California takes leading edge on climate laws. Others could follow
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

California has enacted an ambitious package of legislation to aggressively combat the climate crisis—a bold move by the world’s fifth-largest economy that could inspire action in other states.

Three years into a drought that is exacerbating wildfires and forcing limits on water consumption, California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed bills that will slash the state’s carbon emissions, protect vulnerable communities by banning new oil extraction close by and create a two-decade pathway to a 100% clean energy electrical grid.

In addition to the new laws, California legislators approved $54 billion in climate spending over the next five years, including investments in electric vehicles, drought resilience and public transportation using the state’s budget surplus.

This was a breakthrough year in California for the legislative and regulatory action needed to curb the worst impacts of the climate crisis, said Ryan Schleeter, communications director for The Climate Center, a nonprofit that advocated for several of these measures.

“The world is really desperate for a climate leader right now,” he said. “Somebody needs to step up and not just do their part but really push the envelope. California is now in the best position to do that.”

Environmental advocates lauded the measures, but the oil and gas industry warned that the policies would raise costs for consumers and increase California’s dependence on other countries for fuel.

“It is the California government dictating how and when we can travel and mandating the type of energy we’re using and when we can use it,” said Kara Greene, a spokesperson for the Western States Petroleum Association, a Sacramento, California-headquartered trade group that represents petroleum companies in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

“It disregards the livelihoods of thousands of Californians, who still need to drive to work, who still need to drive their kids to school, who still need to balance their household budgets.”

The raft of legislation includes a requirement that the state generates 90% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2035. It cements the state’s goal of producing net-zero carbon emissions by 2045 and requires the state to hasten carbon removal through natural means, such as planting more trees and restoring wetlands. The state also extended the life of its last remaining nuclear power plant by five years.

One of the more contentious laws bars new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of day care facilities, homes, schools and hospitals. So-called setbacks have been a goal of environmental justice activists for nearly a decade in California, the country’s seventh-largest oil producer.

In communities in and around Bakersfield and Los Angeles, oil derricks operating close to homes and schools are commonplace, especially in low-income communities of color, said Kobi Naseck, the coalition coordinator at Voices in Solidarity Against Oil in Neighborhoods (known as VISIÓN). The coalition consists of eight environmental justice and health and safety organizations, most based in Kern and Los Angeles counties.

Around 2.7 million Californians live within a half-mile of an oil or gas well, he said. People who live near oil and gas drilling are exposed to contaminants that increase rates of asthma, premature births, low birth weights, cardiovascular disease and cancer, according to numerous studies.

“It’s a huge impact,” said Naseck. “It’s really a testament to the front-line communities not shutting up and not staying quiet about it.”

California joins other oil states such as Colorado, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Texas that already have setbacks in certain communities.

But Greene, at the Western States Petroleum Association, said the law wouldn’t make life safer for nearby families. She called it “a blatant attempt by the governor to shut down the oil and gas industry in California.”

Last week, the oil industry began gathering signatures for a referendum to overturn the measure.

As gas prices soar at California pumps, Newsom last week proposed a higher tax rate on oil company profits that would tax earnings above a certain level. In a Twitter video, he said, “We’re not going to stand by while greedy oil companies fleece Californians.”

Newsom has faced some criticism from environmental advocates for some of his proposals, including one new law that establishes guidelines for the use of carbon capture technologies, which trap carbon dioxide emissions and bury them deep underground.

Carbon capture technologies are dangerous, expensive and infeasible, argues Maya Golden-Krasner, the deputy director of the Climate Law Institute at the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental advocacy group.

“It’s creating a ticking time bomb that needed to be addressed before the state goes forward with anything,” she said, referring to the potentially hazardous effects for communities living above any of these deposits.

The slate of new laws comes at an auspicious moment in the fight against climate change, said Katelyn Roedner Sutter, the California state director of the Environmental Defense Fund, an international advocacy organization.

In August, President Joe Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, which pumped $370 billion into clean energy investments nationwide. Sutter said other states should follow California’s example and invest even more in transitioning to a more sustainable economy.

“We now need states to seize that opportunity and really step up,” she said. “California is taking advantage of that by setting ambitious climate goals, capitalizing on this really important moment to make as much climate progress as we can.”

In August, state regulators also approved plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035, which could hasten a nationwide transition to electric vehicles.

Following California’s lead, New York and Washington state also announced they would ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035.

Most environmental advocates were impressed by the scope of California’s legislation—and taken aback by how fast it passed.

In July, near the end of the legislative session, Newsom urged the state legislature to pass the package.

His last-minute push was crucial in breaking a four-year impasse over the measures, which Republicans and moderate Democrats were blocking, according to Sasan Saadat, a senior research and policy analyst at Earthjustice, a San Francisco-based litigation nonprofit.

“Gov. Newsom took a more commanding role in climate legislation this session, and the effect of that was clear,” he said.

But Newsom didn’t get everything he wanted this session.

One of the more ambitious pieces of legislation would have required the state board that monitors and regulates greenhouse gas emissions to add rules that would reduce emissions to 55% below 1990 levels by the end of 2030. Current state law sets the required reduction of emissions to at least 40% below 1990 levels. The measure failed in the Assembly.

The California Chamber of Commerce, which advocates on behalf of business interests, opposed the measure, calling it a “job killer.” In a letter to members of the state Senate, Ben Golombek, the chamber’s executive vice president and chief of staff for policy, wrote that the legislation would lead to excessive costs for residents and businesses already struggling with high prices for gas and groceries.

California can be a model for other states, but only if regulators vigorously implement the new laws and create new rules, said Danny Cullenward, policy director at CarbonPlan, a nonprofit that analyzes climate solutions.

Later this month, for example, the California Air Resources Board will meet to consider a new rule that would phase out diesel and gasoline-powered medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks from the state’s roads, transitioning the 1.8 million big rigs in the state to zero-emission, electric vehicles by 2040. Regulators on the board also are considering updates to a plan unveiled in May to implement investments and strategies that will help the state achieve carbon neutrality by 2045 using the $54 billion approved by the legislature.

“The most important thing for people to pay attention to is not what we say but what we do,” Cullenward said. “There’s often a gap.”

2022 The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Citation: California takes leading edge on climate laws. Others could follow (2022, October 7) retrieved 7 October 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-10-california-edge-climate-laws.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

NEWS RELATED

Vietnamese EV maker VinFast files for US IPO

Vinfast EV cars are seen during a car shipment to the United States in Haiphong city, Vietnam, on Nov 25, 2022. (Photo: Bloomberg) HANOI: VinFast, an electric carmaker backed by Vietnam’s richest man trying to take on Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc, has filed for an initial public offering in ...

View more: Vietnamese EV maker VinFast files for US IPO

Researchers find elusive European parent of lager yeast in Ireland

Researchers find an elusive European parent of lager yeast in Ireland (Kieran Cleeves?PA) (PA Archive) For the first time in Europe, scientists have discovered the ancestor of the yeast species necessary for the production of lager beer. Brewing is one of the oldest human industries, and scientists have uncovered ...

View more: Researchers find elusive European parent of lager yeast in Ireland

Rural robins ‘get more physically aggressive when exposed to traffic noise’

Robins in rural areas become more physically aggressive when exposed to traffic noise, a study suggests (Lankowsky/Alamy/PA) Robins in rural areas become more physically aggressive when exposed to traffic noise, a study suggests. The red-breasted birds are fiercely territorial and rely on signals, both visual and acoustic, to indicate ...

View more: Rural robins ‘get more physically aggressive when exposed to traffic noise’

Uplive parent ASIG poised to expand through acquisition upon completion of SPAC listing despite icy tech climate

The parent company of social platform Uplive plans to brave the tech winter to expand its business by acquiring companies in emerging markets, but will shun the China market due to its “complex” nature. “Last year the stock market was euphoria,” said chief executive Andy Tian of Asia Innovations ...

View more: Uplive parent ASIG poised to expand through acquisition upon completion of SPAC listing despite icy tech climate

2022 Inserm Prizes: Forming a Common Front for Our Health

© Inserm “Awarding the Inserm Prizes is a key point in the Institute’s life, enabling us to showcase the various talents of our staff and the great wealth of the research we conduct to form a common front for the health of our fellow citizens. But it is also ...

View more: 2022 Inserm Prizes: Forming a Common Front for Our Health

How neurons regulate their excitability autonomously

The nerve cell – on the right lacks the SLK molecule. As a result, it loses some of its inhibitory postsynapses (green) – these are the ’regulators’ that reduce the cell’s response to a stimulus. © Figure: Anne Quatraccioni/University of Bonn . Study by the University of Bonn elucidates ...

View more: How neurons regulate their excitability autonomously

Seismic Waves Reveal Surprising New Information About Mars

Wavefield simulation on Mars. The first observation of surface waves on Mars reveals details of the planet’s crust. Kim et al., (2022) Science. Credit: ETH Zurich / Doyeon Kim, Martin van Driel, and Christian Boehm Researchers have observed seismic waves traveling throughout the surface of a planet other than ...

View more: Seismic Waves Reveal Surprising New Information About Mars

Research from SFU scientists informs climate change mitigation report

SFU professors Kirsten Zickfeld and Karen Kohfeld are part of an expert panel contributing to a new report released this week investigating the potential contribution of nature-based climate solutions (NBCS) to meeting Canada’s climate change mitigation commitments. Zickfeld, Kohfeld and other contributing researchers comprise the Expert Panel on Canada’s Carbon ...

View more: Research from SFU scientists informs climate change mitigation report

Apple upgrades App Store pricing, adds 700 new price points

Collision of prehistoric continents 'cooked' the bones of ancient amphibians, say researchers

Rivian EV Plant Addresses Bed Bug Infestation: Is Production Affected?

Vietnam's EV maker VinFast files for US IPO

US lawmakers ease planned curbs on Chinese chips amid corporate pushback

Wealthcare app Hugosave acquires Visa Principal Member Issuing Licence in Singapore

Coastal diatoms' genetic diversity comes to the rescue when aquatic environments change abruptly

Uber fined $14 million for misleading on fares and cancellation fees in Australia

Here are Google Pixel’s feature drops for December 2022

Overcoming the Challenges to Becoming a Global Digital Marketer - YouYaa

Animoca Brands acquires majority stake in music metaverse company PIXELYNX

What Makes Hawaii's Erupting Volcanoes Special

OTHER NEWS

Breaking thailand news, thai news, thailand news Verified News Story Network