Heal the Bay sails into 2023 celebrating a host of new local legislative policy successes, including LA’s citywide polystyrene ban. But what did Californians gain as a whole in 2022 environmental policy? Take a look back at this year’s wins and losses in California state legislation with Heal the Bay Coastal and Marine Scientist Emily Parker as we embark upon another year of advocacy.
HEAL THE BAY’S Science and Policy team worked tirelessly this year and we are both celebrating some major policy wins and grieving some losses. Let’s take a closer look at what advocates and our representatives have accomplished in the fight for environmental health and justice and where Heal the Bay can eye on continuing our work through determined advocacy next year.
⭐ Highlight Reel
1. PASSED Senate Bill 54 (Allen): The Plastic Pollution Producer Responsibility Act
Central to Heal the Bay’s mission to make the coastal waters and watersheds of greater LA safe, healthy, and clean is reducing pollution at the source. Among them is single-use plastic. For four years, Heal the Bay and dozens of other advocates have worked tirelessly toward the passage of SB 54 legislation, combing through countless iterations and amendments. Thankfully the bill passed and was signed into law by Governor Newsom earlier this year. With some compromises, this bill makes huge strides in reducing California’s use and disposal of single-use products, particularly plastic. This bill:
- Sets a 25% source reduction goal for single-use packaging production by 2032 and by then, 65% of single-use packaging still being produced will need to be truly recyclable or compostable.
- Establishes a Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) to help California reduce plastic pollution, and creates strong state government enforcement and oversight that will remove power from the PRO should they fall out of compliance.
- Requires $5 billion of environmental mitigation funding from plastic producers to go toward environmental restoration and cleanup over 10-years.
2. PASSED Assembly Bill 1857 (C. Garcia): Zero Waste Transition and Incineration
Trash can take many pathways at the end of its lifecycle, and one of the most problematic and inequitable destinations is an incinerator. Incineration burns trash at extremely high temperatures, polluting the air in surrounding environmental justice communities and contributing to climate change. One of the last two incinerators in the state is located right here in LA County in Long Beach and is old, dirty, expensive, and just unnecessary. AB 1857:
- Removes diversion credits for incineration, essentially deeming incineration as equivalent to landfill and disincentivizing the use of incineration as an end-of-life pathway for waste.
- Funds investments into zero-waste infrastructure and programs in frontline communities most impacted by incinerators.
3. APPROVED California State Budget: Allocations for the Environment
Laws aren’t the only way to get things done politically. Our state budget plays a major role in how effectively our decision-makers combat environmental and public health crises. Through multiple pathways, the approved 2022-2023 California state budget set aside essential funding for plastic pollution reduction, climate change mitigation and adaptation, drought resilience, and toxic pollution cleanup. Here is the breakdown:
- AB 179 (Ting): Budget Act of 2022 – Allocates $25M in the state budget for refillable beverage bottles.
- SB 154 (Skinner): Budget Act of 2022 – Allocates $5.6M in the state budget for DDT cleanup near southern California.
- $54 Billion for Climate – A record-breaking allocation, California has ear-marked this pot of funds for programs such as electric transit, wildfire risk reduction, and a whopping $3 billion for combating California’s worsening aridification. Drought funding will be used for water conservation and drought mitigation efforts, including $75 million set aside to fund turf-replacement programs such as the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s rebate program.
Other Environmental Wins
- SB 1137 (Gonzalez) – Requires a 3200-foot setback between oil and gas infrastructure and sensitive receptors such as homes and schools. This bill was signed into law in August, however, a referendum has been filed to overturn it, which is currently in the signature-gathering phase. Learn more about how you can fight this. The City of LA also passed an ordinance requiring major oil extraction cessation.
- AB 2638 (Bloom) – Requires water bottle refilling stations in schools for new construction or modernization.
- AB 1817 (Ting) – Prohibits the manufacturing, distributing, selling, or offering for sale new textile articles that contain regulated per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are chemicals known to have harmful effects in humans and animals.
- AB 1832 (L. Rivas) – Bans seabed mining in state waters.
- SB 1157 (Hertzberg) – Increases drought resilience by updating water use efficiency standards.
- SB 1046 (Eggman) – Bans pre-checkout single-use produce bags that aren’t recyclable or compostable (think produce bags).
👉 Get caught up: Learn more about AB 2638, AB 1832, and SB 1157 from our previous California legislation blog post: 5 Bills that Need Your Support Before the End of California Legislative Season
Washouts Worthy of Another Tide
- AB 1953 (Maienschein) – Would have required water refill stations in public places. While this bill was lost in assembly appropriations, it kept the ever-important conversation around the importance of reuse going in the legislature.
- SB 1255 (Portantino) – Would have established the Dishwasher Grant Program for Waste Reduction in K–12 Schools to provide grants to schools for the purchase and installation of commercial dishwashers. This bill was passed by the legislature but vetoed by Governor Newsom who deemed it too expensive for the state to enact and felt that dishwashers could be purchased under existing Proposition 98 General Funds of $750M for schools to purchase and upgrade kitchen equipment
- AB 2026 (Friedman) – Would have required e-commerce shippers to reduce the single-use plastic fill used to ship products (think the puffy single-use plastic in the packages you receive). This bill died in senate appropriations following hard opposition from industry.
- AB 1690 (L. Rivas) – This bill was originally intended to ban harmful single-use plastic cigarette filters (butts) to reduce pollution. The language was watered down so much in scope that it was pulled by the author – we are planning another attempt next year!
- SB 1036 (Newman) – Would have established the Ocean Conservation Corps to conduct ocean conservation projects and workforce development. While this bill was passed by the legislature, it was vetoed by Governor Newsom who deemed it too expensive of a program that was not accounted for in the state budget.
- AB 2758 (O’Donnell) – Would have required CalEPA to conduct public meetings on the agency’s efforts to study and mitigate DDT and other chemical waste located off the coast of Los Angeles. This bill was sponsored by Heal the Bay and was lost in senate appropriations. We are exploring options to revitalize these efforts.
Crystal Ball – Looking Ahead
Heal the Bay is already preparing for a busy and productive legislative season. We are working with Senator Allen, his staff, and CalRecycle on the successful and equitable implementation of SB 54 and hoping to see some major reductions in plastic pollution off our coast. Stay tuned and follow Heal the Bay on all our channels to stay up to date on how you can be an activist and help support all our efforts, both inside and out of the Capitol!
Written by Emily Parker. As a Coastal and Marine Scientist for Heal the Bay, Emily works to keep our oceans and marine ecosystems healthy and clean by advocating for strong legislation and enforcement both locally and statewide. She focuses on plastic pollution, marine protected areas, sustainable fisheries, and climate change related issues.