CIPL’s 2019 state advocacy efforts yielded fruit: new relationships with faith communities were forged; voices from the Central Valley were highlighted; and work with our organizational partners from the faith, equity, policy and public health increased. Our efforts also met with challenges, with two of our priority bills being passed and signed into law, one that did not pass, and one that passed but was vetoed.
Priority bills included: SB 210 (Leyva), requiring a “smog check” for heavy-duty trucks over 14,000 pounds that will, by 2030, be the equivalent of taking 375,000 trucks off the road; SB 127 (Wiener), aiming for “Complete Streets” that will increase safety of all road users, including pedestrians and bicyclists; SB 54 (Allen) and AB 1080 (Gonzalez), striving for a 75% reduction in plastic pollution by 2030; and AB 342 (Muratsuchi), prohibiting the use of state public lands from oil- and gas-related infrastructure that would support oil and gas production on federally protected lands.
SB 210, which boasted a plethora of supporters, passed. “Now that it has been signed into law, SB 210 will be a vital next step to reduce pollution from the many big diesel trucks that travel on the roads and highways in the Inland Empire and across California,” stated author, Senator Connie Leyva, on its signing into law on September 20. Indeed, the reduction of pollution from the transportation sector is an on-going process. Emissions from heavy-duty trucks, including particulate matter 2.5, are linked to a host of respiratory and cardiac ailments and communities along highly-traveled corridors are especially at risk.
AB 342 also passed and was signed into law. This law continues California’s adherence to federal and state laws that protect our state from recent federal policy that weaken protections lands from oil and gas drilling. California’s beautiful landscapes, from the deserts to the sea, will have one layer of protection from future drilling plans, while putting limits on climate change-causing fossil fuels.
Despite massive support for SB 54 and AB 1080, and the wide-spread recognition of the damage from plastics, these bills did not make it to a final vote. Opposition from the plastic industry ultimately forced to become two-year bills. In regards to SB 127, even with backing from multiple equity, environmental and faith organizations and passage in both houses, Governor Newsom vetoed the bill. While citing budgetary concerns, he also did indicate overall support for the bill and a willingness to work with author Senator Scott Wiener on revised language in 2020.
SB 127 was especially important to CIPL and faith advocates in the Central Valley. Safe streets make biking and walking more attractive, thus reducing vehicle emissions. Safe streets protect vulnerable community members, especially children and elderly. Two faith advocates who hail from Empire in Stanislaus County, told legislative offices of the harrowing reality for community members faced with state routes that act as streets, some of which have no crosswalks, sidewalks or bike lanes. This was a reminder that many issues are inter-twined with the environmental issue – the economy, clean energy jobs, public health and public safety.
June 18 Sacramento Advocacy Day Overview
CIPL’s June 18 Sacramento Advocacy Day in Sacramento boasted the largest group of faith advocates yet. In over 15 years of supporting meaningful and effective climate and energy policy, 29 advocates from various parts of the state spoke with 53 legislative offices. Priority bills included: SB 210 (Leyva), requiring a “smog check” for heavy-duty trucks over 14,000 pounds that will, by 2030, be the equivalent of taking 375,000 trucks off the road; SB 127 (Wiener), aiming for “Complete Streets” that will increase safety of all road users, including pedestrians and bicyclists; SB 54 (Allen) and AB 1080 (Gonzalez), striving for a 75% reduction in plastic pollution by 2030; and AB 342 (Muratsuchi), prohibiting the use of state public lands from oil- and gas-related infrastructure that would support oil and gas production on federally protected lands.
For the third year, advocates gathered the evening before for a deeper dive into priority bills, fellowship and a chance to reflect on their role in caring for and protecting Earth and its inhabitants. Again, this event brought proved to be very popular with our community. Conversation starters included the phrases “I can’t stop thinking about…” and “Everything changed for me when…” Discussions abounded about plastic waste, recent scientific climate reports and deep concern of recent weather events, such as devastating flooding in the Midwest and California wildfires.
In the morning briefing, over breakfast provided by the Inn Off Capitol Park, Nicholas Romo from Senator Connie Leyva’s office spoke of the benefits of SB 210, while Jamie Morgan from the American Heart Association provided more details on SB 127. Both highlighted the environmental justice aspects of the respective bills, which will especially benefit communities disproportionately impacted by transportation pollution and unsafe streets.
The results of meetings with 53 offices varied. Some were sympathetic and underscored support in general for protection of state lands, as well as public health from plastic waste and big rig pollution. Others, especially in the Inland Empire and Central Valley were hesitant to stop oil and gas production because of job creation. Faith advocates highlighted the faith principle of protection of all Creation and encouraged all legislators to prioritize clean energy production as it relates to job creation and public health. A second Advocacy Day is planned for August 28. If you are interested in attending, contact Allis at firstname.lastname@example.org.