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Heal the Bay Blog

Category: California

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On March 26, in response to lobbying from the oil and gas industry, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced rollbacks on enforcement of regulations during the COVID-19 response. These rollbacks put public health at risk by letting industries off the hook for their legal requirements to control their pollution. Communities that are already disproportionately burdened by pollution, including the unsheltered and low-income communities of color, are the ones who will be hit hardest. The government’s response to a pandemic should not upend its commitment to address other, longstanding threats to public health.

It is clear that COVID-19 is having major impacts on all sectors, from individuals to small mom-and-pop businesses to large factories. There may be cases when a relaxation in requirements is acceptable to help those businesses, but to cease oversight altogether is not the answer. Blanket exemptions cannot be tolerated, because doing so puts people’s health further at risk, particularly those who are most vulnerable and most likely to be impacted by COVID-19. Any regulatory flexibility must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Now is not the time for blanket rollbacks of environmental regulations. The administration’s recent actions to rollback regulations on car fuel standards as well as water and air pollution are unconscionable and only take advantage of this terrible pandemic at the expense of public health.

What do the EPA rollbacks mean?

We have seen dozens of piecemeal rollbacks during this current administration. Now the EPA has released a memorandum announcing across-the-board rollbacks on enforcement of regulations that protect public health and natural resources, including clean water. It applies to any facility regulated by the EPA including private industries that discharge polluted water, as well as essential services including drinking water or wastewater treatment facilities.

The memorandum states that COVID-19 “may affect the ability of an operation to meet enforceable limitations on air emissions and water discharges, requirements for the management of hazardous waste, or requirements to ensure and provide safe drinking water.” The memorandum encourages facilities to report instances of non-compliance that may create an acute risk to human health or the environment. But encouragement is not enough – these occurrences must be reported immediately and publicly so that people are aware of the increased risks to their health.

Additionally, the EPA will no longer penalize violations of routine monitoring and other obligations. Monitoring and record keeping are fundamental to addressing pollution – knowing which contaminants (and how much) are discharged into our waterways allows us to prioritize public health issues and demand plans to address the pollution.

Here in California, state laws like the Porter-Cologne Act protect public health and the environment by creating a strong backstop to prevent environmental rollbacks; however, this federal non-compliance policy creates enormous pressure for state agencies to follow suit.

The California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) announced back on March 20 that the “timely compliance by the regulated community with all Water Board orders and other requirements… is generally considered to be an essential function during the COVID-19 response.” However, they are reviewing requests to roll back protective measures related to water here in California, on a case-by-case basis. We are counting on the State Water Board to uphold environmental and public health protections, and provide leniency only when it is in the public interest.

What are people doing about these rollbacks?

As we all know, WATER IS LIFE. Particularly now, as we respond to COVID-19, we must ensure reliable access to safe and clean water, to protect the health of people and the natural resources on which we depend. Therefore, advocacy groups across the country have been fighting these rollbacks since they were first announced.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and a coalition of environmental justice, climate justice, and public interest advocacy groups filed a Petition for Emergency Rulemaking in response to this reckless non-enforcement policy, stating that any facility that stops monitoring and reporting their pollution must notify the EPA, to be publicly posted within one day.

Dozens of California based environmental groups (including Heal the Bay) sent a letter to Governor Newsom and many other state officials, urging them to remain committed to prioritizing public health and the availability of safe and clean water for all Californians.

Heal the Bay is urging the EPA and the State Water Board to uphold environmental regulations that protect public and environmental health, and to give leniency only when it is truly necessary and does not jeopardize public health. We also demand transparency so that any requests approved by the State Water Board are publicly noticed so the public can protect themselves and groups like Heal the Bay can continue to watchdog the decision-making process.

How you can help!

Sign Heal the Bay’s petition to tell our State Water Board to:

  • uphold environmental regulations to protect public and environmental health,
  • only give leniency when it is necessary and does not jeopardize public health, and
  • ensure transparency so the public can know when any leniency is given.

Join the Center for Biological Diversity to fight the federal rollback by sending in your own comment letter directly to Andrew Wheeler (The Administrator of the EPA), or submit a letter to the editor of your local paper.

 

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Even though it is raining (and snowing) this week across the region, this season’s California snowpack is still well below the historical average for the start of April. Millions of Californians rely on this critical source of water for drinking and irrigation. A small snowpack points to the urgent need for us to conserve and reuse local water. Dr. Shelley Luce, Heal the Bay President and CEO, shares what was top of mind before the COVID-19 response, and why we can’t lose sight of our water.

At the end of last year, I was high up in the mountains with family and friends. We spent our time playing outside, laughing for hours and sledding on a snowy hillside. When I caught my breath, I took cold air deeply into my lungs. The mountain air felt so fresh. There was no wind, and the tall trees on either side of our sledding hill were perfectly still except for the bounding echoes of our joyful voices. It was a beautiful moment.

At the bottom of the hill the dark brown earth, which smelled of moss and mud, peeked through the white snow. I heard the sound of running water and looked closer: there was a stream of clear water flowing down through the tiny meadow toward the road. And I was struck: this is our water. This is Sierra snowmelt. This is the backbone, the source of drinking and irrigation water for millions of people in California. First seeping through a meadow that holds water like a sponge, then emerging as a trickle that builds to a stream that meets others to form a river that supplies a farm or a city. This is our water. And it’s in danger.

Far away on the coast people are drinking, cooking and showering with this very water. This very water is being washed down a drain, through a pipe to a treatment plant and then pushed out to sea. So much energy expended to take this very water from the mountains and valleys it nourishes, down to our homes and businesses in Los Angeles, to filter our waste out of it, to send it into the ocean and then to keep taking more and more every day of our lives. All of this is happening while the climate changes and the snowpack, that backbone, is diminishing and its future is in question.

However, we are changing this wasteful system. In 2019 Mayor Garcetti announced a plan to reuse all the water from our City’s treatment plants. That’s millions of gallons a day of water that will get reused here in LA, so we can stop draining it from our mountain streams. This is proof: we can adapt to climate change by changing a wasteful, linear process to a sustainable, circular system that supports people and nature.

This was our greatest victory last year and the culmination of decades of hard work. We have much more to do in this uncertain climate to protect our water and the awe-inspiring life it nourishes. Together, let’s take action. In the year ahead, we need to sound the alarm on the climate crisis, we need to enact strong science-based policies, and we need to remember the earthly moments that move our hearts and embolden us to take on new challenges with compassion and fortitude.

I look forward to working alongside you in 2020 as Heal the Bay celebrates its 35th anniversary! Thank you for continuing on this epic journey with us.

Dr. Shelley Luce
President and CEO

 

This article was originally published in Heal the Bay’s 2019 Annual Report in February 2020.

 

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Recent school closures mean many students are not getting the daily education they need. While we all should be practicing physical distancing at this time, we also need to put our brainpower and creative energy to good use and innovate to give students more opportunities to keep learning remotely.

Heal the Bay is responding with a new interactive science education series “Knowledge Drops”, where our team of scientists, experts, and advocates explores the water world and offers fun lessons about the marine environment. Each session is about 1-hour long and includes a live presentation, Q&A, polls, and videos. Our new webinar series is generally geared for 3rd – 8th grade students, but all ages are welcome and encouraged to attend!

See all recorded Knowledge Drops.

RSVP to Upcoming “Knowledge Drops”:

Keep scrolling for past recordings and resources below.

3/18 – THE SEWAGE SYSTEM 💩
3/20 – KNOW THE FLOW 💦
3/23 – MARVELOUS MOLLUSKS 🐙
3/25 – STORM DRAINS 🌧
3/27  – MARINE PROTECTED AREAS 🐟
3/30 – SHARKS AND RAYS 🦈
4/1 – BEACH REPORT CARD 📈
4/3 – PLASTICS 🥤
4/6 – SEA JELLIES 💧
4/8 – ECHINODERMS ⭐️
4/10 – CLEAN WATER ACT 📜
4/13 – COASTAL SHORE BIRDS 🦆
4/15 – COMMUNITY SCIENCE 🔬
4/17 – CONTAMINATED SEAFOOD 🎣
4/20 – KELP 🌿
4/22 – HISTORY OF EARTH DAY 🌎
4/22 – LA HISTORIA DEL DIA DE LA TIERRA 🌏
4/24 – CLIMATE CHANGE ⚠️
4/27 – TIDE POOLS 🦀
4/29 – SEA TURTLES 🐢
5/1 – STREAMS OF THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS 🐸
5/6 – CONOCE EL FLUJO 💦
5/8 – VIRUSES AND WATER QUALITY: IS IT SAFE TO SWIM?
5/11 – MICROSAFARI 🔍
5/13 – DESAGUES PLUVIALES 🌧
5/15 – ALGAL BLOOMS 🌊
5/18 – PENGUINS, OUR OCEAN FRINDS 🐧
5/20 – PLASTICOS 🥤
5/22 – NATURE-BASED SOLUTIONS 🌳
5/27 @ 1:30pm PDT – PESCADO CONTIMINADOS 🎣
5/29 @ 1:30pm PDT – NATIONAL ESTUARY PROGRAM 🏞
6/1 @ 1:30pm PDT – NICK GABALDON DAY 🏄🏾‍♂️
6/3 @1:30pm PDT – BLOOMS ALGAL 🌊
6/5 @1:30pm PDT – HISTORY OF WORLD OCEAN DAY 📖
6/8 @1:30pm PDT – GIANT SEA BASS AND WORLD OCEANS DAY  🌍
6/10 @1:30pm PDT – VIRUS Y CALIDAD DEL AGUA
6/12 @1:30pm PDT – AQUATIC TOXICITY: SOURCES AND SOLUTIONS 🚫
6/15 @1:30pm PDT –  HOW DO I EAT? 🥄
6/17 @1:30pm PDT –  SITIO SUPERFUND 🆘
6/19 @1:30pm PDT –  SEA LEVEL RISE AND CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION 🔝
6/22 @1:30pm PDT –  SEAHORSES AND OTHER FINTASTIC FATHERS 🏆
6/24 @1:30pm PDT – ACUARIO Y LIMPIEZA COSTERA 🌀

6/26 @1:30pm PDT – RIVER REPORT CARD 📊
6/29 @1:30pm PDT – GO WITH THE GLOW: MARINE BIOLUMINESCENCE & BIOFLUORESCENCE 💡
7/6 @ 1:30pm PDT – CRUSTACEANS 🦐

If you are a teacher with a topic suggestion, please contact us with your idea.


Resources and Videos:

All previously recorded Knowledge Drops webinar videos are posted here as an ongoing marine science education repository for you to access. (To view the webinar recordings please visit the ‘gotowebinar’ links below and enter in your contact information. We will only use your email address to update you about upcoming “Knowledge Drops” and you can opt out at any time.)

Knowledge Drops: The Sewage System

Recorded Webinar:
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/4060559519187745537

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Know the Flow

Recorded Webinar:
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3731720880131676929

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Marvelous Mollusks

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/1113287814740681997

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Storm Drains

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3714805993360585228

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Marine Protected Areas

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/6774566533598479118

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Sharks and Rays

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/2799933154324367873

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Beach Report Card

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/2647981746921586183

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Plastics

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/2108763652518416390

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Sea Jellies

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/7805031030394553612

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Echinoderms

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/1666934800615825409

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Clean Water Act

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/49080406197676296

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Coastal Shore Birds

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/8011810684827116557

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Knowledge Drops: Community Science

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/5143253017727002625

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Knowledge Drops: Contaminated Seafood 

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3010226848162550540

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Kelp

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/7135795686275352323

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: History of Earth Day

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/9196918193512903691

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: La historia del Día de la Tierra

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/4446715700219695361

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Climate Change

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/4260433141749869576

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Tide Pools

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/7691541639666544642

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Sea Turtles

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/4124039823946440967

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Knowledge Drops: Streams of the Santa Monica Mountains

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/836241671707943942

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Conoce el Flujo

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/2622740259256834566

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Viruses and Water Quality

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3755868355584721676

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: MicroSafari

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3060639456826881296

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Desagues Pluviales

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/6033268098610078222

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Algal Blooms

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/9101984161056214031

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Penguins, Our Ocean Friends

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/5651654000998667271

Knowledge Drops: Plastics

Recorded Webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3195564926916837132

More Information:

Knowledge Drops: Nature-Based Solutions

Recorded Webinar: COMING SOON

More Information:


Activity Guides



 

We’re tackling the biggest threats to the Bay by harnessing The Power of Water in 2020. The following three goals represent our key areas of focus this year:

 

Sound the Alarm for Climate Action

What we’re doing: Mitigating the life-altering impacts of climate change by empowering people to make smart choices now to create a sustainable and equitable future.

How we’re doing it: Water is where many will feel climate impacts first: water reliability in a changing climate is paramount. We are scrutinizing the City of LA’s plans for reusing wastewater as well as local projects to capture stormwater, to ensure they are equitable, effective and sustainable. At Heal the Bay Aquarium and events we are engaging the public to take daily actions — like extending Meatless Monday to One Meal a Day for the Ocean — to help mitigate the extremes of warming temperatures, ocean acidification and sea level rise.


Protect Public Health with Strong Science and Outreach

What we’re doing: Protecting people’s health through science-based education and outreach on contaminated water and fish at LA beaches and rivers.

How we’re doing it: We are expanding the reach and scientific rigor of our Beach Report Card, River Report Card and Angler Outreach programs to increase community and agency engagement on issues that directly affect public health. Our focus is on pollution, access, recreational use and fish consumption. We are also advocating for strong water quality protections and better public awareness tools to inform the most impacted communities.


Ban Single-Use Plastic for Good

What we’re doing: Eliminating harmful plastic waste from our beaches and waterways, and restoring the vibrancy of our ocean and watersheds.

How we’re doing it: A dramatic shift away from single-use plastics is needed because less than 10% of plastic waste is recycled and the rest winds up in landfills and the natural environment. Alongside a coalition of NGOs we are helping to establish “Reusable LA”, a new campaign to build a thriving culture of reuse and refill in LA County, encouraging people and businesses to go plastic-free and support new policies that ban disposable plastics in LA County and statewide.


Get Involved

Volunteer With Us

Take Part in a Beach Cleanup

Visit Our Aquarium

Donate


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2019 has been a thrilling legislative season in California. From plastics bills that steadily move us toward a culture of reusability in the state, to improved coastal access for all Californians, our state government has made some major headway in passing environmental bills. Heal the Bay has been closely tracking and advocating for the most important environmental bills of 2019, and we are very excited by some of the progress that has been made this year.

Let’s take a look at the winners (and losers) of 2019.

Of the thousands of bills introduced earlier this year, 1,042 in total made their way to the governor’s desk and 870 of them were signed by Governor Newsom, making them law. This includes some major environmental bills, such as Assembly Bill 619, also dubbed the BYO bill. This bill, introduced by Assemblymember Chiu, clarifies language in the public health code regarding reusable containers, making it easier for consumers to bring their own container to their favorite watering holes and lunch spots. This bill also allows temporary food facilities, like those at fairs and festivals, to use reusable service ware instead of single-use disposables (which were required before this bill was passed). The bill will greatly reduce waste at temporary events and you can now easily fill up that reusable tumbler just about anywhere you go, even food trucks and stands!

Governor Newsom also signed Assembly Bill 1680 (Assemblymember Limón) into law, which will develop a coastal access program for the beaches at Hollister Ranch, an area with 8.5 miles of coastline and no current access to the beaches for the public. This landmark bill will allow any member of the public access to these special Santa Barbara beaches, and is a big win for coastal access for all Californians.

While smoking on the beaches of LA County may have been banned years ago, this was not the case for the rest of California. However, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 8 (Senator Glazer) into law, which makes it illegal to smoke on any state beach or state park across all of California. As the number one littered item, cigarette butts cause great harm to the environment. Made of plastics and filled with hundreds of chemicals, cigarette butts are notorious polluters of beaches, parks and waterways. This bill will help to reduce this pervasive litter item, and protect the health of beachgoers and park visitors.

More environmental bills that were passed this year include:

  • AB 65 – Coastal Protection and Climate Adaption (natural infrastructure)
  • AB 209 – Outdoor Equity Grants Program
  • AB 762 – Shellfish Health Advisory
  • AB 834 – Harmful Algal Bloom Program
  • AB 912 – Marine Invasive Species Management
  • AB 948 – Coyote Valley Conservation Program
  • AB 936 –Oil Spill Response – Non-floating oil
  • AB 1162 – Ban on Hotel Small Plastic Bottles of Personal Care Products
  • AB 1583 – The California Recycling Market Development Act
  • SB 367 – Technical Assistance for State Coastal Conservancy Educational Projects and Programs
  • SB 576 – The Climate Ready Program

While the passage of these bills is a major success, not every environmental bill was signed into law.

Governor Newsom vetoed Assembly Bill 792 (Assemblymember Ting), a minimum recycled content bill that would have increased the minimum amount of recycled plastic used to produce plastic beverage bottles. Though the Governor supports this type of standard, the bill was deemed costly and burdensome for the state, and was therefore not signed into law. Heal the Bay advocates and our partners hope to solve the issues with this bill brought on by last minute amendments and bring back a better version next year.

Also vetoed by the governor was Senate Bill 1 (Senator Atkins), a bill that would have enacted the California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2019. This act would have ensured protections afforded under federal labor and environmental laws and regulations as of January 2017 (such as the Clean Water Act or the Endangered Species Act) would remain in place in the state of California in the event of future federal regulation changes. It essentially would have acted as a public health and environmental insurance bill to prevent rollbacks at the federal level. Governor Newsom vetoed this bill due to disagreements about its efficacy and necessity. Heal the Bay supports measures such as Senate Bill 1 as they are critical in protecting our state’s natural resources and we were disappointed to see this bill vetoed.

Finally, the pièce de résistance, Senate Bill 54 (Senator Allen) and Assembly Bill 1080 (Assemblymember Gonzalez), also known as the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act. These landmark bills came inches from the end zone, but due to last-minute amendments and new opposition, did not make the deadline to pass this year. Don’t worry, the fight isn’t over. The bills will be eligible for a vote as early as January 2020, and Heal the Bay and other bill’s supporters (all 426,000 of them!) will continue fighting to pass this bill to holistically reduce disposable waste and prevent plastic pollution in the state of California.

Have questions about our advocacy work at Heal the Bay? Interested in hearing about the bills we are fighting for (or against)? Follow us on social media  (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook), and reach out to our Science and Policy team!

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Our team at Frogspot in Elysian Valley. The LA River’s soft, mud-bottom sections are capable of supporting vegetation and wildlife.

In the summer of 2019, Heal the Bay’s team of water quality monitors spent many sunny days gathering freshwater samples from Malibu Creek State Park and the LA River, and testing them for bacterial-pollution in the lab. (Dive deeper into the findings.)

We’re thankful to partner with Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC) who allowed us to work out of one of their labs, managed by Manuel Robles. As always, our team included local students eager to learn about water quality and public health. Along with sampling, this group also took part in outreach, educating and encouraging more people to be invested in improving the health of the LA River Watershed.

Read on for some of our team’s favorite highlights from the summer

Erik Solis
My favorite part about the summer program was not only the job itself, but the outreach to younger students who show interest in environmental science. I was able to tell them about what I do for Heal the Bay, why it matters, and how they can contribute themselves. It all comes together to make a positive impact in the community and encourage young minds to promote a cleaner L.A. watershed. I enjoyed the work I’ve done this summer, as I know I have done a huge service to the L.A. river area. I can recall this one time a couple of fishermen and women said, “Hey, the Bay healers are here!” Another favorite part was participating in the Coastal Cleanup day on September 21st, as not only was I able to meet a lot of people, talk to students, and clean up a river, but I was also able to bring my family out to participate and enjoy doing their part in doing a service to the Greater Los Angeles Area. I have also enjoyed the lab work, but it was a little overshadowed by the field work.
Stephanie Alvarez
As someone who grew in Los Angeles I wasn’t as aware of how much nature we still have in the city, and I want to help protect it and the people who want to enjoy it. My most favorite memory was when a few of us got to speak to high school students and saw how most of them grasped the urgency of keeping our water clean. They all had their own unique ideas and all agreed that keeping our waters clean was very important. This gave me even more hope that we will be able to save our bodies of water. As someone who wants to help find ways to clean water, in an effective and cheap manner, this experience helped me see the problem in different angles. I went into this program thinking only of how to clean water to drink it, and now I am thinking about how we can make it clean enough for people to swim in and wildlife to thrive in. This program helped me gain experience in the lab and helped me dream bigger. We were so lucky to have worked alongside many amazing people, and I wanted to thank Luke for being an amazing leader! I suggest, if you are reading this and you want to help your planet, to get involved. There are so many programs and events that you can sign up for free. Change always starts with one person! Together we can save our planet and our wildlife!
Blaire Edwards
I started off by trying something different and left with an abundance of information about the environment around me. My favorite part of this experience had to be learning about all the matters happening environmentally and what I can do to get more involved and help make a difference.
Christina Huggins
With so many adventurers heading outdoors to enjoy the summer weather, the highlight of sampling water quality for Heal the Bay this summer was the opportunity to connect with the community and educate them about their environment. From early morning hikes through the Santa Monica Mountains to curious explorers and hikers asking questions about our yellow boots and sample bottles. Getting the opportunity to be a part of keeping the public informed about freshwater quality has given me a new direction in my career and educational path.
Michelle Allen
The biggest highlight of working on the team this summer is knowing that what we do and the information we collect makes it to the general public. The fact that our samples that we test affect people’s choices to make safer decisions, is a huge part of why I love being a part of this team. Collecting samples is always something fun to me. I love the fact that we go out into nature and see how the land changes each time we go out while meeting people along the way.
Olivia Garcia
My favorite part of the summer was collecting water samples for analysis. I liked being able to see, understand, and make note of the factors that could potentially contaminate the water quality in the river. I was also fascinated with the quality control protocol. I gained a lot of knowledge about the importance of consistency in documentation and testing, and a better intuitive understanding of quality control as a whole. It’s hard to pick out what the overall highlight of the summer was because it was all so amazing.
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Christina and Michelle collecting samples from the popular Rock Pool in Malibu Creek State Park.

Learn more about our summer of freshwater sampling and our River Report Card.



The California legislative season has officially ended and the transformative waste reduction policies, SB 54 and AB 1080, did not pass. However, they did not fail either! The bills were never voted on, so they are still eligible for votes starting in January 2020 and throughout the 2020 session.

We know this isn’t the news you wanted to hear – and we share your deep disappointment. But, there is always a silver lining, right?

Heal the Bay, along with our Clean Seas Coalition, did make incredible headway this year thanks to the momentum you helped create. Here are three things re-energizing us to keep fighting for plastic reduction policies:

1. The time for us to act is now: Landmark legislation that transforms industry practices can take years to pass. Your voice of support changed the conversation. Now, it’s not a matter of IF we will pass legislation that reduces single-use plastics, it is a matter of WHEN. Representatives and manufacturers heard our message loud and clear: The longer we delay the inevitable push to reduce single-use plastics, the more damage is done to public health and the natural environment.

2. Every bit of progress counts: While we didn’t see this monumental legislation pass, action was taken in California this year to reduce waste. Lawmakers approved multiple recycling and single-use plastic waste reduction bills that are now on the Governor’s desk for signing. AB 54 will provide $5 million to fund a pilot mobile recycling project overseen by CalRecycle. AB 792 includes a requirement that plastic bottles be made of 50% recycled materials by 2030. AB 1162 will curb single-use plastic bottles in the lodging industry. AB 1583 (The California Recycling Market Development Act) is focused on developing and bolstering the state’s recycling market as a response to China’s National Sword Policy. SB 8/AB 1718 will ban smoking in state beaches and parks and combat the number one item we find on beaches at cleanups, cigarette butts. And, earlier this summer, Governor Newsom signed the newly approved AB 619 into law, which allows vendors at concerts and festivals in California to serve food on reusable containers. There is another comprehensive piece of environmental legislation – SB 1 – that protects California from the effects of recent and future environmental protection rollbacks. SB 1 ensures that our state maintains tough standards under the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act. We hope to see Governor Newsom sign all of these bills into law!


Trash collected at a Heal the Bay cleanup in 2019. Photo by Marvin Pineda

3. Big change can happen locally: Heal the Bay is zooming in on local regulations and activities that reduce single-use plastics here at home in the Los Angeles region. For example, we’re hoping more communities and cities in Los Angeles will reduce plastic waste by adopting ordinances aimed at tackling single-use and disposable items. Wherever you may be located, we encourage you to attend a city council meeting or a town hall near you and speak during the public comment session about your concerns. When we pass strong policies locally, there is a greater likelihood that the state will take similar action. Check out our FAQs to bust some common myths about passing plastic reduction legislation.

We will continue to push for local and statewide single-use waste reduction to protect our communities and our environment in 2020 and beyond. Thank you to everyone who supported our efforts to combat plastic pollution. From the 410,000+ people who signed our petition to the thousands of people who called their representatives and posted on social media in support of SB 54 and AB 1080, thank you.

 

Finally, thank you to the authors of this legislation, Senator Ben Allen and Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, we could not have made it this far without you.



Photo by: Kids Ocean Day

California is on the cusp of passing a transformative bill to reduce plastic pollution, and we need your help to get there.

In February of this year, a small group of California State Senators and Assemblymembers came together and introduced a pair of bills to address plastic pollution. Known as the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, Senate Bill 54 (SB 54) and Assembly Bill 1080 (AB 1080), are poised to become transformative legislation in the global fight against plastic pollution.

California is currently in the midst of a waste crisis. With waste haulers no longer able to export recyclables to countries like China and India for disposal, our plastic trash is piling up, yet our throw-away lifestyle continues to grow. If we continue on with business as usual, we can expect to see a 40% increase in plastic production over the next decade, and more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050.

Plastic pollution is infiltrating our environment and our communities, carrying with it harmful toxins and contributing to climate change. And the cost of cleaning it all up? That falls on taxpayers. In California, we spend $420 million annually on litter prevention and removal. The time for drastic action is now, and SB 54 and AB 1080 can get us there.

Heal the Bay has been closely tracking and supporting this legislation since it was introduced. At its core, the bills function similarly to the greenhouse gas emissions limit bill of 2006 (SB 32) by setting a reduction target for single-use plastic packaging and products of 75% by 2030. Check out our FAQ for the full break down of the legislative language. Since their introduction, the bills have been amended to include a top 10 list of priority single-use plastic products that will be covered first (to be determined from statewide beach cleanup data, like Heal the Bay’s) and a comprehensive compliance program to ensure producers are reaching their reduction goals.

If SB 54 and AB 1080 pass, California will be at the forefront of the global fight against plastic pollution, and Heal the Bay has been working tirelessly alongside our partners to make that happen. But, now we need your help. The bills will be voted on by September 13 (we don’t know the exact date) and if they pass, they go on to the Governor and need to be signed by him before October 13.



Heal the Bay joined a host of environmental organizations to rally at the California State Capitol in support of the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act (SB 54 & AB 1080) on August 21, 2019.


Make Your Voice Heard

Our Senators and Assemblymembers need to hear from YOU now!

Please call your representative and tell them you support SB 54 and AB 1080. A call takes two minutes or less, and it makes a world of difference for our representatives to hear from their constituents.

  1. First, Find your representative.
  2. Second, Call your rep! You can use the script below and add any information of your own to tell them you support The California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act. Together, we can pass these bills and make history!

Sample Call Script:
Hello, my name is ____________________and I live in _____________________. As your constituent, I’m calling to urge you to support Assembly Bill 1080 and Senate Bill 54, which would reduce plastic pollution in California by 75% by 2030 and reduce the increasing costs of cleanups that are falling on taxpayers.

Plastic pollution is no longer just an environmental problem, it is a financial issue and a public health concern. Right now we are in the midst of a recycling crisis, and California is unable to deal with mounting plastic waste.

Our communities and our environment need to be protected now. That’s why I’m urging you to support AB 1080 and SB 54 in addressing plastic pollution before it’s too late. Thank you.

 



An aerial view of Kids Ocean Day 2011

Thousands of kids are coming together on May 23 for the 26th annual Kids Ocean Day! Sparking a love for nature in young kids sets them up for a lifetime of appreciation and respect for our oceans, watersheds and natural environment. Plus, they love digging their toes in the sand! At this event, kids will learn about marine animals, the importance of keeping our beaches clean, and what they can do to help.

To wrap up the day’s activities, the kids gather together in formation to create a powerful environmental message on the beach. Far above their heads, helicopters fly by to capture a photo. The result is a spectacular and meaningful image that our team at Heal the Bay looks forward to every year.

Kids Ocean Day 2019 Event Details

Date: Thursday, May 23
Time: 7:00am – 2:30pm
Location: Dockweiler State Beach, Vista Del Mar, Imperial Hwy Entrance, Playa Del Rey, CA 90293 (The end of Imperial Highway between Playa del Rey & Manhattan Beach)

Visit Kids Ocean Day Website


Kids Ocean Day Founder, Michael Klubock, on the importance of youth outreach, hands-on education, and how Kids Ocean Day makes an impact:

“Kids Ocean Day teaches school kids about how litter flows from our neighborhoods to the ocean, where it harms marine life and pollutes our natural resources. It’s where the lessons come to life. By bringing Los Angeles school children to the beach, we put them in touch with nature, while instilling good habits and stewardship that can last a lifetime. The wonder and beauty of the coast, combined with a mission to protect the natural world, is a profound experience. I see it on their faces every year and every year it moves me.

Kids Ocean Day is a way to show kids that their actions—both good and bad—have an impact. That’s a lesson worth learning at any age. Eighty percent of the pollution in the sea comes from the land as the result of runoff. We can all do something about that. Simple things like disposing of litter, picking up after your dog or joining a beach cleanup can make a huge difference.”

An aerial view of Kids Ocean Day 2014



California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act,

So, you heard California wants to eliminate single-use plastics? Here’s what you need to know and how you can help. Ready to take action? Urge our representatives to pass new policies by signing the Plastic Petition.

The California Senate and Assembly introduced two bills earlier this year that plan to drastically reduce plastic pollution. These bills are Senate Bill 54 and Assembly Bill 1080 and are referred to as the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act.

California is not alone in this endeavor to address single-use plastic at the source. Cities, nations and even the entire European Union have passed similar legislation. What do we know about these brand new bills, and what does the potential policy shift mean for California and the U.S.?

Here are some common questions and misconceptions about this important legislation.

I heard California is going to ban all plastic! Is that true?

The proposed legislation in California isn’t going to ban all plastic. Instead, the policies would set goals for the reduction of single-use disposable products and packaging, including plastics. By 2030, 75 percent of all single-use plastic packaging and products sold or distributed in California would need to be reduced, recycled or composted. After 2030, all single-use packaging and products must be effectively recyclable or compostable. As part of the shift toward a circular economy, the bills also instruct CalRecycle to develop incentives and policies to encourage in-state manufacturing using recycled material generated in California.

These targets would work similarly to California’s greenhouse gas emissions standards passed last year, which set a goal to move towards 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. The target was set and a plan will be developed to meet that target. Think of these plastics bills as a bold vision, with a specific plan to come later. Read the fine print.

What about recycling? Isn’t that important?

Yes, but, recycling as it exists today won’t solve the plastic pollution problem on its own.

Recycling is an important part of the puzzle, especially in the aftermath of China’s recently passed National Sword Policy that prohibits the United States from exporting our recyclables to China. India is quickly following suit, too. And we don’t blame them; it’s our dirty trash after all, and the United States needs a real plan to deal with it.

One of the key components of California’s bills is the standardized definition of what makes an item “recyclable”. For an item to be considered “recyclable”, it not only has to meet strict material requirements, but there also must be infrastructure in place that will ensure the proper recycling of that item, such as curbside pick-up and accessible recycling facilities.

It’s not enough for an item to be able to be recycled or composted, it has to actually happen.

Okay, so recycling is covered, but what about composting?

Just like recycling, these bills will create strict definitions and standardizations for compostable items. This clause will ensure environmental benefit by taking already defined standardizations such as “marine degradable” into account. As with recycling, the bill goes another step further and requires that items are actually being composted at proper facilities to earn the title of “compostable”.

Speaking of composting, what about compostable plastics? I heard those are okay to use!

Excellent question. It’s important to note that, although they sound sustainable, compostable plastics are not a good alternative. Compostable plastics may have benefits in the durable product world; however, they pose another set of issues for single-use products. They do not degrade in aquatic environments and require industrial composting facilities to break down, which we don’t currently have as part of the waste management infrastructure in greater L.A. The legislation being introduced in California will work to increase this infrastructure in L.A. and throughout the state so that all compostable items are being properly composted, helping to “close the loop”.

Wait, what does “close the loop” mean, and how is that related to a “Circular Economy”?

Right now, our global economies operate on what we call a “linear” system. We extract resources, produce products, and then discard the waste, known as “take-make-dispose”. Very little of those extracted resources are looped back into the economy to create new products, mostly due to cost and lack of infrastructure. A “circular economy” is the opposite system, where the raw materials used to make products are recovered to make new ones, with little to no waste. The process of moving from a linear system to a circular one is commonly referred to as “closing the loop”, and would drastically reduce our global waste and plastic pollution crisis by reducing the amount of waste we create. It’s sustainability at its simplest!

Didn’t Europe do something like this, too? Is California’s bill the same?

The European Union passed the EU Directive on Single-Use Plastics and Fishing Gear, a comprehensive plan to drastically reduce plastic pollution through a variety of different approaches. Sounds similar so far, but this directive is a bit different than what we have proposed here in the Golden State. Firstly, the main goal of this directive was to reduce plastic pollution, not necessarily reduce single-use plastics at the source. Secondly, the bill targets 10 very specific items that are most commonly found on European beaches based on beach cleanup data. Each item is then assigned one or more approaches, such as market restriction measures (an outright ban) or producer responsibility schemes (charging the maker of the product with the costs of cleaning it up). On the flip side, California is aiming to set broad plastic reduction targets, instead of focusing on specific items.

Hasn’t this already happened in some cities in California?

Sure has! We have seen the passing of comprehensive single-use plastics legislation in Berkeley, Santa Monica, and Manhattan Beach. There have also been strong plastics ordinances passed all over the state that focus on everything from single-use plastic straws to plastic foam to-go containers. A statewide act will help to strengthen already existing local legislation and give the rest of the state the incentive it needs to reduce its waste.

I’m on board! What can I do to help get this legislation passed?

We are stoked to hear you want to help! Throughout the next year, these new bills will be heard by multiple committees and by the state houses. Both bills have already moved through their first committee hearing and passed!

Now, the best thing you can do is let your state representatives know you support these bills. Sign our Plastic Petition urging the California Senate and Assembly to fast-track the approval of the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act. Call, email or write a letter to your representatives and let them know about these bills and why you support this proposed legislation. Find your representative.

And if you live in the City of Los Angeles, please contact your City Council Member and tell them you support this State legislation and want to see something similar in the City of L.A. There is some movement at the City of L.A. to enact similar legislation, but we need more voices to push it along.

Lastly, take the Plastic Pledge and spread the word! The more support this legislation gets from local communities, businesses, organizations, and people like you, the more likely it will be passed. Raise your voice and stay tuned for updates.