Assembly passes CA bill blocking Trump rollbacks of environmental regulations

By Dan Bacher |  

Despite intense last-minute lobbying by Big Ag and big water districts, the California Assembly last night passed Senate Bill 1 last night by a 43-21 party-line vote.

The bill now goes to the Governor's Desk. You can expect agribusiness and other corporate interests to put major political pressure on Governor Gavin Newsom not to sign the legislation.

The legislation would lock in protections in effect as of January 2017 under the federal Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, Occupational Safety and Health Act and Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act.

In a tweet, Sierra Club CA wrote: "#SB1sends a strong message from the legislature to Californians: We’ve got your back. Federal mischief won’t rob you of clean air and clean water. ⁦@GavinNewsom @GavinsOtter” 

Environmental and fishing groups are strongly urging Governor Newsom to sign the bill.

“Signing SB 1 should be should be an easy call for Governor Newsom, siding with California instead of the Trump administration,” said John McManus, President of the Golden Gate Salmon Association. “Senate President tem Toni Atkins and the California legislature showed real political courage by passing this bill to block Trump administration efforts to gut environmental and salmon protections.  The California salmon fishing industry is facing a wave of attacks from Washington DC. This could be the most important piece of environmental legislation passed in the country this year.”

“The California legislature may have just saved the state's salmon fishing industry by passing SB1,” stated Noah Oppenheim, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “We're having a wonderful season this year thanks to 2017's rains, but if the federal administration's proposed water grab framework were forced upon is, the next drought could wipe us off the map. Governor Newsom should feel proud of his opportunity to defend our fisheries, which provide local seafood to all Californians, and sign this bill.”

@GavinNewsom#SB1has enough flexibility for Delta fishery science to be re-evaluated and enough muscle to protect the SF Bay-Delta for future generations. Please sign #SB1and #SaveTheDelta!” urged Restore the Delta in a tweet.

SB 1, the California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2019 authored by Senate President Pro Toni Atkins, ensures that “protections afforded to Californians under federal environmental and labor laws and regulations as of January 2017, remain in place in the event that President Trump weakens or repeals any of those federal laws or regulations.”

On September 6, California Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressmen Jim Costa (CA-16, John Garamendi (CA-03), TJ Cox (CA-16) and  Josh Harder (CA-10) sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom urging him to include two amendments to Senate Bill 1 (SB1), a piece of legislation that Costa claimed “would have profound impacts on the long term availability of water in the Valley.” Costa also co-authored an op-with Rep. Cox on the issue that was recently published in the Fresno Bee.

Many fishing and environmental groups are supporting SB 1 — and opposed the stripping of key provisions in the bill, as proposed in the letter. The Westlands Water District, Metropolitan Water District and other big water districts supported weakening the provisions in the bill that protect endangered species from the pumping of more water from the state and federal water project pumps in the South Delta.

“We applaud Senate President Pro Tempore Atkins for protecting  California’s environment against President Trump’s rollbacks of overarching federal regulations through SB 1. However we urge you to insist on two amendments to the bill to preserve the viability of potential voluntary agreements over proposed outflow requirements for the San Joaquin and Sacramento River,” the lawmakers wrote.

John McManus countered, “The Trump Administration is in the process of gutting existing federal protections for Bay-Delta salmon, the backbone of our industry.  Those rollbacks threaten California’s 23,000 job, $1.4 billion salmon fishery.  SB 1 provides responsible, science-based interim state protections essential to hard-working fishing families.”

“The desert agribusiness barons in the Westlands Water District already have installed their lobbyist, David Bernhardt, as the Secretary of the Interior. Now, they’re asking the legislature and the Governor to waive state sovereignty over our rivers and streams and instead hand it over, no questions asked, to the Trump administration to do as it will,” McManus concluded.

For more information, read: Feinstein, Costa Support Weakening of CA Bill Blocking Trump Rollbacks of Environmental Regulations —

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