environment

Environment
1:03 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Legislation Would Increase Fines For Big Air Polluters

photo illustration - file photo
Credit Valley Public Radio

More than 15,000 people sought medical help from air pollution after the Chevron oil refinery fire in Richmond last year.

As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, several lawmakers say polluters should pay more for air quality violations.

Under current law, the maximum penalty for air quality violations is only $25,000 even when negligence can be demonstrated.

Democratic Senator Loni Hancock says in cases like the Chevron oil refinery fire, it should be more. She represents the Bay area where she says the average fine for a violation is just $500.

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Health
6:03 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

New Study Shows Poor, Minorities At Greater Asthma Risk

Polluted skies over northeast Fresno (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new study from UCLA and the state Air Resources Board finds that minorities and other low-income populations face greater incidents of asthma than the rest of the population.

The study from the Chronic Disease Program at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research connects increased exposure to pollution with a rise in everything from asthma attacks to work absences and emergency room visits.

The study also found that those living within 750 feet of busy roads and highways had increases in asthma-related trips to the emergency room.

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Fracking
5:58 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Brown Backs State's Fracking Regulators, Promises Deliberative Process

California Governor Jerry Brown (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown says he supports the people he’s put in charge of regulating the process of extracting oil and natural gas known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”  He says California’s fossil fuel deposits have “extraordinary” potential.

Some legislative Democrats and environmental groups have raised safety concerns about fracking.  Brown told reporters in San Francisco today that he’s confident his administration will handle all safety and regulatory questions as they come up.

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Government & Politics
11:08 am
Wed March 13, 2013

Why Unions Oppose Overhauling CEQA

Unions, environmental groups, Democratic lawmakers and others hold a Capitol news conference Tuesday to oppose efforts they say would weaken the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

The coalition of groups that will fight efforts in the state legislature this year to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act is taking shape.  It includes environmental groups, some Democratic lawmakers … and labor unions.  Ben Adler reports from Sacramento on why unions are on this side of the CEQA debate.

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Environment
11:13 am
Tue March 12, 2013

Nature Preserve Near Fresno Delights Foothill Visitors

Wildflowers cover the nearly flat surface of the table at McKenzie Preserve
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

On the edge of a region in California known for agriculture and dairy, lays a hidden gem.  A wildlife preserve with Table top foothills, that in spring are awash in color from budding wild flowers.

On Saturday, the Sierra Foothill Conservancy, a local group that manages a number of foothill preserves in the region held a special open house at the group’s largest operation.   

The McKenzie Preserve – in-between Friant and Prather – was open to the public for exploring and a hike up a flat top lava formed table in the region.

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Government & Politics
5:40 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Dozens of Bills Introduced to Change Environmental Law


California lawmakers have introduced more than a dozen bills that make changes to the California Environmental Quality Act, known as CEQA.  As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, critics of the 43-year-old law say it’s a barrier to economic growth.

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Development Watch
9:15 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Fresno County To Allow Developers to Select Their Own Environmental Consultants

Developers in Fresno County will soon be able to hire firms of their own choosing to study the environmental impacts of proposed projects. 

The Board of Supervisors approved the new policy Tuesday on a 5-0 vote, saying that it will speed up the development process, and help to create jobs.

Until now, developers would pay the county for the preparation of an environmental impact report (EIR). The county would then issue a "request for proposal" to environmental consulting companies, a selection process that can take nearly half a year to complete. 

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Government & Politics
2:32 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Bill Calls For New Courts Dedicated to CEQA Cases

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Lawsuits under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA are often criticized for delaying projects. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, one lawmaker has introduced a bill that he says might speed up the judicial process.

Democratic Assemblymember Roger Dickinson has introduced a bill that would create CEQA courts in Northern and Southern California. The courts would have exclusive jurisdiction over any CEQA litigation.

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Environment
6:54 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Report: Cleanup Nitrate Pollution With Fee on Fertilizer Sales

A map showing the initial study areas for a recent UC Davis study of nitrate pollution.
Credit CA Water Resources Control Board

The State Water Resources Control Board is recommending that California fund efforts to mitigate nitrate pollution through a statewide fee on fertilizer.

In a report to the Legislature, the board said that groundwater nitrate pollution in the Tulare Lake Basin and Salinas Valley is likely to get worse in the future, and a dedicated funding stream is needed to address the problem.

Agricultural fertilizer and confined animal facilities are considered some of the top sources of nitrate pollution.

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Water Quality
5:26 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Lawmakers Introduce Clean Drinking Water Legislation

file photo
Credit Valley Public Radio

Several lawmakers introduced nine bills Wednesday they say are designed to help the more than 21 million Californians who rely on contaminated groundwater for drinking. 

Environmental groups and several Democratic legislators stood on the Capitol steps to call for an end to contaminated water.

They say so many poor communities lack access to safe drinking water that California will have to invest about $40 billion over the next two decades to solve the problem.

Democratic Assemblymember Henry T. Perea represents Fresno and parts of the Central Valley.

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The Moral Is
1:28 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Commentary: Time To Turn Off Our Sprinklers, Fresno

Madhusudan Katti
Credit Madhusudan Katti

The San Joaquin Valley’s communities and farms all blossomed our of a desert landscape thanks to available water supplies. But with an increasing population, and global warming, how we use this most precious resource is becoming more and more important. In this edition of FM89’s commentary series "The Moral Is", Fresno State biology professor Madhusudan Katti says it’s time for us to turn off our sprinklers.

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Government & Politics
6:46 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Kern County's Anti-Sewage Sludge Measure E Blocked Again In Court

Kern County Government Center in Downtown Bakersfield
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Efforts by Kern County to stop the City of Los Angeles from spreading treated sewage waste on valley farmland have hit another obstacle  today.

On Wednesday, the 5th District Court of Appeals upheld an earlier Superior Court decision granting a preliminary injunction that prevents Measure E from taking effect.

Kern County voters approved the measure back in 2006, which would have stopped the controversial practice, but the law has been stuck in a lengthy court fight ever since.

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Environment
4:10 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

Delta Smelt Deaths Mean Less Water for Central and Southern California

An adult delta smelt
Credit California Department of Water Resources

  Too many fish deaths in the Sacramento- San Joaquin Delta are forcing the California Department of Water Resources to reduce the amount of water pumped to the Central Valley and southern California.

The number of protected Delta Smelt killed this year is nearing the annual limit set by the Endangered Species Act. Pumping stations have killed 232 smelt. Rules allow only 305 over the entire year.

Mark Corwin with the Department says the deaths illustrate the need for a new system, one that would include $14 billion twin tunnels.

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Fracking
11:51 am
Tue February 12, 2013

Lawmakers To Hold Hearing on "Fracking" Regulations

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” will be the subject of a joint legislative hearing at the California state Capitol today.

As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, recently released fracking regulations have some lawmakers concerned.

 The Department of Conservation recently released draft regulations for energy companies that inject chemicals into the ground under pressure to release oil.

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Environment
9:58 am
Mon February 11, 2013

Fight Over Key Environmental Law Heats Up In Sacramento

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

 What some see as California’s most important environmental law, others see as an economic impediment. The 43-year-old California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, guides almost every development project in the state.

Governor Jerry Brown and many lawmakers say it’s time to modernize it. But As Amy Quinton reports, how to do that is a question with no easy answers.

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Environment
5:32 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Report: More than Half of Californians Get Contaminated Drinking Water

file photo
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

More than half of California's population relies on a contaminated drinking water supply – though most communities blend or treat their water to make it safe.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on that finding in a new state report out this week.

The report by the State Water Resources Control Board was ordered by the state Legislature.  It says from 2002 to 2010, 680 out of 3,000 community water systems in the state relied on one or more contaminated groundwater wells.  Those contaminated wells served 21 million people.

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Environment
11:05 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Valley Residents, Health Advocates Call For Better Protection From Particle Pollution

The Fresno skyline as seen through a thick cloud of pollution (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The San Joaquin Valley’s polluted air is a daily concern for Mario Talavera.

“When I go to the pharmacy, they ask why I need medicine," said Talavera, of Fresno. "For Mario, Angelica, Tomas, Jose. And for me too, Mario. I have asthma. The only person who doesn’t have asthma is my wife.”

It’s a constant stress for Fresno resident Teresa Vidales, too. Her husband, a construction worker and the family breadwinner, has asthma. One of her four kids does, too.

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Fracking
5:24 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Environmental Group Sues State Over Fracking Regulation

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A prominent environmental group has filed a lawsuit challenging the State of California’s stance on the regulation of hydraulic fracturing in the production of oil and natural gas. 

The Center for Biological Diversity says that the state’s Division of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources has failed to act on an existing state law that it says allows the regulation of the controversial practice. The lawsuit was filed today in Alameda County Superior Court. 

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Environment
11:06 am
Tue January 22, 2013

Kettleman City Residents Work to Reduce Diesel Pollution

Maria Saucedo, left, and Anna Martinez, both community organizers with Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, monitor diesel idling "hot spots" in Kettleman City.
Rebecca Plevin Valley Public Radio

Anna Martinez was standing on a street corner in the tiny farmworker community of Kettleman City when she heard the familiar sound of a truck engine roaring to life.

She pointed to a diesel truck parked on a lot next to three others. The lot was just one block from State Route 41, and another block or so from a huge agricultural field.

“We’ll see how long he’s going to idle,” said Martinez, a community organizer with Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice. “He’s just now starting his truck - see all the emissions and black smoke.”

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Environment
1:07 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

EPA: Valley Facilities Top Statewide List of Toxic Chemical Releases

Kettleman City, in rural Kings County is home to one of the state's leading sources of toxic chemical releases. (file photo)
Credit California Department of Public Health

Two hazardous waste facilities in the San Joaquin Valley led the state in toxic chemical releases in 2011, according to a report released today by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Clean Harbors landfill in Buttonwillow in western Kern County ranked number one in the state in toxic releases, with nearly 10 million pounds in 2011. In Kings County, Chemical Waste Management’s Kettleman City disposal facility released nearly four million pounds in 2011, which ranked third in the state.

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