Water

Groundwater and the public trust doctrine, California style

The dewatered Scott River west of Fort Jones, CA, Sept. 2, 2009. Photo by Klamath Riverkeeper. Flight by LightHawk.

California trial court rules that public trust doctrine applies to pumping that reduces flow in a navigable waterway

If you follow California water law or environmental law, you probably have been aware that the Environmental Law Foundation has been pursuing a public trust claim based on groundwater pumping that affects the Scott River. Last week they gained a victory at the trial court level, with a ruling that endorses the principle that groundwater […]

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A win for EPA on mountaintop removal

Mountaintop removal at Oven Fork, near Whitesburg (Letcher County, KY). From The Mountaintop Removal Roadshow, http://mountainroadshow.com

D.C. Circuit upholds Enhanced Coordination Process, refuses to review agency guidance

The D.C. Circuit has rejected a challenge to consultation procedures developed by the EPA and Corps of Engineers for reviewing mountaintop removal mining permits and to EPA’s guidance for reviewing permits issued by the Corps or state permitting agencies. Because it rests on standard administrative law, the decision shouldn’t merit comment. But it does, because […]

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Ban the Quad?

Harvard Yard

The grassy Quad is emblematic of university life. But its days may be numbered.

When I picture a university, I immediately envision the quad: an area of grass and trees surrounded by campus buildings, like the photo from one of America’s oldest universities accompanying this post.  But those beautiful lawns may need to go. That would be a bit sad, and not just because the students could lose a place to […]

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California Court Upholds State Water Board’s Broad Authority to Ban Unreasonable Uses of Water

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 […]

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A Bailout By Any Other Name…

Weak environmental laws are another form of bailouts for private industry

Bailouts – the payment of public funds or resources to rescue or support a private enterprise – are politically very unpopular. The primary challenger who defeated Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia excoriated Cantor for supporting big banks in the wake of the financial crisis. The bailout of banks after the crisis that […]

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Turning Water Into Wine: An “Unreasonable Use” of Water in California?

Photo credit: George Rose

Pending Litigation Likely to Affect Scope of California Constitution's Ban on Waste & Unreasonable Use of Water

Today a California appellate court in San Francisco heard arguments in a case that is likely to affect how broadly–or narrowly–California’s State Water Resources Control Board can apply the state’s most powerful water law. The case, Light v. California State Water Resources Control Board, involves a challenge by wine grape growers in the Russian River watershed […]

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Quantifying Environmental Justice (& Injustice) in California–An Update

California Improves an Already-Powerful Environmental Justice Analytical Tool

A year ago, I wrote about an important environmental justice initiative pioneered by the California Environmental Protection Agency and its subsidiary entity, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. That 2013 initiative, titled CalEnviroScreen, divided up the State of California by zip code, applied 11 environmental health and pollution factors, assessed each of the state’s […]

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Fracking and the Environment

Source: The Pilot, http://www.thepilot.com/news/2011/aug/08/fracking-promise-and-perils/

A new RFF report sheds light on the critical issues.

There are a lot of unanswered questions about natural gas and fracking.  A recent report by Resources for the Future sheds light on some of the answers.  RFF is unusual among Washington think tanks — an honest broker that uses expertise to try to answer hard questions.  The report reaches three important conclusions. The first […]

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The Missing of Summer Lawns*

lawn photo

It's Time to End the Wasteful Practice of Irrigating California's Residential Landscaping With Fresh Water

What a difference a drought makes. Once upon a time, a fundamental attribute of home ownership in California and the American West was an expansive, verdant lawn surrounding private homes, townhouses and apartment complexes. Indeed, some communities have historically imposed permit conditions or adopted local ordinances mandating the inclusion and maintenance of lush, healthy lawns […]

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