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California Environmental Law & Policy Update
November 10, 2017
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Court invalidates South Coast Air District ozone rule

Los Angeles Times - Nov 8 A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has ruled that the South Coast Air Quality Management District board violated procedural requirements and abused its discretion in December 205 when it adopted changes to the district's long-running cap-and-trade program for smog-forming emissions known as the Regional Clean Air Incentives Market (RECLAIM) program. Environmental groups sued after the district board rejected a staff proposal to cut 14 tons of nitrogen oxide emissions from oil refineries and other large sources and instead, on the same day without delaying the vote to give the public more time to comment, adopted an alternative plan, promoted by the Western States Petroleum Association to cut 12 tons per day, and more slowly. The court’s ruling voids the air district's determination that no further hearing or comment was needed, returning the matter to the district for further proceedings but leaving the rules in place in the meantime.


EPA seeks to repeal part of Obama emissions rule for heavy-duty trucks

The Hill - Nov 9 The Trump administration is proposing to repeal a key piece of former President Obama’s regulation limiting greenhouse gas emissions from large trucks. The proposal unveiled Thursday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would remove so-called glider kits from a major regulation written last year that restricted emissions from heavy-duty trucks. Glider kits are incomplete truck bodies that owners — frequently small businesses or individual truck drivers — can buy and install with older engines, transmissions, and axles to form complete trucks. The Trump administration argues that glider kits are not subject to regulation by EPA under the Clean Air Act because they are not motor vehicles or engines. The EPA estimated that 10,000 glider kits are sold each year, representing 5 percent of the new heavy duty truck market.

California commits to timetable for Salton Sea projects

The Desert Sun - Nov 7 California’s State Water Resources Control Board (Board) adopted an agreement Tuesday that commits the state to following through on plans to build wetlands and control dust around the shrinking Salton Sea over the next 10 years. The agreement is based on California’s 10-year Salton Sea plan, which Governor Jerry Brown’s administration released in March. So far, most of the $383 million in funding required for implementation of the plan has not been secured. Under the agreement, state agencies are required to build a total of 29,800 acres of dust-control projects and habitat areas around the Sea by the end of 2028. The Board, which is taking on an oversight role, set a timetable for increasing annual targets for building those projects, starting at 500 acres in 2018 and increasing to 4,200 acres in 2028. State agencies will have to report on their progress each year, and if they fail to meet an annual acreage target by more than 20 percent, they will be required to present a plan to cure the deficiency within 12 months. 

LA County Supervisors approves scaled-down sediment removal project for Devil’s Gate Dam in Pasadena

Pasadena Star-News - Nov 7 On Tuesday the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a project to remove sediment, debris, and vegetation from the area behind Devil’s Gate Dam in Pasadena. The approved project, which requires removal of 1.7 million cubic yards of material in Pasadena’s Hahamongna Watershed Park, is a scaled-down version of a previously proposed plan that called for removal of 2.4 million cubic yards. The compromise, proposed by Supervisor Kathryn Barger, marks a turning point in the controversial project initially approved by the Supervisors in 2014 and later rejected by a Los Angeles Superior Court, which held that the plan failed to protect local wildlife. The smaller project received praise from the City of Pasadena, officials in Altadena and local environmental groups who have fought what they’ve called “The Big Dig” for the last three years. 

Homeowners turn the tide in Del Mar’s planning for sea-level rise

Del Mar Times - Nov 2 The City of Del Mar’s Sea-Level Rise Stakeholder-Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) has radically rewritten its adaptation plan, a package of recommendations that will lay the groundwork for how Del Mar sets policies and initiates responses to the pressures of climate change. After word spread that the first draft of the adaptation plan, released in September 2016, included property removal as an option, enraged homeowners from Del Mar’s “beach colony” flooded the committee’s August meeting, angrily denouncing the plan’s impact on the $1 billion neighborhood. Foremost among the changes in the new plan is that strategies of “planned retreat” — in which homes would be removed — have been expunged altogether. The new draft acknowledges only the possibility of relocating city-owned infrastructure. STAC hopes to finalize its version of the adaptation plan at its December 7 meeting.

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