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2015 State Legislative Round-Up
2015 was a mixed bag for the environment in the California Legislature. Clean Water Action achieved a number of big water and climate wins, but defeats at the hands of the oil industry were a jolting wake-up call about polluters’ power in the state.
First the good news: California continues to lead the nation in protecting communities from climate change impacts. SB 350, authored by Senate Pro Tem De Leon, passed on the last day of the session, mandating that 50% of California’s energy come from renewable sources and that the state double buildings’ energy efficiency by 2030. Clean Water Action also helped pass AB 888 (Bloom), banning the use of plastic microbeads in personal care products. The budget, which passed in July was also a step toward a new era of transparency on water well information so the state can better manage groundwater, and increasing water regulators’ oversight and scrutiny of oil and gas disposal and injection well permitting.
In 2006, California banned the sale of thermostats that contain mercury, as a means of protecting human health and the environment. This was only part of the solution however, since tens of millions of old thermostats — containing several hundred tons of mercury — still hang in homes and building throughout the U.S. For that reason, the California Legislature passed the Mercury Thermostat Collection Act in 2008, which requires manufacturers that sold mercury-added thermostats in California to establish a program to collect and recycle them.
To date, the industry has only collected a fraction of the number of thermostats required by law – without consequences. Take action today to tell state officials to enforce the law!
Between 200,000 and 460,000 U.S. born infants have mercury levels high enough to be linked to IQ loss. California’s Mercury Thermostat Collection Act was signed into law in 2008 to keep thermostats containing mercury out of the trash so we can reduce human exposure.
Under the act, thermostat manufacturers are required to collect old thermostats that contain mercury, but to date, the industry has created only a minimal program that has resulted in the collection of just a fraction of the number required by the law – without consequences.
Take action today to tell the Department of Toxic Substances to enforce the law!
Manufacturing products with less toxic materials and promoting the development of "green chemistry" can not only protect our communities, workers, and ecosystems, but can actually save businesses money, increase efficiency, reduce liability, and give them a competitive advantage as other parts of the world regulate the use of toxic materials.
As California enters its third consecutive dry year, water conservation is a popular topic - television, newspapers, billboards, and radio messages are telling us to conserve water because of the drought.
Clean Water Action agrees that we should practice additional conservation during times of drought. But California's is a dry climate that is expected to become dryer still as the impacts of climate change intensify. This drought gives us an opportunity to rethink our attitudes about and our overall use of water.
The exploding use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizer in post World War II agriculture generated an agricultural boom in California and throughout the US. Today seven of the top ten agricultural counties in the US are located in California and in 2010, California agriculture generated $37.5 billion in sales.