BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó

                                                                    AB 1787

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          Date of Hearing:  March 14, 2016


                                 Das Williams, Chair

          AB 1787  
          (Gomez) - As Introduced February 4, 2016

          SUBJECT:  California Environmental Protection Agency:   
          cross-media enforcement unit

          SUMMARY:  Requires the California Environmental Protection  
          Agency's (CalEPA) cross-media enforcement unit to prioritize the  
          state's most disadvantaged communities.  

          EXISTING LAW:  

          1)Defines "environmental justice" to mean 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. 

          2)Requires CalEPA to: 

             a)   Conduct its programs, policies, and activities, and  
               enforce all health and environmental statutes within its  
               jurisdiction in a manner that ensures the fair treatment of  
               people of all races, cultures, and income levels, including  
               minority and low-income populations. 

             b)   Convene a Working Group on Environmental Justice  


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               comprised of the Secretary for Environmental Protection,  
               the Chairs of the Air Resources Board (ARB) and the State  
               Water Resources Control Board, and the Directors of Toxic  
               Substances Control, Pesticide Regulation, Environmental  
               Health Hazard Assessment, Resources Recycling and Recovery,  
               and Planning and Research, which has been tasked with  
               examining existing data and studies on environmental  
               justice and recommending policies for implementation by  

             c)   In consultation with the Attorney General, establish a  
               cross-media enforcement unit to assist the boards,  
               departments, and offices within CalEPA to investigate and  
               prepare matters for enforcement action.  The unit is  
               authorized to inspect and investigate violations within the  
               jurisdiction of a board, department, office, or other  
               agency, as specified. 

             d)   No later than July 1, 2002, adopt an agency-wide  
               strategy for identifying and addressing gaps in existing  
               programs, policies, or activities of CalEPA's boards,  
               departments, and offices that may impede the achievement of  
               environmental justice.  

             e)   No later than January 1, 2004, and every three years  
               thereafter, prepare and submit a report to the Governor and  
               the Legislature on the implementation of these  

          3)Establishes the Environmental Justice Small Grant Program,  
            administered by CalEPA, to award funds to community-based,  
            grassroots nonprofit organizations serving communities  
            adversely impacted by environmental justice issues. 

          4)Names the Office of Planning and Research (OPR) as the  
            coordinating agency in state government for environmental  
            justice programs. 

          5)Requires CalEPA to identify disadvantaged communities based on  


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            geographic, socioeconomic, public health, and environmental  
            hazard criteria for investment opportunities using the  
            Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (i.e., cap-and-trade auction  

          THIS BILL: 

          1)Requires the cross-media enforcement unit to prioritize the  
            state's most disadvantaged communities when exercising its  

          2)Defines "state's most disadvantaged communities" as  
            communities identified by the California Communities  
            Environmental Health Screening Tool (CalEnviroScreen) as the  
            disadvantaged communities most disproportionately burdened and  
            vulnerable to multiple sources of pollution.  

          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown


          1)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.  Throughout California, ARB 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.   


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            Additionally, enforcement of environmental laws tends to be  
            more rigorous in white and more affluent communities; whereas,  
            lower income communities and communities of color tend to  
            correlate with fewer inspections and enforcement actions.  

            In 2000, legislation [SB 89 (Escutia), Chapter 728] required  
            CalEPA to convene the Environmental Justice Working Group and  
            develop an agency-wide environmental justice strategy.  In  
            2001, follow up legislation [SB 828 (Alarcon), Chapter 765]  
            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; however, the agency has never completed  
            the required updates.  

            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  
            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.  

            In 2013, CalEPA established an Environmental Justice  
            Compliance and Enforcement Working Group (working group) to  
            improve multi-media enforcement and environmental justice  
            efforts.  The working group includes representatives from the  
            CalEPA boards, departments, and offices, as well as local  
            agencies that have enforcement authority.  According to  
            CalEPA, the primary objective of the working group is to  
            coordinate compliance assistance and enforcement activities in  
            the state's most disadvantaged communities, where multiple  
            sources of pollution exist and residents are  
            disproportionately vulnerable.  The working group's first  


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            initiative was conducted in 2013 and 2014 in Fresno.  It  
            included community consultation, compliance assistance for  
            regulated entities, and coordinated, multi-agency compliance  
            sweeps.  The initiative overall resulted in 46 citations for  
            violations of air pollution regulations and 3 enforcement  
            actions relating to improper management of hazardous waste.   
            The working group is in the process of selecting the next  
            community for an initiative.  

          2)This bill.  This bill directs CalEPA's cross-media enforcement  
            unit to focus its activities on the communities that are most  
            in need of assistance.  According to the author: 

               [The] discrepancy in the exposure to environmental hazards  
               and response by authorities persists to this day.  The  
               natural gas leak in affluent, predominantly white Porter  
               Ranch, received immediate attention from the media, state  
               and federal elected officials, and regulators.  Numerous  
               residents have access to attorneys to defend themselves.   
               Conversely, the Exide Technologies battery recycling plant  
               has been polluting the air and soil of working class,  
               predominantly Latino residents in East Los Angeles with  
               lead and other toxic chemicals for decades - and was  
               allowed to continue operating for years on a temporary  
               permit.  This is a poignant example of environmental  
               discrimination and unequal treatment of communities.  

               It is critically important that state regulators make a  
               concerted effort to enforce the law against polluters who  
               have been building their facilities and operating with some  
               level of impunity in disadvantaged, low-income, and  
               minority communities lacking resources, support, and  
               capacity to demand swift action.  

          3)Previous legislation.  

          SB 535 (De León) Chapter 830, Statutes of 2012, requires CalEPA  
            to identify disadvantaged communities for investment  
            opportunities using the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.  


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            SB 828 (Alarcon), Chapter 765, Statutes of 2001, establishes a  
            timeline for the requirements of SB 89 and requires CalEPA to  
            update its report to the Legislature every three years.  

            SB 89 (Escutia), Chapter 728, Statutes of 2000, requires  
            CalEPA to convene the Environmental Justice Working Group and  
            develop an agency-wide environmental justice strategy.  




          California Environmental Justice Alliance 

          Coalition for Clean Air

          Sierra Club California 


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          None on file

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