California electric bills is up for a key committee vote Friday.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the measure has support from utilities and consumer groups – but it’s sparking pushback from environmental advocates.

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Environment
6:43 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

California Committee Delays Acting on Fracking Regulation Bill

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

A California bill to monitor and regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking has stumbled in a key Assembly committee. Under the bill, companies would have to make public all information regarding their fracking operations. Max Pringle reports from Sacramento.

Fracking is when energy companies inject pressurized water and chemicals into the ground to extract oil and gas. Jena Price with the California League of Conservation voters says the bill the League co-sponsored would set a national precedent on the regulation of fracking.

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Environment
4:33 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

California Bill Would Grant Coastal Commission Power to Levy Fines

fie photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A bill that would give the California Coastal Commission the power to levy fines is headed for a vote in the State Senate. Under current law, the commission is only allowed to sue people or businesses suspected of damaging or limiting access to the state’s coast line. 

Assembly member Toni Atkins says her bill would grant the Coastal Commission the same enforcement power every other state regulatory agency already has.

“Other agencies that are tasked with enforcing regulations have the ability to do this and at much higher rates of fines,” says Atkins.

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Environment
5:02 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Changes Announced for California Bay Delta Conservation Plan

file photo
Credit CA Dept of Water Resources

The California Department of Water Resources is changing the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. It includes two tunnels to carry water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to central and southern California. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the changes do not satisfy environmentalists or people that live in the Delta.

California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird says the changes prove water managers have listened to Delta-area landowners. Under the changes, the footprint of the project would shrink by 50-percent and shift construction away from private lands to public.

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Government & Politics
4:37 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Steinberg Has Blunt Words for CEQA Overhaul Backers

California Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg has a blunt warning for business groups backing a major overhaul of the environmental law that governs development projects in the state:

“You want to move a mile, we’ll move a mile.  You want to move 100 miles in ways that may not be good, that’s not gonna happen within this bill,” says Steinberg.

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