Pollution and the law

Nov 9, 2017

Southern California's official pollution-fighting fighting agency violated the law when it approved rules favorable to emitters


From the LAT's TONY BARBOZA: "Southern California’s air quality board broke the law and “abused its discretion” when it adopted oil industry-backed changes to smog rules the day of a hearing without delaying the vote to give the public more time to comment, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has ruled."


"Environmental groups sued after the South Coast Air Quality Management District board in December 2015 rejected a staff proposal to cut 14 tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxide pollution from oil refineries and other big facilities and instead adopted an alternative Western States Petroleum Assn. plan to cut 12 tons per day, and more slowly."


"Those amendments to the district’s long-running cap-and-trade program for smog-forming pollution, called the Regional Clean Air Incentives Market, or RECLAIM program, were submitted the morning of the hearing by board member Shawn Nelson, an Orange County Supervisor, and approved hours later on a 7-5 vote."


READ MORE on environmental regulation: State agencies and SoCalGas bicker over Aliso Canyon as winter nears -- U-T's ROB NIKOLEWSKI; Emissions fall under California's cap-and-trade program -- LAT's CHRIS MEGERIAN; Villaraigosa: 'There’s not enough concern about the environmental impacts of climate change on the poor' -- LAT's JACLYN COSGROVE


Speaking of pollution, tainted waters from the Tijuana River, which feeds into the ocean, forced beach closures in the San Diego area. It's not the first time, either.


From the U-T's  JOSHUA EMERSON SMITH: "Precipitation carrying tainted water through the Tijuana River into the Pacific Ocean triggered beach closures Tuesday evening from the international border to Seacoast Drive in Imperial Beach."


"Signs warning swimmers of “sewage-contaminated” water along the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge and Border Field State Park will be posted until bacteria levels return to normal, according to the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health."


"Such water pollution has occurred for years during the rainy season, regularly preventing beachgoers in the South Bay from using sections of their coastline."


Up the coast, though, there's good news: Californians may gain access to a mile of rural coast


From the AP: "A stretch of remote California coastline would become available to the public after more than a century of private ownership under a proposal expected to receive approval by the state's powerful Coastal Commission."


"The ranch land is a rarity on the 21st century coast of Southern California - free of urban sprawl, crowds, cookie-cutter developments and freeways."


"The panel of coastal regulators is expected to vote Thursday on a plan that would create a mile of new public beach between the south end of vast Vandenberg Air Force Base and Point Conception, 150 miles (241 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles. The deal would transfer 36 acres (14.5 hectares) of coastal property from private owners to Santa Barbara County to extend a current public park at remote Jalama Beach."


And still more on the environment: Jerry Brown, in the midst of his European tour, takes shots at climate-change deniers.


The Bee's CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO reports: "Gov. Jerry Brown, arriving in Brussels after collegial events in Germany, sparred publicly with British politicians when confronted over his climate change record at the European Parliament on Wednesday."


"Steven Woolfe, a British politician on the parliament, was first to pierce the pleasantries, accusing Brown of supporting state intervention “at a huge scale” and spending and increasing taxes “like it’s going out of fashion.”


"Brown’s climate change policy, he argued, isolates the state from much of the U.S. Woolfe dismissed California’s cap-and-trade carbon market as a “tax-and-spend” policy. And he teased the governor as potentially being interested in joining the European Union."


READ MORE on Brown: To what extent can Brown influence foreigh policy? -- Capitol Public Radio's BEN BRADFORD


More fallout from that audit of UC's money handling: Executives who resigned from UC were involved in audit interference


From the Chronicle's NANETTE ASIMOV: "One of the two executives who resigned this week from the University of California president’s office wrote emails directing campuses to reveal and sometimes alter their answers in a confidential state auditor’s survey, which tainted the review and prompted the state to demand an investigation. The other was his boss, who was copied on many of the emails."

"Seth Grossman, chief of staff to UC President Janet Napolitano, and Bernie Jones, his deputy, “resigned to pursue other opportunities,” a UC spokeswoman said Wednesday."

"As a result of the emails, three of UC’s 10 campuses — Santa Cruz, San Diego and Irvine — changed their survey responses to reflect more favorably on the UC Office of the President, which was being audited by the state. Auditor Elaine Howle, who released the audit results in April, discarded the survey results and said the interference by the president’s office made them useless."


California's stem cell agency, funded through $3 billion in funding approved  by voters more than a decade ago, is running out of money and is trying to figure out a way to stay alive.


DAVID JENSEN reports in Capitol Weekly: "California’s $3 billion stem cell research program later this month is expected to unveil detailed plans for extending its life beyond the middle of 2020 in hopes of avoiding a lingering death."


"The latest proposals, which are not yet public, are scheduled to be discussed Nov. 27. Possibilities range from another multi-billion dollar bond measure to private fundraising to possible merger with some sort of private entity."


"The stem cell agency, known formally as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), projects its cash for new awards will run out in about 2 1/2 years. At that point, unless more money is forthcoming, CIRM will only be overseeing the dwindling number of awards whose terms extend beyond June of 2020."


Low voter turnout is nothing new to Los Angeles -- or the rest of California, for that matter -- and the latest example is in Compton, where voters turned down a pay hike for the mayor.


KPCC's MARY PLUMMER reports: "Compton voters have turned down a proposed salary increase for the city's mayor and council members in a big way: semi-official results from the special election held Tuesday show nearly 73 percent of voters rejecting a pay hike."


"The ballot measure was one of about a dozen placed before voters around Los Angeles County on Tuesday, along with city council elections for some smaller cities and school bond measures."


"Early results show just under 10 percent of registered voters cast ballots — a continuation of a trend of low voter participation rates in local elections this past year." 



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