CA Updates

May 17, 2019

Seeing Smoke Ahead: Cal/OSHA Proposes Emergency Regulation to Protect Workers from Wildfire Smoke Exposure 

California wildfires have become more frequent and more intense. These wildfires and the smoke they generate pose risks to worker safety. In response to the poor air quality California experienced during last year’s fires and in recognition of the fact that intense fires will likely continue, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) issued a proposed emergency regulation addressing smoke exposure. A public meeting to discuss the proposed regulation was held on May 8, 2019.

For a complete overview of these developments, see the full news alert here. – Authors: Jayni A. LanhamKaitlyn D. Shannon

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April 9, 2019

Cannabis Business CEQA Exemption Expires on July 1: Will You Have a Permit or License to Conduct Business?

The legalization of cannabis in California has brought about a flurry of regulatory and statutory requirements to conduct business. In order to facilitate the business demand, the State postponed certain requirements, such as the need to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). As stated in California Business and Professions code section 26055(h) (below), CEQA did not apply to an ordinance, rule, or regulation issued by a local jurisdiction related to the approval of permits and licenses for the commercial cannabis business.

For a complete overview of these developments, see the full news alert here. – Authors: David McCray, Chris Strunk, Gina Ecolino

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March 29, 2019

DTSC Seeks to Adopt Regulations to Designate Used/Spent Solar Panels as Universal Waste 

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) held a workshop on March 25, 2019 and presented information on California’s Universal Waste Program and the proposed regulations to include waste photovoltaic modules (PV modules), commonly known as solar panels, on the list of hazardous wastes eligible to be managed as universal waste.

  • DTSC intends to publish the rulemaking package for public notice on April 19, 2019, which will begin the formal rulemaking process. 
  • California’s Universal Waste Rule applies to handlers, transporters, and destination facilities such as treatment, recycling or disposal. Categorizing as universal waste allows generators to manage the waste as universal waste without testing. 
  • For context, the California Universal Waste Rule presently lists these wastes: batteries, electronic devices, mercury-containing equipment, lamps, cathode ray tubes (CRT) and CRT glass, and aerosol cans. 

More information on this rulemaking, including the workshop presentation materials are available here. Until the new regulations are adopted, solar panels that exhibit characteristics of hazardous waste must be managed as hazardous wastes and not as universal wastes. B&D will continue to monitor and report on this rulemaking.  – Author: David Weber

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February 14, 2019

CEQA Guidelines Receive Update, Climate Change Drives Major Amendments

At the end of 2018, the Office of Planning and Research’s (OPR’s) years-long effort (since 2011) to update the Guidelines (CEQA Guidelines) implementing the California Environmental Quality Act became a reality. This comprehensive update to nearly 30 sections of the CEQA Guidelines (along with some additions) incorporates new statutes and court decisions. The final text of the amendments can be found here. California’s battle to ward off the effects of climate change has ushered some of the biggest changes to the Guidelines, including criteria for assessing Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) for determining a project’s traffic impacts (as well as inclusion in the Appendix G checklist) and a clear mandate to address climate change impacts during environmental review.

For a complete overview of these developments, see the full news alert here. – Authors: David McCray, Jake Duginski

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February 6, 2019

NASDAQ Introduces California Water Index

In response to the increasing uncertainty of water prices and diminishing supply of water in the western U.S., NASDAQ has developed the first water pricing index for the state of California. The index benchmarks the price of water by setting a weekly rate in California. By creating a price index, water rights may become a tradable financial instrument. This differs from traditional water indexes, which track companies who extract and deliver water in western states. 

Along with Veles Water and WestWater Research, NASDAQ hopes this system will help to make water a more accessible commodity and diminish the confusion over fair pricing for water. Climate change effects have increasingly been felt in the drier western U.S., especially when it comes to acquiring necessary water rights for building, business development, or expansion. Without a set pricing index, many buyers are at the whim of the market and their own knowledge in determining if the cost of a water right is fair. – Author: Lucy Infeld 

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January 22, 2019

California Supreme Court Finds Fresno County EIR Deficient

A recent California Supreme Court decision reminds project proponents and lead agencies of the need for substantive analysis in an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). On Christmas Eve 2018, the California Supreme Court published its opinion in Sierra Club et al. v. County of Fresno et al. The Sierra Club challenged the adequacy of Fresno County’s EIR for failing to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act. The EIR analyzed the Friant Ranch project, a 942-acre master-planned community in north-central Fresno County. The Project includes a specific plan covering five phases constructed over 10 years containing up to 2,500 single and multi-family active adult 55+ homes, 250,000 sq. ft. of commercial property and 460 acres of open space.

For a complete overview of these developments, see the full news alert here. – Authors: David McCray, Jake Duginski

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