Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

California Returns Statewide Greenhouse Gas Emissions to 1990 Levels

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Sep 04, 2018

California is one of many jurisdictions around the planet attempting to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels. Globally, this goal appears in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – signed in 1992 when the 1990 goal translated roughly into a goal to keep GHG emissions flat. California adopted its own 1990 goal in “AB 32” legislation enacted in 2006, by which time annual statewide emissions had increased significantly, and when business-as-usual emissions growth was projected to continue. As later quantified by the California Air Resources Board (ARB), AB 32 amounted to a commitment to reverse the state’s path, reducing GHG emissions by 15% instead of allowing them to rise by 15%. In July, ARB announced that the state has reached this 2020 goal, two years early.

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Tags: California Legislation, Environmental risks, Environmental, Greenhouse Gas, ghg

California Adopts Plan for Greenhouse Gas Controls Through 2030

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Feb 27, 2018

Since enacting AB 32 in 2006, California has pursued aggressive policies to reduce statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Primary responsibilities are assigned to the California Air Resources Board (ARB), although other state agencies implement complementary policies within their areas of special jurisdiction. In addition to emissions control regulations, state law assigns ARB to develop a Scoping Plan that identifies the state’s strategic goals, and compiles the many tactical approaches through individual regulatory and incentive programs. ARB issued the first Scoping Plan in 2008, with an update in 2014 and the latest update in 2017. The rest of this note describes changes in the latest Scoping Plan to reflect the state’s ever-expanding GHG reduction goals.

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Tags: Health & Safety, California Legislation, Environmental risks, Environmental, Greenhouse Gas, ghg

You May Be Getting More Labeling Information Soon

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Oct 03, 2017

One of California’s longstanding amplifications of national environmental health and safety (EH&S) programs is provided by “Proposition 65.” I summarized these provisions here. As I described, the main thrust of this 1986 state enactment is to provide warnings about potentially hazardous chemicals, to customers, workers, and other “potentially exposed individuals." Prop 65 provides sample texts for warnings, including “safe harbor” text for product labels and in-store signage. After 30 years, the state is revising these safe harbors to be more informative. Revised safe harbor text became available for use August 30, 2016 and replace their expiring predecessors on August 30, 2018. Since we’re half way through this two year transition, it’s a good time to review.

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Tags: Health & Safety, OSHA, California Legislation, Environmental risks, Environmental, Hazcom

What’s In Your Janitor’s Closet? New York Seeks More Information

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Aug 22, 2017

Even workplaces with very limited chemical use probably use cleaning supplies. If these supplies are bought in typical retail packaging intended for consumer use, the employer and employees may lack ready access to chemical content information beyond that on the labels. That’s because the Hazard Communication Standard (Hazcom) administered by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) exempts consumer products in their final form for consumer use, unless worker use is greater than that by typical consumers.

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Tags: Health & Safety, OSHA, California Legislation, Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, Hazcom

California Extends and Amends its Greenhouse Gas Cap-and-Trade Program

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Aug 08, 2017

Since 2012, California has administered a “cap-and-trade” program, setting total greenhouse gas (GHG) emission limits from selected major emitting sectors and creating tradeable emission permits and offsets to provide flexibility and encourage innovation. The program was created under authority of the state’s 2006 “AB 32” legislation, which focuses on reducing statewide GHG emissions by 2020. This authority would have expired in 2020, but new legislation extends the program until 2030. In order to secure enough votes for the extension, legislative leaders and Governor Brown agreed to statutory changes in this program and related air quality programs.

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Tags: California Legislation, Environmental risks, Environmental, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, cap-and-trade

California’s “Be a Manager, Go to Jail” Law

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jul 18, 2017

One of California’s many unique environmental, health and safety (EH&S) laws is its “Corporate Criminal Liability Act (CCLA).” CCLA provides greatly expanded potential personal criminal liabilities for violations by managers, so is often referred to as the “Be a Manager, Go to Jail” law. Enacted in 1990, CCLA draws both from occupational safety and product liability laws, to provide sweeping requirements for corporations and managers to abate or warn exposed individuals (including employees) about a broad variety of serious concealed dangers occurring in a broad variety of circumstances, including both workplaces and products. Although this law has been used by prosecutors and advocates to strike fear into the hearts of corporate managers, there have been few reported cases in its nearly three decades on the books.

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Tags: Health & Safety, OSHA, California Legislation, Environmental risks, Environmental

New California Guidance For Workplace Anti-Harassment Efforts

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jun 27, 2017

Workplace violence prevention is increasingly recognized as one of many employer responsibilities for the safety and health of their employees. Different jurisdictions have focused on different types and degrees of “violence” – from deadly attacks to workplace rudeness and bullying. California has been a leader among U.S. jurisdictions. The state requires private employers with more than 50 employees, and all public employers, to train managers and supervisors at least every two years in how to avoid and prevent sexual harassment. Since 2015, this training must include “abusive conduct.”

Last year, the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) adopted a requirement that employers with five or more employees create detailed written policies for preventing harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. This month, DFEH issued detailed guidance addressing these anti-harassment requirements. These new guidelines should be required reading for California employers, and non-California employers should take the opportunity to compare their own efforts against these recommended best practices.

What Are California’s Harassment Prevention Requirements?

Effective April 1, 2016, DFEH regulations require California employers with five or more employees to create detailed written policies for preventing harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. DFEH claims finds authority for this requirement in the state Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibitions against discrimination, harassment and retaliation, and in FEHA’s requirement that employers “take reasonable
steps to prevent and correct wrongful (harassing, discriminatory, retaliatory) behavior in the workplace.”

Anti-harassment policies must do all of the following:

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Tags: Employer Best Practices, Employee Rights, California Legislation, Workplace violence

Reopening Review of Automobile GHG Emission Standards For 2022-2025

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Apr 25, 2017


The biggest difference between Presidents Obama’s and Trump’s environmental policies relate to regulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that most scientists and policy-makers believe contribute to climate change – a proposition which President Trump and his appointees do not embrace. On March 15, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its reconsideration of GHG emission standards from “light duty” vehicles such as automobiles and small trucks, for model years 2022-2025. These standards were set in 2012 by EPA, in cooperation with the (US federal) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the California Air Resources Board (ARB). Three days before President Obama left office, on January 17, EPA reaffirmed the 2022-2025 standards, determining them to be technically and economically feasible for auto makers to meet and cost-effective for customers.

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Tags: California Legislation, Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, ghg

California Tightens Restrictions On High-Impact Short-Lived Climate Pollutants

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Oct 11, 2016

Attempts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are more complex than they first appear. Reports in the mass media tend to focus on carbon dioxide (CO2). The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Framework Convention) focuses primarily on six GHGs, including CO2 as well as methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Climate change scientists have identified hundreds of GHGs, with widely varying sources, relative contributions to climate change (numerical “global warming potential (GWP)”, where CO2 is defined as 1.0), and total contribution based on emitted volumes.

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Tags: California Legislation, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, Hazcom, climate change

New Rules Tighten Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards for Heavy Duty Vehicles

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Sep 15, 2016

The Clean Air Act (CAA) includes extensive regulatory requirements on “mobile sources,” which cover efficiency and emissions standards for a broad range of vehicles with internal combustion engines (automobiles, buses, aircraft), “nonroad engines and vehicles” (including lawnmowers, bulldozers and marine vessels), as well as motor fuel standards intended to promote cleaner burning fuels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses CAA authority to set emission limits from engines, for CAA-regulated air pollutants, including carbon dioxide (CO2) regulated for its greenhouse gas (GHG) aspects.

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Tags: California Legislation, Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, climate change, CAA, Transportation