Environment

News about energy and the environment

Matt Billingsley, the general manager of Dog House Grill, says the eatery cooks up 1,200 pounds of tri-tip daily.
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.”

Brown's Budget Proposal Spends Cap and Trade Money

Jan 9, 2014
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.

California Budget Proposal Would Move Clean Drinking Water Program

Jan 9, 2014
Valley Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal would make a significant change to the state’s Safe Drinking Water Program.  Last year, the Department of Public Health came under fire for failing to spend almost a half billion dollars to provide drinking water to communities that need it.

Under Brown’s budget proposal, the State Water Resources Control Board would run the program in the future. Jennifer Clary, with Clean Water Action, says she’s glad the program will be taken from the Department of Public Health.

San Joaquin River Restoration Program

Citing a historically dry 2013, Assemblymember Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) is calling for the federal government to stop water releases from Friant Dam for the San Joaquin River Restoration program.

Since 2009 the restoration program has released water into the river on an interim basis in an effort to bring back salmon populations to a stretch of the channel that has been dry for decades. The restoration agreement calls for those flows to become permanent in 2014.

California Water Officials Say Drought Proclamation Likely

Jan 7, 2014
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.

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.

New Fracking Regulations Start January 1

Dec 30, 2013
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.

San Joaquin River Restoration Hits Snags

Dec 30, 2013
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.

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.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Arctic chill that swept into the region Wednesday is causing the San Joaquin Valley’s $2-billion citrus industry to shudder in fear over of what could become a devastating loss to the industry if evening temperatures continue to plummet. FM89’s Ezra David reports on what one Valley grower is doing to combat the freeze.

---

James McFarland’s eyes are sleepy and red.

“I’ve been out for most of the night for the past two nights and it looks like that will occur for four or five more,” McFarland says.

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.

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.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Fires in the Sierra Nevada are a natural phenomenon, but with human sparked blazes - like this summer's Rim Fire - the ecology of the mountain range is in flux. Will the high country scorched this summer ever return to its natural glory or will the region of the forest be littered with shrubbery? In this report Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero takes a walk through multiple groves scorched by fires - caused naturally and by the human hand - and speaks with ecologists about the future of the forest burned by the Rim Fire.

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.

California's Demand for Water May Far Exceed Supply in 2014

Nov 20, 2013
CA Dept of Water Resources

Californians may have to be more cautious with their water use in the coming year. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, initial projections indicate there won’t be much to go around.

The Department of Water Resources says it will only be able to initially fulfill five percent of requested water deliveries in 2014. Every year water agencies throughout California request water through the State Water Project. More than 25 million people and 700 thousand acres of farmland depend on the supply.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

As Congress continues to debate the farm bill, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited the Valley Tuesday to speak with local agriculture leaders. But he also called for Washington to do more when it comes to fighting wildfires.

He told a crowd of about 200 hundred people at Fresno State that passing a farm bill is essential to the San Joaquin Valley’s ag economy.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

In the decades-long effort to clean up the San Joaquin Valley's notoriously poor air, 2013 might be a milestone. For the first time, the air basin had zero violations of the hourly federal ozone standard.  

That news prompted the governing board of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to vote Thursday to formally request that the EPA lift a required a $29 million annual penalty.

Courtesy Peter Gleick

Peter Gleick is one of California's leading water experts. In an op-ed piece recently published in the Sacramento Bee, Gleick  criticized the draft of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan for what he calls a lack of specificity.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California is on course for what could be its driest year on record. Those were the sobering words from scientists with the National Weather Service in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle. And after two dry years, the relative lack of rain and snow is putting a great strain on the state's precious water resources. 

But there's another big water story in our backyard - the restoration of the San Joaquin River. 

Central Valley Project Reservoirs Lowest Since 2009

Nov 11, 2013
State Department of Water Resources

Six key reservoirs of the federal Central Valley Project are at the lowest levels since 2009, when the state was officially in a drought. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, some farmers are expecting zero-percent water allocations in 2014.

Pages