Environmental bills move forward in California legislature

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environmental legislation californiaTwo pro-environmental bills–one to streamline disposal of e-waste by state bureaucracies, the other to create thousands of jobs for inner-city kids – passed a key policy review yesterday by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.

The two California Senate Bills by Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach, are:

SB 1052, Streamlining E-Waste Disposal: Based on a recommendation from the State Auditor, this measure seeks to provide taxpayer savings by reducing the number of state agencies overseeing the disposal of electronic waste.

SB 1326, California Conservation Corps: This bill would hire, train and educate at-risk youths in ‘green’ jobs related to recycling, cleaning the environment and helping protect against fires.

“Streamlining state government is a top priority of mine and these bills in the long run will save money and help keep our landfills free of potentially toxic waste,” Oropeza said. “The entire state benefits if we can help put Californians to work while cleaning the environment.”

As written, SB 1052 would replace the current system of five state agencies responsible for disposing of electronic waste with oversight by the state Department of Toxic Substance Control. It would also require all state agencies to develop an e-waste plan.

Currently, the state Department of General Services is responsible for overseeing state disposal of e-waste.  But the auditor’s office found state agencies do not consistently report information such as the amount of e-waste they divert from municipal landfills.  The audit traced the problem to a lack of knowledge and clear communication.  The audit also found that the Department of General Service’s reporting of e-waste disposal has been infrequent and inconsistent.

A report March 31 by CalWatchDog.org, a Pacific Research Institute-funded, non-partisan journalism Web site, concluded that state agencies continued to be unresponsive to the Auditor General’s report that there is little oversight of getting rid of old TVs, computers, monitors, cell phones and other electronic gear.

“I am alarmed the California State Auditor has found so much confusion and lack of coordination among state agencies.”

SB 1326, formerly known as SBX8 30 but now is a regular session bill, would appropriate $20 million to Local Conservation Corps and $10 million to the California Conservation Corps to recycle items that would otherwise be destined to go to landfills. Both programs would be paid from existing funds.

Records show that both programs have trained more than 140,000 men and women ages 18-25 since their creation.  In addition, 92 percent of the participants are people of color, 36 percent are women and 25 percent are single parents.  The bill would create more than 1 million job hours; more than 4,000 youths are waiting to join the local and state corps.

The measures now face fiscal review by the Senate Appropriations Committee. No date has yet been set.

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