Gut & amend double environmental penalties

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Sept. 12, 2013


In the last week of session, AB 1330 (Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles) had its text gutted and amended to establish the Green Zone Trust Fund, which will be funded solely by the doubling of air and hazardous waste fines and penalties exacted on facilities located within Environmental Justice (EJ) communities.

AB 1330charges the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) with development of a list of the top 15 percent of communities in the state, based on census tracts, that are disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards. Presumably, these communities will be identified using the California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool, Version 1 (CalEnviroScreen), which was completed by Cal/EPA this past April.  However, during an academic workshop the tool was heavily criticized for its misuse of data and the drawing of inaccurate conclusions and has never undergone a peer review. Cal/EPA recognized that it was never intended to be used for a regulatory purpose.

All California communities benefit from healthy local economies. This bill, which is intended to help certain areas identified as disadvantaged will actually cause them harm. Rather than helping these EJ communities, AB 1330could instead ensure that already disadvantaged neighborhoods lose jobs and tax revenue to other communities that have not been identified as EJ communities.

AB 1330tasks Cal/EPA with development of a public database on its website containing complaints and enforcement cases for each board, department, and office of the agency, along with the compliance histories of all its regulated entities. While there may be some benefit to the public from listing compliance histories for regulated entities that have been found to be in violation of the law, the same cannot be said for a public list of those businesses that have complaints or enforcement cases pending. Complaints and enforcement cases are not final judgments, and do not necessarily indicate guilt or wrong-doing by a business identified in a complaint or subject to an enforcement action. Listing these businesses on a website could subject them to discrimination by customers and make them targets in the media even though they have done nothing wrong. It could also be abused by competitors or unions seeking to organize a business.

As of this writing, Wednesday, September 11, AB 1330 is set for a vote on the Senate floor. CMTA is opposed.

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