Environment

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.

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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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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.” 

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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
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.

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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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Environment
11:00 am
Fri January 25, 2013

Brown Touts Delta Tunnel Plan in State of the State Speech

California Governor Jerry Brown called for renewed support for his Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnel plan
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown reiterated his pitch to shore up California’s water supply in his State of the State address Thursday.  But Brown’s proposal to spend $14 billion dollars on water received no response from lawmakers during a packed joint session.

As KPCC’s Julie Small reports, his message is really for consumers—and the agencies that supply water to them.

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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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Air Quality
5:35 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

NASA Flights Over Fresno, Bakersfield Hope to Predict Air Quality From Space

A NASA P3-B aircraft flys over Porterville on Wednesday as part of project to learn more about air pollution in the San Joaquin Valley
Penn State / NASA

NASA scientists and aircraft took to the skies above Fresno and Bakersfield today. It's part of a project that one day hopes to predict and air quality from space.

Two aircraft, including a converted Navy P3-B flew repeated loops over various valley cities today, one of them as low as 1,000 feet, to gather air samples. It's part of a program NASA calls DISCOVER-AQ which aims to better understand pollution spikes and how pollutants react with sunlight throughout the day. 

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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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Yosemite
6:06 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

Yosemite Releases Draft Merced River Plan

Yosemite Falls (File Photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

It has taken more than a decade, but Yosemite National Park finally released today its draft plans to protect and restore the Merced River corridor for the next 20 years.

The plans, which include six different alternatives, are intended to preserve the river, and provide visitors with opportunities to enjoy the river, according to Kathleen Morse, chief of planning at Yosemite National Park.

“It’s a dual purpose plan: One to protect the resources, and two, to provide access to them,” Morse said.

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Environment
4:00 pm
Wed January 2, 2013

Sierra Snowpack Has Water Managers Happy, So Far

Snow covers the high Sierra in this file photo, taken north of Visalia.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California’s water managers say the state has a good supply of water so far thanks to a snowy December.

The first official measurement of the Sierra Nevada snowpack showed four-feet of accumulation. Manual and electronic readings showed the water content of the snow at 134 percent of average for this time of year.

Frank Gehrke is with the Department of Water Resources. He says last year the snowpack in the area was just over one-tenth of an inch.

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Environment
5:10 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Sierra Foothill Conservancy Adds New Wildlife Preserve Near Clovis

Cattle from the Sierra Lands Beef program graze on land that is part of the Sierra Foothill Conservancy's McKenzie Preserve, in March 2012. - file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A local conservation group working to preserve foothill ranch land has added another another major property to its list of protected areas.

The Sierra Foothill Conservancy announced today that it has purchased the historic Tallman Ranch east of Clovis. The 280 acre property will become the Ted K. Martin Wildlife Preserve. 

Martin donated $1 million to the conservancy to fund the purchase of the ranch from the Tallman Family and another $300,000 to support its management for the future.

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Environment
7:52 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

State Releases Draft of Proposed Fracking Regulations

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The State of California's Department of Conservation on Tuesday released a draft proposal for new regulations governing hydraulic fracturing in the oil and gas industry, a practice also known as fracking.

The proposal calls for new well testing and chemical disclosure procedures designed to safeguard the environment and public health, but critics say the rules don't go far enough.

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Environment
4:52 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Talk of Revamping Water Bond to Heat Up in 2013

The Friant-Kern Canal delivers water to growers and cities on the eastern side of the San Joaquin Valley. (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

There’s a push for a new look at the $11 billion water bond now scheduled for California’s November 2014 ballot.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, some lawmakers want to reduce the bond’s size, while others want to rewrite it entirely.

Democratic Senator Lois Wolk represents the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region – and she’s long felt the bond approved in 2009 was a bad piece of legislation.  Now that it’s been pushed back a second time, Wolk has introduced a bill that would start over:

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