Good Day For California’s Environment And Public Health: Policies To Recycle Water, Protect Natural Resources, And Reduce Harmful Chemicals And Waste Move Forward

Yesterday and today, the Appropriations Committees for the State Senate and Assembly voted on all the bills that had been placed on the Suspense File – the file designed to hold for review all bills that might affect the state’s general fund. Bills that failed to get enough votes are dead for the year, the rest now head to their respective floors. We were watching several important environmental bills, most of which are now headed for a floor vote.

These bills passed:

SB 918 (Pavley): Recycled Water: This bill directs the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to complete public safety standards for using recycled water to recharge groundwater basins and augment surface storage. This will ensure the development of a safe, cost-effective, and drought-proof source of new water for the state.

SB 1006 (Pavley): Climate Change: Strategic Growth Council: This bill would require the Strategic Growth Council to provide guidelines and information to local agencies to assist them in developing and implementing climate change adaptation strategies for projects which use nonstructural approaches to protect communities, and protect or enhance natural ecosystem functions.  It would also clarify the grant eligibility list to include joint power authorities and Metropolitan Planning Organizations, special districts and other local government organizations.

SB 1291 (Leno): Chemicals of Concern: Flame Retardants: This bill would require the Department of Toxics Substances Control to evaluate all flame retardants before any new ones are put into common household furnishings.

AB 1998 (Brownley): Plastic Bags: This bill prohibits grocery stores from distributing single-use bags, helping to reduce a significant source of waste and ocean pollution.

AB 2125 (Ruskin): Coastal Resources: Marine Spatial Planning: This bill requires the Ocean Protection Council to support the state’s use and sharing of scientific and geospatial information for coastal and ocean-relevant decision making and to report to the Legislature on the advantages and disadvantages of marine spatial planning with respect to coastal and ocean management.

AB 2139 (Chesbro): Solid Waste: Product Stewardship: This bill creates a Product Stewardship Program for three types of hazardous products that typically end up in the waste-stream: home-generated sharps (needles), pesticides, and non-refillable propane cylinders. This program will help ensure that products are less toxic, more durable and easier to recycle when they enter the waste stream.

AB 2289 (Eng): Smog Check: This bill saves consumers time and money and helps improve our air quality by strengthening the state’s smog check program.

AB 2329 (Ruskin and Chesbro): Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Climate Action Team: Codifies the Climate Action Team developed by the Governor to ensure the team continues to coordinate the implementation of the state’s climate policy.

AB 2376 (Huffman): Strategic Vision for DFG & F&G Commission: This bill would direct the Natural Resources Agency to convene a cabinet-level panel to develop a strategic vision for the Department of Fish & Game (DFG) and the Fish & Game Commission.  Additionally, this bill would require an examination of strategies to bolster DFG and the Commission’s ability to meet the challenges of the 21st century, including but not limited to adapting to climate change, State budget uncertainties, and growing impediments to the enforcement of public trust laws and regulations. 

AB 2575 (Chesbro): Watershed Resources:  This bill focuses on two proposed pilot projects to be conducted by the California Department of Forestry (CalFIRE) to demonstrate sound techniques for quantitatively assessing the effects of logging operations on soil, air, water, wildlife and climate, and to protect and repair salmon and steelhead habitat.  Evaluating and addressing the cumulative impacts of multiple timber harvests in a watershed over time is crucial to protecting watershed health, endangered species, public safety, and the long-term economic value of timberlands. 

These bills were held:

AB 2138 (Chesbro): Product Management: Single-Use Recyclable Packaging: This bill phases out foamed polystyrene and other plastic components of marine debris pollution by requiring that food providers only distribute take-out packaging and bags that are compatible with the local recycling infrastructure.

AB 2176 (Blumenfield): Efficient Lighting: This bill encourages the movement toward energy efficient bulbs, such as compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs), by establishing a producer responsibility program for mercury-containing lamps and a fee program for “inefficient” lamps.