Ready or Not? Now’s the Time to Get Your Oil Spill Management Team OSPR Certification

The California Office of Spill Prevention and Response (“OSPR”), within the Department of Fish and Wildlife, has been tasked with new responsibilities related to oil spill response.  Assembly Bill 1197 (“AB 1197”), which was signed into law in October 2017 and goes into effect on January 1, 2018, authorizes spill management teams (“SMTs”) to apply to the OSPR Administrator (“Administrator”) for a certification of that SMT’s response capabilities.  AB 1197 also authorizes the Administrator to charge a reasonable administrative fee to process an application for, or renewal of, a certification.  In addition, OSPR must promulgate regulations outlining the certification process for SMTs.

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How Low Can You Go? Proposed Agricultural Waste Discharge Requirements Impose Even More Stringent Demands on Central Valley Farmers

On October 10, 2017, the California State Water Resources Control Board (“Water Board”) issued the second version of an order to modify agricultural waste discharge requirements (“Proposed Order”), under the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program (“ILRP”).  Through the ILRP, the Water Board regulates discharges from irrigated agricultural lands across the state, especially within California’s Central Valley.  Regulation of agricultural water discharges is important because such discharges can affect water quality by transporting pollutants, including pesticides, sediment, nutrients, salts, pathogens, and heavy metals, from cultivated fields into surface waters.

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Update on a Prior Post: SB 774 is Tabled for the Legislative Session; No Toxic Substances Board

On September 14, 2017, Senate Bill 774 (“SB 774”) was ordered inactive on request of Assembly Member Calderon.  The bill, which proposed creation of the new California Toxic Substances Board (“CTS Board”), will not become law this session, and we will continue to monitor this legislation if it becomes active again during the next legislative session.

Previously the bill was amended in July 2017 to delete a section of the bill that would have allowed the new CTS Board to adopt or amend relevant regulations.  Under the revised version of SB 774, the CTS Board is not permitted to adopt regulations and is no longer authorized to draft, review, or update hazardous waste management plans.  Gov. Code § 24179 (proposed).  These amendments to the bill are seen as a weakening of the measure because they narrow the proposed CTS Board’s jurisdiction and authority.  Industry groups continue to oppose the bill, though, stating that the CTS Board will continue to have too much authority, even with the new amendments.  We will continue to monitor this legislation as it makes its way through the Legislature.  Here’s our original post:

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DOGGR Releases Proposed Pipeline Testing Regulations

On September 22, 2017, the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for its Pipeline Testing Regulations.  The Notice announces that DOGGR proposes to adopt regulations for pipeline testing and safety, as required under Assembly Bill 1420.

Assembly Bill 1420 (“AB 1420”) went into effect on January 1, 2016, and requires DOGGR to review, evaluate, and update, where appropriate, its existing regulations regarding all active gas pipelines that are 4 inches or less in diameter, are located in sensitive areas, and are 10 years or older.  As a result of AB 1420, DOGGR conducted intensive review of the existing pipeline regulations and studied the economic impact and the impact on small businesses, among other potential effects of the proposed regulations.  As part of these studies, DOGGR “made an initial determination that the adoption of these regulations may have a significant, statewide adverse economic impact directly affecting business, including the ability of California businesses to compete with businesses in other states.”  Pipeline Testing Regulations: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Action, at 7.

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Update on a Prior Post: Under Pressure SB 774 Has Been Amended – But the Appointed Toxic Substances Board Concept Remains in the Bill

Senate Bill 774 (“SB 774”) was amended in July 2017 to delete a section of the bill that would have allowed the new California Toxic Substances Board (“CTS Board”) to adopt or amend relevant regulations.  Under the revised version of SB 774, the CTS Board is not permitted to adopt regulations and is no longer authorized to draft, review, or update hazardous waste management plans.  Gov. Code § 24179 (proposed).  These amendments to the bill are seen as a weakening of the measure because they narrow the proposed CTS Board’s jurisdiction and authority.  Industry groups continue to oppose the bill, though, stating that the CTS Board will continue to have too much authority, even with the new amendments.  We will continue to monitor this legislation as it makes its way through the Legislature.  Here’s our original post:

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How Due Process Will Wither and Die under California’s New Air Contaminant Law: AB 1132 Authorizes Air Districts to Shut Down Facilities Without a Hearing

Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1132 (“AB 1132”) into law on August 7, 2017.  The bill, authored by Democratic Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, adds Section 42451.5 to the Health and Safety Code which authorizes air districts to issue interim orders for abatement pending an abatement hearing for non-vehicular sources of air pollution.  The South Coast Air Quality Management District sponsored the bill.

Existing law permits the governing boards and the hearing boards of California air districts to issue orders for abatement, after notice and an abatement hearing, whenever the air districts find a violation of any order, rule, or regulation prohibiting or limiting the discharge of air contaminants into the air.  Health & Safety Code § 42451.  AB 1132 goes one step further.  Effective on and after January 1, 2018, AB 1132 permits an air pollution control officer to issue an interim abatement order, without a hearing, if the officer finds there is an “imminent and substantial endangerment to the public health or welfare, or the environment.”  Id. § 42451.5(a) (emphasis added).  It is not hard to imagine that most air pollution control officers will exercise this new power with zeal and impunity.

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Legislative Update: Oil & Gas Related Bills Introduced in the 2017-2018 Legislative Session

Stoel Rives’ Oil & Gas Team has been monitoring bills introduced by California legislators since the beginning of the 2017-2018 Legislative Session.  Below are the latest updates on a list of bills, summarized pursuant to the Legislative Counsel’s Digest, that our team has been following and will continue to monitor as the 2017-2018 Legislative Session proceeds.

Please also see our Renewable + Law post summarizing bills related to other energy topics here.

AB 476 (Gipson, D): Vehicular air pollution.

Status: Two-year bill; last amended April 17, 2017.

Existing law imposes various limitations on emissions of air contaminants for the control of air pollution from vehicular and non-vehicular sources and generally designates CARB as the state agency with the primary responsibility for the control of vehicular air pollution. Existing law further defines a heavy-duty vehicle as having a manufacturer’s maximum gross vehicle weight rating of 6,001 or more pounds, a light-duty vehicle as having a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating of under 6,001 pounds, and a medium-duty vehicle as a heavy-duty vehicle having a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating under a limit established by the state board. AB 476 instead would define a heavy-duty vehicle as having a manufacturer’s maximum gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds.

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Bill Proposes an Appointed Board to Fix the Department of Toxics Substances Control; Will It Just Make Matters Worse?

Senate Bill 774 (“SB 774”) proposes to eliminate the Department of Toxic Substances Control (“DTSC”) and form a five-member board, the California Toxic Substances Board (“CTS Board”).  On June 1, the Senate approved the bill, and it is now awaiting is first policy committee hearing in the Assembly.  According to the bill’s text, “This bill would create in the California Environmental Protection Agency the California Toxic Substances Board, which would succeed to and be vested with all of the powers, duties, purposes, responsibilities, and jurisdiction of the department and the Director of Toxic Substances Control.”

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Update: Oil & Gas Related Bills Introduced in the 2017-2018 Legislative Session

Stoel Rives’ Oil & Gas Team has been monitoring bills introduced by California legislators since the beginning of the 2017-2018 Legislative Session.  June 2, 2017 was the deadline by which the Legislature was required to pass bills out of the house of origin. Failing to meet that deadline does not automatically prevent a bill from proceeding through the legislative process; however, such failure will prevent the bill from being considered by the full legislature or the Governor during the first half of the Legislative Session.  Below is a list of bills, summarized pursuant to the Legislative Counsel’s Digest, that our team has been following and will continue to monitor as the legislative session proceeds.  This is an update to our February 23 post.

Please also see our Renewable + Law post summarizing bills related to other energy topics here.

AB 476 (Gipson, D): Vehicular air pollution.

Status: Two-year bill; last amended April 17, 2017.

Existing law imposes various limitations on emissions of air contaminants for the control of air pollution from vehicular and non-vehicular sources and generally designates CARB as the state agency with the primary responsibility for the control of vehicular air pollution. Existing law further defines a heavy-duty vehicle as having a manufacturer’s maximum gross vehicle weight rating of 6,001 or more pounds, a light-duty vehicle as having a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating of under 6,001 pounds, and a medium-duty vehicle as a heavy-duty vehicle having a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating under a limit established by the state board. AB 476 instead would define a heavy-duty vehicle as having a manufacturer’s maximum gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds.

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New California Groundwater Fees – Another Step Forward for SGMA

California’s newer groundwater regulatory structure, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 (“SGMA”), was signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on September 16, 2014. The State Water Resources Control Board (“SWRCB”) is the enforcement agency for SGMA. SGMA requires the SWRCB to establish a schedule of fees sufficient to recover the costs incurred by the SWCRB to administer groundwater extraction reporting requirements and the activities required to temporarily protect groundwater resources. SGMA also authorizes the SWCRB to adopt an emergency regulation requiring that groundwater extraction reports be filed electronically. (Wat. Code, §§ 1530 & 348.)

The SWRCB recently adopted a resolution to approve the “Emergency Regulation” for implementation of SGMA. Important to note is that while there is an exception carved out for de minimis extractors (defined as person who extracts, for domestic purposes, two acre-feet or less per year), the fiscal impacts of the regulation overlay with these fees becomes quite expensive for many other groundwater users.

Specifically, reports for Water Year 2017 (WY-17) are due by December 15, 2017. The annual fee for reports for WY-17 is $300 per well. For extractions that are within the management of a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) before the end of WY-17 (by September 30, 2017), the annual fee is waived. The late fee for WY-17 reports is $100 for each 30-day period the report is late.

For example, the SWRCB provides the following estimates:

  • The total cost of the regulation on local governments is about $22,000 for Water Year 2017 (WY-17) and $122,000 for Water Year 2018 (WY-18). This breaks down to $537 for WY-17 and $1,506 for WY-18 per local government.
  • The total cost of the regulation on state agencies is about $22,800 for WY-17 and $122,000 for WY-18. This breaks down to $530 for WY-17 and $1,505 for WY-18 per state agency.

SWCRB’s Adopted Emergency Regulation, effective July 1, 2017, can be found here.

We will continue to track SGMA developments as implementation moves forward with development of GSAs and the plans for managing groundwater that impacts all users, public and private.

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