Governor Signs a Raft of Climate Bills

Governor Newsom surrounded by California state legislators
Governor Newsom surrounded by California state legislators
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At a press conference in Vallejo today, Governor Gavin Newsom and a large cohort of legislators celebrated the passage – and signing – of a package of some forty bills that touch on clean energy, climate change, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, solid waste, and environmental justice.

Among them was A.B. 1909, the Bicycle Omnibus Bill from Assembly Transportation Chair Laura Friedman, which Streetsblog has been tracking (see this post for more details).

At a podium overlooking a solar array and backed by San Pablo Bay, a parade of legislators celebrated their wins on climate, equity, and clean energy. Every one of them also pointed out that, although it seemed like this package of bills was a last-minute win, they were all the result of years of work. Several of the bills – including some of the gut-and-amend bills that showed up in the last few weeks – had been attempted in the past but failed to pass. This time around the story was different.

One example of that is S.B. 1137, from Senators Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) and Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) which establishes a 3,200 buffer zone between new oil wells and “sensitive uses” such as homes, schools, and parks, with tighter rules on existing wells close to homes. Despite arguments on the floor from oil company defenders, the bill succeeded this time around.

“This is a time for urgent action,” said Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz). “A year ago none of this would have been thought possible,” but after a round of defeats the legislators formed a working group to make sure that didn’t happen again. The push from Governor Newsom in July helped them get over the finish line.

The speakers also, to a person, pointed out that this work is far from over. “There is still work to be done on equity,” said Laird, “and we have to make sure we meet the goals we are setting.” His bill, S.B. 1020, sets a target of having all electricity used in the state come from clean and renewable sources by 2045, with interim goals along the way.

“All my life, I’ve heard: wait just a bit longer,” said Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens). She authored, with Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), A.B. 1279, which establishes a goal of statewide carbon neutrality as soon as possible. She also authored A.B. 1757, with Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Salinas), which requires the state to figure out how to use natural and working lands to sequester carbon emissions.

“For the first time, my community is at the forefront, and we have a map to fight climate change equitably. But our work is not done.”

“Things move slowly, until they move fast,” said Governor Newsom. “We used to think leadership was about command and control, but we know now that it is about climate control, and building coalitions.”

Policy analysts have estimated that the entire package of bills (the “California Climate Commitment” [PDF]), a record $54 billion investment in climate action, would: create four million new jobs; cut air pollution by sixty percent; reduce state oil consumption by 91 percent; save California taxpayers $23 billion by avoiding the damages of pollution; reduce fossil fuel use in buildings and transportation by over ninety percent; and cut refinery pollution by 94 percent.

“This is a promise that we now need to deliver on: a ninety percent reduction in fossil fuels in buildings and transportation,” said Newsom.

Many of the questions from journalists focused on unrelated topics, giving Governor Newsom an opportunity to campaign a bit about abortion rights and refugees crossing the border. That may be fodder for complaining about him campaigning beyond California, but it was disconcerting how little interest those press members who were allowed to ask questions seemed to have in the climate issues at hand.

One reporter asked the Governor about the problem of “FlexAlert fatigue” (is that a thing?) which gave Newsom the opportunity to express gratitude for the way California residents responded to the recent threats of power outages by reducing energy use. “What we did was extraordinary,” he said. “The problems we are dealing with are extreme.”

Weather models have not been keeping up with those extremes. “Over 1,000 [temperature] records were broken last month,” said Newsom.

“Our transition [to clean energy] is not the problem. Climate is the problem,” he said.

However, not every bill that could have positive climate (and equity and health) effects gets signed. Governor Newsom refused earlier this week to sign one such bill, A.B. 1919 from Assemblymember Chris Holden (D- Pasadena), which would have created a statewide program for student transit passes. His argument was that the costs associated with that bill were not properly worked out through the budget process – but if the administration really believed in it, they could have worked something out.

Other important climate-related bills were not included in this package. It’s encouraging that Newsom included the Bike Omnibus bill here, because that seems to acknowledge that bikes are a powerful weapon in the fight against climate change. But other bills that would have equal or more powerful climate impacts are still sitting on his desk. Those include two from Assemblymember Friedman: A.B 2438, calling for transportation funding to align with climate goals, and A.B. 2097, prohibiting parking minimums in developments near transit. Their omission from this list may not mean anything; there are still a few more weeks until September 30, the deadline for Newsom to sign bills.

The list of bills signed today by Governor Newsom is below. Information on each can be found at the California Legislative Information website.

  • A.B. 1279 by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) – The California Climate Crisis Act. Sets goal to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, but no later than 2045.
  • A.B. 1384 by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino) – Resiliency Through Adaptation, Economic Vitality, and Equity Act of 2022. Adds requirements on vulnerable communities and resilience to state’s climate planning process.
  • A.B. 1389 by Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-Colton) – Clean Transportation Program: project funding preferences.
  • A.B. 1749 by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) – Community emissions reduction programs: toxic air contaminants and criteria air pollutants.
  • A.B. 1757 by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) – California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: climate goal: natural and working lands. Develops a framework for understanding, developing, and tracking the use of forest and working lands for carbon sequestration and emissions reductions.
  • A.B. 1857 by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) – Solid waste.
  • A.B. 1909 by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) – Vehicles: bicycle omnibus bill. Requires drivers to change lanes if possible when passing bikes; clarifies that bikes are allowed to cross with a pedestrian “walk” signal and that e-bikes may use bike lanes; prohibits mandatory bike registration requirements.
  • A.B. 1985 by Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) – Organic waste.
  • A.B. 2061 and A.B. 2075 by Assemblymember Philip Ting (D-San Francisco) – Develop recordkeeping, reporting, standards for electric vehicle charging.
  • A.B. 2108 by Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) – Water policy: environmental justice: disadvantaged and tribal communities.
  • A.B. 2204 by Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-Encinitas) – Clean energy: Labor and Workforce Development Agency: Deputy Secretary for Climate.
  • A.B. 2278 by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) – Natural resources: biodiversity and conservation report.
  • A.B. 2316 by Assemblymember Christopher Ward (D-San Diego) – Public Utilities Commission: customer renewable energy subscription programs and the community renewable energy program.
  • A.B. 2440 by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) – Responsible Battery Recycling Act of 2022.
  • A.B. 2446 by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) – Embodied carbon emissions: construction materials.
  • A.B. 2622 by Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco) – Accelerates the public transit industry’s complete transition to zero-emission bus fleets with a tax exemption for purchases of the vehicles.
  • A.B. 2700 by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) – Transportation electrification: electrical distribution grid upgrades.
  • A.B. 2836 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) – Carl Moyer Memorial Air Quality Standards Attainment Program: vehicle registration fees: California tire fee.
  • S.B. 379 by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) – The Solar Access Act. Implements instant, online solar permitting in cities and counties which, according to the authors, “will decrease approval times for residential solar and solar-plus-storage systems, cut permitting costs for local governments and homeowners, and help California meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.”
  • S.B. 529 by Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) – Electricity: electrical transmission facilities.
  • S.B. 887 by Senator Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park) – Electricity: transmission facility planning.
  • S.B. 905 by Senator Anna Caballero (D-Merced) – Carbon sequestration: Carbon Capture, Removal, Utilization, and Storage Program. CARB says that carbon capture is going to be an important technology for meeting state emission reduction goals, but carbon capture technologies are in their infancy – or maybe still in a fetal stage. This bill gets out ahead of them with requirements for the state to develop ways to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and viability of such technologies, and to adopt regulations and requirements for permitting and tracking any emerging claims about the technologies.
  • S.B. 1010 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) – Air pollution: state vehicle fleet.
  • S.B. 1020 by Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) – Clean Energy, Jobs, and Affordability Act of 2022.
  • S.B. 1063 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) – Energy: appliance standards and cost-effective measures.
  • S.B. 1075 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) – Hydrogen: green hydrogen: emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • S.B. 1109 by Senator Anna Caballero (D-Merced) – California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program: bioenergy projects.
  • S.B. 1137 by Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) – Oil and gas: operations: location restrictions: notice of intention: health protection zone: sensitive receptors.
  • S.B. 1145 by Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) – California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: greenhouse gas emissions: dashboard.
  • S.B. 1158 by Senator Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park) – Retail electricity suppliers: emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • S.B. 1203 by Senator Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park) – Net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases: state agency operations.
  • S.B. 1205 by Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) – Water rights: appropriation.
  • S.B. 1215 by Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) – Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003: covered battery-embedded products.
  • S.B. 1230 by Senator Monique Limόn (D-Santa Barbara) – Zero-emission and near-zero-emission vehicle incentive programs: requirements.
  • S.B. 1251 by Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) – Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development: Zero-Emission Vehicle Market Development Office: Zero-Emission Vehicle Equity Advocate.
  • S.B. 1291 by Senator Bob Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera) – Hydrogen-fueling stations: administrative approval.
  • S.B. 1314 by Senator Monique Limόn (D-Santa Barbara) – Oil and gas: Class II injection wells: enhanced oil recovery.
  • S.B. 1322 by Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) – Energy: petroleum pricing.
  • S.B. 1382 by Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) – Air pollution: Clean Cars 4 All Program: Sales and Use Tax Law: zero emissions vehicle exemption.

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