BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          Date of Hearing:  April 13, 2015 


                       ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES


                                 Das Williams, Chair


          AB 1062  
          (Bonta) - As Amended April 7, 2015


          SUBJECT:  Environmental Justice Small Grant Program


          SUMMARY:  Specifies that physical projects that improve the  
          environment or the environmental health of a community, or that  
          address a specific environmental justice need are eligible for  
          grants awarded from the Environmental Justice Small Grant  
          Program (Program) and increases the total grant program from up  
          to $1.5 million to not less than $5 million annually.  





          EXISTING LAW:  Establishes the CalEPA Environmental Justice  
          Small Grant Program to provide grants to eligible community  
          groups that are located in areas adversely affected by  
          environmental pollution and hazards and that are involved in  
          work to address environmental justice issues.  


          1)Grants are awarded on a competitive basis for projects that  
            are based in communities with the most significant exposure to  
            pollution. They are limited to purposes of resolving  
            environmental problems through information, improving  
            coordination among public agencies and stakeholders, expanding  








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            community understanding about environmental issues, developing  
            guidance on environmental risks, promoting community  
            involvement, and using data to enhance community understanding  
            and decision-making. 


          2)Grants cannot be used for other state grant programs, lobbying  
            or advocacy activities, litigation, funding of lawsuits, or  
            for opposing technical assessments prepared by a public  
            agency.


          3)The maximum amount of a grant shall not exceed $50,000, and  
            the Secretary for CalEPA can expend up to $1.5 million per  
            year for the program.


          4)Authorizes CalEPA to allocate funds from various special  
            funds, settlements, and penalties to implement this program.


          THIS BILL:


          1)Allows grants awarded under the Program to include physical  
            projects, including planning, engineering and construction,  
            monitoring or filtering technology, and environmental  
            assessments that improve the environment or the environmental  
            health of the community, or that address a specific  
            environmental justice need.


          2)Requires CalEPA to expend not less than $5 million per year  
            for environmental justice grants.  Requires each board,  
            department, or office within CalEPA to allocate appropriated  
            funds from special funds, settlements, and penalties to  
            implement this program. 










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          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown. 


          COMMENTS:  


          1)This bill.  According to the author: 


               AB 1062 will help provide our most vulnerable communities  
               of color with the tools they need to fight against  
               environmental health hazards in their communities, greatly  
               reducing their quality of life.  



               AB 1062 will ensure EJ Small Grants will be continuously  
               funded.  It will require the Boards, Departments, and  
               Agencies to contribute to the grant program to ensure there  
               is a CalEPA-wide contribution.  

               The bill will also add one additional grant objective to  
               the program:  implementation of physical projects that  
               address environmental justice issues, such as planning for  
               open-space in park-poor areas or installation of air  
               filters to address poor air quality.  
          2)Background. According to the Office of Environmental Health  
            Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), approximately 8 million  
            Californians (21%) live in zip codes that are considered  
            "highly impacted" by environmental, public health, and  
            socioeconomic stressors.   Nearly half of all Californians live  
            within six miles of a facility that is a significant   
             greenhouse gas emitter (46%), but they are disproportionately  
            people of color (62%). Throughout California, people of color  
            face a 50% higher risk of cancer from ambient concentrations  
            of air pollutants listed under the Clean Air Act. These  
            impacts are felt by all Californians.  The Air Resources Board  
            estimates that air pollution exposure accounts for 19,000  
            premature deaths, 280,000 cases of asthma, and 1.9 million  








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            lost work days every year.  


             Environmental justice is the fair treatment of people of all  
            races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development,  
            adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental  
            laws, regulations, and policies. 



            SB 89 (Escutia), Chapter 728, Statutes of 2000 required CalEPA  
            to convene the Environmental Justice Working Group and develop  
            an agency-wide environmental justice strategy.  Follow-up  
            legislation, SB 828 (Alarcon), Chapter 765, Statutes of 2001,  
            established a timeline for these requirements and required  
            CalEPA to update its report to the Legislature every three  
            years.  In October of 2004, CalEPA released its Environmental  
            Justice Action Plan.  
            In 2012, SB 535 (De Leon), Chapter 830 required CalEPA to  
            identify disadvantaged communities for investment  
            opportunities using the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.   
            Pursuant to this requirement, OEHHA has developed the  
            California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool  
            (CalEnviroScreen) that uses existing environmental, health,  
            and socioeconomic data to determine the extent to which  
            communities across the state are burdened by and vulnerable to  
            pollution.  OEHHA states that the results generated by  
            CalEnviroScreen are not intended to assign responsibility for  
            any issues identified.  The intent is to provide information  
            that enables the state to focus time, resources, and programs  
            on areas that are in the greatest need of assistance.  



            CalEPA Environmental Justice Small Grants, established in  
            2002, are available to help eligible non-profit community  
            groups/organizations and federally recognized Tribal  
            governments address environmental justice issues in areas  
            adversely affected by environmental pollution and hazards. In  








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            2013, $249,175 was awarded through Environmental Justice Small  
            Grants projects.  A minimum of $250,000 in grant funds was  
            made available for the 2015/2016 grant cycle. SB 861 (Budget  
            and Fiscal Review), Chapter 35, Statutes of 2014 increased the  
            maximum grant from $20,000 to $50,000 and authorized CalEPA to  
            expend up to $1.5 million annually for the program.  The  
            stated goals of the program include:
             a)   Improve access to safe and clean water;


             b)   Reduce potential for exposure to pesticides and toxic  
               chemicals;


             c)   Promote community capacity building and improve  
               communities' and tribes' understanding of the technical and  
               procedural aspects of environmental decision making;


             d)   Promote the development of community-based research that  
               protects and enhances public health and the environment;  
               and,


             e)   Address cumulative impact through collaboration between  
               community-based organizations and local government.


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          Asian Pacific Environmental Network










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          California Environmental Justice Alliance 
          Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice 


          Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment


          Communities for a Better Environment


          Environmental Health Coalition


          People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights  
          (PODER) 


          Sierra Club California 




          Opposition


          None on file




          Analysis Prepared by:Elizabeth MacMillan / NAT. RES. / (916)  
          319-2092















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