Phillips 66 oil train opponents cheered when the oil company missed the deadline to file opposition to the project denial by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, but a lawsuit in Superior Court lingers.
Phillips had until 4/16 to oppose S.L.O.’s rejection to California’s Coastal Commission, whose staff, however, had written in support of the project denial.
S.L.O. Superior Court Judge Barry LaBarbera had already told Phillips it needed to exhaust its administrative remedies before suing the county in court — the Coastal Commission being such an administrative body — so it remains to be seen whether the lawsuit, based on a lack of timeliness by the county in finding environmentally sensitive habitat on the project grounds, will go forward.
50 PROGRAMS SCRAPPED AT THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
President Trump proposes a $54 billion increase in military spending, offset by slashing domestic programs. The Environmental Protection Agency would take the biggest hit, a 31 percent cut that would eliminate a quarter of the staff and save $2.6 billion, returning the agency’s budget to 1970s-era levels. Congress dictates spending, however, and some cuts face bipartisan pushback. The agency has begun offering buyouts to workers.
Here is a sample of programs that would be eliminated:
Wetlands restoration for San Francisco Bay, the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sound and South Florida. (saving $427 million)
Science to Achieve Results grants for university research on environmental problems. ($10.6 million)
Climate Protection Program, including the voluntary Energy Star efficiency label for appliances. ($70 million)
Climate change research conducted in coordination with the U.S. Global Change Research program. ($19.4 million)
Marine Pollution Program, which prevents dumping of harmful material into the ocean. ($4.2 million)
National Estuary Program, which helps Morro Bay and San Francisco Bay address declines in ecosystem health. ($20.5 million)
Water Sense Program, a voluntary labeling program for products such as shower heads and toilets that conserve water. ($3 million)
Non-Point Source Pollution grants to address farm runoff. ($165 million)
Underground Storage Tank grants. EPA says 561,000 of these tanks store petroleum or other hazardous substances, posing their biggest threat to contamination of drinking water. ($1.5 million)
Endocrine Disruptor Program, which screens and tests chemicals that harm wildlife and disrupt children’s growth. ($6 million)
Does not eliminate but slashes by 80 percent, or $542 million, the agency’s Science Advisory Board “to reflect an anticipated lower number of peer reviews.”
Online resources: Read more at http://bit.ly/2oDjijc
Climate science at other agencies
Trump’s budget request would terminate four key Earth science missions at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration:
PACE, an ocean monitoring program.
Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3, a satellite under development to study distribution of carbon dioxide on Earth.
The Deep Space Climate Observatory
The CLARREO Pathfinder that measures heat in the atmosphere.
Note: Trump’s plan would also zero out $250 million in programs at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration that support coastal and marine management and research, including the Sea Grants program.
Top 10 Stories of 2016: Benicia derails Valero’s oil-transport plan
By Daily Republic staff From page A1 | January 01, 2017
BENICIA — City Hall reverberated from the cheers when the City Council in September voted unanimously to turn down a Valero plan that would have allowed up to 70,000 barrels of crude oil to be shipped by rail to its refinery.
It is a topic that also made the Daily Republic’s top stories list in 2015.
Valero receives its crude oil by ship, and wanted to employ the less expensive rail option.
What ultimately became a simple land-use decision for the council, turned Benicia into one of the latest battlegrounds on the environmental and urban safety debate over transporting crude oil by rail.
Proponents noted the advances in railcar safety and emergency service preparedness, while opponents pointed to all the disasters – many deadly – that have occurred, some during the local debate.
Valero had applied for a permit to add additional rail, pipeline and to make other changes to its off-loading capabilities at the refinery, a request denied by the city Planning Commission in February. A series of public hearings were held before the City Council, but a decision was delayed while Valero took its case to the federal Surface Transportation Board, arguing the city lacked authority to make the decision.
The agency, just hours prior to the council’s decision, ruled that the city was not addressing a transportation issue, which would have triggered the long-held rail pre-emption laws, but rather was addressing the permit application only.
Valero, which represents about 25 percent of all local city tax revenue, has not indicated what its next move might be.