Legislative Round-Up: Heading Into The Final Stretch

The environmental community started the month of July with great optimism. During the past few weeks, the majority of the environmental and public health bills we were supporting received the votes necessary to move forward. This week marked the deadline for these bills to pass their respective policy committees.

Here’s a round up of the environmental bills that will move forward just as soon as the Legislature reconvenes after July recess. These bills would advance the protection of our ecosystem, promote conservation of our natural resources and reduce waste in landfills.

SB 51 (Ducheny): Establishes the Salton Sea Restoration Council as a state entity within the Natural Resources Agency to implement preferred alternatives outlined in the Salton Sea Ecosystem Restoration Program. Will utilize available, designated Proposition 84 funds ($11 million remaining for Salton Sea Restoration).

SB 565 (Pavley): This bill exempts any fee or charge for official services relating to water use or water quality. It includes provisions that require the payment of fees to the State Water Resources Control Board for official services relating to statements of water diversion and use.

SB 918 (Pavley): [Co-Sponsored by PCL] Directs the California Department of Public Health to develop criteria for safely using recycled water to recharge groundwater basins and augment surface storage reservoirs (“indirect potable reuse”). Every year, more than 4 million acre-feet of water are used once, treated, and discharged to the ocean. By creating safety criteria for indirect potable reuse, SB 918 will help California develop a drought-resilient, cost-effective, water source that will help reduce the state’s dependence on overallocated rivers and waterways.

SB 1006 (Pavley): The Strategic Growth Council is currently required to distribute information to local governments that will assist these entities to develop sustainable communities. SB 1006 clarifies that this distribution should include climate change adaptation information that helps local entities cope with climate impacts in ways that protect natural ecosystem functions and avoid environmental degradation.

SB 1100 (Corbett): This measure will result in significant savings to local governments and taxpayers by requiring household battery manufacturers to cover costs associated with the end of life of their products.

SB 1124 (Negrete McLeod): [Co-Sponsored by PCL] This bills ensures that funding provided from the 1988 Parks Bond is truly used to protect park and agricultural lands. The measure paves the way for San Bernardino County to permanently protect the lands they purchased with bond dollars 20 years ago.

SB 1142 (Wiggins): This bill creates a second track within the Department of Conservation’s California Farmland Conservancy Program to fund agricultural easements that can provide secondary conservation benefits such as flood protection and habitat preservation. 

SB 1334 (Wolk): Requires the Department of Fish and Game to collaborate with all local agencies that have land use permit authority in a natural community conservation plan.

SB 1433 (Leno): Adjusts ceilings for air pollution violations with inflation so the real value of statutory air penalties does not further decline. The ceiling for the most commonly used category (strict liability) has not been increased since 1982.

AB 1873 (Huffman): Would make it less expensive for home and business owners to make energy and water efficiency improvements by lowering the interest rate on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans.

AB 1963 (Nava): Improves the pesticide poisoning prevention program to protect farm workers who handle pesticides. By simply having laboratories send test results electronically to the Dept. of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), state officials will have the necessary information to monitor the existing pesticide poisoning prevention program and protect farm workers.

AB 1975 (Fong): Requires the Department of Housing and Community Development, to adopt building standards for the installation of water meters and sub-meters in residential units within new multiunit residential structures (apartments, condominiums, etc) and mixed use residential and commercial structures for which the application for a building permit is submitted on or after January 1, 2013. This bill would require the property owner or operator to charge occupants for water service based only on the actual volume of water delivered to the unit as measured by the water meter or sub-meter.

AB 1998 (Brownley): Will prohibit grocery stores and convenience stores from providing single use plastic carryout bags to customer after January 1, 2012 and 2013 respectively. In lieu of single use plastic bags, stores must make reusable bags or recycled paper bags available for purchase by the customer.

AB 2125 (Ruskin): Requires the Ocean Protection Council (OPC) 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): Will enact critical updates to California’s Smog Check program to implement on-board diagnostic testing (OBDII) for vehicle model years 2001 and newer and more stringent performance standards for facilities testing older, more polluting vehicles. These updates will save money for consumers and the state and boost the emission benefits of the smog check program by 70 tons per day.

AB 2329 (Ruskin and Chesbro): Codifies the Climate Action Team (CAT). Absent this legislation, nothing in law requires the CAT (currently established pursuant to an executive order) to continue to coordinate the implementation of the state’s climate policy. Would also require the state to develop and update a statewide adaptation plan.

AB 2376 (Huffman): Would direct the Natural Resources Agency to convene a cabinet-level panel and an independent Blue Ribbon Task Force to develop a strategic vision for the Department of Fish & Game and the Fish & Game Commission. This bill would require an examination of strategies to bolster the ability of the Department and Commission to meet the challenges of the 21st century, including but not limited to climate change adaptation, State budget uncertainties, and growing impediments to the enforcement of public trust laws and regulations.

AB 2575 (Chesbro): 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 2595 (Huffman): Requires that individuals using pesticides obtain an identification number for pesticide use from the county agricultural commissioner of each county where pest control work is performed. Identification numbers will be issued only to operators complying with water quality requirements.