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State Resources

The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) is the statewide agency responsible for developing, implementing, and enforcing environmental regulations. CalEPA has six boards or departments: the Air Resources Board, Department of Pesticide Regulation, Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, Department of Toxic Substances Control, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and State Water Resources Control Board. Many California environmental laws and regulations are much more stringent than corresponding federal environmental regulations or the regulations of other states. For several regulatory areas, local and/or district level agencies have significant responsibility for implementing and/or enforcing the regulatory programs.

Compliance Considerations

Unified Program

In California, hazardous waste and material regulations may be enforced by local government agencies called Certified Unified Program Agencies (CUPAs), under the Unified Program. CalEPA oversees the program and certifies the local agencies. CalEPA maintains a directory of CUPAs. The Unified Program includes the following regulatory programs:

Local CUPAs may conduct facility inspections, undertake enforcement actions, and issue guidance for the specified program areas.  Part of CalEPA's oversight role is to ensure program consistency, but in practice, there are variations in the approaches adopted by different CUPAs.

Local Air Districts

California is divided into county or regional air districts, which are responsible for controlling air pollution from stationary sources, including permitting. These districts include Air Pollution Control Districts (APCD) which are county-level authorities and Air Quality Management Districts (AQMD), which are regional, typically consisting of a group or portions of counties. The air districts can develop their own regulations for stationary sources. The state level California Air Resources Board (CARB or ARB) predates the CAA, and therefore has the authority to set air standards that other states do not. As a result, California standards are often different and more stringent than other areas of the country. CARB also monitors the air districts and maintains a district look up by zip code, city or county and a database of air pollution rules by district.

State and Regional Water Resources Control Boards

The State Water Resources Control Board and nine semi-autonomous regional water quality control boards implement the federal Clean Water Act in California, including, but not limited to, requirements for discharge to surface waters under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and stormwater discharges.  The State Water Board develops statewide policy and regulations for water quality control and allocates water rights. The Regional Water Boards provide local implementation of policy and regulations, develop long-range plans for their areas, issue waste discharge permits, and take enforcement actions against alleged violators.

Relevant Links

The following links provide California specific guidance and fact sheets for environmental compliance within the state.

Aboveground Storage Tanks – Most CUPAs require tanks to be registered and pay annual fees. SPCC Plans may be required for tanks with a capacity of 660 gallons or more. The California Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act has key requirements.

AirCalifornia Air Pollution Control Laws are updated annually in the "bluebook."

Air Permitting – CARB list of permitting and registration issues, including relevant links.

Appliances – Information for retailers selling or offering for sale appliances or devices that use electricity, natural gas or water to CA customers to comply with California's Appliance Efficiency regulations.

Automotive –CA specific fact sheets prepared by the Automotive Recyclers Association on various auto-related environmental topics.

Business Assistance – Comprehensive CalEPA business assistance contact information for help with environmental regulations. CARB also provides Small Business Assistance.

Hazardous Waste – CalEPA's hazardous waste management page

Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling - Recycling requirements for food waste.

Pesticide RegulationCalEPA Department of Pesticide Regulation page

Proposition 65 – Notification/labeling requirements for products that contain chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.  The state has produced translations of warning signs to help businesses with compliance.

Recycling – CA specific information on electronic waste, tires, used oil and certain types of containers

Recycling​ - CalRecycle Waste Reduction at Retail Stores

Retail Industry Workgroup – CalEPA's retail industry page for hazardous waste.

Safer Consumer Products – CalEPA regulation to reduce toxic chemicals in consumer products.

Underground Storage Tanks (UST) – CalEPA requirements for registration and control of USTs

Unified Program – CalEPA page for the hazardous waste and materials Unified Program.

Universal Waste – CalEPA universal waste page

Vehicle Emission Standards - California (CARB) emission standards for mobile sources.

Volatile Organic Compound Standards - The California Air Resource Board generally has the most stringent VOC standards of all U.S. states for consumer products. 

Water  – CalEPA water program page, covering topics including drought, drinking water, permitting, and wastewater.


CARB Compliance Training Courses Classroom courses on a range of topics, including storage tanks, dry cleaning and vehicles


Organic Waste Reduction (SB1383) Implementation Workshops - CalRecycle will hold two workshops in February 2017 to discuss with stakeholders the implementation process for SB 1383 which sets targets for organic waste methane emissions reductions for 2020 and 2025:

Sustainability and Reducing Compliance Risk

Climate Change  – Climate change resources for CA businesses

Greening Vehicle Service and Repair

Pollution Prevention and Green Technology – CalEPA page with information for business, news, and green programs.

Retail Climate Change Mitigation – Non-government authored report presented to CARB and CalEPA, which uses a life-cycle assessment model to estimate greenhouse gas emissions for products sold in retail stores in order to support development of an emissions reduction strategy.

The state resources provide retail-relevant state regulatory information and resources. The State Matrices page has more detailed information on variations in key state regulations such as hazardous waste, consumer bag legislation, e-waste and more.