With the deadline passed for Governor Newsom to sign and veto bills, the 2019 Legislative Session has officially come to a close.
CCKA worked with its partners throughout the year to promote bills that protect California communities and ecosystems, and prevent bills harming our health and environment from becoming law. This Session was filled with both victories for California’s communities and environment, but it also had its fair share of disappointing setbacks as promising bills were held up in the political crosshairs.
Securing Safe and Affordable Drinking Water for All
In California, nearly one million residents lack access to safe, affordable drinking water – a fact that should be fiction in a state with the fifth largest economy in the world. After years of negotiation, the California Legislature and Governor’s Office reached an agreement to provide consistent funding for safe and affordable drinking water each year – a critical feat given the number of failing water systems in California and increasingly polluted water supplies. This herculean effort was a result of California’s political leadership and the tireless work of environmental justice coalitions and allies who joined together to find a solution that serves the people of California, rather than polluting industries. Critically, the final budget adopted earlier this summer provides an ongoing fund of $130 million to communities in need each year for the next ten years to ensure safe and affordable drinking water is available for all.
While this agreement provides critical funds to communities in need, CCKA continues to look for solutions to address the source of the problem – nitrate runoff from agricultural lands. CCKA remains committed to holding the agricultural industry accountable for the harm their pollution has caused to communities and households throughout California.
Combatting Toxic Industrial Stormwater
In California, industrial facilities must comply with the State Water Board’s stringent permit requirements in order to protect our communities and waterways from toxic metals and pollutants. Despite this, thousands of industrial facilities remain unpermitted throughout the state – meaning that toxic pollution washes from these unregulated oil refineries, landfills, manufacturing plants, and auto yards and into our waterways every time it rains.
Fortunately, Senate Bill 205 (SB 205) passed the California Legislature and was signed into law to require all facilities demonstrate their enrollment under the statewide industrial permit when applying for or renewing their business license. This simple, but elegant solution will level the playing field for those facilities that already lawfully comply with statewide laws and help California achieve swimmable, fishable, and drinkable water free from industrial pollution.
Protecting California from Reckless Federal Rollbacks to #PreserveCA
Since Trump took office, our nation has seen an onslaught of rollbacks to key environmental and worker safety laws. Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins sought action by introducing Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the result of a multi-year effort to protect California residents, wildlife, and workers from senseless rollbacks.
Given the bold leadership Gavin Newsom promised in California’s fight against Trump, we at CCKA were optimistic that SB 1 would cross the finish line to preserve our health and environment, despite rollbacks of key federal laws. In response to the numerous egregious actions by taken by the Trump administration this summer – including drastic rollbacks to the federal Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act – the California Legislature stepped up to preserve California by passing SB 1. However, in a deeply disappointing turn of events, Governor Newsom contradicted his public stance on the environment and science by vetoing the bill, siding with powerful private water interests instead of the people of California.
Looking Ahead to 2020
Looking ahead to the 2020 Legislative Session, CCKA is committed to increasing the resilience of California’s ocean and coastal ecosystems, promoting the recycling of ocean wastewater to improve local water supplies, and tackling microplastics in California through statewide reform. We look forward to continuing our fight for swimmable, drinkable, and fishable waters for all as the Legislature reconvenes this January.
Policy Analyst Kaitlyn Kalua represents CCKA and its member Waterkeepers in state regulatory and legislative forums to advance statewide water policy.