Now that the 2016 legislative session has ended, we’re celebrating some victories: four of the five main climate bills we supported, SB 32, AB 197, SB 1383, and SB 1279, have all been signed into law. SB 1279 prohibits the use of state transportation funds for new bulk coal terminal projects, and SB 1383 sets emissions reductions targets for “super pollutants.” The passage of linked bills SB 32 and AB 197 ensures that California’s leadership in building a clean energy economy continues with a growing commitment that all Californians are full partners in this transition, including those in the state’s disadvantaged communities who often live with the legacy of fossil fuel industry pollution and some of our dirtiest air quality.
Victories: SB 32, AB 197, SB 1383, and SB 1279
By passing SB 32, California’s leaders renewed the state’s commitment to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonizing our economy. SB 32 extends California's emissions target to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. Like AB 32 before it, SB 32 directs the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in a comprehensive fashion. (You can find out more about SB 32 by checking out a previous 350 East Bay blog post).However, there are a few important differences between SB and AB 32. AB 32 required the state to develop a “market mechanism” to bring about GHG emissions trading and reduction for the largest polluters— this became known as the the “cap and trade” program. As it moved through the Senate and Assembly in 2016, SB 32 was simplified by the author, Senator Fran Pavley, who took out SB 32’s original goal of 80% emission reduction by 2050 and removed the cap and trade program. This means that the state will need to examine in coming years whether cap and trade will be continued as it is, reformed in some way, or replaced with other some other mechanism. (Note: The draft 2016 AB 32 scoping plan update gives some insights into possible pathways post 2020).
SB 32 was tied to passage of another bill, AB 197, authored by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia. According to an 8/24/2016 floor analysis, AB 197:
places additional legislative oversight on the California Air Resources Board (CARB) by creating a joint legislative committee on climate change policies, and adding two legislators as non-voting members of the Board;
requires CARB to prioritize direct emission reductions and consider “social costs” when adopting GHG reductions measures;
gives CARB additional reporting duties on the sources of GHGs and other pollutants;
establishes six-year terms for voting members of CARB;
From the bill text, “social costs” are defined as “an estimate of the economic damages, including, but not limited to, changes in net agricultural productivity; impacts to public health; climate adaptation impacts, such as property damages from increased flood risk; and changes in energy system costs, per metric ton of greenhouse gas emission per year.”
SB 1383 is aimed at reducing emissions of a special class of “super pollutants”—methane, black carbon (soot) and fluorine gases (HFCs). The bill directs CARB to implement a strategy to reduce methane by 40%, HFCs by 40%, and human-caused black carbon emissions by 50% below 2013 levels by 2030. In order to reduce methane emissions, the bill also mandates a 50% reduction in the statewide level of organic waste (below the 2014 level) by 2020, and a 75% reduction in the level of statewide disposal of organic waste by 2025. Also per SB 1383, California will need to recover the amount of edible food it discards by 20%. Although the dairy industry will need to reduce its methane emissions by 40% before 2030 per SB 1383, regulations on methane emissions from the dairy industry are subject to various constraints and will not be implemented until 2024. For background on SB 1383, check out a previous 350 East Bay blog post.
Support for SB 1279 arose out of concerns about a developer’s proposal to ship 9 million tons of coal annually from the West Oakland Army base. This July, following a year long, community-wide campaign by the No Coal in Oakland Coalition, the Oakland city council passed a zoning ordinance banning the proposed shipping and handling of coal and petcoke for export from West Oakland. Senator Hancock continued pushing to pass her two coal-related bills, SB 1277 and SB 1279. In the end, SB 1279 passed and will make sure that, by 2017, state transportation funding are longer be used to support coal shipments to and from ports in California. (Coal is currently being shipped from terminals in Richmond, Stockton and Long Beach, but far less than the amounts that were proposed for Oakland.)
SB 1277 became mired in the Assembly Appropriations Committee in mid August did not go to a floor vote. This bill would have required that a supplemental Environmental Impact Report (EIR) be prepared to consider and mitigate the environmental impacts of proposed coal shipments from the West Oakland port. Although, as mentioned previously, Oakland’s city council passed a zoning ordinance banning the proposed coal shipments, Hancock is concerned that the developer may contest the ordinance in court. Hancock contends that passage of SB 1277 is still necessary to protect workers and residents in West Oakland if the developer is successful in a lawsuit against the city of Oakland.
Other bills you should know about
Unfortunately, 350 East Bay did not have the resources to campaign for all the important climate legislation heard by the legislature this session. Here are some additional bills that we’ve followed (not a comprehensive list, by any means):
Senate pro tem Kevin De Leon proposed SB 1387 in order to better represent those in the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) most impacted by poor air quality. The bill, which died in the Assembly, would have added three new state appointments to the SCAQMD board. As amended on August 19, 2016, SB 1387 requires these appointees to “reside in and work directly with communities in the South Coast Air Basin that are disproportionately burdened by and vulnerable to high levels of pollution and issues of environmental justice, including, but not limited to, communities with diverse racial and ethnic populations and communities with low-income populations.”
Currently, according to an action alert sent out by the Sierra Club’s Allen Hernandez. “nearly all of the thirteen current members of the SCAQMD live in areas that enjoy clean air year-round. And despite the fact that the region's population is more than three-fifths Latino — many of whom are disproportionately affected by pollution —there is not a single Latino board member.” In April, the LA times reported on a controversial appointment made by the SCAQMD: “(...) the Southland's air quality board continued its shift toward more business-friendly regulation (...) by choosing an industry consultant as its new executive.” The SCAQMD board was characterized as“pollution tolerant” in a recent LA Times article.
As amended on August 10, AB 1110 was opposed by 350 Bay Area and Californians for Energy Choice, a group that advocates on behalf of the state’s community choice aggregations (CCAs). Californians for Energy Choice said that AB 1110 would favor “polluting monopoly utilities” over CCAs. Marin Clean Energy, a local governmental agency administering the first CCA in the state, concluded that passage of AB 1110 “would lead to inaccurate calculations of GHGs, prescribes a detailed unworkable methodology, and discourages aggressively meeting and exceeding RPS standards.” (A Renewable portfolio standard (RPS) is a regulation that requires the increased production energy from renewable energy sources.)
Fortunately, AB 1110 was amended later in the session so that “(d)ecisions on greenhouse gas reporting standards will now be made by the California Energy Commission (CEC) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) through an open public process." It was approved by the Governor on September 26th.
This emergency bill, which is currently stalled in a Senate committee, would have reinstated net metering for Imperial Irrigation District (IID) customers whose net metering program was abruptly ended. Currently, municipal utilities like IID are not compelled to offer net metering under the same terms as the investor-owned utilities. AB 2163 would have resolved this problem for IID's customers and set a precedent for net metering programs in municipal utilities around the state. You can find out more about this bill on the 350 Bay Area website.
SB 1161, the "Exxon knew" bill, would have extended the statute of limitations for lawsuits against “entities that have deceived, confused, or misled the public on the risks of climate change or financially supported activities that have deceived, confused, or misled the public on those risks.” Called “A landmark bill” by the Washington Times, SB 1161 was introduced by senator Ben Allen and supported by the Union of Concerned Scientists and other environmental groups. SB 1161 died in June, after the Senate failed to take it up before a deadline.