California to Require Climate Disclosures from Large Companies (September 26, 2023)
CalRecycle’s Recycling Revamp (February 21, 2023)
Environmental Developments to Watch in California in 2023 (January 12, 2023)
Cal/OSHA Adopts Non-Emergency COVID-19 Regulation (January 9, 2023)
California’s COVID-19 Workplace Requirements Continue to Evolve (October 4, 2022)
Cal/OSHA Extends COVID-19 Regulations Through December 2022 (May 24, 2022)
- SEC Poised to Take Action on Climate Disclosure Requirements (March 16, 2022)
- California’s COVID-19 Regulations Extended Through April (January 14, 2022)
- Cal/OSHA Advances Proposed Temporary and Permanent COVID-19 Standards (October 29, 2021)
- Cal/OSHA’s Enforcement Authority Expanded (October 18, 2021)
- California Prohibits Use of Chasing Arrows on Non-Recyclable Items (October 6, 2021)
- Prepare for California’s Upcoming Organic Waste and Food Collection Requirements (September 20, 2021)
- California DTSC Finalizes Priority Product Listing of Carpets and Rugs Containing PFAS Triggering Reporting Requirements (July 19, 2021)
- States and Federal Government Continue to Advance Plastics Recycling and Minimum Recycled Content Mandates (June 30, 2021)
- After Several Rounds of Revisions, Updated Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards Take Effect (Updated June 28, 2021)
- Supreme Court Finds Fifth Amendment Taking in State Regulation Granting Access to Private Property (June 24, 2021)
- South Coast AQMD Adopts Warehouse Indirect Source Rule, First Reporting Months Away (May 18, 2021)
- B&D Principal Russ LaMotte Interviews Senior CalRecycle Official on Plastic Waste Initiatives (February 17, 2021)
- CARB Announces Plan to Expand Zero-Emission Requirement for Transport Refrigeration Units (February 10, 2021)
- D.C. Circuit Stays Litigation over EPA Rescission of California Waiver to Regulate Vehicle Emissions (February 10, 2021)
- California Leads Nation With Introduction of Ambitious Climate Disclosure Bill in State Legislature (February 4, 2021)
- California Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board Adopts Emergency COVID-19 Regulation (December 2, 2020)
- Landmark Agreement to Remove Klamath River Dams (November 20, 2020)
- California is Going All-In with Zero Emission Vehicles—No Gas Engine Sales Starting in 2035 (September 29, 2020)
- Wildfires Burn Carbon Offsets (September 22, 2020)
- Cal/OSHA Issues First COVID-19 Related Citations (September 18, 2020)
- Will California Adopt First-of-its-Kind Legislation Governing GHG Emissions from Land-Based Activities? (August 25, 2020)
- Federal Court Dismisses Federal Challenge to California’s Cap-and-Trade Linkage to Quebec Program (August 11, 2020)
- California Flips Switch Toward Electric Trucks (July 6, 2020)
- Golden Door Slammed Shut on County’s CEQA Process Again (July 1, 2020)
- California Employers Face Broader Recording and Reporting Obligations for COVID-19 Illnesses (June 19, 2020)
- Requirement to Post CEQA Notices in County Clerk’s Office Suspended for 60 Days (May 7, 2020)
- Ninth Circuit Orders EPA to Rule on NRDC Petition to Cancel Pet Use Registration for Organophosphate Pesticide (April 29, 2020)
- CA Court Upholds Refinery Project EIR Reaffirming Foundational CEQA Principles (April 15, 2020)
- California Regulatory Agencies Emphasize Continued Compliance During COVID-19 Response (March 24, 2020)
- New Klamath TMDLs: An Impossible Standard? (March 23, 2020)
- California’s Injury and Illness Prevention Plans: New Rules on Employee Access (January 30, 2020)
- Amendments to Proposition 65’s Safe Harbor Regulations Finalized in Attempt to Clarify Legal Responsibilities of Businesses Across the Supply Chain (January 21, 2020)
- California DTSC Accepting Comments on the Use of BPA, Ortho-phthalates, and PFAS in Food Packaging as Part of Its Evaluations under the Safer Consumer Products Program (December 19, 2019)
- Most Recent Amendment to the Groundfish Fishery Management Plan a Rare Source of Agreement (November 26, 2019)
- Compliance Deadline Approaching for California Cleaning Product Disclosures while New York Program Stalls (November 8, 2019)
- Trump DOJ Sues California, Seeks to End State’s Cap-and-Trade Agreement with Québec (October 24, 2019)
- California Water Board Could Leave Non-Compliant Emerald Triangle Cannabis Farmers High & Dry (October 2, 2019)
- California’s Ambitious Plastics Bill Stalls; Minimum Recyclable Content Requirements for Plastic Bottles Passes State Legislature (September 26, 2019)
- California Law Eliminates Email Reporting for Serious Workplace Accidents (September 13, 2019)
- California Supreme Court Clarifies When Zoning Ordinance Amendments Trigger CEQA Review (August 28, 2019)
- Cal/OSHA Wildfire Smoke Emergency Regulation Now in Effect (August 8, 2019)
- Major Automakers Negotiate Emissions Agreement-in-Principle with California (August 7, 2019)
- California Proposes Amendments to Air Cleaner Regulation (July 1, 2019)
- California Haulers and Solid Waste Facilities – Have You Registered on CalRecycle’s New Electronic Reporting System? (July 1, 2019)
- SCAQMD Adopts Dramatic Increase in Fees, Offsetting Costs of AB 617 and Toxics Regulation (June 18, 2019)
- California Court Finds Tribe Lacks Standing to Quantify Reserved Water Right (May 31, 2019)
- California Department of Toxic Substances Control Proposes Regulation Classifying Discarded Solar Panels as Universal Waste (May 20, 2019)
- Seeing Smoke Ahead: Cal/OSHA Proposes Emergency Regulation to Protect Workers from Wildfire Smoke Exposure (May 17, 2019)
- Cannabis Business CEQA Exemption Expires on July 1: Will You Have a Permit or License to Conduct Business? (April 9, 2019)
- DTSC Seeks to Adopt Regulations to Designate Used/Spent Solar Panels as Universal Waste (March 29, 2019)
- Cleaning Product Manufacturers Gear Up for Compliance with State Ingredient Disclosure Laws (March 4, 2019)
- Proposition 65 2.0: Where It Is and Where It’s Going (March 4, 2019)
- CEQA Guidelines Receive Update, Climate Change Drives Major Amendments (February 14, 2019)
- NASDAQ Introduces California Water Index (February 6, 2019)
- California Supreme Court Finds Fresno County EIR Deficient (January 22, 2019)
- California Enacts Broad Prohibitions on Flame Retardant Use (October 11, 2018)
- California Adopts Statewide Producer-Funded Pharmaceutical Household Drug and Sharps Take-Back Program (October 3, 2018)
September 26, 2023
California to Require Climate Disclosures from Large Companies
The California Legislature recently passed two new laws that impose significant climate-related disclosure obligations on many businesses. The passage of SB 261 and SB 253 are the latest steps in a growing trend to mandate climate-related disclosures. The laws will require companies to disclose climate-related financial risks and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions beginning in 2026. Governor Newsom has indicated that he will sign the bills into law.
July 31, 2023
California Employers are not Liable for the Spread of COVID-19 to Household Members
The California Supreme Court held this month that employers do not owe a duty of care under California law to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to employees’ household members. Kuciemba v. Victory Woodworks, Inc.,S274191 (July 6, 2023).
The decision resolves an open question for tort litigation in this jurisdiction. In 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California determined an employer’s obligation to provide a safe workplace does not extend to non-employees who contract a virus from the workplace premises. Plaintiffs appealed this decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which then posed two certified questions to the California Supreme Court concerning the scope of an employers’ liability when an employee’s spouse is injured by transmission of COVID-19.
February 21, 2023
CalRecycle’s Recycling Revamp
The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) published proposed regulations to amend the Recycling and Disposal Reporting System (RDRS) to increase the specificity of waste and recycling information that waste haulers, landfills, transfer and hauling facilities, composting facilities, recycling facilities, and certain brokers and transporters must report to the state. The proposed amendments carry out the mandates in two California statutes: (1) Senate Bill (SB) 343, commonly referred to as the “Truth in Labeling Law,” and (2) Assembly Bill (AB) 881, which addresses exports of plastic waste. The proposed regulations aim to advance California’s long-standing statewide waste and recycling goals by imposing additional reporting requirements on certain entities that handle plastic waste. The public comment deadline is March 15, 2023, following a hybrid public hearing on the rule.
January 12, 2023
Environmental Developments to Watch in California in 2023
This article summarizes key areas of activity we expect in 2023—including Cal/OSHA and COVID-19, chemicals and emerging contaminants, climate regulation and mobile source emissions, environmental justice, green marketing and greenwashing, and waste—and what companies should consider in preparation.
January 9, 2023
Cal/OSHA Adopts Non-Emergency COVID-19 Regulation
After several rounds of revisions and contentious public meetings, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board adopted the agency’s proposed non-emergency regulatory standard for COVID-19 on December 15. The new standard extends many of the requirements already in place under the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) with several notable modifications. Most provisions of the non-emergency standard will be in effect for two years after the effective date, although the recordkeeping provisions will remain in effect for three years. As a result, California employers will continue to face significant COVID-19 requirements in the workplace for an extended period.
October 4, 2022
California’s COVID-19 Workplace Requirements Continue to Evolve
In recent weeks, California state legislators and regulators have considered significant changes to the state’s COVID-19 requirements for workplaces. On September 29, Governor Newsom signed AB 2693 into law, extending but simplifying the statutory COVID-19 notice requirements. On September 15, Cal/OSHA agreed to substantially revise its proposal for a non-emergency regulatory standard for 2023 and beyond.
September 8, 2022
Charging Ahead: California to Require All New Cars Sold to Be Zero Emissions in 2035
On August 25, 2022, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved the Advanced Clean Cars II rule (Rule), requiring all new vehicles sold in California to be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2035. Governor Gavin Newsom laid the foundation for the Rule with his September 23, 2020, Executive Order N-79-20. The Rule accelerates the increased sales percentages of passenger ZEVs, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) automakers are required to meet starting in 2026. This Rule is an important component of the State’s plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.
September 8, 2022
California Passes Two New Bills to Overhaul State’s Battery Extended Producer Responsibility Program and Broadly Expand State’s E-Waste Program
At the end of August 2022, the California Legislature passed AB 2440 and SB 1215, overhauling the state’s existing battery extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes and expanding the state’s e-waste program. AB 2440, the Responsible Battery Act of 2022, sunsets the existing Cell Phone Recycling Act of 2004 and the Rechargeable Battery Act of 2006, creating a singular EPR program for batteries within the state. SB 1215 expands the Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003 (EWRA) to include battery-embedded products and broadens the EWRA’s definition of manufacturers.
May 24, 2022
Cal/OSHA Extends COVID-19 Regulations Through December 2022
California’s Third Readopted COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) is now in effect and will remain effective until December 31, 2022. This latest iteration of the ETS remains substantively similar to earlier versions; however, several important changes are included.
April 12, 2022
Supreme Court Wades Into Troubled Waters, Brings Trump Administration State Water Quality Certification Rule Back to Life
The U.S. Supreme Court on April 6, 2022, issued an emergency order reinstating the Trump Administration’s rule governing Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. The rule imposes limits on the timing and scope of a State or Tribe’s ability to add conditions related to water quality to permits issued by the federal government. The Court’s unusual ruling without much explanation reinstates the Trump rule, at least temporarily, until the Ninth Circuit rules on pending appeals challenging that rule.
March 16, 2022
SEC Poised to Take Action on Climate Disclosure Requirements, California Legislation Also Moving Forward
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is set to formally consider the possibility of enhanced climate disclosure requirements at its upcoming Open Meeting on March 21, 2022. Meanwhile, the California Senate recently passed the Climate Corporate Accountability Act seeking to impose climate reporting requirements on certain businesses. These efforts at both the state and federal level suggest that heightened mandatory climate disclosure requirements in the U.S. may be inevitable, and that companies should carefully review the policy options on the table.
January 14, 2022
California’s Second Readopted COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) is now in effect and will remain in place through April 14, 2022. In general, the ETS retains many of the central provisions of the earlier versions. However, there are several key changes that may impact employers.
October 29, 2021
On October 20, 2021 California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) published the draft text for the proposed second re-adoption of its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (“proposed ETS”). The proposed ETS seeks to continue the current Emergency Temporary Standard (“current ETS”) that was effective as of June 17, 2021 with some key changes. The proposed ETS seeks to update requirements in light of the Delta variant and bring the current ETS in alignment with COVID-19 guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health. If adopted, the proposed ETS will be effective January 14, 2022 to April 14, 2022. Simultaneously, the agency is considering a proposed permanent standard that would retain many of the same provisions for at least a two-year period.
October 18, 2021
On September 27, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 606, significantly expanding the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) enforcement authority. SB 606 increases potential exposure for employers with multiple worksites in the state, requires Cal/OSHA to issue “egregious violations” in certain circumstances, increases the potential monetary fines associated with citations, and expands Cal/OSHA’s authority to issue subpoenas and seek injunctions and temporary restraining orders.
October 6, 2021
On October 5, 2021, California’s Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 343 (SB 343) prohibiting the use of the chasing arrows symbol on non-recyclable products and packaging. Under the new law, a product or packaging that displays the chasing arrows symbol or any other symbol or statement indicating it is recyclable is deceptive or misleading unless the product is “recyclable” in accordance with California-specific regulations and is of a material type and form that routinely becomes feedstock used in the production of new products or packaging. The law requires the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) to take steps to evaluate and identify which materials are “recyclable” in the state.
September 20, 2021
California’s Short-Lived Climate Pollutants organic waste and food collection regulation (SLCP) becomes enforceable on January 1, 2022. This alert outlines the portion of the regulation that applies to businesses with California locations that generate organic and/or food waste.
July 19, 2021
On July 1, 2021, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) adopted a new “Priority Product” under the state’s Safer Consumer Products (SCP) Program: carpets and rugs containing perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Businesses that manufacture, import, distribute, sell, or assemble carpets and rugs containing PFAS that are sold in California will have until August 30, 2021 to provide DTSC notice and will need to evaluate alternatives to using PFAS by December 28, 2021.
June 30, 2021
What is happening? Connecticut has joined several other states in imposing plastic recycling mandates on manufacturers. These laws seek to improve the market for recyclables by establishing recycled content minimums for plastic products, establishing extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs, and examining ways to improve recycling infrastructure.
Who is impacted? Manufacturers that use plastics and retailers that sell plastic products in states that have already passed legislation, or proposed legislation establishing recycled content minimums, EPR programs, or improvements to recycling infrastructure.
What should stakeholders do? Stakeholders should closely monitor current and pending state plastics legislation and prepare for any upcoming public notice-and-comment periods.
Updated June 28, 2021
Over the last two months, the California Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board (“Board”) has considered several versions of proposed updates to the emergency temporary COVID-19 standards that were first adopted in November 2020. After much debate over how the standards should be updated to account for the evolving nature of the pandemic, and several halted attempts to revise the standards in May and June 2021, the Board approved the revised emergency standards at its meeting on June 17. Although the standards would typically be subject to review by the Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”), Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-09-21 waiving the OAL review period so that the revised standards took effect on June 17.
June 24, 2021
In a major victory for property owners facing state and local land use regulation, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled 6-3 that a California regulation granting union organizers the right to access private property is a per se physical taking requiring the payment of just compensation under the Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, 2021 WL 2557070 (U.S. June 23, 2021). Cedar Point represents another expansion by the Roberts Court of property owner rights under the Takings Clause and opens the door further to legal challenges to government mandates allowing access to private property.
May 18, 2021
On May 7, California's South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD) adopted Rule 2305 (the “Rule”) aimed at regulating nitrogen oxide (NOx) and diesel particulate matter emissions associated with truck traffic at warehouses. The Rule will drastically increase compliance costs for warehouse operators in the South Coast Air Basin, requiring such operators to achieve compliance through mechanisms like green projects or mitigation fees. South Coast AQMD estimates that the Rule will impact approximately 4,000 warehouses in the South Coast Air Basin, with an upper-end overall compliance cost estimate of $979 million annually. The first report due for warehouse operators under the Rule is September 1, 2021.
February 17, 2021
In a Brief Encounters podcast by the D.C. Bar titled, "Basel Convention Plastic Waste Amendments – An American Perspective," Beveridge & Diamond Principal Russ LaMotte (Washington, DC) interviews Zoe Heller, Deputy Director for Policy Development at the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). Their discussion focuses on plastics recycling in the U.S., possible impacts of the restrictions, and other developments to expect in 2021 and beyond. Click here to listen to the podcast.
February 10, 2021
On September 23, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-79-20 directing CARB to develop policies to achieve zero emissions in off-road vehicles, equipment, and operations by 2035. The order sets a goal for all in-state sales of new passenger vehicles and trucks in California to be zero emission by 2035 and directs CARB to develop and propose regulations to meet this target.
On February 8, 2021, the D.C. Circuit issued an order granting the Biden administration’s motion to stay litigation over Part 1 of the Trump-era Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient Vehicles (SAFE) Rule. The order was issued in Union of Concerned Scientists v. NHTSA (No. 19-1230) and consolidated cases. As detailed in our earlier alerts, Part 1 of the SAFE Rule rescinded the waiver EPA granted California to regulate vehicle greenhouse gas emissions and to implement a zero-emission vehicle program. Part 2 of the SAFE Rule finalized new standards for corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) and carbon dioxide emissions for passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks sold from model years 2021 through 2026.
This stay is one of the first of many that will likely be requested by the Biden administration in litigation challenging Trump-era rules.
February 4, 2021
Last week, California Senate Bill (SB) 260, the Climate Corporate Accountability Act was introduced in the California state legislature. If enacted, large corporations doing business in the state of California would be required to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions to the California State Air Resources Board beginning in 2024. Large corporations would also be required to set and disclose a science-based emissions reduction target aimed at reducing their carbon footprint, beginning in 2025.
December 2, 2020
On November 19, 2020, the California Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board (“Board”) adopted a sweeping emergency COVID-19 regulation, which applies to all employees and places of employment in the state except for 1) places of employment with one employee who does not have contact with other persons; 2) employees working from home; and 3) employees already covered by the aerosol transmissible disease standard at 8 CCR § 5199.
The emergency regulation became effective on November 30, 2020. The regulation will expire on October 2, 2021, although it could be renewed for 90 days at a time until the emergency regulation is either replaced by a permanent regulation or the Board decides the regulation is no longer needed.
November 20, 2020
On November 17, 2020, the Governors of California and Oregon announced a joint agreement to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. The landmark agreement, entered into by the states, PacifiCorp, the Yoruk and Karuk Tribes, and the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC), marks an important milestone to revive plans to remove the dams and begin restoration of the lower Klamath River.
The parties executed a Memorandum of Agreement detailing how to implement the amended Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA). The KHSA works to provide additional resources to support dam removal. The initiative will address decline in fish populations, in addition to improving river health to complete a massive salmon restoration effort allowing salmon and steelhead to regain access to more than 400 miles of historical habitat.
The salmon restoration project and dam removal will also reflect the important role that these salmon habitats and river systems have for tribal communities and culture.
The project will be funded by the States of Oregon and California, as well as PacifiCorp. The funding agreements will help to address concerns from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the requirements for fully funding the project.
Next, FERC must approve the transfer of the license for the dams from PacifiCorp to the KRRC and the states. After transferring the license, FERC must also approve the dam removal plan. Once FERC issues these two approvals, the KHSA should be implemented. The proposed schedule for implementation allows for time for these approvals, with the project set to begin in 2022 and dam removal to occur in 2023. Remediation and restoration of the site will continue beyond 2023. – Author: Lucy Infeld
September 29, 2020
On September 23, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-79-20, tasking the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) with ensuring that all new passenger cars and trucks sold in the state will be Zero Emission Vehicles (“ZEVs”) by 2035. The Order further dictates that all medium- and heavy-duty trucks sold in the state shall be ZEVs by 2045. Prior to the Executive Order, CARB adopted the Advanced Clean Truck Rule that includes sales targets for ZEV heavy-duty trucks.
September 22, 2020
The Western United States is in the middle of one of the biggest wildfire seasons to date. Not only have these wildfires significantly impacted surrounding communities and ecosystems, but they have threatened carbon offset projects. As forest owners grapple with these fires, they also may need to contend with reporting requirements, a re-accounting of the carbon offsets, and additional reporting to offset registries and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
September 18, 2020
In early September, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) announced that it cited 11 employers for not protecting employees from COVID-19 exposure. The inspections were conducted in industries where employees have an increased risk of exposure, including food processing, meatpacking, health care, agriculture and retail. The proposed penalties ranged from $2,025 to $51,190.
August 25, 2020
The California legislature is considering a bill aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from “working lands” (including agricultural, grazing, and forest) and “natural lands”. The bill also would encourage carbon sequestration programs on those lands. If passed, Assembly Bill 2954 would be the first measure of its kind in the United States and could also serve as a model for other states seeking to develop similar policies in the future. Agriculture currently produces an estimated 8% of California’s total GHG emissions, while agriculture, forestry, and grazing also present opportunities enhanced carbon sequestration. Landowners, agribusinesses, forestry interests, and other stakeholders in California and beyond may want to follow the development of this legislation and related actions by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
August 11, 2020
Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California challenging the constitutionality of California’s linkage of its cap-and-trade program to a similar program operated by Quebec. As a result of the linkage, entities may trade compliance instruments across jurisdictions, which expands market opportunities for regulated entities and others. On July 17, 2020, the Court ruled in favor of California on all remaining claims, affirming the constitutionality of California’s linkage with Quebec and ending the case, barring appeal by DOJ.
July 1, 2020
On June 12, 2020, the California Court of Appeal in Golden Door Properties, LLC v. County of San Diego, 2020 WL 3119041, handed San Diego County its third loss, by concluding that the County failed to adopt a Climate Action Plan (CAP) in compliance with CEQA.
June 19, 2020
Guidance issued by the California Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) sets forward strict obligations for recording and reporting occupational injuries and illnesses for employees who contract COVID-19. The guidance differs in some key aspects from guidance issued by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
May 7, 2020
On April 22, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-54-20, immediately suspending certain notice deadlines and Native American consultation requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Lead and responsible agencies and project applicants, however, will still need to get notices out to inform the public and conduct outreach with known interested parties as explained below.
April 29, 2020
A long-running dispute between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) moved a step closer to resolution, with the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ordering EPA to either deny NRDC’s petition to cancel an organophosphate pesticide registration or initiate the cancellation process within 90 days. This opinion marks the fourth time in five years that the Ninth Circuit has issued a writ of mandamus in response to delayed federal agency action.
April 15, 2020
In a 2-1 decision, the California Court of Appeal affirmed a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that an oil and gas company prepared for proposed modifications to a Los Angeles refinery and its air permit. In resolving four challenges against the EIR in favor of the agency, the Court of Appeal in Communities for a Better Environment v. South Coast Air Quality Management District reaffirmed several foundational CEQA principles.
March 24, 2020
The California State Water Resources Control Board and the California Air Resources Board have provided direction for complying with regulatory requirements during the COVID-19 response. On March 19, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order requiring California residents to stay at home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This order requires residents to “shelter in place” but allowed an exemption for activities deemed to be “essential.”
March 23, 2020
During a week full of COVID-19-related uncertainty, a pair of new lawsuits are a reminder of one constant: disputes over Klamath Basin water. This past week, PacifiCorp and Klamath Water Users Association each filed petitions for review of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for temperature in the Upper Klamath and Lost River subbasins. Both petitions argue that the TMDLs, issued by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), set unachievable standards and are unlawfully based on California standards, among other arguments.
January 30, 2020
California’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted a new safety rule on January 16, 2020, requiring employers to provide employees with access to their written Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP) within five days of an employee’s request. The new rule is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2021. California’s Occupational Safety and Health Division (Cal/OSHA) frequently cites employers for failing to maintain an IIPP that complies with the detailed requirements set forth in Cal/OSHA’s IIPP rule at 8 CCR § 3203. In addition to verifying that their IIPP complies with those requirements, employers will want to ensure that their IIPPs comply with this new access requirement by determining—and documenting—how requests for access can be made and how employees will be provided access to the IIPP.
January 21, 2020
Companies now have more guidance on how to communicate Proposition 65 warnings for products sold through distributors. The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) finalized the amendments proposed to Section 25600.2 of the Proposition 65 safe harbor regulations on January 14, 2020. According to OEHHA, the amendments are intended to "provide more specific guidance for manufacturers, retailers and other businesses in the chain of commerce on how to satisfy their responsibilities to provide consumer product exposure warnings" for substances on the Proposition 65 list. The final amendments become effective on April 1, 2020.
December 19, 2019
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is moving forward with a process that may ultimately impose restrictions on the use of certain classes of chemicals in food packaging products under the Safer Consumer Products Program. The classes of chemicals in food packaging that are currently being evaluated by DTSC include Bisphenol-A (BPA) and its alternatives, Ortho-phthalates (OPs), and Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS).
DTSC is accepting public comments on the use of BPA and its alternatives and Ortho-phthalates in food packaging through December 19, 2019. The comment period for food packaging containing PFAS will be open through January 14, 2020. DTSC is specifically seeking input from manufacturers and other stakeholders regarding the use of these chemicals in food packaging products, the availability and feasibility of alternatives, and any adverse impacts associated with the lifecycles of these products. DTSC’s current evaluation efforts could lead to a future rulemaking proposal listing certain categories of food packaging products with BPA, OPs and/or PFAS as priority products under the Safer Consumer Products (SCP) Program. A complete list of priority products that have been proposed or adopted by DTSC under the SCP Program is available here.
November 26, 2019
On November 19, 2019, the National Marine Fisheries Service issued Amendment 28 to the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan. This amendment closes a large amount of new areas to bottom trawling, and re-opens certain other more limited areas. These changes will also protect sensitive deep-water habitat and deep-sea corals from bottom fishing.
November 8, 2019
By January 1, 2020, the California Cleaning Product Right to Know Act (California RTK Act) will require manufacturers of certain covered cleaning products to make extensive ingredient disclosures on their company websites. By January 1, 2021, the California RTK Act will require ingredient disclosures on product labels.
Meanwhile, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) cleaning product disclosure program has stalled. On August 27, 2019, the New York State Supreme Court invalidated DEC’s Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program on grounds that the agency did not follow proper rulemaking procedures. DEC has announced its intent to formally propose regulations on cleaning product ingredient disclosures in “the near future.”
October 24, 2019
A recent lawsuit filed by the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice seeks to block a six-year-old agreement between California and Québec that “links” their respective cap-and-trade programs.
October 2, 2019
On September 20, 2019, the California Water Board Division of Water Rights’ Cannabis Enforcement Section mailed 270 certified letters to various farmers in Trinity, Humboldt, and Mendocino Counties notifying them that they lack the appropriate permits for water use in commercial cannabis cultivation. Although the Water Board made clear that they are not, at this time, issuing notices of violation, the letters serve as a shot across the bow to an industry that is beginning to appreciate the importance of compliance with environmental regulations and portends more significant enforcement efforts in the near future.
For the full news alert, see here. – Authors: Chris Strunk, Lucy Infeld, Kate Tipple
September 26, 2019
The California State Legislature’s 2019 legislative session concluded this month without a final vote on the session’s highest-profile recycling legislation: the Circular Economy and Pollution Reduction Act (AB 1080/SB 54). The legislation, if passed, would have required a dramatic reduction in the waste generated from single-use packaging and certain priority single-use products. However, California lawmakers were able to pass several other targeted pieces of legislation aimed at addressing single-use plastics and the recycling market in California, including AB 792 and AB 1583. AB 792 and AB 1583 were sent to California Governor Gavin Newsom and are currently awaiting his signature.
September 13, 2019
At the end of August, California Governor Newsom signed AB 1804, a law that alters the method by which employers are to report serious occupational injuries, illnesses, and deaths to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA). While employers were previously permitted to make such reports via telephone or email, this law eliminates the option for email reporting once a new online portal is operational. Employers can continue to report via telephone.
August 28, 2019
On August 19, 2019, the California Supreme Court ruled on a fundamental California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) issue: when is a zoning ordinance amendment considered a “project” subject to CEQA? The ordinance at issue was San Diego’s attempt to regulate the construction and operation of cannabis dispensaries within the City. The City concluded that the ordinance was not a “project” because it did not have the potential to cause a physical change in the environment.
The California Supreme Court ultimately disagreed with the City. In Union of Medical Marijuana Patients, Inc. v. City of San Diego (UMMP) the Court held that CEQA does not automatically apply to all zoning ordinance amendments (overruling a previous Court of Appeal’s decision holding to the contrary). However, the zoning ordinance amendments at issue in San Diego were certainly a “project” and thus do not evade CEQA review on the basis San Diego provided.
The Court’s ruling has direct implications for those businesses depending on such zoning amendments, providing an opportunity for a municipality or stakeholder to argue that any desired amendment does not necessarily trigger CEQA review. It is also of great importance to the cannabis industry, who can now be near certain that zoning ordinance amendments specifically for dispensary construction and operation may qualify as “projects” subject to CEQA.
August 8, 2019
In late July, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted an emergency regulation to protect workers from health hazards arising from wildfire smoke. The regulation became effective July 30, 2019, and will remain in effect through January 28, 2020.
August 7, 2019
In advance of the Trump Administration’s plans to move forward with less-restrictive standards for light-duty vehicles, four major automakers have negotiated an agreement-in-principle with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to provide an alternative approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving fleet fuel economy. The terms of the private deal with California may provide a template for avoiding a major potential split in standards applicable to the U.S. market – California versus the federal – and the uncertainty of extended litigation over the issue of the extent of California’s authority to promulgate auto emissions standards without Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval.
Under the agreement, Ford, Honda, BMW of North America, and Volkswagen Group of America have committed to reducing their vehicles’ average emissions by 3.7% year over year through Model Year 2026 (inclusive of several major new accounting flexibilities outlined below), ultimately reaching the adjusted equivalent of roughly 51 mpg fuel efficiency. By comparison, the EPA’s proposed Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles (SAFE) Rule – slated for finalization later this year – would freeze the standard at 36.9 mpg for Model Years 2020 through 2026.
July 1, 2019
On June 3, 2019, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) held a public workshop in preparation for its plans to initiate rulemaking later this year to amend its regulation on indoor air cleaning devices. In advance of official rulemaking, CARB has released a draft of the proposed amendments designed to strengthen the effectiveness of the regulation, streamline the certification process, and provide additional clarifications on key requirements. Notably, the proposed amendments would eliminate the exemption for in-duct air cleaning devices that has been in place since the regulations were initially adopted in 2007. CARB is continuing to accept public input on this draft (see workshop announcement).
AB 901 (Chapter 746, Statutes of 2015, codified at Cal. Public Resources Code section 41821.5) established a new reporting scheme for the solid waste industry in California. The law requires most solid waste haulers and disposal facilities, including recycling and compositing facilities, to submit quarterly reports to CalRecycle with detailed information regarding the types, quantities, and destinations of materials that are disposed of, sold, or transferred inside or outside of the state. CalRecycle’s implementing regulations for this new reporting scheme became effective on March 5, 2019.
CalRecycle has rolled out a new electronic reporting system to collect the data required by AB 901 called the Recycling and Disposal Reporting System (RDRS). Businesses that are subject to CalRecycle’s new reporting scheme that were in existence as of April 1, 2019, were required to register on RDRS by no later than April 30, 2019. Reporting deadlines for submitting third and fourth quarter reports on RDRS vary by entity type and are posted on CalRecycle’s website here.
CalRecycle will be hosting a reporting requirements workshop for regulated entities on July 8, 2019. More information about the July 8 workshop is available here. – Author: Aminah Famili
June 18, 2019
The South Coast Air Quality Management District adopted an amendment to its Rule 301 on June 7, aimed at collecting nearly ten times the amount of fees it has historically garnished under its toxics emissions fee program. The amendment will include a new Base Toxics Fee, a new Flat Rate Device Fee, and a new Cancer Potency-Weighted Fee, imposed on entities that emit toxics above certain thresholds. Implementation of amended Rule 301 starts with facilities reporting toxics emissions for 2019, with the increased fees due in 2020.
May 31, 2019
The Central District of California in the second phase of Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District et. al. issued a decision with massive implications for water rights in the West. In the first part of this case, the District Court decided, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed, that when the United States government granted tribes reservation land, this land came with an accompanying right to groundwater under the reservation.
The initial decision was viewed as a huge win for tribes in asserting claims over increasingly scarce water resources in the Western United States. However, in the second phase of the case, the District Court determined that the Water District has not harmed the Tribe with its groundwater pumping, and therefore the Tribe cannot require the Water Districts stop pumping to leave a certain quantity of water accessible to the Tribe in the aquifer.
While federally reserved water rights, particularly tribal rights, are maintained despite non-use, this case further defines the standing requirements a tribe must meet to sue and enforce these rights
For a complete overview of these developments, see the full news alert here. – Author: Lucy Infeld
May 20, 2019
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has proposed regulations that would allow discarded photovoltaic (PV) modules (commonly referred to as solar panels) to be managed as universal waste. The proposal would put discarded solar panels in the same category as discarded electronic devices, batteries and light bulbs: ubiquitous, relatively low-risk hazardous wastes that are allowed to be managed under the more relaxed universal waste standards. DTSC states in the rulemaking proposal that regulating hazardous waste PV modules under the state’s universal waste standards will divert PV modules from the state’s municipal solid waste landfills and will encourage the proper end-of-life management of this emergent waste stream.
May 17, 2019
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.
April 9, 2019
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.
March 29, 2019
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.
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: Dave Weber
March 4, 2019
Over the next year, California and New York will begin phasing in requirements for manufacturers of cleaning products – including household cleaners, as well as and clothes and dish detergents – to make extensive ingredient disclosures. This will eventually require disclosures on both product labels and manufacturer websites. Both laws involve complex questions regarding which ingredients must be disclosed, whether certain chemical identities may be withheld to protect confidential business information (CBI), and what else must be publicly disclosed (e.g., certain manufacturer studies). Manufacturers of in-scope products should gear up for compliance now.
Proposition 65 is a California warning requirement of concern for companies throughout the U.S. It has recently undergone remarkable changes, taking on new life and creating new challenges for suppliers everywhere.
The new Article 6, Clear and Reasonable Warning (safe-harbor) regulation took effect on August 30, 2018. This is clearly the most important recent development in Proposition 65 compliance. In 2016, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) completely overhauled the decades-old warning rules. Those rules finally took effect on August 30, 2018. Now, compliance with the old Article 6 regulation will no longer afford companies clear protection from Proposition 65 enforcement actions. While companies may continue to craft their self-customized Proposition 65 warnings (at their own risks), complying with the warning methods and language requirements in the new Article 6 rules should provide them with protection from enforcement actions.
February 14, 2019
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.
February 6, 2019
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
January 22, 2019
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.
October 11, 2018
California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law Assembly Bill (A.B.) 2998, restricting the sale of flame retardant-containing children products and furniture. Effective January 1, 2020, A.B. 2998 prohibits any person from selling or distributing new juvenile products (i.e., products used by infants and children under the age of 12), mattresses, and upholstered furniture that contain a designated flame retardant chemical at levels above 1,000 parts per million. The law also prohibits, beginning on January 1, 2020, a custom upholsterer from repairing or reupholstering upholstered furniture using replacement components that contain more than 1,000 ppm of a designated flame retardant chemical.
October 3, 2018
On September 30, 2018, Governor Brown signed SB 212, an act amending the California Integrated Waste Management Act to create a statewide takeback program for pharmaceuticals and sharps (the “Act”) from households. California joins Washington and New York in implementing statewide pharmaceutical takeback programs. By enacting SB 212, California also adds to existing producer-funded stewardship programs operating in the State for products ranging from paint to mattresses.
The Act requires manufacturers of “covered products” to create and operate a stewardship program that provides for the takeback of covered drugs and home-generated sharps waste from households. The Act also imposes various requirements on a covered entity or stewardship organization that operates a stewardship program, including submitting a proposed stewardship plan, an initial stewardship program budget, an annual budget, annual report, and other specified information to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). CalRecycle is required to adopt implementing regulations no later than January 1, 2021. Cal. Pub. Resc. Code § 42031.2(a). “Program operators” must submit their proposed programs within six months of CalRecycle adopting relevant implementing regulations.