California Association of Sanitation Agencies
Governor Brown Signs Legislation of Interest to CASA on Solid Waste Imports and Water Board Communications
On September 25, 2012, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. signed into law two bills of interest to CASA members. AB 845 by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) prohibits enactment of local ordinances, including voter initiative ordinances, restricting or limiting the importation of solid waste into a privately owned solid waste facility based on place of origin. CASA supported AB 845 due to concerns that exportation or importation restrictions based on the place of origin directly conflict with the goals of the California Integrated Waste Management Act (IWMA) and would obstruct the efficient flow of solid waste. The IWMA establishes a system of waste management planning founded on regional cooperation, and CASA noted in its support letter that such a system can create the economies of scale that support the investment in and adoption of emerging technologies, resource recovery, landfill gas-to-energy projects, composting, and recycling programs. Efforts to bar waste from crossing county lines curtail such planning and investment because they jeopardize the long-term viability of selected management options. The Solano County ordinance that prompted the legislation suffers from flaws similar to those of the Kern County initiative ordinance that CASA has challenged in litigation.
The Governor also signed SB 965 by Senator Rod Wright (D-Los Angeles), which would revise the statutes governing communications between State and Regional Water Board members and the public. The newly signed legislation would establish alternate procedures for ex parte communications related to general permits and waivers issued by the state and regional boards that are designed to open up the process and allow for greater access to decision-makers. SB 965:
- Defines “interested person” for purposes of ex parte restrictions as a discharger, anyone with a financial interest, and representatives of an organized group such as an environmental group or labor union
- Requires ex parte communications to be reported by the interested person.
- Prohibits any ex parte communications for the 14 day period immediately preceding the board meeting where a decision will be made.
- Requires that non-English speakers using a translator be given twice the amount of time for comments as other speakers.
SB 965 was supported by a broad coalition of local government and business interests. The bill will have limited direct impact on CASA members, as individual NPDES permits and waste discharge requirements are not affected by the new procedures. CASA followed the bill closely, and provided technical and policy input to the supporters during their negotiations on the measure.