Lawmakers Push Backdoor Climate Change

JUNE 29, 2010


Just in case California’s global warming legislation is suspended in November with passage of California Jobs Initiative 2010, California’s Democratic legislators are leaving nothing to chance. They’ve been busy pushing through plenty of other climate change and green legislation through the Capitol’s backdoor.

SB 1006, currently traveling through legislative committees at the capitol, would further expand the subsidized greening of California through local governments and state agencies, by requiring the Strategic Growth Council to address climate change impacts in its” coordination role” and to “provide information” to local and regional government agencies on climate adaptation strategies.

Legislators continually reference the council as an information-only council, but what information is the group imparting on state agencies?

The purpose of the Strategic Growth Council, (a cabinet level committee), is to “improve air and water quality, improve natural resource protection, increase the availability of affordable housing, improve transportation, meet the goals of the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, encourage sustainable land use planning, and revitalize urban and community centers in a sustainable manner,” according to the council’s website. “Existing law requires the council to support the planning and development of sustainable communities, to manage and award financial assistance to a city, county, or nonprofit organization for the preparation, planning, and implementation of a specified urban greening project.”

This goes way beyond mere “information.”

Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, the author of SB 1006, referenced the need for more California “sustainability” in her testimony. Her bill would require the council to take actions to coordinate programs to address the various list of climate change impacts. One bill summary reads, “The bill would require the council additionally to provide, fund, and distribute information to local governments and regional agencies regarding climate change adaptation strategies, projects, or activities, as described.”

With Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signing California’s global warming legislation (AB 32) in 2006, together with the passage of Proposition 84 the same year, the push for green legislation since then has been non-stop.

Proposition 84 provided $90 million for urban projects that “reduce energy consumption, conserve water, improve air and water quality and provide other community benefits,” and another $90 million in grants and incentives for land use regarding green projects.

The additional and increased responsibility for the council displeases Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Linda, the author of the California Jobs Initiative. At the Assembly Local Government committee hearing Monday, Logue said, “This is just not needed. California’s greenhouse gas emission is the third lowest in the nation.” Logue implored committee members to “listen to the people who create jobs.”

With 12.6 percent unemployment, Logue said, “we can’t afford to lose more jobs” to increasingly strict global warming legislation. “Whether global warming is real or not, I’m not a scientist, but I’ve got 31,000 scientists who say it’s not,” offered Logue.

“This legislation has put a dagger in the heart of California – there has to be an end to this,” he said. “We are the only state in the country that’s doing this to its people. We can’t go it alone.”

Differing with Logue, Assemblyman Juan Arambula, I-Fresno, said he represents an area of the state affected by the early snow pack, and offered that he supported Pavely’s legislation “for jobs.”

Pavely’s legislation would also add special districts and joint powers authorities to the list of eligible applicants for urban greening projects.

There are 35 bills about Green Legislation (enacted or currently proposed) — last updated in a November 2009 Employment Development Department webpage — requiring  California to adopt alternative fuels, green building standards and green technology. One bill even created the California Climate Change Institute. The Governor’s Green Action Team was created, as well as the California Green Chemistry Initiative which resides under the Toxic Substances department. AB 3018 – the California Green Jobs Act of 2008 — was the first green jobs legislation.

And there have been numerous additions to the green legislation list: AB 2398, (Perez) Product Stewardship for Carpet; SB 1100, (Corbett), the Battery Stewardship Act; AB 1343, (Huffman), Architectural Paint Recycling; SB 346, (Kehoe), Brake Pad Partnership Legislation; AB 2139, (Chesbro), the California Product Stewardship Act; and AB 2176, (Blumenfield), California Lighting Efficiency and Toxics Reduction. A couple of the bills have already died in committee.

As for Pavley’s bill, that passed and was voted out of the local government committee on June 28, as well as the natural resources committee. The remaining question now is whether or not the governor will sign it.

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