California Has New Laws: What They Mean for the Bay

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