CMTA environmental “fix-it-ticket” bill passes first hurdle

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, April 28, 2006 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Assemblymember Greg Aghazarian (R-Stockton) introduced AB 2394, Minor Violations: Air Pollution, a bill co-sponsored by CMTA and the Industrial Environmental Association.   AB 2394 reinstates a practice of the State Air Resources Board (ARB) and the local air districts that has been in statute since 1996, but sunsetted January 1, 2006.  These entities had been required to identify the types of violations that would be considered minor violations and which could be remedied with the issuance of a notice of violation. This bill does not require the ARB or the air districts to do anything differently than they have for the past 10 years in the classification of an offense or in the way they enforce compliance.

Classifying certain unintentional offenses as minor violations and using a notice of violation citation for compliance allows the regulatory agencies more time to concentrate on enforcement of more serious offenses.  It also provides companies the ability to immediately make changes necessary to become compliant.

This important process has an interesting legislative history. In 1996, legislation [AB 2937 (Jim Brulte, R-Rancho Cucamonga) Chapter 775] created minor violation enforcement programs for air and water quality standards.  The intent of the program was to establish enforcement mechanisms that recognize the difference between violations with little or no potential to cause public health or environmental harm and those that are clearly the result of a company behaving in a willful and egregious manner.   This bill included reporting requirements to evaluate the effectiveness of the program and a provision sunsetting the program on January 1, 2001.

In 2000, subsequent legislation [SB 1865 (Don Perata, D-Oakland), Chapter 805] extended the sunset on the minor violation program for air quality violations until January 1, 2006.  Also in 2000, a water quality omnibus bill sponsored by the State Water Resources Control Board [AB 2886 (Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica), Chapter 727] repealed the sunset provision for the minor violation program in the Water Code.

Last year, SB 109 (Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento) contained a provision that would have extended the minor violation program for air quality standards until January 1, 2012.  However, the bill failed passage on the Assembly floor for unrelated provisions that would have increased the criminal and civil penalties for significant violations of air quality standards.  Since the bill failed, the minor violations program for air quality sunsetted on January 1, 2006.

AB 2394 was heard before the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on Monday, April 24th and passed 10-0 without opposition.  The bill now proceeds to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  The bill should not be burdened with a fiscal impact.  CMTA anticipates that AB 2394 will be put on the consent calendar in the near future.
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