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E2 Delegation in Sacramento
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:
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
SB 375 (Steinberg) - Transportation and Land-Use Planning
SB 974 (Lowenthal) - Clean Ports Investment
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.)
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.
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:
If you are interested in helping E2 on any of the bills mentioned in this article, please contact April Mo, E2 Program Associate, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 875-6100.