CalEPA News Clips

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Trump Administration & the Environment

 

Wheeler: ‘No decision’ yet on splitting preemption from auto rule
PoliticoPro, 9/10/19 (subscription-only; full text below)

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler today said the administration has not yet decided whether to split off and finalize the portion of the SAFE Vehicles rule blocking California from enforcing tighter greenhouse gas standards ahead of the release of the new emissions standards.
“No decision has been made about splitting it, but we are looking at that. It’s certainly an option,” Wheeler told reporters at EPA’s headquarters. POLITICO reported last week that such a plan was under consideration amid growing tensions with California and automakers.

 

Car Companies Want Stricter Emissions Standards. What’s the Problem? (Opinion)
Wall Street Journal,
9/9/19

The Trump administration’s fight with auto makers over clean-car standards is unnecessary. Only a decade ago, state and national leaders, environmental advocates and auto executives came together to compromise for the common good. Their 2009 clean-car agreement put the U.S. on a path to less climate pollution, greater savings at the pump and the regulatory certainty that auto makers need to manage long-term capital investment. Stakeholders could look ahead to an era of innovation and profit.

 

Even the auto industry opposes Trump’s fuel standards (Editorial)
Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 9/10/19

In his increasingly irrational fight with California officials and even the auto industry over fuel economy standards, President Donald Trump looks more and more like a clueless backyard mechanic trying to change the oil in his car with a toilet plunger. Last week brought news that Trump’s Justice Department has launched an antitrust investigation against California and four automakers — Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen — over a voluntary deal to improve fuel efficiency in their vehicles by 3.7% a year, beginning with the 2022 model year. 

 

Pesticides

 

California Moves To Ban Pesticide Cleared By Feds 
Jefferson Public Radio, 9/9/19 (Radio Interview – Val Dolcini)

The light regulatory touch preferred by the current White House means regulations proposed in earlier administrations are being altered or cancelled outright. That includes a plan left over from the Obama years to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos. The Trump administration backed off the ban, but not the state of California. The state Department of Pesticide Regulation is moving ahead with plans to effectively end the use of chlorpyrifos in California, out of concern for its health effects on creatures other than pests. Val Dolcini, Acting Director of CDPR, is our guest.

 

Wildfires

Current Incidents [CalFire]

 

1,100 firefighters battling Walker Fire, California’s biggest blaze in 2019
San Francisco Chronicle, 9/10/19

Nearly 1,100 firefighters from several states continued to battle the 47,000-acre Walker Fire on Tuesday morning at Plumas National Forest in Northern California, officials said. The fire, which is California’s largest wildfire this year, had burned 47,340 acres and was 12% contained as of Tuesday morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service. At least 1,096 fire officials from an assortment of agencies have been assigned to the firefighting efforts. 

 


 

Wheeler: ‘No decision’ yet on splitting preemption from auto rule
By Alex Guillén
09/10/2019 11:57 AM EDT
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler today said the administration has not yet decided whether to split off and finalize the portion of the SAFE Vehicles rule blocking California from enforcing tighter greenhouse gas standards ahead of the release of the new emissions standards.
“No decision has been made about splitting it, but we are looking at that. It’s certainly an option,” Wheeler told reporters at EPA’s headquarters. POLITICO reported last week that such a plan was under consideration amid growing tensions with California and automakers.
Wheeler also hinted that the final federal emissions standards may be higher than the total freeze contemplated in last year’s proposed rule.
“No final decision has been made on what the stringency will be but I think it’s safe to say that our final [rule] will not look exactly the way we proposed it,” Wheeler said.
The final version of the rule has been under review at the White House Office of Management and Budget since Aug. 2.
Although EPA’s preferred option in the proposal was to freeze on standards starting with model year 2021 vehicles, the agency took comment on a range of other options that were still significantly less stringent than the Obama administration’s targets.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said in January that he had heard the Trump administration had moved toward a 0.5 percent annual increase in the standard’s stringency after it received public comments, though the agencies never confirmed that. That level would still be far below the 5 percent annual increases required by the Obama-era rule.
Annie Snider contributed to this report.
To view online:
https://subscriber.politicopro.com/states/california/whiteboard/2019/09/10/wheeler-no-decision-yet-on-splitting-preemption-from-auto-rule-9375765 

Trump Administration & the Environment

 

Watchdog faults EPA response to lead paint hazards

The Hill, 9/9/19

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not effectively using a rule meant to protect against exposure to lead-based paint, an agency watchdog found. The EPA’s Office of the Inspector General found, in a report released Monday, that the agency’s Lead Action Plan, which is meant to curb children’s exposure to lead, lacked measurable outcomes.

 

Center for Biological Diversity Lawsuit Challenges Trump Administration’s Refusal to Release Public Documents on Expanded Use of Antibiotics As Pesticides

Sierra Sun Times, 9/9/19

The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Trump administration last week for refusing to release public documents related to its approval Center for Biological Diversity logoof expanded use of antibiotics as agricultural pesticides. Overuse of antibiotics essential for treating human diseases poses a public health threat because it can lead to “superbugs” — bacteria that have developed antibiotic resistance.

 

Climate Change

 

‘Blob’ of warm Pacific water is back — could be trouble for marine life and weather

San Francisco Chronicle, 9/10/19

An ominous warm patch similar to the notorious “blob ” that wreaked havoc along the California coast five years ago has been detected along the West Coast, raising fears among scientists that the fragile ocean ecosystem may be facing another calamity. A large marine heat wave has warmed the northern Pacific Ocean and is threatening to disrupt sea life from Alaska to Southern California…

 

Electric Vehicles

 

Dems want 100% EVs in a decade. Is that doable?

E&E Energywire, 9/10/19

The majority of Democratic presidential candidates are proposing electric vehicle targets that would effectively phase out the sale of new gas cars in 10 years — a change that would wipe away analysts’ projections for EV growth and transform the energy sector permanently. But is the idea viable? And is it a smart political strategy?

 

Plastic

 

Pasta Straws, The Nearly Perfect Solution For Our Plastic Problem

Huffington Post, 9/9/19

In 2019, seven states have written at least partial plastic straw bans into their legislation. This is where bucatini pasta ― or a slightly bigger version of it, more like a long ziti ― comes into play. Bucatini has long been the favored child of the pasta world, and with its durable, tubular shape, it’s perfect for catching every bit of sauce. And now, you can use it to slurp down your favorite beverage.

 

California should phase out use of plastics that aren’t recyclable (Editorial)

Mercury News, 9/10/19

The numbers are breathtaking: Half of the plastic that has ever existed was made in the last 13 years. We produce more than 330 tons of plastic annually, but our recycling efforts are pathetic. More than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans every year. It’s time that California stopped using the Pacific Ocean as a garbage dump and started taking a leadership role in phasing out the use of plastic products that aren’t recyclable.

 

Recycling/Waste

 

Late gut-and-amends would exempt grocers from taking back bottles

PoliticoPro, 9/10/19 (subscription-only; full text below)

Two late gut-and-amend bills have emerged that would reduce grocer recycling requirements as programs struggle across the state because of changing dynamics in the market for repurposing containers. CA SB634 (19R), previously an education-related bill, was amended Friday by Sens. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) and Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) to allow CalRecycle to exempt more areas of the state from having to offer bottle take-back centers.

 

E-waste bill looks to prevent Chinese counterfeits

E&E Daily, 9/10/19

Senate lawmakers yesterday introduced a bipartisan bill intended to eliminate the counterfeit manufacturing and environmental dangers enabled by the flow of American electronic waste into China. The bill’s co-authors, Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), have expressed hopes that regulating e-waste exports will both shore up national security and boost the American recycling industry.

 

San Francisco is surviving the global recycling crisis. But it’s not easy

San Francisco Chronicle, 9/9/19

At Recology’s recycling center on a San Francisco pier, huge mounds of unsorted paper, plastic, aluminum and glass lie on warehouse floors. Workers operate tractors and haul in loads collected from blue bins across the city’s neighborhoods, businesses and construction sites. It’s about what you’d expect from a recycling facility that handles about 4,000 tons of recyclables a week — with one noticeable difference.

 

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is a Toxic Soup

KQED, 9/9/19

Imagine a giant aquatic vortex between Hawaii and California where converging ocean currents stir a toxic soup of discarded fishing nets, bottles, ropes, toilet seats, toothbrushes, bottle caps, bags and microplastics smaller than your pinky nail. It’s out there, and it has a name: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. You could sail right through it without noticing you are in the midst of almost 2 trillion pieces of plastics churning between the…

 

Recycling cans and bottles is hard enough. These bills could make it nearly impossible (Op-Ed)

Sacramento Bee, 9/10/19

The bills – Senate Bill 634 and Assembly Bill 54 – would release grocery stores and retailers from their legal obligations to recycle. Californians plunk down $1.5 billion each year in nickel and dime deposits for our bottles and cans. That’s money we are supposed to get back, but only about half of the deposits come back directly to consumers because we can’t find a convenient place to return our empties.

 

Water

 

EPA updates residents on efforts to reduce cross-border pollution

Fox 5 San Diego, 9/9/19

A representative from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday evening updated San Diego residents on the EPA’s efforts to reduce transboundary pollution in the water between Mexico and the United States. Local nonprofit Citizens’ Oversight organized the informal meeting at Balboa Park, where the public had the opportunity to ask questions and share concerns.

 

County could approve water conservation study

Chico Enterprise-Record, 9/9/19

Butte County leaders will consider approving a contract with West Yost Associates to conduct a feasibility study looking at conservation projects related to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Recently, the Department of Water and Resource Conservation has been looking into projects that could meet locally defined sustainability goals required under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

 

Water interests are fighting California’s bid to block Trump’s environmental rollbacks

Los Angeles Times, 9/7/19

California is close to adopting strict Obama-era federal environmental and worker safety rules that the Trump administration is dismantling. But as the legislative session draws to a close, the proposal faces fierce opposition from the state’s largest water agencies. To shield California from Trump administration policies, lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow state agencies to lock in protections under the…

 

$1.5 Million Awarded to Protect San Francisco Bay

NBC Bay Area, 9/6/19

A $1.5 million grant is being given to the San Francisco Estuary Partnership to protect the bay, according to the Association of Bay Area Governments. The grant was given by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the Transforming Shorelines project, which aims to protect the bay’s watersheds too. Project officials will be working to improve water quality by limiting contaminants from going into the bay from wastewater treatment plants.

 

Lomita drains its $13 million water reservoir because of cancer-causing chemicals

Daily Breeze, 9/6/19

Lomita has stopped using a 5 million-gallon emergency reservoir that blends local groundwater and more expensive imported water, another fallout from the discovery of cancer-causing chemicals in the water supply, prompting renewed criticism from some residents that the $13 million project doesn’t work as designed. An annual state test at the end of May found the chemical benzene, a known carcinogen, in groundwater…

 

In going after Trump, California is going too far with environmental legislation (Opinion)

CalMatters, 9/9/19

California has made a sport of disagreeing with President Trump. So it was somewhat surprising when legislative leaders decided to use the President’s worst habit—ignoring real science and concrete facts—as a model for priority legislation. Senate Bill 1 by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins would require that California ignore new scientific findings on natural resources and water issued after January 19, 2017, the day before…

 

Why California needs another water bond in 2020 (Opinion)

Capitol Weekly, 9/6/19

The California Legislature is currently considering several proposals to put a $4 billion bond measure on a 2020 ballot for safe drinking water, drought preparation, wildfire prevention, and climate resilience. An $8.9 billion bond initiative has also been filed by environmental advocates. Many Californians might ask, “Didn’t we already pay for that?” The answer is that while California has indeed started to make critical investments in…

 

Wildfires

 

Chico, Paradise problems may have single solution (Editorial)

Chico Enterprise-Record, 9/9/19

Of all the chicken-or-the-egg dilemmas that will determine Paradise’s recovery from the Camp Fire, water may be the most critical. To rebuild, the town needs water from the Paradise Irrigation District. To survive, PID needs the town to rebuild. One can’t happen without the other, and it’s been tough to figure out how it’s going to work. Which comes first?

 


 

Late gut-and-amends would exempt grocers from taking back bottles

By Debra Kahn

09/09/2019 06:00 PM EDT

Two late gut-and-amend bills have emerged that would reduce grocer recycling requirements as programs struggle across the state because of changing dynamics in the market for repurposing containers.

CA SB634 (19R), previously an education-related bill, was amended Friday by Sens. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) and Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) to allow CalRecycle to exempt more areas of the state from having to offer bottle take-back centers. It would also increase funding over the next year for existing recyclers and new recycling centers, to the tune of about $35 million.

It’s the latest version of a bill that died in the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this session. CA SB724 (19R) by Sen. Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) would have given small stores located far from recycling centers more exemptions from redemption requirements but also authorized CalRecycle to spend $30 million to $40 million annually for the next four years to boost local recycling programs.

Former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill last year, CA SB452 (17R), saying that he wanted any bottle-bill program reform to address “fiscal sustainability, improved collection and incentives for innovative recycling.”

It also bears similarities to a bill also gutted and amended on Friday by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). Ting’s CA AB54 (19R), previously a public safety bill, would exempt grocers from having to take back bottles in areas where the state’s largest operator of recycling centers, RePlanet, shut down last month.

Both bills could be merged if either the Senate Environmental Quality Committee or the Assembly Natural Resources Committee hears them this week.

The advocacy group Consumer Watchdog is opposed to the Glazer bill, calling it a giveaway to grocers, while Californians Against Waste is supporting it as a way to improve local recycling programs that have faltered.

But Californians Against Waste is taking an “oppose unless amended/strongly support if amended” position on Ting’s bill because it says the bill doesn’t address the root cause of recent recycling center closures.

“Each of them deal with different components of the problem,” said Mark Murray, CAW’s executive director. “Hopefully some genius will figure out that the answer is to put the two together.”

To view online:
https://subscriber.politicopro.com/states/california/story/2019/09/09/late-gut-and-amends-would-exempt-grocers-from-taking-back-bottles-1178048

Trump Administration & the Environment

 

Justice Dept. Investigates California Emissions Pact That Embarrassed Trump

New York Times, 9/6/19

The Justice Department has opened an antitrust inquiry into the four major automakers that struck a deal with California this year to reduce automobile emissions, according to people familiar with the matter, escalating a standoff over one of the president’s most significant rollbacks of climate regulations. In July, four automakers announced that they had reached an agreement in principle with California on emissions standards stricter than…

 

Water interests are fighting California’s bid to block Trump’s environmental rollbacks

LA Times, 9/9/19

California is close to adopting strict Obama-era federal environmental and worker safety rules that the Trump administration is dismantling. But as the legislative session draws to a close, the proposal faces fierce opposition from the state’s largest water agencies. To shield California from Trump administration policies, lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow state agencies to lock in protections under the…

 

Air Quality/Pollution

 

Wildfire season increases risk of bad air in Bay Area – and masks aren’t the solution

San Francisco Chronicle, 9/9/19

With California fire season well under way, Bay Area residents should plan for the smoky orange skies and unbreathable air that could drive them indoors for days at a time, say air quality and public health officials around the region. “Air quality events” like the two weeks of pollution that descended over the region during last year’s Camp Fire are likely to become familiar episodes, county emergency preparedness experts say.

 

Recycling/Waste

 

California Bill Puts Recycling Onus on Plastic Manufacturers. They’re Not Happy About It

KQED, 9/9/19

As soon as this week, California lawmakers could vote on legislation aimed at dramatically reducing plastic pollution from common manufactured goods like utensils, packaging and beverage lids. The proposed legislation, companion bills AB 1080 and SB 54, is a first-in-the-nation attempt at requiring plastic manufacturers to take responsibility for the fate of their single-use products, many of which end up in landfills and oceans.

 

Water

 

Court reverses ruling on Calif. agricultural drainage permit

E&E Greenwire, 9/9/19

A federal appeals court on Friday breathed new life into a long-running dispute concerning agricultural drainage in California’s Central Valley. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling, saying it erred in its interpretation of a Clean Water Act permitting exception for agricultural discharges. The case concerns a complex system in the San Joaquin Valley that captures agricultural wastewater that is rich in pollutants…

 

Marin gets $685K grant to block trash from waterways

Marin Independent Journal, 9/8/19

A coalition of Marin governmental bodies that enforces state laws governing discharge from storm drain pipes into waterways has received a $685,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The grant was awarded to the Marin County Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program, whose members include Marin County and Marin’s 11 cities and towns.

 

UC San Francisco researcher gets grant to study water contamination after Camp Fire

Chico Enterprise Record, 9/7/19

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has agreed to fund a study of possible contamination of the indoor plumbing of homes that survived the Camp Fire in Paradise and Magalia. The federal research agency has awarded a grant worth $275,000 to Gina Solomon, a clinical professor in the division of occupational and environmental medicine at UC San Francisco, and a team from UC Davis and the Public Health Institute…

 

Lawmakers Prepare Emergency Bill to Save San Diego Recycled Drinking Water Project

Times of San Diego, 9/7/19

San Diego lawmakers in Sacramento are preparing an emergency bill to stave off a legal challenge to San Diego’s $650 million recycled drinking water project. Assemblymember Todd Gloria, with the support of Senate President Toni Atkins, is moving forward Assembly Bill 1290 to end a legal challenge over the use of union labor to construct the Pure Water San Diego recycling plant.

 

Wildfires

Current Incidents [CalFire]

 

‘Critical fire weather’ pushes huge blaze in Northern California to nearly 44,000 acres

Sacramento Bee, 9/9/19

The Walker Fire burning in Plumas National Forest in Northern California grew by nearly 6,000 acres Sunday as “erratic” winds continued to fuel growth, the U.S. Forest Service said. Road closures and mandatory evacuation orders remain in place for a number of nearby communities as the wildfire, which broke out about 11 miles east of Taylorsville, is now mapped at 43,931 acres with 7 percent containment…

 

UPDATE: Red Bank Fire doesn’t grow, still at 50% containment

Redding Record Searchlight, 9/9/19

While containment on the Red Bank Fire burning west of Red Bluff remained the same, the blaze didn’t grow overnight, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Monday morning. The remains at 8,838 acres and 50 percent contained. Cal Fire officials said there has been limited fire activity in all areas and the favorable fire weather conditions will continue into Monday.

 

California’s wildfire season is off to a quiet start. That could change this week

USA Today, 9/8/19

Forecasts of strong winds in Southern California this week have heightened concerns that the state’s fire season, tame in its early stages compared to the devastation of last year, could swing into destructive, even deadly mode. Sustained winds of 20-30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph are expected in parts of Southern California through Tuesday, increasing the fire danger in an area that has been ravaged by blazes in recent years.

Trump Administration & the Environment

 

 

 

Air Quality/Pollution

 

 

 

Appointments

 

 

 

CalEnviroScreen

 

 

 

Cannabis

 

 

 

Cap-and-Trade

 

 

 

CEQA

 

 

 

Climate Change

 

 

 

Drought

 

 

 

Electric Vehicles

 

 

 

Energy

 

 

 

Environmental Justice

 

 

 

Heat Wave

 

 

 

Natural Disasters

 

 

 

Oil & Gas 

 

 

 

Pesticides

 

 

 

PFAS

 

 

 

 

Plastic

 

 

 

Politics

 

 

 

Proposition 65

 

 

 

Recycling/Waste

 

 

 

Refineries

 

 

 

Toxics

 

 

 

Vehicles

 

 

 

Water

 

 

 

Wildfires

Current Incidents [CalFire]