California Climate Bills Now Law: Bring Economic, Environmental & Health Benefits

Written by Stephen Kulieke on . Posted in Act, The Wonk Room

Editor’s Note: Breaking news from California where the governor has signed a trio of climate change policy bills! Read on to learn more about what these new laws will accomplish in this legislative round-up from the California Climate Change Chronicles.

This past week, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed three bills passed by the State Legislature that will go far to advance California’s climate change policies and overall well-being.  Two bills are focused on addressing the cause of the problem, the other on responding to its unavoidable impacts.

On September 30, the Governor signed into law Senate Bill 535, authored by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), and Assembly Bill 1532, authored by Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles), upholding the strong will of voters to curb carbon pollution causing global warming and to protect the quality of life for state residents. These new laws build upon and enhance California’s landmark climate change program — The Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32).

“These laws will keep California on track to maximize the benefits to public health and the environment by directing pollution fees to clean the air by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” said Michelle Passero, Senior Climate Policy Advisor at the Nature Conservancy in California. “They will also expand the state’s economy in new directions by fostering job growth and advancing clean energy and fuels — and, at the same time, protecting our natural resources.”

In addition, AB 1532 authorizes funding for activities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with water use and supply, land and natural resource conservation and management, forestry, and sustainable agriculture.

Moreover, SB 535 and AB 1532 will ensure that a portion of fees collected from the auction of emission permits will be directed toward the state’s most vulnerable populations:  Under this provision, revenue will be dedicated to projects that provide benefits to disadvantaged communities by reducing emissions and mitigating the direct health impacts caused by climate change.

California also adopted new policy to help reduce climate-magnified risks to its coast.  On September 27, the Governor signed into law Senate Bill 1066, which for the first time provides the State Coastal Conservancy with the authority to address climate change in its programs and grants.

The bill’s author, Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), commended the Governor for signing it. “Gov. Brown clearly understands the risks and challenges that climate change poses, including billions of dollars of economic activity and infrastructure.”

The new law will help protect California’s coastal and San Francisco Bay communities and resources from the increasing impacts of climate change while reducing risks to the coastal economy valued at more than $46 billion annually. The 80 percent of California’s 38 million residents who reside and work within 30 miles of the coast will be especially affected by climate change and its accompanying economic, ecological, physical and social problems.

Louis Blumberg, Director of The Nature Conservancy’s California Climate Change Program called the three new laws “important steps forward to ensure that the broader goals of AB 32 are achieved — maximizing public health and environmental benefits, addressing the impacts of climate change to California communities, and promoting the state’s clean energy economy and jobs. Governor Brown, Senators De Leon and Lieu, and Speaker Pérez are all to be commended for their leadership and continued commitment to science-based and economically sound climate policy for the betterment of all Californians.”

Stephen Kulieke is Media Relations Manager for The Nature Conservancy in Sacramento, California.

Photo © Matt Richardson (Waves wash against the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco).

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Planet Change is a Nature Conservancy blog site designed to share stories about actions the Conservancy and others around the world are taking to fight carbon pollution and the impacts of climate change, and to help people feel the connections between climate change and their daily lives and understand actions they can take.

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