Environment

News about energy and the environment

US Forest Service BAER Team

National parks across the country may be off-limits to visitors due to the government shutdown, but in the Sierra, it hasn’t stopped efforts to recover from the Rim Fire.

A crew of around 50 fire response specialists are still on the job in the Stanislaus National Forest and in Yosemite National Park.

Two New Water Bond Alternatives Draw Lawmakers' Scrutiny

Sep 25, 2013
http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/

California lawmakers are taking a closer look at two new water bond proposals that would replace the measure currently set for next November’s ballot.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on Tuesday’s committee hearing at the Capitol.

One of the two alternative water bond proposals comes from Senator Lois Wolk and focuses on restoring the area she represents: the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Ninth Circuit Upholds California Emissions Law

Sep 18, 2013
Capital Public Radio

Environmentalists are celebrating a court ruling Wednesday upholding California’s low emission fuel standards. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, fuel manufactures say the law is unfair. 

California consumes nearly 20 billion gallons of gas and diesel every year, the most in the country. Because the market is so big, state regulations have a far reaching impact.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

In the small Kern County community of Tupman, the 2013 pistachio harvest is well underway. 

Chris Romanini's family has been farming this land, just west of Interstate 5, where the valley's fields meet the Elk Hills for decades. 

It's probably not the first place you'd think of when it comes to the effort to reduce CO2 emissions and combat global warming. But just a few hundred yards away from this orchard, plans for a $4 billion power plant and fertilizer factory could soon make the Tupman area known for a lot more than those pistachios. 

Brown Promises to Sign Minimum Wage, Fracking Bills

Sep 11, 2013

California Governor Jerry Brown has indicated that he will sign a bill that would regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which passed the Assembly today. The bill is generating fierce debate. Max Pringle reports from Sacramento.

Fracking is when energy companies pump pressurized water and chemicals into oil wells to maximize output. Democratic Assembly member Adam Gray says the measure gives much needed oversight to an under-regulated industry.

Electric Bill Increase or Fairer California Power Rates?

Aug 29, 2013
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Legislation that could add a flat fee of up to 10 dollars a month on some California electric bills is up for a key committee vote Friday.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the measure has support from utilities and consumer groups – but it’s sparking pushback from environmental advocates.

Transcript

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The massive wildfire burning near and in Yosemite National Park is still growing. It has now charred more than 180,000 acres of scenic forest, which makes it one of the largest in California history. At this point, it is still only 20 percent contained. Thousands of firefighters are working hard to improve that number and corral the flames. But as NPR's Nathan Rott reports, this is no ordinary fire.

http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3660/

The Rim Fire is now the seventh largest wildfire in California history, growing to nearly 180,000 acres overnight. Over 3,700 firefighters are battling the blaze which is now 20 percent contained. It has destroyed 111 structures, with many more threatened. Late yesterday officials expanded the evacuation area, as the fire continues to spread to the east and southeast. Residents in an area from Mi-Wok to Pinecrest are now being advised to leave their homes.

https://www.facebook.com/FishFireInformation

The Fish Fire, which was sparked by lightning  in the remote Golden Trout Wilderness has now grown to over 1,450 acres.

Officials report that the fire is just 7 percent contained. It is burning in a remote area within the Sequoia National Forest about 25 miles northeast of Springville, near the Kern River. The fire has grown by 450 acres since Sunday.

Fire officials from Arizona are managing the blaze. Approximately 213 personnel are battling the fire. Due to the remote nature of the site, supplies must be delivered by helicopter or by pack animals. 

California Committee Delays Acting on Fracking Regulation Bill

Aug 21, 2013
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

A California bill to monitor and regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking has stumbled in a key Assembly committee. Under the bill, companies would have to make public all information regarding their fracking operations. Max Pringle reports from Sacramento.

Fracking is when energy companies inject pressurized water and chemicals into the ground to extract oil and gas. Jena Price with the California League of Conservation voters says the bill the League co-sponsored would set a national precedent on the regulation of fracking.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A bill that would give the California Coastal Commission the power to levy fines is headed for a vote in the State Senate. Under current law, the commission is only allowed to sue people or businesses suspected of damaging or limiting access to the state’s coast line. 

Assembly member Toni Atkins says her bill would grant the Coastal Commission the same enforcement power every other state regulatory agency already has.

“Other agencies that are tasked with enforcing regulations have the ability to do this and at much higher rates of fines,” says Atkins.

Valley Air District to Issue Air Alert Monday

Aug 16, 2013
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has announced that it intends to issue an "Air Alert" early next week. The alert will begin Monday August 19th and continue through Wednesday August 21st. 

This district is urging residents to take steps that can reduce the amount of ozone pollution, and prevent a potential violation of the 1-hour ozone standard. In addition to health risks posed by ozone pollution, violating the standard could also result in a $29 million federal penalty.

CA Dept of Water Resources

The California Department of Water Resources is changing the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. It includes two tunnels to carry water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to central and southern California. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the changes do not satisfy environmentalists or people that live in the Delta.

California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird says the changes prove water managers have listened to Delta-area landowners. Under the changes, the footprint of the project would shrink by 50-percent and shift construction away from private lands to public.

Bill to Increase Air Pollution Fines Moves Forward

Aug 13, 2013
Valley Public Radio

A bill that would increase fines for big air polluters in California is now headed to the Assembly floor. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, it was drafted in response to the Chevron oil refinery fire in Richmond last year.

The Chevron oil refinery fire forced 15,000 people to seek medical help. Under current law such a violation would result in a $10,000 fine. Democratic Senator Loni Hancock says the legislation she’s authored would increase the fine to $100,000.

Kerman farmer Paul Betancourt says it's time to Californians to abandon that idea that a healthy environment and a healthy agriculture economy can't co-exist. His new book "Ten Reasons: Finding Balance on Environmental Issues" seeks to find solutions that are both economically practical and environmentally beneficial. 

Rising global temperatures aren’t just an international concern, they’re also an important local issue, especially when it comes to public health. How will climate change affect everything from rates of asthma and valley fever to wildfires and natural disasters?

Rebecca Plevin

A lawsuit against the operators of a controversial rendering plant in southwest Fresno can move forward, according to an order issued Monday by Superior Court judge Mark Snauffer.

The judge ruled that a community group – Concerned Citizens of West Fresno – could seek an injunction to prevent Darling International Inc. from operating the rendering plant without a conditional use permit, based on their claims that it’s a public nuisance.

UC Scientists Work To Bring Back The White Abalone

Aug 11, 2013
Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

If you live in California you’re probably familiar with abalone. The sea snails native habitat is along the California coast. For decades abalone fishermen have flocked to the shore to catch them. One abalone species has suffered the consequences of its tasty meat more than most. The white abalone is endangered almost to the point of extinction. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, UC Davis scientists think they’ve set the mood for its recovery.

In the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, Kristin Aquilino reaches into a fish tank.

The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

A California Senate Committee will hear a bill Monday that would move the state’s Safe Drinking Water program away from the Department of Public Health. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the department has come under fire for failing to distribute money to communities that need it.

The Department of Public Health has been criticized by both the EPA and some lawmakers for failing to distribute nearly a half billion dollars to communities for clean drinking water.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California legislative leaders are pushing back against the contention of Governor Jerry Brown’s administration that its Delta tunnels proposal doesn’t need lawmaker approval.

“I don’t know whether he needs it legally, but I think he needs it politically and other ways,” says Steinberg.

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