Status of Priority Bills: June 2024

On to the second house: Friday, May 24 was the deadline for the Senate and Assembly to pass nearly all bills introduced in 2024. Bills that passed were sent to the second house, which is where the deep-pockets opposition (think oil and gas, their union allies, Big Ag, etc.) pour it on to defeat much of the climate legislation we support.

Second-house oversight committee bill hearings start soon. Our teams are already reviewing amendments and preparing position letters.

Not incidentally, we lost some very good bills that would have addressed "forever chemicals," funded decarbonization and clean energy programs, and adjusted utility rates to incentivize large commercial/industrial efforts to reduce emissions.

Here’s a selection of Climate Action California’s priority bills, and their fates so far.

A big disappointment

  • ACA 16 (Bryan): Would have amended the California Constitution to establish a right to clean air, water, and a healthy environment. The Chamber of Commerce, Western States Petroleum Association, and the rest of the usual suspects were having none of it, and Asm Bryan pulled the bill rather than taking poisonous amendments. But we're not giving up! We'll be back...

A key climate bill still looking for votes ("Urgency statutes," Constitutional amendments, and tax bills require AYE votes by 2/3 of each house to pass -- and don't follow the usual deadlines. )

  • SB 1497 (Menjivar). Would make the biggest fossil fuel polluters pay for the climate harms they have caused in California. The author is working to collect enough AYE votes to move the bill out of the Senate.

Major bills addressing California's vast number of fossil fuel wells and the future of fracking are moving to the second house

  • AB 1866 (Hart): Addresses California's the idle wells problem by requiring owners of idle oil and gas wells to plug and remediate them on a set schedule, or pay a fine equal to the average cost of safely closing a well. Passed its first Senate committee, on to Senate Judiciary
  • AB 2716 (Bryan): Targets low-production oil and gas wells near homes and other sensitive sites. It would require the state to identify such wells by July 2025, notify owners by July 2026 that they have 24 months to shut down the well, and then impose a $10,000 daily fine for exceeding the limit, with funds going towards environmental cleanup. Now in the Senate
  • AB 3233 (Addis): Gives local governments the authority to restrict oil/gas operations. Now in the Senate
  • SB 1433 (Limón): Establishes a Gravity-Based Energy Storage Well Pilot Program until 2034. Allows conversion of a limited number of wells for use as gravity-based energy storage wells. Requires assessment of mechanical integrity and monitoring for leaks of converted wells. Now in the Assembly

Renewable energy

  • SB 1018 (Becker): Aims to exclude certain solar and wind generators from being classified as electrical corporations if the power is transmitted exclusively and directly through private electric lines to a facility owned by a different corporation or person that uses the energy only for (1) an electrolyzer technology facility that produces hydrogen from water, or (2) a facility using the electricity to provide industrial process heat, but not for departing electric load. Now in the Assembly

Plastics and toxins

  • AB 2761 (Hart and Lowenthal): This bill would prohibit perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in plastic packaging, with some exceptions for medical, drug, and federally regulated products. It would also authorize civil penalties for violations. Now in the Senate

Decarbonizing cement

  • SB 1073 (Skinner):  Would authorize state agencies to "enter into forward contracts" (i.e., order ahead) to purchase low-carbon cement or concrete products up to 10 years in advance of delivery. This is to facilitate the commercialization of low-carbon concrete, cement, and supplementary cementitious materials, and to further the state's goals of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the cement sector by 2045. Now in the Assembly

WE OPPOSE THIS HYDROGEN BILL

  • SB 1420 (Caballero, Archuleta, Dodd, and Newman): If passed, this bill will set back the development of truly clean and renewable hydrogen. Although not permitting fossil-based hydrogen,it opens the door to hydrogen produced with carbon-intensive biogenic feedstocks. The limits it imposes on the new category of “qualified green hydrogen” are far more lax than the standard of green electrolytic hydrogen, and thus will undercut the development of a truly green hydrogen industry in California. We are working with allies to defeat this bill in the Assembly.

Two-year bills carried over from 2023

  • SB 252 (Gonzalez): Carried over from last year, this bill mandates fossil fuel divestment for California’s two huge pension funds, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS). Passed the Senate; scheduled for a hearing on June 19 in the Assembly's Public Employment & Pensions Committee
  • SB 308 (Becker): Carried over from last year, this bill requires the California Air Resources Board to set up a market-based program where large emitters of greenhouse gasses must purchase credits for their emissions, with the proceeds supporting development of carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere.  Senator Becker intends to bring this bill up later in the summer.