Every Bird Matters
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Posts Tagged ‘new bills’

October 7, 2008

Schwarzenegger vetos/signs oil spill cleanup bills

Nearly a year following the oil spill that fouled San Francisco Bay, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger last week signed seven bills to help quicken response to spills and to train local volunteer. However, the governor also angered many environmentalists by vetoing three tougher bills.

“Sadly the governor vetoed the stronger bills,” said Warner Chabot in the San Jose Mercury News. “He gave us the gravy but not the meat,” said Chabot, vice president of the Ocean Conservancy, an environmental group in San Francisco.

Schwarzenegger dumped SB 1056, by Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, which would have required cleanup crews to respond to spills in San Francisco Bay within two hours, instead of six, as the law now requires.

AB 2032 was vetoed, by Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-El Cerrito, which have raised the state fee charged to oil companies from 5 cents a barrel to 8 cents a barrel on oil brought into California waters. This would have raised an additional $19 million in new funding for state oil spill response.

Lastly, he vetoed AB 2547, by Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, that earmarked $1 million a year for grants to companies that develop newer oil spill cleanup technology.

The package of bills signed Monday, September 29, 2008 includes:

• AB2031 by Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley forces the state’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) to setup training and certifications of managers that would turn around and train volunteers.

• AB2935, by Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, requires the Department of Fish and Game to close waters to fisherman within 24 hours of an oil spill of 42 gallons or more.

• SB1739, by Senator Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, mandates spill responders to be adequately trained in part by regular and unannounced emergency drills.

• AB1960, by Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, creates an inland oil-spill prevention program.

• AB2911, by Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, D-Davis, makes state Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) administrator’s responsibility to include overseeing clean-up of inland oil spills.

• SB1217, by Senator Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, requires the Board of Pilot Commissioners to submit an annual report to the Legislature regarding licensees, including review of the physical fitness of pilots.

• SB1627, by Senator Patricia Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa, places the Board of Pilot Commissioners under the oversight of the state Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.

The spate of bills follow the November 7, 2007 incident that spilled more than 50,000 gallons of bunker crude into San Francisco Bay. The spill response was roundly criticized as too slow, uncoordinated and frustrating to public volunteers who were prevented from quickly helping cleaning up oil or capture oiled animals without attending a mandatory volunteer orientation.

Scientists believe the spill may have killed 20,000 birds. IBRRC was instrumental in rescuing 1,000 but only 420 were returned to the wild.

Cosco Busan response report on IBRRC website

Read the San Francisco Chronicle story

San Jose Mercury News story

April 8, 2008

In wake of SF oil spill: Legislators get busy

The hue and cry over the Cosco Busan oil spill response in San Francisco Bay is finally making itself heard in the California legislature. A least seven new bills have been introduced to force improvements on everything from the state’s oil spill response to volunteer training.

The spill dumped almost 54,000 gallons of bunker crude into the bay after the 900-foot Cosco Busan container ship struck the San Francisco Bay Bridge in heavy fog. The November 2007 disaster closed beaches and killed at least 2,500 birds.

The bills to force change cleared the Assembly Natural Resources committee and will be sent on to the General Assembly.

The bills include:

– Requiring the office of the Oil Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) to provide grants that allow local emergency officials to train and certify volunteers to help in cleanup efforts.

-Increasing the Oil Spill Response Trust Fund from $55 million to $100 million by imposing a 25 cent fee on each barrel of oil produced in or imported into California.

– Improve recovery of wildlife affected by an oil spill by developing and implementing training programs for local officials and volunteers.

These bills are the most significant to come out of the legislature since the middle 1990s when a couple of ammendments added more bite to the original Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act that was passed in 1990. That Act required the Administrator of the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) to establish rescue and rehabilitation stations for aquatic birds, sea otters, and other marine mammals.

Later in 1993, Senate Bill 775 allowed OSPR to use the interest accrued from the State’s Oil Spill Response Trust Fund to build at least six major centers to care for oiled wildlife.

Read more: San Francisco Chronicle