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CPUC delays vote on new solar rules ‘indefinitely’ in win for energy and justice advocates

February 4, 2022 — After months of debate surrounding the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) proposed rule changes regarding solar energy and storage, a judge on the commission announced Thursday that the matter “will not appear on the Commission’s voting meeting agenda until further notice.”

In response, The Climate Center CEO Ellie Cohen said:

“This decision would not have happened without clean energy and justice advocates across California. We’d like to thank our partners and the thousands of people who mobilized to support the growing solar industry and demand regulations that keep small-scale solar and storage accessible to low and middle-income Californians. This issue united climate activists, solar industry employees, working-class solar customers, and more to stand up for energy resilience, affordability, and equity. People across the state are increasingly demanding local, clean energy resources in the face of wildfires, public safety power shut-offs, and rising investor-owned utility rates. As the CPUC goes back to the drawing board, we urge them to craft a solar rate structure that benefits all Californians, not corporate utilities.”

First unveiled in December, the CPUC’s proposed rules would have imposed a new fee structure that would make rooftop solar and customer-owned batteries cost-prohibitive for the average Californian. Under the existing rules, more than 1 million homes, 2,000 schools, about 1,000 farms, and 300 apartment buildings have become powered by the sun. 

In comments sent to the CPUC on January 11, 2022, The Climate Center urged commissioners to “develop equitable policies that create a level playing field for all consumers, not ones that capriciously shift costs at the expense of essential early adopters.”


Contact: Ryan Schleeter, Communications Director, The Climate Center:, (415) 342-2386

About The Climate Center: 

The Climate Center is a climate and energy policy nonprofit working to rapidly reduce climate pollution at scale, starting in California. Our flagship Climate-Safe California campaign is a unique and comprehensive effort to make California the first state in the nation to reach carbon negative. 

Governor Newsom announces statewide 3,200-foot setback between communities and oil and gas drilling – The Climate Center response

Wilmington, CA — Today, Governor Newsom announced that California’s oil regulator, California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM), has released a draft health and safety rule recommending a mandated 3,200-foot distance between new oil and gas extraction sites and the places where people live, work, and play.

According to the Associated Press, the 32,400 wells within 3,200 feet of community sites account for about one-third of the state’s oil extraction. The draft rule announced today would not ban wells already operating in that zone but would add new pollution controls.

In response, Woody Hastings, Energy Program Manager at The Climate Center, said:

“Oil and gas companies have polluted California’s frontline communities for far too long. This rule is a victory for community health advocates and a critical recognition that people’s well-being must come before polluter profits. We thank Governor Newsom for taking this long-awaited first step to address environmental injustice. Now, we urge him to continue by rapidly phasing out fossil fuels from all sectors of our economy, halting all permits for new oil and gas projects, and investing in a just transition for impacted workers and their families.”

Governor Newsom directed CalGEM to undertake a rulemaking process to strengthen public health and environmental protections more than two years ago. Since then, more than 40,000 Californians have submitted public comments urging the governor to put people before polluters and end neighborhood drilling. Pollution from oil and gas drilling disproportionately impacts the state’s Black, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Indigenous communities.


Contact: Ryan Schleeter, Communications Director, The Climate Center:, (415) 342-2386

About The Climate Center: 

The Climate Center is a climate and energy policy nonprofit working to rapidly reduce climate pollution at scale, starting in California. Our flagship Climate-Safe California campaign is a unique and comprehensive effort to make California the first state in the nation to reach carbon negative.

No climate, no deal: The importance of the Civilian Climate Corps

On June 14, I met up with a group of 20 young people as they marched from Sonoma County to the Marin Headlands. Many of these trekkers started their journey from Santa Rosa, while a select few started their journey in Paradise, California, the site of the deadliest fire in California history. Even though everyone’s feet were hurting by the end of the day and the fog brought a chill to our campsite, the excitement for the next day was palpable. Together, we planned to walk from Marin across the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco — the final leg in the 266-mile march from Paradise.  

There, more than 100 of us made our demand clear outside Speaker Nancy Pelsoi and Senator Diane Feinstein’s homes: Pass legislation to create the Civilian Climate Corps (CCC). 

Sunrise Movement Generation on Fire March

Photo by Janina Turner / The Climate Center.

For two years, I’ve been organizing with the Sunrise Movement in Sonoma County. Sunrise is a youth-led movement working to halt the climate crisis by calling on politicians to enact Green New Deal policies, transitioning the United States away from a fossil fuel economy, toward renewable energy, and creating millions of good-paying jobs in the process. The Sunrise Sonoma County hub works to bring the pillars of the Green New Deal — such as climate justice, livable wages, affordable housing, and green jobs — to life at the local level.

The launch of a Civilian Climate Corps would put 1.5 million people to work over five years. These are jobs that move us toward a regenerative, green economy, creating a world of opportunity for Americans struggling to find stable employment in the wake of COVID and helping to curb climate change at the same time. As we transition away from fossil fuels, the Corps can provide jobs in the energy sector as well as opportunities focused on restoration, decarbonization, and community revitalization. In California, the Corps could also provide jobs that focus on wildfire prevention, renewable energy, habitat restoration, public transportation, and affordable housing. 

The Civilian Climate Corps is inspired by the Civilian Conservation Corps of the New Deal era, which put people to work by planting trees, developing recreation areas, and upgrading infrastructure. But this updated version is designed to be more equitable and inclusive. New Deal programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps discriminated against African American and Indigenous men, who were segregated from their white counterparts in the workforce. And women, regardless of race, were not even allowed to join the corps and were sent instead to women-only work camps. This time around, we want to ensure that the communities that have been harmed the most by climate change and fossil fuel pollution are the first to benefit. We’re demanding that 50 percent of job opportunities go to environmental justice communities and half of all projects are happening in these communities.

Furthermore, it’s vital that the jobs created by the Corps pay at least $15/hour, come with good health care benefits, provide education grants to help pay off student debt, and offer long-term career opportunities so workers can afford to take care of themselves and their families. 

The movement for a Civilian Climate Corps took to the streets again on June 28, this time in front of the White House. There, more than 500 Sunrisers demanded that President Joe Biden include the Civilian Climate Corps in the infrastructure package Congress is negotiating right now — and 13 activists were arrested for peacefully blockading the entrance to the White House. A contingent of California-based Sunrisers marched to Speaker Pelosi and Senator Feinstein’s D.C. homes for another protest on June 29.

Knowing that climate catastrophe is hovering over my future and that of my generation is why I fight for Green New Deal legislation like the Civilian Climate Corps. Knowing that a better future is possible but watching critical climate resolutions be tossed away is what ignites my generation to organize and protest. Experiencing record-breaking wildfires year after year, as well as drought, heatwaves, and floods in my backyard, I have no choice but to continue the fight for a safe future. To see that future come into fruition, it is crucial that we see mass mobilization in support of a Green New Deal and Civilian Climate Corps. The CCC is only one part of a larger vision for a just and livable future, and it’s time for our elected leaders to understand that we will not accept compromises or excuses.

The federal infrastructure package must reflect on the urgency of the crises we are in. 

Los Angeles Smog by Massimo Catarinella

Choking on fumes: Diesel generators are booming with state funding

In a state that takes pride in claiming to be a world leader in technology and reducing carbon emissions, state and local government decision-makers in California have taken a giant step backward in funding diesel back-up generators to mitigate for Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). 

In recent years, power shutoffs have cost California billions of dollars. Unfortunately, too much of the State’s response to date has focused funding on archaic and polluting fossil generators, which have lower upfront costs than clean energy solutions, but higher operating costs, as well as higher costs to public health from air pollution.

Governor Newson correctly laid the blame for power shutoffs on investor-owned utility PG&E for failing to maintain infrastructure. In initially announcing power shutoff mitigation efforts, Governor Newsom said, “For decades, they have placed greed before public safety. We must do everything we can to support Californians, especially those most vulnerable to these events. These funds will help local governments address these events and assist their most vulnerable residents.”   

The recently-completed 2019-20 Legislative Report on the use of $75 million in allocations made to support state and local efforts to mitigate power shutoff events explains how most of the money has been spent: on diesel generators. And except for about $100,000 that Alameda County used to purchase 96 1000-watt personal back-up battery power packs to loan to people reliant on electric-powered medical-support, very little was reported to have been spent by governments to “assist their most vulnerable residents.” 

All 58 counties received $26 million in total, of which $16 million went for fossil-fuel generators and the fuel tanks and controls to operate them. Only one county, Imperial, bought a solar-plus-battery system for $100,000 instead of generators.

As for the 39 cities that were allocated $10 million, $7.3 million went for fossil-fuel generators, fuel tanks and controls. Three cities bought solar-plus-batteries and no generators. They were American Canyon, $300,000; Orinda, 217,417, and Willits, $149,000 (with a population of 4,893). These cities should be commended for their leadership.

Out of $35 million allocated for state agencies, more than $20 million was spent on generators, only $562,500 on solar-plus-batteries.  

The growing use of diesel generators following recent climate change-exacerbated fires is extremely troubling. At a January California Energy Commission workshop on alternatives to diesel, the Climate Advisor to the Bay Area Air Quality District (BAAQMD) reported that highly energy-dependent businesses such as data centers have already added an additional 1000 Megawatts of new diesel generation just in the Bay Area with another 1500 Megawatts expected to come online, further adding to the roughly 80,000 MW statewide that existed in 2018 prior to the devastating 2019 and 2020 PSPS events.  

Diesel generators do not need permits if they are 50 horsepower or less and BAAQMD has no idea how many of those exist. But they have permitted 10,000 diesel generators in the Bay Area district and are finding they are used more than previously thought.  

California’s state and local leaders can and must do better.

That’s why last year The Climate Center launched an initiative for equitable clean and smart microgrids to build Community Energy Resilience. And we are partnering with lawmakers on legislation that supports equitable access to reliable and safe clean energy solutions.  

Learn about these bills and take action today.

As public dollars are invested to enhance resilience, state and local policymakers should focus on clean energy resilience (which can be cheaper over their lifespan than diesel generators) and should focus on prioritizing energy resilience for California’s most vulnerable communities.   


The data debunks the denial: Bold climate action sooner costs less in dollars and lives

In reaction to a historical day of climate policy action by the Biden Administration, some loud political and media voices continue to claim that climate action is too costly.

These claims are idiocy.

At this moment, we must remind naysayers that study after study shows the huge costs of waiting to act and points not only to the feasibility of doing so, but also to the moral imperative as fossil fuel pollution and climate impacts hit the poor the hardest.  Especially here in California– a massive oil-producing state– we must continue to pressure our legislators to prioritize an equitable phase out of fossil fuels with a Just Transition.

A new report from Energy Innovation shows that the cumulative cost of delaying the decarbonization of our economy until 2030 are 72% higher than the cost of starting now ($4.5 trillion vs $8 trillion). This should come as no surprise considering that in 2020 alone, the estimated cost of wildfires just in the U.S. is $130 to $150 billion.

Two other recent reports also illustrate the economic advantages of moving to net-zero emissions sooner rather than later.

New research published by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), the University of San Francisco (USF), and the consulting firm Evolved Energy Research indicates that rebuilding U.S. energy infrastructure to run primarily on renewable energy can be done at a net cost of about $1 per person per day.

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine says that achieving net-zero carbon emissions in the U.S. by 2050 is feasible and would not only help address climate change, but also build a more competitive economy, increase high-quality jobs, and help address social injustice in the energy system. The committee that wrote the report emphasized that immediate action and proactive innovation are required. The Climate Center agrees, but supports a target date of 2030 to better align with the science and current climate reality.

Starting the transition to all renewables right now also makes a lot of sense if we want to avoid getting stuck with expensive and worthless infrastructure. U.S. climate envoy John Kerry recently warned that continuing to build out natural gas infrastructure runs the risk of creating stranded assets in the future.

Climate action has already helped some fossil fuel-dependent communities weather the COVID-19 recession. When the pandemic hit Cheyenne, Wyoming, the city’s treasurer, Robin Lockman estimated that the city might lose up to 25% of its budget as tax revenues slowed and the prices of oil, gas and coal plummeted, eliminating royalties the city usually receives from the extraction of those resources. But the huge deficit never arrived. Between July and September, the city instead saw a 20.5% increase in tax revenue compared to 2019. In September alone, the increase was $1.4 million or 83% due to the Roundhouse Wind Project. Over the last decade, investors have laid the groundwork for wind farms across Wyoming.

California’s own rich solar and wind resources are not being fully utilized yet, but once they are, the development of these renewable energy resources will protect the state against dry coffers when fossil fuel demand dries up. Communities such as Kern County rely heavily on income from oil extraction– despite terrible health impacts for community members. This explains the resistance to renewables in those communities, but if the state were to prioritize rapid fossil fuel phase-out with Climate Justice and a Just Transition, these communities would be able to weather economic downturns and protect their most vulnerable from adverse health impacts. A recent study found that in 2018 alone, fossil fuels caused 8.7 million premature deaths globally.

Whether you ask an economist or a doctor, the answer is the same– fossil fuels must go and sooner is better. Endorse our Climate-Safe California platform today and support a vibrant, healthy, and just future for all.


Let’s be brave enough to see it and be it

Kudos to President Joe Biden for his courage in speaking truth and science to the world. His inaugural address made clear the urgent need to heal the nation and the planet:

“We’ll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities. Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain. Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now… A cry for survival comes from the planet itself.”

– President Joe Biden at his Inaugural Address, January 20, 2021

President Biden called for unity and truth at a time when 90 of the 147 members of Congress who voted to overturn the election results have also denied basic climate science. Biden also named climate change among several common enemies of the people:

“This is a time of testing. We face an attack on our democracy and on truth. A raging virus, growing inequity, the sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis.”

Over the past few weeks, President Biden demonstrated a promising commitment to addressing the climate crisis by building a strong climate team. And on Inauguration Day, he rejoined the Paris Accord and moved to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline.

He also signed an executive order beginning the process of overturning environmental policies under the Trump administration, including rescinding rollbacks to vehicle emissions standards, imposing a moratorium on oil and natural gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and re-establishing a working group on the social costs of greenhouse gasses.

President Biden’s cabinet picks have shown his commitment to supporting Indigenous rights, science, equity, justice, and a transition away from fossil fuels. In fact, he plans to spend $2 trillion over four years to rapidly move away from coal, oil and gas, and has set a goal of eliminating fossil fuel emissions from electricity generation by 2035 (10 years earlier than current California law!). By midcentury, Mr. Biden has vowed that the entire United States economy will be carbon neutral.

In tandem with these federal efforts and funding, we must now insist that California lead on climate once again. It’s time for policymakers to accelerate climate action timelines and pass bold legislation to equitably phase out fossil fuels, scale up nature-based carbon sequestration on natural and working lands, and advance resilience to growing climate impacts. Bold California leadership is required to demonstrate to the country and the world how to achieve a vibrant and healthy future for all.

Please support our urgent work today by making a donation today here, join us for the upcoming Climate-Safe California webinar series (see more below), and, if you haven’t yet, endorse Climate-Safe California here.

As the nation’s first-ever Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, concluded in her exceptional reading at the inauguration, “For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Let’s be brave enough to do the work to secure the equitable, vibrant climate-safe future we desperately need!

Upcoming Climate Center webinars to focus on climate science and fossil fuel phaseout

The Climate Center is kicking off its Climate Safe California winter webinar series with the first two webinars focused on climate science and a just transition away from the fossil energy era.

Webinar 1. What the Science Requires

The first titled “What the Science Requires” will take place on Tuesday, January 26th, 10am – 11am.

In this webinar Ben Santer, an atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, will discuss the most recent climate science, explore some of the implications of what we face, and address the urgent need for accelerated action. Mr. Santer is an award winning climate scientist who has stood up to the Trump administration’s attempts to muzzle him and his colleagues by speaking truth to power and just conduct good science.

Jason Barbose, Senior Policy Manager, Western States at Union of Concerned Scientists, will address some of the legislative and regulatory campaigns underway in California to meaningfully address the climate crisis, focusing on clean energy and sustainable transportation.

Ellie Cohen, The Climate Center CEO, will offer a brief overview of the Climate-Safe California suite of policies that address the climate crisis at the speed and scale required. After what we have all been through in 2020, it is clear that climate impacts are more severe than anticipated and are happening faster than we thought. We hope you can join us for this webinar.

Register HERE for webinar #1.

Webinar 2: Phasing Out Fossil Fuels: A Just Transition in the Oil & Gas Drilling and Refining Sectors

In this webinar, scheduled for a special 90-minutes on Tuesday, February 23rd from 10am to 11:30am, we will explore how to ensure a just transition in two key facets of the fossil energy industry – extraction and refining. How do we move away from fossil fuels while ensuring a just transition for workers and communities that are economically dependent on these activities? Speakers will discuss the current impacts of fossil fuel production on frontline communities and what needs to be done to address them, a plan for decommissioning California refineries, and the possibility of enacting a fracking ban. What does the clean –and just– energy future look like?

Ingrid Brostrom of the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment and Gustavo Aguirre, Jr. of the Central California Environmental Justice Network will cover the oil & gas extraction side. Ms Brostrom will address efforts at the state policy level to accelerate the phaseout with an emphasis on hazardous waste, oil and gas, and Just Transition. Mr. Aguirre Jr. will bring us to the oil fields in Kern County to convey the realities of frontline communities and the need for a transition to a safe and healthful environment, but not leaving the workers behind.

Greg Karras, Principal of Community Energy reSource and Steve Garey, a retired refinery worker, will cover the oil refining sector. Mr. Karras will summarize the key recommendations about how to implement policies to ensure a just transition for communities and workers in his 2020 report “Decommissioning Refineries: Climate and Health Paths in an Oil State.” Mr. Garey, who served as President of United Steelworkers local 12-591 from 2010 until his retirement in 2015 and who now serves on the executive committee of the Washington State Blue Green Alliance and on the steering committee of the Climate Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy in Washington, will offer us a labor perspective.

Register HERE for webinar #2.

We hope you can join us for these first two webinars in the series, and please check back at The Climate Safe California Webinar Series to find out about more coming up!

The fossil fuel industry wants you to believe it’s good for people of color

by Sammy Roth, The Los Angeles Times


  • Fossil fuel companies claim to be working in favor of communities of color, including indigenous and tribal groups, by pushing their natural gas agenda
  • Gas industry groups and organizations that accept fossil fuel money promote the idea that a transition away from natural gas will disproportionately affect communities of color, claiming that electrification is expensive
  • Natural gas is notably increasing emissions and will do little for the climate
  • However, many of these same communities disproportionately experience pollution due to the power plants and fossil fuel extraction in these neighborhoods and on indigenous land
  • Fossil fuel companies and groups, like SoCalGas, have worked to bring diverse voices to back their pro-gas agendas through funding politicians and community organizations
  • Western States and Tribal Nations, an advocacy group that says it was created in part to “promote tribal self-determination,” consists of only one tribal member and are financially backed by fossil fuel companies that are promoting new gas projects on tribal territories

Scientists are increasingly warning that to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, the world’s governments must implement massive reductions of warming emissions and begin a drawdown of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the atmosphere over the decade ahead.  For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.

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Governor Newsom has taken a bold first step. Urge him to do more.

After several weeks of record-breaking heat, fires, and smoke, Governor Newsom today reiterated that we are in a climate emergency and announced Executive Order N-79-20 requiring 100% of all new in-state sales of cars and light trucks to be zero-emissions vehicles by 2035. 

This makes California the first state in the nation to ban new gas-powered cars.

Please join us in thanking the governor for his bold action!

With transportation being the single largest source of global warming pollutants in California and nationwide, today’s announcement is a major step forward. As the biggest car market in the US, California wields significant influence on other car markets across the country and the world. 

We are also pleased that the new Executive Order also includes provisions for phasing out fracking in California, as well as publication by next summer of plans to support and “expeditiously” implement a just transition for workers employed in fossil fuel industries. 

Today’s announcement is a significant step toward the comprehensive policy recommendations The Climate Center has been recommending recently to the Newsom Administration and other state leaders. 

In fact, the Climate Center recently sent our proposed comprehensive DRAFT Executive Order to the Governor, based on the latest science and rapidly worsening climate reality, and building on Climate-Safe California.

The governor anticipates issuing additional Executive Orders over the weeks ahead.

To fully address the climate emergency, we urge him to accelerate California’s existing greenhouse gas reduction targets to achieve 80% below 1990 emissions levels and net-negative emissions by 2030. We also request that he commit to other key steps including:

  • an immediate halt to new gas and oil drilling permits, a start to the phase-out of fossil fuel production and exports, 
  • a commitment to 100% clean electricity by 2030, 
  • a dramatic ramp-up of investments in nature-based sequestration through habitat and soils management, and,
  • major investments in community resilience, including regulatory changes that open up markets for clean energy microgrids and decentralized clean energy. 

Thank you Governor Newsom for re-asserting California’s climate leadership at this critical moment!

While today’s announcement is a significant step forward, the latest science demands more aggressive actions be taken sooner for the health of our planet and the health of our communities, especially frontline lower-income communities and communities of color. 

We urge Governor Newsom to issue additional Executive Orders to fully address the climate crisis.

California’s climate policies are still substantially behind what is required to secure a climate-safe future. They are also behind new national proposals which include achieving 100% clean electricity by 2030, major investments in natural and working lands for carbon sequestration, and scaled up community resilience efforts, including clean energy microgrids. 

California law currently calls for just 60% renewable energy by 2030, has no major programs investing in natural and working lands, and only aspires to carbon neutrality by 2045. It is not enough! California must do more for the country to realize these urgently needed proposed national goals.

Thank Governor Newsom today for his history-making Executive Order and support him doing more. 

As part of numerous Climate Week 2020 NYC virtual activities, Governor Newsom will be hosting California Climate Action Day, September 24 from 9 AM – 2 PM, including a discussion with Van Jones about how California can develop an aggressive climate change agenda. The events can be viewed after on the Governor’s YouTube page here.  

Take action today to let the Governor know that we support his taking the bold, urgently needed action now! 

Lawmakers let oil and gas interests sicken us. Governor Newsom can put us on the path to recovery. (CalMatters op-ed by The Climate Center)

By Venise Curry, MD, and Ellie Cohen, Special to CalMatters

September 14, 2020

Make no mistake about it. Climate change is powering California’s perfect storm of record heat, lightning, drought, wildfire and smoke amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and electricity blackouts.

In his video message to the Democratic National Convention in August, Governor Gavin Newsom made it clear. “The hots are getting hotter; the dries are getting drier. Climate change is real. If you are in denial about climate change, come to California.” While touring the devastating North Complex Fires near Oroville this past Friday, Governor Newsom called current state goals “inadequate to meet the challenges” and vowed to fast-track state efforts to combat the climate crisis.

Yet California continues to fan the flames as the seventh largest oil producing and third largest refining state in the country.

State lawmakers, with the exception of a few climate leaders, are increasingly falling under the thrall of oil and gas industry dollars. The Western States Petroleum Association, the largest and most powerful corporate lobby in California, spent $8.8 million on lobbying in 2019 alone.

Californians are being poisoned daily by pollutants emitted from California’s 81,500 active and idle oil and gas wells, pumps, refineries and pipes. Toxic oil and gas infrastructure – from freeways to oil rigs – are too often located in communities of color, dangerously close to homes, schools and hospitals due to historic redlining and racist redevelopment policies.

More than 5.5 million Californians live within 1 mile of an oil or gas well, exposing them regularly to polluted air and increased risk for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Pregnant women living within 6 miles of oil and gas wells are significantly more likely to experience preterm birth with low birth weights. Research shows that these children face a greater risk of infections, developmental delays and other health problems.

Oil and gas wells also release carcinogens like benzene into neighboring communities as well as warming greenhouse pollutants into the atmosphere.

On Aug. 5, lawmakers in Sacramento had the chance to take one modest step to reduce the harmful impacts of oil and gas development by passing Assembly Bill 345. It would have required state regulators to establish a minimum health and safety barrier from wells, as already exists in other states. Unfortunately, it failed on a 5-4 vote, just one example of how policymakers bow to fossil fuel interests instead of prioritizing the health and well-being of all Californians.

We urgently need state policymakers to step it up.

New national climate plans call for a range of expedited actions to address the climate crisis. Proposals include achieving 100% clean electricity by 2030, 100% zero emissions vehicles by 2035 and near-zero emissions by 2040.

But current California law calls for just 60% renewables by 2030, provides no deadline for phasing-out gas powered cars or trucks, and only aspires to carbon neutrality by 2045.

We can – and we must – do better, as the Governor said.

To protect the health and well-being of Californians and to catalyze greater climate action around the nation and the world, California must expand and accelerate its climate policies.

Boldly addressing the climate crisis will yield significant, widespread improvements in health and a huge economic payoff. Every dollar spent on renewables creates three times as many jobs as compared to fossil fuels. And clean energy industries create jobs 70% faster than the economy as a whole.

To back up his urgent message that we are in a climate emergency, Newsom is uniquely positioned to jumpstart policies that will protect Californians and re-establish the state’s global climate leadership.

By partnering with the building and construction unions, and others representing fossil fuel and utility industry workers, alongside environmental justice leaders, public health organizations, local governments, clean energy businesses, climate experts and others, the governor can “fast-track” urgent climate action.

With Newsom’s bold leadership, we can rapidly secure a just transition to a healthy, equitable and vibrant clean energy future for all.

Venise Curry, MD, is a community organizer and board member of The Climate Center, The intersection between medicine, environmental and social justice issues are at the core of her advocacy efforts in Fresno County.

 Ellie Cohen is CEO of The Climate Center and leads Climate-Safe California, a statewide campaign to enact policies required by science to reverse the climate crisis,