KQED Radio Staff
Science and Environment Reporter
Lauren is a radio reporter for KQED Science, specializing in water, energy and the environment. As part of her day job, she has scaled Sierra Nevada peaks, run from charging elephant seals and desperately tried to get her sea legs - all in pursuit of good radio. She has been recognized by the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Edward R. Murrow Awards and is a recipient of the Harold Gilliam Award for Excellence in Environmental Reporting. Lauren has a degree from Cornell University and is originally from the Bay Area. She is also a regular contributor to NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
Stories (157 archives)
This week's torrential storms have made a dent in the state's water deficit, but as much as we'd like to think otherwise, we're still a long way from ending this nasty drought. Over the last year, the scarcity of precipitation has divided the state into two camps -- those who got all their usual water supply, and those who got none. It's all tied to California's invisible system of water rights, a system some say is unfair.
Residents in San Benito and Mendocino counties have voted to ban hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," the controversial oil production technique. Opponents of fracking hope these types of bans spread to other counties. But in Santa Barbara County where oil is well-established, the energy industry stepped in to defeat a ban.
Fracking has stirred up huge controversy in places like North Dakota and West Virginia. Concerns about environmental damage, sudden development in rural communities, and so on. But it's also created lots of jobs in those places -- and it's generated lots of domestic energy. But some are calling for a moratorium on fracking in California -- something Gov. Jerry Brown has rejected. But there are some new temporary regulations in place. And in parts of state, some say these rules are long overdue. That's particularly true when it comes to concerns over possible impacts on groundwater. KQED Science visited one small town where that's happening, but it doesn't really look like oil country at first glance.
On Tuesday in Sacramento, Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign a historic package of bills setting the stage for state regulation of groundwater use -- if local agencies don't do it first. While the current drought helped move this package of bills through the Legislature, the impact will role out over a number of years.
In the rush to close up this year's session, the state Legislature passed a raft of bills covering everything from a statewide plastic bag ban to Hollywood tax credits. One could be forgiven for failing to notice a trio of bills on groundwater -- but they constitute an earth-shaking shift in California water policy, one of the biggest in decades.