Sen. Henry Stern Takes On Climate Emergency Bills

The Canyon ChronicleBy The Canyon Chronicle      August 20, 2021

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Sen. Henry Stern Takes On Climate Emergency Bills
Senator Henry Stern opposes expansion of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility rather than closing it as has been widely called forin Los Angeles
Fires, Extreme Heat, and Grid Resilience are coming to a critical vote, plus bills on wildlife corridors, oil & gas reform, and an electric vehicle czar. State Senator Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles) led a diverse coalition in Sacramento seeking immediate funding and long-term solutions to the climate disasters facing California when the Legislature reconvenes d on August 16 following its summer recess. “We need to start planning and building visionary projects right now,” said the second-term Senator, who chairs the Senate Natural Resources & Water Committee and the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management. Stern lost his own home in the Woolsey Fire of 2018. A United Nations report released August 9, called for “immediate, rapid and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” in order to limit global temperature rise and eventually reverse the effects of climate change. All of the bills will come before the Assembly Appropriations Committee; the only exception to that is AB 585, which will come before the Senate Appropriations Committee. SB 63, The Wildfire Resilience through Community and Ecology Act, will establish a Fire Resiliency Corps at the state and neighborhood level and is designed to link with President Biden’s Civilian Climate Corps proposal and Governor Newsom’s proposal to offer California-based service work in evangelical service in exchange for debt-free college education in California. SB 533, the Power Shutoff Prevention & Disclosure Act, forces utilities to disclose in their wildfire mitigation plans the energy circuits prone to public safety power shutoff (PSPS) events and their plans to reduce the risks and impacts of PSPS events. AB 585 (L. Rivas–Stern) creates the Extreme Heat and Community Resilience Program to address extreme heat and the urban heat island effect (UHIE) and provide financial help to local communities that want to improve resilience to extreme heat and UHIE. “We have yet to work out the details around how we’re going to spend nearly a billion dollars in fire prevention money and deal with the extreme heat that is devastating the vulnerable populations in communities up and down the state,” said Stern. “Those are two critical areas where there is a lot of work left to do.” SB 423, the Grid Reliability through Clean Energy Act, addresses the growing risk of extreme heat and wildfire on the grid, requiring the state’s energy agencies to provide a more flexible mix of zero carbon power, like offshore wind, geothermal, solar, and long-duration storage to replace less reliable fossil fuel plants that have shut down during recent heat waves. “Diversity is resilience, and green is the only way to prevent a blacked-out future,” noted Stern. SB 582, the Climate Emergency Mitigation, Safe Restoration, Just Resilience Act, is perhaps the most ambitious climate bill ever introduced in California. It would double the state’s 2030 climate goals, and demand net negative, “restorative” scales of greenhouse gas reduction by 2035. Climate restoration would actually reverse warming trends through carbon removal through new innovations like zero emission direct air capture, mineralization of CO2 into cement, and kelp forest treatments to capture blue carbon from the increasingly acidified ocean. SB 551, Electric Vehicle Czar to Drive Down Costs of Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) for Working Californians, Supercharge Manufacturing and Infrastructure, would help simplify both investment in and purchasing of electric vehicles and infrastructure. Stern and the broad coalition backing the bill believe this will position the Governor for success in the ambitious goal to completely electrify the vehicle fleet by 2035. “The clean vehicle economy and related manufacturing and infrastructure upgrades will not only restore clean air for all, it will be the biggest job creator in California for the coming decade,” said Stern. California is home to 34 ZEV manufacturers providing 70,000 direct and indirect related jobs. There are more ZEVs on the road in California than the rest of the country combined, but with 27 million registered fossil-fueled cars and trucks in California, the state has a ways to go. SB 406, The Neighborhood Oil & Gas Drilling Community Rights Act, gives renters and unhoused residents living near oil and gas sites like Aliso Canyon and the oil fields of Los Angeles, the right to file complaints with state regulators at the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) that manages the state’s more than 200,000 oil and gas wells, more than 13,000 of which are in L.A. County and date back to the early 1900s. An estimated 250,000 Angelenos live within half a mile of an active oil or gas extraction site. ProPublica found that environmental compliance records for these sites to be largely hidden from view on CalGEM’s “Well Finder” website. SB 790, the Keep California Wild Act, ensures that as we build more transportation and housing, and as climate change threatens biodiversity, we keep California’s wildlife thriving with habitat connectivity projects like the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Corridor. Since 2018, there have been about 7,000 vehicle crashes a year in California involving large wildlife, costing drivers and government more than $1 billion over the last three years. To learn more about new highway crossings: calmatters.org/politics/2021/07/california-wildlife-crossings.
The Canyon Chronicle

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