Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Is oil and gas drilling threatening California’s groundwater?

Oil pumps operate near Lost Hills, Calif., on Aug. 4, 2013.
Oil pumps operate near Lost Hills, Calif., on Aug. 4, 2013. The Associated Press

The state agency regulating the oil industry recently acknowledged that it has fallen short, allowing companies to inject wastewater into federally protected aquifers.

Officials ordered a dozen oil and gas wells in the Central Valley to stop production last week over concerns that they might be contaminating nearby underground water resources that could be used for drinking or irrigating crops. Another 11 wells were shut down last year, though testing has not yet uncovered any contamination.

The Senate Environmental Quality Committee and the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee are holding a joint hearing to examine how this issue developed and what California can do to fix its oversight of oil and gas injection wells, 9:30 a.m. in Room 4203 of the Capitol.

VIDEO: With a proposed constitutional amendment to block universities from banning the American flag, California Republicans have become the nannies they decry, Dan Walters says.

OUT OF THE WOODS: More than 60 percent of California inmates will be re-incarcerated within three years of leaving prison, according to the office of state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, but that recidivism rate drops by 43 percent among those who have participated in education programs behind bars. Last year, the Legislature tasked California’s community college system with expanding inmates’ educational offerings. The Senate Public Safety Committee will review implementation of the program, 10 a.m. in Room 3191 of the Capitol.

DIGITAL FUTURE: No. 2 pencils are out in California. The transition to the Common Core curriculum standards has also brought computer-based standardized tests. And after a suspension in school testing last year – the result of a victorious showdown with the Obama administration over federal funding in the summer of 2013 – students in the third through eighth and eleventh grades will experience the new exams for the first time starting today. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson holds a news conference to announce the beginning of the testing window, 10:30 a.m. at the Sutter Middle School library.

CAPS OFF: In the final days of last year’s budget negotiations, the Brown administration slipped in a trailer bill capping the amount of money that school districts could set aside in reserves. Districts raised huge objections, especially over the rushed approval for such a significant change, but lawmakers blocked attempts to reverse the policy. The California School Boards Association is reviving their efforts this session. They will deliver more than 800 resolutions and letters from school board members throughout California to the governor’s office at noon, calling for a repeal of the reserves cap.

DNT TXT N DRV: If those terrifying television commercials haven’t encouraged you to stop texting while driving, AT&T is bringing its “It Can Wait” campaign to the Capitol. Lawmakers and staffers will be able to safely experience the difficulty of texting behind the wheel with an interactive driving simulator, and sign a pledge never to text and drive. The event, which runs from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Room 125, is sponsored by Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, whose eldest daughter was killed in a car crash in 2000.

FUND ME: As the funding battle between the University of California and state officials ratchets up, alumni, parents and friends of UC’s ten campuses will gather at the Capitol to advocate for the university. The day includes remarks from UC President Janet Napolitano at 12:50 p.m. on the north lawn.

A DECADE OF SERVICE: Marking the tenth anniversary of when she was first sworn into Congress, Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, will speak to the Rotary Club of Sacramento about her work in office, as well as the past and future of the region, 12:45 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel Woodlake.

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.

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