MARCH 18, 2021
POLICY WATCH, ACTIONS, EVENTS, READINGS & RESOURCES, AND MORE
SF Bay PSR goes beyond policy advocacy with a diverse array of projects designed to nurture a paradigm shift in the way we as a society approach the environment, health, and security. However, policy advocacy is at the heart of our work, so in this issue we dive deeper into the policies that SF Bay PSR will be working on in 2021 at the state level, and anti-nuclear efforts, mostly at the federal level.
Much of California state’s efforts this year will be focused on vaccine distribution and COVID relief, but we must simultaneously tackle intersecting climate, health, and equity issues. Together we can push California to reach our goal of carbon neutrality by 2045 by supporting proposed state bills and regulations which would: reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by speedily ending oil and gas extraction in California and creating stricter setbacks for homes near oil-well sites; require better technology to scrub pollutants out of oil refinery emissions; set up and mandate zero-emission transportation incentives and infrastructure; and decarbonize buildings.
The American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2020 report shows that California cities are experiencing the highest levels of air pollution in the country. While 98% of Californians live in counties with a failing grade for at least one air pollution measurement, a person of color is three times more likely to live in a county with failing grades in all measurements. In addition to communities of color, those with lower income, lung conditions, and those 65 and older, experience the health burdens of air pollution most acutely.
The following bills would work in concert to address both public health and health equity, as well as the climate crisis, by reducing GHG emissions while initiating a just transition for workers to a green economy.
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REDUCE FOSSIL FUEL EXTRACTION, PRODUCTION, USE
California’s path to zero carbon emissions by 2045: Governor Newsom signed two executive orders last year that have positioned California as a national leader in setting carbon emissions reduction goals. This year the state is taking the next steps toward implementation of the orders with the development of the CARB Mobile Source Strategy: a comprehensive analysis that presents strategies to reduce the carbon and toxic pollution from cars, trucks, equipment and ships. The strategy will provide key regulatory information going forward and will be used to implement Governor Newsom’s Executive Orders N-19-19 and N-79-20. EO N-19-19 requires “every aspect of state government to redouble efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change while building a sustainable and inclusive economy.” EO N-79-20 will end sales of NEW internal combustion passenger vehicles by 2035.
One of the most potentially impactful bills toward our emission reduction goals is SB 467 that would Ban Fracking and Dangerous Drilling, by Scott Wiener and Monique Limón. This bill provides an intentional process to help reduce carbon emissions and protect communities and workers. It would phase out extreme extraction techniques, including hydraulic fracturing, acid well stimulation, steam flooding, water flooding, and cyclic steaming. It would also stop new well permits in 2022, all oil well extraction activity in California by 2027, and prohibit any new oil extraction permits within 2,500 feet of communities by July 1, 2022.
Importantly, SB 467 would help to protect workers by initiating a just transition to new green energy jobs—this is a critical program to support in order to convince the greater public and unions representing relatively well-paid workers connected to the fossil fuel industry to support this bill. Frontline community groups who are most impacted by drilling in Kern County and Los Angeles support this legislation, in addition to over 70 groups from throughout California. The economic impacts of resuming the status quo, as the oil well supply decreases and industry jobs are no longer stable, are likely to be severe. Using federal and state funds to invest in job retraining programs and green-energy jobs for workers in the California oil industry would simultaneously protect workers’ livelihoods, health, and the environment, while stimulating the state’s economy.
For those of you less familiar with state legislature procedures, bills that do not pass can be reincarnated or splintered off into other versions for the following year’s legislative session. SB467 is a new iteration of the 2020 bill AB345, referred to as a green new deal bill, that passed the State Assembly but failed in the Senate last year.
At the local level, we are advocating for reduced emissions from the Chevron and Shell oil refineries. SF Bay PSR along with Climate Health Now and a coalition of activist and community groups were able to convince the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) committee to select a plan for board vote that includes stricter regulations (amendment to Rule 6-5) and would require oil refineries to upgrade their facilities with the best current technology, wet gas scrubbers, that would provide a 75% reduction in particular matter (PM) air pollution. Over half of refineries in the U.S. already use this technology, so its implementation in the Bay Area is imperative.
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GREEN BUILDINGS AND TRANSPORTATION
The California Air Resources Board reports that the building sector is the second largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the state, second only to transportation. SF Bay PSR is supporting a set of bills (California Building Decarbonization Package – SB 30, SB 31, SB 32) that was introduced to decarbonize buildings.
SB30 would prohibit all state agencies from connecting new facilities to the natural gas grid beginning on January 01, 2022, and prohibit the state from providing funding for projects that are not zero-emission beginning on January 01, 2023, except in some cases. Lastly it would require the Department of General Services to develop the California State Building Decarbonization Plan that will ensure all existing state-owned buildings reach carbon-neutrality by 2035.
SB31 would require the California Energy Commission (CEC), under the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program, to award funds for projects that will benefit electricity rate payers, develop building decarbonization technologies, and make investments that reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas generation.
SB32 would require all cities and counties to incorporate building decarbonization requirements that are consistent with the state’s emission reduction targets into their General Plan by January 1, 2023.
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in new buildings: Finally, we are advocating for electric vehicle charging access for all in California and particularly in every new building development. The opportunity to advocate for the state building codes to include recharging stations has come up because California’s CALGreen building code (Title 24, Part 11) is updated every 3 years, with the next cycle going into effect in 2022. Currently state agencies are accepting comments from stakeholders: the Building Standards Commission (BSC) handles nonresidential, and the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) handles residential code. We want to democratize access to electrified driving and set a precedent for federal EV policy with the new Biden administration.
We invite you to take action by joining an SF Bay PSR committee, writing to your representatives (find them here), or writing an op-ed.
Special thanks to SF Bay PSR intern Daisy Valdivieso for her research and editorial assistance with this piece.
MORE READINGS & RESOURCES can be found at the end of the newsletter.