Salton Sea Dust Mitigation Bill Passes Assembly


 Salton Sea red rocks

(SACRAMENTO) –Several bills that have passed the Assembly Floor with strong, bipartisan support.


AB 147, the Salton Sea Dust Mitigation Act, compels state action related to Salton Sea dust mitigation.  The bill directs the California Air Resources Board (CARB), as the state’s air quality expert, to evaluate the air quality mitigation planning completed to date by local water agencies to ensure it is adequate to mitigate the dust emissions from the Salton Sea resulting from the implementation of the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA).  To the extent that additional mitigation work is needed, this measure will require CARB to develop and make recommendations for how to complete that work.


“AB 147 ensures the state is involved in planning and responding to the significant air quality impacts that will result from reduced water flowing into the Salton Sea,” said Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez.  “I feel very encouraged by the overwhelming support this bill received, as well as the progress we have made with the governance bill AB 71 and recent budget actions supporting the Salton Sea funding feasibility study and the Financial Assistance Program.”


It is estimated that over the next 20 years, reduced water inflows to the Salton Sea resulting from the QSA will shrink the Sea’s volume by up to 60%, exposing up to 100 square miles of dusty sea lakebed to the desert’s strong winds. The bill passed today on a vote of 75-0.


Yesterday, the following two bills jointly authored by Pérez passed the Assembly Floor:


AB 21, jointly authored by Pérez with Assemblymember Luis Alejo of Watsonville, establishes the Safe Drinking Water Small Community Emergency Grants Fund.  The Fund would provide grants for water projects that serve disadvantaged and severely disadvantaged communities.  AB 21 is based on a recommendation made in a 2012 report developed by the Drinking Water Stakeholder Group convened by Governor Brown earlier that year to identify specific, creative, viable solutions to address groundwater and drinking water contamination.  The bill passed with bipartisan support of 77-0.


AB 114, jointly authored by Pérez together with Assemblymember Rudy Salas of Bakersfield, directs the Labor and Workforce Development Agency to develop and implement the Clean Energy Jobs and Workforce Development Program.  The program would award grants to provide job training on energy efficiency and clean energy projects that are located in communities with a higher unemployment rate than the state unemployment rate. The grant program is to be funded by Prop 39 California Clean Energy Jobs Act funds, approved by the voters last November. The bill passed with bipartisan support on a vote of 75-2.


Also approved today is the locally relevant AB 27 (Medina) related to UC Riverside School of Medicine.  The bill would annually appropriate $15 million from the state’s General Fund to the School of Medicine, set to open in August 2013.  The measure is one of a package of bills to address the state’s looming physician shortage and to build the ranks of physicians in the swiftly growing Riverside County and Inland Empire region.  The bill passed on a vote of 76-0.


All of these bills now head to the Senate for referral to policy committees.