Legislative Team Highlights and Next Steps

 

350 Sacramento’s Legislative Team entered the summer legislative season at the Capitol supporting a range of bills connected to climate change. We sifted among hundreds of bills, then took on more than a dozen. For each of those, we were lucky to have a volunteer to take charge of tracking, letter writing, testifying in support at the committee hearings and meeting with legislators and staff in the Assembly and Senate.

After several years of dedicated work, 350 Sacramento Board member Tina Gallier has stepped down from the Legislative Committee, leaving coordination to her co-chair, Will Brieger. Her experience will be missed!

The 2021 Legislative session has ended with several successes for us.

Among the bills we supported that passed, the following are now with the Governor, awaiting signature or veto:

  • AB 416 (Kaira), which creates a deforestation-free procurement standard for State purchases. The bill applies not just to wood, but other products (such as palm oil) that could contribute to deforestation;
  • AB 1346 (Berman) requires CARB to require zero-emission small engines, such as lawn and garden equipment. CARB has already begun that effort, constituting a part of the electrification 350 Sacramento has pushed for in many settings;
  • SB 372 (Leyva) is a practical proposal that creates a program within the State Treasurer’s Office to consolidate and improve various programs that finance medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks.
  • SB 596 (Becker) would require CARB, by December 31, 2022, to develop a comprehensive strategy for California’s cement and concrete sector to reduce the carbon intensity of concrete used in the state by at least 40% from 2019 levels by 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality as soon as possible, but no later than 2045. The bill would require the state board, in developing the strategy, among other things, to identify modifications to existing measures and evaluate new measure, including a low-carbon product standard for concrete or cement, to achieve those objectives.

One of the bills we supported has already been signed:

  • AB 525 (Chiu) tasks the Energy Commission with facilitating offshore wind by setting 2030 and 2045 targets and coordinating with other agencies on a strategic plan to achieve those targets.

Among the disappointments was the failure of Assemblymember Muratsuchi’s AB 1395, which would place into statute Governor Brown’s Executive Order aiming for carbon neutrality in 2045. CARB’s scoping plan and ongoing rulemaking are likely to outdo that goal, but it was and is important to codify state policies in a way that binds all agencies. In part, the debate broke down over the extent to which we can rely on and count carbon capture and storage (CCS), versus direct air capture (aka carbon dioxide removal) versus emission reductions. That debate will continue in many contexts over the next few years, with the fossil fuel industry pushing to continue its high-emission practices, tempered by CCS.

Because this was the first year of a two-year cycle, some of the bills we supported will return for consideration in 2022, including building decarbonization, plastics reduction, corporate climate accountability. One to watch is Senator Henry Stern’s SB 582, which adds several sections to the Health & Safety Code and Natural Resources Code under the somewhat innocuous heading of Climate Change Restoration and Resilience. But “restoration” has come to mean returning atmospheric and oceanic CO2 to pre-industrial levels. Accordingly, the proposal includes a startlingly aggressive new emissions reduction goal: instead of an 40% reduction (compared to 1990 and 2020) by the end of 2030, and 80% by 2045, the goal CARB must shoot for would be 80% by 2030! The bill has passed all needed Senate Committees; if he pursues it, votes on the Senate Floor then the Assembly remain.

2022 will be a significant year for locking down aggressive and creative climate solutions. If you have any interest in learning about and participating in the legislative process, please reach out to the Legislative Team in January 2022.


Written by Will B.

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