On the first day of the 2021 Legislative Session, Assembly Member Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) introduced Assembly Bill 1, which makes numerous changes to improve the governance of the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and increase the revenues that support its programs.

DTSC is charged with regulating the management of hazardous waste and overseeing clean-up of contaminated sites.  Importantly, DTSC also cleans-up legacy and orphan contaminated sites.  DTSC has a significant structural budget deficit and faced significant management challenges over the last several years, prompting numerous calls for structural and financial change.  Additionally, it lacks the resources necessary to address the significant backlog of sites in need of remediation.

With respect to governance, AB 1 establishes a new five-member board to oversee DTSC, consider permit appeals, and facilitate greater public engagement.  AB 1 also incorporates a significant number of policy reforms suggested by the DTSC Independent Review Panel that will improve and expedite internal decision-making while restoring trust in those communities disproportionately impacted by hazardous waste management and disposal.

AB 1 would also raise about $20 million annually for DTSC by significantly increasing fees for hazardous waste facilities and generation and repealing several current fee exemptions for local government programs and used oil.  Admittedly, AB 1 repeals several other minor fees.

AB 1 continues a discussion begun last year that culminated in the veto of a similar bill, AB 995 (C. Garcia).  In vetoing AB 995 last year, Governor Newsom indicated that even more funding is needed to right the DTSC ship and ensure a stable source of funding for cleaning up contamination. 

RCRC engaged extensively with DTSC and the Legislature on AB 995 and the Governor’s DTSC state budget proposals last year and has renewed those discussions.  For more information, contact John Kennedy, RCRC Legislative Advocate at (916) 447-4806 or jkennedy@rcrcnet.org.