The Senate on Monday approved a bill to ensure California’s climate policies are transparent, accountable and focused on equitably benefiting Californians who live in disadvantage communities that have been hardest hit by climate pollution.
Presented to the Senate by Sen. Fran Pavley, AB 197 by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia directs the California Air Resources Board to prioritize regulations to protect disadvantaged communities by focusing on reducing direct emissions at stationary and mobile sources. In addition, it adds a definition for the social costs of greenhouse gas emissions for the board to include in evaluating the cost-effectiveness of measures developed to achieve reductions.
AB 197 was approved on a vote of 23-13 and now returns to the Assembly for final approval. It is legally joined with a separate bill, SB 32, which would extend in law the state’s target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 2030, at which time emissions would have to be reduced to 40 percent below 1990 levels. Neither bill can become law unless the other is also enacted.
“AB 197 and SB 32 usher in a new era for climate policy in the state,” said Assemblymember Garcia. “California has proven that economic growth and strong environmental laws are not mutually exclusive. The state’s economy has flourished as our air and water quality has improved. However, these economic and environmental benefits have not yet reached all of the state’s communities, especially those disadvantaged communities that are most harmed by the impacts of climate change.”
SB 32 is awaiting action in the Assembly before the Legislature adjourns its two-year session on Aug. 31.
Senator Fran Pavley, the author of SB 32, said passage of both bills would send a strong message to the public and businesses that California has an enduring commitment to building a clean-energy future – and doing it a way the uplifts the lives of all Californians.
“That message will inspire continued innovation that will create jobs, clean the air and cement California’s leadership in demonstrating to the world that we can combat climate change while also spurring economic growth,” Senator Pavley said.
In addition to its equity provisions, AB 197 adds several accountability and transparency measures to guarantee greater public oversight of state climate programs. Among them are the creation of a Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Policies to conduct an ongoing review of policies, and the designation of a senator and Assembly member to serve as non-voting, ex officio members of the Air Board.
Its transparency provisions include requirements that the Air Resources Board publish online and update annually data on emissions of both greenhouse gases and traditional air pollutants for every major emitting facility in California, and to annually publish data on GHG and traditional air pollutants on a local level.