Environment

Fracking
6:05 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

Central Valley Water Board Launches Investigation Over Fracking Wastewater Disposal

The investigation into Vintage Production was launched after a YouTube video allegedly depicted the disposal of fracking wastewater in an unlined pond at a well near Shafter.
Credit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxb671gbmkY

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has launched an investigation into a Kern County oil producer over concerns about how the company disposes of potentially dangerous fracking wastewater.

Vintage Production California allegedly discharged chemical laced wastewater into an unlined retention pond at a well near Shafter, without required permits.

Read more
Fracking
5:29 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Bill To Regulate 'Fracking' Clears State Senate Committee

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Some lawmakers say California is not doing enough to regulate hydraulic fracturing or fracking for oil and gas. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, a bill designed to tighten regulations passed its first legislative test today.

Read more
Environment
1:18 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

The Merced River Plan and the Future of Yosemite National Park

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Beneath the shadows of Half Dome and El Capitan, in the heart of Yosemite Valley, lies the Merced River. It’s been known as a Wild and Scenic River since 1987. It’s a federal designation that aims to preserve river ecosystems and values. But after a major flood damaged much of the park’s infrastructure in 1997, environmental groups and park management clashed over plans for how best to restore the park in compliance with the law. Now, after 15 years marked by lawsuits and studies, a new management plan for the Merced River has been released.

Read more
Environment
5:22 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

For California Lawmakers, Plastic Bag Ban Debate is Back

One of the most controversial issues in the California legislature in recent years is back.  Lawmakers are proposing several bills that would either ban the use of plastic bags, charge fees for single-use bags or both.  Ben Adler reports from Sacramento.

This idea has stalled in the legislature year after year, amid strong opposition from plastic bag manufacturers and grocers.  But Democratic Assemblyman Mark Levine says this time will be different.

Read more
Environment
6:09 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Snow Survey Shows Dramatically Dry Conditions for California

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The next to the last snow survey of the season shows extremely dry conditions for California. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, it has prompted the Department of Natural Resources to call the security of the state’s water supply “threatened.”

 The bad news: the water content in California’s snowpack is only 52 percent of normal. What’s worse, the spring melt is underway. While the season started with water content above 130 percent of normal in January, it’s been unusually dry ever since. 

Read more
Environment
6:10 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Bay Delta Conservation Plan Details Efforts to Protect Endangered Fish

Delta smelt (file photo)
Credit California Department of Water Resources

California Governor Jerry Brown’s administration released new details today of its plan to protect fish and wildlife in the Sacramento-San-Joaquin Delta. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the plan revolves around new tunnels to carry more water to the Central Valley and southern California. 

Read more
Environment
6:04 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Community Recycling Asks For New Permit, Environmental Study

Community Recycling in Lamont wants permission to operate under a new Conditional Use Permit
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Residents in the Kern County community of Lamont are meeting this evening to discuss the future of a controversial recycling and compost facility. 

Community Recycling wants the county to modify its existing Conditional Use Permit to authorize processing food and green waste, byproducts from composting, and drywall.

The facility has a history of code and land use violations, and environmental groups have called it a major source of pollution.

Read more
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.

Read more
Environment
4:05 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

First Portion of $14 Billion Bay Delta Conservation Plan Released

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (file photo)
http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/

State officials in Sacramento today released a portion of a new plan to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and improve water reliability for southern California residents and farmers. Known as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, the controversial project includes a $14 billion proposal to build two tunnels to carry water around the fragile ecosystem to users south of the delta. 

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
Environment
3:16 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Sierra Snowpack Below Normal; Driest Year on Record

Sierra snowpack this winter is below normal, according to a recent snow survey
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

January and February are the driest on record for the northern Sierra Nevada. As Amy Quinton reports, snowpack is well-below normal for this time of year.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
Environment
5:13 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

Oil Severance Tax Proposed; Would Fund CA Parks, Higher Ed

An active oil well sits near the Stockdale Tower in Bakersfield
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

  Democratic lawmakers are calling for a new tax on oil removed from the ground in California – with the money going toward state parks and higher education.

Senator Noreen Evans is one of the bill’s co-authors.  She says the revenue would fill two of the state’s most critical funding needs.  And she says California is the only oil-producing state in the nation without an oil severance tax.

“This is not a tax on taxpayers, and studies have shown that an oil extraction tax does not contribute to the cause of gasoline at the pump.” 

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
Environment
10:37 am
Thu January 31, 2013

Second Snow Survey Shows Below Normal Conditions

California’s water managers say a dry January has left water content in the Sierra snowpack below the average. (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

 

California snow surveyors reported Tuesday that water content in the state’s mountain snowpack is below average for the date. 

The manual readings this month confirmed what many water managers expected after a relatively dry January. The water content in the Sierra snow is 93 percent of average for this time of year.

Early storms in November and December dumped snow ranging from 32 ½ to 44 inches around Echo Summit. That erased the deficit in reservoir storage. But very little snow has fallen since.

Read more

Pages