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Weekly Green: May 10, 2013
Friday, May 10, 2013
Happy Friday, everyone. Recent headlines:
- Changes to national environmental review could pass, despite critics;
- Is there a middle ground on fracking?
- Gov. Brown credits climate change for early fire season;
- CEQA, water, oil, and much more!
» Welcome to another edition of the Weekly Green, a no-frills news roundup provided free of charge by the California League of Conservation Voters. If you're not a regular subscriber, sign up today! Get your free subscription here: http://ecovote.org/wg
Above the Fold
Water bill could see smooth sailing in Senate, despite critics
Environmentalists, several senators and the White House have voiced concern over provisions that would put corps projects on a faster track to completion and give the agency more discretion to choose which projects to fund, a change from the previous water resources bill... Usually an ally of environmentalists, Boxer has been taking some heat. Scott Slesinger, legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, accused her of sacrificing the country's "premier environmental law," the National Environmental Policy Act.
[TAKE ACTION: Contact Sen. Boxer today! - Ed.]
Timm Herdt: Drilling for a middle ground on fracking
Just last fall, the oil industry in California spent a good chunk of its considerable political money to try to defeat Democratic Sen. Fran Pavley in her toss-up district that includes portions of Ventura and Los Angeles counties… Pavley hasn't changed her stripes. She has deep concerns about fracking. But she is a realist, and wants to steer a bill through the Legislature that will both address growing public concerns and also earn the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown, who is not likely to support an outright ban.
Just in time for Obama's June CA fundraising: Keystone decision the "biggest, most explicit statement" of presidency, major donors tell POTUS
The letter on Keystone includes signatures of major California deep pocketed donors who regularly write big checks to the Democratic party — folks like San Francisco Democrat Susie Tompkins Buell, one of the Party's most generous donors, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, and CREDO Mobile's Michael Michael Kieschnick, among many others.
Jerry Brown blames climate change for state's early fire season
Gov. Jerry Brown put the state’s early wildfire season in global terms Monday, saying the state would have to grow accustomed to more forest fires as a consequence of climate change.
The White House Convenes Scientists to Discuss the World's New Ocean
Despite its straight-from-science-fiction premise, it's real: A group of scientists meeting at the White House to discuss a brand-new ocean. Impending Arctic ice melt makes this just another day in the geopolitics of climate change.
The Coming GOP Civil War Over Climate Change
Science, storms, and demographics are starting to change minds among the rank and file.
Climate change may bring drought to temperate areas, study says
'Wet areas will get wetter and dry areas will get drier,' says a scientist, describing the findings of a NASA-led study on rainfall trends. Drought-prone places include the Southwestern United States.
Oil severance tax advances in the legislature; $2 billion in new revenues to be earmarked for education, parks
The bill, SB 241, would impose a 9.5 percent industry severance tax on large oil companies for the extraction of oil from California’s jurisdiction. The Senate Governance and Finance Committee passed the bill out with a 5-2 vote and it was supported by student, education, tax and environmental groups, as well as economists. The bill next goes to Appropriations.
Divesting From Dirty Energy
Cities are starting to pull their investments out of the oil, gas, and coal industries, but the biggest public investors like CalPERS remain unmoved.
Liberal groups strike back at Facebook
Progressive and environmental groups are declaring open warfare against Facebook, escalating their frustration over pro-oil, anti-Obamacare ads being sponsored by Mark Zuckerberg’s immigration reform campaign.
CEQA Roundup: What the CEQA debate is really about
With much of the state turning its attention to the governor's soon-to-be-announced budget, CEQA relinquished the political spotlight this week—but only temporarily, as negotiations continue over how to improve the state's 40-year-old environmental law without taking away its vital role in protecting the environment. Nineteen CEQA bills ultimately emerged from the last week's committee hearings (out of 28 bills originally introduced), including Sen. Darrell Steinberg's high-profile reform proposal and a host of other updates supported by environmentalists.
In CEQA fight, 'modernize' is the mantra of spin
California’s landmark Environmental Quality Act -- the brainchild of Republican lawmakers trying to woo a then-new voting bloc of “environmentalists” -- turns 43 this year. Critics, led by developers and business interests, say CEQA’s requirements are too cumbersome.
Gammon: CEQA Reform Bill Is Too Modest
Senate President Darrell Steinberg's plan to change California's primary environmental law is a good first step but it doesn't do enough to reduce greenhouse gases.
Bad news: Calif. snowpack 17 percent of normal
The man in charge of surveying California's snowpack to measure the amount of water that will flow into storage reservoirs over the next few months had bad news Thursday."I'm finding nothing. Seriously, there is no snow on the course at all," said Frank Gehrke, chief surveyor for the Department of Water Resources.
California Water Supply To Be Drawn From Storage To Meet Demand
The dwindling supplies means California will have to draw water from storage for the first time in nearly five years. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California spokesman Bob Muir said their reserves of 2.6 million acre feet are the fullest they’ve ever been, and there’s enough water storage to supply 500 million families for a year.
Governor Girds for Battle Over Delta Fix
“I’m gonna do everything humanly possible to get it done.” That was Governor Jerry Brown’s vow to the state’s water managers on Wednesday, asking for both their patience and their support.
Scauzillo: Can the Sacramento River Delta be fixed?
The folks in Sacramento and at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will be releasing an environmental impact report at the end of this week on something called the Bay Delta Conservation Plan or BDCP for short. There's nothing short about this, except for the fuse that will touch off more water wars.
Boxer: Water resources bill crucial to Bay Area and California
A bill aimed at ramping up water projects nationwide is vital to the economic health of the Bay Area and all of California, Sen. Barbara Boxer told maritime business and government leaders Friday.
Dry winter could lead to a cruel summer for Valley growers
A dry winter forced farmers in the Westlands Water District to run their wells far more last summer than they usually would. The underground water table dropped a staggering 48 feet.
Desalination debate: Suspicion high ahead of environmental report
Desalination opponents lined up Tuesday to warn top decision-makers in two local water agencies not to continue pursuing seawater desalination as a fix to overtaxed aquifers and severe drought.
Truckee River flows peak, 3rd lowest in 4 decades
Some of the lowest season flows in the Truckee River in four decades are raising concerns about Nevada's lingering drought. The water trickling down from the melting mountain snowpack apparently reached its peak this week, both sooner and smaller than normal.
National and International Environmental News
Barbara Boxer talks tough about her bill to label genetically engineered foods
Undaunted by last year's defeat of a California ballot measure requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer is talking tough in support of her bill to mandate labels nationwide.
Senate Republicans stonewall Obama's EPA nominee
Senate Republicans boycotted a committee vote Thursday morning on President Obama’s nomination of Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency, prompting accusations of obstructionism from Democrats and calls to reform Senate rules.
Timelapse: Watch the world change over the course of nearly three decades of satellite photography
These Timelapse pictures tell the pretty and not-so-pretty story of a finite planet and how its residents are treating it -- razing even as we build, destroying even as we preserve.
State Environmental News
How dirty (or clean) is your zip code?
Tucked between two traffic-choked freeways, the southeast corner of Santa Ana is among the least healthy places to live in California. The neighborhood’s air is dirtied with diesel emissions and other pollutants.
California's New Energy Plants To Be More Sunny, Less Gassy
Of new energy generating capacity slated to come online in the second half of 2013 in California, the overwhelming majority is solar. That's 1,581 megawatts -- or 97 percent -- of the 1,633 planned for the last two quarters of the year.
Brown, senator at odds over clean energy money
Six months after voters approved new taxes to fund clean energy projects, Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers remain at odds over how to spend the money on improving energy efficiency at public schools and community colleges.
Bill would create 'Made in California' label
The legislation, for manufactured products, would enhance the state's reputation for making environmentally safe and energy efficient products, says Sen. Ellen Corbett.
Popular Caltrain heads toward fiscal crisis
On one hand, it's thriving. Trains are carrying record crowds, packed to capacity in the morning and evening commutes, and generating unprecedented revenues.
California sues: Lead in candied ginger, plum
The state of California is suing Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Target and other retailers and candy makers, claiming the companies have exposed consumers to illegal lead levels in their candied plum and ginger products.
L.A. is a leader in greening of ports, Mayor Villaraigosa says
The world looks to L.A. for ways to reduce pollution, Villaraigosa says at a ports conference. He cites a modernization of the Port of L.A. and the state's tough emissions law.
Cities, Counties Get $7 Million To Enforce Waste Tire Laws
Old tires stockpiled or dumped illegally -- it’s a sight that California’s recycling agency wants to make disappear. Today, CalRecycle announced its awarding $7 million in grants to fight the problem.
The delicate task of tracking the elusive California mountain lion
They’re known by many names: cougar, puma, panther. Whatever you call them, there’s no bigger cat in California than the mountain lion. But being the top predator is no guarantee of success, especially as the human population grows.
River flows not only way to aid salmon, state says
State water officials said Wednesday that their plan to aid salmon could involve more than simply boosting river flows at the expense of farmers.
Bee Deaths May Have Reached A Crisis Point For Crops
According to a new survey of America's beekeepers, almost a third of the country's honeybee colonies did not make it through the winter. That's been the case, in fact, almost every year since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began this annual survey, six years ago.
San Onofre Nuclear Plant May Close For Good
Southern California Edison (SCE), operator of the troubled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station on the San Diego County coast, may shut the plant down permanently if the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) doesn't approve a plan to restart part of the plant this summer. The announcement was made Tuesday after anonymous whistleblowers made troubling allegations regarding the plant's safety.
Study of shipping routes maps delivery of invasive organisms
Eggs or cells can be carried across the world in ballast water, posing a threat to local wildlife. Scientists find Los Angeles and Long Beach to be among the most vulnerable ports.
Governor Vows to End Prop. 65 'Shake-down' Suits
On Tuesday, Gov. Brown -- a longtime critic of the Proposition 65 law -- threw his support behind plans to give it an overhaul. “Proposition 65 is a good law that's helped many people, but it's being abused by unscrupulous lawyers,” Brown said in a press release.
California agency says PG&E should pay $2.25B for blast
California regulators recommended Monday that Pacific Gas & Electric Co. pay a record $2.25 billion fine for decades of negligence that led to a deadly gas pipeline explosion that leveled a San Francisco Bay Area neighborhood. The penalty would be the largest ever imposed on a utility company by a state regulator, officials said.
Starr v Feingold: The Future of Political Reform
Calbuzz listened to the unctuous Kenneth Starr -- former President Bill Clinton’s Grand Inquisitor and infamous anti-gay marriage proponent -- expound upon the virtues of the US Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission as an historic affirmation of the First Amendment.
» Thanks for reading the Weekly Green from the California League of Conservation Voters. If you're not a regular subscriber, don't forget to sign up today! Get your free subscription here: http://ecovote.org/wg
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