By the time you read this, the California Legislature will be wrapping up another eventful year of passing new laws to go with those already contained in the 29 separate editions of the California Code.

One of the most pernicious bills hanging around is a measure known in the Capitol as Senate Bill 1 (yep, SB 1 again) which carries the title “California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2019.” It is another one of the many California measures to oppose the Trump Administration at every level. This bill requires California to follow federal law that was in effect during the Obama Administration “as in effect on or before Januar y 1, 2 0 1 7 .” Th u s , SB1 places California in direct defiance of any changes in these federal laws: Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 and the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. 

If it were just another opportunity for state officials to hold a press conference and rail against the President, nobody would get very upset. But there is a back story that involves environmental and labor organizations attempting to wrest control of water throughout the state from any federal “interference.” 

California Water Alliance (CalWa), which has partnered with ECA on several measures, is adamantly opposed to this bill. They see it is a backdoor attempt to stop the construction of any tunnel, canal, etc., to improved supply to the central and southern parts of the state. The second flaw in the bill would block any other relocation of water by any the nearly half dozen state agencies called out in this new SB1. Finally, if all else fails, the bill allows environmental activists as “a person acting in the public interest” to sue to bring back the Obama or earlier federal rules. 

“SB1 will hurt disadvantaged communities throughout California with inconsistent state and federal regulations. This bill will compromise access to drinking water and limit economic prosperity. The California Water Alliance knows it has to do something about SB1 by engaging voters and demanding that Sacramento politicians Fix or Nix SB1,” Bourdeau concluded.

By Dave Sorem, P.E. ECA Government Affairs Chairman email: [email protected]