BILL ANALYSIS Ó SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY Senator Wieckowski, Chair 2015 - 2016 Regular Bill No: AB 2139 ----------------------------------------------------------------- |Author: |Williams | ----------------------------------------------------------------- |-----------+-----------------------+-------------+----------------| |Version: |6/20/2016 |Hearing |6/29/2016 | | | |Date: | | |-----------+-----------------------+-------------+----------------| |Urgency: |No |Fiscal: |Yes | ------------------------------------------------------------------ ----------------------------------------------------------------- |Consultant:|Dan Brumbaugh | | | | ----------------------------------------------------------------- SUBJECT: Ocean Protection Council: ocean acidification. ANALYSIS: Existing law: 1) Establishes the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) and the California Ocean Protection Trust Fund (OPTF) through SB 1319 (Burton, Alpert, Chapter 719, Statutes of 2004) to coordinate, streamline, and improve the effectiveness of the state's oversight of its ocean resources; designate ocean and marine ecosystems as a public trust; and promote ocean protection policies based on sound science. The OPC administers the OPTF to carry out its duties, and to make grants or loans to public agencies, non-profits or private entities for projects that protect and enhance ocean resources, as specified, including the development of monitoring and scientific data to improve state efforts to protect and conserve ocean resources. (Public Resources Code §35600 et seq.) This bill: 1) Makes findings and declarations regarding: a) The West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel and its recent findings and recommendations as outlined in its Executive Summary. b) The mission of the OPC, to ensure that the state AB 2139 (Williams) Page 2 of ? maintains healthy, resilient, and productive ocean and coastal ecosystems for the benefit of current and future generations, including addressing ocean acidification (OA). 2) States that the OPC, subject to the availability of funding, may develop an ocean acidification and hypoxia (OAH) science task force. 3) Requires, subject to the availability of funding, that the OPC take action to address OAH, including: a) Implementing measures to facilitate climate change adaptation in the ocean, as specified; b) Developing, refining, and integrating predictive models of OAH, as specified; c) Working with other agencies to coordinate and ensure that criteria and standards for coastal water health to address OAH are developed and informed by the best available science; d) Developing a comprehensive inventory of OAH-vulnerable areas in California; e) Facilitating agreements with other national, regional, and state governments and private entities to establish and advance joint priorities for OAH research; and f) Identifying and defining gaps, as specified, between OA monitoring efforts and management needs and the actions necessary to address these gaps. 4) Adopt recommendations annually, as specified, for further actions that may be taken to address OA. Background 1) Growth in concerns about ocean ecosystem health. A series of reports over the last two decades have documented large-scale declines in the health of the state's ocean and coastal ecosystems. These include the 1997 Resources Agency report, California's Ocean Resources: An Agenda for the Future, the AB 2139 (Williams) Page 3 of ? 2003 Pew Oceans Commission report, America's Living Oceans: Charting a Course for Sea Change, and the 2004 United States Commission on Ocean Policy report, An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century. These earlier reports were wide-ranging, synthetic, and influential in that they led to the creation of the OPC within California. 2) Ocean Protection Council. 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. 3) Ocean acidification and hypoxia. Scientific and policy awareness of OA as a serious concern has grown since the start of the 21st century. OA is caused by a series of chemical reactions that occur as the surface waters of the ocean absorb a portion (about a third) of the extra carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by human activities and emitted into the atmosphere. These reactions result in seawater that is more corrosive, with a lower pH ("acidification") and a lower concentration of dissolved carbonate ions that many marine organisms on the sea bottom and in the plankton use to grow their shells and skeletons. West Coast oyster farms have faced economic losses from the intake of especially corrosive waters and its impacts on oyster spat, and have had to modify their operations to try to cope with this threat. For example, some farms now monitor ocean chemistry and avoid in-taking seawater during periods when it is harmful to young shellfish. Others are now chemically treating batches of seawater in their facilities to make it more suited to the needs of shellfish, but such treatments are currently only feasible at the scale of smaller, closed-system operations. The threats posed by increasing OA are further compounded by other dimensions of climate change, such as the intensification and expansion of low dissolved oxygen - or hypoxic - zones in the ocean. The run-off of freshwater- and AB 2139 (Williams) Page 4 of ? land-based nutrients and organic carbon into the ocean can spur the generation of these zones. When spread across large enough areas, low levels of dissolved oxygen can result in "dead zones" where mass die-offs of fish and shellfish occur. In the coming decades, the impacts of OA and OAH, which are already being felt across West Coast systems, are projected to grow rapidly in intensity and extent. 4)West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel. The state of scientific knowledge about OAH has grown rapidly in the last decade, although much remains to be understood. In October 2013, the OPC asked the California Ocean Science Trust, in collaboration with counterparts in Oregon, to establish and coordinate the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel. Including scientific experts from California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, the panel was charged with summarizing the current state of knowledge and developing scientific consensus about available management options. In January 2016, the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee convened an Informational Hearing where OAH panel scientists discussed aspects of the emerging science of OA. In April 2016, the panel released documents describing the major findings, ongoing research priorities, and recommended actions that can nevertheless be taken by management now. 5)Implications of ocean acidification for California. According to the report, because of oceanographic circulation dynamics in the North Pacific, California's coastal ecosystems are particularly exposed to impacts of OA. And as with other mitigation and adaptation aspects of carbon emissions, when it comes to addressing OA, there is a cost to management inaction. This is because OA impacts, and the difficulties of addressing them, will only get worse in the foreseeable future. Although the changes to ocean carbonate chemistry that California is experiencing are unavoidably linked to changes in the concentration of atmospheric CO2 globally, there is a lag of decades in the linkage between global atmospheric conditions and our local coastal waters. This is because our upwelled coastal waters originated as surface waters off of Japan 30-50 years prior. As the water gets transported, continuing biological respiration of organic particles AB 2139 (Williams) Page 5 of ? releases more CO2, making the water even lower in pH and carbonate. This water then travels down the west coast of North America, where, especially along certain parts of the coastline and under certain seasonal wind conditions, it is upwelled and spread across the continental shelf. Because of this transport and enrichment process, the state of ocean chemistry off of California's coast is 30-50 years behind the state of the atmosphere. In other words, if rising atmospheric carbon concentrations were to become instantaneously stabilized, we would still be "locked into" increasing OA impacts for another three or more decades. Although research about possible impacts is still emerging, there is evidence to suggest that more extreme ocean chemistry will push ecosystems beyond certain biological thresholds, such as pH levels and carbonate concentrations that small young shelled organisms in the plankton and along shores need to grow and survive. Comments 1) Purpose of Bill. According to the author, "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." 2) Current OPC authority and priorities. The OPC appears to have existing authority to create a task force on ocean acidification and hypoxia, but explicit statutory direction may increase the OPC's ability to fund work in this area in the future. The OPC played a significant role, for example, in the development of the OAH Science Panel project. Notably, AB 2139 does not provide highly specific guidance on the focus of the task force, which appears to be in response to AB 2139 (Williams) Page 6 of ? OPC preference to more thoroughly think through the results from the previous OAH Science Panel before deciding and undertaking next steps. The research and coordination OPC actions specified in AB 2139 are also generally in line with existing OPC interests in the areas of OAH, including how to best fill key scientific gaps and apply new knowledge to decision making and resource management. The bill's legislative guidance, therefore, will likely not substantially change OPC's program of work but may enhance its ability to fund these actions. 3) Funding? AB 2139 does not appropriate any funds, so implementing AB 2139 may require new, unspecified funding to the Ocean Protection Trust Fund. One source of funds may be those allocated to OPC through The Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1), which entails $30 million dollars for OPC for "multibenefit water quality, water supply, and watershed protection and restoration projects for the watersheds of the state." (PRC §79731) 4) Technical fixes. A committee amendment is necessary to clarify provision (b)(1)(F), which should read "In coordination with relevant federal, state, and academic entities, identify gaps between the monitoring of ocean acidification and hypoxia and management needs, and take actions necessary to address these gaps. In addition, in provision (b)(2), for inclusivity and consistency with other usage throughout the proposed code, the phrase "and hypoxia" should be added to the mention of "ocean acidification." Related/Prior Legislation SB 1363 (Monning) establishes the Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Reduction Program within OPC, which would include the development of a number of demonstration projects, including the experimental restoration of eelgrass to mitigate the effects of ocean acidification. SB 1363 is currently in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. Washington SB 5547 (Ranker) creates the Washington Marine AB 2139 (Williams) Page 7 of ? Resources Protection Council within the Office of the Governor to 1) advise the governor on policies relating to the protection and conservation of ocean resources; 2) coordinate the implementation of measures to mitigate the impacts of ocean acidification; and 3) advance the state's ocean and Puget Sound resources policies in national, regional, and west coast multistate forums. SB 5547 allows urban governmental services to be extended for the reduction of acidifying runoff to marine waters when recommended by the Department of Ecology in consultation with the Washington Marine Resources Protection Council as a measure necessary to address the localized impacts to marine waters of ocean acidification. DOUBLE REFERRAL: This measure was heard in Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee on June 14, 2016, and passed out of committee with a vote of 7-2. SOURCE: Author SUPPORT: California Coastkeeper Alliance Center for Biological Diversity Defenders of Wildlife Monterey Bay Aquarium Natural Resources Defense Council Ocean Conservancy Oceana Sierra Club California Surfrider Foundation The Nature Conservancy 1 individual academic scientist OPPOSITION: None received -- END -- AB 2139 (Williams) Page 8 of ?