Hazardous waste permitting bill significantly worse

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, June 20, 2014 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

On Thursday of last week (June 12th), a two-year bill, SB 812 (Kevin De Leon. D-Los Angeles, the new President pro Tempore of the Senate) was significantly amended and is now three times as long and contains numerous provisions that would make it harder to get and/or keep a hazardous waste permit.

The bill automatically denies permit renewals filed with Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) prior to January 11, 2015 if such renewals have not been reviewed by January 1, 2018. There are numerous factors that can significantly affect timely issuance of a permit, including the level of public input received, DTSC workload, subject experts, response time, staffing levels, etc. The average time for DTSC to make permit decisions is currently 4.3 years. This imposes a harsh and unrealistic new timeline and will result in permits being denied through no fault of the permit applicant.

SB 812 requires DTSC to consider a community’s scoring using the new CalEnviroScreen tool for permit applications or renewals. CalEnviroScreen was developed to be used for grants and (as we were told on numerous occasions) not for permitting or enforcement as would be the case under SB 812.

This bill also requires that DTSC adopt regulations requiring a financial bond or other security from anyone who applies for a hazardous waste permit. Current law already requires applicants to obtain financial assurances through a number of different mechanisms. The bill fails to provide any parameters as to what constitutes a sufficient financial assurance leaving that determination subject to perpetual administrative and legal challenges by third parties.

Among other things, this bill creates both a Citizen Oversight Committee and a Bureau of Internal Affairs to oversee the workings of DTSC and investigate any complaint alleging misconduct.

Since environmental justice communities have grown up around many factories and hazardous waste facilities, we see this bill as being detrimental to the continued permitting of these facilities and jobs in these communities.

SB 812 was railroaded through the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxics Committee this past Tuesday (June 17th), just the third workday after it was first seen in print. Stakeholders had no time to analyze the bill and review it with their members and clients, let alone get a position letter submitted one week in advance, so it could be reviewed by committee members and reflected in the committee’s analysis. This bill will next be heard in Assembly Appropriations.

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