environment

Drought
6:43 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Westside Growers Will Get To Keep Last Year's Banked Water

Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) speaks to the media today about California's drought
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Westside farmers who banked excess water last year in San Luis Reservoir anticipating a drought won't have to give it up, according to an announcement today from the US Bureau of Reclamation. 

The farmers had faced the threat of losing that water to other farmers who hold senior water rights, such as the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors. 

The Bureau was facing political bipartisan political pressure against reallocating the water. But the move could leave the door open to lawsuits. 

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Transportation
5:30 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Fresno's Bus Rapid Transit Plan Faces Opposition

A rendering of the a proposed BRT bus for Fresno.
Credit Anil Verma Associates / Fresno FAX

The Fresno City Council is set to debate a proposal tonight to bring a hi-tech express bus line to city. But as FM89’s Joe Moore reports, the $50 million federal grant that would fund the project is generating some controversy.
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The proposal calls for new high capacity express bus service, known as Bus Rapid Transit, to be built along Blackstone and Kings Canyon Avenues in Fresno. The new bus line would replace existing FAX service on those routes and would decrease travel time for riders by as much as an hour and a half in some cases.

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Drought
11:26 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Drought Forces California Ranchers To Make Tough Decisions

One of about 400 head of cattle owned by Jim Gates of Nevada County Free Range Beef
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

California’s ranchers depend on fall and winter rains to keep grasses growing for their livestock. But the state’s drought is forcing them to make tough decisions. With rangelands dry statewide, moving herds isn’t an option. Many are resorting to buying feed, but its rising cost is making that choice difficult. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, some ranchers must decide whether to sell their livestock or go out of business. 

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Commentary
3:25 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Commentary: Time To Save The Sierra's Vanishing Trails

file photo
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

One of the great things about living in California’s Central Valley is the easy access to one of the great mountain ranges of the world, the Sierra Nevada, and its beautiful forests. Unfortunately, through no fault of anyone in the valley, that access is being threatened.

As a lifelong Californian, I’ve grown to love the mountains so much that I’ve done volunteer work in the forests of the Sierra for the past 15 years. And over that time, I’ve seen a dramatic shift in the condition of the forests. The problems are twofold: a lack of funding, and a lack of personnel.

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Drought
5:08 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Boehner, Valley GOP Representatives Call For Drought Relief

House Speaker John Boehner is calling for emergency legislation in response to California's drought
Ezra David Romero Valley Public Radio

Valley congressional leaders and House Speaker John Boehner met in a dusty cotton field outside Bakersfield today to announce a plan for emergency legislation in response to California’s drought.

Boehner, who was joined by valley Republicans Devin Nunes, David Valadao and Kevin McCarthy told the crowd that the water shortage requires action, and blamed environmental laws for part of the problem.

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The Moral Is
7:26 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Commentary: Apply Mandela's Vision Of Reconciliation To The Environment

Madhusudan Katti, Associate Professor of Biology, CSU Fresno
Credit Madhusudan Katti

Despite enduring a lifetime of oppression, Nelson Mandela transformed his nation by seeking reconciliation with his oppressors rather than retribution. In this week’s edition of The Moral Is, Fresno State Biology Professor Madhusudan Katti wonders whether the power of reconciliation as a moral principle might save us all from the damage humanity is inflicting on our planet and ourselves.

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With the passing of Nelson Mandela last month, we lost one of the strongest needles in humanity’s moral compass.

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Water
5:48 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Urge Water Bond and Drought Declaration

State Senator Anthony Canella speaks at a rally on the State Capitol steps on Thursday.
Credit Twitter account of Senator Anthony Canella / http://twitter.com/AnthonyCannella

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, farmers and farm workers gathered on the Capitol steps today to call on California Governor Jerry Brown to declare a drought.

The Latino Water Coalition also wants to see legislation that would put a water bond on the 2014 ballot. Supporters say the state is experiencing some of the driest conditions on record, and farmers livelihoods are at stake.

Republican State Senator Anthony Canella from the Central Valley says increased water storage should be part of the water bond package.

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Environment
10:05 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Valley Air Cleanup Targets Restaurant Charbroilers

Matt Billingsley, the general manager of Dog House Grill, says the eatery cooks up 1,200 pounds of tri-tip daily.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

People in Central California love barbecue. From backyard grills to popular new restaurants featuring tri tip, ribs and brisket, it’s one of the biggest food trends in the valley. One Fresno destination is so popular, a line wraps around its building daily.

Fresno’s Dog House Grill is Valley famous for tri-tip, pulled pork and their family recipe barbecue sauce.

Connie Nicholson and her husband visit Dog House weekly.

“I like the Barbecue sauce, it’s really good and the tri-tip’s always just right,” Nicholson says. “I get the tri-tip sandwich every time.”

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Government & Politics
5:09 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Steinberg Cool On Cap And Trade Money For High Speed Rail

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (file photo)
Credit Office of Darrell Steinberg

The leader of California’s  Senate is issuing words of caution on Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to use money from the state’s cap-and-trade program to help pay for construction of high speed rail.  

Speaking with Valley Public Radio, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says he’s concerned about the rail authority’s plan to finance construction of the next stage of the bullet train, which would go from Bakersfield over the Tehachapi Mountains to Palmdale in Southern California.

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Environment
6:20 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Brown's Budget Proposal Spends Cap and Trade Money

Credit California High Speed Rail Authority

California Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal includes some major investments in the environment. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, it lays out how he wants to spend $850 million in revenue from the state’s greenhouse gas reduction program known as cap-and-trade.

As expected, Governor Brown wants to invest a large portion of money raised from carbon auctions on High Speed Rail. The proposal includes $300 million for construction and integration of the rail system that he’s pitched as an environmentally-friendly alternative to cars.

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Water
4:32 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

California Water Officials Say Drought Proclamation Likely

DWR Director Mark Cowin and DWR’s Drought Preparedness Manager Bill Croyle highlight the importance of water transfers and drought preparedness during the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Board Meeting in Sacramento on January 7.
Credit Paul Hames / Department of Water Resources

The Director of the California Department of Water Resources says he believes Governor Jerry Brown will likely declare a drought. Mark Cowin  made the comments to the state Board of Food and Agriculture today.

Water managers painted a bleak picture for the board of the dry conditions and low reservoir levels around the state. Cowin says all signs point to a drought.

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Water
5:00 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

First Snow Survey Of 2014 Just 20 Percent Of Average

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California's first snow survey of the winter is showing grim results for a state that's already reeling from a two-year dry spell. 

The State's Department of Water Resources says both manual and electronic readings today were about 20 percent of average for this time of year. In some cases surveyors found more bare ground than snow. 

In the Southern Sierra, the snowpack was a little better at 30 percent of average for the start of January, but just 10 percent of the April 1 season average.

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Environment
5:16 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

New Fracking Regulations Start January 1

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new law to regulate the controversial oil extraction process known as “fracking” goes into effect in California on January 1st. Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento.

The oil industry says the new regulations will be some of the strictest in the nation. But some environmental groups that called for a moratorium on the process say the regulations don’t go far enough to protect water and air quality.

Under the law, oil companies will have to disclose chemicals used in the fracking process, although there are some limitations for trade secrets.

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Environment
5:06 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

San Joaquin River Restoration Hits Snags

Friant Dam's construction in the 1940's dried up 60 miles of the San Joaquin River
State Department of Water Resources

It’s been almost eight years since the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation began its program to restore the San Joaquin River. In the 1940’s Friant Dam and irrigation diversion dried up 60 miles of California’s second largest river. Historic salmon runs disappeared. This January is the deadline for the program to restore enough water to the San Joaquin to eventually allow runs of Chinook salmon. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the restoration program has been plagued by delays and increased costs.

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Environment
11:49 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Author Interview: Jared Farmer "Trees In Paradise"

California has more trees now than at any time since the late Pleistocene. And it comes as no surprise to residents of the San Joaquin Valley that our cultivation of trees has played a defining role in shaping the California we know today.

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Health
4:34 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Earlimart Pesticide Warrior Honored For Advocacy

Teresa De Anda, of Earlimart, helped shine a light on the health impacts of pesticide drift. She's being honored by Fresno Metro Ministry.
Courtesy of Teresa De Anda

When you arrive at Teresa De Anda’s house on the edge of Earlimart, you might think the biggest health threat here is her pack of dogs. But from De Anda’s perspective, the almond orchard directly across the street, and the nearby vineyards and fields, are much more dangerous.

“It’s nice not having neighbors across the street, but it’s not nice having all the spraying and the tilling and the dirt and the bees,” De Anda says.

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Environment
5:24 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Feds Study Expanding San Luis Reservoir

Intake towers at San Luis Reservoir in Merced County would be raised under a new proposal by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The San Luis Reservoir near Los Banos could see its storage capacity grow by over 6 percent, according to a new study on the feasibility of expanding the lake released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

According to the draft report, a 20 foot increase in the height of the B.F. Sisk dam would result in 130,000 acre feet of additional water storage capacity. For comparison, that increase would be equal to about a quarter of the total capacity of Friant Dam near Fresno.

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Water
12:26 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Jim Costa Calls On Governor Brown To Issue Drought Declaration For California

Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno)
Credit Congress.gov

With forecasts pointing to the third dry year in a row, one Central Valley congressman is calling on the governor to take emergency action to secure more water for valley farmers. FM89's Joe Moore reports.

Speaking on Valley Public Radio's Valley Edition, Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) says that California water users are facing possibly their biggest shortage in over three decades.

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Government & Politics
3:39 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Judge Blocks California High Speed Rail Financing

file photo
Credit Credit California High Speed Rail Authority / File Photo

 California’s High Speed Rail project may have stalled out in court. A judge ruled today the Rail Authority cannot sell $8 billion in bonds to help fund the project.

The judge also ordered the Authority to rewrite its $68 billion funding plan before moving forward with construction.

Jon Coupal is with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which opposes the project.

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Environment
6:29 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

That Sinking Feeling: Valley Land Subsidence Poses Problems for Water, High Speed Rail

The Delta Mendota Canal
www.usbr.gov

The U.S. Geological Survey released a study today showing that large groundwater withdrawals are causing land in California’s Central Valley to sink. A 1,200 square mile area is sinking up to a foot a year in some places. The situation has become so serious that it’s threatening flood control and water deliveries. The proposed high speed rail system will also have deal with the changing terrain. But Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, finding a solution won’t be easy.

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