Wednesday, August 22, 2007

We’ve Got A Budget Now, So What Else is Going On In The Capitol?


After months of acrimony, the Legislature finally approved the budget on Tuesday. There will undoubtedly be additional wrangling and protests in the coming days, as various groups try to dissuade the Governor from slashing their programs to achieve the additional $700 million in cuts promised to Senate Republicans. But legislators and advocates are largely turning their focus toward the hundreds of bills remaining either in the Appropriations Committees or on the floor of the Senate and Assembly.

At this point in the Legislative process, most of the bills that would have undermined environmental protections have been blocked in committee. Most of the environment-related policy committees have conservation-oriented majorities, and provide a good opportunity to weed out the bad bills. This is a very good thing, from the standpoint of preventing environmental damage, but it also means that most of the good bills that we’re working on face their biggest hurdles later in the process, when we need to get a majority of the Senate and Assembly to vote for the bills. Garnering a majority of votes invariably involves persuading some of the members for which “the environment” is not a top-shelf issue, and is generally the hardest part of the process.

There are a handful of exceptionally important bills that we will blog about in greater detail in coming weeks, such as SB 375 (Steinberg) which would promote more sustainable growth patterns, and SB 974 (Lowenthal) which would address the serious pollution associated with our ports. But, in the meantime, here is a list of a couple dozen of the environmental bills we’re working on at this stage of the game. It's not an exhaustive list, but highlights some of the most significant environmental bills currently in play. This list represents the consensus priorities of the various groups working on environmental and public health issues in the Capitol, working under the umbrella moniker of "Green California".

Note that you can search for the text, analysis and prior votes on these bills at www.legislature.ca.gov

SB 210 (Kehoe) – Requires the Air Resources Board to adopt and implement a low-carbon fuel standard by 2010 that achieves at least a 10 percent reduction on greenhouse gas emissions and maintains or improves upon air quality benefits gained by current gasoline and diesel fuel regulations.

SB 220 (Corbett) – Improves oversight and regulation of bottled and vended water. Increases inspection, labeling and consumer right to know requirements.

SB 375 (Steinberg) – Establishes financial and California Environmental Quality Act incentives for local governments to conform their general plans to a preferred growth scenario in regional transportation plans that incorporates smart growth principles, including housing for all within a region, greenhouse gas emission reductions as required by the ARB, and protection of farmland and habitat.

SB 411 (Simitian) – Requires retail seller of electricity to increase total procurement of eligible renewable energy resources so that at least 33% of retail sales are procured from eligible renewable energy resources no later than December 31, 2020.

SB 412 (Simitian) – SB 412 requires the California Energy Commission to complete an Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Market Assessment in advance of the approval of any LNG terminals in the State, and requires that an Environmental Impact Report contrast and compare environmental impacts of proposed LNG terminals and technologies to ensure that the safest project with the fewest impacts is considered as a preferred alternative

SB 456 (Simitian) – Prohibits the manufacture or use after 2008 of diacetyl, a powdered artificial butter flavoring that exposes workers to potentially fatal inflammation and scarring of the lungs.

SB 719 (Machado) – Will expand the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control Board membership from 11 to 15 members, to include additional representation from urban areas, rural areas, and public health experts.

SB 862 (Kuehl) – Reforms state water planning and reporting: establishes sanctions for failure to report on water diversion or use; requires the California Water Plan, after 2013, to report on the amount of energy produced and used under different water management strategies; changes requirements of urban water management plans; requires every agricultural water supplier to adopt an agricultural water management plan.

SB 966 (Simitian) – Requires retailers of pharmaceutical drugs to have in place a system for acceptance and collection of unused pharmaceutical drugs for proper disposal

SB 974 (Lowenthal) – Collects $30 per shipping container processed at the ports of LA, Long Beach and Oakland, to be used to mitigate air quality impacts and improve infrastructure.

AB 5 (Wolk) – Requires the Department of Water Resources to prepare a Central Valley Flood Protection Plan and creates incentives for sound local planning by 1) prioritizing state flood protection funds for local agencies that have adopted a local flood protection plan and 2) prohibiting a local agency that fails to adopt a local flood plan from approving new development within a flood hazard zone.

AB 48 (Saldana) – Prohibits the sale in California, after 2010, of electronic devices, consistent with the European RoHS (Reduction of Hazardous Substances) directive, if they contain lead, mercury or other toxic heavy metals.

AB 70 (Jones) – Makes a local government jointly liable, with the state, for property damage if it increases the state’s risk of liability by allowing new development in a previously undeveloped area that is protected by a state flood control project.

AB 118 (Nunez) – Creates new air quality and alternative fuel programs at the Air Resources Board and California Energy Commission, respectively, and transfers specified funds and increases various fees to fund the programs.

AB 233 (Jones) – Strengthens enforcement of diesel emission control rules for heavy-duty on-road and off-road vehicles and engines, including by increasing the minimum fine on violators from $100 to $300 and by prohibiting the registration of a commercial diesel-powered vehicle manufactured before 1994 or if the owner has been cited for violating diesel emission rules. The ARB has only 18 field inspection staff statewide to inspect more than 500,000 diesel trucks.

AB 236 (Lieu) – Requires each state office, agency, and department that has flex fuel vehicles in its fleet to use the respective alternative fuel in those vehicles to the maximum extent possible. Requires a city, county, city and county, and special district including a school district and a community college district, when awarding a vehicle procurement contract to consider evaluating and scoring fuel economy.

AB 515 (Lieber) – Requires the CalOSHA Standards Board to adopt permissible exposure levels (PELs) for workplace hazardous substances that are equal to the health-based occupational exposure standard set by CalEPA.

AB 548 (Levine) – Requires owners of a multifamily dwelling to provide recycling services in accordance with the local jurisdiction’s recycling plan.

AB 558 (Feuer) – Requires businesses that use large quantities of chemicals known to be toxic to prepare a Toxics Use Reduction Plan to meet statewide toxic chemical use reduction targets. Provides technical assistance and reduced fees to businesses that undertake toxics use reduction.

AB 706 (Leno) – Bans brominated or chlorinated fire retardants from all seating, bedding, and furniture products.

AB 821 (Nava) – Enacts the Ridley-Tree Condor Preservation Act to require the use of nonlead centerfire rifle and pistol ammunition when taking big game and coyote within the range of the condor, to stop the rampant problem of lead poisoning in California condors.

AB 828 (Ruskin) – Requires the Wildlife Conservation Board to investigate, study and determine what areas in the state are most essential as wildlife corridors and habitat linkages and to make that information available to other agencies and the public.

AB 888 (Lieu) / AB 1058 (Laird) – Requires CalEPA to develop and the CA Building Standards Commission to review “green building” best practices for commercial and residential buildings. The best practices become adopted standards by 2012 and 2013 respectively.

AB 1108 (Ma) – Prohibits the use of specified phthalate chemicals in toys and childcare products designed for children up to 3 years old; prohibits the use of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity as a replacement for banned phthalates.

AB 1358 (Leno) – Requires that the legislative body of a city or county, upon any revision of the circulation element of the general plan, modify the circulation element to specify how this element will provide for the routine accommodation of all users of the highway, defined to include motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, individuals with disabilities, seniors, and users of public transportation.

AB 1470 (Huffman) – Establishes a $250 million program to install solar hot water heaters as a means of reducing our dependence on natural gas, cutting global warming pollution and saving Californians money.

We’ll be working hard on these bills in the coming weeks, and if you’re signed up for our Action Alert network, we’ll email you and make it easy for you to help at opportune times. You can sign up here: http://cal-legalert.sierraclubaction.org/

1 comment:

Jack Hoff said...

Keep up the good work, folks!