BELL GARDENS – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed AB 617 by Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) and Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) to establish a groundbreaking program to measure and combat air pollution at the neighborhood level – in the communities most impacted.
“All this poison is the basis of our prosperity and that’s the dark paradox of modernity – we get the goodies but we get the poison with it. So today, we are taking a step to take the poison out as well as increase the prosperity,” said Governor Brown at today’s bill signing ceremony.
“Today we are proving that California will always stand with our most disadvantaged communities. Faced with some of the most destructive impacts of air pollution in the country, we think creatively, work collaboratively and act quickly – defying the odds to protect our children; and the future of our great, golden state,” said Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León.
“There’s an old expression, ‘think globally, act locally.’ The cap-and-trade and air quality bills the Governor is signing into law this week do both. With these bills we are continuing California’s global leadership on climate change and, at the same time, bringing direct air quality improvements to local communities that have been most harmed by pollution. California is once again showing you can succeed by being visionary and practical at the same time,” said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.
“We passed these bills today for people like Maria who takes care of her five grandchildren in a one bedroom apartment in Bell Gardens but, is afraid to let the kids play outside in the poisoned air, and for Rocio who grows vegetables for her family in Commerce, but worries they could be toxic from the contaminated soil. This package, though historic, is only a strong down-payment. We have much work ahead of us to address regions, like mine, that have been treated like wastelands for generations. Justice is never swift. Environmental justice won’t be either. California is at the tipping point of greatness and I have no intention of letting my home go backwards again,” said Assemblymember Cristina Garcia.
“California has come together to act on climate, united across party lines with one clear vision for the future. Together AB 617 and AB 398 will allow us to achieve our ambitious climate goals without leaving anyone behind. We have created a positive trajectory that the world can follow. Our groundbreaking climate change policies are centered on air quality and the all too real public health ramifications of global warming. The community plans outlined in AB 617 are critical in targeting pollutant hot spots and ensuring true climate equity in areas that historically have been disproportionately impacted by pollution; communities like those that my colleague from Bell Gardens and I both represent,” said Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia.
“For too long, landlocked, freeway-locked communities near heavy industry like mine have been ignored during major environmental movements in California. This is an issue that hits close to home for me (and many other inner city legislators). My young son, who is being raised in these neighborhoods, unfortunately has asthma. I’m proud to be an author of AB 617 to ensure that future generations of Angelenos have the ability to breathe clean air,” said Assemblymember Miguel Santiago.
The bill signed today establishes a comprehensive, statewide program – the first of its kind – to address air pollution where it matters most: in neighborhoods with the dirtiest air. This new program helps dramatically improve air quality in local communities through neighborhood air monitoring and targeted action plans that require pollution reductions from mobile and stationary sources with strong enforcement and timetables. The legislation also mandates that large industrial facilities, including oil refineries, in California’s most polluted communities upgrade their old, dirty equipment with cleaner, more modern technology by December 2023 at the latest. The legislation also increases the penalties against polluters that the Legislature has not been able to increase in more than 35 years.
The Governor signed the legislation today at the Neighborhood Youth Center in Bell Gardens. Earlier today, Governor Brown spoke at the opening of Proterra’s new 100,000 square-foot zero-emission battery-electric bus production facility in the City of Industry. Yesterday, Governor Brown signed AB 398 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia – part of the legislative package announced with AB 617 – to improve and extend the state’s world-leading cap-and-trade program by 10 years until 2030 and help ensure California continues to meet its ambitious climate change goals.
For full text of the bill signed today, visit http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.
California’s Climate Leadership
On the eve of the G20 Summit earlier this month, Governor Brown announced that the State of California will convene the world’s climate leaders in San Francisco in September 2018 for the Global Climate Action Summit, where representatives from subnational governments, businesses, investors and civil society will gather with the direct goal of supporting the Paris Agreement.
Last month, Governor Brown was named Special Advisor for States and Regions ahead of this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 23) by the Prime Minister of Fiji Frank Bainimarama – incoming president of COP 23. This followed meetings with Germany’s top environmental official, Minister Barbara Hendricks, in San Francisco, and with China’s President Xi Jinping during the Governor’s week-long trip to China.
Governor Brown continues to build – and grow – strong coalitions of subnational partners committed to curbing carbon pollution in both the United States through the U.S. Climate Alliance and around the globe with the Under2 Coalition.
The Under2 Coalition, established in May 2015, is an international pact among cities, states and countries committed to limiting the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius – the level of potentially catastrophic consequences – by either reducing their greenhouse gas emissions from 80 percent to 95 percent below 1990 levels or holding emissions to less than 2 annual metric tons per capita by 2050. The coalition now includes 176 jurisdictions on six continents, collectively representing more than 36 countries, 1.2 billion people and $28.8 trillion GDP – equivalent to more than 16 percent of the global population and 39 percent of the global economy.
The U.S. Climate Alliance was formed in June with the Governors of Washington and New York in response to the White House’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. The alliance now includes 14 U.S. states – led by both Democrats and Republicans – committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan. The U.S. Climate Alliance complements the goals of the Under2 Coalition.
In recent years, Governor Brown has also signed landmark climate legislation to establish the most ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in North America; set the nation’s toughest restrictions on destructive super pollutants; direct cap-and-trade funds to greenhouse gas reducing programs which benefit disadvantaged communities, support clean transportation and protect natural ecosystems; and require the state to generate half of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and double the rate of energy efficiency savings in buildings.
The Governor has also traveled to the United Nations’ 2015 Climate Conference (COP 21) in Paris, the United Nations headquarters in New York, the Vatican and the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto to call on other leaders to join California in the fight against climate change. These efforts build on a number of other international climate change agreements with leaders from the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Mexico, China, North America, Japan, Israel, Peru, Chile, Australia, Scotland,
Sweden and Germany as well as Governor Brown’s efforts to gather hundreds of researchers and scientists around a groundbreaking call to action called the consensus statement, which translates key scientific climate findings from disparate fields into one unified document.
California, the sixth-largest economy in the world, continues to advance its nation-leading climate goals while also growing its economy faster than the rest of the United States. In the past seven years, California has created more than 2.5 million new jobs, cut its unemployment rate in half, eliminated a $27 billion budget deficit and boosted its credit rating to the highest level in more than a decade.
The impacts of climate change are already being felt in California and will disproportionately impact the state’s most vulnerable populations.
Photo captions can be found below:
1.) Governor Brown gives remarks in Bell Gardens.
2.) Governor Brown signs AB 617.
Photo credit: California State Assembly. For high resolution copies of these photos, please contact Danella Debel, Office of the Governor at Danella.Debel@gov.ca.gov.