Representatives of the W.A.T.E.R. Coalition, the California Alliance for Jobs, and the Statewide Stormwater Coalition spoke to the Select Committee on California Job Creation and Retention, chaired by Senator Rod Wright and tasked with reviewing three stormwater rules on private industry and school districts, Caltrans, and small municipalities as proposed by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).
“The SWRCB must go back to the drawing board,” said James Simonelli, co-chair of the W.A.T.E.R. Coalition in his testimony. “The proposed new stormwater rules would result in billions of dollars in additional costs and more lost jobs with no promise of environmental benefits.”
Noting the rules’ prohibitive cost for businesses, schools, cities, counties and other public agencies at a time of severe budget cuts and record unemployment, all three Coalitions have requested the SWRCB substantively engage with stakeholders and conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the new requirements on industry and local government.
The SWRCB, however, has stated there will be no cost-benefit analysis conducted on the new rules, has prohibited stakeholders from meeting with Board Members, and has not reached out to stakeholders in any meaningful way.
“If California is looking for a tangible reason why business is not investing in California and why we are shedding manufacturing jobs, look no further than the closed process and lack of regard for economic impacts in the development of these new rules,” said Dorothy Rothrock, vice president of government relations for the California Manufacturers & Technology Association.
Representing 60 local government organizations, Kelye McKinney of the Statewide Stormwater Coalition and engineering manager for the City of Roseville added, “The SWRCB proposal would mean costly new requirements for over 200 cities and counties which far exceed existing federal requirements. As an unfunded mandate, these requirements would likely result in funding reductions for local police, fire, libraries and other critical services.”
School districts were also represented at the hearing by the Coalition for Adequate School Housing (C.A.S.H.) on behalf of 500 school districts serving 92% of California’s school children.
“Put simply, every dollar our schools have to spend meeting non-educational requirements is a dollar that does not go to educate California’s children,” said C.A.S.H. legislative director, Ian Padilla. “C.A.S.H. strongly urges the SWRCB to be measured and reasonable in moving forward. The proposal on the table now is just the opposite.”
Jim Earp, executive director of the California Alliance for Jobs, representing more than 2,000 construction companies and 80,000 California union construction workers, told the Committee, “if implemented, the requirements in the draft permit on Caltrans alone would cost $900 million annually, draining funding slated for vital transportation projects around the state and destroying thousands of construction jobs at a time when our industry is experiencing a 20-25% unemployment rate.”
The SWRCB is expected to move forward with these new rules this late this year or early next year. More information is available at www.WiseWaterRegs.com.