News Panel: Immigration Reform, California Environmental Quality Act, and more
As immigration reform legislation works its way through the U.S. Senate, there's much at stake for two of California's leading industries -- agriculture and technology. The bill, presented by a bipartisan group of lawmakers known as the "Gang of Eight," contains several controversial elements including a pathway to citizenship, new visa programs for low and high-skilled workers, changes to family-based visas and a greater emphasis on employment and education skills.
California's Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, may be in for an overhaul. The 43-year-old landmark law requires state and local agencies to identify and try to mitigate the environmental impacts of development and construction projects. Critics say the act has been abused by special interest groups, while supporters say environmental protections should not be watered down. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is leading the reform effort, while Gov. Brown continues to weigh the likelihood of changing CEQA this year.
Chevron is under fire from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) for last summer's explosion at its Richmond refinery that left 15,000 residents and employees in need of medical care. The oil giant has been accused of negligence in its long-term plant maintenance, a problem seen at other refineries elsewhere. The results of the regulatory board's report will be presented at a public hearing in Richmond on April 19.
- Emil Guillermo, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
- Paul Rogers, San Jose Mercury News
- Jaxon Van Derbeken, San Francisco Chronicle
Also on KQED.org this week ...
Drought Watch 2015: Record-Low Sierra Snowpack
The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which typically supplies nearly a third of California's water, is showing the lowest water content on record: 6 percent of the long-term average for April 1. That shatters last year's low-water mark of 25 percent (tied with 1977).
"Boomtown" History of the San Francisco Bay Area
KQED's "Boomtown" series will seek to identify what is happening in real time in the current boom, and also draw out the causes and possible solutions to the conflicts and pressures between the old and the new.