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The following article was posted on June 4th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 14 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 20, Issue 14

Political Watch June 6, 2019

• The California state Senate approved a bill authored by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) that would direct the state’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to assess the eventual costs of shutting down California’s entire oil and gas infrastructure, including cleaning up and remediating wells, facilities, and equipment associated with production. The legislation, Senate Bill 551, passed the Senate in a 22-13 vote on May 29, and now moves to the Assembly. “The cost of cleaning up abandoned oil and gas infrastructure is significant to California taxpayers,” Jackson said in a press release. “In the Santa Barbara region alone, we have spent over $150 million of taxpayer dollars to clean up facilities such as Platform Holly and the abandoned Summerland wells. Senate Bill 551 will provide the state and taxpayers with the transparency we need to understand the full scope of the problem and plan for liabilities in the future.” As California works to meet its climate goals over the next several decades, Jackson says the state will face challenges regarding former oil and gas production sites. While many assume that oil and gas operators bear the ultimate financial responsibility, Jackson says that California taxpayers often pay considerable costs for removing major infrastructure and remediating sites left abandoned by bankrupt oil companies. Decommissioning Platform Holly, which was implemented off the Santa Barbara coast in 2017 as a result of the 2015 Refugio oil spill, is currently estimated to cost more than $180 million. 

Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham’s (R-San Luis Obispo) Anti-Eavesdropping Act passed the state Assembly on May 28. If approved, Assembly Bill 1395, would prohibit smart speaker manufacturers from retaining or distributing voice recordings or transcriptions without user consent. “Today, the state Assembly sent a strong message to the tech giants who have spent years recording and retaining private conversations in the home via smart devices,” Cunningham said in a press release. “Tech giants have provided consumers with a false choice: Live in a smart and interconnected home, or keep your conversations private. We can have both.” The Anti-Eavesdropping Act had bipartisan support in the Assembly, according to Cunningham’s office, and is a part of the Assembly’s Republican-led #YourDataYourWay privacy package, which was unveiled earlier this year. The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration.

• In response to the increasing number of horse racing deaths in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on May 30 that he supported Senate Bill 469, which would authorize the California Horse Racing Board to suspend horse racing licenses to protect the health and safety of horses and riders. The announcement comes after this season’s 26th horse death at Santa Anita Park, a popular racing track in Arcadia. “The recent horse fatalities in California are unacceptable,” Newsom said in a press release. “We must hold the horse racing industry to account. If we can regulate horse race meets, we should have the authority to suspend licenses when animal or human welfare is at risk.” Newsom also announced that his administration has taken additional regulatory actions through the California Horse Racing Board, including special investigations into all fatalities at Santa Anita this year, suspended authorization of 11 previously lawful corticosteroid and anti-inflammatory drugs, and increased veterinarian and safety steward staffing at Santa Anita. There are also several recently proposed regulatory packages on the table, and a new regulation going into effect July 1 will greatly expand out-of-competition testing and provide a means for the board to prosecute offenders who abuse prescribed medications, according to Newsom’s office. 




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