California Has New Laws: What They Mean for the Bay

Oct 24, 2023

The 2023 legislative session has drawn to a close, and a number of bills are now law.

Here are a few legislative highlights that Baykeeper supported:

  • Investigating Water Rights: SB 389 is long overdue and gives the State Water Board the authority to investigate and rein in unauthorized water diversions from the rivers that flow into the Bay-Delta. This new law will help Baykeeper advocate to preserve freshwater flows throughout the Bay’s watershed.
  • Requiring Corporate Climate Transparency: SB 253 requires all organizations operating in California with at least $1 billion in revenue to annually report their greenhouse gas emissions starting in 2025. California is the first state to make such a requirement, and this new law will help organizations like Baykeeper hold corporations accountable.
  • Banning Harmful Chemicals in Consumer Products: AB 496 prohibits the sale of cosmetic products that contain ingredients known to be harmful to people and the environment, including formaldehyde, mercury, and several perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyls (PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals”). This new law will keep these harmful chemicals out of the Bay.
  • Funding Habitat Restoration & Flood Control: AB 345 authorizes the Department of Water Resources and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board to fund projects that provide vital habitat restoration for threatened and endangered species. This new law could help protect some of the Bay’s fish that are facing extinction.
  • Stopping Toxic Turf: SB 676 reverses an ill-conceived law from 2015 that limited cities’ ability to prohibit artificial turf, which can leach microplastics, PFAS, and other contaminants into water systems. This new law will help reduce the levels of these pollutants in the Bay.

Unfortunately, some other strong legislation this year didn’t make the cut.

Newsom vetoed bills that would have reduced microplastic pollution and funded the cleanup of abandoned boats. Other important legislation died in committee that would have increased fines for refineries and other industrial facilities when they pollute, and given the state greater authority to curtail water use to protect downstream communities and the environment. Some of these failed bills will get a second (or third) chance next year. And we will continue to provide our scientific and legal expertise to strengthen environmental laws for the Bay and its watershed

Related Content

Have You Ever Seen a Wild Salmon?
While we celebrated Earth Day around the Bay Area this past weekend, there was a sad backdrop to the festivities: State authorities shut down the Chinook salmon fishing season this year because there...
Governor Newsom, Stop the Extinction Crisis in the Bay
San Francisco Bay desperately needs a plan for sustainable water use that protects our fish, wildlife, water quality and the communities that depend on it. Instead, Governor Newsom is giving away...
Clean Water Act 50th Anniversary: Taking Big Oil All the Way to the Supreme Court
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act. So we’re looking back to celebrate the ways this effective law has helped us protect San Francisco Bay—and share how we’re still working...
Join us to hold polluters accountable and defend the Bay DONATE NOW >