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California Environmental Law & Policy Update
September 8, 2017

Environmental and Policy Focus

Bill targeting Cadiz water transfer stalls in Senate committee

San Bernardino County Sun - Sep 1 A bill designed to block the transfer of groundwater from the inland Southern California desert to the populous coastal region stalled in Sacramento last Friday after failing to advance beyond the Senate appropriations committee. Supported by Governor Jerry Brown and numerous environmental groups, Assembly Bill 1000 targeted the "Cadiz project," by which groundwater pumped in the remote eastern San Bernardino County desert would be transported to parts of Orange County and other locations, where it could serve as many as 400,000 people. The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, would have prohibited the transfer of groundwater from a vast part of the eastern Mojave desert unless the State Lands Commission, in consultation with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, “finds that the transfer of the water will not adversely affect the natural or cultural resources, including groundwater resources or habitat, of those federal and state lands.”

California lawmakers propose CEQA exemption for L.A. Olympics transportation projects and new Clippers arena

Los Angeles Times - Sep 1 California lawmakers introduced legislation last Friday to exempt the construction of public transportation projects connected to Los Angeles’ bid to host the Olympic Games in 2028, including rail, bus, and other transit projects, from review under the California Environmental Quality Act. The measure, Senate Bill 789, would also provide major CEQA relief to ease the process of approval for the construction of a new arena for the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers in nearby Inglewood.

Forest group tries new strategy to stop oil project in canyon area

Ventura County Star - Sep 5 A Los Padres-area conservation group, Los Padres ForestWatch, has tripled up on strategies to stop the expansion of an oil production facility on private property abutting the Los Padres National Forest. The group previously appealed permits allowing construction of 19 new wells issued by planning commissioners and Ventura County supervisors two years ago. After losing those battles, the group sued Ventura County directly. This Thursday, a petition was filed by the organization with the Ventura County Planning Commission to nullify a routine certification, known as a "zoning clearance," which implements the terms of the underlying permit. The Center for Biological Diversity and Citizens for Responsible Oil & Gas also have sued the county over the proposal.

Martins Beach easement acquisition bill moves forward

San Mateo Daily Journal - Sep 2 Senate Bill 42, aimed at forcing open the gates to Martins Beach in San Mateo County, cleared the Appropriations Committee last Friday. The bill's sponsor, state Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, now has until September 15 to push legislation through the Assembly. Sen. Hill’s legislation is a follow-up to a prior law under which the State Lands Commission (SLC) is now considering whether to condemn a 6.4-acre easement winding along an existing road and down to the secluded property. The legislation aims to provide a next step for the SLC after two years of negotiations with property owner Vinod Khosla stalled last year. If approved, Hill’s bill would enable the state to contribute up to $1 million towards the cost of exercising its power of eminent domain and allow for public donations toward a fund that could be used to purchase an easement, the cost of which would be determined by the courts. 

California passes bill to protect scientific data from federal censorship

San Jose Mercury News - Sep 6 Soon after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, a page on climate change vanished from the White House website. Within weeks, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, proposed a bill to protect whistleblowers and safeguard data collected by scientists nationwide. The Senate passed the latest version of Jackson’s proposal Wednesday, and it now heads to Governor Jerry Brown for signature. Senate Bill 51, the Whistleblower and Public Data Protection Act, also would try to ensure that federal employees do not lose their professional licenses for reporting violations of the law. It directs California agencies to protect scientific information and data and would require the state’s secretary for environmental protection to “preserve scientific information and data and make it publicly available if it is at risk of being destroyed or censored by the Trump administration,” according to a recent news release issued by Ms. Jackson’s office.

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