BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
                              Senator Wieckowski, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 
           
          Bill No:            AB 1787
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          |Author:    |Gomez                                                |
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          |Version:   |2/4/2016               |Hearing      |6/8/2016        |
          |           |                       |Date:        |                |
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          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:      |Yes             |
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          |Consultant:|Rachel Machi Wagoner                                 |
          |           |                                                     |
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          SUBJECT:  California Environmental Protection Agency:   
          cross-media enforcement unit.

            ANALYSIS:
          
          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 the California Environmental Protection Agency  
             (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  
                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  







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                CalEPA. 

             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  
                requirements.  

          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. 

           a)    Requires CalEPA to identify disadvantaged communities  
                based on geographic, socioeconomic, public health, and  
                environmental hazard criteria for investment opportunities  
                using the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (i.e.,  
                cap-and-trade auction revenues).

          This bill:  


          Requires the CalEPA cross-media enforcement unit to prioritize  
          the state's most disadvantaged communities.  Specifically:


          1)Requires the cross-media enforcement unit to prioritize the  








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            state's most disadvantaged communities when exercising its  
            authority.  


          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. 


            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.  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.  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 León, Chapter 830) required CalEPA to  
          identify disadvantaged communities for investment opportunities  
          using the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.  Pursuant to this  








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          requirement, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard  
          Assessment (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 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 three  
          enforcement actions relating to improper management of hazardous  
          waste.  The working group is in the process of selecting the  
          next community for an initiative.  


          This bill directs CalEPA's cross-media enforcement unit to focus  
          its activities on the communities that are most in need of  
          assistance.  
            
          Comments
                     
          1) Purpose of Bill.  According to the author, studies have found  
             that environmental penalties are higher and Superfund cleanup  
             sites are treated faster in white communities. Such practices  
             have exacerbated the effect of the disproportionate siting of  
             facilities within disadvantaged communities and communities  
             of color. Studies have also shown a correlation between less  








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             state enforcement in an area (in the form of fewer  
             inspections and punitive actions taken) and lower incomes.

             The author believes that the disproportionate impact of  
             environmental pollution on poor and minority communities is a  
             much wider phenomenon, well documented by researchers. A  
             recent study showed that Latinos and African Americans are  
             far more likely than whites to live in California communities  
             burdened by hazardous waste sites, exposure to pesticides,  
             and traffic density.

             The author asserts that this 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 and resources 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.

             The author believes that 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.

          2) Budget trailer bill language put forth by the Administration  
             in May contains similar language.  However, because the  
             budget trailer bill has not yet been signed into law and  
             because this language is not necessary to implement the  
             budget, it is appropriate for the Senate Environmental  
             Quality Committee to consider this measure. 

            



          Related/Prior Legislation








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

            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.  
          
          SOURCE:                    Author  

           SUPPORT:               

          California Environmental Justice Alliance 
          Coalition for Clean Air
          Sierra Club California 
           
           OPPOSITION:    

          None received  
           

                                          
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