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.