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California Legislative Session Ends with Big Wins for Our Health and Environment

California Energy Legislation

Victoria Rome, California Legislative Director, San Francisco and Sacramento

As the gavel fell on the California state legislative session, NRDC and our partners celebrated breakthroughs on policies we’ve been advocating for years. Our state leaders finished strong for the environment sending numerous bills to Governor Brown that will clean the air, reduce plastic litter pollution, combat climate change, and reduce toxic chemicals in our environment. We commented on some of the big wins in a coalition press release and below is an excerpt:  

“Environmental advocates and legislative champions worked together to deliver a host of new bills to the Governor’s desk to:

  • Place a much needed  water bond on the November ballot Proposition 1
  • Protect precious groundwater supplies AB 1739 (Dickinson) and SB 1319 and SB 1168 (Pavley) – SIGNED
  • Put 1 million electric cars, trucks and buses on California roads within the next 10 years SB 1275 (De León) and SB 1204 (Lara)
  • Phase out single-use plastic grocery bags SB 270 (Padilla, De León and Padilla)
  • Allow consumers to purchase furniture free of toxic flame retardant chemicals SB 1019 (Leno)
  • Reduce methane leaks from pipelines SB 1371 (Leno)
  • Work to protect  public access to California’s coast SB 968 (Hill)
  • Strengthen oversight of the state’s management of hazardous waste  SB 712 (Lara) and SB 812 (De León)
  • Invest revenues from the state’s cap and trade program in clean transportation and healthy communities SB862 (Committee on Budget)”

Here’s a video I made to support SB 270 when I saw yet another plastic bag floating around my neighborhood park:

In addition to passing some landmark bills, we played tough defense against well-funded opponents. We fought to keep California’s climate solutions act, AB 32, in place and strong as we move to the next phase of implementation. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to get a major bill like AB 32 through the legislature and signed by the governor. We need to remain diligent in protecting and defending this law. We succeeded when we beat back Proposition 23 in 2010, and we succeeded again this year by beating back oil industry proposals to delay or exempt transportation fuels from being included in California’s climate program.

We helped to ensure that California’s updated furniture flammability standard, which found that flame retardant chemicals were not necessary to protect people in a fire, was upheld despite a lawsuit from the chemical industry. We also got the aforementioned furniture labeling bill through the legislature. We made sure that the water bond that will go before voters this November does not fund environmentally destructive infrastructure, like twin tunnels through the Bay Delta, but that it does fund water recycling, efficiency and clean drinking water.

While we celebrate that the session ended on a high note, there is more work to be done.  Unfortunately, Senator Mitchell’s bill to enact a moratorium on fracking was defeated on the Senate floor in May. Also, environmental, health and consumer protection groups opposed a weak bill that purports to address the public health crisis of antibiotic resistance, but doesn’t actually require reductions in antibiotic use in animals. That bill is currently the governor’s desk and we are urging a veto.    

Californians should let Governor Brown know that they support environmental and public health protection and ask him to sign these and other key bills into law.  And we thank him for signing the package of groundwater bills earlier this week.

Looking ahead to 2015, we expect renewed efforts to address antibiotic resistance, ensure that communities are protected from dirty energy production, and advance California’s leadership in tackling climate change. Help show your support for climate action by attending People’s Climate March solidarity events in Oakland and Los Angeles this weekend.

Photo Credit: California Green Legislation/shutterstock

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