March 2011

(CN) – Federal protection of the tiny delta smelt, a 3-inch-long fish that inhabits California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary, does not violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the 9th Circuit ruled Friday.

The threatened fish, a California native that was once used for fishing bait but currently has no commercial value, has been the subject of much controversy of late, blamed by some for drying out the west side of the state’s Central Valley.

Delta smelt was first listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1993. In 2008, the agency issued a biological opinion finding that the operation of the Central Valley Project – which brings water from the state’s wetter north to its southern agriculture lands – was contributing to the decline of the species.

“We conclude that the ESA [Endangered Species Act] is ‘substantial[ly] relat[ed]’ to interstate commerce and, thus, the growers’ as applied challenge to ESA … fails.” – Judge Sidney Thomas

Click here to


A three-day federal court hearing on a request by urban and agricultural water users to halt the April 1 implementation of a plan to protect endangered salmon migrating through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ended Friday without a decision.

U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger said he would issue his ruling Wednesday.

The federal government and its environmental allies say the plan must be put in place to protect the fish. If certain conditions are met, the plan would require pumping cutbacks from the delta.
Read more:


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A judge has temporarily halted California’s ambitious program to provide financial incentives for the state’s largest polluters to cut harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith said Monday the state failed to properly consider alternatives to its so-called “cap-and-trade” program, a key piece of its landmark global warming law, AB32.

Click here to ream more at


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released updated data and a mapping tool designed to help the public compare water quality trends over the last two years. The web-based, interactive map includes “state dashboards” that provide detailed information for each state, including information on facilities that are violating the Clean Water Act and the actions states are taking to enforce the law and protect people’s health.

“Access to environmental information that is easy to use is the cornerstone of our commitment to transparency and engaging the public in a meaningful and productive way,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The release of today’s tool removes traditional barriers that have limited access to Clean Water Act information and helps improve public awareness of the important work that remains in protecting our nation’s waters.”

The state dashboards incorporate data for both large and small sources of water pollution, along with the latest information from EPA’s 2009 Annual Noncompliance Report. The public can examine and compare information on the inspections conducted by both EPA and the state in their region, violations and enforcement actions in their communities over the past two years and the penalties levied in response to violations.

In 2009, EPA announced the Clean Water Act action plan to improve Clean Water Act permitting, enforcement, information collection and public access to compliance and monitoring information. The state dashboards are a part of the action plan and are designed to provide information on Clean Water Act violators and government’s response.

EPA’s enforcement and compliance transparency tools are recognized as a model for open government and improving how government operates. EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Online (ECHO) database provides fast, integrated searches of EPA and state data for more than 800,000 regulated facilities, including information on inspections, violations and enforcement actions.

More information on interactive state dashboard for Clean Water Act violations:

More information on the 2009 Annual Noncompliance report:

More information on the ECHO database:

Some day, Stockton residents might thank the Delta breeze for the water splashing from their taps.

The Stockton East Water District, which treats millions of gallons of river water each day for city residents, is considering a 1.5-megawatt wind turbine to generate some of the electricity needed to lift the water into the district’s treatment plant east of town, and push it into the pipes that feed homes, businesses and water towers.


Click here to


An abandoned mercury mine that for decades has sent polluted, orange waste into a creek that eventually feeds into San Francisco Bay is a threat to human health and should be added to a list of the nation’s worst polluted places, federal regulators say.

The New Idria mercury mine in remote San Benito County was shuttered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1972 because of pollution from piles of mine waste and the site’s towering  blast furnace. For decades, however, the agency refused to add it to the National Priorities List, which qualifies a site for millions of dollars in federal Superfund cleanup funding.


Click here to

Next Page »