Environment


Governor Brown Signs Human Right to Water Bill

By Dan Bacher

Governor Jerry Brown on September 25 signed historic legislation establishing a state policy that every Californian has a human right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible drinking water.

AB 685, authored by Assemblymember Mike Eng (D-Alhambra), also requires that all relevant state agencies consider the state policy when creating policies and regulations.

If Proposition 32 Passes: A Not-So-Green Golden State

By Matthew Fleischer

How different would California look with Proposition 32's passage? To imagine, it's not necessary to focus on a Golden State without the legacy of its unions, but rather to think of a California in which only the rich and powerful have a say in Sacramento and in the polling booth.

"It will have a devastating effect," says John Logan, director of Labor Studies at San Francisco State University, of Prop. 32's impact. "California would be transformed as a state."

On environmental issues alone, Prop. 32 stands to roll back decades of progress in making California a global leader in green policy-making.

CHSRA Releases Agriculture White Papers

By Robert Cruickshank

At a recent board meeting of the California High Speed Rail Authority, an Agricultural Working Group brought together by the CHSRA released a series of white papers examining agricultural impacts in the Central Valley.

Overall, the papers found that high speed rail will not negatively impact agriculture in the Central Valley, including farms near the tracks. The papers are detailed and each is worth reading. A short summary of the key findings form each:

Sustainable Communities Bills Sent to Governor Brown

By Madeline Janis

On August 29, 2012, one of the most important job creation and environmental bills in recent memory was adopted by the legislature and sent to the governor. Senate Bill 1156 was developed and introduced by Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg and supported by a strong majority in both houses. Steinberg built quiet momentum behind the bill starting last February, in partnership with a broad-based coalition of community, environmental, labor, smart-growth and good-government activists, with support from the counties, infill developers, non-profit housing developers and business.

Peripheral Tunnel Plan Details Released at Public Meeting

By Dan Bacher

The California Natural Resources Agency on August 29 held the first public meeting of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan in Sacramento since the Governor announced his controversial plan to build the peripheral tunnels on July 25.

Jerry Meral, the Deputy Resources Secretary, began the meeting by emphasizing that although the state and federal governments had chosen a preferred project, "there are still a lot of steps that the project must go through."

Meral updated the joint agreement announced by Governor Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, reiterating and expanding upon many of the points announced in the July press conference.

Environmental Justice Does Not Mean What They Think It Means

By Robert Cruickshank

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. High speed rail is environmentally unjust?

That last claim, equally as absurd as the other three given to us by George Orwell, is the latest attempt by high speed rail critics to undermine the project by claiming that it violates the principles of environmental justice:

But the choice to run through disadvantaged rural areas and impact farms, homes and business in towns such as Corcoran violates environmental justice protections in the National Environmental Policy Act, critics said Tuesday. A route along Interstate 5, going through undeveloped land, would avoid such impacts, they argued.

The “Target” Approach to Better School Meals

By Dana Woldow

PEACHSF

Wouldn’t it be great if many good causes - feeding hungry kids, organic farming, fighting global warming, growing small local businesses - could all be supported by school meal programs? In a perfect world, every worthy goal could benefit from these government funds. In the real world, underfunding of school meals by Congress means that schools must prioritize to ensure scarce resources are going towards feeding the most kids, and that means student needs trump other noble causes.

The Case for Progressive CEQA Reform

By Robert Cruickshank

A last-minute end of session gut and amend effort to change the California Environmental Quality Act will not move forward - but that doesn't mean the effort to reform CEQA has come to an end, nor does it mean that the broken system of environmental review can be left to continue to rot. The same coalition that came together this month to push reforms will merely redouble their efforts ahead of a 2013 push to change CEQA. They've got the money and the momentum. I would not bet against them.

Many progressive groups across the state mobilized to block this specific reform proposal, charging that it would in fact carve out a series of loopholes to existing laws and help environmentally unfriendly things like offshore oil rigs avoid CEQA review.

Conservationists Beat Back Attack on CEQA

By Bruce Reznik

Planning & Conservation League

Conservation groups are hailing Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg for preventing a last-minute attempt to gut the California Environmental Quality Act from moving forward. State Senator Michael Rubio tried to sneak drastic changes to CEQA through the legislature using the infamous “gut-and-amend” procedure.

Senator Rubio’s legislation, known as SB 317, would have made comprehensive changes to CEQA without giving the legislature – and the public – an opportunity to explore what these changes would mean to environmental quality in the state.

Enough of Groundhog Day: Save CEQA

By Jenesse Miller

One of my favorite movies is Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray's weatherman character is trapped living the same day over and over again. But one of my least-favorite real-life versions of Groundhog Day--where several interest groups try to push through major changes to California's most important environmental law at the last minute--is playing out yet again in the state Capitol in the waning days of the legislative session.

The Los Angeles Times warns: “Major change to one of California’s most important laws could happen literally in the dark of night."