BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          Date of Hearing:  April 29, 2015


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS


                                 Jimmy Gomez, Chair


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


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          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  NoReimbursable:   


          SUMMARY:


          This bill increases the total Environmental Justice Small Grant  
          Program (Program) from up to $1.5 million to not less than $5  
          million annually and requires each board, department or office  
          within CalEPA to allocate appropriated funds from special funds,  








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          settlements and penalties to implement the Program.    
          Additionally, this bill allows grants awarded under the Program  
          to include physical projects to improve the environment or  
          environmental health of a community or address a specific  
          environmental justice need.  


          FISCAL EFFECT:


          Increased costs of up to $5 million annually from various  
          special funds, settlements and penalties within CalEPA and its  
          constituent boards, offices and departments.


          CalEPA awarded $540,000 in its most recent round of Program  
          grants.  Existing law authorizes CalEPA to spend up to $1.5  
          million per year but does not require it.  


          COMMENTS:


          1)Purpose.  According to the author, this bill will ensure  
            Environmental Justice Small Grants   will be continuously  
            funded by requiring the Boards, Departments and Agencies to  
            contribute a total of $5 million to the Program annually. 


          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%).  










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             Throughout California, people of color face a 50% higher risk  
            of cancer from ambient concentrations of air pollutants listed  
            under the Clean Air Act. The Air Resources Board estimates  
            that air pollution exposure accounts for 19,000 premature  
            deaths, 280,000 cases of asthma, and 1.9 million lost work  
            days every year.


          3)The Program.  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  
            2013, $249,175 was awarded through Environmental Justice Small  
            Grants projects.  In 2014-15 $540,000 was awarded.  


            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  








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                 environment; and,


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


            This bill adds the implementation of physical projects such as  
            planning for open-space in park poor areas or the installation  
            of air filters to address poor air quality to the list of  
            objectives.


          4)Environmental Justice. 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  








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            on areas that are in the greatest need of assistance.  
            


            








          5)The CalEPA Environmental Justice Small Grant Program was  
            established to provide grants to eligible community groups  
            that are located in areas adversely affected by environmental  
            pollution and hazards.  Grants are awarded on a competitive  
            basis and are limited to purposes of resolving environmental  
            problems through information, improving coordination among  
            public agencies and stakeholders, expanding community  
            understanding about environmental issues, developing guidance  
            on environmental risks, promoting community involvement, and  
            using data to enhance community understanding and  
            decision-making. 





          Analysis Prepared by:Jennifer Galehouse / APPR. / (916)  
          319-2081
















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