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California Environmental Law & Policy Update
January 25, 2019


Appeals court upholds California’s emissions reduction standards

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE - Jan 18 The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last Friday upheld California’s low-carbon fuel standard, ruling that the state can impose such standards on fuel sold within its borders, regardless of where it was produced. Oil and ethanol producers in other states invoked the "dormant Commerce Clause" doctrine, arguing that the state was unconstitutionally regulating conduct outside its borders, thereby interfering with interstate commerce. The court had upheld an earlier version of the low-carbon standard in 2013, and a different Ninth Circuit panel rejected a September 2018 challenge by oil companies to emissions standards in Oregon that are similar to the California rules. The companies asked the U.S. Supreme Court last week to review and overturn the Oregon ruling, and the California case could be headed to the Supreme Court as well.

City of San Luis Obispo passes resolution opposing new oil pipeline and oil trucks

THE TRIBUNE - Jan 21 The San Luis Obispo City Council on January 15 voted unanimously to oppose projects that would enable ExxonMobil to reopen offshore oil platforms that were closed in 2015 when the Plains All American Pipeline ruptured and spilled crude oil off Refugio State Beach. To make reopening offshore platforms viable, ExxonMobil needs permits to transport the crude across Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Kern Counties on the way to its refinery. Plains Pipeline has applied to restore an outdated and deteriorating transmission pipeline that runs through all three counties. While the city has no authority to deny permits to the company for either project, the county of San Luis Obispo does. The county Board of Supervisors has not yet stated a position on the projects.

California lawmakers seek funding for the polluted New River

THE DESERT SUN - Jan 18 Lawmakers in Washington and Sacramento are pursuing new legislation and funding to combat the pollution problems in the New River, which flows north across the U.S.-Mexico border. Representative Juan Vargas introduced a bill in Congress last week that would direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to create a program focused on helping to coordinate funding for the restoration and protection of the New River. State Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and Senator Ben Hueso said they will ask Governor Gavin Newsom to include $10 million in his budget proposal for a project that would encase a stretch of the river in an underground pipe where it passes next to a residential area in the border city of Calexico.

Environmental groups urge San Jose to preserve Coyote Valley

THE MERCURY NEWS - Jan 22 Environmentalists this Tuesday urged the San Jose City Council to protect Coyote Valley—the largely open space area south of downtown San Jose—from development. The groups argued that preserving the open space protects the city from devastating floods like the one that destroyed homes in 2017, and also provides safe roaming habitat for wildlife. In 2018, San Jose residents approved Measure T, a bond measure that set aside up to $50 million for acquisition of land in the area. For some developers and landowners, however, the area offers the city a valuable economic opportunity to create jobs. The city’s own land use plans say the valley could support more than 30,000 new jobs. No decision was reached at the meeting.

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