LEGISLATURE HANDS VICTORY TO PRIVATE LANDFILL OWNERS OVER LOCAL GOVERNMENT
By David I Tam, NCRA Board Member and Legislative Taskholder and SPAWLDEF Founder
A statewide coalition involving Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Yuba, Monterey, Madera, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, the League of California Cities, the cities of San Jose and Glendale, SPRAWLDEF, StopWaste.org, NCRA, CRRA, CAW, and the big 5 environmental groups opposed Fiona Ma’s AB 845. Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee exposed it as a gut-and-amend revival of last year’s stalled AB1178 Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg, Senators Lois Wolk and Noreen Evans, and Assemblymembers Jared Huffman, Tom Ammiano, and Mariko Yamada all spoke against the bill during floor votes. See how your Senators and Assemblymembers voted.
The Governor chose not to explain why he signed -- rather than vetoed – AB845, which subverts local initiatives and local governmental responsibility for and control of efforts to end wasting. Solano County and Waste Connections (which bought the Potrero Hills Land Fill in 2009 for a reported $58.9 million) have petitioned the California Court of Appeals to dismiss Solano County’s Measure E as moot. Legal challenges to AB845’s constitutionality are also a strong possibility.
On October 4th, Solano County Judge Paul Beeman heard arguments in SPRAWLDEF v. Bay Conservation and Development Commission. His final ruling, expected by January 4th, may require Waste Connections to show that a smaller project within the Suisun Marsh which does not bury Spring Branch Creek is economically infeasible, or else BCDC cannot issue a Marsh Development Permit.
According to California Maplight, the waste industry between May 20, 2011 and May 19, 2012 contributed $156,697 to legislators. Of the top 20 recipients of waste industry contributions, 17 eventually voted for AB1178, led on the Assembly side by Natural Resources Committee Chair Wes Chesbro ($20,962), Nancy Skinner (whose vote saved AB1178 from defeat in committee, $10,017), and Speaker John Pėrez ($10,900). Look here for all waste industry contributions to Assemblymembers while AB1178 was moving forward before and after it was stalled in Senate Environmental Quality on August 31, 2011 (see September 2011 NCRA News).
Other Significant Bills
CalRecycle’s Priority Bills Report shows that 21 of the 57 bills it tracked made it to the Governor. Click here for full tabular presentation
Fremont-based Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski authored significant changes in electronics and pharmaceutical waste law. Los Altos-based Assemblymember Rich Gordon succeeded with waste tire and beverage container anti-fraud bills.
The Governor did sensibly veto AB1978, hampering donation of salvageable materials (which wasn't on CalRecycle's radar), as well as SB1547, termed-out AB845-supporter Senator Joseph Simitian’s minor embellishment Simitian's minor embellishment of beverage container law.
Ma Bill A Travesty
Assemblymember Ma calls AB845 garbage equality. It is not. It subverts local-government control of waste/recycling planning. Californians have as yet heard almost nothing about this kool-aid. I hope they will never be forced to drink it. The acquiescence of a majority of legislators of both parties and the governor in immunizing private landfill expansions from public sector regulation are, well, un-Californian.