The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s San Francisco headquarters vowed Friday to work diligently on environmental issues, including the clean up of toxic Superfund sites, a slate of work that he claims will keep him so busy it won’t matter that he still lives in Southern California. Mike Stoker, the 62-year-old Santa Barbara County attorney named last week as administrator of the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region, was criticized by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, for what she said was his plan to oversee 702 San Francisco employees from a Los Angeles satellite office.
Archive for date: May 25th, 2018
The Golden State’s incredible natural treasures are woven into our identity as Californians. And that is why we always react with such outrage when these treasures are threatened by things like oil spills, development and habitat destruction. But there is another threat that doesn’t get a lot of headlines, but is no less devastating: lack of funding. Not only does this contribute to the slow deterioration of parks and open space, but it divides our populace into those that have access to nature and those that don’t.
The Assembly this week passed a gun control measure that would let employers, co-workers and school employees seek gun violence restraining orders that could allow law enforcement to seize the guns of someone who’s exhibited threatening behavior. Two Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for the bill, Catherine Baker of Dublin and San Diego’s Brian Maienschein. Though Republicans generally oppose gun-control measures, Baker and Maienschein’s votes shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
Six years after California recognized the human right to water in state law, more than 1 million Californians still lack access to safe drinking water, and in many ways the scope of the challenge has revealed itself to be even more pervasive and endemic than initially realized. Lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation impacts rural well-users, city residents, schoolchildren, mobile home communities and churches across the state.
Recently, unprecedented water shortages in the African metropolis of Cape Town, South Africa, have brought water security to international consciousness. According to a recent report by the United States Drought Monitoring agency at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln on May 17, the entirety of Orange County is still considered to be within what they call a “severe drought scenario.” According to that study, some areas of the Southwestern region’s precipitation (rainfall and snowpack are measured by the state of California by “water year,” which runs from Oct.1 to Sept. 30) was in the second percentile or lower.
Whether the Butte County district attorney will have a shot at winning a lawsuit against the state Department of Water Resources could come down to a comma. At the North Butte County Courthouse on Friday, the two sides presented different interpretations of the 1875 law that District Attorney Mike Ramsey is suing under for environmental damages caused by the Oroville Dam crisis in February 2017. Lawyers representing DWR tried to convince Butte County Superior Court Judge Michael Candela to throw out the complaint because Ramsey did not have the authority to sue.
California’s largest reservoir, Shasta Lake, sits where the dry Central Valley meets the rainier, mountainous northern part of the state. At its western edge is Shasta Dam, 602 feet high, built by the Bureau of Reclamation between 1938 and 1945 to help irrigate California. For decades, agricultural and municipal water districts have sought to heighten the dam to capture more water as it runs out of the Cascade Range through the McCloud, Pit and Sacramento rivers. Environmentalists have long rallied against the proposal, and state officials contend such a project would violate California law.