This year’s topics and bills below:
Coastal Commission in Crisis
In February, despite statewide public outcry, the Coastal Commission fired its executive director, Dr. Charles Lester. This move brings into question the Commission’s dedication to defending the Coastal Act and willingness to protect our coast from harmful development. Without strong leadership, beach access for millions of Californians will be restricted or lost as climate change continues to cause greater sea level rise and erosion. As a response, several members of the legislature have put forth bills aimed at ensuring greater transparency and respresentation.
√ SUPPORT AB2002 (Stone): Requires development agents appearing before the Coastal Commission to register as lobbyists.
(Tracking) AB2616 (Burke): Restores the Coastal Commission’s affordable housing authority and adds three new members to the CCC to represent diverse, low-income communities.
(Tracking) AB2185 (Gonzalez): Improves opportunities for coastal, low-cost overnight accommodations. Note: This bill will reintroduce AB 694 (Rendon) from last year.
(Tracking) AB2628 (Levine): Requires a one-year ban on registered lobbying by any Commissioner after leaving the Coastal Commission.
Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban Referendum
In 2014, SB 270 (Padilla, De Leon, Lara) was adopted by the Legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown banning the distribution of single-use plastic grocery bags at most stores statewide and making California the first state in the nation to take this step at improving the environment. Mere months later, out-of-state plastic bag manufacturers spent more than $3 million collecting enough signatures to qualify a referendum on the November 2016 ballot for voters to decide its fate. Even when properly disposed of, plastic bags tend to blow out of trash cans, solid waste vehicles and landfills into streets, parks and waterways. They are damaging to the environment and wildlife, expensive to clean up, and an easily preventable source of litter. Bag bans throughout the state have proven to be both popular and effective: Help defend California’s vibrant land and seascape resources by endorsing the bag ban.
Coastal Science Serving California
Public investments in scientific research of marine protected areas (MPAs) and other coastal ecosystems fuel the economic development, environmental stewardship and responsible use of California’s ocean resources. Recently, state partners have undertaken a successful baseline monitoring program for California’s comprehensive network of 124 MPAs, the nation’s first. Continuing to support research to solve pressing issues faced by coastal communities leads to science-informed policy and advancements in climate resiliency, wildlife conservation, collaborative fisheries management, sustainable aquaculture and water quality improvements.
Protect Our Parks, Protect Our Ocean
Since 1989, cigarette butts have been the top item collected during California Coastal Cleanup Day. Ingestion of plastic cigarette filters is a threat to wildlife and children, toxic chemicals leach out of cigarette butts into our waterways – the chemicals from just one filtered cigarette butt had the ability to kill half the fish living in a 1-liter container of water and improperly discarded cigarette butts can cause fires that destroy homes and habitat.
√ SUPPORT SB 1333 (Block): State beaches and parks: smoking ban – This bill would make it an infraction for a person to smoke, as defined, on a state coastal beach or in a unit of the state park system or to dispose of used cigar or cigarette waste on a state coastal beach or in a unit of the state park system.
Water bills – Protecting our shared and critical resource
The California Constitution requires that the state’s water resources be put to beneficial use to the fullest extent capable and that the waste or unreasonable use or unreasonable method of use of water be prevented. Wastewater recycling will help reduce water imports throughout the state and build local water resiliency.
√ SUPPORT – SB 163 (Hertzberg) – Declares ocean discharges of treated wastewater an unreasonable use and prohibits discharges by 2036.
Oil spills are a constant threat to California’s coast. The Plains All American oil spill in Santa Barbara last year revealed a need to improve oil spill planning, response and monitoring in several ways. Oil from the ruptured pipeline washed ashore as far south as Orange County, yet proactive monitoring and public outreach was not conducted to anticipate impacts within and outside of the area in which the spill occurred. Further, the spill exposed a need for improved understanding of baseline oil and tar presence on state beaches and waterways.
√ SUPPORT SB 1083 (Allen) – Requires a communications element to be integrated into oil spill planning and response.
√ SUPPORT SB 900 (Jackson) – Provide funds to cap old (“orphaned”) leaking oil wells and remove coastal hazards.
√ SUPPORT SB 788 (McGuire) – Repeal Section 6422 of the Coastal Sanctuary Act, which currently authorizes the State Lands Commission to enter into a lease for the extraction of oil or gas from state-owned tide and submerged lands in a California Coastal Sanctuary.
Ocean Desalination – a last resort at best
Interest in pursuing ocean desalination as a water supply option continues to increase, but ocean desalination is typically the most expensive and energy intensive water supply alternative in California, it results in substantial GHG emissions and has significant marine and coastal impacts.Water conservation, stormwater capture and water recycling are generally cheaper and more efficient, and can eliminate or reduce the need for desalinated water. Ocean desalination should be an option of last resort and used cautiously only after the alternatives have been fully considered.
√ OPPOSE AB 1871 (Waldron) – Requires agencies to evaluate cost when considering alternative ocean desalination options.
√ OPPOSE AB 1925 (Chang) – Sets statewide goals for the production of desalinated water by 2025 and 2030.
√ OPPOSE AB 2043 (Harper) – Recognizes ocean desalination as an important sustainable water supply.
Solving the problem of discarded fishing gear
A large percentage of the 8 million tons of plastic waste that enters the ocean annually is abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear, with gillnets and fishing traps/pots the most common. The impacts of littered fishing gear include habitat damage, navigational hazards, introduction of toxic materials to the food web, introduction of invasive species via transportation, increased clean-up costs, economic losses to the fishing industry, and ingestion, entanglement and/or fatalities to marine wildlife. A bill is currently in the works that is expected to phase out driftnets as existing fishermen retire, and lead to authorization of the more sustainable alternative: deep set buoy gear.
√ SUPPORT SB 1287 (McGuire) – Includes a gear retrieval program based on the recommendations of the Dungeness Crab Task to address marine debris and whale entanglement.