environment

Environment
5:35 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Governor Brown Signs Environmental Bills

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

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a number of bills Tuesday that he says are designed to help the environment and improve state parks.

The Governor signed two bills that will keep state parks open and improve their management. One of them places a two-year moratorium on any park closure. It designates 30 million dollars to prevent parks from closing, to match private and local donations, and for park maintenance.

Another bill requires the state parks department to create a plan to generate revenues and calls for tighter accounting practices.

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Environment
5:09 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

New Study Examines How Delta Ecosystem Once Worked

Top, Consumnes River delta. Bottom, Sycamore Slough (south of Woodbridge Road). Both November 8, 2011. (photos by William G. Miller, Cole~Miller Photography)
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Historical Ecology Study San Francisco Estuary Institute-Aquatic Science Center / California Department of Fish and Game

A new study released this week by the San Francisco Estuary Institute and the California Department of Fish and Game aims to turn back the clock and learn how the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta used to work - over 150 years ago.

It's part of an effort to allow scientists to better understand how to restore the Delta, by examining how the massive freshwater estuary functioned, before the gold rush and agriculture transformed the region with levees, shipping channels and dredging. 

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Environment
9:35 am
Wed September 12, 2012

California Governor Jerry Brown Signs Timber Tax Bill

Credit Licensed using Creative Commons from Flickr user CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK / http://www.flickr.com/photos/macsurak/6195650749/

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that imposes a 1-percent tax on lumber products starting in January. The bill also protects the timber industry from excessive legal damages for wildfires.

The bill had strong backing from the California timber industry for several reasons. It eliminates regulatory fees companies currently pay when harvesting and shifts the costs to consumers through the tax. It also limits legal damages landowners pay for starting wildfires.

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Energy
6:52 am
Thu September 6, 2012

Solar Sets Records for Power Production in California

The operator of California’s power grid says a single-day record amount of energy was harvested from the sun not once, but twice in the past month.  

The California Independent System Operator (Cal ISO)  reports solar production exceeded the one-gigawatt plateau twice in August.  Stephanie McCorkle with Cal ISO says higher production coincides with decreasing costs.

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Environment
11:43 am
Wed September 5, 2012

State Works to Balance Renewable Energy Projects and Protecting Endangered Species

Eletricity generating windmills dot the landscape near Tehachapi, CA.
Licensed under Creative Commons from Flickr user moominsean http://www.flickr.com/photos/sjrohde/7389804696/

California is working on a plan to balance goals of developing renewable energy projects on desert lands and protect the endangered species that live there. Californians can weigh in at a public meeting on Wednesday

Remote desert areas may seem like the perfect place for wind and solar energy projects. But some projects have already stalled because they threaten endangered species such as the desert tortoise or bighorn sheep.

The state and the federal government are working on a plan to balance those two goals.

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Environment
11:29 am
Fri August 31, 2012

California Tests Cap and Trade System

California officials are ramping up for the greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade market this November, where companies will be required to pay for their pollution. The state held a trial auction to test the new system for selling carbon credits on Thursday.

The main goal of the test run is to make sure the software works smoothly and prevents attempts to game the bidding system, according to, Stanley Young who is with the California Air Resources Board.

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Environment
11:21 am
Wed August 29, 2012

Effort to Approve Mine on Jesse Morrow Mountain Falls Short

Jesse Morrow Mountain
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Plans for a controversial aggregate mine on Jesse Morrow Mountain east of Sanger have stalled after the Fresno County Board of Supervisors failed to approve the project after a marathon meeting Tuesday night. The supervisors were being asked to reverse a decision by the Fresno County Planning Commission, which rejected the project in May. 

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Environment
6:44 pm
Thu August 23, 2012

Overhaul of Environmental Law Dead for the Year

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

A last-minute effort at the State Capitol to overhaul California’s complex environmental review process for development projects is dead for the year. A big push from business and labor groups to reform the law came to an abrupt halt today.

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Government & Politics
6:10 pm
Mon August 20, 2012

Business and Labor Groups Aim to Change California's Environmental Law

With just two weeks left in the legislative session, some business and labor groups are pushing to change California's complex environmental review process for building and construction projects.

Jim Earp is with a coalition of construction unions. He says the law gets abused by being used to stall new development.

“It's not always just about how many end up in lawsuits, its, and this is particularly true in public infrastructure projects, how much the delay adds to the cost of that project.”

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Environment
4:08 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

Capitol Rally For Valley Air Tackles Fracking, CEQA Reforms

Around 40 environmental and public health activists from the San Joaquin Valley staged a rally today at the state capitol, pushing for a wide range of regulatory and legislative actions that they claim will improve air quality in the San Joaquin Valley.

The Central Valley Air Quality Coalition traveled to Sacramento to gather public support and to meet with legislators on a number of environmental issues. The group is asking the legislature to fund more air quality monitors in the Valley and in the Sierra, as well as to restore a monitoring site in Arvin that had been moved.

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Environment
4:09 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Environmental Groups File Suit Over Water Contamination

A map shows water wells in the state that indicated the presence of chromium 6, from 2000-2012.
State Water Resources Control Board

Two major environmental groups have filed suit against the California State Department of Public Health for what they call a failure by the state to set rules for the safe amount of a toxic chemical in drinking water. Hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium-6, gained widespread attention as the chemical that sickened residents in the film Erin Brockovich. 

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9:40 am
Mon August 13, 2012

Easton Residents Struggle With Polluted Water Wells

Lead in text: 
Residents in the Fresno County town of Easton get their water from backyard wells. But many of those wells recently tested above the official limit for certain toxins. It's just the latest case of rural San Joaquin Valley residents struggling to find safe water to drink. Dan Morain of the Sacramento Bee reports.
In the village of Easton, where summer temperatures regularly reach beyond 100 degrees, some lawns are unusually green for this time of year, and people think twice before drinking from the tap. Teresa Ruiz runs an accounting business in a sun-bleached office building on the main street, and her mom, Stella Ruiz, counsels workers about immigration issues, accepting produce gleaned from the fields as partial payment.
Fish & Game
6:53 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

California's Top Wildlife Official Replaced After Cougar Killing

California’s top wildlife official lost that job today seven months after he shot a mountain lion in Idaho. As KPCC’s Julie Small reports, the state Fish and Game Commission voted him out of office.

It wasn’t illegal for commission president Dan Richards to kill the cougar, or to pose with his prey for a photograph that later circulated online.

California banned mountain lion hunts decades ago - but Idaho and many other states allow them.

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Education
4:06 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

UC Merced Chancellor Calls For Off-Campus Growth

Lance Johnson Licensed under Creative Commons from Flickr user LanceJohnson http://www.flickr.com/photos/lancejohnson/5703722259/

UC Merced may be less than a decade old, but the struggling economy and environmental concerns are already leading campus officials to explore the possibility of directing some of the university's future growth to off-campus locations. 

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Health Warning
9:06 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Sewage Spill on Kings River Prompts Health Warning

Public health officials in Tulare County are urging residents to avoid the waters of the Kings River after a sewage spill Monday night in Reedley.

According to officials at around 8:00 p.m. Monday night, a problem at the City of Reedley's Wastewater Treatment Plant on Olsen Avenue resulted in a spill of 63,000 gallons of untreated sewage. At least some of the sewage flowed into the Kings River, which is immediately to the east of the plant. 

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Government & Politics
3:31 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

Study Suggests Environmental Benefits From High Speed Rail

California High Speed Rail Authority

A new study suggests that the proposed high speed rail project could have big environmental benefits for California.

The study, released by UC Berkeley, compared the future sustainability of high speed rail with plane and car travel. It found a mature high speed rail system would use less energy and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Researchers accounted for more fuel efficient cars and planes in the future. And they looked at different levels of ridership when calculating greenhouse gas emissions.

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Special Report: State Parks
2:31 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

Community Rallies as State Park Faces Threat of Closure

Many of California’s state parks were saved from closing this year thanks to operating agreements with nonprofits and private organizations.  Others are on the rocks – or narrowly avoided closure, like Benicia State Recreation Area, which we heard about yesterday.  But one state park in Nevada County offers quite a different story. As Amy Quinton reports in the second of our two-part series, the entire community pulled together to save South Yuba River State Park.

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Environment
5:47 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

UC Merced Study Rates Valley's Progress on Environment

Researchers say the Central Valley has made environmental improvements, just not as much as they'd like. That's according to a new study released today by UC Merced and The Great Valley Center.

The results of the study indicate that watersheds are reaching normal levels, wetland habitat restoration is on the rise, urbanization is slowing, and key air quality indicators are improving. Director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute, Roger Bales, says these are important indicators in the quality of land, water, and air in the region.

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Special Report: State Parks
5:44 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

State Park Scrambles as It Faces Two Week Deadline

Benicia State Recreation Area
Capitol Public Radio

It's been a rollercoaster ride for California state parks. A year ago, the Department of Parks and Recreation selected 70 parks to close on July 1st as a result of budget cuts. But operating agreements with private partners have kept 40 of the parks open.

Now it appears all but a handful will stay open, but nobody knows for how long. In the first of a two-part series looking at the state of California's state parks reporter Kathleen Masterson visited one still struggling to stay open.

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Government & Politics
4:56 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

High speed rail releases revised environmental study

Artists rendering of a station for the state's planned high speed rail system.
California High Speed Rail Authority

The California High Speed Rail Authority has released a Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project section between Fresno and Bakersfield. The Authority has provided alternative routes in response to public dissatisfaction with the proposals in the original report released last year.

Frank Oliveira of the group Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability, says he's still concerned with the revised draft, as he isn't convinced the Authority has done what they can to understand the effects the high speed rail could have in the Valley.

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