Three new State laws were passed this fall that will benefit California's waterways and wildlife, in wins for oil spill funding, sharks and toxic-free waters.
AB 1112 (Jared Huffman-D, San Rafael) was sponsored by San Francisco Baykeeper to provide much-needed funding for oil spill prevention and response in California. The State's Office of Spill Prevention and Response was facing imminent budget cuts. After the 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill, the office was assigned increased responsibilities, but with no new sources of funding. The law will raise transport fees on oil companies by 1.5 cents per barrel to fund response staff, practice drills, technology research and cleanup efforts for the Bay and coastlines statewide.
AB 376 (Paul Fong-D, Mountain View) bans the sale of shark fins in California. More than 70 million sharks are killed each year for their fins, which are often consumed in shark fin soup. While shark finning is restricted in California' waters, the state is a significant market for imported fins. Sharks are an important species in the ocean and Bay ecosystems, and protecting them is a key measure to promote healthy aquatic ecosystems.
AB 1319 (Betsy Butler, D-Marina Del Rey) bans the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles. BPA is an estrogen-mimicking chemical that has been linked to reproductive disorders in humans and in fish and other aquatic life. This ban is an important step toward reducing the spread of this harmful chemical to waterways.
Photo of oil spill boom on the Bay after the 2009 Dubai Star fuel spill by Simon Carrasco (Flickr/CC).