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This Year’s Legislative Session – Good News for the Environment

This year’s California legislative session ended with some significant victories for the environmental community.

Bad Community Choice Energy bill (AB2145) failed to come up for a vote

GreenTown advocated against AB2145 which posed a significant threat to Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) programs.  CCAs enable local governments to manage procurement of electricity for residents and businesses. CCAs in California (Marin Clean Energy and Sonoma Clean Power) have resulted in a significantly greater share of electricity coming from clean, renewable sources (50%+ compared with PG&E’s 19%) often at a lower cost than electricity from PG&E. Los Altos staff is closely watching an effort spearheaded by Sunnyvale to assess the feasibility and one day create a local CCA. Los Altos Council member Jan Pepper illustrated her support for these programs in an article she wrote for the Mercury News.

“Community Choice is the state’s most powerful tool to give communities local control over electricity supply, and rapidly build clean energy programs that will put Californians back to work, and combat the climate crisis.” said Margaret Okuzumi, Sunnyvale resident and member of a coalition Californians for Energy Choice.

California passes landmark single-use plastic bag ban (SB270)!

If Gov. Brown signs SB270 into law (and it is anticipated he will), California will be the  first state in the country to outlaw plastic bags. About 1/3 of the state’s population are already subject to local bag bans, which made the legislature’s job a bit easier. As a result of local bans, plastic bag use in California has dropped from approx. 30 million bags in 2006 to about 13 million bags now (source: Californians Against Waste).

Other successes

Important successes this year include the passage of the following bills [excerpted from California’s League of Conservation Voters]:

  1. SB 270 (Padilla, de León, Lara) bans single-use plastic bags

  2. AB 1739 (Dickinson) SB 1168, (Pavley) & SB 1319 (Pavley) regulates groundwater

  3. AB 1471 (Rendon) places revised water bond on the November 2014 ballot

  4. SB 1204 (Lara, Pavley) invests cap-and-trade auction revenues into zero emission truck, bus and other heavy duty technologies

  5. SB 1275 (de León) helps put 1 million clean, electric vehicles on California roads

  6. SB 1019 (Leno) requires disclosure of flame retardant chemicals in furniture

  7. AB 2188 (Muratsuchi) streamlines permitting for residential rooftop solar energy

The session was not without its notable disappointments, including the failure of a fracking moratorium bill SB 1132 (Mitchell) that had near-universal support from environmental and environmental justice groups.

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