Environment


CEQA Reform and Transit Planning

By Robert Cruickshank

Last Saturday the Planning and Conservation League held a daylong symposium on the California Environmental Quality Act. Coming amidst a concerted effort to reform the 43-year old law, the PCL wanted to use the day as an opportunity to rally progressives and environmentalists to defend the status quo and oppose any changes to CEQA. However, the day's discussions revealed a series of divisions among the ostensible allies regarding CEQA's future. While the PCL wants to frame the debate as one of heroic environmental and community advocates resisting evil oil companies and sprawlmongers who want to destroy environmental protections, the reality is far more complex.

New "Marine Reserve" Network Doesn't Protect the Ocean

By Dan Bacher

A new network of controversial "marine protected areas" went into effect on the North Coast from Point Arena to the Oregon border on December 19, completing the statewide network from the Oregon to the Mexican border created under the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

The completion of the network was accompanied by a flurry of press releases from the Department of Fish and Game (now Department of Fish and Wildlife), Natural Resources Agency and corporate environmental NGOs and "puff pieces" by the mainstream media regurgitating the agency news releases.

Two Water Supply Visions for Southern California

By Terry O'Day

Nothing is more central to the future of Southern California communities than water. Increasing the sustainability of our cities will require an effective transportation system, improved urban planning, clean air, green energy sources and more. But you can go a day without driving, or even without electricity. But try going a day without water.

This is a good time to reflect on how our communities will provide water for our future. There's a great deal of focus on water policies in California at the moment. And today, in Southern California, there are two competing visions for the future. Deciding between those visions is important to our future economic health, to the state's environment, and to our collective pocketbooks.

California's Environmental Leadership: Making Progress Amid Economic Recovery

By Ann Notthoff

What California does makes a difference. When President Obama increased national mileage standards last year, he built on the pioneering work that Senator Fran Pavley started here in 2002. We dream big, we take big steps and when it comes to environmental and public health protection, nobody does it better. With his new budget proposal today, Governor Brown has a chance to build on our state's strong record of environmental and public health protection.

CEQA Reform Takes Shape for 2013

By Robert Cruickshank

One of the top issues facing the state legislature in 2013 will be reforming the California Environmental Quality Act. It's an idea whose time has come. CEQA is popular with environmentalists, but overall it has failed to achieve its goals of producing better development and protecting the state's environment. Since CEQA's passage in 1970, sprawl has exploded, carbon emissions have soared, species have been lost, and other environmental impacts have not been averted. Rather than promote environmentally friendly planning, CEQA's primary use is for NIMBYs who wish to prevent sustainable change. At times it does serve to stop projects that are truly bad for the environment, but those are rare cases, and too many good projects are delayed or made more expensive by the flawed process. California can do better.

Will California Department of Fish and Wildlife Live Up to Its Name?

By Dan Bacher

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) became the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) on January 1, 2013, but many Californians are wondering whether the controversial agency that presided over precipitous declines of chinook salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt and other species will live up to its title and mission any better than it did under its previous name.

The new name was mandated by AB 2402, signed Sept. 25 by Governor Jerry Brown. The name change is one of numerous provisions passed into law during 2012 that affect the department, according to a news release from the CDFW.

California's New Fracking Regulations "First Step" to Proliferation of Permits

By Dan Aiello

Today Reuters reported that the draft regulations announced by the Brown administration set forth ostensibly to improve monitoring of the oil industry's hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," method of oil extraction from the state's depleted oil fields, are actually intended to increase the ability of the oil industry to use fracking in oil fields throughout California.

Brown Announces New Oil Industry Regulations Ahead of "Promised Land" Release

By Dan Aiello

The Brown administration Tuesday proposed new draft regulations that would require the oil industry to disclose where in California its oil extraction operations are using hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as "fracking," in advance of a new movie starring Matt Damon meant to bring public awareness to the environmental destruction caused by the practice.

MWD to Vote on Support for Raising Shasta Dam, Tribal and Conservation Groups Opposed

By Dan Bacher

The Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California will vote December 11 on a proposal including the raising of Shasta Dam as a "state legislative action priority."

The MWD staff recommends support for "administrative/legislative actions to remove existing prohibition for state funding to raise Shasta Dam."

I am not aware of any state legislation that has been already introduced to facilitate the raising of Shasta Dam.

California Controller John Chiang Honored with Environmental Leadership Award

By Jenesse Miller

With a dedication that may not immediately be associated with his job description as the state's chief fiscal officer, Controller John Chiang has been a leader in the fight to safeguard California’s environment.

Controller Chiang has worked to make California's finances more transparent and accountable to the public, and fought to weed out waste, fraud and abuse of public money. But what earned him the California League of Conservation Voter's Environmental Leadership Award at our annual gala event this week is his commitment to protecting the state's vast and precious natural resources for all Californians.