BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES AND WATER
                             Senator Fran Pavley, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:            AB 2139         Hearing Date:    June 14,  
          2016
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          |Author:    |Williams               |           |                 |
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          |Version:   |May 31, 2016                                         |
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          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
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          |Consultant:|Matthew Dumlao                                       |
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              Subject:  Ocean Protection Council:  ocean acidification


          BACKGROUND AND EXISTING LAW
          Human activities have dramatically increased the concentration  
          of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and current carbon dioxide  
          levels are higher than they have been in over 650,000 years.   
          Oceans have absorbed approximately one-third of all  
          anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions.

          The absorption of carbon dioxide in the oceans is contributing  
          to a suite of changes to ocean chemistry including a reduction  
          in ocean pH, a process referred to as ocean acidification.  
          Research has shown that the increase in ocean acidity is having  
          a negative impact on many ocean organisms, including shellfish,  
          starfish, corals, sea urchins, and many types of plankton.   
          Organisms that produce skeletons (e.g. corals) or shells (e.g.  
          oysters and clams) are particularly sensitive to changes in  
          ocean chemistry.  The disruptive potential of ocean  
          acidification poses a serious risk to California's shellfish  
          industry. 

          The effects of ocean acidification are further compounded by the  
          intensification and expansion of low dissolved oxygen - or  
          hypoxic - zones in the ocean.  These regions form in part from  
          runoff that carries nutrients and organic carbon into the ocean.  
           The low levels of dissolved oxygen can result in "dead zones"  
          where mass die-offs of fish and shellfish occur.








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          The California Ocean Protection Act of 2004 created the Ocean  
          Protection Council (OPC).  OPC is tasked with (1) coordinating  
          activities of ocean-related state agencies to improve the  
          effectiveness of state efforts to protect ocean resources within  
          existing fiscal limitations, (2) establishing policies to  
          coordinate the collection and sharing of scientific data related  
          to coast and ocean resources between agencies, (3) identifying  
          and recommending to the Legislature changes in law, and (4)  
          identifying and recommending changes in federal law and policy  
          to the Governor and Legislature.

          In an effort to develop the scientific foundation necessary for  
          coastal managers and other stakeholders to take informed action,  
          the OPC asked the California Ocean Science Trust to establish  
          and coordinate a scientific advisory panel in collaboration with  
          counterparts in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.  The  
          resulting West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science  
          Panel (panel) was charged with summarizing the current state of  
          knowledge and developing scientific consensus about available  
          management options. On April 4, 2016, the panel released a  
          document describing the major findings, recommendations and  
          actions.

          In the Legislature, the Senate Natural Resources and Water  
          Committee held an oversight hearing on January 26, 2016 to  
          provide a forum to discuss the challenges ocean acidification  
          and hypoxia pose to California.  The oversight hearing, along  
          with the report published by the panel, helped inspire this  
          legislation.

          PROPOSED LAW


          This bill would require the OPC to coordinate and facilitate  
          research and work with other relevant public agencies with ocean  
          protection responsibilities to do the following:


             1    Generate an inventory of areas that are most vulnerable  
               to ocean acidification.


             2    Develop, refine, and integrate predictive models on  
               ocean acidification and hypoxia.








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             3    Inventory the colocation of protected areas and areas  
               vulnerable to ocean acidification and hypoxia.


             4    Facilitate agreements and work with organizations that  
               fund ocean acidification and hypoxia research to establish  
               joint research priorities. 


             5    Define gaps between ocean acidification monitoring  
               efforts and management needs in coordination with relevant  
               state, federal, and academic entities.


          This bill would also require OPC to annually adopt  
          recommendations for further actions that may be taken to address  
          ocean acidification, and make appropriate and relevant findings,  
          including references to the panel's report, and the OPC's  
          mission.



          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT
          The author argues that "Many studies point to the harmful  
          effects of ocean acidification, but the state does not currently  
          have enough data at its disposal to evaluate the scope of the  
          problem or make educated policy decisions.  Key strategies to  
          address this deficiency include generating an inventory of ocean  
          acidification "hot spots," developing predictive models of ocean  
          acidification, and defining gaps between monitoring efforts and  
          management needs.  Up to this point there has been very little  
          focus on ocean acidification at the state level, and this  
          measure codifies ocean acidification as a priority for the  
          Legislature and the Ocean Protection Council."


          Supporters also point out the potential adverse effect of ocean  
          acidification on California's fishing industry. Ocean  
          Conservancy states that "California has the largest ocean  
          economy in the United States, accounting for over $42 billion  
          dollars in construction, ship & boat building, tourism,  
          recreation, transportation, and ocean fishing/harvesting.   








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          According to a 2013 survey by the Pacific Shellfish Institute,  
          the shellfish industry alone provides almost $26 million of  
          revenue for California, and would be immediately affected by  
          increasing acidification."



          ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION
          None received.

          COMMENTS
           This bill will be amended prior to being heard in the Committee  
          on Environmental Quality:  Due to the time constraints of the  
          Legislative calendar, the author will amend the bill after it is  
          heard in this committee, should the bill pass the committee.  
          However, the author shared the proposed amendments with  
          committee staff. In general, the proposed amendments expand and  
          refine the list of responsibilities assigned to OPC. The  
          committee may wish to direct staff to continue working with the  
          author's office on these pending amendments.
           
          Related legislation:
           SB 1363 (Monning): AB 2139 and SB 1363 overlap significantly in  
          their intent and the priorities they assign to OPC.  SB 1363  
          would create the Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Reduction  
          Program in OPC with the following goals: (1) develop  
          demonstration projects to research factors that interact across  
          space and time to influence how geographically dispersed  
          eelgrass beds function for carbon dioxide removal and hypoxia  
          reduction; (2) generate an inventory of locations where  
          conservation or restoration of aquatic habitats can mitigate  
          ocean acidification and hypoxia; (3) incorporate consideration  
          of carbon dioxide removal during the habitat restoration  
          planning process; and (4) support science, monitoring, and  
          coordination to ensure that ocean and coastal policy and  
          management in California reflect best available science.
           
           The two offices are encouraged to work through the language of  
          their respective bills to ensure that the responsibilities  
          assigned to OPC are complementary, rather than duplicative. SB  
          1363 is currently in the Assembly Committee on Natural  
          Resources.
           
          Double-referred:  The Rules Committee referred this bill to both  








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          the Committee on Natural Resources and Water and the Committee  
          on Environmental Quality.  Therefore, if this bill passes this  
          committee, it will be referred to the Committee on Environmental  
          Quality, which will consider the issues within their  
          jurisdiction.
          
          SUPPORT
          California Coastkeeper Alliance
          Center for Biological Diversity
          Defenders of Wildlife
          Natural Resources Defense Fund
          Ocean Conservancy
          Oceana
          Sierra Club California
          Surfrider Foundation

          OPPOSITION
          None received.

          
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