CA legislation update March 12 2015

by Cate Moore on March 14, 2015

Legislation 2015 – The bills are introduced

The deadline for introducing new legislation (February 27) has passed.  Like usual, the bulk of the bills arrived in the last week, a total of 1500 bills in the Assembly and nearly 800 in the Senate.  There could be up to a dismaying 500+ “spot” bills that just serve as placeholders as the actual legislation is hammered out in the back rooms.  CCFA has been filtering through the list since then.

CCFA’s methodology is to search for key words that often turn up in forestry-related legislation and then weed the results of that list.  This year’s list is: [forest, forestry, timber, lumber, fire, water, wildlife, endangered,environment, environmental, carbon, diesel, greenhouse, CEQA, fish, salmon, salmonid, coastal, climate, air]

There are some grand themes in the legislation, including water use, building the new groundwater bureaucracy, wildfire hazard and the ever popular “what shall we do with the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund money?” and “How do we get more Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund money?”

Below, we address the bills by theme and discuss why we are interested.

Changes to Forest Practices – This is of course our major focus.  This year has been a good deal quieter than other years, but there are a few bills that warrant attention.

Support:

  • AB-417 Forest practices: resource conservation standards.

Watch:

  • AB-1034 Surface mining and reclamation plans: exemption.

Market and Business Support – These bills could add markets for our products

Support:

  • AB-429 Public contracts: preferences: forest products.
  • AB-1032 Diesel Fuel Tax Law: reimbursements.

Oppose:

  • SB-480 Taxation: qualified heavy equipment.

Watch:

  • AB-577 Public utilities: biogas
  • AB-645 Electricity: California Renewables Portfolio Standard.
  • SB-687 Renewable gas standard.

Agency Operations – Forestry interfaces with a lot of agencies, so we need to keep up with the rules under which they operate.

Support:

  • AB-435 California Environmental Protection Agency: Natural Resources Agency: Web casts of public meetings and workshops.
  • AB-501 Resources: Delta research
  • AB-742 Heavy-duty diesel-fueled vehicles: safety review: filters
  • AB-866 Economic development: small business

Watch:

  • AB-639 Water quality: organization and membership of regional boards.
  • AB-694 California Coastal Commission: fees: low cost accommodation
  • AB-1376 State Water Resources Control Board: investigations.
  • SB-448 Law enforcement: communications.

The Great Regulatory Morass – California has developed a multilayered, entangled mass of regulations that no one has a hope of navigating successfully.  This is recognized by certain elements in the legislature and they want to clean the mess up.  Others are adding to the heap as fast as they can.  Forestry regulations are a prime example and we fully support any effort to remove inconsistencies, overlaps and outdated provisions.

Support:

  • AB-12 State government: administrative regulations: review.
  • AB-19 State government: regulations.
  • AB-239 Greenhouse gases: regulations

Oppose:

  • AB-797 Regulations: effective dates and legislative review.

Watch:

  • AB-335 Air quality: minor violations.
  • AB-731 Maintenance of the codes.

California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006/ Greenhouse gas regulations – Tweaks to this legislation is a must-have item for legislators.  This is a mixed bag for forestry; on one hand, it threatens to impose restrictions on our suite of equipment and the fuels it can use – on the other hand, opportunities arise for marketing biomass materials like thinnings from fuel management projects.  A certain number of legislators run bills for exemptions for various socially correct public projects, which indicate to us that the existing law is overly-heavy handed.  After all, if the state can’t live with their own dictates, there must be something seriously wrong with them.

Support:

  • AB-590 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.
  • AB-777 California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: repeal.
  • AB-1345 California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: wildfires.

Support in concept:

Oppose:

  • AB-1288 California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: regulations.

Watch:

  • AB-21 California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: emissions limit: scoping plan.
  • AB-23 California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: market-based compliance mechanisms: exemption.
  • AB-33 California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: scoping plan.
  • AB-239 Greenhouse gases: regulations
  • AB-450 Greenhouse gas: energy efficiency: financing
  • AB-720 California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: market-based compliance mechanisms.
  • AB-857 California Clean Truck, Bus, and Off-Road Vehicle and Equipment Technology Program
  • AB-1030 California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.
  • AB-1332 California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: offsets.
  • SB-1 California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: market-based compliance mechanisms: exemption.
  • SB-5 California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: market-based compliance mechanisms: exemption.
  • SB-32 California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: emissions limit.
  • SB-167 California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.
  • SB-189 Clean Energy and Low-Carbon Economic and Jobs Growth Blue Ribbon Committee.
  • SB-207 California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund: investment plan.
  • SB-246 Climate Action Team.
  • SB-350 Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015.
  • SB-367 Agriculture: environmental farming program: greenhouse gases.
  • SB-506 California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: scoping plan.
  • SB-758 Atmospheric Rivers Research and Mitigation Fund.

California Environmental Quality Act – This act is both a sacred cow and a major impediment to many businesses.  Forestry is on a sideline, since the THPs serve in lieu of filing EIRs.  There’s always a handful of bills for exemptions for various socially correct public projects, which indicates to us that the existing law is overly-heavy handed.  After all, if the state can’t live with their own dictates, there must be something seriously wrong with them.

Oppose:

  • AB-1398 Environmental quality: the Sustainable Environmental Protection Act.

Watch:

  • AB-956 California Environmental Quality Act: noncompliance allegations: standing.
  • AB-1059 California Communities Environmental Health Screening.
  • AB-1071 Supplemental environmental projects.
  • SB-122 California Environmental Quality Act: record of proceedings
  • SB-154 California Environmental Quality Act
  • SB-166 California Environmental Quality Act
  • SB-487 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: California Environmental Quality Act: exemptions.
  • SB-584 California Environmental Quality Act.
  • SB-756 California Environmental Quality Act.

Drones – Drones have a tremendous potential as a future forestry tool, as long as the people gathering the information have been contracted by the landowner to do so and they remain within the bounds of the contracted service.  There is a huge temptation for government agencies to overstep their bounds with this tool and clandestinely gather information over private land without the landowners knowledge or permission.

Support:

  • AB-37  Unmanned aircraft systems.
  • AB-56  Unmanned aircraft systems.

Managing Fire Hazard – California has an escalating wildfire hazard and needs to address its fuel overloads and the hazards to rural and urban interface residents and businesses.

Support:

  • AB-849 Unlawfully causing a fire: explosion
  • AB-1329 Personal Income Tax Law: credit: fuel management activities.

Watch:

  • AB-644 Land use: general plan: safety element: fire hazard impacts
  • SB-314 Arson.

Water Rights and Ground Water – Our long-term drought has opened a huge opportunity for government to involve itself water regulation.  Last year’s election passed the water bond act that opens money for water infrastructure in a wide variety of venues.  There was also legislation last year that opened ground water to regulation statewide.  The legislature is charging ahead to build its newest massive bureaucracy dedicated to monitoring and allocating groundwater resources.  Most small forest landowners are in the “de minimus” category of water users, using less than 2 acre-feet/year, and we are supposed to be exempt from the regulations, but we need to keep an eye on developments to ensure that we do not become collateral damage in the water wars.

Support:

  • SB-173 Groundwater: de minimis extractors.

Oppose:

  • SB-20 Wells: reports: public availability.

Watch:

  • AB-78 Groundwater basins.
  • AB 152 Water rights: appropriation.
  • AB 153 Integrated regional water management planning
  • AB-228 State Water Resources Development System: reporting requirement.
  • AB-452 Water Rights Fund: Groundwater Regulation Subaccount
  • AB-453 Groundwater management.
  • AB-454 Sustainable groundwater management.
  • AB-455 Groundwater sustainability plans: environmental impact reports
  • AB-936 Groundwater monitoring
  • AB-937 Groundwater recharge.
  • AB-938 Groundwater: basins reprioritization: establishment of groundwater sustainability agency
  • AB-939 Groundwater sustainability agency: financial authority
  • AB-1242 Water quality: impacts on groundwater basins: mitigation measures.
  • AB-1244 Water rights: small irrigation use.
  • AB-1390 Groundwater: adjudication.
  • SB-13 Groundwater.
  • SB-226 Groundwater storage: beneficial use.
  • SB-454 Water quality: minor violations.
  • SB-568 Groundwater management.
  • SB-615 Groundwater basin adjudication.

State responsibility areas: fire prevention fees – Ever since this fee was imposed, there has been legislation introduced that either calls for repealing it or tries to mitigate its effects.

Support:

  • AB-203 State responsibility areas: fire prevention fees
  • AB-301 State responsibility areas: fire prevention fees.
  • AB-1202 Fire prevention fee: fee reduction.
  • SB-198 State responsibility areas: fire prevention fees.
  • SB-250 State responsibility areas: fire prevention fees.
  • SB-520 State responsibility areas: fire prevention fees.

Watch:

  • SB-263 Fire prevention: state responsibility areas.
  • SB-265 Fire prevention fee.

Medical marijuana cultivation – There has been a lot of abusive land practices taking place in medical marijuana cultivation including toxic chemicals into watercourses, rodenticides playing havoc with rodent predators such as fishers and birds of prey and unaddressed erosion problems from the land clearances.  Since much of this cultivation is taking place in the forest lands that forestry concerns are required to keep pristine, we think it only fair that the marijuana cultivators leave the land as clean as we do.

Support:

  • AB-243 Medical marijuana cultivation
  • AB-266 Medical marijuana.
  • SB-165 Production or cultivation of a controlled substance: civil penalties.

Watch:

  • SB-303 Controlled substances: destruction of seized marijuana.

Liability – After the Moonlight Fire fiasco, liability law is on our mind.  We want to watch carefully any law that assigns liability and allows the state to collect damages.  There are hazardous waste liability bills that may affect us via fuels and lubricants.

Watch:

  • AB-273 Hazardous waste and substances: corrective action: liability.
  • AB-275 Hazardous substances: liability recovery actions.
  • AB-276 Department of Toxic Substances Control: response actions: cleanup ability information.
  • SB-663 Liability for fires.

Wildlife and Habitat – Our forest lands provide habitat to a wide array of plants and animals and we are subject to the regulations protecting them.

Watch:

  • AB-290 Game mammals: Big Game Management Account.
  • AB-298 Fish and wildlife: violations.
  • AB-300 Safe Water and Wildlife Protection Act of 2015.
  • AB-353 Fish: fully protected species: taking or possession.
  • AB-498 Wildlife conservation: wildlife corridors
  • AB-559 Monarch butterflies: conservation
  • SB-457 Bobcat Protection Act of 2013.

Professional licensing – Foresters are licensed professionals, but many in the environmental fields are not.  Professional licensing applies certain standards to its practitioners and the ability to revoke the license if an individual steps out of his professional standards.

Watch:

Land Management

Oppose:

  • AB-1251 Greenway Development and Sustainment Act.

Watch:

  • AB-985 Sierra Nevada Conservancy.
  • SB-234 Wildlife management areas: payments.
  • SB-317  The Safe Neighborhood Parks, Rivers, and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2016.

 

Education – Need to find ways for urban dwellers to understand how rural lands work

Watch:

  • AB-988 Outdoor Environmental Education and Recreation Grants Program.

Crimes – Bills about crimes committed against landowners

Watch:

  • SB-288 Theft of redwood burls.

Environmental Justice and other squirrelly social concepts – Sorry, folks, but there is justice and injustice.  Justice is fair for everyone and injustice favors certain groups.  Social Justice and Environmental Justice fit in my definition of injustice.

Watch:

  • AB-1059 California Communities Environmental Health Screening.
  • AB-1071 Supplemental environmental projects.

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