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Feature Archives

Just months after Monterey County voters approved a ban on underground injection of oil waste, California regulators have announced a plan to turn an underground water supply in the county over to the oil industry for injection of contaminated waste fluid. The proposal — announced by California's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources — seeks to exempt an aquifer that runs under the town of San Ardo from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. A similar aquifer exemption is currently under consideration in Livermore.
Toxic lead levels are dangerously high in Oakland’s Fruitvale district, which has the highest level of contamination in California and are worse than in Flint, Michigan, according to a national report. Unlike Flint’s contaminated water crisis, which caught national attention in 2015, Oakland’s lead is not in the water system but is coming from old buildings and chipping paint that is getting into the dirt and being tossed up in the wind. The result is that 7.57 percent of children under the age of seven who were tested have high levels of lead in their blood.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released a report last week detailing the 2014 results of their Pesticide Illness Surveillance Program. The report, documenting all reported pesticide-related illnesses from all California counties, shows 20.1% of agricultural pesticide-related illnesses occurred in Tulare County, making it the county with the most agricultural pesticide illnesses in the state. Santa Cruz County came in second with 17.2%. Of the 53 counties with documented pesticide-related illnesses in 2014, Tulare County accounted for over 1 in every 5 cases of poisonings from agricultural pesticides.
In a slap in the face to fishermen, Tribes, environmental justice advocates, conservationists and family farmers, President Obama on December 16 signed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act into law with an environmentally destructive rider sponsored by Senator Feinstein (D-CA) and Congressman McCarthy (R-CA). The controversial rider, requested by corporate agribusiness interests, allows San Joaquin Valley growers and Southern California water agencies to pump more water out of the Delta, driving numerous fish species closer and closer to extinction, according to Delta advocates.
An oil company with a long history of hazardous spills in California wants state and federal permission to dispose of contaminated waste fluid into an underground water supply in Livermore. The proposal, announced by California's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, seeks to exempt an aquifer in eastern Alameda County from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act on behalf of E&B Natural Resources, the oil company seeking the exemption. State officials are now taking public comments and will hold a January 11 hearing on the proposal.
The California Secretary of State’s Office announced that voters narrowly defeated Proposition 53, an initiative requiring voter approval of revenue bonds over $2 billion. Governor Jerry Brown is celebrating the victory because it would have required a vote on his controversial “legacy” projects, the Delta Tunnels and High Speed Rail. Dan Bacher writes: The results of the Proposition 53 vote are disappointing for those who care about salmon, the Delta and the public trust. However, there is no doubt that if an initiative solely requiring a public vote on the Delta Tunnels had been on the ballot, it would have been decisively approved.
On December 6, the Kern County Board of Supervisors approved Tejon Ranch Company’s disastrous Grapevine project, despite the harm the project will do to wildlife and nearby communities. The 8,000-acre development will straddle the San Joaquin Valley and Tehachapi Mountains and create a new city of up to 12,000 dwelling units and up to 5.1 million square feet of commercial real estate. The project will destroy habitat for the endangered San Joaquin kit fox, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, and threatened San Joaquin antelope squirrel, along with up to 36 other rare and imperiled species.