The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (“Proposition 65”) is an initiative statute that protects public health by reducing exposures to toxic chemicals in two principal ways. First, it outlaws discharges of certain toxic chemicals into sources of drinking water. Second, it requires businesses to provide clear and reasonable warnings prior to exposing persons to certain toxic chemicals.
The Attorney General is the State’s principal public prosecutor of Proposition 65. Through its enforcement of the second, “right-to-know” prong of Proposition 65, the Attorney General’s Office has a history of compelling companies to remove or to reduce the harmful chemicals in their products and in their air and water emissions as an alternative to providing warnings.
Proposition 65 also contains a private enforcement mechanism. Individuals and organizations, such as environmental groups, can sue to correct alleged violations. The Attorney General reviews private actions, and may even intervene when the private enforcement does not appear to be in the public interest.
The Attorney General’s Office maintains an on-line database of Proposition 65 Enforcement Reporting. The database includes information on private party actions and settlements.