California

As Oil by Rail Gains Momentum, Is California On Track to Protect Human Health and the Environment?

A closer look at the data and key legal issues

California will soon see a surge in the number of trains carrying crude oil into the state, as oil production in North Dakota’s Bakken region and Canada continues to increase, sending more crude to California refineries. Last week, the California Senate Environmental Quality Committee and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the safety of …

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California Enacts Emergency Drought Legislation

State Water Rights Reforms a Key Part of the Legislative Package

“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” This adage, attributed to Chicago Mayor and former Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, seems especially apt regarding emergency legislation enacted by California lawmakers and signed into law last weekend by Governor Jerry Brown in response to the worst drought in recorded California history. That …

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Would Californians be Better Off with a Fuel Tax instead of Cap-and-Trade?

Steinberg’s surprising proposal for California climate regulation

Climate regulation drama!  Sen. Darrell Steinberg is floating a proposal that would change California law to take transportation fuels out of the cap-and-trade program, and to enact a new fuels tax instead.  As background, distributors of those fuels are slated to join the cap-and-trade program in 2015, meaning they would need allowances to cover their …

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Wyoming Wind Power and California Electricity

Supporting renewable energy in Wyoming makes political sense

A company wants to build a lot of wind power in Wyoming.  A lot.  3,000 megawatts.  The size of three nuclear reactors.  And ship all of the power to California.  None of it will be used in Wyoming, where electricity primarily comes from coal, and where the state has been strongly resistant to various policies …

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It’s Not Waste, It’s An Ecosystem

Letting rivers flow supports ecosystems and people

One thing that droughts in the West provoke are political battles over water.  The drought that California is currently in is no exception.  Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have just passed a bill that would – more or less – exempt farmers in the Central Valley from environmental laws like the Endangered Species …

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The ballot-box and urban infill

How the initiative power affects land-use decisions in California

Here at Legal Planet we’ve been paying a lot of attention to how CEQA affects land-use decisions.  So has the legislature.  And that’s fair enough.  CEQA is important.  And CEQA may well be deterring an important range of urban infill development that is environmentally important. But it’s not the only thing that affects urban infill …

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Are Transit Strikes Bad for the Environment?

Banning public transit strikes might help the environment

Even if you’re not from the Bay Area, you’ve probably heard about the labor troubles at the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) – the rail system that is one of the largest public transit providers here in the Bay Area in terms of passengers.  Hundreds of thousands of commuters use the BART system on …

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California Headed for Record Drought: Will Critically-Needed Reforms Follow?

Confronting a Looming Environmental Disaster

The Sacramento Bee’s fine environmental reporter, Matt Weiser, yesterday reported on a looming, major drought facing California and its regional neighbors. The figures aren’t pretty.  A persistent high-pressure front stretching over the Gulf of Alaska and most of the Northern Pacific has diverted the normal fall and winter storm track away from California and other …

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Calfiornia Bans Lead Ammunition

New Law Is Welcome, But Probably Won’t Take Full Effect Until 2019

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that will ban the use of lead ammunition in California by hunters. In approving AB 711 (Rendon), Brown withstood furious lobbying efforts by the National Rifle Association and some (but not all) hunting organizations, who had urged the Governor to veto the legislation. AB 711 was supported by …

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California Enacts Nation’s First Comprehensive Fracking Law—And Everyone’s Unhappy

Controversial But Promising, SB 4 Constitutes Tangible Progress on the Fracking Front

Late last month the California Legislature passed, and Governor Jerry Brown signed into law, the nation’s first comprehensive system of regulating hydraulic fracturing, the oil and gas drilling technique more commonly known as “fracking.” It turns out that no one–the oil and gas industry, surface landowners or environmentalists–is particularly happy with the new law. And …

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