SACRAMENTO: Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, resignation, Supervisor Steve Bohlen: "California gas and division chief stepping down"; also, "Leader of state's embattled oil agency resigns" ....  

* Sacramento Bee:  "California oil and gas division chief stepping down" - From the Bee:

Steven Bohlen, the head of California’s embattled oil and gas division, is resigning after about 18 months on the job. In a resignation letter Monday obtained by The Sacramento Bee, Bohlen, supervisor of the state’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, said he plans to return to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he previously worked. He said in an interview that he will stay on as an unpaid science adviser to the division.

Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to appoint Ken Harris, executive officer of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, to replace him.

Bohlen inherited a department mired in controversy around its oversight of hydraulic fracturing and other drilling operations, including a failure to shield protected aquifers from wastewater injections. Amid persistent criticism, Bohlen said the division, after “getting those issues on the table,” is “really starting to fix things.” “It’s not as obvious to the public now, but certainly it will be increasingly obvious that the division has turned a corner,” he said. “I think the future looks very bright.”


Hollin Kretzmann of the Center for Biological Diversity said in a prepared statement that the oil and gas division remains “far too close to the oil industry it is supposed to regulate.” “The next supervisor must address Californians’ concerns about water contamination and safety risks from drilling and fracking,” he said.

Bohlen was at the center of a flap this fall ............


* San Francisco Chronicle:  "Leader of state's embattled oil agency resigns"


POLITICS/ENVIRONMENT: Renewal energy, rooftop solar panels?: "Why rooftop solar advocates are upset about California's clean-energy law" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Why rooftop solar advocates are upset about California's clean-energy law" - From the LAT:

California's aggressive push to increase renewable energy production comes with a catch for people with solar panels on the roof: You don't count. If a home or business has a rooftop solar system, most of the wattage isn't included in the ambitious requirement to generate half of the state's electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2030, part of legislation signed in October by Gov. Jerry Brown.

That means rooftop solar owners are missing out on a potentially lucrative subsidy that is paid to utilities and developers of big power projects. It also means that utility ratepayers could end up overpaying for clean electricity to meet the state's benchmark because lawmakers, by excluding rooftop solar, left out the source of more than a third of the state's solar power.

Owners of rooftop solar systems and their advocates aren't happy about the policy. "Ratepayers essentially subsidize utility companies," said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Assn. "We all get taken to the bank" if utilities are spending to reach a 50% clean-energy mandate that could be attained faster and cheaper with the help of roof panels .................


POLITICS (National, State/New York): Jury verdict, federal corruption case vs. former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver: "Sheldon Silver, ex-New York Assembly Speaker, Is Found Guilty on All Counts"; "Sheldon Silver Conviction Shakes Albany"; "Powerful New York legislator Silver convicted in bribery case"; "Behind Sheldon Silver's dramatic fall from grace" ....

* New York Times:  "Sheldon Silver, Ex-New York Assembly Speaker, Is Found Guilty on All Counts" - From the NYT:

Sheldon Silver, who held a seemingly intractable grip on power for decades as one of the most feared politicians in New York State, was found guilty on Monday of federal corruption charges, ending a trial that was the capstone of the government’s efforts to expose the seamy culture of influence-peddling in Albany.

The verdict was a quick and unceremonious end for Mr. Silver, who, during his more than two decades as the State Assembly speaker, displayed a Teflon-like quality in deflecting questions about his outside income as well as calls for his ouster.

Mr. Silver, 71, a Manhattan Democrat, was convicted on all seven counts against him. The charges of honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering stemmed from schemes by which he obtained nearly $4 million in exchange for using his position to help benefit a cancer researcher and two real estate developers.


As a result of the conviction, he must automatically forfeit the Assembly seat to which he was first elected nearly 40 years ago ....................


* New York Post:  "Behind Sheldon Silver's dramatic fall from grace"

* Wall Street Journal:  "Sheldon Silver Conviction Shakes Albany" - "Verdict for former Assembly speaker has legislators predicting an overhaul of state government."

* Reuters:  "Powerful New York legislator Silver convicted in bribery case"


L.A. CITY HALL: Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, federal appeals court ruling, reduced rent subsidies: "9th Circuit says L.A. broke the law when it cut housing subsidies for the poor" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "9th Circuit says L.A. broke the law when it cut housing subsidies for the poor" - From the LAT:

Los Angeles’ Housing Authority reduced rent subsidies for about 20,000 poor people in 2004 in violation of the law, a federal appeals court ruled unanimously Monday. A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the Housing Authority, which administers Section 8 funds, sent recipients a notice so “incomprehensible” that some may have thought they were getting a higher subsidy instead of a cut. The fliers also had no contact information to help residents with questions, the court said.

The notice “in no way explained the potential effect of the change: that it could potentially increase the tenant’s expected rent contribution and decrease his subsidy,” Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt, a Carter appointee, wrote for the court.

The cuts affected many elderly and disabled recipients and families with young children, requiring them to pay an average of $104 more a month for their rent, the court said. “For many Section 8 beneficiaries, subsidies from the Voucher Program for a stable and renewable one-year term are the difference between safe, decent housing and being homeless,” Reinhardt wrote.

The court ruled in a class action brought by the Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness. The court said the law requires the Housing Authority to give recipients a year’s notice of possible cuts, and the fliers were so confusing and inadequate that the authority violated the recipients’ rights to due process ..................


POLITICS/URBAN AFFAIRS: Newhall Land & Farming Co., Newhall Ranch project, California Supreme Court ruling: "California's top court sends Newhall Ranch project back to the drawing board" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "California's top court sends Newhall Ranch project back to the drawing board" - From the LAT:

For two decades, the Newhall Land & Farming Co. has envisioned a new city rising in the foothills north of Los Angeles. Situated on nearly 12,000 acres along the Santa Clara River, the planned community would house 58,000 people and offer stores, golf courses, schools and recreational centers. Los Angeles County’s elected supervisors approved the project 12 years ago, prompting experts to declare that the Santa Clarita Valley would soon be home to other major developments.

A mammoth, 5,828-page environmental impact report won court approval a year ago, and a Newhall official declared that the project had been vindicated. But the plans hit a major roadblock Monday when the California Supreme Court rejected the environmental report, a decision that was expected to further delay the project — one justice said it might add years — but not kill it.

The court said the environmental report failed to buttress its conclusion that the development would not significantly affect greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change. Also, the court said, it illegally allowed for the capture and relocation of the unarmored threespine stickleback, an endangered freshwater fish.

The ruling, coming after years of fighting between environmentalists and the company, provided new guidelines for all developers trying to win state permits for big projects ....................