Legislative Tracker

Coastkeeper takes its role as a voice for the water quality interests of Orange County seriously. Through our work with legal interns volunteering for our Law and Policy Clinic, Coastkeeper regularly reviews environmental legislation being debated in Sacramento. In collaboration with the California Coastkeeper Alliance, Coastkeeper frequently comments on state bills which may directly or potentially impact the health of California’s marine, riparian, and coastal ecosystems.  Below are some Assembly and Senate bills Coastkeeper submitted comments on during the 2011 legislative session.  Click on the bill for Coastkeeper’s comment letter and the description for the text of the bill.

Find your Legislator Search for a Bill Comment on a Bill  Legislative Tracker Archive

Marine and Coastal Issues

SB 1447 (Walters) – Artificial Reefs (OPPOSE) - Status: Introduced Feb. 24, 2012 – Pending Referral - SB 1447 would facilitate the sinking of large ships which are filled with many different toxic materials, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), heavy metals, oil and fuel residues, and other toxic chemicals. SB 1447 will also make detrimental changes to the definition of “artificial reef” as defined by Section 6421 of the Fish and Game Code.  The revised definition removes emphasis on “duplicating [natural] conditions” (e.g. artificial reefs made from rock) and replaces it with a focus on profitability, classifying any structure as an artificial reef if it, “provid[es] recreational SCUBA diving opportunities.”  This change of definition sets bad precedent for encouraging using any unnatural objects to create artificial reefs. The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has already determined that sunken vessels are inappropriate for creating artificial reefs. SB 1447 also requires DFG to create a new position of “California State Artificial Reef Coordinator,” even though no funding is provided for this position, which places an undue financial burden on the agency.
SB 623 (Kehoe) Marine Antifouling PaintTwo Year BillIn 2010, California legislatively recognized the harmful impact of copper on water quality when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 346 (Kehoe). SB 346 requires manufactures of vehicle brake pads to reduce the amount of copper in their product to no more than 5 percent by 2021 and no more than .5 percent by 2025. Small amounts of copper are released when vehicles brake. Copper dust travels to water bodies through runoff during rain events. Even relatively low levels of copper can endanger marine life. Studies in San Francisco concluded that brakes may account for up to 60 percent of the copper that reaches the bay. 
SB 623 builds upon SB 346 and seeks to reduce copper contamination in California’s marinas by phasing-out the use of copper in recreational vessel’s marine antifouling paint. Antifouling paint is applied to the hull of vessels in order to discourage aquatic organisms from growing on the hull. Aquatic organisms impair the integrity of vessels and create drag. Copper in antifouling paints is designed to leach into the environment to prevent marine fouling, a process known as passive leaching. However at relatively low levels, copper is toxic to a variety of aquatic organisms, not just fouling organisms, and is persistent in the environment. The elevated levels of dissolved copper exceed numeric water quality objectives in many areas and threaten wildlife and marine habitat beneficial uses. SB 346 will be considered again in 2012. Read our comment letter.

Water Quality and Supply

AB 1750 (Solorio)The Rainwater Capture Act of 2012 - Status: Introduced Feb. 17, 2012 – In Committee Process - This bill would authorize landowners to install rainwater capture systems, and authorize landscape contractors to install them for landscape irrigation. Currently, state authorization is required before systems can be installed. AB 1750 would authorize residential, commercial, and governmental landowners to install, maintain, and operate rain barrel systems and rainwater capture systems for specified purposes, provided that the systems comply with specified requirements. Coastkeeper supports AB 1750 because capturing rainwater will minimize the amount of polluted storm water reaching the beaches, protect coastal ecosystems and help conserve California’s supply of fresh water. This bill is very similar to AB 275 (Solorio): The Rainwater Capture Act of 2011, which was vetoed by Governor Brown in October of 2011. Read our comment letter.
SB 568 (Lowenthal) – Recycling: Polystyrene Food Containers (SUPPORT) – Status: Last Amended 7/12/11; Ordered to Inactive File on Request of Assembly Member Allen 9/8/11 - Coastkeeper supports SB 568, which is a state-wide phase out of foam take out food packaging. Polystyrene (also known as Styrofoam™) packaging is light weight and breaks easily into small pieces that escape litter cleanup efforts and are widely distributed in the environment. Hundreds of wildlife species mistake foam pieces for food. Neighborhoods, beaches, and parks are degraded by foam litter. In addition to harming marine life, polystyrene also negatively affects the health of people who produce it or use it. There are already price-comparable alternatives to foam containers. Of the 55 jurisdictions that have enacted bans on polystyrene food ware, none are reporting local businesses suffer economic hardship related to the bans. Many businesses throughout California already provide take-out food and beverages in non-foam containers. Read our comment letter.
AB 1207 (Furutani) – Civil actions: Limitations: Real Property Development (SUPPORT) - Status: Inactive - Coastkeeper supports AB 1207 because it seeks to prevent corporate polluters from shielding themselves behind a statute of limitations designed to apply to construction defects. Without AB 1207, corporate polluters may be allowed to avoid liability from dangerous pollution they reasonably knew to harm people so long as it has been concealed for ten years or longer. AB 1207 protects homeowners and residents of California by clarifying the that Statute of Repose—a ten-year statute of limitations used by polluters to defend their environmentally damaging actions—does not apply to damages resulting from pollution or hazardous waste. One area this issue arises is in toxic contaminants discovered near homes which were built over land previously used in the oil industry. This is an especially important issue in Orange County, which has many residential neighborhoods which were constructed over former oil fields and oil refining sites. Read our comment letter.

Access

SB 1201 (de Leon) – Los Angeles River 2012 (SUPPORT) - Status: Introduced Feb. 22, 2012 – In Committee Process - SB 1201 amends current regulation and enforcement to ensure safe public access along and to the Los Angeles River. The bill provides immunity to government agencies and officials for acts or omission that cause harm to persons, except for negligent acts. It establishes the State Los Angeles River Interagency Access Council comprised of existing agencies to designate areas of the River for public use, identify and eliminate barriers to public use, provide for coordinating permits for such uses for which a permit is necessary, provide safety warning systems and signage, and address environmental justice concerns. Finally, the bill amends the Los Angeles County Flood Control Act to include public use of navigable waters for recreational and educational purposes.  Coastkeeper supports SB 1201 because it seeks to expand public access to inland waterways.  Coastkeeper is committed to securing public access to waterways in southern California, including current efforts to expand public access to the Santa Ana River in Orange County.

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