The federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976 is the primary law governing the disposal and treatment of hazardous waste. RCRA is a comprehensive “cradle to grave” regulation that imposes stringent recordkeeping and reporting requirements on generators, transporters, and operators of treatment, storage and disposal facilities handling hazardous waste.

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has administered the federal RCRA program in California since 1982. Indeed, Congress designed RCRA so that it could be administered by the states because states are closer to, and more familiar with, the regulated community and are therefore in a better position to administer the programs and respond to local needs effectively.

Most California hazardous waste regulations are very similar to federal RCRA regulations. In many circumstances, however, the California regulations are more stringent and broader in scope than federal regulations. If and when the waste leaves the state, the waste is treated as nonhazardous. For this reason, treating and disposing of hazardous waste in California is preferable in terms of environmental protection because California’s protocols are more rigorous in comparison to those in federal RCRA regulations and other state regulations.

Related Issue Articles:
Proposition 65
Hazardous Waste Permitting and Enforcement

Related Issue Pages:
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
Product Regulation


Oversee issues related to the environment, such as air quality, climate change and AB 32 implementation, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Proposition 65 and green chemistry, hazardous and solid waste, surface mining and land use issues. Recommend policies that meet the mutual objectives of protecting human health and the environment while conserving the financial resources of business to the fullest extent possible in order to help California businesses grow and promote their technologies/services.


Major Victories

Stopped bills in 2016 leading to increased environmental litigation (AB 2748) and frivolous litigation about alleged gender-based pricing of goods (SB 899).

Prevented passage of proposals in 2016 that would have discouraged investment in upgrading and improving facilities that treat hazardous waste.

Stopped increased burdensome environmental regulation in 2015, including limits on in-state energy development (AB 356, AB 1490); new unsubstantiated emission reductions (SB 32); and an unworkable hazardous waste permitting process (SB 654).

Stopped economic development barrier in 2014, such as significantly limiting in-state energy development by allowing local moratoriums on well stimulation treatments (AB 2420, SB 1132);

Halted in 2014 a dramatic increase in nuisance-based pollution penalties for nonvehicular air quality violations. (SB 691);

Legislation in 2014 that would have created more opportunities for litigation and substantially increased project cost and delay by creating mandatory consultation requirements with Native American Tribes was significantly amended to be more workable (AB 52); and the most onerous provisions were amended out of a proposal to double penalties issued by the state air board, regional air districts and the Department of Toxic Substances Control (AB 1330).

Halted in 2013 new double penalties for most air/environmental citations at facilities in disadvantaged regions of the state (AB 1330);

Supported bills making a start toward California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) reform by exempting roadway projects and bike lanes in existing roadways from the CEQA process (AB 890, AB 2245).

Halted expensive unnecessary regulatory burdens, such as an expanded waste bureaucracy in 2010 (AB 479, AB 737) and a 2012 vote rejecting a ban on the use of polystyrene foam food containers (SB 568); and in 2013 an expansion of reasons to sue under the California Environmental Quality Act (SB 617, SB 754).

Supported four bills signed into law in 2010 that will lead to increased construction jobs by streamlining the California Environmental Quality Act process for certain projects (AB 1846); authorizing use of design-build by the Riverside County Transportation Commission (AB 2098); creating construction jobs building travel infrastructure (SB 1192); and ensuring expedited permitting of environmentally sound solar thermal projects (SBX3 34).

Issue Summaries

Environmental Justice

Position: The CalChamber

  • Supports sound policies that bring jobs and programs to environmental justice communities throughout the state;
  • Encourages an open and productive dialogue between the business community and environmental justice communities;
  • Supports the implementation of environmental and land use policies that are cost-effective, feasible and which benefit environmental justice communities;
  • Opposes legislative and regulatory efforts to use the CalEnviroScreen tool to identify businesses for targeted regulation, that use the tool for permitting decisions, or that otherwise draw an unsubstantiated or attenuated causal relationship between a facility or activity and resulting health impacts in a particular geographic area; opposes legislative and regulatory attempts which seek to impose unwarranted penalties on industries located within environmental justice communities.

Environmental Justice

Safer Consumer Products Regulation

Position: The CalChamber supports the underlying goal of the consumer products initiative to significantly reduce adverse impact to human health and the environment. Further, with respect to the nature of the alternatives analysis process, the CalChamber supports the creation of an alternatives analysis guidance document that clearly defines the process step-by-step, sets reasonable parameters with respect to cost and compliance, and provides certainty and predictability.

As this process moves forward, the CalChamber believes that a proactive dialogue with product manufacturers will allow DTSC the opportunity to better understand what chemicals are being used, for what purpose they are being used, in what quantity they are being used, and whether any potential alternatives have been evaluated already. In some cases, alternatives that have been identified are in fact a greater concern and would fall into the category of “regrettable substitutions,” a situation DTSC has repeatedly stated it seeks to avoid. Accordingly, DTSC should consider the regulated community a knowledgeable and indispensable resource.

Safer Consumer Products Regulation

Environmental Regulation Bills