Issue Position: Fighting for the Environment

Issue Position

Date: Jan. 1, 2014
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris is committed to preserving the state's natural resources and ensuring every Californian can live in a healthy environment. Her priorities have included fighting climate change, improving environmental health for all Californians, prosecuting polluters and protecting the state's precious environmental resources.

The Attorney General is a leader in the state's efforts to fight global warming and promote a clean, lower-carbon economy. She is aggressively defending California's landmark climate change legislation, AB 32, and the California Air Resources Board's implementation of AB 32's cap-and-trade program that will limit greenhouse gas emissions from California's major emitters and require polluters to obtain permits for emissions. The Attorney General has also defended against challenges to AB 32's Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which is designed to reduce the carbon content of all transportation fuel used in California.

The Attorney General has acted to ensure local decision-makers fully consider alternatives to, and mitigation for, new projects that will impose significant environmental impacts on communities that are already overburdened by pollution. In January 2014, the Attorney General filed a U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief in support of the EPA's authority to "tailor" the requirements of the Clean Air Act so that they better apply to greenhouse gas emissions from stationary (non-vehicle) and industrial sources. The Attorney General also intervened in an ongoing lawsuit seeking to require the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Regional Transportation Plan to take a harder look at the region's long-term transportation development options.

Attorney General Harris has also made a commitment to protecting environmental health. In August 2011, the Attorney General reached a settlement agreement with nine cargo terminals at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles that emitted significant carcinogenic diesel engine exhaust into the surrounding neighborhoods. Along with civil penalties, the terminals will provide warnings as required by Proposition 65, and carry out programs to reduce diesel emissions at a cost of $1 million per terminal.

To protect our natural resources and public health, everyone must play by the rules. The Attorney General has made it a priority to go after polluters. The Attorney General filed a civil lawsuit against BP and ARCO for allegedly violating state laws governing hazardous materials and hazardous waste by failing to properly inspect and maintain underground tanks used to store gasoline for retail sale at more than 780 gas stations in California. In 2011, the Attorney General settled a similar lawsuit against Chevron. The Attorney General also filed misdemeanor criminal charges against Chevron for violations of labor, health and safety standards that contributed to a fire at its Richmond refinery in 2012. Chevron pled no contest to the charges and agreed to pay $2 million in fines and restitution.

Where the Attorney General sees good environmentally-friendly efforts, the office is submitting comment letters to formally recognize those positive projects. For example, in 2012, the Attorney General filed a first-of-its-kind comment letter in support of an environmentally-beneficial project proposed by the San Diego Unified Port District.