Environment

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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Food
9:53 am
Mon August 13, 2012

GMO Food Labeling Initiative Could Affect Natural Foods Too

California’s Proposition 37 would require foods containing genetically modified ingredients to be labeled. But a part of the initiative regarding what foods can be labeled "natural" has sparked controversy.

The fuss is over the language that supporters say aims to ban genetically engineered foods from being labeled "natural."

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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.
Energy
12:49 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Cal ISO Calls Statewide Flex Alert For This Weekend

file photo
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

People use more energy when it’s hot, and California’s power grid operator has issued a Flex Alert because of the current heat wave.

Cal-ISO is the state’s Independent System Operator. When the forecast for demand gets close to the state’s power generating capacity, the operator calls a Flex Alert. Stephanie McCorkle with Cal-ISO says it’s most important to conserve during the peak usage hours between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

"Electricity is not something you can bottle up and store on a shelf. It is basically consumed the instant it is produced.”

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Forest Fires
8:01 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Lightning Caused Fires Continue to Burn in Mountains

The Bear Fire continues to burn in the rugged Sierra National Forest east of Fresno.
Sierra National Forest

Fires sparked by lightning on Saturday  continue to burn today in rugged terrain in the Sierra Nevada mountains, nearly a week after they began. In the Sierra National Forest east of Fresno the Bear Fire has consumed over 700 acres of timber between Edison and Florence Lake.

Ten smoke jumpers, four helicopters and four fixed wing aircraft are battling the blaze, which is in terrain ranging from 7,500 to 9,000 feet in elevation. The fire is currently 50 percent contained. No structures are threatened. 

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Environment
4:45 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Planning Commission Approves Carmelita Mining Project

A photo from the environmental impact report for the proposed Carmelita Project mine depicts the orchards currently on the site.
Fresno County Dept Public Works & Planning / Librun Corp

The Fresno County Planning Commission approved a controversial proposal for a gravel mining project near the Kings River north of Reedley today on a 6-1 vote.

The Carmelita Project is a planned 886 acre gravel mine between Reed Avenue and the Kings River.  The project will be divided into 22 mining "cells" each of them 40 acres in size and up to 50 feet deep. Over the next 100 years, the mine will produce as much as 1.25 million tons of sand and rock each year. The land is owned by Fresno based Gerawan Farming, and is currently home to fruit orchards.

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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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Environment
6:57 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

California Air Resources Board Maps Air Polluters

A screenshot of the new greenhouse gas emissions Google map from the California Air Resources Board
California Air Resources Board

The California Air Resources Board has created a map that shows the state’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases. It is a significant step in the development of California’s Cap and Trade program.

On the new Google Earth map are 625 facilities that each produce more than 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually. The map breaks down facilities by industry, zip code and emissions. But, Stanley Young with the Air Resources Board says state-to-state comparisons aren’t yet available.

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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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Environment
7:25 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

Valley reacts to Brown's Bay-Delta tunnel plan

Governor Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced plans today to make big changes to the state’s water supply system - and the plan is already being met with both support and criticism from up and down the state.

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The Two-Way
2:44 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

California's Jerry Brown: Water Tunnel Shows 'I Want To Get [Stuff] Done'

Gov. Jerry Brown waits for the start of a news conference to announce plans to build a giant twin tunnel system to move water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to farmland and cities.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 4:29 pm

Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a new $23.7 billion proposal that would build a twin tunnel system to carry water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta over to the southern part of the state.

Water in Southern California has become an intractable problem. The frustration was evident at the press conference, when Brown dropped a four-letter expletive.

The Sacramento Bee reports:

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Environment
1:14 pm
Sun July 22, 2012

Invasive Pests, Or Tiny Biological Terrorists?

There are millions of killers loose in California, and eucalyptus trees are their victims. Entomologist Timothy Paine has been studying the insects killing California's menthol-scented trees for two decades — and he's noticed a suspicious pattern.
George Rose Getty Images

Originally published on Sun July 22, 2012 2:33 pm

Long before the era of post-Sept. 11 security precautions in the U.S., an unknown person or group of people may have begun carrying out a series of bioterrorism attacks in California.

The target? Menthol-scented eucalyptus trees.

Before you wonder why you hadn't heard of this, it's because the story isn't necessarily true. It's a hypothesis, a theory promoted by a noted California entomologist and eucalyptus expert named Timothy Paine.

If his theory is correct, then somebody out there wants those trees dead.

Digging For Clues

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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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Environment
12:00 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Yosemite's historic bridges named to most endangered list

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Earlier this week, the National Trust for Historic Preservation issued its annual list of the nation's most endangered historic sites, and for the second year in a row, Central California is in the spotlight. And this year, the preservation group is focusing attention on efforts to save several historic stone bridges in Yosemite National Park. FM89's Joe Moore has this report.

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Environment
7:51 pm
Wed May 30, 2012

Planning Commission Rejects Jesse Morrow Mountain Mine

A sign along Highway 180 voices objections to the planned mine on Jesse Morrow Mountain east of Sanger.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

This afternoon the Fresno County Planning Commission rejected plans for a controversial hard rock mine on Jesse Morrow Mountain, on Highway 180 east of Fresno.

The vote had been delayed from a meeting in February, in which several hundred people spoke out against the plan. Residents today weighed in on the proposal from multinational mining company CEMEX, citing concerns about traffic, aesthetics and air quality.

The project will likely be appealed to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors.

Environment
6:58 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

Electric school bus to debut in Reedley

John Clements stands in front of the new E-Trans all-electric school bus that is owned by the Kings Canyon Unified School District in Reedley. (photo courtesy of Kings Canyon Unified)
Courtesy of Kings Canyon Unified School District

For years, going to school in the Valley has sounded something like this. [sounds of a loud diesel school bus] But later this month one valley school district will start to replace the clatter of diesel engines and smell of exhaust with the quiet hum of electric power, with what's being called the first all-electric school bus in the nation.

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Environment
11:10 am
Mon March 5, 2012

Oil project moves forward, regulator cites progress

Berry Petroleum's Bakersfield office
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Southern California based Berry Petroleum has been given the go ahead by California's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources to move forward with plans to use steam to extract oil at the Midway-Sunset oilfield near Taft in Kern County. The move comes after the company made some changes to its system to monitor conditions at the site, according to Division head Tim Kustic.

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Environment
5:29 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

Plan to mine Jesse Morrow Mountain ignites controversy

Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Take a drive east on Highway 180 from Fresno toward Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and you’ll see a landscape as varied as the Valley itself. Neatly arranged orchards give way to the lush green basin of the Kings River, and the rustic towns of Centerville and Minkler. And just as the highway begins its climb into the Sierra foothills, off to the left, the first hill you see is Jesse Morrow Mountain.

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