BSEE’s August 2020 update of its Notice to Lessees signals renewed interest in decommissioning of aging oil & gas platforms offshore of California. While so-called “rigs to reefs” in-place decommissioning is a potential option, uncertainty remains surrounding decommissioning methods and timing for platforms, pipelines and related infrastructure located in state and federal waters off the coast of California.
Continue Reading BSEE Renews Offshore Platform Decommissioning Guidelines

On June 11, 2020, the California Assembly passed the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, Assembly Bill (A.B.) 2762[1], by a bipartisan vote of 54-0.  If enacted by the Senate, the law would be the first in the United States to ban twelve ingredients, including mercury and formaldehyde, from beauty and personal care products sold in California due to toxicity concerns.
Continue Reading Cosmetics Sold in California are Set for a Face Lift

The California State Water Resources Control Board is poised to become “the first regulatory agency in the world to specifically define ‘Microplastics in Drinking Water.’” Health and Safety Code section 116376 adds microplastics regulations to California’s Safe Drinking Water Act. It requires the State Board to adopt a definition for Microplastics in Drinking Water by July 1, 2020. Additionally, before July 1, 2021, the State Board must: (1) adopt a standard methodology for testing drinking water for microplastics; (2) adopt a requirement for four years of testing and reporting of microplastics in drinking water, including public disclosure of the results; (3) consider issuing a notification level or other guidance to help consumers interpret the testing results; and (4) accredit laboratories in California to analyze for microplastics. Water suppliers in California will be the first in the nation to test for microplastics in drinking water.
Continue Reading Regulating Microplastics in Drinking Water: California Retains its Vanguard Status

Uncertainty. Today nearly everything we thought we knew is uncertain. It’s good, then, that at least one regulatory program in California remains certain: Proposition 65. Plaintiffs continue to serve 60-day notices alleging violations, and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) continues to tinker with safe harbor warning requirements. (Maybe certainty isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be).
Continue Reading Prop 65: Certainty in Uncertain Times

On March 20, the California Water Boards issued guidance about complying with regulatory requirements during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders. The guidance directs regulated entities to “immediately” notify the Board if compliance is not possible and to seek appropriate relief. Water Board staff committed to “do their best to respond within 24/48 hours.” It has now been a month, and preliminary data about the extent to which regulated entities have sought relief, and how the Regional Water Boards have responded is available. Information was presented today providing detail about extension requests and delays by regulated entities as of the week of April 20 (i.e., at the conclusion of the first month of the policy).
Continue Reading In First Month of COVID-19 Guidance, the California Regional Water Quality Control Boards Have Issued Hundreds of Approvals for Compliance Extensions Submitted by Regulated Entities

On April 15, 2020, the California Environmental Protection Agency, the umbrella agency for California’s environmental boards, departments, and offices (e.g., CARB, DPR, DTSC, OEHHA, SWRCB) issued a Statement on Compliance with Regulatory Requirements During the COVID-19 Emergency. The Statement comes in the wake of numerous questions regarding environmental compliance obligations for California facilities impacted by COVID-19. It follows COVID-19 guidance issued by U.S. EPA and various announcements by the state boards and local districts that are on the front lines of administering state, local, and federal environmental programs affecting public health and the environment, as well as companies operating facilities in California, like refineries, oil and gas terminals, mining, food processing, and other manufacturing operations.
Continue Reading CalEPA, Stepping into the Perceived Breach, Issues COVID-19 Regulatory Compliance Statement

In a COVID-19 world, I’ve found that “have a nice day” has been supplanted by “stay safe.” In just a few weeks, our focus has shifted from a desire for a pleasant experience to a safe one, which recognizes that something many people simply have taken for granted, our health and safety, is not a given in our current world. 
Continue Reading “Stay Safe” – Is it the New “Have a Nice Day”?

On the morning of March 16, 2020, we first caught wind of impending Shelter-in-Place orders in Northern California, which began taking effect in several counties, encompassing much of the San Francisco Bay Area, on Tuesday. Next, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued his March 19, 2020 “stay-at-home” order to try to slow COVID-19’s spread throughout the state.
Continue Reading Socially-Distant Operation of California Infrastructure

The California State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) and the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards (the Regional Water Boards) recently published guidance on complying with regulatory requirements during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders.
Continue Reading Compliance with State Water Board Requirements and Permits During California’s Shelter-in-Place Order Associated with COVID-19

From California to the South China Sea, uncertainties surrounding offshore oil and gas platform decommissioning regulations and financial obligations pose a significant risk to the environment and to responsible natural resource development. “Rigs to reefs” decommissioning pioneered in the US Gulf Coast provides a model promising reduced costs, a net reduction in environmental impacts and enhanced ecological benefits; welcomed in some jurisdictions and questioned in others, time will tell whether RTR can deliver its promises.
Continue Reading Offshore Platform Sustainable Decommissioning – “Rigs to Reefs” Goes Global