Slowing down the permitting process is a common practice used by environmentalists to derail mining and construction projects, so one can’t help but notice the irony of a slow permitting process that complicates environmental cleanup. However, this is what is currently happening in California.
As we have previously pointed out, the Golden State is in danger of losing much of its shine thanks to its onerous permitting process and California Environmental Quality Act regulations that don’t appear to be reforming anytime soon. And when it comes to regulations, Californians think of themselves as leaders when it comes to protecting the environment. However, it has been recently made public that there has been a significant increase in hazardous waste being exported out of the state and around the state’s more strict regulations. As California has some of the strictest environmental laws, certain categories of Californian “hazardous waste” do not meet that definition in states to which this waste is shipped, and consequently may not receive the same level of treatment there. In fact, according to the Sacramento Bee, the percent of hazardous waste being exported from the state has increased over 300 percent since 2006.
A look at the numbers reveals that more than 540,000 tons of hazardous waste have been sent out-of-state, with five states accounting for taking in 93 percent of Californian waste exports.
The rub is that a slow permitting process, largely courtesy of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), is in fact preventing toxic waste cleanup because facilities with the capability to properly store and/or dispose of the waste are not given permission to do so.
This means that California’s existing (and effective) waste disposal facilities are being disregarded in favor of those in other states, making a mockery of the state’s own environmental protection regulations and the concept of “environmental justice.” It’s time for a cleanup – and the permitting process might be a good place to start.