Current state law sets the maximum civil fine for most air quality violations at $15,000 per day and most water quality violations at $10,000 per day, but federal law allows the federal environmental protection agency to assess a maximum daily fine per violation of $47,357 for these violations. Sections 2 and 4 of the bill raise the maximum fine to $47,357 per day and direct the air quality control commission and the water quality control commission in the department of public health and environment (department) to annually adjust the maximum fine based on changes in the consumer price index.
Current law allocates all water quality fines to the water quality improvement fund; section 4 authorizes the use of money in that fund to pay for projects addressing impacts to environmental justice communities. Section 4 also extends the repeal date for the water quality improvement fund to September 1, 2025.
Current law allocates all air quality fines to the general fund; section 3 allocates them to the newly created community impact cash fund. Section 3 also:
- Specifies that the department is to use money in the community impact cash fund for environmental mitigation projects (EMPs);
- Defines an EMP as a project that avoids, minimizes, or mitigates the adverse effects of a violation or alleged violation of the air quality or water quality laws;
- Creates the environmental justice advisory board to recommend EMPs in response to violations or alleged violations that affect environmental justice communities; and
- Creates an environmental justice ombudsperson position within the department, who serves as chief staff to the advisory board and advocates for environmental justice communities.
Section 3 also requires the department to post proposed EMPs on the department's website in a format that allows the public to submit comments on the proposed EMP, not approve an EMP until at least 45 days after the EMP has been posted on its website, and include a description of all approved EMPs in its departmental SMART Act presentations.
Section 1 sunsets the advisory board on September 1, 2025.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)