Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Must Read: State to Allow More Diesel Emissions; Feinstein Moves to Block Urban Casinos

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Dec 10, 2010 at 7:08 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. California regulators are poised to roll back some diesel emissions rules because of the recession and errors made calculating air pollution, California Watch reports. Next week, the state Air Resources Board will consider easing regulations for off-road construction vehicles, noting that a new analysis shows that there’s 80 percent fewer diesel emissions statewide than previously thought. About half that amount is due to the recession and the collapse of the construction industry. But environmentalists and health advocates contend the proposed rule changes will foul the air and snuff out the growing clean-tech emissions industry.

2. Senator Dianne Feinstein is proposing legislation that will block urban, Indian-run casinos throughout the country, the CoCo Times reports. The new regulations, if approved by Congress, would make it much tougher for a tribe to prove that it has historical and modern ties to a piece of land before opening a casino on it. The rules appear directly aimed at killing the proposed Point Molate casino in Richmond — which Feinstein adamantly opposes — and future possible Indian-run casinos in the Bay Area. But tribes say it will not only block urban casinos throughout the nation, but will make it much harder to open casinos in rural areas, too.

3. Apparently, it will be up to the courts to overturn the military’s bigoted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy after another attempt to rescind it in Congress was blocked by US Senate Republicans, the Chron reports. Republicans, including some who said they were ready to end the ban on gays in the military, voted nonetheless yesterday to keep it in place because they said they needed more time to “debate” the issue. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the GOP’s demands were designed to stall the legislation until January when Republicans will take over the House of Representatives and kill it outright.

4. Alameda residents will continue to receive topnotch emergency care from the city’s fire department paramedics under a plan approved by the City Council earlier this week. The Alameda Journal reports that the council agreed to an $860,000-a-year contract with the county that will allow the city to keep using its fire department paramedics. The council also moved forward with a plan to set up an assessment district so that city taxpayers will pay the contract directly.

5. Prosecutors can use evidence of an alleged plot by Yusuf Bey IV to assassinate witnesses who could tie him to the murder of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey, the CoCo Times reports. Prosecutors contend that Lorna Brown, formerly Bey IV’s lawyer, smuggled out of jail a hit-list assembled by the onetime head of Your Black Muslim Bakery. Brown has since decided to resign her law license and could face criminal charges, too.

6. And the Contra Costa County Water District is moving forward with its plans to expand Los Vaqueros Reservoir and hopes to complete the project by the end of next year, the CoCo Times reports. As the Express previously reported, East Bay MUD would have been able to avoid building a new dam in the Sierra foothills and destroying a scenic section of the Mokelumne River if it had partnered with Contra Costa on the Los Vaqueros expansion. But East Bay MUD officials rejected the idea, saying the Los Vaqueros expansion was too “speculative.”

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