The California Office of Spill Prevention and Response (“OSPR”), within the Department of Fish and Wildlife, has been tasked with new responsibilities related to oil spill response.  Assembly Bill 1197 (“AB 1197”), which was signed into law in October 2017 and goes into effect on January 1, 2018, authorizes spill management teams (“SMTs”) to apply to the OSPR Administrator (“Administrator”) for a certification of that SMT’s response capabilities.  AB 1197 also authorizes the Administrator to charge a reasonable administrative fee to process an application for, or renewal of, a certification.  In addition, OSPR must promulgate regulations outlining the certification process for SMTs.

SMT is defined as “personnel and associated equipment that staff the organizational structure for managing some or all aspects of response, containment, and cleanup of a spill, utilizing an incident command or unified command structure to apply to the administrator for a certification of that SMT’s response capabilities.”  Gov. Code § 8670.3(ad) (effective Jan. 1, 2018).  As of January 2018, an oil spill contingency plan submitted by a vessel owner or operator must identify at least one SMT that is certified pursuant to the future regulations.  The SMT may be contracted or provided by the owner or operator.

Rulemaking Process

OSPR anticipates holding informal Scoping Meetings with industry and interested parties. OSPR plans to hold the first meetings in January 2018.  Then, OSPR will circulate an informal draft of regulations for comment.  OSPR anticipates the formal rulemaking process beginning Spring 2018 and anticipates submitting the final regulations to the Office of Administrative Law by the end of year 2018.  Stay tuned for updates on the regulatory process.