Legislative Update

The 350 East Bay Legislative Committee is working to gain support in the California Assembly for four priority bills: SB 1383, SB 1277, SB 1279, and SB 32.

SB 1383 would require the California Air Resources Board, or CARB, to limit emissions from three classes of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) with a high Global Warming Potential, or GWP. (GWP is a measure of the total energy that a gas absorbs over a particular period of time, compared to carbon dioxide). SB 1383 would give CARB until 2030 to cut statewide emissions of target pollutants, including black carbon (soot), methane, and fluorinated gasses, below 2013 levels; black carbon (soot) emissions would be halved, while methane and fluorinated gas emissions would be reduced by 40%.

Several California medical and health organizations, including the American Lung Association in California and the California Nurses Association, expressed support for the bill in a letter sent to Senator Lara this spring. The letter states that reducing emissions of target SLCPs will directly benefit the health of California residents, particularly those in disadvantaged communities. Reducing emissions and curbing climate change will also help prevent health impacts from climate change-caused increases in air pollution, extreme heat events, drought, wildfires, vector-borne diseases, flooding, water and food insecurity.

SB 1277 and SB 1279 were authored by Senator Loni Hancock to help block a proposal to ship coal from a port at the Oakland Army Base in West Oakland.

  • SB 1277 would require a supplemental environmental impact review (EIR) of the use of the West Oakland terminal for the shipment of coal, and

  • SB 1279 would require that the California Transportation Commission (which decides whether Trade Corridor Improvement Funds should be spent on the West Oakland port) shall not allocate state funds for any new bulk coal terminal proposed in 2017 or after.

On June 27th, the Oakland City Council voted unanimously to block the proposed project in West Oakland (yay!); this decision is expected to be confirmed by a second vote on July 19th. Regardless, SB 1279 may still help prevent other proposed bulk coal terminals from receiving state funds. The 350 East Bay Legislative Committee will continue promoting SB 1279 even if the City of Oakland rejects plans for a coal facility in West Oakland.

You can find out more about these bills from Senator Hancock's website (much of the text that follows comes from two fact sheets written in support of the bills; you can find these pdfs by scrolling to the bottom of the linked page). Senator Hancock opposes the use of state funds for coal infrastructure because she believes that supporting the coal industry runs counter to California's environmental goals. Furthermore, coal ports pose a serious health threat to nearby residents: coal transport spreads coal dust, and coal dust causes cancer, heart disease, asthma, and other lung diseases.

SB 32 is a substantive bill requiring CARB to limit statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 40% below the 1990 level by 2030. You can find out more by reading the Natural Resource Committee's analysis of the bill, as amended on June 10, 2016.

Most scientists agree that we must reduce GHG emissions to 80 - 90% below 1990 levels by 2050 in order to avoid catastrophic warming. Simply put, existing law requires CARB to adopt a statewide GHG emissions limit equivalent to the 1990 level by 2020; SB 32 extends these goals. You can find an excellent discussion of California's climate laws and emissions targets on 350 East Bay's FAQ's for California page.

SB 32 was one of the more contentious of several California climate bills during the 2015 legislative session. The bill was ultimately withdrawn by its author after the the bill’s opponents— namely oil industry interests and legislators with close relationships with oil— were able to amend it last August to take away power from CARB and from the governor.  The current version of SB 32 has been streamlined to mainly address the extension of CARB’s authority to reduce GHG emissions by 40% by 2030.   350 East Bay's legislative committee will be following this bill closely and is working with other organizations to track and analyze amendments or related legislation intended to weaken the bill.

After passing through the senate, three of these bills (SB 1383, SB 1277, and SB 32) were discussed in the Natural Resources Committee hearing on Monday, June 27th, and the fourth (SB 1279) was heard by the Transportation Committee on the same day. All of these bills were sent to the Appropriations Committee after the June 27th hearings, and they will be heard following the July 1- Aug 1 recess. Stay tuned for updates!

If you’re interested in working with the 350 East Bay Legislative Committee, you can email Judy Pope at jpope4@gmail.com.

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