The California Coastal Act for decades has scaled back mega-hotels, protected wetlands and, above all, declared that access to the beach was a fundamental right guaranteed to everyone. But that very principle could be dismantled in the latest chapter of an all-out legal battle that began as a local dispute over a locked gate.
A proposal that federal officials said was intended to simplify federal water laws has instead been interpreted to do the opposite – and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is scrambling to defend itself to agriculture and other industries.
A recently completed inventory of tricolored blackbirds has found a steep drop in the birds’ spiraling population statewide, with scientists worrying that this year’s drought will lessen future populations.
“California’s Central Valley hosts millions of migrating shorebirds. It’s a critical stopping point on migration route that runs thousands of miles. But the drought could make it difficult for birds to find a haven.”
“The Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today [April 24] they have signed a Record of Decision for a comprehensive, 30-year plan to restore and enhance Suisun Marsh, a critical part of the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta estuary ecosystem.”
From the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA):
“On April 21 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register the proposed rule revising the definition of ‘waters of the United States’ under the federal Clean Water Act. This formalizes the proposed changes released in draft form on March 25 and marks the beginning of a 90-day comment period that ends July 21, 2014.”
From the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld today [April 22] announced nearly $5 million in EPA grants to state and local agencies to restore water quality and wetlands throughout the San Francisco Bay watershed at a ceremony held at Breuner Marsh (Richmond, Calif.)—one of the sites to receive federal restoration grant funding. The ceremony was attended by U.S.
“By crunching data from the Central Valley, eBird can generate maps showing where virtually every species congregates in the remaining wetlands. … The BirdReturns program, financed by the Nature Conservancy, then pays rice farmers in the birds’ flight path to keep their fields flooded with irrigation water from the Sacramento River as migrating flocks arrive.
“Industry groups and more than a dozen GOP senators are urging the Obama administration to reconsider plans to regulate many of the nation’s streams and wetlands, saying the proposed rule hurts economic activity and oversteps legal bounds.”