Environment

Environment
6:43 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

California Committee Delays Acting on Fracking Regulation Bill

Credit 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.

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Environment
4:33 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

California Bill Would Grant Coastal Commission Power to Levy Fines

fie photo
Credit 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.

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Environment
12:03 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Valley Air District to Issue Air Alert Monday

file photo
Credit 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.

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Environment
5:02 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Changes Announced for California Bay Delta Conservation Plan

file photo
Credit 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.

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Environment
2:24 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Bill to Increase Air Pollution Fines Moves Forward

file photo
Credit 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.

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Environment
11:04 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Betancourt Seeks Balance Between Environment, Ag in 'Ten Reasons'

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. 

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Environment
10:39 am
Tue August 13, 2013

How Will Global Warming Impact the San Joaquin Valley?

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?

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Environment
7:21 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Judge: Lawsuit Against Fresno Rendering Plant Can Move Forward

The Darling International Inc. rendering plant in southwest Fresno has been a concern for area residents for decades. (File photo)
Credit 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.

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Environment
7:14 am
Sun August 11, 2013

UC Scientists Work To Bring Back The White Abalone

UC Davis scientists think they’ve found a way to bring back the white abalone from the brink of extinction.
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.

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Environment
6:07 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Bill To Move Drinking Water Program Has Governor's Support

Legislation by Fresno Democrat Henry T. Perea that supporters say will help California communities gain access to clean drinking water now has the support of Governor Jerry Brown’s administration. It goes before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday. (file photo)
Credit 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.

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Environment
4:46 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Steinberg: Delta Tunnel Project Needs Legislative Buy-In

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg
Credit 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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Environment
4:42 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Study Finds New Evidence of Climate Change in California

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

More wildfires.  Warmer lakes.  And higher temperatures.  A new study from the California Environmental Protection Agency cites those and other signs that climate change is having a growing impact across the state.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

CalEPA has been tracking environmental indicators since the year 2000 in hopes of measuring the effects of climate change.  Here are some of the findings in the new study, based on 36 different indicators:

-       California’s high, low and average temperatures are going up – especially at night.

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Environment
7:46 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Fight Over Alleged Radioactive Waste Involves Kern County Landfills

Consumer Watchdog and other environmental groups have filed suit against Boeing and the California Department of Toxic Substance Control over what they claim is the illegal disposal of low-level radioactive waste from a retired Boeing facility in Ventura County.

The groups allege that the demolition of potentially contaminated buildings at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory near Simi Valley is a threat to public health, and a violation of the state’s environmental laws.

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Fracking
10:23 am
Mon August 5, 2013

Feds, State to Study Fracking in California

The federal government has announced a sweeping study of fracking and other oil and gas extraction techniques in California.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will lead the study.  BLM California State Director Jim Kenna says it’s in response to lawsuits attempting to block oil and gas development on public lands.

“Certainly, the intent would be to reduce legal challenges – hopefully because people trust the information and are more aware of what is going on.  But the bottom line is, the science will find out what it finds out,” says Kenna.

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Environment
10:26 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

PPIC Poll: Nearly Two-Thirds of Californians Favor Action Now on Climate Change

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Californians are now more likely to urge swift state action to slow global warming than they were during the recession.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on that and other findings from the Public Policy Institute of California’s new poll on environmental issues.

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Environment
10:41 am
Tue July 30, 2013

Aspen Fire Grows to Over 16,000 Acres Near Huntington Lake

U.S. Forest Service fire behavior analyst John Smith captured this image of the Aspen Fire on Sunday morning.
Credit John Smith / Sierra National Forest Official Twitter @Sierra_NF

Update: 9:00 a.m. 8/1/13 - The Aspen Fire has now grown to 16,204 acres and is 40 percent contained.

Update: 9:00 a.m. 7/31/13 - Fire officials say the Aspen Fire has now consumed 14,332 acres and is 35 percent contained.

Update: 5:30 p.m. 7/30/13 - Officials with the Valley Air District have issued a "health cautionary statement" for residents in all valley counties due to smoke from the Aspen Fire.  From a press release issued by the district:

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Environment
2:07 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

The Challenges of Salvaging Smelt and Other Delta Fish

A truck dumps fish into the Delta at the DWR release site
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

For decades, millions of fish have been diverted from pumping facilities at state and federal water projects in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Fish -- including endangered species like the Delta smelt-- are put in holding tanks then trucked to other parts of the Delta and released. From there, little is known about their fate. But most scientists agree it’s not good. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, predator fish often wait for what amounts to a daily feeding.

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Energy & Environment
6:00 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

California Assesses its Future Energy Supplies, Without San Onofre

file photo
Credit Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers want to know how the state is going to make up for the loss of a major electricity source. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, a State Senate committee will hold a hearing on the issue Wednesday.

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was the largest source of electricity for Southern California. But the plant is permanently closing after a series of maintenance and safety problems.

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Environment
5:20 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Experiment to "Farm" Carbon Underway in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

An example of a restored wetland on Sherman Island.
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

Agriculture in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has flourished thanks to rich organic soils. But after more than a hundred years of farming, those soils are eroding, and the interiors of many Delta islands are sinking. California may have a solution that would not only help farmers, but could combat climate change. Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento.

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Environment
7:00 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

Department of Public Health to Distribute Unspent Clean Water Money

Credit Valley Public Radio

The California Department of Public Health released its plan today on how it intends to use some $455 million in unspent federal funds that are supposed to go to pay to clean drinking water programs.

The agency was the subject of a highly critical report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in April over the failure to spend the federal funds.

The Department of Public Health plans to distribute $84 million from that fund to local water agencies by the end of the week, and nearly $200 million in the next fiscal year.

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