California Environmental Bills for 2020

McCloud River Above Shasta Reservoir
McCloud River above Shasta Reservoir
Credit: Thomas O'Keefe


When I first encountered California’s beauty at the age of 12 during a family vacation along its coast, I knew even then that I wanted to settle here someday. After almost three decades of living in the state, I’ve come to know and appreciate even more our amazing public lands, majestic peaks, granite cliffs, unique Bay-Delta ecosystem, redwood trees, and numerous parks and trails. But I’ve also learned that California can be a challenging place to live.

We face traffic congestion, wildfires, drought, aging infrastructure, air pollution and a high cost of living, all of which disproportionately impact people who are already struggling. With housing affordability and homelessness a big concern for most Californians, it’s no surprise that Governor Newsom has made housing a top priority and almost exclusively centered his State of the State address on it.

At NRDC we see housing policy as climate policy. California must give people greater opportunities to get out of their cars—still the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions—by building more affordable housing close to public transit and jobs. It is imperative that we move urgently toward facilitating such housing to enable people to stay in their homes, provide new homes to meet the demand, and continue leading the fight against climate change.

Not surprisingly, the Trump administration is heading in the opposite direction. They are working at a feverish pace to eliminate environmental and health protections, denying the reality of climate change, defunding transit, and weakening rules  designed to help people secure housing and stay in their homes.

A hostile federal administration makes our work in California more urgent and critical. Our governor and attorney general are defending our environment and our state’s rights, while preparing for the future. California’s leaders are talking about a Green New Deal for the state, supporting advanced technologies like electric trucks and buses, taking bold steps to rein in California oil production, and making our one-hundred percent clean electricity goal a reality. NRDC is part of these conversations and leading on many fronts to defend California’s climate and clean air policies. We’re also defending nature by supporting an effort to protect at least 30 percent of our oceans, waters and natural lands by 2030.

Below is a snapshot of key bills we’re watching and working on early in the 2020 legislative session. The spread of COVID-19 is causing a great deal of uncertainty and hardship throughout the state. Assuming the legislature and Governor are able to continue their regular course of business, we expect many of these bills and others to move to floor votes in the first house by the end of May 2020.  

Clean Energy, Climate and Resilience

AB 345 (Muratsuchi) Directs the Newsom administration to establish a buffer zone between homes and schools and oil and gas extraction. The bill also creates an environmental justice program in the state’s Natural Resources Agency. 

AB 1441 (Levine) Updates the oil and gas agency’s or “Cal-GEM’s” mission by ensuring that health and safety come first. *

AB 1839 (Bonta) California Green New Deal – Declares legislative intent to adopt a policy framework to: reduce severe climate change impacts while protecting public health and the environment; begin a rapid managed decline of fossil fuels, eliminating our production of and demand for fossil fuels and polluting energy sources; overcome systemic racial injustice; and to ensure all California residents enjoy a 21st century standard of living without regard to their wealth or income. In addition, the bill establishes the California Green New Deal Council to study how to achieve the goals outlined in the bill, and report back to the legislature by January 1, 2022.

AB 2832 (C. Garcia) Enshrines into law a goal that California achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. This goal was first announced in a 2018 Executive Order by former Governor Jerry Brown.

AB 3217 (Gloria) Know Your Oil – Provides information about oil produced and refined in California that is important to both community protection and sound climate policy. *

SB 1100 (Atkins) Sea-Level Rise – Updates California’s coastal and ocean management programs and provides funding to meet the challenges of climate change and the crisis of sea-level rise.

Clean Transportation

AB 1350 (Gonzalez) Requires transit agencies to offer free transit passes to all school-age youth.

AB 2176 (Holden) Requires transit agencies to offer free transit passes to students attending community colleges, California State University and University of California schools.

AB 2012 (Chu) Requires transit agencies to offer free transit passes for seniors age 65 and older.

AB 2145 (Ting) Aims to expedite and increase the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging ports.

SB 1363 (Allen) Requires regions to set a vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) reduction target (in addition to the greenhouse gas reduction target) for 2035, 2045, and 2050. Providing more transportation options, and reducing VMT, is a critical strategy to reduce emissions from the transportation sector and meet our state climate goals.

Health and Toxics

SB 392 (Allen)  Addresses impediments to the state’s “green chemistry program” that have hindered its ability to reduce the hazards of toxic chemicals in consumer products. *

SB 1044 (Allen) Prohibits the manufacture and sale of firefighting foams that contain toxic perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (“PFAS”) chemicals  after Jan. 2022. The bill also requires notification of the presence of PFAS in firefighting gear when purchased. PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they persist in our environment and bodies and are linked to a long list of health problems. This bill helps reduce exposure by phasing out an obsolete use of these chemicals. *

SB 1056 (Portantino and Gonzalez) Requires the state water board to validate and certify a method to measure total PFAS in water to help state agencies and water suppliers better understand and address the full extent of PFAS contamination in California. *

Single-Use Packaging Reduction

SB 54 (Allen) and AB 1080 (Gonzalez) These bills establish a comprehensive framework to reduce the amount of single-use waste generated in California and require remaining packaging and products to be truly recyclable or compostable.


SB 45 (Allen), AB 3256 (E. Garcia) These bills authorize Water, Natural Resources and Climate Resiliency Bonds for the November statewide ballot to help pay for infrastructure to adapt to our changing climate.

SB 971 (Hertzberg) Improves drought planning for rural and small communities.

Nature, Coast and Wildlife Protection

AB 1426 (Boerner Horvath) Ensures that San Onofre State Beach will be protected from the construction of a new highway.

AB 2002 (Kalra) California Deforestation-Free Procurement Act – Ensures that state purchasing and contracts do not support products that are contributing to tropical deforestation.

AB 2839 (E. Garcia) Establishes the California Deserts Conservancy within the Natural Resources Agency to protect, conserve and manage California’s unique desert regions.

AB 3030 (Kalra) Calls for conserving at least thirty percent of California’s ocean, waters, and lands by 2030 to establish California’s leadership in addressing the global biodiversity crisis. 

*NRDC is a leading supporter of this legislation in collaboration with partner groups