CPR Recommends Cal-EPA Reorganization

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, Aug. 9, 2004

The California Performance Review found that the current organization of Cal-EPA has four key problems:

The current framework for environmental regulation lacks accountability: Responsibility for environmental and public health protection is divided between 16 legislatively created independent boards and commissions, including: the Air Resources Board, the Integrated Waste Management Board, the Water Resources Control Board and the regional Water Resources Control Boards. The members of these boards and commissions are not accountable to the Secretary or the Governor. As a result, it is difficult to implement a coherent environmental protection policy.

Environmental decisions do not reflect an integrated understanding of different types of pollution: Because each board or commission is responsible for a specific type of pollution, decision-makers do not focus on how their choices affect other areas of the environment. For instance, MTBE, a gasoline additive created to reduce air pollution, resulted in severe water pollution in the Santa Monica and Lake Tahoe basins.

There is significant overlap in jurisdictional functions within Cal-EPA: For example, the Department of Toxic Substances Control and the regional Water Quality Control Boards both have jurisdiction over cleaning up certain hazardous materials in the land and water. This duplication wastes resources and makes responsibilities unclear.

Environmental programs are dispersed throughout government: Responsibility for water quality, waste management, and responding to environmental emergencies are split between the Department of Health Services, the Resources Agency and Cal-EPA.
The proposed framework would transform Cal-EPA from a collection of separate boards and commissions into an integrated Department of Environmental Protection. Specifically, the Department of Environmental Protection would include the following organizational units:

* Office of the Secretary for Environmental Protection;
* Division of Air Quality;
* Division of Water Quality;
* Division of Pollution Prevention, Recycling and Waste Management;
* Division of Site Cleanup and Emergency Response; and
* Division of Pesticide Regulation.

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) would no longer be part of Cal EPA, but would be melded into the new Department of Health Services.
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