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Energy and Environmental Bills Before Washington, Oregon and California Legislatures

March 6, 2013

California, Oregon and Washington are in the midst of their 2013 legislative sessions. In this article, we summarize select bills relating to energy and the environment that could broadly affect business and industry in these Western states. In Washington, the most significant bills include Governor Inslee’s requested greenhouse gas (GHG) bill, along with legislation promoting coal transition power and renewable energy sources. In Oregon, the legislature is also considering energy and climate measures, as well as restrictions on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and mining. Hot button issues in California include reform of the state’s environmental review law (CEQA), proposed regulation of hydraulic fracturing, and potential new offset protocols for California’s GHG cap-and-trade system.

Washington

House and Senate members and observers report that legislative action has been slower and bills less numerous than Washington’s last 105-day session, held in 2011. Some attribute this to the new administration and large number of new lawmakers in both houses.[1] The pace picked up at the end of last month however, when lawmakers faced the first actual deadline of the session on February 22—marking the end of the first third of the 2013 session and the last day to move policy bills out of committee. March 1 was the last day to read in committee reports from the House fiscal committees and Senate Ways & Means and Transportation committees. Next up is the March 13 deadline—the last day to consider bills in their houses of origin.[2]

Energy and Climate

SB 5802 is Governor’s-request legislation relating to the state’s GHG emission limits. The bill would provide the Governor with authority to contract with an independent organization to evaluate GHG reduction strategies, develop a work group to evaluate those strategies, and declare an emergency related to GHGs. The Association of Washington Business (AWB) and some of its individual member companies have voiced concerns about the bill since its inception, arguing that it has broad implications for regulated entities, and that a Washington-specific GHG bill could put state businesses at a competitive disadvantage nationally. Washington Conservation Voters (WCV) and other groups support the bill, arguing that it would help to ensure the State achieves its climate pollution limits for 2020 and beyond. A substitute bill—from which Republican Energy and Environment and Telecommunications (EET) Committee Chair Doug Ericksen removed “absolute” language regarding climate change and ocean acidification science[3]—has been passed to the Rules Committee for second reading, with a majority recommendation of passage and minority do not pass/without recommendations. HB 1915, the companion bill to SB 5802, went to full committee hearing yesterday, and to executive session in the House Committee on Environment today.[4]

SB 5297, SB 5298, HB 1221 and HB 1222 all pertain to coal transition power and would facilitate its use and further development by amending RCW 19.285.040 and reenacting and amending RCW 19.285.030. By amending I-937, the Clean Energy Standard, the bill would allow utilities to purchase coal transition power and still meet the reduced cost cap for renewable energy investments. The sister bill would allow the use of coal transition power to lower the obligations under I-937, which requires the state’s major utilities to gradually increase the amount of new renewable resources in their electricity supply. AWB supports all four measures. WCV opposes the bills, which would encourage use of a nonrenewable power source disfavored by the organization, and would arguably undermine the purpose of I-937. While the House bills remained in committee as of the relevant deadlines, the Senate EET Committee majority recommended passing SB 5297 and 5298. The minority recommended that neither pass, but both Senate bills were made eligible for second reading. On March 5, the bills were placed on second reading by the Rules Committee.

HB 1301, relating to clean energy jobs in the state, would promote renewable energy through incentives by “[m]odifying a tax credit encouraging energy consumers to meet their on-site electricity demands by installing renewable energy systems, establishing a fund to incubate clean energy manufacturing in Washington by awarding tax credits through a competitive process that gives preference to systems built in Washington, and establishing performance milestones to measure the level of success achieved.” On March 1, a 2nd substitute bill for HB 1301 was passed to the Rules Committee for second reading, with a majority recommendation of passage and an opposite minority recommendation.

Wildlife

Multiple measures—proposed primarily by eastern Washington legislators—pertain to gray wolves: SB 5187, HB 1191, SB 5188, SB 5193/HB 1219, SB 5079, SB 5300, HB 1501, HB 1337, and HB 1258.[5] For the most part, the measures proposed this session would expand the ability of ranchers and counties to address wolves that have killed livestock (i.e., allowing ranchers to lawfully kill such wolves without a permit) and would ensure they receive adequate compensation for livestock depredations. Most are stalled, perhaps indefinitely, in committee, save a few more moderate proposals such as SSB 5187. As of March 6, the bill was placed on second reading by the Rules Committee.

Conflicts between ranching and rural communities and predator conservation efforts are likely to continue for some time in the state. As of February 2013, the WDFW had confirmed the presence of 51 gray wolves in nine packs in the state: at least 43 occur in eastern Washington, and 8 in the Northern Cascades.[6] While Washington wolf populations are small compared to those in states containing recovered populations (i.e., Minnesota, Alaska, Montana), the predator can have serious impacts on ranching and other communities, and the ESA provides it with strong protections. The species therefore commonly attracts state legislative attention.

Despite delisting of certain recovered populations in some portions of the country, gray wolves are federally listed under the ESA in the western two-thirds of the state of Washington, and are protected as endangered species under state law throughout the state. They’ll remain protected unless and until 15 breeding pairs of wolves are established for at least three years, “with at least four in Eastern Washington, four in the northern Cascades, four in the southern Cascades/Northwest coastal area, and three others anywhere in the state.” The plan also allows the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to consider initiating the state delisting process “if 18 breeding pairs are documented during a single year, and the distribution objectives are met.”[7] As of this month, the WDFW has confirmed just five breeding pairs in the state.[8]

Some Relatively High Profile Bills Will Not Progress This Session

SB 5547 was designed to address the ocean’s rising acidity, which is caused by absorption of carbon dioxide by marine waters. The Washington Farm Bureau opposed the bill, pointing to a lack of adequate representation of business on the Council and a lack of definitive evidence relating rising acidity to local industrial activities.[9] Environmental and other groups, including some in the seafood industry, strongly supported the bill. Increased acidity in ocean chemistry slows reef development and threatens marine life in Oregon and Washington, particularly shellfish.[10] In 2012, a Blue Ribbon panel convened by former Governor Gregoire outlined a strategy to address acidification. Actions range from general study and education to reduction of CO2 emissions and potential land-based contributors to acidification. SB 5447 would have created a Marine Resources Protection Council in the Office of the Governor to advise Governor Inslee on ocean protection and to implement the panel’s strategy. No action was taken in the Senate EET Committee by the policy deadline, however. Therefore, no state legislative action on the climate-related phenomenon of ocean acidification will occur this year.

SSB 5296 would have amended Washington’s Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) in order to direct state funds toward sites considered the most toxic, according to Ecology’s priority site list. WCV opposed the bill, stating that private landowners and developers—not the state—should pay for many of the high priority sites, and that state funds should go instead to prevention activities.[11] The Senate EET Committee substituted a new bill on February 13, and Ways & Means held a public hearing on the bill on February 20.[12] No further action was taken.

Various other bills also proved controversial from the outset, and remain in committee and will not be enacted this session. These include SB 5295, relating to the state’s Shoreline Management Act—designed to “reduce the burden of permit applicants” and opposed by WCV. Also tabled, perhaps indefinitely, is SB 5255, which would have institutionalized the precautionary principle in health and environmental decision making by directing state agencies to err on the side of caution in the event of uncertain or incomplete data.

For more information on the current Washington legislative session, contact Jessica Ferrell in Marten Law’s Seattle office.

Oregon

Since the Oregon Legislature opened the 2013 legislative session, over 1,800 bills have been introduced, including a flurry of bills in advance of the general February 21 deadline for introducing new bills.[13] Committees must schedule work sessions on non-budget bills by April 8, and must hold those sessions by April 18.

Energy and Climate

 HB 2276 raises the state gasoline tax from 30 cents to 35 cents per gallon, and provides for subsequent five cent per gallon raises in 2019 and automatically every five years thereafter. These tax increases will similarly apply to other types of fuel, including compressed natural gas, propane, and aircraft fuel. Even with increased gas taxes, however, the proliferation of fuel efficient vehicles, including electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids threatens the ability of the gas tax to effectively generate necessary revenues to fund road maintenance. Tension has developed between Oregon’s general policy of encouraging fuel efficiency and reducing carbon emissions, and the inequity of requiring owners of older, less efficient vehicles to pay more than their fair share of road maintenance.

To address this issue, HB 2453 follows up on a pilot project by the Oregon Department of Transportation, and would institute a mileage-based “road usage charge” for vehicles that are rated as getting more than 55 miles per gallon. The per-mile usage charge remains undetermined, but the revenues would go into the State Highway Fund, and be distributed among ODOT, counties and cities for road construction and maintenance. ODOT is directed to establish methods for recording mileage driven by subject vehicles, taking into consideration privacy, security, and tampering concerns. This proposal will be undoubtedly opposed by privacy activists, tax opponents, and Nissan Leaf owners, but many SUV and truck owners may be happy to share the road maintenance funding load.

HB 2793 would require the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department (OHCSD) to develop a system for assigning “energy performance scores” for residential buildings. OHCSD would utilize private contractors to conduct energy audits and assign energy performance scores, which would be required to be obtained and included in the real estate listing for the sale of any residential building with fewer than five units. This is intended to “allow prospective purchasers of residential property to assess the energy performance of residential buildings and to compare the energy performance with that of similar residential buildings.”[14] Homeowners could be charged for the cost of conducting the energy audit and assigning the score, and failure to comply would face civil penalties up to $250. The Oregon Association of Realtors has consistently opposed such mandatory energy audits at the point of sale.[15]

 HB 2237, HB 2791 and SB 488 would repeal sunset provisions related to low carbon fuel standards currently scheduled to expire in 2015. These fuel standards are supported by the environmental community,[16] while the Portland Business Alliance and the Western States Petroleum Association and others have publicly opposed extending the standards, as costly and unworkable.[17]

HB 2300 would modify the state’s energy facility tax credit system to give highest priority for energy facility tax credits to distribution facilities for compressed natural gas. Currently, projects that provide energy savings at residential rental properties are given highest priority, with conservation measures and renewable energy sources as second priority. The bill would also require the Director of the State Department of Energy to promote use of compressed natural gas as a transportation fuel.

HB 2106 requires the State Department of Energy, in consultation with other state agencies, to develop maps identifying areas in eastern Oregon that are appropriate for siting energy facilities and supporting infrastructure. The bill also directs ODFW to develop a mitigation bank to aid project developers in identified areas to mitigate adverse effects on fish and wildlife. Similarly, HB 2440 directs the Department of Land Conservation and Development, in cooperation with other state agencies, to review laws and rules regarding the siting of solar energy projects in areas zoned for exclusive farm use and to make recommendations to legislative interim committees.

Referred by House Interim Revenue Committee to the House Energy and Environment Committee as a “formality,”[18] HB 2497, HB 2874 and would each institute a carbon tax on fuel sales or electricity generators. None of the bills yet specify the amount of the tax to be imposed, but all would be capped at 6% of the market value for oil and gas resources. The bills would also establish a Renewable Energy Resources Account, which will receive a portion of the revenues generated, to fund the development of renewable energy resources. While Governor Kitzhaber has previously endorsed the concept of a carbon tax,[19] all indications are that none of these measure are likely to make it out of committee, as none have been sponsored by any individual legislators or generated much public attention, either positive or negative.

Air Quality

SB 212 would require Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) to revise its State Implementation Plan (SIP) under the federal Clean Air Act to eliminate motor vehicle emissions testing for newer vehicles. The bill directs ODEQ to model a new testing regime on the State of Washington’s testing regime, WAC 173-422A-010 to 173-422A-500, which does not require emissions testing on 2009 model vehicles or newer. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Chuck Thomsen, R-Hood River, says that the bill is “a common sense idea that could save drivers from unnecessary fees and cut down on state bureaucracy,” but it is uncertain whether the proposal will find traction in the Democrat-controlled Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.[20]

Genetically Modified Organisms

Several proposed measures regarding GMOs have put Oregon’s farm lobby on the defensive.[21] HB 2175 and HB 2532 would institute labeling requirements for packaged foods produced using material derived from GMOs, including animal products where the animal was fed genetically engineered material. HB 2319 would authorize the State Department of Agriculture to conduct inspections and to issue orders requiring farmers growing GMO crops to “to take the precautions and safeguards the department deems appropriate to prevent the spreading of the genetically engineered material to nearby land used for farming practices.” Such “precautions and safeguards” may include “limitations on or prohibitions against the future planting of a commodity that contains genetically engineered material.”[22] The bill authorizes the department to issue civil penalties up to $10,000 for violations of such orders. These bills have generated concern among portions of the farm lobby,[23] although Oregon’s large organic farming industry is already prohibited from using GMO technology by national organic certification standards.[24]
In addition, HB 2715 authorizes counties to establish control areas for GM crops, where the county may prohibit, limit or even eradicate such GM crops. HB 2736 would also exempt farmers from liability for inadvertent acquisition or use of genetically engineered plant or plant seeds, and would define a release of GM plants that caused such plants to be transferred to another property to be a private nuisance.

In response to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ongoing consideration of authorizing the first genetically-engineered salmon,[25] HB 2530 would prohibit the importation or transportation of any genetically engineered fish within the state. It also would prohibit the farming, cultivation or release of any genetically engineered fish in the state, but would not apply to non-living fish imported for human consumption or other consumer product uses. The bill also would ban raising Atlantic salmon that may spread certain contagious diseases to native anadromous fish, unless raised by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). The Oregon Salmon Commission opposes FDA approval of genetically modified salmon, and has demanded labeling requirements if such approval is granted.[26]

Also filed in response to recent administrative activity, HB 2427 would prohibit raising canola in the Willamette Valley. A recent Department of Agriculture administrative rule, OAR 603-052-0860–0921, ended a prior ban on canola farming and now permits raising canola on up to 2,500 acres in the Willamette Valley.[27] The specialty seed industry has opposed canola production in the Willamette Valley due to fears of cross-pollination between canola—particularly GMO canola—and other crops.[28] On the other hand, canola advocates include other farmers, as well as companies seeking canola oil for food or biodiesel.[29] The Oregon Farm Bureau has expressed “concerns” about the bill, and has argued that the issue is better addressed through the arguably less politicized administrative process.[30]

Mining

Two proposed bills are intended to limit mining in agricultural areas. HB 2201 would modify ORS 215.298 governing mining in exclusive farm zones. In high quality soil areas, the bill requires “concurrent reclamation, so that no more than 40 acres of land are unreclaimed at any one time,” and that the top eight feet of soil be returned to substantially the same condition as before the mining activity. HB 2202 would further restrict mining in the Willamette Valley in exclusive farm zones with designated high quality soils. The Farm Bureau and 1000 Friends of Oregon publicly support these measures intended to preserve Oregon farmland for exclusive farming purposes.[31]

Several other bills specifically target placer mining and suction dredging for new restrictions. SB 370 would create a permitting system for commercial placer mining and institute new restrictions on suction dredging, while SB 115 would prohibit using any motorized equipment or motorized dredges for placer mining.

SB 401 also designates over two dozen creeks and rivers as new or expanded “scenic waterways.” In such scenic waterways, new dam construction is prohibited, and new water rights are limited to basic human consumption, fish, wildlife, recreation and livestock uses, thereby preventing new irrigation, industrial or municipal water uses. Mining, except for recreational prospecting, is also severely restricted, requiring special approval from the State Lands Department. ORS 390.835. While supported by environmentalists,[32] mining groups have come out strongly against SB 370, SB 115 and SB 401, and staged a rally at the State Capitol in Salem to demonstrate their opposition on February 28th.[33]

Water Quality

HB 2842 would prohibit the Environmental Quality Commission or ODEQ from any rule or issuing any order concerning water quality that imposes requirements, standards or any other limitation that exceeds requirements, standards or any other limitation imposed under federal law, and would render void all existing water quality regulations and orders stricter than federal required by federal laws such as the Clean Water Act. The bill is unlikely to move out of the House Committee on Energy and Environment.

Water Resources

SB 217 would establish a new $100 annual fee on water rights in the state. See D. MacDougal, Oregon Water Resources Department Proposes Controversial Fee on Water Rights, Marten Law, Environmental News (Jan. 16, 2013). Oregon environmental groups have made the new water rights fee a top priority,[34] while the agricultural industry generally opposes this new water rights fee.[35] HB 3321 would preemptively prohibit Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) from collecting any periodic or recurring fees or charges from exempt well owners, including stockwatering wells, domestic wells, and industrial or commercial wells utilizing less than 5,000 gallons per day. Another less-controversial proposal, HB 2259 would prevent a scheduled roll-back of existing OWRD permitting fees to 2003 levels, recognizing that such cuts could extend existing OWRD permitting delays even longer.

SB 199 would eliminate the sunset provision for split season instream leasing, allowing water right holders to continue to divert surface waters for out-of-stream uses during part of the year, while dedicating the rights for instream flows during other parts of the year. Split season leasing has generally been seen as successful and is supported by both water users and environmental groups.[36]

 SB 425, proposed on behalf of WaterWatch of Oregon, would require the consideration of the potential “loss of in-stream habitat for native fish or native wildlife in a stream reach that is not protected by an existing in-stream water right” as part of OWRD processing for all new applications for permits to appropriate water, as well as amendments to existing water rights, including changes to the point of diversion, place of use, or type of use. Existing water rights holders generally oppose this potentially costly and dramatic shift in Oregon water law, while OWRD is unlikely to support the measure given the significant administrative burden that it would place upon the agency.

California

In California, February 22 was the last day for the Senate and the Assembly to introduce new bills. The next deadline is May 3, the last opportunity for policy committees to hear and report fiscal bills to fiscal committees. By May 10, policy committees must hear and report non-fiscal bills for a floor discussion. Then, on May 24, fiscal committees must hear and report bills to the floor.[37]

For months, an anticipated focus of the 2013 California legislative session had been on reform to CEQA, the state’s environmental review statute. After a failed effort to pass reforms to the law last summer, State Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg announced in September that CEQA reform would be a priority in the 2013 legislative session.[38] Senator Michael Rubio was to lead the charge from his chair position on the Environmental Quality Committee, but on February 22, he abruptly resigned to take a government affairs position with Chevron Corporation.[39]

Senator Rubio’s resignation has left the Senate without a CEQA reform champion and has at least temporarily undermined the Democrats’ Senate supermajority, but the Assembly and Senate will still consider an array of environmental and energy bills. We discuss a non-comprehensive list of those below.

Air and AB 32

SB 497 would require the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to freely allocate GHG emissions allowances to the California State University and the University of California for purposes of complying with the state’s cap-and-trade regulation. Currently, several public California universities must purchase allowances or offsets to meet cap-and-trade obligations.

AB 153 would require CARB to adopt a specified process for the review and consideration of new offset protocols, part of the agency’s cap-and-trade system. Beginning in 2014, CARB would then use that process to review and consider new offset protocols. The bill would ensure that the process of creating new offset protocols is more accessible to the public. It would also require CARB to consider the social, environmental, and financial impacts of a proposed protocol.

AB 278 would require CARB, in determining the carbon intensity of fuels under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, an important component of AB 32, to consider the following: (1) the life-cycle carbon intensity impacts of potential or actual deforestation; (2) the environmental laws and practices of the jurisdiction from which the fuel originates; (3) any disruptions or other effects upon food supply, food costs, and food shipping that could occur as a result of California policy; and (4) changes to the local economy, including job loss or worker displacement, resulting from changes in the production of a fuel.

AB 416 would create the Local Emission Reduction Program, which would provide grants to develop and implement small greenhouse gas emission reduction programs throughout California. In making decisions on how to award grants, CARB would be required to consider the potential for job creation benefits and increased localized energy resources.

CEQA Review

SB 731 would keep CEQA reform alive in 2013. The bill consists of a single section with seven subsections, each of which expresses the “intent of the Legislature” to enact or amend new provisions. However, the current bill does not set forth any actual statutory language that could be adopted. SB 731 expresses the intent to facilitate and advance infill and to “further streamline the law for renewable energy projects, advanced manufacturing projects, transit, bike, and pedestrian projects, and renewable energy transmission projects.” The bill also calls for the establishment of uniform thresholds of significance or impacts in the area of noise, aesthetics, parking, and traffic, such that projects not exceeding these thresholds would per se comply with CEQA for such impacts. SB 731 also expresses the intent to avoid duplicative review and to establish “clearer” procedures for trial court judges to remand to a lead agency to remedy inadequate portions of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), rather than the entire document. Given the bare-bones nature of the bill at this stage, substantial work would be required for the bill to ever reach the floor of the Senate.

SB 617 would expand CEQA review by requiring analysis of impacts of the existing environment on proposed projects and their users in addition to the current scope of the statute, which focuses on a proposed project’s impacts on the existing environment. While intriguing, most CEQA reformers are looking to streamline the statute so as to make it work more efficiently. A new layer of analysis is unlikely to gain substantial support.

SB 525 would create a CEQA exemption to facilitate development of high speed rail between Stockton and San Jose. Specifically, it would exempt the San Joaquin County Regional Rail Commission and the High-Speed Rail Authority’s efforts to improve existing tracks, structure, bridges, signaling systems, and associated appurtenances.

AB 417 would exempt urban bicycle transportation plans from CEQA review. Before such a project could be found exempt, the lead agency would be required to hold noticed public hearings in areas affected by the bicycle transportation plan and would have to include measures to mitigate potential vehicular traffic impacts and bicycle and pedestrian safety impacts.

Another proposed CEQA exemption would apply to projects that convert landfill materials or organic waste into renewable green energy if the lead agency finds that the project will result in a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions or support sustainable agriculture. AB 794 would create this exemption by adding a new section to CEQA.

AB 953 would require enhanced CEQA review, by mandating that lead agencies must consider any significant effects that may result from locating a proposed project near, or attracting people to, existing or reasonably foreseeable natural hazards or adverse environmental conditions.

Energy

AB 7 would take an array of measures to govern hydraulic fracturing in California, including defining hydraulic fracturing, hydraulic fracturing fluid, and a host of other terms; protecting against the possibility of induced seismic risks; and requiring the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) in the Department of Conservation to adopt rules and regulations that would become effective by January 1, 2014. The bill would require that such regulations would govern the construction of wells and well casings and would require disclosure of fracturing fluids. The bill would allow for the use of FracFocus.org, but only if the website’s functionality and accessibility is improved.

SB 4 is a nearly identical bill to AB 7, although it would allow an extra year for DOGGR to effectuate the new regulations. Together, these bills seek to ensure that DOGGR continues to move forward in a timely manner on a comprehensive scheme to regulate hydraulic fracturing in California. If passed, either bill would constrain DOGGR’s discretion by mandating certain aspects of the regulations.

SB 674 would require the California Public Utilities Commission to increase payments for electricity purchased from electrical generation facilities that integrate energy storage technology. The bill would recognize and financially value the benefit to the grid of energy storage capacity.

AB 1257 would enact the Natural Gas Act and require the California Energy Commission to provide the legislature with a plan to maximize the benefits obtained from natural gas as an energy source. This bill would then involve the governor by requiring him or her to adopt, reject, or modify the plan, with the result becoming the natural gas policy of the state.

Green Building and Energy Efficiency

AB 122 would enact the Nonresidential Building Energy Retrofit Financing Act of 2012, designed to provide financial assistance to owners of eligible nonresidential buildings for implementing energy improvements for their properties. The bill claims that nonresidential buildings represent a huge opportunity to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

AB 341 would require the California Building Standards Commission to seek recommendations for code updates relating to green building standards from other state agencies. The California Building Standards Commission would then be required to compile the recommendations.

AB 572 would require CARB to identify and evaluate the energy investments of at least one large-scale building development project that presents significant cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities. This bill strives to advance green building as a component of CARB’s implementation of AB 32.

Mining

With certain exceptions, AB 1161 would protect mining operations from a nuisance action if those operations have existed for at least three years and did not constitute a nuisance when they first began. The mining must be performed pursuant to an active, valid land use authorization and reclamation plan.

Redevelopment

SB 1 authorizes the establishment of redevelopment agencies in communities to address the effects of blight. This bill would respond to existing law that dissolved redevelopment agencies, effective February 1, 2012, by providing for the formation of a Sustainable Communities Investment Authority at the local level. The Authority would work towards the goal of sustainable and affordable development.

Reduction of Plastic Waste

With certain exceptions, SB 405 would prohibit large retail stores with annual sales in excess of two million dollars and at least 10,000 square feet from providing a single-use carryout bag to a customer, effective January 1, 2015. Then in July 2006, the bill’s reach would extend to convenience food stores, food marts, and other small businesses. Stores would be able to sell certain types of relatively sustainable bags. The Assembly is considering a similar bill, AB 158 that would also regulate single-use bags. SB 700 could be complimentary to SB 405 or AB 158. It would require retail establishments to collect five cents for each single-use carryout bag provided to a customer. The generated revenues would then be used by local governments to clean up and enhance local parks and generally reducing litter.

AB 521 would declare the legislature’s intention to create the Plastic Pollution Reduction Producer Responsibility Act. The goal of this Act would be to reduce plastic pollution in the marine environment. This Act would also hold plastic producers responsible for creating this reduction.

Water

Waste discharges in the region have left certain communities without access to clean drinking water. AB 1 would appropriate $2,000,000 to the State Water Resources Control Board for use by the Greater Monterey County Regional Water Management Group to develop an integrated plan to address the drinking water and wastewater needs of disadvantaged communities in the Salinas Valley. The bill would require completion of the plan by January 1, 2016. AB 115 would assist disadvantaged communities seeking funds to construct clean drinking water infrastructure by allowing multiple water systems to apply for state funds as a single applicant.

AB 145 would vest authority, responsibility, and jurisdiction for drinking water programs with a new Division of Drinking Water Quality at the State Water Resources Control Board. Currently, drinking water is regulated by a division of the Department of Public Health. According to the bill, this transfer of authority would lead to a more comprehensive strategy for ensuring safe drinking water.

For information on these and other pending bills in the California legislature, contact any lawyer in Marten Law’s San Francisco office.

[1] See B. Shannon, Legislature moving at glacial pace, Republican-led coalition in Senate, Democratic House pass milestone today, Olympian (Feb. 17, 2013).

[2] See WA State Legislature, 2013 Session Cutoff Calendar; see also T. James, Capitol Outlook: Last call at the Olympia policy bar, Olympian, Feb. 18, 2013.

[3] B. Shannon, Inslee: 'We need to move' on climate, Olympian (March 6, 2013).

[4] Various business groups supported SB 5321 and HB 1169, however, which also pertained to GHG emissions. SB 5321 would have “harmonized” state GHG reporting requirements with federal requirements. HB 1169 which would reevaluate the delegation of authority to state agencies for purposes of GHG emission programs. HB 1169 concerned the effects of state, regional, and federal programs regulating motor vehicle fuel economy, implementing cap and trade systems, or otherwise addressing GHG emissions. Some conservation groups opposed SB 5321, arguing that it was unnecessary due to 2010 revisions that harmonized state and federal law on the issue. WCV also argued that it would “eliminate reporting requirements for transportation fuel suppliers, the largest sources of [GHG] emissions in the state.” Several conservation groups continue to oppose other bills that would potentially reduce renewable energy development and otherwise change the application of I-937, including SBs 5400, 5290, and 5412. For this legislative session, SB 5321 and HB 1169 are effectively dead, however, as neither made it out of committee by the policy bill deadline.

[5] See P. Le, Wash. lawmaker wants wolves sent to rival district, Olympian, Feb. 12, 2013 (listing bills).

[6] WDFW, Wolf Packs in Washington and Gray Wolf Conservation and Management, last visited Feb. 20, 2013.

[7] WDFW, The Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan for Washington, Dec. 2011.

[8] WDFW, Wolf Packs in Washington, last visited Feb. 20, 2013.

[9] See M. Santos, Business leaders object to creating ocean acidity council, Olympian, Feb. 18, 2013; see also SB 5447, Sec. 1 (providing that acidification “may be additionally affected by pollutants in runoff from land-based activities.”).

[10] See SB 5547 Report, Feb. 12, 2013.

[11] WCV, Feb. 11 Hot List – State Senate; see also WCV Hot Lists through March 6, 2013.

[12] The substitute bill does not state that it would displace or discourage enforcement actions by Ecology; nor would it necessarily affect private party cleanups and cost recovery actions. It may just serve to ensure that the worst sites are remediated first, regardless of the funding source. Still, in the case of recalcitrant PRPs, state-funded cleanups would necessarily require enforcement and cost recovery actions to ensure fulfillment of MTCA’s “polluter pays” mandate, burdening state resources in order to obtain delayed reimbursement. The practical effects of the change, if enacted in 2014 or later, would be clear only in implementation.

[13] Oregon Legislative Assembly, 2013 Regular Session Measures. After February 21, 2013, legislators must use one of his or her five "priority" bills to introduce new legislation. Yuxing Zheng, Eliminating Corporate Kicker, Banning Smoking in Vehicles with Children: Oregon Legislature Today, The Oregonian (Feb. 21, 2013).

[14] HB 2793 § 1(2).

[15] Oregon Association of REALTORS, 2012 Legislative Conference Point-Of-Sale Mandates.

[16] Ben Jacklet, Oregon Conservation Network Announces 2013 Priorities, Sustainable Business Oregon (Feb. 11, 2013).

[17] Oregonian Editorial Board, Kill Oregon’s Low-Carbon Fuel Standard, The Oregonian (Nov. 6, 2012)

[18] Jeff Stanfield, Ore. House Considers Carbon Tax on Electric Utilities, Fuel Suppliers, DownstreamToday (Feb. 14, 2013).

[19] Christina Williams, Governor Kitzhaber Joins Western Governors in a Call to Put a Price on Carbon, Sustainable Business Oregon (Nov. 14, 2012).

[20] Harry Esteve, Bill Would Phase Out Car Emission Tests in Oregon, just like Washington, The Oregonian (Feb. 20, 2013).

[21] Mitch Lies, Farm Lobby Eyes Several Opportunities, Capital Press (Feb. 7, 2013).

[22] HB 2319 §1(c)(B)(3).

[23] Mitch Lies, Farm Lobby Sees 2013 Legislature as Mixed Bag, Capital Press (Jan. 25, 2013).

[24] 7 CFR § 205.105.

[25] Cassandra Profita, Oregon Industry Wants GM Salmon Labeled, OPB Ecotrope (Jan. 11, 2013).

[26] Id.

[27] See Oregon Dep’t of Agriculture, Figure 1, 603-052-0882 (Feb. 6, 2013).

[28] Mitch Lies, New Canola Rule under Fire in Legislature, Capital Press (Feb. 15, 2013).

[29] Jonathon Cooper, Willamette Valley Canola Controversy Pits Biofuels Against Organics, Huffington Post (Sept. 27, 2012).

[30] Mitch Lies, Farm Lobby Sees 2013 Legislature as Mixed Bag, Capital Press (Jan. 25, 2013).

[31] Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregon Farm Bureau Priority Bills, Natural Resources Report, (Feb. 13, 2013).

[32] WaterWatch of Oregon, Advocating for Reform at the State Capitol: 2013 Oregon Legislature; Rogue Riverkeeper, Protect Oregon’s Rivers from Suction Dredging.

[33] Miners Protest Bill that Extends State Scenic Waterway Protections at Capitol, Statesman Journal (Feb. 28, 2013); Willamette Valley Miners, Government Affairs – Miners Action Alert; Galice Mining District, Alan Bates Launches Attack on Mining, Water, and Property Rights.

[34] Ben Jacklet, Oregon Conservation Network Announces 2013 Priorities, Sustainable Business Oregon (Feb. 11, 2013).

[35] Mitch Lies, Farm Lobby Sees 2013 Legislature as Mixed Bag, Capital Press (Jan. 25, 2013).

[36] Oregon Environmental Council, Making Water Work: Strategies for Advancing Water Conservation in Oregon Agriculture (Jan. 2012).

[37] The Senate’s full calendar is available here, and the Assembly’s full calendar is here.

[38] Official Website for Senate pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Steinberg Sets CEQA Reform as Agenda Priority (Sept. 13, 2012).

[39] Official Website for Senator Rubio, Senator Rubio: Family Comes First (Feb. 22, 2013).

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