Environment

News about energy and the environment

Nader Assemi

Right now, Central California’s rolling mountain foothills are painted in brilliant orange flowers. After years of drought, California poppies are back with a vengeance.

Standing on the side of highway 168, Sandy Kowallis uses a knife to spread sky blue oil paint on a fresh canvas to capture the beauty of two poppy covered hillsides.

“And that should make it even more interesting. Because if you put a complement next to each other, like orange and blue, each will intensify the other,” Kowallis said.

Courtesty of Bob Wick

A hard to reach grove of giant sequoias in Tulare County is going to get a lot easier to get to later this year. The trees sit on top of a mountain seven miles southeast of Three Rivers that's part of Craig Ranch. The ranch was given to the Bureau of Land Management through a deal between the Visalia Sequoia Riverlands Trust and the San Francisco based Save the Redwoods League. Jessica Neff is with the league.

San Joaquin Valley Town Hall Lecture Series

A new drought relief bill from Senator Dianne Feinstein is getting mixed reviews in the Valley, but at least one water expert says it's a a sign of progress. 

The long-awaited Senate bill provides for a lot of things, including funding for like desalination and more water storage. But the one thing it doesn’t do is mandate more pumping of water out of the Delta to store in places like San Luis Reservoir near Los Banos.  

Report: Pesticide Mixtures May Increase Health Risks But Are Unregulated

Feb 18, 2016
Department of Pesticide Regulation - Facebook

A new UCLA report says the California Department of Pesticide Regulation fails to regulate pesticide mixtures adequately. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the study finds the mixtures may increase health risks.

The study looked at three fumigants commonly applied together in California. It found a "reasonable likelihood" the three can interact to increase health risks to farm workers and people who live near fields or orchards.

Dean Florez
Dean Florez Facebook

Former State Senator Dean Florez is headed back to Sacramento, this time as a new member of the state's powerful Air Resources Board. 

Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon announced the appointment Wednesday, saying in a written statement that the Shafter Democrat has "the resolve to stand up to the oil lobby who want to keep the status quo." 

A decade ago, Florez led legislative efforts to end the agriculture industry's historic exemption from state air quality rules. 

Florez issued the following statement:

San Joaquin River
Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio / White Ash Broadcasting

Despite promises that El Nino storms will not bring an end to California's drought, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Friday that it will begin releasing more water into the San Joaquin River. The release is part of a program to restore the river's long-extinct salmon population on a 60-mile stretch of the channel that is typically dry.

Study Links Oil And Gas Activity in San Joaquin Valley To Earthquakes

Feb 4, 2016
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Scientists have linked wastewater disposal from oil and gas activity to earthquakes in California for the first time. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the new study looked at earthquake activity in the southern Central Valley.

Ezra David Romero
Valley Public Radio

Last summer the Rough Fire grew so large that fire crews from around the world came to the Sierra Nevada east of Fresno to fight the blaze. Today the area is still feeling the effects of the 150,000 acre burn. And as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports El Nino is bringing a whole new set of problems to the area

Pine Flat Lake is rising about a half a foot a day.  Recent rain and snow are slowly filling it up.  

Amber Kinetics

The Fresno City Council has approved a land lease that will make Fresno the site of an innovative new energy project. Kerry Klein reports from downtown.

California has one of the most aggressive renewable energy policies in the country: by 2030, renewables like solar and wind must produce half of all our energy. But, to meet that goal, we’ll have to get a whole lot better at energy storage.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Some popular Yosemite landmarks including the Ahwahnee Hotel and Curry Village will soon be getting new names thank to a lawsuit over intellectual property associate with the park.

Longtime concessionaire Deleware North contends that it owns the trademark to the names, and wants $50 million from the new concessionaire Aramark, which takes over March 1st. The National Park Service disputes the trademark claims. Scott Gediman is the Yosemite spokesperson.

USGS

California’s prolonged drought is once again causing the valley in sink. Groundwater pumping to keep water flowing and plants growing is resulting in the valley floor to settling and sinking in what is known as subsidence. As the water is pulled out the ground underneath fills the space and settles. In some places, the land is subsiding as much as a foot a year.

  Hydrologist Jim Borcher says the Valley has experienced sinking before, but now it is back.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Farmers are gathering in meetings across California this month to talk about insecticides currently used that could be harmful to human health. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports from a meeting in Parlier.

Rockfall Closes Highway 140 In Yosemite

Jan 7, 2016
National Park Service

A rockfall early this morning below the Arch Rock entrance to Yosemite National Park has closed Highway 140. Massive boulders are currently blocking the roadway, which is near the site of the 2014 Dog Rock Fire. The road is currently closed from the park entrance to the junction of Highways 120 and 140. 

It's unknown when the roadway will re-open. Services in El Portal are still open. The rockfall happened at about 5:45 A.M. Thursday morning, following several wet El Nino storms. 

Biomass Power Could Help California's Dying Forests

Jan 5, 2016
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Millions of dead trees in California create a huge risk of wildfire. It’s led Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency that will require utilities, power plants and state agencies to work together. Biomass power plants can create energy from those dead trees. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, biomass plants alone won’t solve the crisis.

Congress.gov

With negotiations on new compromise water legislation for California farmers currently deadlocked in Congress, is there a chance of a deal in 2016? Or will it be too late to capture El Nino floodwaters and store them for the future? Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) joined us on Valley Edition to offer his insights into the water negotiations, and why he's concerned the lack of a deal might leave many valley farmers with another year of zero allocations of water, even with a strong El Nino. 

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