It’s that time of year when those of us working hard to pass good environmental legislation in California can survey the lay of the land and see what remains in play after the flurry of policy committees and floor votes.
The good news is there as the dust settles, it’s clear there are several important proposals -- bills that protect our air, land, water and people and further transition California to a clean energy economy -- that are continuing to make their way through the legislature. With leadership by environmental champions and grassroots support from CLCV members and other environmental activists, they can become law. Let's review a few highlights:
First, a proposal to phase out plastic bags statewide is alive and well. Championed by Senators Alex Padilla, Ricardo Lara, and Kevin De Leon, the bill (which has already passed out of its first house) got through its first critical Assembly committee hearing, Natural Resources Committee, and is now on its way to Assembly Appropriations. The bill will protect our ocean ecology, our urban environments, and our economy from the scourge of millions of single-use plastic bags.
Another critical proposal authored by Senator Lara and Senator Fran Pavley, which calls for the creation of a California Clean Truck and Bus Program to encourage zero- and near-zero emissions for buses and trucks handling goods movement got off the Senate floor. “The health of our communities can’t wait any longer – it’s time to take decisive action to clean up polluted transportation corridors throughout our state,” explained Senator Lara. “SB 1204 will spur innovation and strengthen our economy by investing in the clean technology needed to make heavy duty electric trucks and buses a reality.”
Senator De Leon’s “Charge Ahead” proposal, SB 1275, also moved off the Senate floor by a bipartisan vote of 27-9. The bill advances the goal of putting one million electric cars, trucks, and buses on the road over the next decade by improving consumer incentives and rebates. The legislation not only addresses air quality concerns, but also takes important steps toward ensuring that middle- and low-income families, not just wealthy Californians, can participate in the state’s transition to clean vehicles.
Senator Pavley’s proposal to protect Californians from inland oil spills due to the growth of crude-by-rail successfully passed off the Senate floor. SB 1319 seeks to prepare California for dangerous inland oil spills when, not if, they occur, and to make sure those responsible for spills are able to pay for the damage.
We can expect these bills to have their share of challenges and opposition from powerful industries as they make their way through the series of committees, floor votes, and their hoped-for final destination: the governor’s desk. But for now, let’s pause and thank the environmental champions in the state legislature who have gotten these proposals this far. They’re working for a better future for our Golden State, and we’re grateful to have them on our side.