Mullin Environmental Legislation Advances to the Senate

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Bills address climate adaptation, lithium-ion battery recycling and zero-emission buses

Sacramento – Today, three environmental bills authored by Assembly Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin passed off of the Assembly floor and now move on to the Senate. Collectively, the bills address climate adaptation, the deployment of zero-emission buses and the recycling of lithium-ion batteries.

“California has long been pro-active on environmental issues,” Mullin stated. “Yet, there is still work to be done to continue our stewardship of the environment. I am thrilled that these bills are advancing to the Senate and am confident the upper house will see the merit in each piece of legislation.”

AB 839 will enact a climate adaptation framework for the state over the coming years to ensure there are thoughtful goals, coordinated government actions, and innovative funding mechanisms in place to adapt to climate change. The bill also directs the Natural Resources Agency to add timetables and metrics to the existing Safeguarding CA Plan and creates a fund that the Resources Agency and State Treasurer will manage to develop grants and financing for recommended projects.

“To date, California has done great work investing in research, developing guidance and planning for adaptation to climate change,” Mullin said. “AB 839 takes an important next step to add more urgency and accountability to our existing efforts. Given the breadth, complexity, pervasiveness and danger of climate change, this targeted funding and accountability is critical to meet California’s goals and targets.”

In an effort to advance the deployment of zero-emission buses in California, AB 784 would exempt zero-emission transit buses, or ZEBs, from the state portion of the sales tax until January 1, 2024. Currently, almost half of the state’s bus population contains diesel engines which emit a complex mixture of pollution that cause cancer, premature births and have been identified as top contributors to climate change.  

“To their credit, many California transit agencies have already begun to deploy ZEB’s,” Mullin points out.  “However, since many transit agencies are often cash-strapped they hesitate to purchase more expensive technology and opt to stay with the diesel alternatives. By exempting ZEBs from the state portion of sales tax for four years, these agencies can overcome an upfront funding obstacle that currently impedes the procurement of these buses.”

AB 1509 was introduced in response to a fire caused by a lithium-ion battery ignition at the Shoreway Facility in San Mateo County. The fire resulted in $8.5 million in damages to the facility, which had to be shut down for 90 days and took over a year to restore to full service. While current law prohibits these batteries from being thrown in the trash, and requires large retailers to have a mechanism to accept all rechargeable batteries from consumers for recycling, batteries that are embedded in devices are not subject to the law.

“This bill has received statewide support which I believe demonstrates the seriousness of this issue,” Mullin stated. “AB 1509 proposes that retailers help improve the collection of products with embedded lithium-ion batteries by establishing a take-back program, a deposit system, or a similar program. We’re also looking for manufacturer’s to step up and help address the problem as well.”
 

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