California Environmental Justice Alliance

Building Healthy Communities from the Ground up

Environmental Justice in the 2014 Legislative Session

CEJA’s recap of some of the biggest wins and issues in the 2014 legislative session. Scroll down or click here for a full list of the bills CEJA took positions on and how they fared.

The victories

Fighting back big utilities and oil companies: California’s big utility companies tried unsuccessfully to kill local clean energy choice programs (AB 2145, Bradford), while big oil was out to undermine AB 32 and California’s climate change laws by delaying caps on greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks (AB 69, Perea). Thanks to lots of coordinated push back, neither of these bills made it to the Governor’s desk.

 

Reducing air pollution and fighting climate change all at once: Climate policy is finally seeing the huge win-win potential for efforts that battle global warming while improving already-existing hotspots of air pollution, which disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color. The following measures were all signed into law by Governor Brown this month:

  • A new effort to get one million electric vehicles on the road while increasing access to low-income consumers (SB 1275, Senator de Leon’s Charge Ahead Initiative)
  • A new fund to support electric trucks and heavy duty vehicles, which are some of the biggest sources of particulate matter in communities of color across the state (Senator Lara and Pavley’s SB 1204)
  • A measure that clarifies the California Air Resources Board must develop regulations on “Short Lived Climate Pollutants,” such as methane and black carbon, that cause intense global warming, air quality issues and harm the health of communities of color (Senator Lara and Pavley’s SB 605).

 

The 2014-2015 state budget: APEN and the SB 535 Quad helped ensure that almost $300 million from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund will go towards climate solutions in disadvantaged communities, under implementation of SB 535 (De León).  Read more about CEJA’s overview of EJ victories in the state budget here.

 

Language access: Being able to participate in environmental policy is hard enough in English, imagine how difficult it is without information in the language you speak! Several lawmakers made efforts to ensure all communities, no matter what language they speak, can access publicly available environmental documents. Assemblymember Ting authored AB 2253, which ensures complaint forms – including ones from environmental agencies – are made available in different languages. Assembly Speaker pro Tem Campos’ authored a measure (AB 543) which requires the Office of Planning and Research to issue guidelines on language access for California Environmental Quality Act notices. AB 2253 was signed into law, and unfortunately AB 543 was vetoed.

 

Big movement in the water world: In a huge step for communities across California that struggle with contaminated groundwater as their source of drinking water, the legislature passed two bills (SB 1168 and AB 1739) that will create a structure for groundwater management for the first time ever in California. Learn more about the new groundwater management bills from Clean Water Action. Our allies also negotiated hundreds of millions for drinking water and technical assistance in disadvantaged communities in the water bond that will go to voters in November. Read more about the wins in the water bond on Community Water Center’s website. Both these bills were signed into law.

Other great victories include wins for environmental health with the signing of both SB 193 and SB 1019. SB 193 ensures that state agencies have important information on companies that are using toxic products, and SB 1019 requires labelling of products that have cancer-causing flame retardants in them.

La lucha sigue!

Unfortunately, there are always some issues where we must continue the fight.

Overhauling the flawed Dept of Toxic Substances Control: Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, Communities for a Better Environment and The People’s Senate got a huge overhaul of the flawed Department of Toxic Substances Control (SB 812, De León) that will increase public health protections, community accountability and oversight of hazardous waste through the Assembly and the Senate. Big thanks to Senator de León for having a bold vision for DTSC reform. Unfortunately, we are deeply disappointed that the Governor vetoed this bill.

Environmental Justice overhaul: Legislative leadership failed to move the big “Environmental Justice Act,” introduced in 2013 (AB 1330). CEJA worked hard on this bill and was disappointed that Speaker Emeritus Perez did not follow through on his commitment to environmental justice. AB 1330 would have provided much-needed environmental justice reforms and crack down on the worst of the worst industrial polluters.

Fracking: The California anti-fracking movement exploded in 2014, from the largest anti-fracking rally in the state’s history to a the monumental effort to pass a moratorium on fracking with SB 1132. The incredible organizing of our allies at Californians Against Fracking, CRPE is apparent as local ordinances across the state to ban fracking gain momentum. Unfortunately, SB 1132 died after Moderate Democrats failed to take a stand on this important issue, but the fracktavists will be back!

 

Affordable housing: As many communities of color face a housing crisis in areas like the San Francisco, it defies common sense that California doesn’t have a permanent source of affordable housing funding. The most recent effort to secure funding through a fee on real estate documents, pushed by Senator DeSaulnier and our allies in the affordable housing world (SB 391), couldn’t gather the 2/3 vote needed to pass a bill of this kind, but we look forward to supporting efforts to meet our community housing needs next year.

 

Scroll through the full list of bills CEJA took positions on this year using the chart below

2014 Environmental Justice Legislative Agenda

BillIssueCEJA's PositionStatus
AB 69 (Perea) California Global Warming Solutions Act Exemption: Would have gutted AB 32, California's climate change law, by delaying pollution from cars and trucks from being regulated.OpposeHeld in the legislature.
AB 543 (Campos)CEQA translation: Requires guidelines for translation of California Environmental Quality Act laws. SupportVetoed by the Governor
AB 1330 (Perez)Environmental Justice Act: suite of environmental justice reforms with a focus on increased penalties and enforcement actions for chronic violators.SupportHeld in the legislature.
AB 1434 (Yamada)Lifeline rate for low-income water usersSupportHeld in the legislature.
AB 1634 (Skinner)Refineries: worker safety. Requires polluter to abate the most serious workplace hazards, even during their appeal of a violationSupportSigned into law!
AB 1763 (Perea) State Energy Planning: Oil industry backed bill that would have undermined state energy and climate goals.OpposeHeld in the legislature.
AB 2145 (Bradford) Would have limited community choice programs diminishing local communities to create local clean energy. OpposeHeld in the legislature.
AB 2253 (Ting)Bilingual services: Requires state agencies to have complaint forms translatedSupportSigned into law!
SB 193 (Monning)Hazard evaluation system and information service: requires chemical manufacturers to submit the names of companies using products with health impacts to a private, statewide database.SupportSigned into law!
SB 391 (DeSaulnier)Affordable housing: Would have created a permanent source of affordable housing funding.SupportHeld in the legislature
SB 498 (Lara) Biomass incineration: changes the definition of “biomass incineration.” OpposeOn the Governor's desk
SB 605 (Lara) Short-lived climate pollutants: requires the Air Resources Board to complete a strategy to reduce short-lived climate pollutants.SupportSigned into law!
SB 712 (Lara)Hazardous waste permitting: authorizes temporary suspension of any facilities operating under an expired permit. SupportSigned into law!
SB 812 (De Leon)Hazardous waste: series of reforms at the Department of Toxic Substances Control. SupportVetoed by the Governor
SB 1019 (Leno)Flame retardant product labellingSupportSigned into law!
SB 1132 (Mitchell and Leno)Fracking moratorium: would have halted fracking until a study could be completed on the health and environmental risks. SupportFailed on the Senate floor.
SB 1168 (Pavley)Groundwater management: together with AB 1736, creates a new, regional system for monitoring and managing groundwater.SupportSigned into law!
SB 1204 (Lara and Pavley)Clean Trucks and Buses: creates a new program to fund electric trucks and buses.SupportSigned into law!
SB 1275 (De León)Electric vehicles: Creates a new program to get 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2023. SupportSigned into law!
SB 1371 (Leno)Natural gas leakage abatement: Develops a strategy to address natural gas home pipelines. SupportSigned into law!
SB 535 implementation in the budget, “Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund”Directs approximately $300M from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund into disadvantaged communities.SupportSigned into law!