An Introduction to California Environmental Agencies
California has many natural resource agencies that are responsible for protection the public health. As a result, many businesses in California have processes and/or equipment that are subject to environmental regulations. The requirements can be complex and subject to frequent changes. The following is a list of California environmental agencies and California natural resource agencies your businesses might be required to comply with.
Depending on where you live, this California environmental agency is usually the local fire authority or county health department. You can look up the UPA for your business here. UPAs have jurisdiction over seven programs in California, they are:
- Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act (APSA) Program
- Area Plans for Hazardous Materials Emergencies
- California Accidental Release Prevention (CalARP) Program
- Hazardous Materials Release Response Plans and Inventories (Business Plans)
- Hazardous Material Management Plan (HMMP) and Hazardous Material Inventory Statements (HMIS) (California Fire Code)
- Hazardous Waste Generator and Onsite Hazardous Waste Treatment (tiered permitting) Programs
- Underground Storage Tank Program
- In addition, some CUPAs also regulate Medical Waste
If you have hazardous materials in disclosable quantities, any amount of hazardous waste, an underground storage tank, above ground petroleum storage and possibly medical waste, you are going to be regulated and inspected by your local UPA. UPAs do not create their own environmental programs. Their responsibilities are delegated from other state agencies, including the State Water Resource Control Board, the Department of Toxic Substances Control, Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, CAL FIRE and the CalEPA.
Mobile sources, such as cars, trucks and portable equipment are regulated at the state level by the Air Resources Board (ARB). So, if your business operates on-road diesel or off-road diesel equipment or portable diesel equipment that has a potential to emit air contaminants, you are obligated to with various regulations created and enforced by this California environmental agency. Enforcement of Air Resources Board on-road diesel regulations often occurs at truck stops. In addition, law enforcement officers have the authority to pull over commercial trucks for inspection without probable cause. The ARB also regulates off-road diesel-powered equipment over 25 HP and portable equipment with more than 50 HP. However, local air districts often enforce these regulations
Local air districts are the California environmental agencies responsible for both regulation and enforcement of stationary air pollution sources. Air pollution control districts in California are divided by “air basins.” This means a land area that has geographic characteristics and experiences climate conditions that confine air pollution to that land area. On the other hand, the ARB is responsible for mobile sources that can move anywhere in the state. Air districts are responsible for stationary equipment that pollutes the immediate area that the air district has jurisdiction over.
So, if you operate a gasoline fueling site, boilers, [glossary]stationary diesel-powered generators[/glossary], gas turbines, apply coatings (paints) or adhesives, run a dry cleaner, have a solvent parts washer or any one of a long list of stationary activities, you can expect a visit from your local air pollution control district inspector.
Stormwater enforcement is increasing in California, particularly for facilities that are subject to local CUPA enforcement. Determining jurisdictional control of storm water requirements can be difficult. On one hand if a facility conducts any one of 10 federally defined categories of industrial activities. Your facility is subject to the Industrial General Permit and must apply for coverage. On the other hand, if you do not conduct any of the federally defined categories of industrial activities, but you conduct any one of the these activities, your site is probably regulated by a municipal permit that will require you to implement a minimum set of standards and practices.
There are several other California environmental agencies that you may encounter: The Department of Toxic Substances Control, Department of Pesticide Regulation and your Regional Water Quality Control Board.