BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 21
          Date of Hearing:   April 14, 2009

                                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

           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  

          2)Requires that emissions from fumigation chambers at ports are  
            regulated by local air districts and Air Resources Control  

           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
          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.


          Coalition for Clean Air (Sponsor)
          Consumer Attorneys of California
          International Longshore and Warehouse Union
          Pesticide Watch
          South Coast Air Quality Management District


           None on file.

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Bob Fredenburg / E.S. & T.M. / (916)  

          <1> International Programme On Chemical Safety,  Environmental  
          Health Criteria 166, Methyl Bromide,  World Health Organization,  
          Geneva, 1995.