CLCV is thrilled to honor California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León at our upcoming Environmental Leadership Awards in Los Angeles.
Few members of the California Legislature embody the California dream like de León, who was raised by a single mother in a poor, polluted neighborhood, Barrio Logan in San Diego. He credits his ability to rise out of poverty and become successful--recently becoming the first Latino to lead the California Senate since 1883--to his hard-working mother and to teachers "who believed in me and allowed me to get a college education."
De León's inspiring personal story is matched only by his inspiring record of leadership and achievement in championing environmental protection, environmental justice, clean air and clean energy jobs in California. His ability to forge creative, dynamic, and effective partnerships between business, labor, environment and social justice advocates has benefited all of California’s diverse communities.
De León’s first bill was AB 31 (2008) which has resulted in 127 park projects in low-income and park-poor communities across the state, from Eureka to El Centro. Since that time, he has developed and championed policy solutions to ensure California's most disadvantaged communities benefit from AB 32, California’s pioneering clean air and climate law. De León authored Senate Bill 535 (signed into law in 2012), a bill that will save lives by requiring that a percentage of cap-and-trade auction proceeds are invested in those communities.
He was the Co-Chair of the Yes on 39 campaign along with Tom Steyer and former Secretary of State George Shultz. In 2012 voters overwhelmingly approved Prop 39, which awards energy efficiency upgrade grants to economically disadvantaged school communities in ways that shrink our carbon footprint, create healthier environments for students, and create clean energy jobs. De León was instrumental in crafting an agreement with Governor Brown on the best use of the funds to benefit California schools, our economy and our environment.
In the recent legislative session, de León authored and successfully passed Senate Bill 1275, which aims to put one million electric vehicles on the road within the next decade. The “Charge Ahead California” legislation will accelerate the reduction of air pollution in severely impacted communities and ease the burden of fuel costs for struggling families. This new law is only the latest example of the new Senate leader's unique ability to advance solutions that boost our economy while also improving public health and tackling climate change. He also co-authored, along with Senators Alex Padilla and Ricardo Lara, a first-in-the-nation statewide ban on wasteful single-use plastic bags.
As de León said in his remarks during his recent swearing-in ceremony in Los Angeles:
We must invest in our youth to secure our future. To be truly great, we must target our investments to make certain more kids have a fair shot to achieve their own California Dream. In fact, every kid, regardless of who they are, where they were born, who their parents are, the color of their skin, or their immigration status, deserves a fair shot to make it here.
Every kid deserves a safe community with green parks and open space where they can play and exercise without fear of violence. Every kid deserves to breathe clean air and drink clean water no matter where they live. Every kid deserves a quality education with safe schools, small classes, excellent teachers, and the best chance to graduate and go on to college or career training. Every kid deserves a fair shot to attend a public university that’s affordable and accessible. Expanding opportunities for kids isn’t just the right thing, or the moral thing, it’s the absolutely necessary thing.
We agree that what best prepares California's children for success in life begins with access to clean air, clean and affordable water, safe places to play and toxic-free communities, homes and schools. Senate President pro Tempore de León’s commitment to these ideals, and his proven record on working for those opportunities for all Californians, is why we honor him with our Environmental Leadership Awards this year.
For more information on CLCV's Environmental Leadership Awards, held this year on December 4th in Los Angeles, visit ecovote.org/awards.