The Stream, September 16: International Criminal Court Will Hear Environmental Cases

The Global Rundown

The top international criminal court in The Hague announced it will expand its focus to include environmental crimes. A proposed regulation overhaul in California would keep more water for the environment in the San Joaquin River and its delta. The U.S. Senate approved a bill that could authorize billions of dollars for water infrastructure projects. A new water fund in Cape Town, South Africa aims to restore native vegetation to improve the city’s water supply. Despite slightly below-average rainfall, officials expect India to produce a record amount of grain this year. A cyanide leak temporarily shut down a gold mine in Argentina, though the spill did not affect waterways, company representatives said.

“The terrible impacts of land-grabbing and environmental destruction have been acknowledged at the highest level of criminal justice, and private sector actors could now be put on trial for their role in illegally seizing land, flattening rainforests or poisoning water sources.” –Alice Harrison, an adviser at human and environmental rights group Global Witness, on an announcement by the international criminal court in The Hague that it will now hear cases involving environmental crimes. (Guardian)

By The Numbers

19 million hectares Estimated area in South Africa that has been affected by invasive plants, which use more water and capture less rain than native plants. A new “water fund” in Cape Town aims to restore native vegetation in the city’s watersheds to ensure future water supplies. Reuters

$9 billion Amount authorized for future water infrastructure projects across 17 states in a bill approved Thursday by the U.S. Senate. The bill, which includes $270 million to help address lead-contaminated water in Flint, Michigan, must still pass the House of Representatives. The New York Times

270.1 million metric tons Amount of grain India is expected to produce this crop year — a new record — even though rainfall has been 5 percent below average. Bloomberg

Science, Studies, And Reports

New regulations proposed by California’s State Water Resources Control Board could require between 30 and 50 percent of the water in the San Joaquin River basin to flow into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for the environment. That could mean an additional 288,000 to 485,000 acre-feet of water left to support fish and other aquatic creatures, though it would also cut an estimated $64 million per year from agriculture. The Sacramento Bee

On The Radar

Officials in Argentina temporarily suspended operations at the Veladero gold mine this week due to a cyanide solution leak. The mine’s owner, Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corporation, said the leak did not contaminate water sources and is not a health risk to workers, communities, or the environment. Reuters