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California Environmental Law & Policy Update
July 14, 2017

Environmental and Policy Focus

California Legislature’s vote on cap-and-trade program extension delayed

Los Angeles Times - Jul 13 Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders introduced a proposal Monday to reauthorize California's cap-and-trade program, the centerpiece of the state's efforts to battle climate change. The proposal consists of two bills. The first is Assembly Bill (AB) 398, which would extend the life of the program until 2030 and modify how the cap-and-trade market operates by giving the California Air Resources Board (CARB) authority to set a ceiling on the price of carbon by capping the cost of emissions allowances, and restricting the use of projects to offset greenhouse gas emissions, including a new requirement that half of offset projects must be located in California. The companion bill, AB 617, does not address greenhouse gas emissions but instead calls for stricter limits on emissions, enhanced monitoring, and increased penalties for non-greenhouse gas emissions sources near disadvantaged communities. Though a vote on the bills was expected on Thursday evening, two of the authors –- Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) – delayed the vote until Monday.

Federal legislation proposes changes to distribution of water between fish and farms

Sacramento Bee - Jul 11 The House this week approved a bill designed to increase water deliveries from northern California to Central Valley farmers, resulting in reduced flows to the Pacific Ocean for the protection of salmon and steelhead ecosystems. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. David Valadao, a Republican representing the 21st District, which encompasses Kings County and parts of Fresno, Tulare, and Kern Counties. Under the bill, the delivery of water to the Central Valley would no longer have to comply with some of the more stringent environmental rules imposed by the federal Endangered Species Act. It goes beyond last year’s compromise water bill by modifying the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act to move more water to agriculture. It also streamlines the regulatory process for water storage projects and could stall a pending San Joaquin River restoration settlement. Senators Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris, both Democrats, vowed to block the bill in the Senate, saying it would bypass environmental safeguards and override state law.

State Supreme Court rules in favor of SANDAG in environmental lawsuit

San Diego Union-Tribune - Jul 13 The California Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of San Diego County’s regional transportation agency, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), in the legal challenge brought by the Cleveland National Forest Foundation and other environmental groups over the environmental impact report (EIR) prepared for the agency’s $214 billion, long-range transportation funding blueprint. The plaintiffs claimed that the EIR did not properly address greenhouse-gas impacts from SANDAG’s plan. After a series of lower-court rulings against SANDAG, the state Supreme Court agreed to hear the case on the narrow issue of whether the agency sufficiently took into consideration an executive order, which doesn’t carry the force of law, issued by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The Court found that SANDAG didn’t “abuse its discretion” when it declined to embrace Schwarzenegger’s climate goal, and that it didn’t improperly conceal the impacts of its plan.

Two national monuments are no longer up for review, Interior says

Washington Post - Jul 13 Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said Thursday that two national monuments — the 195,000-acre Hanford Reach National Monument in Washington and the 460,000-acre Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho — “are no longer under review” as part of President Trump’s order in April requiring reconsideration of more than two dozen national monument designations. The Department of Interior (DOI) provided no explanation of the process that led to the secretary’s announcement. The Trump administration’s review of 27 national monuments on land and sea has drawn millions of comments, but DOI and the Commerce Department, which is the steward of marine monuments, have not indicated how those comments will be weighed in the reconsideration process.

Environmental agencies accept land use plan for 1,680-unit project on former landfill site

San Jose Mercury News - Jul 8 The Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health, California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board have accepted the post-closure land use plan for Related Companies’ $6.7 billion proposal to build a mixed-use complex atop the former Santa Clara All Purpose Landfill. The City Place project represents the largest housing project ever proposed atop a landfill in the Bay Area, regulators say, and perhaps in the entire state. The document includes elaborate safety systems to block the escape of combustible methane gas and other dangerous vapors, and to prevent groundwater contamination. The project is stalled by an unrelated lawsuit filed by the City of San Jose.

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