Judge, Citing Fraud, Throws Out $2.3 Million Dole Verdict

By Scott Martelle
Protect Consumer Justice

This is one of the weirder cases bouncing through the courts, and it tracks like a John Grisham novel.

California 2nd District Court of Appeal Judge Victoria G. Chaney on Thursday threw out a $2.3 million jury verdict against Dole over its use of a pesticide in Nicaragua, filed by workers who said they had suffered sterility and other health issues. The pesticide, DBCP, has been banned in the U.S. but Dole allegedly continued using it in Nicaragua.

Green Chemistry Draft Regs: Toothless, Limited, Biased Toward Industry

By Renee Sharp
Environmental Working Group

California’s Green Chemistry Initiative has been touted as a bold and innovative move toward more effective and efficient regulation of industrial chemicals in consumer products. But the Initiative’s draft regulations would perpetuate the most serious flaws of the current system: too weak, too slow and stacked against the public in favor of industry.

In two letters, nearly 50 environmental, public health, consumer and worker safety advocates from every region of California have written to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and to Cal-EPA Secretary Linda Adams, saying the draft regulations issued last month “fall far short of meeting the worthy goals of the Initiative.”

Legislative Round-Up: Heading Into The Final Stretch

By Traci Sheehan
Planning and Conservation League

The environmental community started the month of July with great optimism. During the past few weeks, the majority of the environmental and public health bills we were supporting received the votes necessary to move forward. This week marked the deadline for these bills to pass their respective policy committees.

Here's a round up of the environmental bills that will move forward just as soon as the Legislature reconvenes after July recess. These bills would advance the protection of our ecosystem, promote conservation of our natural resources and reduce waste in landfills.

California Considering Approval of Neurotoxic Pesticide for Strawberry Farming

By Traci Sheehan
Planning and Conservation League

Need an ironclad reason to buy organic strawberries? California has one for you: methyl iodide. The chemical is a drift-prone fumigant that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved in 2007, primarily to replace methyl bromide, which is being phased out under the Montreal Protocol because of its ozone depleting properties and its toxicity. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) plans to approve the use of methyl iodide to sterilize soil for strawberry crops as the alternative to methyl bromide.   

California Fines Car Washes $700,000

By Chloe Osmer
CLEAN Car Wash Campaign

The California labor commissioner’s office investigated 247 carwashes in California, including nearly 50 in Los Angeles County alone. The businesses include carwashes that the CLEAN Carwash Campaign had reported to the state as having potential wage-and-hour violations based on complaints from workers.

The actions, which resulted in more than $700,000 in fines to the carwashes, made it clear that the carwash industry continues to violate even the most basic laws protecting workers. The industry’s widespread problems with compliance highlight the need for workers to have a union to help enforce standards in their workplace.

Is Your Faucet Making You Sick?

By Doug Linney
East Bay Municipal Utilities District

By now we've all heard the dangers of lead -- at any level. The American Heart Association, the Centers for Disease Control, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the World Health Organization, and every other health-based organization that has reviewed the available studies have concluded that there is no safe level of lead in the human body. Human lead exposure has been associated with reduced cognitive function, aggressive behavior, increased criminal activity, digestive ailments, nervous system disorders, cardiovascular impairment, and bone marrow damage, just to name a few.

Judge Wanger Affirms Flows to Protect Central Valley Salmon

By Dan Bacher

Environmentalists, fishermen and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe scored a legal victory on March 31 when a federal judge affirmed restrictions on Delta pumping to protect imperiled Central Valley salmon populations.

In a rebuke to junior water rights holders, Judge Oliver Wanger of the Eastern District of California refused to grant the Westlands Water District and its co-plaintiffs a temporary restraining order on the biological opinion of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The opinion includes seasonal water flows required to protect Sacramento River endangered spring-run Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead in the California Delta, according to the Planning and Conservation League (PCL).

Groups Blast Westlands Attempt to Use Aqueduct As Sewer

By Dan Bacher

Every time that you think that corporate agribusiness can't stoop any lower than they have already in their campaign to destroy imperiled fish populations and fishing jobs, they always manage to reach a new low in their race to the bottom.

In the latest surrealistic episode in the California water wars, Westlands Water District, the "Darth Vader" of California water politics, is now seeking a permit to pollute the drinking water supply for millions of Californians, according to a coalition of environmental, fishing and tribal groups.

"Westlands has proposed a project to discharge up to 100,000 acre feet of groundwater into the State Water Project California Aqueduct, a drinking water supply for approximately 20 million people," revealed Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

Defying Progressives, Obama Revives Nuclear Power

By Randy Shaw

Those who continue to insist that President Obama would implement progressive measures if he only had 60 Senate votes (ignoring that he had this for most of 2009) will have a hard time explaining his move this week to launch the first nuclear power plants built in the United States since the 1970’s.

Anti-nuclear power activism, coupled with the Three Mile Island near-meltdown, doomed the nuclear power industry, and major environmental groups have long opposed new plants. But as with Obama’s dramatic escalation of the war in Afghanistan (and the covert sending of troops to Pakistan), there was little outcry from progressives in response to an action that would have brought thousands into the streets if initiated by a Republican President.

Is Schwarzenegger's Big Drought Over?

By Dan Bacher

For the past two years, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, has constantly promoted the agribusiness claim that California is in a "catastrophic drought." In reality, 2007, 2008 and 2009 were below-normal water years, but nothing like the drought years of 1975-77 or 1989-92. 

"California's 'drought' is overblown. The alarmists calling it a historic disaster are trying to pull a fast one," columnist MIchael Fitzgerald wrote in an article in the Stockton Record (