BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    





                             SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
                         Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Chair
                             2015-2016  Regular Session


          AB 2748 (Gatto)
          Version: June 2, 2016
          Hearing Date: June 21, 2016
          Fiscal: No
          Urgency: No
          TH   


                                        SUBJECT
                                           
                Environmental Disaster: Release of Claims: Statute of  
                             Limitations: Attorney Fees

                                      DESCRIPTION  

          This bill would enact the following with regard to claims  
          relating to environmental disasters in the Porter Ranch area or  
          surrounding the Exide Technologies facility in the City of  
          Vernon:
           partial or interim payments or reimbursements, as defined,  
            would not release any responsible polluter or agent from  
            liability for a claim, and may not be made on condition of  
            securing a release of liability, but may be credited against  
            such liability;
           temporary or final settlements made in connection with a claim  
            would not release liability for any claim unknown at the time  
            of settlement, or that occurs after settlement, or that is  
            unrelated to the environmental disaster;
           establishes a three year statute of limitation for civil  
            actions for injury or illness based upon exposure to a  
            hazardous material or toxic substance, as specified; and
           authorizes the court to award attorney fees to a prevailing  
            plaintiff in any action for private nuisance against an  
            environmental polluter, as specified.

                                      BACKGROUND  

          Two sites of significant environmental contamination have  
          featured repeatedly in the media this year: the release of  
          natural gas from an underground storage facility in Porter  









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          Ranch, and the environmental impacts related to decades-long  
          operation of a battery recycling facility in Vernon.  The leak  
          at Porter Ranch, first detected on October 23, 2015, came from  
          one of 115 wells connected to the fifth largest underground  
          natural gas storage facility in the United States.  Southern  
          California Gas Company, who owns the facility, made several  
          attempts to stop the leak, but was unsuccessful in its efforts  
          until February 18, 2016, by which time almost 100,000 tonnes of  
          methane had escaped into the atmosphere.  Concerns over the  
          health impacts from the release led to the evacuation of 11,000  
          residents and a declaration of a state of emergency by Governor  
          Brown.  According to the BBC, "[a]t its peak, the flow doubled  
          the rate of methane emissions from the entire Los Angeles  
          basin," and the "impact on the climate is said to be the  
          equivalent of the annual emissions of half a million cars."  The  
          scale of the leak makes it the largest in U.S. history, and,  
          according to researchers, "had a far bigger warming effect than  
          the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010."  (Matt McGrath,  
          California Methane Leak Largest in US History, British  
          Broadcasting Company (Feb. 26, 2016)  
           [as of  
          June 12, 2016].)

          The contamination resulting from smelter operations in the City  
          of Vernon by Exide Technologies, by contrast, continued over a  
          significantly longer period of time.  "Exide melts down more  
          than 22 million batteries each year, to recycle and reuse the  
          lead in them.  It's run the Vernon facility since 2000, but one  
          company or another has been doing the same work there for more  
          than 90 years."  (Molly Peterson, Vernon Battery Recycler Exide  
          Seeks a Second Chance with Toxic Regulators, Southern California  
          Public Radio (June 3, 2013)  
           [as of June 12, 2016].)  "For  
          decades, the Department of Toxic Substances Control has allowed  
          the plant to operate without the full permit required by federal  
          law.  Instead, it has run on interim status, a temporary  
          designation intended to give companies time to qualify for  
          permits and meet legal standards for safe handling and disposal  
          of toxic materials.  (Jessica Garrison, et. al., Toxic Waste  
          Watchdog Can Be Glacially Slow, Los Angeles Times (December 27,  
          2013)  
           [as of June 12, 2016].)  The South Coast Air  
          Quality Management District has cited the plant at least 41  








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          times since 2003, often for excessive lead emissions, and the  
          District reported in March of 2013 that "arsenic emissions from  
          the plant created an elevated risk of cancer for as many as  
          110,000 people in an area stretching from Boyle Heights to  
          Huntington Park."  (Id.)

          More recently, "[as] demands to close the plant mounted from  
          community groups and elected officials, the company revealed in  
          2014 it was under federal criminal investigation," and in March  
          of 2015, "the company signed an agreement with the U.S.  
          attorney's office to close [the site] permanently."  Under the  
          terms of that agreement, "Exide and its employees [will] avoid  
          prosecution for years of environmental crimes, including illegal  
          storage, disposal and shipment of hazardous waste, while  
          agreeing to pay $50 million to demolish and clean the plant and  
          surrounding communities, including $9 million set aside for  
          removing lead from homes."  (Tony Barboza, How a Battery  
          Recycler Contaminated L.A. Area Homes for Decades, Los Angeles  
          Times (December 21, 2015)  
           [as of June 12, 2016].)

          This bill would enact specified procedural changes that allow  
          individuals harmed by these two environmental catastrophes to  
          seek awards of attorney fees, as well as additional time to  
          bring civil actions.  This bill would also limit the ability of  
          responsible polluters to limit their civil liability by offering  
          litigants certain payments in advance of litigation or through  
          settlement agreements.

                                CHANGES TO EXISTING LAW
           
           Existing law  declares anything which is injurious to health,  
          including, but not limited to, the illegal sale of controlled  
          substances, or is indecent or offensive to the senses, or an  
          obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with  
          the comfortable enjoyment of life or property, or unlawfully  
          obstructs the free passage or use, in the customary manner, of  
          any navigable lake, or river, bay, stream, canal, or basin, or  
          any public park, square, street, or highway, to be a nuisance.   
          (Civ. Code Sec. 3479)

           Existing law  requires an action for assault, battery, or injury  
          to, or for the death of, an individual caused by the wrongful  
          act or neglect of another to be brought within two years.  (Code  








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          Civ. Proc. Sec. 335.1.)

           Existing law  requires an action for trespass upon or injury to  
          real property to be brought within three years.  (Code Civ.  
          Proc. Sec. 338.)

           Existing law  states in any civil action for injury or illness  
          based upon exposure to a hazardous material or toxic substance,  
          the time for commencement of the action shall be no later than  
          either two years from the date of injury, or two years after the  
          plaintiff becomes aware of, or reasonably should have become  
          aware of, (1) an injury, (2) the physical cause of the injury,  
          and (3) sufficient facts to put a reasonable person on inquiry  
          notice that the injury was caused or contributed to by the  
          wrongful act of another, whichever occurs later.  (Code Civ.  
          Proc. Sec. 340.8(a).)

           Existing law  states in an action for the wrongful death of any  
          plaintiff's decedent, based upon exposure to a hazardous  
          material or toxic substance, the time for commencement of an  
          action shall be no later than either (1) two years from the date  
          of the death of the plaintiff's decedent, or (2) two years from  
          the first date on which the plaintiff is aware of, or reasonably  
          should have become aware of, the physical cause of the death and  
          sufficient facts to put a reasonable person on inquiry notice  
          that the death was caused or contributed to by the wrongful act  
          of another, whichever occurs later.  (Code Civ. Proc. Sec.  
          340.8(b).)

           This bill  would extend to three years the statute of limitation  
          for an action for injury or illness based upon exposure to a  
          hazardous material or toxic substance relating to the Porter  
          Ranch area or contamination surrounding the Exide Technologies  
          facility in the City of Vernon, as specified.

          This bill  would extend to three years the statute of limitation  
          for an action for the wrongful death of any plaintiff's decedent  
          based upon exposure to a hazardous material or toxic substance  
          relating to the Porter Ranch area or contamination surrounding  
          the Exide Technologies facility in the City of Vernon, as  
          specified.

           This bill  would specify, for purposes of the above two  
          provisions, that media reports regarding the hazardous material  
          or toxic substance contamination do not, in and of themselves,  








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          constitute sufficient facts to put a reasonable person on  
          inquiry notice that the injury or death was caused or  
          contributed to by the wrongful act of another.

           This bill  would state that in any action for private nuisance  
          against an environmental polluter defendant arising out of an  
          environmental disaster relating to the Porter Ranch area or  
          contamination surrounding the Exide Technologies facility in the  
          City of Vernon, as specified, for which the defendant has been  
          adjudged civilly liable, the court, upon motion, may award  
          reasonable attorneys' fees to a prevailing plaintiff against the  
          defendant.

           This bill  would state that a partial or interim payment or  
          reimbursement of any kind made in connection with an  
          environmental disaster relating to the Porter Ranch area or  
          contamination surrounding the Exide Technologies facility in the  
          City of Vernon, as specified, by the responsible polluter or any  
          agent or entity related to the responsible polluter to any  
          recipient:
           shall not release the polluter from liability to the recipient  
            for any claim related to the environmental disaster or for any  
            future claim by the recipient against the polluter, or for  
            both current and future claims;
           shall not be conditioned upon the recipient's agreement to  
            release the polluter from liability for any current or future  
            claim; and
           may be credited against the liability of the polluter, agent,  
            or entity to the recipient for any current or future claim  
            that is related to the environmental disaster.

           This bill  would state that a temporary or final settlement of  
          any kind made in connection with an environmental disaster  
          relating to the Porter Ranch area or contamination surrounding  
          the Exide Technologies facility in the City of Vernon, as  
          specified, by the responsible polluter or any agent or entity  
          related to the responsible polluter, to any claimant, shall  
          release the responsible polluter, agent, or entity from  
          liability to the claimant only for acts, omissions, or injuries  
          that are believed by the claimant to have occurred prior to the  
          date of the settlement, and shall not release any claim that is  
          unknown to the claimant at the time of the settlement, occurs  
          subsequent to the settlement, or that is unrelated to the  
          environmental disaster.









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                                        COMMENT
           
           1.Stated need for the bill
           
          The author writes:

            Between the devastating Exide battery plant lead contamination  
            disaster in Boyle Heights and the natural gas leak at the  
            Aliso Canyon storage field, the last year has shed light on  
            the lack of sufficient legal remedies to help victims deal  
            with the ramifications of environmental disasters.  In the  
            case of the Aliso Canyon gas well leak, according to the  
            Environmental Defense Fund, 96,000 metric tons of methane, a  
            powerful climate pollutant, is estimated to have been released  
            into the atmosphere as a result of the leak, having the same  
            20-year climate impact as burning nearly one billion gallons  
            of gasoline.  In the months following detection of the leak,  
            thousands of residents were relocated to temporary housing.   
            Many reported health issues such as headaches, nausea,  
            nosebleeds and dizziness.

            At this point, it is difficult to know what the long-term  
            effects of the nearly six-month leak on the local environment  
            and population will be.  Researchers at USC intend to study  
            the long-term health effects of the gas leak on area  
            residents, but given the fact that the long- term effects of  
            the chemical exposure are largely unknown, residents of Porter  
            Ranch may not know for years how and if they have been injured  
            by the gas leak.  Other types of environmental disasters  
            likely bear similar threat to communities and therefore  
            deserve the same relief.

            AB 2748 endeavors to provide victims of environmental  
            disasters better access to remedies available to them through  
            our judicial system.  This legislation has taken the lessons  
            learned as a result of these most recent environmental crises  
            in the state, to provide legal relief to not only those who  
            have already suffered, but also future victims of serious,  
            catastrophic pollution. . . . The bill offers three provisions  








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            to provide key protections to those who suffered from the  
            environmental catastrophes in the Porter Ranch area and  
            surrounding the Exide Technologies facility in the City of  
            Vernon:
                 first, the proposed legislation will ensure that any  
               temporary or final settlement made in connection with an  
               environmental disaster shall not release any claim that is  
               unknown to the claimant at the time of the settlement,  
               occurs subsequent to the settlement, or that is unrelated  
               to the environmental disaster;
                 second, the bill will extend the current statute of  
               limitations for civil actions for injury or illness or  
               wrongful death based upon exposure to a hazardous material  
               or toxic substance to three years; and
                 third, it will authorize the court to award reasonable  
               attorneys' fees to a prevailing plaintiff against the  
               defendant for residents who bring private actions.


           1.Extending statutes of limitation
           
          Statutes of limitation are a fundamental element of California  
          law.  By limiting the time period within which a party can bring  
          a cause of action against another, statutes of limitation  
          provide finality to disputes that otherwise might never end.   
          Without statutes of limitation, ancient wrongs committed while  
          someone was young might become the subject of litigation years  
          later in their old age.  Statutes of limitation "are designed to  
          promote justice by preventing surprises through the revival of  
          claims that have been allowed to slumber until evidence has been  
          lost, memories have faded, and witnesses have disappeared.  The  
          theory is that even if one has a just claim it is unjust not to  
          put the adversary on notice to defend within the period of  
          limitation and that the right to be free of stale claims in time  
          comes to prevail over the right to prosecute them."  (Order of  
          R. Telegraphers v. Railway Express Agency, Inc. (1944), 321 U.S.  
          342, 348-349.)

          This bill would extend by one year the statute of limitation for  
          an action alleging injury, illness, or wrongful death, based  
          upon exposure to a hazardous material or toxic substance  
          relating to the Porter Ranch area or contamination surrounding  
          the Exide Technologies facility in the City of Vernon, as  
          specified.  Writing in support, the Consumer Attorneys of  
          California state:








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            The goal of extending the statute of limitations is to give  
            victims additional time to take legal action as they become  
            increasingly aware of the cause of their adverse health  
            effects.  In some cases, proper diagnosis has also proven to  
            be a challenge where victims may report a non-specific illness  
            to their doctors but are unaware of the link.  For example, in  
            the early stages of the Porter Ranch disaster, victims would  
            see their doctors and were sent home with instructions not to  
            worry about their headaches, nosebleeds, nausea, and labored  
            breathing.  In less well publicized cases with exposure to  
            other hazardous substances, the victims may not know for some  
            time about a causal link.  Giving these people more time to  
            bring a claim for their harms keeps the courtroom doors open  
            and the wrongdoers accountable.

          The additional year provided by this bill to bring a claim  
          against an environmental polluter would potentially allow some  
          litigants more time to research and substantiate their claim  
          before proceeding to suit.  However, it should be noted that  
          existing law already allows statutory tolling of claims beyond  
          two years in cases where a plaintiff becomes aware of, or  
          reasonably should have become aware of, (1) an injury, (2) the  
          physical cause of the injury, and (3) sufficient facts to put a  
          reasonable person on inquiry notice that the injury was caused  
          or contributed to by the wrongful act of another, beyond the two  
          year limitation period.  (See Code Civ. Proc. Sec. 340.8.)

           2.Awarding attorney fees
           
           This bill would authorize a court to award attorney fees to a  
          prevailing plaintiff in any action for private nuisance arising  
          out of an environmental disaster relating to the Porter Ranch  
          area or contamination surrounding the Exide Technologies  
          facility in the City of Vernon for which an environmental  
          polluter has been adjudged civilly liable.  Generally in the  
          United States, the "American rule" is that parties are to bear  
          their own expenses in civil litigation.<1>  In Alyeska Pipeline  
          Co. v. Wilderness Society (1975) 421 U.S. 240, the United States  
          ---------------------------
          <1> Costs of litigation, in contrast, are generally recoverable  
          by the prevailing party in civil litigation as a matter of  
          right.  Code of Civil Procedure Section 1032 states that,  
          "except as otherwise expressly provided by statute, a prevailing  
          party is entitled as a matter of right to recover costs in any  
          action or proceeding."








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          Supreme Court held that it was the province of the legislative  
          branch to craft exceptions to the "American rule," and that  
          courts were not free to shift such costs absent express  
          legislative authorization.  (Id. at 269-270.)  In 1977, the  
          Legislature enacted Code of Civil Procedure Section 1021.5,  
          which appeared to be "in significant measure ? an explicit  
          reaction to the United States Supreme Court's Alyeska decision."  
           (Woodland Hills Residents Assn., Inc. v. City Council (1979) 23  
          Cal.3d 917, 934.)  

          Section 1021.5 provides courts with authority to award attorney  
          fees in actions to enforce important rights in the public  
          interest that confer a significant benefit on a large class of  
          persons, and was intended to encourage litigation deemed to be  
          in the public interest by persons acting as a private attorney  
          general.  This doctrine rests on the recognition that privately  
          initiated lawsuits are often essential to the effectuation of  
          public policies embodied in constitutional or statutory  
          provisions, and that without some mechanism authorizing the  
          award of attorney fees, private actions to enforce such public  
          policies would be financially impracticable.  As explained  
          recently by the California Supreme Court, "section 1021.5  
          [addresses] the problem of affordability of such lawsuits.   
          Because public interest litigation often yields nonpecuniary and  
          intangible or widely diffused benefits, and because such  
          litigation is often complex and therefore expensive, litigants  
          will be unable either to afford to pay an attorney hourly fee or  
          to entice an attorney to accept the case with the prospect of  
          contingency fees, thereby often making public interest  
          litigation as a practical matter . . . infeasible."   
          (Conservatorship of Whitley (2010) 50 Cal.4th 1206, 1219  
          [internal citations and quotation marks omitted].)  The standard  
          set by Section 1021.5 is rigorous and is conditioned upon three  
          requirements being met: (1) a significant benefit is provided to  
          the general public; (2) the necessity and financial burden of  
          private enforcement, or of enforcement by one public entity  
          against another public entity, are such as to make the award  
          appropriate; and (3) such fees should not in the interest of  
          justice be paid out of the recovery, if any.

          The Legislature has created other statutory exceptions to the  
          "American rule" where awarding attorney fees in private  
          litigation affecting a narrow class of individuals would  
          nonetheless advance a policy preference of deterring future  
          instances of certain unwanted behaviors.  For example, the Fair  








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          Employment and Housing Act authorizes a court to award attorney  
          fees to a prevailing plaintiff in specified circumstances  
          involving unlawful employment discrimination.  (See Gov. Code  
          Sec. 12965.)  This bill would similarly authorize attorney fee  
          shifting in specified private nuisance cases based on  
          individualized environmental harms.  Like employment  
          discrimination, authorizing this remedy against polluters may  
          dissuade future actors from engaging in similar unwanted  
          behavior.  However, it should be noted that this bill fails to  
          define with precision which "environmental disasters" relating  
          to the Porter Ranch area or contamination surrounding the Exide  
          Technologies facility in the City of Vernon are subject to this  
          fee shifting provision.  The Committee may, therefore, wish to  
          better identify the class of actions to which this provision  
          applies in order to avoid additional litigation among parties  
          over fee awards.
           
            3.Limiting settlement authority
           
          This bill would expressly limit the ability of parties to  
          release responsible polluters from liability for claims made in  
          connection with an environmental disaster relating to the Porter  
          Ranch area or contamination surrounding the Exide Technologies  
          facility in the City of Vernon in two principal ways.  First,  
          the bill would provide that partial or interim payments or  
          reimbursements made with respect to an environmental disaster  
             shall not: (1) release the polluter from liability to the  
          recipient for any claim related to the environmental disaster or  
          for any future claim by the recipient against the polluter, or  
          for both current and future claims; or (2) be conditioned upon  
          the recipient's agreement to release the polluter from liability  
          for any current or future claim.  This bill would also prohibit  
          a temporary or final settlement made in connection with an  
          environmental disaster from releasing any claim that is unknown  
          to the claimant at the time of the settlement, occurs subsequent  
          to the settlement, or that is unrelated to the environmental  
          disaster.  A coalition of environmental groups, writing in  
          support, states:

            [c]urrently, polluters that cause environmental disasters can  
            condition any sort of aid on a waiver of liability for their  
            harms.  This limits the relief of those who have been wronged  
            at their most desperate hour.  When a person is forced out of  
            their home and has nowhere to turn, it is unconscionable to  
            condition an offering of shelter by a guilty polluter on a  








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            waiver of the right to sue.  This bill does not, however,  
            limit the ability for parties to reach a final settlement once  
            a claim is actually brought to court and is consistent with a  
            preference for settlements being reached where justice is best  
            served.

            Another issue is that final settlements can lead to a waiver  
            of any future claims that arise from the disaster.  Families  
            should not surrender future claims for unforeseen harms that  
            arise later when settling current claims.  Settling for a harm  
            to personal property today should not be contingent on waiving  
            a future claim for health problems a family may discover later  
            on.  This is not reopening claims that have already been  
            settled, but rather it is not allowing polluters to escape  
            liability because citizens seek a settlement today, not  
            contemplating the horrific problems that may arise later.


          However, a coalition of business groups, writing in opposition,  
          states:

            Release clauses are one of the primary incentives for  
            defendants to settle disputes and avoid prolonged, expensive  
            litigation.  Indeed, California law and case law both  
            recognize the ability for parties to contract to extinguish  
            claims (See, e.g., Civil Code  1541).  The Civil Code also  
            states that a general release does not extend to claims which  
            the person granting the release does not know or suspect to  
            exist in his or her favor at the time of executing the release  
            (Civil Code  1542).  Notwithstanding this provision, parties  
            to a dispute are permitted to agree to waive the protections  
            of Civil Code Section 1542, which must be accompanied by  
            evidence that the releasing party intended to release unknown  
            claims.  (McCray v. Casual Comer, Inc. (C.D. Cal. 1992) 812  
            F.Supp. 1046).  It is critical to preserve litigants' ability  
            to waive Section 1542 to maximize the potential to settle  
            potential litigation.  Indeed, when a business settles a claim  
            with a party, the business should have certainty that the same  
            party will not sue the business the day after a settlement is  
            reached regarding a claim that could have been raised at the  
            time of settlement.  Yet, AB 2748 would essentially assure  
            such an outcome, thereby eliminating the incentive to settle.  
            . . . Parties should be permitted to enter into a mutually  
            agreeable settlement to avoid prolonged litigation and thus  
            promote the long-held California policy to encourage  








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            settlement over litigation; however, AB 2748 attempts to  
            dictate contractual provisions and, in doing so, will  
            guarantee an influx of litigation.

          While existing law does provide that a general release will not  
          extend to claims not known or suspected to exist at the time of  
          executing the release, which, if known would materially affect a  
          settlement, (Civ. Code Sec. 1542.), existing law does not  
          necessarily protect individuals who knowingly release future or  
          unknown claims in a state of duress of circumstance that the  
          author intends to prohibit via this bill.

           4.Pending litigation
            
           In the past, this Committee has raised concerns about bills that  
          interfere with pending litigation.  Any such interference could  
          result in a direct financial windfall to a private party,  
          prevent a court from deciding an action based upon the laws in  
          place at the time the cause of action accrued, or create a  
          situation where the legislative branch is used to circumvent the  
          discretion and independence of the judicial branch.
           
           The author has informed the Committee that several lawsuits are  
          currently underway involving the gas release at Porter Ranch and  
          contamination from the Exide Technologies facility in Vernon.   
          However, it does not appear that this bill would impact suits  
          that have already been commenced since its provisions do not  
          appear to operate retroactively.


          "Generally, statutes operate prospectively only."  (McClung v.  
          Employment Dev. Dept. (2004) 34 Cal.4th 467, 475.)
           
            [T]he presumption against retroactive legislation is deeply  
            rooted in our jurisprudence, and embodies a legal doctrine  
            centuries older than our Republic.  Elementary considerations  
            of fairness dictate that individuals should have an  
            opportunity to know what the law is and to conform their  
            conduct accordingly; settled expectations should not be  
            lightly disrupted.  For that reason, the principle that the  
            legal effect of conduct should ordinarily be assessed under  
            the law that existed when the conduct took place has timeless  
            and universal appeal.  (Landgraf v. USI Film Products (1994)  
            511 U.S. 244, 265 (internal citations omitted).)









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          "A statute does not operate [retroactively] merely because it is  
          applied in a case arising from conduct antedating the statute's  
          enactment, or upsets expectations based in prior law.  Rather,  
          the court must ask whether the new provision attaches new legal  
          consequences to events completed before its enactment."   
          (Landgraf, 511 U.S. at 269-70 (internal citations omitted).)   
          "This is not to say," however, "that a statute may never apply  
          retroactively."  (McClung, 34 Cal.4th at 475.)  In California,  
          "[a] statute's retroactivity is, in the first instance, a policy  
          determination for the Legislature and one to which courts defer  
          absent some constitutional objection to retroactivity."  (Id.,  
          at 475.)  Under California law, "a statute may be applied  
          retroactively only if it contains express language of  
          retroactivity or if other sources provide a clear and  
          unavoidable implication that the Legislature intended  
          retroactive application."  (Myers v. Philip Morris Companies,  
          Inc. (2002) 28 Cal.4th 828, 844.)

          The provisions in this bill, on their face, appear to impact  
          prospective actions only, and the Committee has received no  
          indication from the author that any of these provisions are  
          meant to impact litigation currently underway.


           Support  :  California Coastal Protection Network; California  
          Labor Federation; California League of Conservation Voters;  
          Clean Water Action; Coalition for Clean Air; Consumer Attorneys  
          of California; Courage Campaign; Environmental Justice Coalition  
          for Water; Environmental Working Group; Food and Water Watch;  
          Natural Resources Defense Council; State Building and  
          Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO; Sierra Club California;  
          Trust for Public Land; Wholly H2O 

           Opposition  :  American Chemistry Council; California Chamber of  
          Commerce; California Independent Petroleum Association;  
          California League of Food Processors; California Manufacturers  
          and Technology Association; California Metals Coalition;  
          California Railroad Industry; Chemical Industry Council of  
          California; Civil Justice Association of California; National  
          Federation of Independent Business; Western Plant Health  
          Association; Western Plastics Association; Western States  
          Petroleum Association

                                        HISTORY
           








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           Source  :  Author

           Related Pending Legislation  :

          SB 887 (Pavley, 2016) would provide a framework for reforming  
          oversight of natural gas storage facilities by, among other  
          things, mandating minimum standards for gas storage well  
          inspections, monitoring, and testing; training of personnel;  
          leak monitoring, planning for emergency response; developing and  
          incorporating best practices into regulations; and an assessment  
          of risk to determine setback distances for gas storage wells.   
          This bill is pending in the Assembly Committee on Natural  
          Resources.

          SB 1304 (Huff, 2016) authorizes the board of supervisors of a  
          county to provide for reassessment of property destroyed or  
          damaged by a major misfortune or calamity in an area or region  
          subsequently proclaimed by the Governor to be in a state of  
          emergency, and specifies that "damage" includes a diminution in  
          the value of property as a result of environmental  
          contamination.  This bill is pending in the Assembly Committee  
          on Revenue and Taxation.

          AB 1902 (Wilk, 2016) would establish a 3 year statute of  
          limitations for commencing a civil action for injury, illness,  
          or wrongful death based on exposure to methane, benzene,  
          mercaptan, or any other hazardous material or toxic substance  
          resulting from the Southern California Gas Company Aliso Canyon  
          SS-25 gas leak, as specified.  This bill is pending in the  
          Assembly Judiciary Committee.

          AB 1903 (Wilk, 2016) would require the Public Utilities  
          Commission to authorize a study by the Office of Environmental  
          Health Hazard Assessment of the long-term health impacts of the  
          significant natural gas leak from the Aliso Canyon natural gas  
          storage facility located in the County of Los Angeles that  
          started on approximately October 23, 2015, as specified.  This  
          bill is pending in the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and  
          Communications.

          AB 1904 (Wilk, 2016) would require the Office of Environmental  
          Health Hazard Assessment to submit a report to the Legislature,  
          on or before January 1, 2019, that includes an assessment of the  
          danger of odorants currently used in natural gas storage  
          facilities in the state to public health and safety and the  








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          environment, and that identifies alternative odorants for  
          possible use in natural gas storage facilities, as specified.   
          This bill is pending in the Senate Committee on Rules.

          AB 1905 (Wilk, 2016) would require the Secretary of the Natural  
          Resources Agency, on or before July 1, 2017, to commission an  
          independent scientific study on natural gas injection and  
          storage practices and facilities.  This bill was held under  
          submission by the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

          AB 2153 (Garcia, 2016) would, among other things, require a  
          manufacturer of lead-acid batteries to remit to the State Board  
          of Equalization a manufacturer battery fee of $1 for each  
          lead-acid battery it sells for deposit into the Lead-Acid  
          Battery Cleanup Fund, as specified, and would provide for  
          certain credits against liability for a person who remits  
          manufacturer battery fees if that person is held responsible by  
          any court, regional board, agency, or any other authority for  
          certain hazardous substance violations.  This bill is pending in  
          the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality.

           Prior Legislation  :

          SB 93 (De Leon, Ch. 9, Stats. 2015) requires the Director of  
          Finance to transfer up to $176,600,000 as a loan from the  
          General Fund to the Toxic Substances Control Account for the  
          Department of Toxic Substances Control to use for activities  
          related to the lead contamination in the communities surrounding  
          the Exide Technologies facility in the City of Vernon.

          SB 380 (Pavley, Ch. 14, Stats. 2016), among other things,  
          continues a moratorium on injection of natural gas at the Aliso  
          Canyon gas storage facility until specified criteria are met,  
          requires the feasibility of the storage facility to be addressed  
          and requires the California Public Utilities Commission, with  
          input from others, to determine the amount of gas necessary at  
          the facility for safety, regional reliability and to ensure just  
          and reasonable rates.

          AB 118 (Santiago, Ch. 10, Stats. 2016) appropriates $176,600,000  
          from the Toxic Substances Control Account in the General Fund to  
          the Department of Toxic Substances Control for activities  
          related to the cleanup and investigation of lead-contaminated  
          properties in the communities surrounding the Exide Technologies  
          facility in the City of Vernon, including job training  








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          activities, and actions taken to pursue all available remedies  
          against potentially responsible parties.

           Prior Vote  :

          Assembly Floor (Ayes 53, Noes 18)
          Assembly Judiciary Committee (Ayes 7, Noes 3)
          Assembly Floor (Ayes 30, Noes 32)
          Assembly Judiciary Committee (Ayes 7, Noes 3)

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