You’ve likely heard that just hours after the inauguration, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus issued a Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies captioned “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review.” The so-called Regulatory Freeze Memo sought to freeze midnight actions by the Obama administration. In response to President Trump’s freeze actions and expected regulatory reforms, California lawmakers are seeking to issue their own “freeze” to ensure regulations in place just before the transition remain effective in California. On top of that, California legislators have been introducing a series of bills designed to “insulate the state from dangerous rollbacks in federal environmental regulations and public health protections,” including:
- SB 49, entitled The California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2017, related to retaining all pre-Trump environmental regulations.
- AB 1646, related to website posting of petroleum refinery risk management plans (RMP) on public agency websites and establishment of emergency notification equipment.
- AB 1647, related to air monitoring for petroleum refineries.
- AB 1648, related to increasing CalOSHA’s refinery inspection resources.
- AB 1649, related to codification of Governor Brown’s Refinery Task Force.
- SB 584, related to speeding up the RPS 50 percent renewable goal by five years and setting a new 100 percent renewable goal at 2045.
On February 22, 2017, the California Senate amended legislation introduced by Senator Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) entitled “California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2017.” SB 49 would prohibit state or local agencies from amending or revising their rules and regulations implementing federal laws including the Clean Air Act, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act), the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act to be less stringent than the baseline federal standards. It would require specified agencies to take prescribed actions to maintain and enforce certain requirements and standards pertaining to air, water and protected species. “Baseline federal standards” are defined as “the authorizations, policies, objectives, rules, requirements, and standards contained in federal laws or federal regulations implementing the federal laws in existence as of January 1, 2016, or January 1, 2017, whichever is more stringent.” The apparent aim of this legislation is to prevent California from adopting Trump administration regulations that undo Obama administration regulations.
According to Senator de León the “Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress are racing to weaken decades-old environmental and public health protections,” and “SB 49 makes existing federal laws – like the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts – enforceable under California law, so we can preserve the state we know and love, regardless of what happens in Washington.”
On February 17, 2017, Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) introduced a series of bills, AB 1646-AB 1649, targeting petroleum refineries.
AB 1646 will require petroleum refineries, on or before January 1, 2019, to post their RMPs on the website of either the Office of Emergency Services or the unified program agency (UPA) that has jurisdiction over the refinery. In addition to existing requirements for the contents of a RMP, the bill would require the plan to provide for a system of automatic notification for residents who live within a five-mile radius of the petroleum refinery, an audible alarm system that can be heard within a ten-mile radius of the petroleum refinery and an emergency alert system for schools, public facilities, hospitals and residential care homes located within a ten-mile radius of the petroleum refinery.
AB 1647 will require petroleum refineries to install a community air monitoring system, on or before January 1, 2020, and to install a fence-line monitoring system on or before January 1, 2019. The bill will also require refineries to collect real-time data from these monitoring systems, to make that data available to the public at the time of collection in a publicly accessible format, and to maintain records of that data.
AB 1648 will require the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to increase the number of inspectors for the department’s refinery inspector program by an unspecified percentage.
AB 1649 will codify the existing Refinery Task Force created by the governor to ensure that, after Governor Brown leaves office in 2018, the Task Force will continue.
Finally, also on February 17, 2017, Senator de León introduced a bill designed to strengthen the California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program.
SB 584, the California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program, requires the Public Utilities Commission to establish a renewables portfolio standard requiring all retail sellers to procure a minimum quantity of electricity products from eligible renewable energy resources. The program’s current goal is to attain the renewable target of 50 percent of total retail sales of electricity by December 31, 2030. This bill would speed up the target by five years, resetting the goal of the program to achieve that 50 percent target by December 31, 2025, and for the first time setting a 100 percent goal for all electricity sold at retail to be generated by eligible renewable energy resources by December 31, 2045.
Clearly there will be more to come from California as the Trump administration moves to implement its agenda.