Bills are Moving on the Environmental Front

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, April 29, 2005 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

A busy few weeks saw many bad environmental bills pass through legislative policy committees.  May 6th is the last day for non-fiscal bills to be heard and moved to the floor of their house of origin.

In spite of excellent credentialed witnesses shooting holes in testimony of supporters, the environmental policy committees of both the Assembly and Senate moved bills through their respective committees with 95% of the votes split strictly along party lines. 

A few bills were derailed before they could be heard.  SB 729 (Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach) would have imposed numeric effluent limits on stormwater permits.  It also would have mandated mechanisms that would eventually result in substantially higher permit and monitoring fees, as well as increase the cost of compliance to permittees.  Because the bill also had provisions that would significantly impact counties and cities, they vigorously opposed the bill.  The author agreed to pull the bill from its first hearing and was made a two-year bill (giving it extra time to go through the legislative process).

Likewise, AB 1231 (Jerome Horton, D-Inglewood), the Air Accountability Act of 2005, would have prohibited variances for noncompliance with any regulations that are included in a state implementation plan or that cover toxic releases.  This bill was deemed a blunt instrument solution to a very specific situation involving the abuse of the variance process by an emitting source.   It has also become a two-year bill.

SB 509 (Dean Florez, D-Shafter) which required 24-hour advance notification of everyone within a one mile radius of a pesticide application was amended to apply strictly to application by aircraft.  Following this action, many members of CMTA’s Environmental Quality Committee removed their opposition to the bill.

In addition to legislative proposals, environmental agencies are hard at work on many issues:  indoor air quality, environmental justice, environmental enforcement and acrylamide.

The California Air Resources Board on April 28th approved a new 8-hour ozone standard, the strictest standard of its kind in the nation.  It essentially defines "clean air" and will go into effect late this year or early next year, after going through California’s review process for new regulations.  Air districts will be required to adopt rules and regulations and mandate equipment retrofit or replacement to achieve the new standard.  No one in the state will be able to reach attainment of this standard.  It is unlikely that standards already on the books will be achieved in our lifetime.  Adoption of the 8-hour standard will have a chilling effect on companies considering a move to California and on expansion by California industry already here.

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