Los Angeles Times – December 20
A lawsuit filed by the California Attorney General and a dozen District Attorneys last Monday in Alameda County Superior Court alleges that Walmart stores in California illegally disposed nearly 80 tons hazardous waste at landfills every year for the past five. The hazardous wastes include insecticides and aerosol cans, cleaning products, paint, and electronic waste. They also contain confidential customer information. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified financial penalties against Walmart. An investigator from the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health saw a Walmart employee pour bleach down a drain.
Associated Press – December 20
To significantly reduce the emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gasses, the Biden administration will raise vehicle fuel efficiency standards. It reverses a Trump-era rule that loosens previously applied standards. The final rule was published last Monday and would increase fuel efficiency standards starting in the 2023 model years. This will allow for an industry-wide goal to achieve 40 miles per gallon by 2026. The new standard is 25% higher that the standard set by the Trump administration in 2020 and 5% higher then the proposal made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in August. The federal government has set the highest tailpipe emissions standards for passenger cars and light truck vehicles ever.
The Mercury News – December 28
In a December 3, letter viewed by ReutersThe California Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets, Curbside Recycling, and the California Attorney General asked CalRecyle to take action against illegal labeling that it claims undermines efforts to reduce plastics pollution. The state-appointed commission claims that big retailers are violating California law by selling plastic shopping bags with symbols and language that suggest that they can be recycled. A recently enacted bill will make it illegal to use the word “recyclable” or the “chasing arrows” symbol on items that are not actually recyclable, but that new law does not go into effect until June 2025.
Courthouse News Service – December 23
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evilio Cooko denied a motion from the California Geological Energy Management Division, (CalGEM), and three industry organizations to dismiss a lawsuit brought in part by the Center for Biological Diversity. The lawsuit alleges that the agency issued oil and gas drilling permits in Kern County repeatedly without adequate environmental review. A central issue in the case is the extent to which CalGEM, as a “responsible agency” under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), may rely on the environmental analysis prepared by Kern County, as the “lead agency,” when passing on well drilling permit applications, including applications for hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” The County’s CEQA compliance in connection with that environmental analysis is the subject of a separate challenge. Judge Grillo, without ruling on the merits of these claims, determined that the claim directly against CalGEM cannot be dismissed by the CEQA lawsuit.
Daily Breeze – December 24
The West Basin Municipal Water District, which supplies imported drinking water to 17 Los Angeles County cities and unincorporated areas, voted this week that its multimillion-dollar Ocean Water Desalination Project be terminated by the Board of Directors. The most recent version of this project, which has been in consideration since 2002 included construction of an El Segundo water desalination plant that would produce between 20 and 60 million gallons of water per day. Among other concerns, the project has faced opposition from environmental groups, which say the District should focus on alternative methods — including conservation, water recycling, stormwater reuse, and groundwater remediation — to increase water supplies.
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