Introducing Our California Environmental Tracker

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The San Francisco Office of Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. is pleased to announce a new series of articles dedicated to developments in California environmental law. California has long been a driver of environmental policy, often setting demanding regulatory standards and leveraging its mammoth market share to compel national compliance.

With the Trump Administration promising to roll back the tide of federal regulation, California is poised to double down on its environmental efforts. California’s capacity to lead in this realm, and its apparent willingness to do so, means it is critical that entities with a significant market or operations in California closely monitor these developments to assess the implications.

With this series, our team of California-based environmental attorneys will provide insight into the emerging state legislative and regulatory initiatives that we anticipate will have national significance or the potential to impact a broad range of stakeholders.

Areas of activity we will monitor in 2017 include:

  • Climate Change. It appears certain that California will continue to take a leadership role on climate change. The California Air Resources Board recently released a draft of its second update to the “Scoping Plan,” a document required by California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act.  Although not yet adopted, the draft Scoping Plan gives insight into California’s long-term policy efforts in regards to climate change.  We will evaluate the details of the Plan, related regulatory and litigation developments, and California’s preparation for a Trump Administration that may attempt to frustrate its efforts to battle climate change.
  • CalRecycle: AB 901 Implementation and Potential Expansion of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Requirements. CalRecycle has been working with stakeholders to draft regulations implementing AB 901, which amended California’s Integrated Waste Management Act to require more comprehensive reporting of recycling and disposal data. These regulations are expected to be promulgated early this year.  CalRecycle also appears poised in 2017 to propose a new Packaging Policy Model that may include EPR requirements for packaging materials.
  • California’s Safer Consumer Products Program. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is poised for an increase in regulatory activity pursuant to the Safer Consumer Products Program during 2017. We will monitor these developments, including the potential designation of new “Priority Products” (i.e., specified product/chemical combinations) under the program, which could carry burdensome requirements for producers of such products to assess chemical alternatives.  Further, if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Trump Administration fails to act quickly to regulate chemicals under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act, DTSC may move to fill the void in the absence of state preemption and meaningful federal action.
  • Cal/OSHA’s Enforcement Practice. California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as “Cal/OSHA,” has broad enforcement authority that only seems to be expanding. We will track Cal/OSHA’s responses to state and federal statutory amendments concerning this authority and any further efforts to expand it.
  • Hazardous Waste Handling in the Retail Sector. For the last decade, a team of prosecutors has been investigating hazardous waste handling by retail chains and other non-industrial waste generators. These investigations have produced nearly two dozen consent judgments, with several running to tens of millions of dollars. We will monitor ongoing investigations and new settlements as they emerge, as well as anticipated recommendations for legislative and regulatory changes to facilitate management of surplus consumer products that may be hazardous wastes.
  • California Environmental Quality Act: Issues and Updates. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is an extremely broad procedural and substantive environmental law that requires state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their proposed actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible. CEQA compliance is a major issue in California. For example Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom has already invoked CEQA lawsuits as a potential mechanism for state opposition to new federal programs, including President Trump’s proposed border wall. We will provide legislative and case updates along with commentary on developing issues.

The lawyers in our San Francisco office represent clients throughout the State, around the U.S., and worldwide on environmental and land use issues affecting their facilities, operations, and products. We also represent clients in litigation before California and federal courts.  For more information on the topics covered in this article, please contact any member of our California-based team.

* Jacob is not currently licensed to practice in California, and is supervised by Principals of the Firm who are licensed to practice in the state.