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California Environmental Law & Policy Update
June 1, 2018


Governor Brown approves permanent water restrictions


Governor Jerry Brown signed a pair of bills Thursday to set permanent overall targets for indoor and outdoor water consumption. Assembly Bill 1668 and Senate Bill 606 give water districts more flexibility than the strict cuts mandated under Brown’s 2014 emergency drought order, but will eventually allow state regulators to assess thousands of dollars in fines against jurisdictions that do not meet the targets. The bills set an initial limit for indoor water use of 55 gallons per person per day in 2022, which gradually drops to 50 gallons by 2030. How consumers will be required to meet the goals remains unknown. The Department of Water Resources and State Water Resources Control Board will conduct studies, consult with local water districts, and recommend standards for outdoor use by October 2021.

Officials crack down on illegal marijuana grows on California public lands


Citing new scientific evidence of "catastrophic" impacts on California's forests and wildlife, law enforcement officials in Sacramento announced a new crackdown Tuesday on illegal marijuana grow sites statewide. The recent discovery that banned pesticides being used at the sites are polluting water and poisoning endangered species, including the California fisher and the spotted owl, pushed authorities to act, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said. Authorities say illegal grow sites exist in at least 40 of California’s 58 counties.

States sue EPA over delay in implementing farmworker pesticide training requirement

THE HILL - May 30

The attorneys general of Maryland, California, and New York sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday for indefinitely suspending a requirement in the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard that requires employers to provide training to workers intended to protect them from pesticide poisoning. The rule was updated under former President Obama in 2015 after the administration concluded that enhanced safety training for farmworkers and pesticide handlers would help reduce the amount and severity of pesticide exposure on the job. The Trump EPA opted to suspend the rule in December 2017.

Oakland to appeal judge’s ruling allowing coal storage at proposed freight terminal


The Oakland City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to challenge a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria that prevents the city from enforcing its ban on coal at a proposed freight terminal in west Oakland. The handling of millions of tons of coal “poses a clear and demonstrable danger to Oakland residents, especially children whose health will be directly impacted by coal dust and other health and safety hazards related to a massive and inherently unsafe operation,” City Attorney Barbara Parker said.

EPA takes a major step to roll back clean car rules


The EPA on Thursday submitted its proposal to roll back an Obama-era rule that required automakers to nearly double the fuel economy of passenger vehicles to an average of more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025. California’s lawmakers insist that, based on the state’s waiver under the 1970 Clean Air Act authorizing California to set its own vehicle pollution standards, they have the right to retain their own tighter rules even if the federal government lowers its fuel economy standards. Twelve other states follow California’s lead, and together they make up roughly one-third of the nation’s auto market. According to sources familiar with the proposal filed on Thursday, the EPA's proposed rule would not revoke California’s waiver outright. Instead, EPA will argue that California cannot use the waiver to require tougher fuel economy standards than those set by the federal government. An EPA spokesperson confirmed that the agency had sent its proposed rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review, which typically is the final step before a proposed rule is published in the Federal Register for public comment.

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