Governor takes action on environmental bills

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Oct. 19, 2007 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

With a signing deadline of October 14 hanging over his head, the Governor still had 7 bills opposed by CMTA’s Environmental Quality Committee on his desk on Friday morning, October 12th, along with over 500 other bills passed by the Legislature – more than half of what was sent him.  If the Governor did not take action on a bill by the end of the day Sunday, October 14, that bill would automatically become law.  In the end, he did take action on every bill.

Of the seven environmental bills we were especially interested in, three green building bills were vetoed: AB 35 (Ira Ruskin, D-Redwood City), AB 888 (Ted Lieu, D-Torrance) and AB 1058 (John Laird, D-Santa Cruz).  The Governor said the bills created a bias for certain building materials over others without a clear benefit.  Additionally, he stated that building standards should not be statutory and that the setting of such standards should rest with the Building Commission.

Also vetoed was AB 48 (Lori SaldaZa, D-San Diego), Hazardous Waste: Electronic Equipment.  The bill would have exponentially expanded the list of products subject to California’s restriction on the use of specified hazardous materials.  While directives in the European Union’s Restrictions of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) exempt spare and replacement parts in order to extend the useful life of products, this bill did not.  The Governor said that this approach was largely unworkable and could ultimately result in unintended and more harmful consequences.

SB 1001 (Senate President pro Tempore Don Perata, D-Oakland), Regional Water Quality Control Board Membership, was also vetoed.  It would have changed the membership of the regional water quality control boards both in number of members and qualifications.  In addition, the bill would have prescribed a process for the State Water Board to revoke the authority of a regional board to implement water quality programs.  The Governor clearly stated in his veto message that the process described in this bill is duplicative of current authority invested in the State Water Board and cumbersome.  He further stated that the bill did not provide necessary mechanisms to improve the accountability and performance of the regional boards and that it ignored the problem of "conflict of interest" when finding qualified candidates.

On the other hand, the Governor signed AB 833 (Ruskin), the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Program.  It requires the Department of Toxic Substance Control to develop and implement a program collecting from facilities toxic chemical release information that is no longer required to be submitted to the US EPA after changing their requirements in December 2006.  This means that California will be setting up its own TRI program (for which there is no funding) and industry will have another form to fill out.  The heaviest burden will fall on smaller companies with slim operations who don’t have the ability to electronically collect the data.

The Governor also signed AB 1108 (Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco), Children’s Products: Phthalates.  It prohibits commercial manufacture, sale or distribution of certain toys and child care products containing types of phthalates in concentrations exceeding a specified percentage.  Additionally it requires the manufacturer to use the least toxic alternative when replacing phthalates in their product and prohibits manufacturers from replacing phthalates with certain carcinogens and reproductive toxins.  California is the first government in the world to ban this chemical.  The bill ignores the fact that the only links to reproductive harm have been in rats and mice, that phthalates have been extensively tested, and the alternatives have not.  

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