Landmark California Law Links Emissions Reductions and Environmental Justice Goals

by Alice Kaswan | September 19, 2016

California's recent climate legislation is noteworthy not only for its toughest-in-the-nation carbon reduction goals – 40 percent below 1990 emissions by 2030 – but also for continuing the state's tradition of linking climate and environmental justice goals. AB 197, which accompanied a carbon reduction bill known as SB 32, prioritizes direct emission reductions likely to improve air quality; increases public access to information about carbon, conventional, and toxic emissions; and establishes a new cross-cutting legislative oversight committee to systematically monitor California's multi-faceted climate programs.

The environmental justice movement has long recognized the connection between climate policies and environmental justice. Advocates have supported stringent carbon reduction targets because poor and marginalized communities are the most vulnerable to climate change impacts like heat waves, drought, and economic disruptions to agriculture and tourism.

Climate policies also have important implications for the traditional pollutants that pose the most immediate threats to public health. Most sources of carbon, including mobile sources, power plants, and industry, simultaneously generate harmful co-pollutants like nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, particulates, mercury, and other toxic contaminants. Many communities, particularly poor and of-color communities, continue to experience unhealthy air quality. Given the close correlation between carbon and co-pollutant emissions, climate policies have the potential to significantly reduce conventional pollution and benefit these communities.

California's climate policies have consistently promoted an integrated approach to reducing carbon and improving air quality, but the degree to which the state has fulfilled this objective ...

Cap-and-Trade is Still Alive (In California)

by Alice Kaswan | November 02, 2010
As “Cap-and-Trade Is Dead” continues to echo through the empty halls of Congress, California rolled out its proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) cap-and-trade program on Friday. The proposed regulations send a powerful message that, notwithstanding political paralysis at the federal level, the states are proceeding with meaningful climate action. The proposed cap-and-trade program, to be voted on by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) at its December 2010 meeting, is scheduled to take effect in January 2012. At the outset, it will apply ...

The Delta: Pumps, Politics, and (Fish) Populations

by Holly Doremus | February 19, 2010
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. The past couple of weeks have been crazier than usual on the Bay-Delta. The pumps were first ramped up and then ramped down. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) pandered to the irrigation crowd (or at least a part of it) by proposing to ease endangered species protections in the Delta. And the fall-run chinook salmon population, which supports the commercial fishery, crashed. First, the pumps. Recall that last fall Judge Oliver Wanger ruled that the Bureau of ...

A Look at the Interim Federal Delta Plan

by Holly Doremus | January 05, 2010
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. As I pointed out three months ago, the federal government has awakened from its 8-year Bush administration slumber to notice that the SF Bay-Delta is an important environmental and economic resource whose management requires federal input. On December 22, the Obama administration issued an Interim Federal Action Plan for the California Bay-Delta. The best news about the plan is simply that it was issued. It’s one more sign that the feds are serious about joining in ...

60 Minutes Flubs the California Water Story

by Holly Doremus | December 31, 2009
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. On Sunday, 60 Minutes had a long story on the California water crisis, featuring Lesley Stahl interviewing (among others) Arnold Schwarzenegger and UC Davis professor Jeff Mount. On the positive side, the story accurately portrayed the vulnerability of California’s fragile through-Delta water delivery system to a major earthquake or catastrophic levee break. But CBS News flubbed the overall storyline. In typical media fashion, it oversimplified the story to “Delta smelt versus farmers,” with barely a mention ...

Looking at the California Water Bills

by Ben Somberg | November 06, 2009
For an analysis of the news from California this week -- where the legislature passed a group of bills Wednesday on water protection -- do check out Richard Frank on Legal Planet, who looks at the good and the less-than-good. It commits substantial public funding and commitment to  desperately needed Delta ecosystem restoration. The bill package fundamentally re-organizes the state governance system that will oversee Delta regulatory, planning and restoration efforts. And it reflects long-overdue and necessary steps to address ...

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