Environment

News about energy and the environment

Californians Conserved Less Water In October

Dec 3, 2014
Valley Public Radio

For the second straight month, California’s water conservation rate has declined. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the State Water Resources Control Board says the reason behind the drop isn’t clear.

You could call it “conservation fatigue.” But the reason behind California’s diminishing conservation rate is more complicated than that. The statewide rate dropped from 10.3 percent in September to six-point-seven percent in October. Eric Oppenheimer with the State Water Resources Control Board says one reason for the difference may be the season change.

http://www.sequoiariverlands.org/

Central California is home to some of the state’s most beautiful areas from Yosemite Valley to high sierra lakes to rolling foothills.

Lovers of that last topography have something to cheer about this winter as a new nature preserve in Tulare County is about to open to the public for the first time. It’s called Blue Oak Ranch and it’s located near Springville.

We talked about what this preserve means to the valley with Ann Huber of the Sequoia Riverlands Trust. Listen to the interview above.

Joe Moore

Last week the US Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a plan that would set a new more stringent rule for the amount of ozone pollution in the air. The proposal is based on new research on the health effects of ozone pollution.   

In fact, the EPA says if adopted, the new rule could prevent as many as 4,300 premature deaths nationwide in the next decade. But it has been met with controversy. Republicans and business groups say the positive health benefits are outweighed by the cost of complying with the new rule, some have gone as far as to call it “nearly impossible.”

Ezra David Romro / Valley Public Radio

Drought conditions in parts of Central California have become so harsh that it’s normal to turn on the tap have no coming out.  A few months ago we brought you the story of East Porterville where more than 600 homes are without water because their household wells have dried up. Now, some of the town’s residents will have access to something they haven’t had in months. 

The last time Gilberto Sandoval took a warm shower was over a month ago.

“I’ve  been without running water for the last three months,” Sandoval says. “ No water whatsoever.”

Water Levels In California's Reservoirs Continue To Drop

Nov 12, 2014
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The water in some of California’s major reservoirs is nearing historic lows. The Department of Water Resources says statewide, all reservoirs are currently holding about 57 percent of their historic norms.

But levels are dropping significantly in some of the major reservoirs. Maury Roos, is the Chief Hydrologist with DWR. He says the Lake Oroville Reservoir is near the lowest level it’s ever been.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Arvin residents who were forced out of their homes in March because of a toxic gas leak are now facing a new dilemma. This time it's dealing with housing. 

The oil company that owns the leaking pipeline told eight Arvin families on Tuesday that they will stop paying for their temporary housing at the end of this month. 

That means residents will either have to return home or pay out of pocket to live elsewhere.

Courtesy of Modern Hiker

    

It’s been said that our national parks are treasures that belong to all Americans. In recent weeks one artist has been on a nationwide quest documenting her travels to these locations of immense natural beauty. And like many she shared photos of her journey online, from Zion and Bryce Canyon to Yosemite and Sequoia Kings Canyon. 

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Earlier this year eight Kern County families were forced out of their homes because of a gas leak. Now, seven months later families are still asking questions about their health and when they can return to their neighborhood.

When Yesenia Lara bought her home three years ago she never imagined living there would eventually bring so much anger and sadness to her family.

"This is my house, esta es mi casa. Excuse the mess but I hardly come here."

California Tomato Growers Expect Record Year Despite Drought

Oct 21, 2014
California Tomato Growers Association

The drought has California farmers leaving thousands of acres fallow this year. But growers still chose to plant processing tomatoes. And as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, they’re expected to have a record year.

About 95 percent of the nation’s processed tomatoes come from California. Last year, about 12 million tons were produced. Some farmers this year were skeptical they could grow the 14 million tons contracted for by the state’s processors.

But Mike Montna with the California Tomato Growers Association says they hit that mark.

Lexey Swall

Last month, the editors of Time Magazine featured an online piece about the community which they say has the worst air in the nation - Bakersfield.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A visit to Yosemite National Park may soon become more expensive. On Monday the park service announced a plan to raise the single vehicle entry fee from $20 dollars to $30 for a seven day pass. The cost of an annual pass would also rise from $40 to $60. 

The proposal would also raise campsite fees, and the cost for hikers and motorcyclists:

California Drought To Persist, Even Worsen

Oct 16, 2014
National Weather Service - Hanford

Predictions suggest the California drought is likely to persist, and even worsen in some areas. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center says complete drought recovery is "unlikely this winter' in California.

Kevin Werner is NOAA's Western Region Climate Director.

He says the 2012-to-2014 period is the driest on record in California.

And low reservoir storage reflects that.

Tulare County Office Of Emergency Services

The drought in Central California has hit many farmers and homeowners hard. Perhaps those hardest hit are in Tulare County where the number of dry wells spiked this week. 

New data released today from the Tulare County Office of Emergency Services reports the number of private well failures in the county grew by 19 percent since October 6.

Andrew Lockman with the agency says the increase is due to more homeowners reporting dry wells and new data from partnering agencies.

Cal Fire Air Tankers Cleared To Fly After Yosemite Crash

Oct 10, 2014
Twitter.com / CAL FIRE PIO Kevin Berlant / https://twitter.com/CALFIRE_PIO

Cal Fire's fleet of 22 firefighting air tankers are back in service. The planes were on a safety stand down after a tanker crash this week in Yosemite National Park. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

The Tuesday crash killed pilot Geoffrey Hunt as he was about to drop retardant on the Dog Rock Fire near Yosemite's west entrance.

The safety stand-down was intended to give officials time to inspect the remaining aircraft and allow other pilots time to recover.

Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott:

California Makes Changes To Fracking Regulations

Oct 9, 2014
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The state of California is making some changes to its new fracking regulations based on nearly 100,000  comments from the public. This is the third version of the regulations for fracking, which injects sand, water and chemicals underground to release oil.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A coalition of environmental groups is suing Kern County over its approval of a project that would expand oil-by-rail shipments at a Bakersfield refinery. 

The Kern County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the railyard expansion at the Alon Refinery on Rosedale Highway in September. The project would allow the refinery to process crude oil from the Midwest, delivered to Bakersfield by train.

Kassie Siegel is with the Center For Biological Diversity, one of the groups in the lawsuit. 

Cal Fire

An air tanker that was battling a wildfire burning near the Arch Rock entrance to Yosemite National Park crashed on Tuesday afternoon. 

Emergency crews reached the wreckage in steep and rugged terrain in the evening and found the solo pilot dead. The name of the pilot is being withheld pending notification of family.

The Grumman S2T was based out of the Hollister Air Attack base. It was operated by Cal Fire and was assisting federal crews in fighting the 130 acre Dog Rock Fire. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

It’s been one of the worst dry spells in recorded history in California and some rain would be nice. One possible answer to the state’s water woes could come as soon as November, when a new water bond goes before voters. To answer the state’s future water woes a water bond is on the November ballot which if passed could create new reservoirs.  FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports from Fresno County where planners are already studying the site for what could be the state’s newest water storage facility.  

Brown Orders More Action On Drought

Sep 19, 2014
Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

California's ongoing drought is prompting Governor Jerry Brown to take new executive action.

Friday, Brown ordered that money be made available to provide water for drinking and sanitation to households without running water.

He also extended the prohibition on price-gouging during emergencies to apply to the drought.

Finally, Brown is requiring state agencies to identify acute water shortages and work with counties and local agencies to address them.

Don L. Weaver / Valley Public Radio

Cal Fire officials say they have identified suspects responsible for starting the Courtney Fire, and a series of arson fires in Oakhurst.

Investigators say a juvenile is suspected of intentionally starting 13 fires in Madera County. Officials say the fires were all sparked in the Oakhurst area over the past few months, but do not include the Courtney or the Junction fires.

Officials also say they now know who’s believed to be responsible for starting the Courtney Fire that burned more than 300 acres near Bass Lake.

Bernie Quinn is a battalion chief for Cal Fire.

Pages