2019

Committee Votes to Move David Bernhardt’s Nomination as Interior Secretary to Full Senate Vote

CounterPunch Magazine
By Dan Bacher, April 8, 2019

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on April 4 voted 14-6 to move the nomination of Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former Westlands Water District, and oil industry lobbyist, to a full Senate vote, setting the stage for a contentious and heated debate. In his lobbying disclosures, Bernhardt has listed “potential legislation regarding the Bureau of Reclamation and the Endangered Species Act” under his specific lobbying areas, including trying to minimize protections for endangered salmon, Delta smelt and other fish populations. Click here to visit the link and click here for the pdf version.

Bernhardt advances to full Senate vote despite questions of blatant corruption

Red, Green, and Blue
By Dan Bacher, April 5, 2019

In his lobbying disclosures, Bernhardt has listed “potential legislation regarding the Bureau of Reclamation and the Endangered Species Act” under his specific lobbying areas, including trying to minimize protections for endangered salmon, Delta smelt and other fish populations. According to a story I broke here in January, a fish survey that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) conducts every autumn turned up zero Delta smelt — the very same fish that Bernhardt is trying to strip protections for — throughout the monitoring sites in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in September, October, November and December 2018. Click here to visit the link and click here for the pdf version.

Environmentalists Say They Were Shut Out of Talks on Building Housing Faster

San Francisco Public Press
By Kevin Stark, April 1, 2019

Both the California builders’ lobby and the state’s largest trade union for construction workers backed Gavin Newsom’s campaign for governor. When the Democrat won in a predictable landslide in November, they proceeded with a common purpose: to knock down barriers to fast housing construction — among them the state’s primary environmental law. Click here to visit the link and click here for the pdf version.

Should CEQA Reform be Given a “Fair Hearing?” PART II

Fox&Hounds Daily
By David Kersten, March 28, 2019

The accidental result of the new UC Berkeley academic studies and testimony presented at the March 12 joint legislative hearing appeared to clearly implicate CEQA as a major driver of the state’s skyrocketing housing development costs. The first panel was intended to give an overview of CEQA and its streamlining provisions. Click here to visit the link and click here for the pdf version.

A dark ethical cloud hangs over David Bernhardt, groups and Winnemem Wintu warn Feinstein

The San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center
By Dan Bacher, March 26, 2019

The fight to stop the confirmation of David Bernhardt as Trump’s Interior Secretary heated up this week with the delivery of a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein by a coalition of groups and a California Tribe. The coalition of California fishing groups, conservation organizations, and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe on March 19 sent the letter to Feinstein seeking an investigation and public disclosure of acting interior secretary Bernhardt’s role in granting the powerful Westlands Water District a permanent water supply contract. Click here to visit the link and click here for the pdf version.

Environmental photo festival wants your best (Earth) shots

TreeHugger
By Melissa Breyer, March 11, 2019

A new photography platform, EarthShot, encourages engagement with the environment, culminating in an epic crowd-based exhibit to be held in California. In 1948, British astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle predicted that when space travel allowed us to glimpse our planet from afar, the view would change us forever. Click here to visit the link and click here for the pdf version.

Tell your Senators: Vote NO on Bernhardt for Interior Secretary (We don’t need another lobbyist)

Red, Green, and Blue
By Dan Bacher, March 11, 2019

In a joint press release, the coalition said, “A brutal confirmation fight is expected soon in the Senate as President Trump has now nominated Bernhardt to permanently lead the Department of the Interior. Bernhardt has served as deputy secretary since early in the Trump administration, and became acting secretary after Ryan Zinke resigned in December 2018 under an ethical cloud.” Click here to visit the link and click here for the pdf version.

Newsom scales back controversial Delta twin tunnels plan

The Mercury News
By Jane Braxton Little, February 12, 2019

In a major shift in one of the largest proposed public works projects in state history, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday announced he does not support former Gov. Jerry Brown’s $19 billion plan to build two massive tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to make it easier to move water from the north to the south. Newsom, in his first state-of-the-state speech since taking office last month, said he instead will pursue a smaller, one-tunnel plan for the project. Click here to visit the link and click here for the pdf version.

Development plans test a decade-old conservation deal

High Country News
By Jane Braxton Little, February 7, 2019

Tejon Ranch is California wild, a place where mountain lions prey on unsuspecting fawns and storm-twisted trees cling to remote ridges, where California condors soar over bald peaks and Tehachapi slender salamanders hide in the damp leaf litter of secluded canyons. Tejon is also a private working ranch, where cowboys run cattle across an area bigger than Rocky Mountain National Park. Click here to visit the link and click here for the pdf version.

Gov. Newsom must mop up Brown’s water mess

The Sacramento Bee
By Jonas Minton, February 5, 2019

Despite many high priority issues on his plate, one of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first tests will be how he deals with California’s water challenges and opportunities. Unfortunately, in the last days of his term Gov. Jerry Brown made a bad bargain with the Trump administration and special interests. Click here to visit the link and click here for the pdf version.

2018

Election 2018: What happened to Proposition 9 in California?

Press-Enterprise
By Steven Rosenberg, November 7, 2018

Did you notice on your ballot Tuesday, Nov. 6, how the statewide measure skip from Proposition 8 to Proposition 11? Whatever happened to Proposition 9? Click here to visit the link and click here for the pdf version.

Walters: Pay-to-play alive and well in Sacramento

The Mercury News
By Dan Walters, October 20, 2018

Let’s imagine that a business owner wrote a hefty campaign check to a state legislator who agreed, in return, to carry a bill that would directly benefit the contributor. Such a quid pro quo deal would, of course, be illegal bribery that could land both parties in jail. Click here to visit the link and click here for the pdf version.

Proposition 3: An $8.87 billion water and habitat bond

CALmatters
By Jerry Meral and Eric Parfrey, August 23, 2018

California needs a clean, safe and reliable water supply to meet its needs as the population grows and the climate changes. Proposition 3 will provide that water supply for people, agriculture, and our native fish and wildlife. Click here to visit the link and click here for the pdf version.

Full commission ‘engaged’ in CPUC hearing on Cal Am desal project

The Monterey County Herald
By Jim Johnson, August 23, 2018

In a sign of how seriously the state Public Utilities Commission is taking the debate over the future of water supply on the Monterey Peninsula, all five commissioners attended a CPUC oral argument hearing on California American Water’s proposed desalination project in San Francisco on Wednesday. Several of those who attended the hearing said three of the five commissioners asked a number of questions of the parties to the desal project proceeding, and all five appeared “engaged and interested” in the issue. Click here to visit the link and click here for the pdf version.

Plan to split California into three states barred by state Supreme Court

Curbed San Francisco
By Adam Brinklow , July 19, 2018

On Wednesday, the California Supreme Court issued an order removing from the November ballot a voter initiative to divide California into three new states. The measure was the brainchild of Silicon Valley capitalist Tim Draper. Click here to visit the link and click here for the pdf version.

Lawsuit Challenges 3 California Ballot Measure

North Coast Journal
By Kimberly Wear, July 13, 2018

A lawsuit filed with the California Supreme Court this week is challenging the placement of a controversial initiative to divide the state into three on the November ballot less than one month after it was signed off on by the Secretary of State’s Office. According to a San Francisco Chronicle article, the Planning and Conservation League — a nonprofit lobbying group that focuses on environmental and development issues — contends the measure goes beyond the scope of the initiative process by proposing to “revise” the California Constitution, essentially by doing away with it, not just change state law. Click here to visit the link and click here for the pdf version.

Opponents sue to nix ballot measure to split California in 3

Chicago Sun-Times
By Sophia Bollag, July 10, 2018

Opponents of an initiative to split California into three states asked the state Supreme Court to pull the measure from the ballot, arguing it’s too drastic a change to state government to go through the normal initiative process. A lawsuit filed Monday by the Planning and Conservation League argues major changes to the state’s government structure require approval from two-thirds of the Legislature before going under consideration by voters or a state constitutional convention. Click here to visit the link and click here for the pdf version.

Remove three Californias plan from the ballot, Supreme Court says

Sacramento Bee
By Taryn Luna, July 9, 2018

The California Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in favor of opponents of a plan to divide California into three, saying the measure should not appear on the November ballot. The court instructed Secretary of State Alex Padilla to refrain from putting the measure before voters pending further review, “because significant questions have been raised regarding the proposition’s validity, and because we conclude that the potential harm in permitting the measure to remain on the ballot outweighs the potential harm in delaying the proposition to a future election…” Click here to visit the link and click here for the pdf version.

Public Weighs in on Proposed CEQA VMT/LOS Changes

Streetsblog California
By Melanie Curry, March 15, 2018

The Natural Resources Agency held a very short hearing today on proposed updates to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The hearing, which lasted only a half hour, included a brief review of the proposed update, followed by public comment. Click here to visit the link and click here for the pdf version.