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Inventory of the Environmental Affairs Agency Records
R284  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Administrative History
  • Scope and Content
  • Accruals
  • Related Collections at the California State Archives
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Environmental Affairs Agency Records
    Dates: 1972-1994
    Collection number: R284
    Creator: Environmental Affairs Agency
    Creator: Environmental Quality Agency
    Creator: Environmental Protection Agency
    Collection Size: 22.5 cubic feet of textual records
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Abstract: The Environmental Affairs Agency was formed through a series of executive actions in the 1970s, in order to maintain and enforce existing environmental laws in California. The records of the Environmental Affairs Agency contain 22.5 cubic feet of textual and photographic records spanning the time period 1972-1992. They document the agency's work to maintain and enforce state environmental laws, provide environmental policy advice to the Governor, and protect the quality of the environment for the health of California's citizens.
    Physical location: California State Archives
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Administrative Information

    Access

    While the majority of the records are open for research, any access restrictions are noted in the record series descriptions.

    Publication Rights

    For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives collections.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Environmental Affairs Agency Records, R284.[Series Number], [box and folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Acquisition and Custodial History

    The California State Archives acquired the Environmental Affairs Agency Records through a series of agency transfers according to state law.

    Administrative History

    The Environmental Affairs Agency was formed through a series of executive actions in the 1970s, in order to maintain and enforce existing environmental laws in California. The agency played an integral part in the development of California's environmental policies, some of which were the first of their kind nationwide. However, the agency was never formally established in statute, and its haphazard development reflected the fragmented nature of California's early environmental policies. Beginning in the 1950s, environmental programs were created by statute and focused on singular issues, like air pollution. These programs were scattered throughout a variety of different agencies, which presented a significant obstacle in implementing a comprehensive environmental plan for the state. In 1961, Governor Pat Brown reorganized the executive branch of California's government and placed all existing environmental quality programs, commissions and departments within the Resources Agency. Created to improve California's natural resources through careful use and conservation, the formation and organization of the Resources Agency marked the first attempt to consolidate the state's environmental programs.
    The formation of cohesive federal and state environmental regulatory agencies was largely the consequence of a significant environmental disaster. The horrific 1969 oil spill in the Santa Barbara Channel off the California coast galvanized public opinion in favor of more stringent environmental protection laws. As a result, President Nixon created the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. Most states, including California, worked to develop comparable programs. Governor Jerry Brown submitted the first proposal for an Environmental Quality Agency to the Little Hoover Commission as part of the Governor's Reorganization Plan of 1975. The program would have abolished the State Air Resources Board and the Solid Waste Management Board, and transferred the State Water Resources Control Board and Regional Water Quality Control Boards from the Resources Agency to the Environmental Quality Agency. The reorganization plan failed to win support in the Legislature, and was defeated. In response, Governor Brown created the cabinet-level post of Secretary of Environmental Affairs through Executive Order B2-75, and appointed Air Resources Board Chair A. Thomas Quinn to the position. The order stipulated that the Air Resources Board, the Water Resources Control Board, and the Solid Waste Management Board "communicate" with the Governor through the Secretary of Environmental Affairs. Legislation was later passed that reinforced the appointee's dual role as Chair of the Air Resources Board and Secretary of Environmental Affairs. Under the direction of the secretary, the Environmental Quality Agency proceeded to grow and function without statutory authority.
    The Environmental Quality Agency became the Environmental Affairs Agency in 1983. Many attempts were made to establish the agency in statute during the administration of Governor George Deukmejian, but none were successful. As such, budgeting required borrowing funds from the boards coordinated by Environmental Affairs. Despite its lack of designated financial resources, the agency persisted in its goals to maintain and enforce the state's environmental laws, and to provide clean air and water to California's citizens. Functions were continually added to the office of the Secretary of Environmental Affairs. In addition to chairing the Air Resources Board, the secretary was appointed to serve as the Governor's Outer Continental Shelf Policy Advisor, charged with reviewing offshore oil and gas development proposals and providing policy advice. The secretary also oversaw the operations of the three environmental boards under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Affairs Agency: the Air Resources Board, the Water Resources Control Board, and the California Waste Management Board. Staff and facilities were made available to the secretary in order to carry out the responsibilities of the position.
    Although it functioned as a state agency, the Environmental Affairs Agency was not as large or as well defined as other state agencies created by statutory authority. In 1991, Governor Pete Wilson proposed a reorganization plan that provided for the continuation of the programs formerly under the Environmental Affairs Agency, as well as additional programs, administered by the new Secretary for Environmental Protection. The secretary would no longer chair the Air Resources Board. The plan received mixed support; the agricultural industry, environmental groups and other special interest industries were divided over the proposed regulatory agency. Before the plan could be rejected, a freight train derailed near Redding and spilled thousands of gallons of toxic materials into the Sacramento River. The Environmental Affairs Agency successfully coordinated the response efforts, and demonstrated the necessity for an environmental regulatory agency. The Governor's Reorganization Plan went into effect in July 1991, and the Environmental Affairs Agency became the California Environmental Protection Agency.
    The Secretaries for the Environmental Affairs Agency were as follows:

    Environmental Quality Agency

    A. Thomas Quinn, 1975-1979
    Mary D. Nichols, 1979-1983

    Environmental Affairs Agency

    Gordon Duffy, 1983-1985
    Jananne Sharpless, 1985-1991
    *Chair, Air Resources Board, 1985-1993

    Environmental Protection Agency

    James M. Strock, 1991-1994

    Scope and Content

    The records of the Environmental Affairs Agency contain 22.5 cubic feet of textual and photographic records spanning the time period 1972-1992. The records document the agency's work to maintain and enforce state environmental laws, provide environmental policy advice to the Governor, and protect the quality of the environment for the health of California's citizens. The records are organized into fourteen series, which include Bill Files, Proposed Legislation Files, Federal Legislation Files, Subject Files, Air Quality Files, Gorda Ridge Files, California Coastal Commission Files, Coastal States Organization files, Department of the Interior Files, Outer Continental Shelf Files, Outer Continental Shelf Lease Sale Files, Outer Continental Shelf Advisory Board Files, Lake Tahoe Files, and Budget Files.
    The bulk of the records covers the period 1983-1991 and pertain to resource development activity on California's outer continental shelf. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation of the United States Exclusive Economic Zone, which opened up four billion acres of the seabed for possible development. The United States Department of the Interior thus began an aggressive leasing program to develop resources found submerged offshore of the United States. The Environmental Affairs Agency was responsible for developing and implementing policies related to oil, gas and mineral resources found offshore of California, and acted as a liaison between federal, state, and local agencies concerning these policies. The agency paid particularly close attention to issues like revenue sharing, drilling muds and cuttings, oil transportation, lease sales, and consistency with federal regulations, which comprise some of the topics included in the majority of the records series. As the Chair of the Air Resources Board, the Secretary of Environmental Affairs was also concerned with air pollution that stemmed from offshore activities. Oil tankers were a major source of hydrocarbon emissions, and several records series, particularly the Air Quality Files, relate to the regulation of exploratory drilling emissions.
    The Environmental Affairs Agency was also concerned with water quality and water rights in California. For example, a significant topic within the Subject Files is the "Selby Slag" project. During the mid-1980s, researchers found that the waters of the Carquinez Strait suffered from significant contamination. The source was determined to be the Selby metal smelter, where toxins from a slag pile located on state lands leached into the bay. The discovery brought about an investigation involving various state agencies, including Environmental Affairs. Similarly, the Environmental Affairs Agency was involved in the administrative conflicts over water quality and water rights in Lake Tahoe. The Lake Tahoe Files contain information about the discord between state agencies, local government officials and the California Tahoe Regional Planning Agency regarding water allocation and water quality standards for Lake Tahoe.

    Accruals

    No further accruals are expected.

    Related Collections at the California State Archives

    Air Resources Board Records
    California Coastal Zone Conservation Commission Records
    California Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Records
    Department of Conservation Records
    Gordon W. Duffy Papers
    State Water Resources Control Board Records

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    California. Environmental Affairs Agency
    Offshore oil industry
    Air quality