Fee increase to backfill plunder of spill prevention funding

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, June 3, 2011 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D – San Rafael) has authored AB 1112, “Oil Prevention & Administration Fee”. It proposes a 60 percent increase in the assessment that supports the Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR).  OSPR is financed by industry assessments into two special funds: the Spill Prevention Administration Fund and the Spill Response Trust Fund.

Industry assessments currently provide ample funding for these programs through the next fiscal year at historic high levels. However, the funds are being transferred to help offset California’s budget deficit.

In Fiscal Year 2009–10, the prior administration took $2.26 million from the Spill Prevention Fund – a 10 percent hit to OSPR’s state operations budget.  Funds that should have gone to prevent oil spills. This year, instead of restoring this money to the Fund, the state took an additional $40 million from the other Fund (the Spill Response Trust Fund), wiping out 75 percent of OSPR’s industry-provided cash resources dedicated to responding to major oil spills.

CMTA believes that it is important to maintain effective spill prevention and response programs, but the funds assessed for that purpose should be dedicated to that purpose and used in the most efficient manner.  Additionally, given the current low spill incidence rate, the fee increase does not justify increased inspections or additional funding.  The current downturn in the economy has also resulted in lower activity in this industry. That should equate to a corresponding reduction in administration and inspection.

AB 1112 acknowledges the misappropriation of Spill Prevention and Response Funds, but enables ongoing raids on OSPR programs.  CMTA opposes this bill.  It is currently up for a floor vote in the Assembly. All bills must pass their house of origin today, Friday, June 3, to remain active for consideration this year. If not, they become “Two-Year Bills”, which may be considered again next January.

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