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California Environmental Bills 2007

It was a lackluster session for the environment and public health in the California Legislature. Lawmakers passed legislation on alternative fuels, water conservation and flood protection, but important bills to reduce global pollution through smart growth policies and to impose a container fee to clean up port pollution was deferred until the 2008 session. This NRDC backgrounder summarizes this year’s legislative accomplishments.


PRIORITY BILLS THAT SHOULD HAVE PASSED
 
SB 375 (Steinberg) – Provides incentives for regional transportation planning and modeling that promotes compact development, reduces driving, provides housing choices and conserves farmland and habitat.  The way in which California prepares for expected population growth and plans its transportation infrastructure will have a huge impact on whether the state can meet the global warming pollution targets established by AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act. This is now a two-year bill, and it will be a top priority for conservation groups in the 2008 session.
 
SB 974 (Lowenthal) – Provides funding for infrastructure and air quality improvements through a $30 fee on containers passing through the Ports of Oakland, Long Beach and Los Angeles. These three ports receive and transfer 60 percent of the goods that are distributed throughout the entire United States. As such, they produce staggering amounts of air pollution that threatens the health of Californians. This is now a two-year bill, and it will be a top priority for conservation groups in the 2008 session.
 
AB 224 (Wolk) – Requires the state and local water managers to consider the effects of global warming when developing strategies to meet their customers’ water needs. This bill failed in Senate Appropriations and may be taken up in the 2008 session.
 
AB 558 (Feuer) – Requires businesses that manufacture large quantities of toxic chemicals to provide information to the state on the total amount used. This bill failed in Senate Appropriations and may be taken up in the 2008 session.
 
AB 706 (Leno) – Bans the use of brominated and chlorinated fire retardants in seating, furniture, mattresses and other bedding products in 2010. These classes of chemicals, for which there are safer cost-effective alternatives, are known to cause cancer, birth defects, thyroid disruption and other chronic illnesses. This bill failed to pass the Senate and may be taken up in the 2008 session.
 
PASSED – THE GOVERNOR HAS UNTIL OCTOBER 14 TO SIGN THE FOLLOWING BILLS
 
Global Warming, Energy and Air Quality
 
SB 210 (Kehoe) – Requires the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to adopt and implement a standard for reducing the carbon content of transportation fuel that achieves at least a 10 percent reduction in global warming pollution and maintains or improves the air quality benefits of current gasoline and diesel fuel regulations.
 
AB 118 (Núñez) - Creates new air quality and alternative fuel research and development programs at CARB and the California Energy Commission (CEC), respectively, and increases the fee on vehicles exempt from smog check by $8 to fund the programs.
 
AB 1109 (Huffman) - Requires the CEC to adopt minimum efficiency standards for all general purpose lights such that by 2018 energy consumption for indoor residential lighting will be reduced by 50 percent and energy consumption for indoor commercial lighting and outdoor lighting will be reduced by 25 percent on average, based on 2007 consumption. By 2010, prohibits the sale of lights in California that contain levels of mercury or other hazardous materials that would be banned under existing regulations in the European Union.
 
SB 719 (Machado) – Changes the composition of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Board to ensure representation by health experts. Current law simply requires representatives from urban and rural areas.
 
Water, Flood and Delta Protection
 
AB 1420 (Laird) – Requires urban water suppliers to implement water conservation measures as a condition of eligibility for state bond funding.  
 
SB 5 (Machado) – Requires the Department of Water Resources to prepare a Central Valley Flood Protection Plan and provides incentives for responsible local planning by: 1) prioritizing state flood protection funds for agencies that have adopted a local flood protection plan, and 2) prohibiting any agency that fails to adopt a local flood plan from approving new development within a flood hazard zone. 
 
SB 17 (Florez) – Restructures the state Reclamation Board by increasing the number of members and requiring representation by members of the public and scientists. Also requires that the Speaker of the Assembly and Senate Rules Committee each appoint one member.
 
SB 220 (Corbett) – Improves oversight and regulation of bottled and vended water. Requires basic information about the water’s source and any contaminants detected to be placed on bottled water labels. 
 
Toxics
 
AB 1108 (Ma) – Prohibits the use of specified phthalate chemicals in toys and childcare products designed for children up to 3 years old; prohibits the use of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity as a replacement for banned phthalates.
 
Resources/Coast and Ocean Protection
 
AB 576 (Carter) – Prohibits mega-dairies from operating within two and a half miles of Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park in Tulare County. The park memorializes the contributions of African Americans and is a unique natural and historic resource.  A facility that had been proposed near the park would have housed more than 12,000 cows, which would have harmed the area’s air and water quality and degraded the experience of park visitors.
 
AB 821 (Nava) – Protects condors from lead poisoning by banning lead ammunition in condor habitat. 
 
AB 1187 (DeSaulnier) - Increases fines and criminal penalties for poaching sturgeon.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.


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