environment

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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Environment
2:24 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Bill to Increase Air Pollution Fines Moves Forward

file photo
Credit Valley Public Radio

A bill that would increase fines for big air polluters in California is now headed to the Assembly floor. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, it was drafted in response to the Chevron oil refinery fire in Richmond last year.

The Chevron oil refinery fire forced 15,000 people to seek medical help. Under current law such a violation would result in a $10,000 fine. Democratic Senator Loni Hancock says the legislation she’s authored would increase the fine to $100,000.

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Environment
11:04 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Betancourt Seeks Balance Between Environment, Ag in 'Ten Reasons'

Kerman farmer Paul Betancourt says it's time to Californians to abandon that idea that a healthy environment and a healthy agriculture economy can't co-exist. His new book "Ten Reasons: Finding Balance on Environmental Issues" seeks to find solutions that are both economically practical and environmentally beneficial. 

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Environment
10:39 am
Tue August 13, 2013

How Will Global Warming Impact the San Joaquin Valley?

Rising global temperatures aren’t just an international concern, they’re also an important local issue, especially when it comes to public health. How will climate change affect everything from rates of asthma and valley fever to wildfires and natural disasters?

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Environment
7:14 am
Sun August 11, 2013

UC Scientists Work To Bring Back The White Abalone

UC Davis scientists think they’ve found a way to bring back the white abalone from the brink of extinction.
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

If you live in California you’re probably familiar with abalone. The sea snails native habitat is along the California coast. For decades abalone fishermen have flocked to the shore to catch them. One abalone species has suffered the consequences of its tasty meat more than most. The white abalone is endangered almost to the point of extinction. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, UC Davis scientists think they’ve set the mood for its recovery.

In the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, Kristin Aquilino reaches into a fish tank.

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Environment
6:07 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Bill To Move Drinking Water Program Has Governor's Support

Legislation by Fresno Democrat Henry T. Perea that supporters say will help California communities gain access to clean drinking water now has the support of Governor Jerry Brown’s administration. It goes before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday. (file photo)
Credit The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

A California Senate Committee will hear a bill Monday that would move the state’s Safe Drinking Water program away from the Department of Public Health. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the department has come under fire for failing to distribute money to communities that need it.

The Department of Public Health has been criticized by both the EPA and some lawmakers for failing to distribute nearly a half billion dollars to communities for clean drinking water.

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Environment
4:46 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Steinberg: Delta Tunnel Project Needs Legislative Buy-In

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California legislative leaders are pushing back against the contention of Governor Jerry Brown’s administration that its Delta tunnels proposal doesn’t need lawmaker approval.

“I don’t know whether he needs it legally, but I think he needs it politically and other ways,” says Steinberg.

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Environment
7:46 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Fight Over Alleged Radioactive Waste Involves Kern County Landfills

Consumer Watchdog and other environmental groups have filed suit against Boeing and the California Department of Toxic Substance Control over what they claim is the illegal disposal of low-level radioactive waste from a retired Boeing facility in Ventura County.

The groups allege that the demolition of potentially contaminated buildings at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory near Simi Valley is a threat to public health, and a violation of the state’s environmental laws.

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Science
6:25 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Robotic Sub Fails In Study of Tahoe Earthquake Fault Line

A robotic submarine in Lake Tahoe was supposed to study the deepest earthquake fault line… but not every experiment works out as planned.
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

An unmanned robotic submarine designed to explore Antarctica has taken a detour to Lake Tahoe. Its mission was to study the deepest earthquake fault line, more than 1,000 feet beneath the surface. It’s an area geologists had never seen before. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, they still haven’t.

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Fracking
10:23 am
Mon August 5, 2013

Feds, State to Study Fracking in California

The federal government has announced a sweeping study of fracking and other oil and gas extraction techniques in California.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will lead the study.  BLM California State Director Jim Kenna says it’s in response to lawsuits attempting to block oil and gas development on public lands.

“Certainly, the intent would be to reduce legal challenges – hopefully because people trust the information and are more aware of what is going on.  But the bottom line is, the science will find out what it finds out,” says Kenna.

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Environment
10:26 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

PPIC Poll: Nearly Two-Thirds of Californians Favor Action Now on Climate Change

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Californians are now more likely to urge swift state action to slow global warming than they were during the recession.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on that and other findings from the Public Policy Institute of California’s new poll on environmental issues.

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Government & Politics
6:42 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

CEQA Overhaul Supporters Not Happy with Current Proposal

As negotiations over a potential overhaul of California’s landmark environmental law enter their final weeks, supporters of rewriting the California Environmental Quality Act say the current proposal falls short of reform.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

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Environment
2:07 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

The Challenges of Salvaging Smelt and Other Delta Fish

A truck dumps fish into the Delta at the DWR release site
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

For decades, millions of fish have been diverted from pumping facilities at state and federal water projects in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Fish -- including endangered species like the Delta smelt-- are put in holding tanks then trucked to other parts of the Delta and released. From there, little is known about their fate. But most scientists agree it’s not good. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, predator fish often wait for what amounts to a daily feeding.

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