California Wildfires Update / New Gas Tax / Farmworkers COVID-19 Outbreak / California Suing US EPA Over Delayed Methane Emission Rules
California Wildfires Update
California firefighters are battling large wildfires in Santa Clara and Los Angeles counties. Cal Fire says a fire that has burned more than 2 square miles north of Gilroy is 15% contained, and a smaller fire east of Morgan Hill is 80% contained. The National Weather Service says conditions near the fire improved early in the morning, with increasing humidity, decreasing winds and cooling temperatures. But the service warns that fuels remain very dry. In north Los Angeles County, firefighters have gained 30% containment of a 2-square-mile fire near Agua Dulce but are concerned about a return of hot, dry and windy conditions.
New Gas Tax
The state's gas tax just went up three-point-two cents a gallon. That's a result of SB-1, which was signed into law three years ago to fund road repairs and other transportation improvements. The increase puts California's gas tax at 50-point-five cents a gallon.
California motorists are now paying more than 80 cents a gallon in taxes and fees — the highest in the nation, according to the American Petroleum Institute. California has the second highest average price for a gallon of gas trailing only Hawaii
SB-1 also imposes a 100 dollar a year registration fee on zero emission vehicles that kicked in for the first time this year, but it exempts ZEVs made before 2020.
Farmworkers COVID-19 Outbreak
Dozens of farmworkers staying at a Southern California housing facility for migrant agricultural laborers have tested positive for the coronavirus. The Ventura County Star reports that as of Friday, 188 of 216 workers tested positive at Villa Las Brisas in Oxnard. The facility has dorm-style accommodations for temporary migrant farmworkers in the H-2A visa program. The workers were employed by three separate farm labor contractors that leased space for their H-2A workers. The county public health director says he believes the laborers were working as a unit and did not work alongside other farmworkers in Ventura County.
California Suing US EPA Over Delayed Methane Emission Rules
California filed a motion, Monday, for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce methane emissions as laid out under federal law. The motion is a part of a 2018 lawsuit against the EPA for “unreasonably delaying” its mandatory obligation under the Clean Air Act to control methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and other state attorney generals are asking a federal court to declare the delay unreasonable. They want the EPA ordered to develop and issue guidelines to control methane emissions sooner rather than later.
Reducing methane emissions is a huge part of the state’s goal of lessening the impacts of climate change. Oil and natural gas operations are the largest industrial source of methane emissions in the county.