Preemptive strike legislation against Trump environmental policies advancing in state legislature
SACRAMENTO – A proposal that would require state agencies to enforce environmental standards adopted under the Obama Administration, if those standards are rolled back under Trump, is headed for a floor vote in the Assembly by late September.
Having cleared the Senate with a substantial majority in late May, business leaders say SB 49 is loaded with concerns, including private rights of action, added costs to taxpayers for new hires needed at state agencies, and vague language open to numerous interpretations.
A policy advocate for the California Chamber of Commerce warns that if the proposal is adopted in her state, dire consequences could result.
“Two things we need are affordable housing and water in California,” said Louinda Lacey, policy advocate for California Chamber of Commerce.
Incorporating over 70 endangered species, including some insects, by the state agencies will alone require hundreds of extra hires.
What’s more, the legislation allows for private rights of action against the state agencies and businesses, with one-way attorney fee provisions attached.
“You’ll see an explosion of new cases.” On the agency side, the legislation would authorize a person to petition a court for a writ of mandate to compel a state or local agency to comply with the adoption of the Obama-era standards.
The private right of action is similar to one allowed under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), said Peggy Otum, partner at Arnold & Porter in San Francisco.
“The extra cost to the agencies with the passage of this legislation should be a disincentive to anyone to vote for it,” Lacey said.
Meanwhile, in Illinois, a nearly identical bill also is advancing – HB 1438.