California Environmental Year in Review 2012 Recapping Significant 2012 Environmental Legislation in California — The Calm Before the Storm


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Recapping Significant 2012 Environmental Legislation in California — The Calm Before the Storm
This 14-page report entitled Recapping Significant 2012 Environmental Legislation in California - The Calm Before the Storm highlights legislation enacted in eight areas of interest including air quality, climate change, energy and fuels, water quality, hazardous waste and hazardous materials, land use, California Environmental Quality Act, solid waste, and sustainability.

This informative review gives you insight and analysis of:

The significant environmental legislation enacted in 2012.
The impact of enactment.
What to expect in the upcoming 2013 legislative year.

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California Environmental Year in Review 2012 Recapping Significant 2012 Environmental Legislation in California — The Calm Before the Storm

  1. 1. Recapping Significant 2012 Environmental Legislation in California — The Calm Before the Storm By Gary A. Lucks 2012 California Environmental Year In Review
  2. 2. California Environmental Legislative Year in Review 20122 Last June, Sacramento reached an on-time budget for only the third time in the past two decades. Despite an improving economy and deep cuts to health and welfare programs in the budget, California was facing another yawning gap for the next fiscal year. Governor Brown’s remedy was Proposition 30, authorizing additional tax revenue to be collected over five years. He made Proposition 30 his top priority for the November 2012 election and won approval from voters by an eleven point margin. Had Proposition 30 failed, the state would have faced another $6 billion in cuts borne largely by schools and welfare programs. The passage of Proposition 30 in November 2012, combined with the unexpected Democratic victories yielding a supermajority in both legislative houses, allows Democrats to put the decades of political gridlock behind them. A Year of Tinkering with Environmental Laws As far as environmental laws are concerned, California’s performance during its 2011–2012 legislative session was much less eventful than during the 2010–2011 session. Industrial interests, while blocking much of the legislation advanced by the environmental community, were unsuccessful in having business-friendly legislation passed. Despite strong Democratic majorities in both houses of the California legislature, the environmental community was unable to deliver on its own environmental priorities. There were few significant new laws, but the legislature kept busy tinkering with the mechanics of existing environmental laws and offering some interesting new developments on climate change, energy, water quality, and solid waste. Most of these laws became effective on January 1, 2013, except for urgency laws that took effect upon the governor’s signature. SB 317 (Rubio)—An Example of 2012 Gridlock The most noteworthy example of an impasse between the environmental and business camps was the failure of efforts to reform the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). At the eleventh hour of the 2011–2012 legislative session, business interests allied with union leaders came together in an effort to reform CEQA. This coalition, known as the CEQA Working Group, succeeded in “gutting and amending” SB 317 (Rubio). This revised bill was designed to exempt from CEQA those projects that meet environmental and land use regulatory requirements. Environmental groups were able to defeat SB 317 in the final weeks of the legislative session. introduction
  3. 3. California Environmental Legislative Year in Review 2012 3 Introduction 2 Air Quality and Climate Change 4 Energy and Fuels 5 Water Quality 7 Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Materials 8 Land Use 10 California Environmental Quality Act 19 Solid Waste 11 Sustainability 11 Looking Ahead 12 About the Author 13 contents
  4. 4. California Environmental Legislative Year in Review 20124 AIR QUALITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE AB 1459 (Huber)—Repeal of the Atmospheric Acidity Protection Act of 1988 The Scientific Advisory Committee, which was established by the Atmospheric Acidity Protection Program, issued a report concluding that pollutants that cause acid rain (such as oxides of nitrogen) have been declining since the 1970s because of other air pollution laws that reduce these emissions. Based on these results, the California legislature introduced AB 1459 (Huber) to repeal the Atmospheric Acidity Protection Act of 1988. Four decades of air pollution laws have yielded significant air quality improvements in California, particularly due to controls over stationary sources. Notwithstanding this success, mobile source emissions from cars and trucks continue to plague the Sacramento region, which is the most populous nonattainment region in California that is not represented on California’s Air Resources Board (ARB). SB 1076 and SB 12—Reduction of GHGs from Vehicles The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32 [Nunez, Pavley], Chapter 488, Statutes of 2006) envisioned a set of command and control regulations to achieve greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions. Recognizing the outsized contribution of GHGs from the transportation sector (38%), the ARB adopted a number of “early action” measures designed to reduce GHG emissions.
  5. 5. California Environmental Legislative Year in Review 2012 5 The Under Inflated Vehicle Tires Regulation is one of these rules. It was designed to minimize GHG emissions from vehicles with under-inflated tires (UVTs). UVTs are a factor in generating GHG emissions, due to increased tire rolling resistance, which lowers fuel efficiency. This early action regulation requires automobile service providers (ASPs), when servicing passenger vehicles, to check vehicle tire pressures and inflate tires. SB 1076 expands upon this rule and, until January 1, 2018, requires ASPs to use tire pressure gauges that are accurate within a range of plus or minus two pounds per square inch of pressure. However, this law provides that an ASP is not obligated to check and inflate a tire that is determined to be an “unsafe tire.” It defines a tire to be unsafe if, according to standard industry practice, the tire exhibits tread wear, tread irregularity, or damage SB 12 (Corbett) is another law designed to improve fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases. This law specifically allows aerodynamic devices—which are designed to minimize drag and improve airflow for tractor-trailer vehicles—to extend 3 inches on each side of a tractor-trailer vehicle. AB 296 (Skinner)—Cool Pavements to Reduce the Heat Island Effect The “heat island effect” (HIE) is caused by buildings, pavement, and other infrastructure in the urban environment that contribute to elevated localized temperatures. It can result in increased demand for air conditioning, contributing to air pollution and increased GHG emissions. AB 296 (Skinner) responds to this problem by embracing a strategy known as “cool pavements” to reduce the HIE. Cool pavements substitute for conventional building and paving materials. These alternate materials reflect more solar energy and increase water evaporation. Currently there are no official standards governing cool paving materials. AB 296 requires the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) to partner with the Governor’s Climate Action Team to develop HIE mitigation strategies. Together they are charged with officially defining the HIE and establishing an HIE index for cities that characterizes the severity of localized surface and air conditions. This HIE index will allow cities to establish a quantifiable goal to reduce heat in the urban environment. This law requires the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to establish a “cool pavement” specification that the California Building Standards Commission must consider incorporating into the California Green Building Standards as an alternative to conventional hardscapes. ENERGY AND FUELS For the past several years, the California legislature has devoted much of its attention to advancing energy policy. In 2012, the legislature approved a significant number of laws promoting solar energy and biofuels while expanding the amount of renewable energy that investor-owned utilities (IOUs) are obligated to purchase from small energy suppliers and the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) eligibility for renewable energy. Further laws promote pipeline safety. SB 1122 (Rubio)—IOU Feed-in-Tariffs for Small Renewable Energy Generators The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has been engaged in a rulemaking effort to require investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to promote small renewable generators. IOUs must enter into Feed- in-Tariff (FiT) contracts that establish predefined terms and conditions that obligate the IOU, without contract negotiations. The rulemaking addresses FiT contracts for renewable power generators sized from 1.5 megawatts (MW) to 3 MW. Prior to SB 1122 (Rubio), all IOUs and publicly owned utilities (POUs) that serve over 75,000 retail customers were required to purchase renewable power from small generators via FiT contracts. These utilities were collectively obligated to purchase up 500 MW. SB 1122 requires the PUC, by June 1, 2013, to require the IOUs to collectively increase procurement by 250 MW of renewable generating capacity from small biomass or biogas technologies using low emission technologies. This includes biogass from dairies, wastewater treatment, municipal organic waste diversion, food processing and codigestion, agricultural bioenergy, and bioenergy using byproducts of sustainable forest management.
  6. 6. California Environmental Legislative Year in Review 20126 SB 1332 (Negrete McLeod) and AB 2165 (Hill)— Electric Utility Feed-in-Tariffs for Fuel Cell Customers The California legislature passed several other laws expanding the obligation of electric corporations to enter into a FiT for fuel cell customers that generate power and are eligible for net energy metering (NEM). Electric corporations must purchase up to a cumulative total of 45 MW of the electrical corporation. Fewer than half of the POUs have implemented a FiT. SB 1332 (Negrete McLeod) responds to this situation by requiring that certain POUs adopt a FiT by July 1, 2013. This law also requires the governing board of a POU, when establishing FiTs, to consider, among other things, avoided costs of distribution and transmission upgrades along with avoided current and anticipated costs of environmental and GHG reduction compliance. AB 2165 (Hill) increases the NEM cap for eligible fuel cell generators. This law increases the cumulative amount of renewable energy that IOUs must accept to include the “generating capacity level equals its proportionate share of a statewide limitation of 500 megawatts cumulative rated generation capacity.” This law also states that fuel cell NEM generators must pay for interconnection costs. SB 594 (Wolk)—Compensation for Net Surplus Electricity from Private Power Generators SB 594 (Wolk) is another law affecting NEM. It requires electric utilities to pay private power generators for electricity they supply to the grid, including up to 5% of the electric utility’s aggregate customer peak demand. Utilities are required to compensate private power generators for their net surplus electricity generated in the 12-month period. SB 594 permits eligible customer-generators to aggregate the electrical load from properties adjacent or contiguous to the property. This is allowed as long as those properties are solely owned, leased, or rented by the eligible customer- generator. Reducing Barriers to Solar Energy Generation The California legislature enacted laws that ease the barriers to expanding solar energy generation while also supporting biofuels. AB 2249 (Buchanan) seeks to increase participation in the Solar Water Heating and Efficiency Act of 2007 (see Stats. 2007 AB 1470 [Huffman]), which currently has $250 million available in financial incentives. This law expands program eligibility to include non-residential solar pool heating systems such as those of municipalities, schools and non-profits. This program allows operators to avoid the up-front cost obstacles to installing solar heating for their swimming pools. AB1801 (Campos), another solar law, establishes more transparency, consistency, and certainty in the solar permitting process at the local level. The law is designed to ensure that solar energy system permitting fees do not exceed the actual cost to issue the permit. SB 1222 (Leno) limits permit fees that local governments charge for installing rooftop solar energy systems by prohibiting fees in excess of the estimated reasonable cost of providing the service for which the fee is charged. AB 523 (Valadao)—Funding Cellulosic Ethanol Fuels, Not Corn Ethanol AB 523 (Valadao) changes the funding formula from the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) for biofuels. This law shifts away from corn ethanol funding, which has been criticized for diverting food to fuel. AB 523 changes policy to promote the next generation of transportation fuels such as cellulosic ethanol. Cellulosic ethanol offers substantial advantages over current corn ethanol for transportation fuel because it costs less to produce and can be grown on marginal land without competing with traditional food crops.
  7. 7. California Environmental Legislative Year in Review 2012 7 Improving Fuel Pipeline Safety In the wake of the natural gas explosion in San Bruno, California, in September 2010, Assembly member Hill succeeded in enacting a package of laws establishing standards governing the safe and reliable operation of natural gas pipelines. AB 1456 (Hill) requires that the PUC adopt safety performance metrics independent of its rate of return assessment. This law requires that safety performance metrics serve as an indicator of safety performance and that the data inputs to the metric are verifiable. The law further authorizes the PUC to evaluate the safety performance of gas corporations using these metrics and may implement a rate incentive program. AB 1694 (Fuentes) authorizes the PUC to use this risk-based approach and inspect mobile home parks and propane suppliers at least once every seven years. AB 861 (Hill) seeks to align penalties between utilities and non-utilities that fail to comply with utility law by increasing the maximum penalty from $500 to $50,000. Further, Assembly member Bradford authored three laws addressing pipeline safety and electric utility obligations with respect to preserving evidence and agency reporting. AB 1511 (Bradford) is a safety-focused measure that requires residential sales contracts for real property executed on or after July 1, 2013, to provide the following notice: “NOTICE REGARDING GAS AND HAZARDOUS LIQUID TRANSMISSION PIPELINES. This notice is being provided simply to inform you that information about the general location of gas and hazardous liquid transmission pipelines are available to the public via the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS) Internet Web site maintained by the United States Department of Transportation at http://www.” WATER QUALITY Thanks to technologic advances in hydraulic fracturing (known as “fracking”), California may be poised to unlock billions of barrels of shale oil reserves lying within the Monterey Shale east of Bakersfield. California could experience an unprecedented oil boom if oil companies are successful in deploying more intensive, deeper fracking technologies. The environmental community contends that the benefits of fracking will be weighed down by potential air toxics emissions, water quality impacts, and increased seismic risks. AB 591 (Wieckowski) and AB 972 (Butler) were introduced last session to address some of these issues, but failed passage. The legislature nonetheless produced new laws affecting water quality, water supply and infrastructure, recycled water, and water conservation. AB 685 (Eng)—Right to Clean, Affordable, Accessible Water AB 685 (Eng) states that every human being has the right to clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes. California agencies, including Department of Water Resources (DWR), the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), and the state Department of Public Health (DPH) must consider this policy when establishing or amending policies, regulations and grant criteria relevant to human uses of water. The Complete Guide to Hazardous Materials Enforcement and Liability California Details relevant requirements and explains how they apply to the generation, handling, storage, transport, and use of these materials. Read more. • Provides clear interpretations of legal and technical jargon • Explains complex federal and state environmental laws and how they relate to each other • Discusses precedent-setting cases and how they illustrate points of law • Cross-references case law, USCs, CFRs, and state codes and regulations
  8. 8. California Environmental Legislative Year in Review 20128 AB 2174 (Alejo)—Funding to Reduce Contamination from Agricultural Activities Assembly member Alejo introduced AB 2174 in response to a recent University of California Davis’ Center report that evaluated nitrate contaminations in groundwater in the Salinas Valley and Tulare Lake Basin. The report concludes that agricultural activities account for 96% of the pollution that currently threatens the drinking water supply of a quarter million people. This law provides direction on how to spend funds generated from the Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP), which are generated from an assessment from fertilizer sales for implementation projects. The FREP funds must support best management practices to reduce nitrate impacts from fertilizer use. Specifically, this law establishes FREP funding priorities and development of technical education and research programs to provide agronomically sound fertilizer materials and to minimize the environmental impacts of fertilizer use. AB 1422 (Perea)—Postponing the Vote on the Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act On October 11, 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger called the California legislature into an extraordinary session to, among other things, address urgent water challenges involving water quality, conservation, supply, and a water general obligation bond. The Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act was originally scheduled to appear on the November 2010 ballot and raise $11.14 billion in general obligation bonds. In light of the weak economy at that time, the legislature chose to postpone this bond until the 2012 election. AB 1422 (Perea) is an urgency law that moves the election date once again, to the November 2014 general election. AB 2230 (Gatto)—Water Recycling Systems for Car Washes AB 2230 (Gatto) is a water conservation measure that requires commercial car washes that are permitted and constructed after January 1, 2014, to employ water recycling systems. These systems must be capable of recycling and reusing at least 60% of the wash and rinse water. Alternatively, the commercial car wash must ensure that 60% of its wash and rinse water is recycled water from a water supplier. HAZARDOS WASTE AND HAZARDOUS MATERIALS The California legislature approved three laws involving hazardous waste exemptions and another law reconfiguring aspects of the California Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act (APSA). AB 1620 (Wieckowski)—Exemption for Certain Gases and Vapors AB 1620 (Wieckowski) exempts from hazardous waste treatment activities filtered exhaust gas, flue gas, and other vapor streams. This exemption is conditioned on the treatment activity taking place onsite or at a facility operating pursuant to a hazardous waste storage permit. This law was sponsored by the California Association of Environmental Health Administrators (CAEHA) based on the premise that dust collection represents a low risk waste treatment method and that without the exemption it would discourage dust collection activities. AB 2205 (Pérez)—Exemption for Geothermal Waste The Hazardous Waste Control Law provides an exemption for wastes generated from the extraction, beneficiation, or processing of ores and minerals regulated by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976. Assembly member Pérez introduced AB 2205 to clarify that existing hazardous waste rules affecting geothermal plants apply to new mineral extraction activities generating geothermal waste. This application is conditioned upon the activity being part of a closed-loop system where water is re-injected and
  9. 9. California Environmental Legislative Year in Review 2012 9 recharged into the ground after producing steam. Specifically, this law revises the definition of wastes from the extraction, beneficiation, or processing of ores and minerals and now includes geothermal waste that includes spent brine solutions used to produce geothermal energy. AB 1442 (Wieckowski)—Transport of Expired Drugs by Common Carriers Until recently, expired drugs could not be shipped using a common carrier because they were considered “medical waste” under the Medical Waste Management Act (MWMA). As a result, expired drugs were required to be transported using a licensed hazardous waste hauler regulated by the Department of Public Health [DPH]). AB 1442 (Wieckowski) authorizes transportation by common carrier for outdated or otherwise unsalable, non-creditable pharmaceutical waste (i.e., medical waste). These wastes can alternatively be transported by the generator or health care professional as long as the generator, health care professional, and the facility receiving the medical wastes maintain specified records. AB 1566 (Wieckowski)—Imposing Statewide Administration of a Revised APSA According to CAEHA, APSA was the only localized environmental health program without state oversight. AB 1566 (Wieckowski) was introduced to promote statewide consistency and to provide one point of contact for APSA. AB 1566 accomplishes these twin objectives by assigning the Office of the State Fire Marshal to regulate activities subject to APSA. AB 1566 also revises the definition of “aboveground storage tank” to include tanks in an underground area. Prior to this law, tanks located in a below-grade structure that was connected to an emergency generator tank system with a cumulative capacity of 1,100 gallons or less was exempt. This law changes the exclusion to include tanks in an underground area and associated piping where the below-grade structure has capacity of less than 1,320 gallons. This law also authorizes a certified unified program agency to impose administrative or criminal penalties for APSA violations. AB 1701 (Wieckowski)—Improving Oversight of UST Cleanup The regulatory framework governing oversight of underground storage tank (UST) cleanup is administered by nine regional water quality control boards, 22 local oversight programs (LOPs), and over 90 local implementing agencies. According to Assembly member Wiekowski, this agency variability has resulted in differing requirements governing UST cleanups and has caused delays and increased costs to the state and businesses. AB 1701 (Wieckowski) was enacted to implement a number of recommendations that emerged from Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee oversight hearings on the UST program. AB 1701 is designed to speed up UST cleanup and to standardize local agency oversight of these cleanup efforts. AB 1701 (Wieckowski) provides a state certification process for cities and counties, for oversight of UST cleanups. Cities and counties are required to apply to the SWRCB to administer the local UST cleanup programs. Only certified municipalities will be allowed to implement the UST cleanup program after July 1, 2013.
  10. 10. California Environmental Legislative Year in Review 201210 LAND USE AB 2207 (Gordon)—Continued Tax Exemption for Properties Serving Conservation Objectives Prior to AB 2207 (Gordon), property tax law provided that property dedicated to preserving specified natural resources or open-space was eligible for a property tax exemption. AB 2207 is an urgency law that allows the exemption as long as the activities further conservation objectives. Further, the law states that it is not necessary to “consider the use of the property for activities resulting in direct or in- kind revenues.” AB 2680—Extension of Tax Reduction for Agricultural and Open Space Uses The Williamson Act (also known as the Land Conservation Act) establishes a mechanism to conserve agricultural and open space land. Land owners can voluntarily enter into a contract to restrict land uses to agricultural and open space uses in exchange for reduced property tax assessments. AB 2680 (Committee on Agriculture) indefinitely extends a provision of the Land Conservation Act that was to sunset on January 1, 2013. This provision of the law continues to allow lot line adjustments where the land owner and a local government agree to rescind a Land Conservation Act contract and where the parties simultaneously enter into a new contract to enable lot line adjustments. CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY ACT The last legislative session held promise for significantly reforming CEQA. In the end, the California legislature was only able to approve a few procedural amendments and exemptions to the law. According to Assembly member Olsen, CEQA has delayed or stopped many development projects. He and other legislators were able to approve three laws carving out narrow exemptions to CEQA. AB 2564 (Ma)—Short Gas Pipeline Exemption AB 2564 (Ma) is an urgency law that, until January 1, 2018, changes the CEQA exemption for pipeline projects that was originally limited to pipeline maintenance and replacement projects. This new exemption applies to natural gas pipelines less than one mile in length. AB 2245 (Smyth)—Bike Lanes Exemption AB 2245 (Smyth) is another law creating a CEQA exemption. It was introduced to promote development of bike-friendly communities by establishing a limited CEQA exemption (up until 2018) for Class II bike lanes. Class II bike lanes involve restriping existing streets and highways to establish bicycle lanes in urbanized areas where the project conforms to a bicycle transportation plan. This Class II bike lane exemption does not apply to other bike paths involving construction through the environment (e.g., Class I and III bikeways). AB 890 (Olsen)—Roadway Maintenance Exemption AB 890 (Olsen) establishes a CEQA exemption for activities (e.g., minor roadway improvements) undertaken by cities and counties to improve public safety involving the repair, maintenance, and minor alterations of existing roadways.
  11. 11. California Environmental Legislative Year in Review 2012 11 SOLID WASTE AB812(Ma)—MinimumRAPContentinAsphaltMixes According to Assembly member Ma, AB 812 seeks to encourage increased use of recycled asphalt materials (known as “RAP”) for use in surface paving projects. AB 812 (Ma) authorizes Caltrans to issue a specification requiring a minimum of 40% RAP to be used for hot asphalt mixes, effective on or before January 1, 2014. SB 1219 (Wolk)—Extension of Plastic Bag Recyclting Program to 2020 In 2006, the California legislature enacted AB 2449 (Stats. 2006 AB 2449 [Levine]), which required most large grocery stores and other retailers to establish recycling programs to collect and recycle plastic bags. This law was intended to combat contamination from plastics in storm water, which has formed the North Pacific Gyre—a collection of plastic debris the size of Texas that poses risk to marine organisms. Senator Wolk introduced SB 1219, which extends this plastic bag recycling program to January 1, 2020. This law also repeals a preemption that prohibited local governments from implementing their own plastic bag recycling programs. AB 837 (Nestande)—Regulating Recycled-Content Greenwashing The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently approved a number of regulations intended to regulate businesses that overstate the “green” properties of their products and packaging. AB 837 (Nestande) is a state law that similarly attempts to regulate “greenwashing” by companies that make unfounded recycling claims. This law requires manufacturers or suppliers that make marketing claims about the recycled content of plastic food container products to maintain information and documentation of the claim. These containers include, among other receptacles, plastic trays and clamshell containers. Regulated companies must state that the recycled content for materials has been recovered or otherwise diverted from the solid waste stream. In addition, the companies must maintain and document that the recycled content claim is in conformance with FTC uniform standards addressing recycled content. SUSTAINABILITY SB 1128 (Padilla)—Financial Assistance for Advanced Manufacturing Processes The California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA) was established to encourage development and utilization of energy sources and commercialization of advanced transportation technologies. SB 1128 (Padilla) authorizes CAEATFA, until July 1, 2016, to provide financial assistance to eligible projects that promote “advanced manufacturing processes.” Advanced manufacturing processes improve materials and products or are sustainable manufacturing systems and manufacturing technologies that minimize the use of resources while maintaining or improving cost and performance. This includes improvement of “ materials, products, and processes through the use of science, engineering, or information technologies, high-precision tools and methods, a high-performance workforce, and innovative business or organization models in utilizing any of the following technology areas: micro- and nano-electronics, including semiconductors, advanced materials, integrated computational materials engineering, nanotechnology, additive manufacturing, or industrial biotechnology.” These advanced technologies could include electric vehicle manufacturing, solar photovoltaic manufacturing, landfill gas capture and production, biogas capture and production (e.g., at dairies and waste water treatment plants), demonstration hydrogen fuel production, electric vehicle battery manufacturing, biomass processing, and fuel production. SB 1066 (Lieu)—Funds for Mitigating Coastal Impacts of Climate Change SB 1066 (Lieu) authorizes the California Coastal Conservancy to manage the potential impacts of climate change such as sea level rise, storm surge, beach and bluff erosion, salt water intrusion, flooding. This law empowers the Coastal Conservancy to award grants to public agencies and nonprofit organizations for mitigating these impacts to California’s coastal communities, infrastructure, and natural resources.
  12. 12. California Environmental Legislative Year in Review 201212 LOOKING AHEAD Likely Democratic Supermajority in Both Houses With Democrats in possession of a near supermajority in both houses, we can expect them to deliver more far reaching environmental policies while putting the budget brinksmanship to rest. Despite a recent Senate defection depriving the Democrats of supermajority in the Senate, it is likely that the special election in that district will return the Senate to supermajority status. If that happens, the Democrats will once again hold 83 seats of the 120-member legislature and all state- wide constitutional offices, relegating California Republican legislators to a status of irrelevancy. The last time any party held a supermajority in both legislative houses was in 1933. Potential to Override Governor’s Veto and Change the State Constitution The implications of the supermajority control are potentially far reaching. The California legislature can potentially override Governor Brown’s veto for the first time in decades and silence the Republicans who for years have been able to stymie the Democrats’ budgets by denying the supermajority needed to raise revenues. With their newfound power, the Democrats may be able to place initiatives on the ballot to change the dysfunctional state constitution and lower the approval threshold for raising revenues to balance the state budget. They could also approve a ballot initiative to revisit Proposition 13 and lower the approval threshold for raising property taxes or remove property tax protections for business properties. The Risk of Overreaching As Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg put it, “What the people have done is to grant [the legislature] a tremendous opportunity, but it comes with great responsibility.” The Democratic majority is within reach of governing with unbridled control but faces the risk of overreaching with their newfound power. The Democrats will be under keen pressure to restore several budgetary cuts in education and health care that took place over the past several years. However, Governor Brown is a fiscal moderate known for his frugality and can be expected to push back and rein in spending. He believes “the supermajority is not a permanent condition … that can be more easily lost than gained.” (12/17/12 NYT). Expect Heavy Lifting on Environmental Policy Objectives Last year’s legislative session yielded relatively few environmental laws of great import, due in part to preoccupation with election-year politics and challenges with the state budget. With California on the financial mend, if the Democrats can keep their caucus together, we can expect much more heavy lifting on environmental policy during next legislative session.
  13. 13. California Environmental Legislative Year in Review 2012 13 Gary A. Lucks, JD, CPEA, is a partner in the Performance and Assurance Practice of ERM West in Walnut Creek, California, where he advises clients on multimedia environmental regulatory compliance, auditing, and sustainability. He is a certified professional environmental auditor and regular instructor at the University of California (U.C.) Berkeley and U.C. Davis Extension Program where he teaches courses on environmental law, legislation, auditing, compliance, and sustainability. He currently serves as an advisor to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and on the California State Bar Environmental Legislation Committee. He also chairs the West Coast Auditing Roundtable. Mr. Lucks has published numerous articles and newsletters addressing environmental legislation and policy and is the coauthor of a book entitled California Environmental Law and Policy: A Practical Guide. You may also be interested in the following STP Publications: Environmental Auditing: Federal Compliance Guide Environmental Auditing: Integrated Federal and California Compliance Guide Hazardous Materials Program Commentary: California ISO 14001: Environmental Management Systems The Complete Guide to Hazardous Materials Enforcement and Liability: California Federal Toxics Program Summary Environmental State Differences - 49 states plus Puerto Rico, California available separately Environmental Compliance: A Simplified National Guide About the Author
  14. 14. California Environmental Legislative Year in Review 201214 Head Office Suite 306 – 267 West Esplanade North Vancouver, BC, Canada V7M 1A5 1 800.251.0381 Copyright © 2013 Specialty Technical Publishers. All Rights Reserved. This publication does not constitute legal, accounting or other professional advice. STP Specialty Technical Publishers and its authors make no warranties, whether express or implied, regarding the accuracy of any information or materials contained herein or the results of any course of action described herein, and STP and its authors expressly and specifically disclaim the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.