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Bill To Increase Fines for Big Air Polluters Moves Forward


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 dollar fine.

Democratic Senator Loni Hancock says the legislation she’s authored would increase the fine to 100-thousand dollars.

“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.

Democratic Assemblymember Das Williams says he’s shocked that the fine for such violations hasn’t increased since 1974.

“That was the year I was born, and I have grey hair," says Williams.  "So how many lifetimes do we have to wait, or how many lifetimes is appropriate to wait to revise the fee level?”

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." says Guertin. 

"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.”

The bill is on the Chamber’s “job-killer” list.


Amy Quinton

Former Environment Reporter

Amy came to Sacramento from New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR) where she was Environment Reporter. Amy has also reported for NPR member stations WFAE in Charlotte, WAMU in Washington D.C. and American Public Media's "Marketplace."  Read Full Bio 

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