(SACRAMENTO) – Today Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) announced his environmental bill package. The environment has long been a top priority for Assemblymember Rivas and he is proud to introduce a bold package of bills to protect our air, water and soil.
“As an elected official, I see myself as a steward of the environment, and a voice for the people. That’s why I’ve introduced AB 936 to protect our land and coastlines from hazardous oil spills. The bill requires improved transparency and clear contingency plans for dealing with non-floating oil, which poses serious clean up challenges in the event of a spill,” Rivas explained.
“Unlike lighter oils that float and eventually evaporate, heavy non-floating oils sink, smothering wildlife,” says Sejal Choksi-Chugh, Executive Director of San Francisco Baykeeper. “AB 936 helps prevent and respond to a spill that could cause irreversible damage to the ecosystem."
Victoria Rome, Director of California Government Affairs, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) agrees. “Non-floating oils, such as Canadian tar sands, are already coming into our state on a regular basis. AB 936 takes prudent steps to ensure that California is prepared for a spill, and that polluters will be held financially accountable. This bill helps protect California from potentially disastrous spills of non-floating oil.”
Rivas believes protecting our natural resources isn't just necessary to preserve them for future generations, it’s essential to ensure our frontline communities have clean air and water today. Different communities are protected by different safety standards when it comes to oil production near people. “Too often, it’s our low-income and minority communities that have the least protection. As the state has the longer conversation of how to tackle climate change, there are basic steps we can take to protect people from these risks immediately,” Rivas explained. AB 935 identifies production facilities near homes, schools and hospitals for additional safety protections and empowers local communities to require improved monitoring systems to increase transparency and help identify issues for containment before they become more serious problems.
“Clean water is essential to our agricultural economy, so it’s critical we know what’s being sold to irrigate crops is safe,” said Rivas. Oil production wastewater is currently used for agricultural purposes in some portions of the state, despite a lack of independent scientific review of its safety for farmworkers and consumers. AB 937 requires that the California Council on Science and Technology determine if the water poses a significant risk before new permits to use the water are issued.
Additionally, Rivas has introduced legislation to support Attorney General Xavier Becerra's bold environmental justice work (AB 1628) and to create a new incentive for drivers to trade in older cars for zero or near emission vehicles (AB 938).