California Environmental Law & Policy Update – May 2022 | Allen Matkins


NBC News – May 4

U.S. officials on Tuesday announced unprecedented measures to boost water levels at Lake Powell, an artificial reservoir on the Colorado River where the water level is so low that production of hydroelectric power for seven Western states is endangered. Amid a sustained drought exacerbated by climate change, the Bureau of Reclamation will release an additional 500,000 acre-feet of water this year from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir into Lake Powell. Another 480,000 acre-feet that otherwise would have been released downstream will be retained in the artificial lake on the Utah-Arizona border, officials said.

Bullet The San Diego Union-Tribune – May 5

San Diego has won a key victory in its battle with the state over who should pay for testing of lead in water that the city conducted at hundreds of local schools beginning in 2017. A state appeals court ruled unanimously last week that a state policy requiring water agencies to conduct such tests is a new requirement imposed on local government that qualifies as an “unfunded mandate.” While city officials were not opposed to the testing, they argued that the unfunded mandate could set a troubling precedent for city taxpayers.

Bullet E&E News – May 3

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may classify polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a type of plastic often used in building materials, children’s toys, and other common items, as hazardous waste, as part of a settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity. Under the agreement, EPA must assess within nine months whether to make this classification. PVC is linked to an array of health issues, including reproductive risks, and advocates say it releases carcinogens at all stages of life, including when it breaks down as waste.

Bullet The Mercury News – May 3

Two of Contra Costa County’s four refineries will soon make the switch from processing crude oil to producing biofuels made from sources such as vegetable oils, animal fats, and livestock feed. Over the objections of environmentalists who argued that biofuel production creates its own emissions and odor problems, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved Marathon Petroleum’s plan to start producing liquid biofuels at its Martinez plant and Phillips 66’s plan to do the same at its refinery in Rodeo. Union workers also showed up in large numbers at the meeting, urging the board to allow the refineries to modify operations.

Bullet Los Angeles Times – April 30

In the summer of 1984, investigators discovered hundreds of barrels filled with toxic chemicals buried near a warehouse in Lincoln Heights. The discovery led to jail sentences and fines for company executives and certain employees of the warehouse operator, American Caster Corporation. Now, developers want to demolish the warehouse and, in its place, build a mixed-use apartment complex. After a resident came across archived Los Angeles Times articles highlighting the 1984 case, community members are claiming that California regulators have failed to conduct proper testing of the decades-old dumpsite and surrounding properties and are calling for a new cleanup plan.

Bullet The Bakersfield Californian – May 4

Kern County’s lawsuit challenging California’s de-facto ban on hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, has been dismissed after Fresno Superior Court Judge Gabriel Brickey on April 5 found the county’s suit qualified as a “SLAPP,” or “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” Kern County’s petition for writ of mandate, authorized in August, had accused Governor Newsom of overstepping his authority by unjustifiably denying permit applications for fracking and other well stimulation treatments common in Kern oilfields.

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