California Passes Historic Environmental Bills

Sep 1, 2016
By Sarah Rose

California has made climate history yet again. The state legislature passed nearly all of the environmental community's highest priority bills in the final days – and even the final hours – of the legislative session, which concluded in the early morning hours on September 1st.

Historic environmental bills now on their way to Governor Jerry Brown include:

  • SB 32 by Senator Fran Pavley follows up on California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, and sets a bold new target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
  • AB 197 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia will increase equity, accountability and transparency by increasing legislative oversight of the California Air Resources Board.
  • SB 1000 by Senator Connie Leyva will require the development of an Environmental Justice element for future General Plans, ensuring that local governments proactively plan for and address environmental justice when developing their long-term goals, policies, and vision for land use and growth.
  • AB 1550 by Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez will require the investment of funds from the state Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to projects located within, and benefitting individuals living in, disadvantaged communities.
  • AB 1066 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez will establish equitable overtime standards for farmworkers in line with other Californians, providing hard-working farmworkers the dignity they deserve.

While we are thrilled with the ground-breaking number of bills we were able to pass through the legislature, our work is far from over. Please help support our efforts to get these bills signed into law and successfully enacted.

These ground-breaking victories seemed all but impossible during the first week of August when Big Oil launched yet another multi-million dollar opposition campaign. They threatened political and electoral retribution against on-the-fence lawmakers to convince them to stop climate policies from moving forward, and multiple media outlets reported that our climate bills were in trouble.

CLCV staff went into overdrive to counter the oil industry’s self-interested efforts by meeting around the clock with bill authors, legislative leadership, the governor’s office, legislative champions, undecided lawmakers, and allies. Staff hosted in-district meetings and town halls with key legislators and launched a targeted digital advertisement campaign in key districts to activate local community members. Thanks to you, we generated tens of thousands of constituent emails and hundreds of calls to lawmakers asking them to vote YES on these environmental priorities.

They heard you – loud and clear.

Our policy successes were truly a team effort, with a diverse coalition of environmental and equity organizations, public health leaders, labor groups, businesses, consumers, and faith leaders all working together to determine priorities and work to pass them. Most of the close floor votes on these bills took place in the final days – even the final hours – of the legislative session.

There were a few disappointments reminding us of the power of special interests in the state Capitol, including a bill that would have added environmental justice representation to an increasingly polluter-friendly Southern California air quality agency.

At the end of the day, we were outspent by big polluters, but they were outnumbered, thanks to CLCV supporters and activists. As a result, advocates for the environment, healthy communities, and our planet prevailed. The passage of so many critical bills is a huge victory for the environment and for the public health, safety, and economic security of all Californians.

We are beyond grateful for the work of the bill authors, along with legislative leaders Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate pro Tem Kevin de León. Thanks to their commitment, California continues to be the nation’s leading state for environmental progress.

We’ve shown the world that ensuring our most vulnerable communities share equally in the benefits of environmental policies is fundamental to California’s leadership in fighting climate change. 

As one of our allies at the California Environmental Justice Alliance, Strela Cervas, said: 

In the face of fierce opposition from Big Oil, we sent a strong message that these bills are the best for our climate and for low-income communities and communities of color.

In doing so, we were able to secure key votes from Assembly Members who did not support climate legislation last year. We were able to show that environmental justice, labor, and environmental communities united together are stronger than Big Oil.

Stay tuned as we urge the governor to sign these bills into law – as a reminder, he has until September 30th to do so, so you’ll have another opportunity to make your voice heard on these landmark bills.

Thank you as always for your dedication to protecting our environment and building healthier communities for future generations.

Sarah Rose, CEO



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