BILL ANALYSIS AB 21 PageA Date of Hearing: April 14, 2009 ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL SAFETY AND TOXIC MATERIALS Wesley Chesbro, Chair AB 21 (Bonnie Lowenthal) - As Amended: April 2, 2009 SUBJECT : Methyl bromide. SUMMARY: Requires the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to review a report by the United Nations Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) on alternatives and emission control technologies for methyl bromide and submit comments to the legislature. Specifically, this bill : 1)Makes a series of legislative findings including: a) Finding that these are economic benefits of California seaports, and lists the employment and wage contributions of the seaport business to the economy, and as well as contribution of revenues at a national level. b) Finds that US and California trading partners require the use of methyl bromide on products, describes methyl bromide and its historic and current use and that it depletes ozone. c) Finds that methyl bromide poses a threat to humans, animals and the environment, and those who perform work with it would benefit from the most stringent health and safety requirements possible. 2)Requires the DPR to review a report by the TEAP on alternatives and emission control technologies for methyl bromide and submit comments to the legislature. 3)The review and comments on the TEAP report by DPR shall include comments on the findings of the panel, focusing on those issues that are relevant to California, including: a) Alternatives to methyl bromide use; and, b) Options or possibilities for recapture, containment, and recycling of methyl bromide; and, c) Technologies that could reduce or prevent emissions. AB 21 PageB EXISTING LAW : 1)Establishes regulations governing the restricted materials permit which are issued by the County Agricultural Commissioners. Permits are conditioned to mitigate exposure to sensitive areas and include the use of mitigation measures such as buffer zones, alternatives (including unnecessary or optional use of methyl bromide), and the posting of warning signs. 2)Requires that emissions from fumigation chambers at ports are regulated by local air districts and Air Resources Control Board. FISCAL EFFECT : Minor cost to the DPR for the review and report on methyl bromide. COMMENTS: According to the author of AB 21 methyl bromide has a global warming effect that is five times greater than carbon dioxide and the majority of it continues to be vented into the atmosphere from fumigation practices. Even though safety measures may ensure that residents near commodity fumigation facilities are safe, trace amounts of methyl bromide contribute to poor ambient air quality in communities near the ports. The Coalition for Clean Air, the sponsors of this bill, suggests that the state needs to examine technologies that can best reduce or eliminate methyl bromide emissions from commodity fumigation facilities. The DPR is best poised to evaluate emission reduction technologies for methyl bromide. The TEAP is preparing a report on methyl bromide alternatives and emission control technologies. The draft report is scheduled to be complete in July of this year. AB 21 PageC According to the report by the World Health Organization<1> Methyl bromide is widely used for fumigating post-harvest commodities, such as wheat and cereals, spices, nuts, dried and fresh fruits, and tobacco. Some foods, such as nuts, seeds, and fatty foods like cheese, tend to retain methyl bromide and inorganic bromide. People living in close proximity to fields, greenhouses, or stores fumigated with methyl bromide, could be at risk of exposure to the gas. Occupational exposure to methyl bromide is the most probable hazard for operators during production, filling processes, and fumigation operations. REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION : Support Coalition for Clean Air (Sponsor) AFSCME Consumer Attorneys of California International Longshore and Warehouse Union Pesticide Watch South Coast Air Quality Management District Opposition None on file. Analysis Prepared by : Bob Fredenburg / E.S. & T.M. / (916) 319-3965 --------------------------- <1> International Programme On Chemical Safety, Environmental Health Criteria 166, Methyl Bromide, World Health Organization, Geneva, 1995.