Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Fracking, Graywater, and Baby Bottles: 3 Bills Greening California

Several green bills moving through Sacramento have been making national headlines. These include AB 376, which bans the sale of shark fins. AB 306 converts road vibrations into electrical energy. And SB 568 proposes to prohibit the use of Styrofoam for take-out foods.

The good news? These are just several of the eco-friendly bills making their way through our state government. Here are the details on two bills that are waiting for Governor Brown’s signature, and one that is planned for a future vote. All three will leave a greener stamp on California.

Recycling water seems like a no-brainer, but it has been largely prohibited by existing building standards. AB 849 seeks to change this. This policy will standardize the laws that localities can apply to graywater systems, meaning you can recycle your shower water onto your lawn. But not to worry, your neighbor’s potentially dubious water will not be seeping into the water table. The bill requires city, county, or other local agencies to seek consultation with the local public health department before issuing permits. 

AB 1319 would enact the Toxin-Free Infants and Toddlers Act. This prohibits the sale of baby bottles, formula cans and similar products that contain Bisphenol-A, a hormone-disrupting chemical. Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D- 50th District) authored the bill that requires that the maximum amount of BPA in baby bottles and like products be lowered to 0.1 ppb (parts per billion). Manufacturers, sellers, and distributors of these baby products must adhere to this new maximum after July 1, 2013.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-43rd District) co-authored AB 1319 and authored AB 849. As Gatto wrote in an email to Pacific Swell, “I have a lot of fingers crossed that Governor Brown signs these bills into law.” He believes these efforts indicate a general move towards green policy. “It was a pretty good year for the environment, with my bills on water conservation, biofuels, and conserving energy from car and truck traffic, all sparking major policy shifts.” Both bills are awaiting signatures from Governor Brown.

Finally, there are several bills currently being held in appropriations that are on the docket for next year. One is AB 591 (Wieckowski, D-20th District) which regulates fracking, the process of extracting gas and oil from the earth by pumping in large volumes of pressurized water mixed with toxic chemicals. This legislation would require transparency from all operators. Companies would be required to reveal where they are fracking, the chemicals they use, and the amount of water they are pumping through the land.

Will Governor Brown sign a BPA-ban and graywater system into law? Will our legislation pass the law requiring frackers to own up to their practices? One thing is certain. While these environmental bills are still in play, California will continue to lead the nation in green policy.

Image: tyger_lyllie /Flickr