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Business Voice for the Environment

E2 Delegation in Sacramento


The 2008 E2 delegation (from left to right): Harris Epstein (NRDC), Ann Notthoff (NRDC), Steve Silberstein, Tony Bernhardt, Rick Degolia, Senator Darrell Steinberg, Jon Slangerup, Nicole Lederer, Bob Smith, Bob Epstein, Nat Simons, Lee Stein and Tim Sexton. Not in photo: Kristina Phipps and Maureen Blanc.

On March 26, a delegation of 10 E2 members traveled to Sacramento to meet with the Governor and members of the state Senate and Assembly to discuss E2’s agenda for 2008. Two major factors were evident this year:

  • The extreme budget deficit (estimated at $8 billion for 2008-09) dominates the legislative agenda.
  • Climate policy has made it possible to consider items that previously were off the table, including new approaches to water and land use.

History

This marks the fifth year that E2 has made a formal delegation trip to Sacramento and the seventh year that E2 has actively worked for legislation in California. Our first efforts in California started in December of 2001 with the California Clean Cars Bill (AB 1493 - Pavley). At the time, the bill was short the five to ten votes it needed to pass the Assembly and was quickly approaching the January 30th deadline. By focusing on a group of business-oriented legislators, E2 helped get the bill passed in the Assembly by one vote. Once the bill became law in July 2002 and then-Governor Davis asked E2 to speak at the bill signing, we were convinced that a business voice could make a positive difference. Since 2002, E2 has maintained a regular and effective presence in Sacramento .

E2 Priorities for 2008

E2 is working on five priority issues:

AB 2175 (Laird and Feuer) - Water-Use Efficiency
This legislation will build upon the recently enacted AB 1420 (Laird) by establishing a statewide target for water efficiency, and encouraging the development of new technologies and investments necessary to meet that target. Reducing water demand helps to mitigate climate change impacts and reduces the GHG emissions associated with water delivery and use. (See the E2 analysis of AB 2175 and the E2 water policy paper.) The bill was introduced in February 2008 and will have its first committee hearing on April 15.

SB 375 (Steinberg) - Transportation and Land-Use Planning
SB 375 would create incentives for regions to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions through changes in transportation and land-use policy on a regional and statewide basis. SB 375 would also save California taxpayers billions of dollars in avoided infrastructure and personal transportation costs, improve quality of life and reduce pollution, ensuring that California remains attractive for employers and employees. (See E2 Report: Smart Growth, SB 375 summary and a PowerPoint presentation on the bill.) This bill passed the Senate last year and is currently in the Assembly committee on appropriations.

SB 974 (Lowenthal) - Clean Ports Investment
This bill will modernize California’s ports, improve air quality and reduce health-related problems in port communities by funding pollution relief and other needed improvements. Investing in infrastructure and air quality improvements will create over 500,000 trade-related jobs over the next 30 years in Southern California alone, generating up to $1.27 billion annually in tax revenue for the state.

This bill has been part of the E2 agenda for several years. Recently the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland have all instituted their own fees, but those fee revenues are limited to investments on port property only. SB 974 would provide money for both on-port improvements as well as projects that are related to the ports but in the surrounding area. (See E2’s letter of support.)

Budget
An increasing number of the state’s environmental programs are funded through fees paid by the beneficiaries or the regulated businesses. E2 is supporting a mix of proposals, including recommendations from the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO). In contrast to the Governor’s across-the-board-reductions approach to balancing the budget, which fails to prioritize state spending, the independent LAO has suggested an alternative approach for the legislature’s consideration. The most significant proposal in the budget for environmental programs is a proposed fee on the approximately one million homeowners who currently receive free fire protection because they choose to live or own residences in rural areas (known as State Responsibility Areas, or SRAs) that fall outside the boundaries of municipal fire protection districts. The average fee of $265/year (which would range depending on measures homeowners could take to make their properties more fire-resistant) would cover about half of the cost of providing fire service and the increased revenue would offset the proposed cuts in environmental services.

Green Jobs
As California steps up to implement policies to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and provide new economic opportunities, there’s a growing excitement about the new energy economy. An essential component of that new economy is its ability to provide job opportunities to the full range of workers. There are several bills now being developed by legislators aimed at connecting secondary education training with clean energy installation and maintenance. Incoming Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg discussed his bill, SB 1672, the Renewable Energy, Climate Change, Career Technical Education and Clean Technology Job Creation Bond Act, with E2 during our trip. Senator Perata and Speaker Núñez also have bills to advance green job opportunities and E2 will monitor their policy development and support policies to advance development of a robust market for green jobs.

Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32)

Implementation of AB 32 rests with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), with the legislature providing oversight. Our goals are to keep the legislature informed on our positions regarding the implementation and encourage them to work on complimentary measures that are outside the regulatory authority of CARB - such as smart land-use planning and water-use efficiency.

E2 has been actively involved in the CARB "scoping plan" process for the implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act. E2’s co-founder, Bob Epstein, is the Vice-Chairman of ETAAC (the Economic and Technology Advancement Advisory Committee), whose recent report recommends that the legislature advance policies in land-use planning, water efficiency, accelerating renewables, green-collar job training programs and attracting cleantech manufacturing to California. The E2 policy recommendations to CARB can be found here and the ETAAC recommendations can be found at www.etaac.org.

CARB is on schedule to release a draft scoping plan at the end of June and adopt a final plan by the end of the year. The scoping plan defines the design elements of AB 32’s implementation. With the release of the draft scoping plan only three months away, the debate on some of the more contentious policy issues is becoming more intense.

The debate over cap-and-trade was front and center in March. This month’s proposal by the California Public Utilities Commision (PUC) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) on how to create a cap-and-trade program for the electricity sector should CARB decide to do so created an uproar from some legislators, some publicly owned utilities (POU) and the environmental justice community. The legislators were opposed to the process used by the CPUC and CEC in making their proposed decision, concerned that it didn’t follow the balancing process mandated by AB 32. Several senators informed the governor of their opposition to the process. The POUs believe they will be disadvantaged in a cap-and-trade program because they own more generation assets and are starting with a higher carbon content per kilo-watt-hour. The environmental justice community opposes trading because it believes the system will be gamed and will end up negatively impacting low-income communities.

E2 is confident the CARB public process will allow all sides to be heard and an effective program developed. However, the "noise" created by the process concerns many in the legislature. E2 endeavors to be a trusted, independent voice in the process to try to alleviate premature anxiety by the various stakeholders and policymakers.

Summary

E2 had a total of 24 individual meetings, which included the governor and members of both parties from the Senate and Assembly or their staffs (see below for a full list). In addition, we have another 20 meetings scheduled for April 2, as we could not accommodate everyone in a single day. In total, this represents over one-third of California’s legislature.

The water bill was well received, but legislators have yet to see the actual bill and it is very early in the process. The bill will be consistent with the Governor’s recent proposal to reduce water demand by 20 percent per capita by 2020 and will both reduce water demand and reduce the greenhouse gases associated with the significant energy demand of moving, heating and treating water.

As expected, the fee bills - both the ports bill and the budget proposals - were more contentious, with a clear divide between most of the Republican members who were opposed to new fees and the Democrats who supported the ports bill in the last session. This split is a long standing one in the legislature where the Republican caucus remains fundamentally opposed to any fees or tariffs that they view as harming business. It’s E2’s job to help demonstrate that there is a net benefit to business and the overall economy.

SB 375, the transportation and land-use planning bill was well received by the Assembly members (it has already passed the Senate). It is top priority for its author, Senator Darrell Steinberg, who will become the new Senate President pro Tempore this fall. Thus, it has very strong Senate leadership support and we are optimistic that Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and incoming Speaker Karen Bass will work with Sen. Steinberg to make this an Assembly priority as well. Senator Steinberg is looking for a broader coalition of support for the bill, which E2 and NRDC are working to help build, to overcome some of the loudest critics, who are currently most concerned with a perceived loss of local control over planning.

In summary, E2 is a significant factor in developing and promoting strong California environmental policies that both create jobs and protect the environment. This is possible because of the collective strength of our membership and the willingness of so many of our members to meet with public officials, sign on to our Action Alerts, and provide their considerable skills to push the issues forward. We are grateful to this year’s delegates, who have put in countless hours preparing for and attending meetings (with more to go on April 2!).

E2 delegates met with the following officials:

Members of the Assembly:

Juan Arambula (D - Fresno) (staff)
Karen Bass (D - Los Angeles)
Julia Brownley (D - Santa Monica)
Anna Marie Caballero (D - Salinas) (staff)
Joe Coto (D - San Jose) (staff)
Mike Davis (D - Los Angeles)
Kevin de Leon (D - Los Angeles) (staff)
Mark DeSaulnier (D - Martinez))
Mike Duvall (R - Brea) (staff)
Bill Emmerson (R - Redlands) (staff)
Mike Feuer (D - Los Angeles) (staff)
Felipe Fuentes (D - Arleta)
Cathleen Galgiani (D - Tracy) (staff)
Loni Hancock (D - Berkeley) (staff)
Ed Hernandez (D - Baldwin Park)


Jared Huffman (D - San Rafael)
Dave Jones (D - Sacramento)
Mark Leno (D - San Francisco)
Ted Lieu (D - Torrence) (staff)
Fiona Ma (D - San Francisco) (staff)
Tony Mendoza (D - Artesia) (staff)
Gene Mullin (D - South San Francisco)
Pedro Nava (D - Santa Barbara) (staff)
Anthony Portantino (D - Pasadena)
Ira Ruskin (D - Redwood City) (staff)
Mary Salas (D - Chula Vista)
Jose Solorio (D - Santa Ana) (staff)
Nell Soto (D - Pomona) (staff)
Sandre Swanson (D - Oakland) (staff)
Members of the Senate:

Richard Ackerman (R - Tustin) (staff)
Elaine Alquist (D - Santa Clara)
Ron Calderon (D - Montebello)
Ellen Corbett (D - San Leandro) (staff)
Denise Moreno Ducheny (D - San Diego) (staff)
Christine Kehoe (D - San Diego)
Alan Lowenthal (D - Long Beach) (staff)
Abel Maldonado (R - Santa Maria) (staff)
Carole Migden (D - San Francisco)
Alex Padilla (D - Pacioma)
Don Perata (D - Oakland) (staff)
Joe Simitian (D - Palo Alto)
Darrell Steinberg (D - Sacramento)
Tom Torlakson (D - Antioch)
Leland Yee (D - San Francisco) (staff)

Schwarzenegger Administration:

Arnold Schwarzenegger (R)

If you are interested in helping E2 on any of the bills mentioned in this article, please contact April Mo, E2 Program Associate, at amo@nrdc.org or (415) 875-6100.




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