California Leaders: Pass Clean Energy and Water Bills Now

Co-authored by Nikita Koraddi, California Legislative Advocate

While the Trump administration tries to hide the facts of climate change, and pursues an outdated, dirty energy strategy for the United States, California continues to assure the rest of the world that “We Are Still In” the Paris agreement, and that we are working to aggressively reduce greenhouse gas pollution and clear the air. We mean what we say. Over the past three years, California has enacted major legislation to combat climate change, including Senate Bill 350 in 2015, SB 32 and Assembly Bill 197 in 2016, and AB 398 and AB 617 in 2017. Yet, we can and should do more. As the California legislature reconvenes for the second-half of this legislative session, they can kick off 2018 by passing bills to advance clean energy, and stabilize our state’s water supplies in the face of a rapidly changing climate. NRDC urges swift passage of SB 100 by Senator De León, SB 606 by Senators Skinner and Hertzberg, and AB 1668 by Assembly Member Friedman.  

Solar Panels and Wind Turbines Near Palm Springs

SB 100: 100 Percent Clean Energy

SB 100 puts California on the path to achieving 100 percent renewable and zero-carbon electricity by 2045. In the interim, the bill speeds up the state’s current 50 percent Renewable Portfolio Program (RPS) requirement to 2026 and increases the RPS to 60 percent by 2030. This is a critical step in meeting the state’s short- and long-term greenhouse gas reduction goals, improving public health, growing the economy, and creating healthier and more livable communities.

While these targets are ambitious, they are within reach. California’s investor-owned utilities are on track to meet the 50 percent RPS requirement by 2020—a full decade ahead of schedule. And this progress has coincided with a thriving economy that is increasingly powered by green jobs. Swift, bipartisan action on SB 100 in the coming weeks will position California to send the necessary market signals, spur technological innovation, set a strong example for other states and countries, and put us on course to power the world’s six largest economy with 100 percent clean energy.

A view of The Pacific Crest Trail as it winds around Silverwood Lake in San Bernardino County, CA

AB 1668 and SB 606: Water Efficiency

Adequate water supplies for communities, farms and businesses depend on whether we stave off the worst impacts of climate change. California is still recovering from the worst drought in history and has just experienced one of the driest Decembers on record. Whether we are currently in drought or not, we know that droughts are going to be more frequent and severe because of warming temperatures.

The California legislature should immediately pass a package of bills to help stabilize our water supplies and ensure that our state uses all water as efficiently as possible. SB 606 and AB 1668 made it most of the way through the legislative process last year and are awaiting final floor votes in each house. Together, these bills direct water suppliers to set long-term water efficiency goals based on local conditions including climate, geography, and population. The bills provide flexibility and local control in determining how to meet the water efficiency goal, and allow a significant bonus for water suppliers that produce recycled water. The bills also require improved drought planning and reporting from urban and agricultural water suppliers. Finally, they require the state to establish guidelines to help small and rural communities prepare for future droughts. The bills’ provisions were developed after the lessons learned from the most recent drought and are supported by many water utilities, businesses, local governments, environmental and environmental justice groups.

I’m grateful to California’s legislative leadership and Governor Jerry Brown for their work to combat climate change and protect our health and environment, especially as environmental protections are under grave threat in Washington D.C. By passing SB 100, AB 1668 and SB 606 without delay, California’s leadership can move us forward once again, and help other states lead.        

About the Authors

Victoria Rome

Director, California Government Affairs

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