News about energy and the environment

By now most people know that almonds use a lot of water, about one gallon per nut. Most growers are relying on groundwater even more this year because their surface water has been cut off because of the drought. But as Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports that brings a different problem all together, one that an “Almond Doctor” is trying to solve.

proterra company website

By this time next year, two brand new all electric buses will be rolling down the streets of Porterville. The move away from diesel and hybrid buses is part of efforts to clean up the valley’s air.

For the cost of just under 1-million dollars, Porterville is replacing two of their existing buses with a new generation of clean, emission free all-electric vehicles.

Richard Tree, Porterville’s Transportation Manager, says the decision to go all electric was an easy one.

California Moves To Limit New Lawns

Jul 16, 2015
Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

New California homes and businesses may have less grass in the future. The state Water Commission passed a model ordinance Wednesday restricting the amount of turf that can be used in new developments with at least 500 square feet of landscaping. Grass can only make up 25 percent of residential yards. It will essentially be prohibited at non-residential buildings.

There have been previous versions of the model ordinance. But Commissioner Paula Daniels says this version better reflects California’s needs in the drought.

'Wild' Draws Huge Crowds To The Pacific Crest Trail

Jul 14, 2015
Lesley McClurg / Capital Public Radio

The Pacific Crest Trail runs two-thousand-six-hundred-fifty miles from Mexico to Canada. Usually a few hundred hardy souls make the trek every year. But, this year about ten times that number are attempting the arduous journey. Lesley McClurg hiked a section of the trail to find out what’s driving its popularity.

The Tuolumne Meadows post office in Yosemite National Park is packed. Ragged hikers wait in a long twisting line outside. 

Fire Officials: Hobby Drones Hamper Firefighting In California

Jul 14, 2015
Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Federal and state fire officials are urging drone hobbyists to keep their unmanned aerial vehicles out of the sky during firefighting operations. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

Hobby drones caused the suspension of aerial operations recently as crews were fighting wildfires in three national forests in California. Shawna Legarza is the Fire and Aviation Director for the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region.


President Obama has named a new national monument in Northern California. The 330,000 acre Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument is on federal land around Lake Berryessa north of the San Francisco Bay Area. The monument is known for its unique geology and wildlife.

The U.S. Forest Service says the area gives unique insights into plate tectonics:

Report Shows Potential Fracking Problems

Jul 10, 2015
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new report out  Thursday says regulations for the process known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" need to be tightened to prevent environmental problems.  And, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, new legislation could emerge to do just that.

The peer-reviewed study from the California Council on Science and Technology was required as part of fracking legislation the state passed in 2013. 

Water Regulators Look At Rate Increases To Maximize Conservation

Jul 8, 2015
Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

Increasing the price of water encourages conservation. But As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, California water regulators are seeking the best way to do that without running into legal problems.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Agriculture consumes a lot of water in California, but so do homes and businesses. In the fourth year of drought water consumed by both are issues and both sectors have faced cutbacks. But as Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports the Central California town of Reedley is on the move to build an eco-friendly community that some say could use less groundwater for development and living.

In the Valley town of Reedley there’s a plot of ground that once grew 40 acres of green leafy peach and plum trees.   

U.S. Forest Service Says Conditions Ideal For Megafires in California

Jul 6, 2015
US Forest Service - Rim Fire 2013

Drought, dead and dying trees, and a lack of snow in California have left national forests in a perfect condition for large and severe wildfires. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the new mix has the U.S. Forest Service re-examining how it manages fire.