“Nothing beautiful without struggle.” – Plato
LEGISLATION. Some relevant legislation that makes California a global leader in sustainability.
- AB 32, “California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006”: To respond to the threat of climate change, the State enacted the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32, Nuñez and Pavley). The act calls for California’s greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020. Adopting this ambitious goal put California at the forefront of global action. Achieving this goal requires significant collaboration and support from all public, private, and non-profit entities representing all sectors of California’s diverse economy.
- Strategic Growth Council: SB 732 (2008, Steinberg, “Environment”) created the Strategic Growth Council, a cabinet-level committee, to coordinate the activities of state agencies to: Improve air and water quality; Protect natural resources and agriculture lands; Increase the availability of affordable housing; Promote public health; Improve transportation; Encourage greater infill and compact development; Revitalize community and urban centers; Assist state and local entities in the planning of sustainable communities and meeting AB 32 goals.
- SB 375, “Transportation planning: travel demand models: sustainable communities strategy: environmental review” SB 375 (Steinberg, 2008) attempts to coordinate planning for land use and transportation at a regional scale, with the goal of reducing the amount that people have to drive and associated greenhouse gases. Successful implementation of SB 375 can create more walkable, efficient communities that save taxpayers money, reduce air pollution, improve public health, and shorten commutes as more people can afford to live closer to work. The major provisions are: Create regional targets for GHG emissions reductions from cars and light trucks; Require regional planning agencies to create a Sustainable Communities Strategy, a land use and transportation plan to meet GHG targets; Regional governments must plan to provide enough housing to match anticipated job growth and income categories for all community members; Require each city to show where housing will go that will meet its allocation of housing for residents of different income levels; Streamline environmental review for projects consistent with a regional plan that meets GHG reduction targets.
- Proposition 39 (2012, “Clean Energy Jobs Act”) closed a $1 billion tax loophole that gave out-of-state corporations an unfair tax advantage over businesses that employ more Californians. The funds allow local governments and school districts the opportunity to seek low-interest funding to make energy efficiency improvements at schools and private buildings, such as installing solar panels, upgrading old heating and cooling systems, swapping out old windows, and installing other energy-saving technologies. Prop 39 will dedicate half of the revenues recovered to job-creating energy efficiency and clean energy programs, creating California jobs while maximizing energy efficiency and decreasing dependence on foreign energy. The other half of the revenues, an anticipated 500 million dollars a year, will go to our schools. After five years, all of the revenues will go directly to the General Fund, a permanent investment in our state’s future.
- Senator Fran Pavley’s SB 32 sets an overarching climate pollution reduction target of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. This target has been determined to be not only technologically feasible, but scientifically necessary to stave off the costliest effects of climate change. Enacting clear, achievable climate pollution reduction targets and identifying priorities to guide implementation will provide critical accountability and certainty to businesses investing for the long term in California. Long-term targets will create a market for investment and innovation in a cleaner, less polluting economy. A commitment to climate pollution reduction targets will also secure fees paid by polluters for the foreseeable future, in effect stabilizing revenues from our cap-and-trade system that go into energy efficiency, cleaner transportation, and investing in disproportionately impacted communities.
- Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León’s SB 185 (2015), “Investing with Values and Responsibility,” focuses on the future and leads by example by having the country’s largest public pension funds, the Public Employees’ Retirement System and the State Teachers’ Retirement System, divest from coal.
- SB 64 (2015), authored by Senator Carol Liu, requires the California Transportation Commission to review updates to the California Transportation Plan and prepare specific recommendations to improve the statewide integrated multimodal transportation system. These changes will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase sustainability, and help prepare the state transportation system to deal with long-term climate change. This law is part of the Senate’s California Climate Leadership Package, and is a follow-up to SB 391 (Liu, 2009).
- Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León’s SB 350 (2015) sets the ambitious goals that 50 percent of the state’s electricity must come from renewable sources, and all existing buildings must have a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency, by the year 2030.
- Senator Jim Beall’s SB 9 (2015), “Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program,” shortens construction time and saves money for mass transit projects, such as BART to San Jose. SB 9 authorizes multi-year funding grants under the Cap and Trade program for large, innovative mass transit projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bill ends the repetitive practice of long-term projects submitting funding requests, along with engineering plans, in phases. It also guarantees approved projects funding over multiple years for developmental work.
- Senator Bob Wiekowski’s SB 246 (2015), “Climate Change Adaptation,” creates the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program to address the lack of a comprehensive approach to climate adaptation across state agencies.
- Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s SB 379 (2015), “Climate Adaptation,” requires all cities and counties to include climate adaptation and resiliency strategies in the safety elements of their general plans. The bill requires the climate adaptation update to include a set of goals, policies, and objectives for their communities based on the vulnerability assessment, as well as implementation measures, including the conservation and implementation of natural infrastructure that may be used in adaptation projects.
- Senator Marty Block’s SB758 (2015), “Atmospheric Rivers: Research, Mitigation, and Climate Forecasting Program,” establishes the Atmospheric Rivers: Research, Mitigation, and Climate Forecasting Program in the Department of Water Resources to, upon appropriation of special fund moneys, research climate forecasting and the causes and impacts that climate change has on atmospheric rivers, to operate reservoirs in a manner that improves flood protection in the state, and to reoperate flood control and water storage facilities to capture water generated by atmospheric rivers.