A majority of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors rejected key parts of the San Diego Association of Governments’ new multibillion-dollar plan for regional transportation. The divided board voted 3-2 Tuesday for the county to oppose much of the new proposal, which would dramatically shift regional transportation priorities toward expanding public transit and away from building highways and roads. Supervisors Dianne Jacob, Jim Desmond and Kristin Gaspar voted for the measure, while Supervisors Greg Cox and Nathan Fletcher voted in opposition.
Archive for month: April, 2019
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Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday ordered key state agencies to develop a blueprint for meeting California’s 21st-century water needs in the face of climate change. The executive order includes few details and doesn’t appear to set a dramatic new water course for the state. Rather, it reaffirms Newsom’s intentions to downsize the controversial twin tunnels project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, use voluntary agreements to meet new river flow requirements and provide clean drinking water to impoverished communities. The directive calls for the Natural Resources Agency, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Food and Agriculture to assess water demands and the impacts of climate change on California’s far-flung water system.
President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders agreed Tuesday to work together on a $2 trillion infrastructure package — but put off for later the difficult question of how to pay for it. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said there was “good will in the meeting” — a marked departure from the last meeting between Trump, Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which ended with Trump walking out in a huff. Schumer said the two sides agreed that infrastructure investments create jobs and make the United States more competitive economically with the rest of the world.
Colorado River states cheered this month when President Trump signed swiftly passed legislation ratifying a drought plan for the waterway. But they could be in for a legal fight. Some lawyers say the Drought Contingency Plan, or DCP, may be built on shaky legal ground and could be vulnerable to litigation — depending on how the Bureau of Reclamation implements it. One California water district has already sued to block it. At issue is whether it complies with the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman testified before Congress that the DCP is “designed to specifically fit within existing environmental compliance”
The Don Pedro hydropower project, just west of Yosemite National Park, has been churning out carbon-free electricity for nearly a century. As the Tuolumne River flows from the Sierra Nevada to the Central Valley, it passes through Don Pedro Dam, spinning four turbine generators. None of the electricity is counted toward California’s push for more renewable energy on its power grid. A new bill advanced by state lawmakers last week would change that — and it’s being opposed by environmental groups, who say it would undermine the state’s landmark clean energy law by limiting the need to build solar farms and wind turbines.
To better measure the water in our snow, California is sending sharper eyes up into the sky. Two sensors peer out from a turboprop aircraft, soaring from Mammoth Yosemite Airport over the white Sierra Nevada – collecting data that tells us almost exactly how much water we’ll have this summer. Last week’s findings: 1.1 million acre-feet, or 350 billion gallons of water in the mountain snow of Yosemite’s Tuolumne River basin, which flows into Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and provides water to major Central Valley irrigation districts, San Francisco and several other Bay Area communities.
We celebrated Earth Day last week, but climate change threatens our quality of life and poses material risk to our communities every day. A recent article by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco points out that climate change also poses a real threat to our economy. Similarly, other reports identify tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure needs in California. They also say new infrastructure must be resilient, adaptable and responsive to the threat of climate change.
The San Diego County Water Authority annually delivers about 130 billion gallons of water to its member agencies, which in turn pump the water to ratepayers throughout the region. The movement of that much water and the millions of dollars that propel it brings with it certain legal implications. To handle its sometimes slippery legal matters, the independent agency calls on Mark J. Hattam, an attorney whose career started on a different track.
Mary Nichols, the woman who for more than 15 years has led the fight to improve California’s poor air quality, says she’s not a fan of a nickname she’s acquired: Queen of Green. “I actually hate the title,” Nichols told The Hill during a recent phone interview. “We live in what is intended to be a representative democracy, so queens are not our thing.” But Nichols, who has twice headed the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and more recently has led the state in its battle against the Trump administration’s rollback of key car emissions regulations, has nevertheless become a reigning environmental figure.
With the clock ticking, a major hurdle to restoring the southern edge of the fast-drying Salton Sea may finally be overcome. Imperial Irrigation District general manager Henry Martinez told the Desert Sun that he and California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot have reached an agreement in principle that the state — not the water district — will be responsible for construction and maintenance of more than 3,700 acres of wetlands aimed at controlling toxic dust and restoring wildlife habitat. In exchange, the water district will sign easements for access onto lands it owns that border California’s largest lake. The agreement could break a years-long impasse and find ways to get restoration projects moving.