Tag Archive for: California State Legislature

Opinion: Recess is Over, Californians Demand Climate Action from State Legislators

In the final week of what became the hottest month in history, it was reported that California is not on track to reach our 2030 climate goals to reduce emissions to 48% below 1990 levels. As we experience more extreme heat, droughts, water scarcity, and intense wildfires, California’s role as a climate leader for the nation and world is called into question.

California Water Tunnel Hangs Over Budget Talks as Legislators Challenge Gov. Newsom’s Plan

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is pushing the state Legislature to tackle what has long been one of the biggest gripes about government: Taking far too long to build things like roads and bridges.

But Newsom’s plan to cut through red tape has slowed in the state Legislature, where some lawmakers fear his true motive is to favor a single project — the long-delayed and long-disputed plan to build a giant tunnel to re-route how the state moves water from north to south. The tunnel reflects the tension between arid Southern California, where most of the people live, and Northern California, the source of most of the state’s water.

State Lawmakers Reject Bill to Curb Farms’ Water Pumping

California lawmakers punted on a proposal to rein in agricultural groundwater pumping as drought continues to grip California and more than a thousand domestic wells have run dry.

A bill by Assemblymember Steve Bennett, a Democrat from Santa Barbara, would have added hurdles to obtain a permit to drill an agricultural well. Though the bill cleared the Senate on Monday, Bennett elected to not bring it up for a final vote in the Assembly before the Legislative session timed out Wednesday night. He said California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office told him the bill was no longer viable because of changes made.

California’s Vital Canals are Crumbling. A Plan to Fix Them Just Died in the Legislature

The major arteries of California’s water-delivery system are crumbling, but a proposal in the state Legislature to spend $785 million fixing them is dead for the year.

The legislation, SB 559 was pulled off the table this week by its chief author, state Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger), after an Assembly committee stripped the funding and made other changes to the legislation. Hurtado’s decision turns SB 559 into a two-year bill that could be revived next year.

Calif. Senate Advances Bill to Spend $785mil to Repair Valley Canals

A bill aimed at improving the Valley’s two largest canal systems from continued subsidence-driven damage advanced through one house of the California State Legislature on Friday.

Senate Bill 559, a top priority for legislators on both side of the aisle in the San Joaquin Valley and led by Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D–Sanger), seeks to dedicate $785 million in spending for improvements to four sets of waterways, spearheaded by two canals servicing the Central Valley Project: the Delta-Mendota Canal and the Friant-Kern Canal.

New State Law Will Require Additional Review Of Water Transfers In The Mojave Desert, Targets Cadiz Water Project

Legislation authored by Sen. Richard Roth (D-31st District-Riverside) and signed last week by California Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to require additional review of the Cadiz Water Project by various state agencies effective Jan. 1, 2020. Adding a new section to the State’s water code known as the “wheeling” statutes, SB 307 will require the State Lands Commission to assess transfers of water from groundwater basins to ensure the transfer won’t, according to Governor Newsom’s bill signing message “unreasonably affect the environment and water dependent ecosystem in the surrounding watersheds.” The law does not regulate all statewide water transfers, only those from the Cadiz area of the Mojave Desert and the groundwater basins involved in the Cadiz Water Project.

California Regulators Propose 2 GW New Peak Capacity To Address Reliability Concerns

California regulators have launched a “procurement track” to address potential reliability questions between 2019 and 2024, including whether there are sufficient resources to meet the state’s peak system reliability needs. On June 20, the California Public Utilities Commission issued a commissioner’s ruling that recommends load serving entities (LSE) procure 2 GW of new peak capacity statewide, to come online by Aug. 1, 2021. The procurement track proceeding is a part of the state’s effort to overhaul utility integrated resource planning (IRP). Initial comments are due July 15.

California Bill On PFAS Chemicals Advances, But In Watered Down Form

A California Senate committee has voted in favor of a bill requiring that water providers notify their customers if they detect a class of chemicals called PFAS in drinking water. The Environmental Quality Committee passed AB 756 on Wednesday, 6-0. The bill now heads to the Appropriations Committee. If it passes there, the full Senate will vote on it.  PFAS, which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are waterproof, grease-repellent, and heat-resistant chemicals that are fairly ubiquitous, found in popcorn bags, firefighting foams, nonstick pans, makeup, and even food like ground beef. Scientists estimate there are 4,700 PFAS, some of which have been linked to cancer, infertility, developmental disorders, increased cholesterol and weakened immunity.

These California Environmental Bills Made It To The Next Round

For California bills and their sponsors, Friday was pass-or-die time in the Legislature. It’s an annual rite of spring: If on a certain date proposed bills don’t pass out of their house of origin, be it the Assembly or the Senate, they die for the year. This year, the Legislature considered a slate of new environmental policies. A bill that prohibits California from authorizing new oil and gas infrastructure on state public lands, AB 342, moved on to the Senate.  A bill that would require smog checks for semitrucks, SB 210, moved on to the Assembly.

The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors supports a statewide solution to provide safe, reliable drinking water to all residents. Photo: Traphitho-Cesar-Augusto-Ramirez-VallejoPixabayCC

Water Authority Seeks Statewide Solution to Drinking Water Woes

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors on March 28 threw its support behind a coordinated statewide approach to ensure that all communities in California have daily access to safe, reliable drinking water.

The California State Water Resources Control Board has identified 329 water systems statewide that serve contaminated drinking water or cannot provide reliable water service due to unsound infrastructure or lack of resources. Most of the systems are in rural areas and serve fewer than 10,000 people.

More than a half-dozen bills have been introduced in Sacramento this legislative session to provide safe and reliable water supplies for disadvantaged communities in the Central and Salinas Valleys.

The Water Authority Board supports a plan to combine several measures into a unified legislative package.

“By amending several components of the relevant bills and linking them in a modified single reform package, we would advance a more comprehensive fix to drinking water quality issues throughout the state,” said Glenn Farrel, government relations manager for the Water Authority.

Safe Drinking Water Trust Fund

In addition, the Water Authority Board voted to support Senate Bills 414 and 669, both of which provide alternatives to water tax proposals in the Legislature that the agency helped defeat last year.

  • SB 414 would establish the Small System Water Authority Act of 2019 and authorize the creation of small system water authorities that could absorb, improve and competently operate public water systems that are chronically out of compliance with drinking water standards.
  • SB 669 would create the Safe Drinking Water Trust Fund to collect federal contributions, voluntary contributions, gifts, grants, bequests, transfers by the Legislature from the General Fund and the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, funding from authorized general obligation bond acts, and other sources. Revenues would help community water systems in disadvantaged communities that chronically fail to meet federal and state drinking water standards and do not have the money to pay for operation and maintenance costs to comply with those standards.

The Water Authority Board voted to oppose SB 200, unless it is amended to address numerous concerns that are outlined in the staff report to the Water Authority’s Board.

A fourth legislative measure, an Administration Budget Trailer Bill: Environmental Justice – Safe and Affordable Drinking Water and Exide Cleanup, would impose a tax on water and agricultural activities to finance safe drinking water efforts. The Board voted to oppose the budget trailer bill unless it is amended, among other things, to remove water tax provisions and instead appropriate $1 billion in budget surplus funds to the Safe Drinking Water Trust Fund.