Environment And Public Health Win Big In The State Legislature

This week the state legislature took major steps toward reducing ocean pollution, increasing water recycling, improving habitat management, and cleaning up our air. Most of the major environmental bills that were taken up by either the full Assembly or Senate passed with votes to spare. This week is the deadline for all bills to be passed out of their house of origin, meaning all Assembly bills must be passed by the Assembly and all Senate bills by the Senate, or else the bill is dead. So, for all these bills, it was do or die, and with a lot of pushing from the environmental community here in Sacramento, most did! Here is the breakdown.

Bills that 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 1107 (Kehoe): Interceptor and Trap Grease Transportation Act:  Grease build-up in the sanitary sewer system is one of the main causes of sewage spills and releases, which taint waterways and sicken people.  Brown grease is a wastewater stream, but, unlike other states, California does not assign its handling and regulation to an environmental agency, but instead to the Department of Food and Agriculture, which has yet to regulate it effectively.  This bill would require the State Water Board to develop, adopt, and implement regulations for a manifest system to track the transportation of interceptor and trap grease; this information is critical to ensure the safe and legal disposal of this harmful wastewater stream.

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 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 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.

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. 

Bills that failed:

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 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.