Bills for the Bay

May 15, 2021

California lawmakers are busily crafting new legislation, on important topics—here are the bills Baykeeper is supporting so far:

The Corporate Greenhouse Gas Transparency Bill (SB 260, Wiener, Stern): Even as commutes and shopping malls ground to a standstill during the pandemic, global greenhouse gas emissions continued to rise. The reason is clear: a handful of corporations, not individual lifestyle decisions, are the primary source of the emissions driving the climate crisis. But the full picture of corporate emissions is fragmented, incomplete, and unverified.

SB 260 would require large corporations operating in California to be transparent about their carbon footprint—and commit to measurable emissions reduction targets.

The Regional Climate Change Adaptation Bill (AB 897, Mullin, Bennet, Quirk, and Ward) As the impact of climate change accelerates and worsens, the urgency for adaptation is clearer now than ever before. The Bay Area is particularly vulnerable, with scientists predicting tides to rise 5 feet within the next generation. While local agencies are doing their best to prepare, there’s a critical unmet need for regional planning, coordination, and funding. Adapting to climate change is a regional challenge and efforts must be coordinated to prevent efforts in some areas making matters worse in others.

AB 897 would fill the largest gaps in California’s adaptation response and help facilitate funding of regional efforts across the state.

The Unflushable Wipe Bill (AB 818, Bloom): Wipes cause more than $1 billion of damage a year to sewer systems across the country. Why? Because no wipe is flushable—once in the sewer system, wipes cause blockages that lead to sewage backups and infrastructure damage. But retailers and manufacturers have refused to stop advertising wipes as “flushable”, despite pleas from wastewater treatment plant managers. As a first step to addressing this problem, AB 818 would require “do not flush” labeling on synthetic disposable wipes.

AB 818 would educate consumers not to flush wipes and help prevent costly infrastructure fixes and sewage spills that pollute the Bay and waters throughout the state.

Anti-Fracking Bill (SB 467, Wiener, Limón): Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is a dangerous fossil fuel extraction practice that has no place in our communities and no place in a clean energy future. This bill would prohibit fracking and other destructive oil extraction methods starting next year. SB 467 would also restrict permits for oil and gas production within 2,500 feet of any residences, schools, health care facilities, or long-term care institutions such as dormitories or prisons. This kind of restriction would support Baykeeper’s advocacy to protect communities in Brentwood from recent new oil drilling proposals.

The California Clean Water Act (AB 377, Rivas): The Bay and waters throughout the state have suffered from polluters’ demands to create loopholes and weaken our clean water laws. AB 377 would fill those gaps, reinstating and strengthening critical components of our clean water laws with the goal of achieving clean, healthy waters across the state—for fishing, swimming, drinking, and overall public wellbeing—by 2050. 

Golf Courses, Open Space & Affordable Housing (AB 672, C. Garcia): The past year has highlighted the key role open space plays in public health and wellbeing. This bill would authorize cities to reclaim underutilized golf courses for both open space and affordable housing. Baykeeper supported the bill and submitted additional comments asking lawmakers to incorporate green infrastructure benefits as well. Green infrastructure helps filter pollutants, recharge groundwater aquifers, protect local waterways, and buffer against flooding.

Stopping PFAS in Food Containers (AB 1200, Ting): Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyls (PFAS), known as “forever” chemicals, never break down and have been linked to reproductive, immune, and developmental issues, and cancer. This bill would prohibit the use of PFAS in food packaging, with added benefit of reducing levels of this toxic contaminant in waters across the state, including the Bay. Last year, we supported legislation to stop the use of PFAS in firefighting foam for the safety of firefighters and the environment. That bill is now law.

Photo: Robb Most

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