California Legislature makes little progress on the environment

by Mark Olalde, Desert Sun


  • Many environmental bills were not passed during the 2020 legislative session in California
  • Mary Creasman, CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters, remarks that we are running out of time to make big environmental impacts:
  • “We only have until 2030 to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis and prepare for what’s happening, and right now there’s no clear vision or agenda from leadership in Sacramento on how to tackle this challenge…Big Oil and other industry interests have a hold on our state legislature and are putting our future at risk.”
  • A few environmental bills that made it past the legislature include AB793, a bill that will cut down on waste and increase the use of recycled materials, and AB841 which would help streamline the installation of electric vehicle charging stations
  • Bills that gain huge support from environmentalists but ultimately failed include AB 345, which would have created setbacks between oil drilling sites and homes, hospitals, parks, and other community spaces. Another set of bills, AB1080 and SB54, would have called for a 75% decrease in single-use plastics and mandated that products be recyclable or compostable by 2032

The Climate Center has been tracking energy and climate bills throughout the 2020 California legislative session. Endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.

Read More:

Senators energy package continues fracking and drilling

, Grist


Senators Lisa Murkowski (R) and Joe Manchin (D) revealed the  American Energy Innovation Act of 2020

  • The bill does not stop drilling or fracking but does develop more solar and other renewable energy as well as carbon capture
  • Portions of the bill mention exporting natural gas, a known emitter of methane into the atmosphere
  • There is also mention of constructing new oil and gas facilities in Appalachia

Continued drilling and fracking will not deliver us to a climate-safe future.  The only way we will achieve rapid decarbonization on the timeline required by the science is through bold policy action

Read more:

Brace for the deluge: Special interests are spending millions to get the California legislators they want

By Ben Christopher, Cal Matters


With primary elections coming up in California, deep-pocketed interest groups, including the fossil fuel industry, are pumping money into campaigns to secure a say in state lawmaking.

  • California’s primary is happening earlier than usual and many residents are casting their ballots early
  • Independent expenditure committees are allowed to spend as much money as they can raise and have spent $12.5 million on this upcoming election
  • Oil and gas producers, realtors and car dealers are responsible for nearly half of all outside spending
  • The Coalition to Restore California’s Middle Class and the Restore California’s Middle-Class Coalition are the California Independent Petroleum Association’s two major committees and have spent over $3.7 million on state legislative races

The Climate Center advocates for key legislation to rapidly decarbonize California. Click here to see which bills we are supporting.

Read More:

Green Deal law to make EU’s energy shift irreversible

by Ewa Krukowska, Bloomberg, January 28, 2020


The European Union is drafting a measure, titled the Green Deal, to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions entirely by 2050 in hopes to become the world’s first carbon neutral continent. 

  • The EU wants to make their new climate law irreversible 
  • The Green Deal is meant to keep Europe on track with the Paris Agreement climate goals
  • Reaching the existing climate targets will require additional spending of 260 billion euros ($286 billion) annually

The Climate Center works on achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 and net negative emissions by 2035 through rapid decarbonization.

Read more:

The root of the problem: Finding solutions for the Great Barrier Reef

by Maddie Maffia, CCP

This summer, I am studying land-use practices and their impacts on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in Australia. The GBR is the most diverse coral reef ecosystem in the world. Sadly, it has lost 80% of its coral reef coverage in the northern portion of the reef over the past decade. One of the primary problems for the coral reefs comes from terrestrial land-use management practices.

The majority of the land off the coast of Queensland is primarily used for coastal urbanization, growing sugar cane, cow grazing, and rainforest conservation. However, the area adjacent to the coral reefs is largely used for sugar cane and cow grazing. This land-use practice has immense effects on the GBR due to the increase in runoff, which increases the amount of sediment and nutrient accumulation in the waterways. For example, the coral and algae live in a mutually-beneficial relationship with each other, and excess nutrients in the reef can upset the natural balance of these ecosystems. The plants grab the extra nutrients and grow to dominate in size or quantity more than they normally would. This, in turn, allows the algae to outcompete the corals, which leads to a decrease in coral reef coverage. In addition to this, farmers tend to maximize their profit by placing their farms adjacent to waterways to allow their cows and crops access to freshwater. This additionally increases the rate of transported pollution and furthers the degradation of coral reefs.

The Australian government is very proactive in passing marine legislation to protect the coral reefs, however, the legislation is covering up the problem rather than stopping it. To prevent pollution from entering the waterways, the government needs to address how farmers use their land to make it more sustainable and viable for the coral reefs downstream. Strategies like carbon farming – where farmers use no-till methods and cover crops to quickly sequester carbon and improve soil fertility without toxic fertilizers and pesticides – are undoubtedly going to be the way of the future.

This idea of fixing the root of the problem can easily be translated back to the United States. Switching from fossil fuel use to all-electric renewable power sources (with battery storage) will be key to tackling climate change. How we get there remains to be seen. Many policy wonks agree that we will need a meaningful (high) carbon tax that can help fund the transition and retraining that will be required. However, trying to solve our problems downstream – whether that’s in the coral reefs or at the end of millions of tailpipes – is not efficient or effective. Heading upstream to the source to face the problem head-on will save time, money, and lives.  As we phase out fossil fuels, we will also phase out thousands of pollution-related deaths in favor of a healthy sustainable existence and a stable planet.