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Bill to Increase Air Pollution Fines Moves Forward

Aug 13, 2013

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Credit Valley Public Radio

A bill that would increase fines for big air polluters in California is now headed to the Assembly floor. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, it was drafted in response to the Chevron oil refinery fire in Richmond last year.

The Chevron oil refinery fire forced 15,000 people to seek medical help. Under current law such a violation would result in a $10,000 fine. Democratic Senator Loni Hancock says the legislation she’s authored would increase the fine to $100,000.

“The incidents like this that dramatically impact entire communities have no higher penalty ceilings than incidents that effect only a very few people,” says Hancock.

But Mira Guertin with the California Chamber of Commerce says the bill is far too broad.

“There’s nothing in the bill that limits this to events that effect large numbers of people and more importantly to large amounts of a chemical being released and that has been the subject of negotiations for the last five months, all through the Senate and all through the summer and the language is still not in the bill,” says Guertin.

The bill is on the Chamber’s “job-killer” list. It passed on a party-line vote.