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California Debates Carbon Taxes and Chromium Limits

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on April 18, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

As the effects of global warming are felt every day as we weather this drought, California legislators continue to debate how to deal with the impending effects of climate change.

And as cap-and-trade is debated, California's Department of Health is setting new standards by "adopting the nation's first-ever drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium," reports the Los Angeles Times.

Carbon Tax Idea Shelved

California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) proposed a carbon tax on consumer fuels in February and his proposal was met with opposition on both sides of the aisle, reports The Associated Press. Now, months later he has backed away from his initial carbon tax proposal, and is instead focusing on how to spend funds generated by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, also known as the cap-and-trade fund.

In 2006, California enacted AB 32, which created the cap-and-trade program that requires permits for generating harmful emissions that contribute to climate change. Now, Steinberg proposes that the billions of dollars generated by the law be used for housing and public transportation. Specifically, he's proposing that 40% of the funds go to affordable housing ("including communities built around transit options"), 30% to subsidize transit projects, and 10% to fund road and highway maintenance, reports The Sacramento Bee.

Steinberg's initial opposition for using cap-and-trade funds for the high speed rail project has subsided, and he recently stated: "I think it's visionary. I think it's a major job-creator, and I think future generations will be glad that we withstood the controversy," reports the AP.

Chromium Limits for Water Supply

If you think you don't know what hexavalent chromium, or chromium 6 is -- you probably do if you saw the movie "Erin Brockovich." It's the same toxin at issue in the movie.

California's Department of Health has adopted a "regulation setting a limit of 10 parts per billion in public drinking water supplies," reports the Los Angeles Times. Critics view the limit as arbitrary and not based on science. Some cities including Los Angeles already treat water to a level of 5 parts per billion, but will have to use new treatments to meet the new limit. The city is not alone, the new level "will require more than 100 water systems to treat for the contaminant," reports the LA Times.

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