September 26, 2003

California marine environmental protection legislation becomes law

Embattled California Governor Gray Davis this week signed a package of new bills intended to provide additional protections for California's coastline and ecosystem through a variety of measures, including regulation of cruise ship discharges, an extension to 2010 of the state's ballast water management law--and a ban on using shuttle tankers to transport oil from new or expanded offshore oil installations.

"California's coast is an irreplaceable state treasure," said Davis. "These new bills build upon existing law. Importantly, we are employing a common-sense approach to assure that people can enjoy the coast without damaging it."

Among the bills are some of the strongest laws in the nation dealing with discharges from passenger ships.

AB 121 by Assemblymember Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) and AB 906 by Assemblymember George Nakano (D-Torrance) protect marine waters from the release of sewage sludge and oily bilge water by passenger vessels and prohibit cruise ships from releasing wastewater or hazardous wastes into state waters or national marine sanctuaries.

"AB 121 protects our economy, our environment, and our public health," said Assemblymember Joe Simitian, author of the bill. "Our coastal waters and marine sanctuaries ought not be used as a dumping ground."

"This bill is good for cruise lines too, because it will help protect California's beautiful coastal waters and ensure that our coast continues to attract tourists," said Gov. Davis.

"People from all around the world make California a top travel destination because of its pristine coastal regions, and I am proud to join my colleagues in carrying legislation that protects our State's precious marine environment," added Assemblymember Nakano.

The International Council of the Cruise Lines (ICCL) says it is "pleased that technical, safety and jurisdictional concerns" about the bills have been resolved.

"We have worked collaboratively with lawmakers to produce common sense legislation that protects the environment," says an ICCL statement. "By listening to a variety of stakeholders, including the cruise lines--whose livelihood depends on clean waters--the California legislators have framed a workable approach that makes sense from a technical and economic perspective." The measures put into statute several practices that are already industry standards such as banning any discharges of hazardous waste or photo/dry cleaning fluids.

The legislative package signed by the Governor also includes several other environmental protection bills:

AB 16 by Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) requires all oil produced offshore from new or expanded oil extractions be transported onshore by pipeline only.

AB 260 (Jackson) requires CalTrans to assign a high priority, within its maintenance programs relating to litter cleanup and abatement, to litter deposited along segments of state highways that adjoin storm drains, streams, rivers, waterways, beaches, the ocean, and other environmentally sensitive areas.

AB 433 by Assemblymember Joe Nation (D-San Rafael) continues a program signed into law by Gov. Davis in 1999. The bill extends until Jan. 1, 2010, the sunset on the California Ballast Water Management Program to control and reduce the release of non-native aquatic species and organisms into state waters by ships arriving in California from foreign ports (e.g., foreign shellfish, toxic algae, bacteria and viruses).

"Four years ago, California became the first state in the country to enact a comprehensive program to control marine invasive species through its primary source of introduction—ship ballast water," said Assemblyman Nation. "Marine invasive species continue to create significant economic and ecological problems for California and the nation. I am very pleased the Governor is honoring California's leadership role in this effort by signing AB 433 into law."

AB 847 by Assemblymember Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) authorizes the State Coastal Conservancy to use bond funds to award grants for projects that improve coastal water quality and protect marine resources in sensitive habitat areas.

AB 866 (Pavley) requires the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission to recommend to the State Water Resources Control Board which projects will receive Prop. 40 bond funds for Santa Monica Bay restoration funding.

AB 1555 (Nakano) extends existing motorboat noise limits to include coastal waters within one mile of the California coastline, rather than only in inland waters.

AB 13 by Assemblymember Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach) authorizes CalTrans to transfer 9.5 acres of environmental mitigation property in the City of Huntington Beach to the Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy.

SB 68 by Senator Dede Alpert (D-San Diego) creates the San Diego Bay Advisory Committee for Ecological Assessment to evaluate and report on trends related to the health of San Diego Bay, identify habitat enhancement projects, and recommend storm water pollution control technology.

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