Last Tuesday, a 24-inch underground oil pipeline on the beautiful Santa Barbara County coastline burst for reasons as of yet unknown. Over the course of several hours, an estimated 101,000 gallons of crude oil spilled down a storm drain, on the shoreline, and into the Pacific Ocean. As of late last week, oil had spread […]
Severe Reduction in Sierra Snowpack Another Sign That State's Worst Drought Just Gets Worse
January 2015 ends with a most dubious distinction: it’s been the driest January in recorded California history. That’s especially bad news, considering that January has traditionally been the wettest month of the year in the Golden State. According to National Weather Service and California Department of Water Resources (DWR) statistics, the alarming precipitation figures for Northern […]
Australia — or at least Australia’s current government — downplays the danger of climate change. But, as a famous physicist once said, “reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.” Last summer in Australia (corresponding to the winter months up here) broke many, many records. it was the hottest summer on record, […]
Prospects Good for Passage of Landmark Groundwater Legislation
California, which prides itself as being a national and international leader in so many areas of environmental policy, lags woefully behind other jurisdictions when it comes to at least one subject area: groundwater regulation. Alone among the Western states in the U.S., California lacks any statewide system of groundwater regulation and planning. (Until a few […]
While FRA Considers New Federal Regulations, States Can Ramp Up Prevention and Emergency Response
At a joint Senate and Assembly hearing last week on oil by rail safety in California, some lawmakers expressed frustration at slow federal action, and asked what California can do to increase public safety. My testimony focused on federal preemption issues, defining areas where the state can regulate, and those where it is preempted by […]
BP is trying to use standing law to wiggle out of its own settlement agreement. The courts have been right to say no.
BP entered into a settlement in a massive class action against it arising out of the BP oil spill. Now it’s trying to get out of part of the settlement while keeping the rest of the deal in place. BP’s argument involves three areas of confusion in standing doctrine: how does it apply to class actions, […]
Ruling is Especially Timely, Given California's Ongoing and Severe Drought Conditions
I recently wrote about a then-pending court case in which California grape growers were challenging the State Water Resources Control Board’s limits on the growers’ diversion of water from California rivers and streams to provide frost protection for their grapes. That litigation is important because it goes to the heart of the Board’s authority under […]
Four years ago, the BP Deepwater Horizon was still gushing oil. The well was finally capped in mid- July. There’s been a lot of legal action since then, but it’s hard to keep track of all the piecemeal developments. Here’s quick rundown. The Presidential Commission investigating the spill identified the “root causes” as management failures by industry and […]
For the past few days we have all been focused—justifiably—on the EPA’s proposed carbon rule for power plants. But that’s not all EPA and the rest of the federal government have been up to recently. Today a federal interagency working group established under Executive Order 13650, Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security (“EO 13650”) issued […]
Millions of people are in the path of rising seas. The time for action is now.
The NY Times has run a series of articles in the past few days dealing with disaster issues. Taken together, they highlight the urgency of government action to protect populations in harm’s way. One article dealt generally with the threat posed by sea level rise. Miami is something of a poster-child for these problems, given its […]