BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 1833


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          Date of Hearing:  May 11, 2016


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS


                               Lorena Gonzalez, Chair


          AB  
          1833 (Linder) - As Amended April 25, 2016


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          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  NoReimbursable:  No


          SUMMARY:


          This bill establishes the Advanced Mitigation Program (AMP) at  
          Caltrans to implement environmental mitigation measures in  
          advance of future transportation projects. Specifically, this  
          bill: 








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          1)Requires Caltrans to track all implemented advanced mitigation  
            projects to use as credits to fulfill environmental mitigation  
            requirements of any environmental law for a transportation  
            project eligible for the State Transportation Improvement  
            Program or the State Highway Operation and Protection Program.



          2)Requires Caltrans, no later than February 1, 2017, to  
            establish an interagency transportation advanced mitigation  
            steering committee consisting, as specified, to support the  
            AMP.



          3)Stipulates that the AMP does not replace or alter mitigation  
            requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act  
            (CEQA), the California Endangered Species Act, or other  
            applicable law.


          FISCAL EFFECT:


          An AMP would likely cost in the low tens of millions of dollars  
          annually, including Caltrans' administrative costs for the  
          steering committee. (This bill is identical to the advanced  
          mitigation proposal in the Governor's proposed transportation  
          funding package, except that the Governor also proposes $30  
          million annually to support the program.) Presumably, these  
          up-front costs would eventually be more than offset by the  
          avoided costs of mitigation within individual transportation  
          project budgets that are assigned AMP credits and by cost  
          savings related to shorter project delivery times.


          COMMENTS:








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          Background and Purpose. CEQA provides a process for evaluating  
          the environmental effects of applicable projects undertaken or  
          approved by public agencies. If a project is not exempt from  
          CEQA, an initial study is prepared to determine whether or not  
          the project may have a significant effect on the environment. If  
          not, the lead agency must prepare a negative declaration.  If  
          the study shows that the project may have a significant effect  
          on the environment, the lead agency must prepare an EIR.  
          Generally, an EIR must accurately describe the proposed project,  
          identify and analyze each significant environmental impact  
          expected to result from the proposed project, identify  
          mitigation measures to reduce those impacts to the extent  
          feasible, and evaluate a range of reasonable alternatives to the  
          proposed project.


          For large infrastructure development entities, like Caltrans,  
          whose activities can result in a broad range of impacts from  
          small, temporary disturbances associated with maintenance  
          activities to large multi-acre impacts associated with building  
          bridges or highway alignments, developing multiple small  
          mitigation sites can be costly, time consuming, and result in  
          fragmented habitats. To address these issues, both state and  
          regional entities have utilized advanced mitigation as a way to  
          provide high quality replacement habitat, achieve economies of  
          scale in its development, and reduce project delivered delays.   
          For the most part, Caltrans has greater experience developing  
          smaller-scale advanced mitigation sites is that it must rely,  
          almost exclusively, on funds from individual project budgets.  
          Since project funds are not available far enough in advance, it  
          is not possible for them to complete the costly and time  
          consuming steps needed to complete advanced mitigation before  
          the project goes to construction and mitigation credits are  
          needed.


          While this bill includes no funding and places in statute a tool  








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          that Caltrans may already use under CEQA and other environmental  
          laws, it should provide added value requiring Caltrans to  
          coordinate with other agencies in planning for the use of  
          advanced mitigation for future transportation projects.


          Analysis Prepared by:Chuck Nicol / APPR. / (916)  
          319-2081