drought

Dueling California Drought Relief Bills Debated on Capitol Hill

Stark Differences Emerge Between Competing House and Senate Bills

What can and should the federal government do to assist the State of California in weathering the worst drought in recorded state history? While the U.S. House of Representatives is embroiled in a chaotic political debate over selection of a new House Speaker, the more deliberate consideration of new legislation continues apace in the Senate. …

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California and Other Western States See Barriers to Protecting Streams

A new report highlights twelve western states’ efforts to restore stream flows using environmental water transfers

Unnaturally low flows in rivers and streams throughout the western United States have threatened fish and other aquatic species for decades. But restoring flows has proved a significant and complex challenge. A recent report prepared for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation by Stanford University’s Water in the West Program documents twelve western states’ efforts …

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Registration Opens for 2015 Yosemite Conference–The Nation’s Top Environmental Law Event

This Year’s Yosemite Conference Promises to Continue a Tradition of Excellence

Registration is now open for the 2015 edition of the State Bar of California’s Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite.  That conference, held each fall, is unquestionably the premier environmental law-related event in California.  I would go so far as to argue that it’s actually the top such program in the entire United States. The Yosemite Conference …

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California Governor Jerry Brown: Environmental Saint or Sinner?

Brown’s National & International Environmental Reputation Disputed by Some California Environmentalists

California Governor Jerry Brown has had a most eventful 2015, especially when it comes to environmental policy.  He started the year fresh from an overwhelming election victory last November, earning him an unprecedented fourth term as California’s chief executive.  Brown began 2015 by declaring a state drought emergency and becoming California’s “educator-in-chief,” repeatedly warning state …

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Tragedy of the Commons–California Drought-Style

State Farmers Planting New Almond Orchards Despite Critical Water Shortages

Traveling through California’s drought-striken San Joaquin Valley repeatedly over the past year, I’ve been surprised and disheartened to see that Valley farmers continue to convert their agricultural fields to newly-planted almond orchards.  (My anecdotal observations have been confirmed by various recent press accounts.)  This development is a striking, current example of Garrett Hardin’s Tragedy of …

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Sacramento Judge Halts California Regulator’s Efforts to Impose Water Cutbacks

Court Rules Water Board’s Administrative Process Violates Water Users’ Due Process Rights

A Sacramento judge has thrown a wrench into the California State Water Resources Control Board’s efforts to impose water cutbacks on several of the state’s senior water rights holders.  In a July 10th order, Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang ruled that the Water Board’s administrative process, designed to implement drought-based water reductions, violates the due …

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Drought and the Supreme Court

Does the Court’s Decision in the Raisin Case Imperil Water Management?

When I first read Rick’s writeup of the Supreme Court’s decision in USDA v. Horne, concerning the federal government’s Depression-era system of “marketing orders” that required farmers to set aside a percentage of their raisin crop in a government-controlled account, I was worried about water. And that’s not just because I always worry about water. Horne turned on …

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CEQA and the Drought

Republicans are using the drought as an argument for CEQA exemptions

One thing that the deep drought in California has prompted is more discussion of water storage projects like dams. Part of that discussion has been arguments that environmental review pursuant to CEQA should be “streamlined” for water storage projects. A bill to streamline environmental review for two dam projects died in the Assembly this year. …

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More on the Governor’s war on lawns

The Executive Order misses some golden opportunities for the Golden State to get a handle on agricultural water use

As you no doubt know by now, on April Fools’ Day Governor Brown issued an executive order relying on his emergency powers to impose new statewide restrictions on water use. As has been widely noted in the media (for example by the L.A. Times and Sacramento Bee) and by our own Jonathan Zasloff, Executive Order …

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Accelerating Cost-Effective Green Stormwater Infrastructure: Learning from Local Implementation

A new Berkeley Law report

California decision makers focused on responding to the current drought might question whether stormwater deserves a slice of their attention right now. Although it might be tempting to relegate stormwater planning, management decisions, and infrastructure improvements to a back burner until drought concerns cool off, doing so would be counterproductive. Below, I explain why stormwater management is relevant …

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