California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a sweeping package of climate legislation into law on Friday, aiming to accelerate the Golden State’s transition to clean energy.
Among the long list of initiatives to receive gubernatorial approval were measures to cut air pollution by 60 percent and reduce state oil consumption by 91 percent over the next two decades, according to the governor’s office.
Within the same time frame, the bills intend to save California $23 billion by avoiding damages caused by pollution, reduce fossil fuel use in buildings and transportation by 92 percent and slash refinery pollution by 94 percent.
“We could talk about the way the world should be and protest it, or we can actually make demonstrable progress — and we took the latter approach here,” Newsom said at a press conference Friday morning on Mare Island, in Solano County northeast of San Francisco.
“As a consequence of doing so, there’s no other jurisdiction in the world — think about that — that’s doing what the state of California is doing,” the governor added.
Newsom signed the slate of bills alongside the politicians who authored them in front of the U.S. Forest Service’s Regional Office, which is powered by clean energy and provides electricity to the grid.
The advancement of the bills constitutes “an essential piece” of the governor’s California Climate Commitment — a $54 billion action plan that aims to create 4 million jobs, according to Newsom’s office.
The governor described this step as “the most aggressive action on climate our nation has ever seen,” in a statement released ahead of the signing.
“We’re cleaning the air we breathe, holding the big polluters accountable, and ushering in a new era for clean energy,” Newsom said in the statement.
California state lawmakers passed many of the bills in question just two weeks ago, as their legislative session ticked to a close and amid a brutal heatwave, as The Hill reported.
Among the bills Newsom signed into law on Friday — six of more than 40 in a broad climate package — was S.B. 1020, which focuses on creating a clean electricity grid.
S.B. 1020 will require 90 percent of California’s electricity to come from clean energy sources by 2035 and 95 percent by 2040 — interim targets toward a 100 percent goal for 2045.
In addition, all electricity procured for state agencies will need to come from clean energy by 2035, according to the bill.
Another key piece of legislation to become law was S.B. 1137, which will prohibit oil drilling within 3,200 feet of places where residents live, work and learn. The bill also ensures that comprehensive pollution controls are in place for existing oil wells already situated within 3,200 feet of such facilities.
A bill focusing on carbon neutrality, A.B. 1279, establishes “a clear, legally binding and achievable goal” that urges carbon neutrality as soon as possible, but no later than 2045, according to the governor’s office.
A.B. 1279 also sets an 85 percent emissions reduction target for that year and a 40 percent reduction target for 2030, in comparison to 1990 levels.
S.B. 905 and S.B. 1314 are centered on the development of carbon capture and removal technologies, which aim to take carbon dioxide generated by power plants out of the atmosphere and store it permanently.
The bills establish a regulatory framework for the advancement of these emerging technologies, while also banning the injection of carbon dioxide into wells — a practice that enhances oil recovery.
A.B. 1757 focuses on nature, by requiring the state to develop an achievable carbon removal target for natural and working lands, according to the governor’s office.
“I think the world is waking up,” Newsom said at the Friday press conference. “There’s this great awakening — because if you don’t believe in science, you have to believe your own eyes.”
Although environmental groups have largely applauded the passage of these bills, some groups expressed disappointment about certain measures that did not win legislative approval.
For example, a proposal to establish stricter emissions reduction targets passed the state Senate but failed to do so in the Assembly.
Another item that faced significant backlash was a bill that Newsom signed into law earlier this month — S.B. 846 — which extended the life of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.
While Newsom argued that extending the operations would ensure a reliable, carbon-free power supply as the state transitions to renewables, environmental groups questioned both the safety and financial risks associated with the move.
These disagreements notwithstanding, both Newsom and state lawmakers emphasized the importance on Friday of taking collaborative, swift action on solving the climate crisis.
“This legislative session, we took bold action to address these severe conditions and mitigate future risk both through our state budget and key legislation,” Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D) said in a statement.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) expressed his satisfaction that lawmakers were able to come together and “enact a package like this as a team.”
“We are just getting started,” Rendon added.