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Groups Praise CA Bill to Defend Against Federal Environmental Rollbacks

California sea otters are federally protected, but aren't currently on the state endangered species list. A proposed bill would add them if the feds move to weaken protections. (Wikimedia Commons)
California sea otters are federally protected, but aren't currently on the state endangered species list. A proposed bill would add them if the feds move to weaken protections. (Wikimedia Commons)
December 6, 2018

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California's first state Senate bill of the new session – SB 1 – is an effort to combat the Trump administration's environmental rollbacks by requiring state rules to be at least as strict as those in place before January 2017, when President Barack Obama left office.

The current administration has already repealed dozens of environmental rules, including protections for wetlands and smaller streams, and regulating the release of greenhouse gases from oil and gas wells on federal land.

Kim Delfino, California program director for Defenders of Wildlife, says California can't just stand by when Congress or federal agencies cave to special interests.

"This bill was introduced to provide a backstop within state law, so that if further weakening occurs that we can continue to rely on the fact that we will have clean air, clean water and protections for endangered species in California," she states.

Other federal rollbacks under discussion would weaken car emission standards that reduce air pollution, sonic testing rules meant to help marine mammals and habitat conservation measures.

President Donald Trump maintains environmental controls are excessive, strangle commercial activity and cost jobs.

The administration has also looked at weakening protections for fish such as salmon and smelt in order to bring more water to farmers.

Delfino stresses the state can't afford to lose important species.

"And this would direct our state Fish and Wildlife Commission to evaluate all of those species that are currently on the federal endangered species list, for inclusion on our state endangered species list," she states.

That requirement would kick in only if the federal government tries to remove species' protections.

A similar bill, which stalled during the last legislative session, was opposed by oil companies, the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Farm Bureau and the Western State Petroleum Association.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA