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SB 467 Oil well setbacks, fracking ban

SB 467 would put a stop to new hydraulic drilling and other enhanced oil recovery techniques.

Senators Wiener and Limon, along with Senator Allen and Assembly Members Stone and Kalra, have introduced the bill to ramp up the fight to protect the public from the state’s unusually dirty and dangerous oil extraction practices.

SB 467 will abolish enhanced oil recovery techniques, which are well-known for wreaking havoc on the environment. The most visible perpetrator is cyclic steaming. Cyclic steaming requires heating vast quantities of steam and injecting it into the ground to melt out the tarry, viscous oil that remains after an uninterrupted century of extraction of the easier-to-get, liquid oil. This method is absurdly greenhouse gas-intensive, since steam is typically heated with fossil fuels, but it also often results in oil spills, particularly when used in a way that fractures the oil-bearing rock formation.

Another provision of the bill is that all oil exploration activities must be set back at least 2,500 feet from homes, schools, and health care facilities, according to the law. The 2,500-foot buffer will include about 10,000 currently active wells.

SB 467 also recognizes the need to identify oil sector employees who have lost their jobs and offers incentives to companies that clean up abandoned oil and gas well sites to employ them. This clause acknowledges that the decrease in oil production in California would necessitate a concerted effort to ensure a “just transition” for employees and communities into other industries.

SB 45 and AB 1500 Billions for ‘climate resiliency’

SB 45  involves spending $2.2 billion on wildfire prevention, $1.47 billion on ensuring clean drinking water, $620 million on fish and wildlife conservation, $190 million on farm protections, $970 million on coast protection, and about $60 million on workforce growth and education.

Assembly Bill 1500 is a bond measure that would authorize the issuance of bonds in the amount of $6,955,000,000 to fund infrastructure projects to defend California from natural disasters such as sea level rise, wildfires, droughts, and excessive weather.

$1.1 billion for wildfire protection, $1.2 billion for sea level rise, $1.6 billion for clean drinking water, $1.06 billion for natural disaster response, $800 million for fish and wildlife adaptation, $640 million to protect against extreme heat, and $300 million to protect farmland, ranches, and other property from climate impacts are all included in the bill.

AB 564 Protecting land and water

Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-82-20 on October 7, 2020, establishing the California Biodiversity Collaborative to safeguard and restore the state’s biodiversity.

The order establishes the state’s target of conserving at least 30% of California’s land and coastal waters by 2030, and mandates that the California Natural Resources Agency and other related state agencies develop and report on plans to achieve that goal by February 2022.

Assembly Bill 564, known as the “Biodiversity Protection and Restoration Act,” will help implement Newsom’s October executive order. AB 564 reiterates and enforces the executive orders’ biodiversity protection provisions by requiring all state agencies, boards, and commissions to use their power to further the executive orders’ aims and goals. The bill also helps to slow the loss of biodiversity and natural lands by ensuring that no public agency approves projects that are incompatible with the bill’s provisions. The bill will additionally mandate that plans relevant to the state’s target of conserving at least 30% of California’s land and coastal waters by 2030 be made available to the public.

SB 54 Banning single-use plastics

Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, is taking on single-use plastics once again after a controversial battle last year over a related bill. Beginning in 2032, this attempt will prohibit such products from being sold or imported into California “unless they are recyclable or compostable.”

A major provision from the bill’s 2019 edition, which directed producers to reduce waste produced by their goods by 75 percent by 2030, is currently missing from the bill’s language.

The most successful and least expensive way to protect people’s, wildlife’s, and the environment is to eliminate non-reusable, non-recyclable, and non-compostable plastic single-use items and packaging. Many reliable and reusable alternatives already exist, and their effectiveness has been well demonstrated.

AB 1110 Electric vehicle purchases by agencies

The Air Resources Board’s “Charge Ahead California Initiative” aims to put at least one million zero-emission and near-zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) in operation by January 1, 2023, as well as create a self-sustaining California market for ZEVs in which ZEVs are a viable mainstream alternative for individual vehicle purchasers, companies, and public transportation and municipal fleets.

The California Clean Fleet Accelerator Program, which would be operated by the Department of General Services, would be established by this bill. Smaller local governments and rural public bodies will benefit from the Program’s technical and financial assistance in procuring ZEVs for their fleets.

AB 534: Ban on certain fishing gear

Beginning in 2014, reports of whales entangled in buoys and lines used in California fisheries skyrocketed. In 2016, the federal government recorded 71 confirmed entanglements off the West Coast of the United States, the highest annual total since the federal government began keeping records in 1982.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife implemented regulations to minimize the number of threatened and endangered blue whales, humpback whales, and leatherback sea turtles being entangled in commercial Dungeness crab gear after several years of record-breaking numbers of entanglements recorded off the coast of California.

Such regulations do not completely remove the risk of entanglement as they depend on near-constant data collection and analysis to inform the implementation of possible risk-reduction measures. Additionally, they can only prompt management steps after entanglements have occurred. Closures, such as delaying the start of the season or ending it early, are the main means of risk reduction.

Assembly Bill 534, sponsored by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) in partnership with Social Compassion in Legislation and the Center for Biological Diversity, contends that crabbers use outdated trapping gear that threatens marine life unnecessarily.

In 2017, The Center for Biological Diversity sued the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for violating the Endangered Species Act by failing to prevent commercial Dungeness crab gear from entangling, damaging, and killing humpback whales, blue whales, and sea turtles.

The case was settled the following year, and the Risk Assessment Mitigation Program (RAMP) was developed, which looks at data and analyzes where/when entanglement risks are higher to determine when Dungeness crab fishing seasons begin and end.

Currently, crabbers use circular steel traps that are submerged in the water. Fishermen can retrieve their traps by pulling lines marked by floats on the sea’s surface. Under the proposed law, crabbers will use ropeless gear with wireless technology to summon the trap back to the surface.

These techniques and technologies will spare marine life of painful injuries or lingering deaths when ropes wrap through their mouths or around their tails and flippers, cutting into their flesh and bones, and impairing their ability to feed or swim. The stress suffered from an entanglement can also prevent a whale and other sea life from reproducing.

SB 30, SB 31 and SB 32: Carbon-neutral buildings

SB 30, 31, and 32, the “Building Decarbonization Package,” which consists of three senate bills, each with its own decarbonization targets. The phrases “decarbonization” and “carbon neutrality” apply to the process of eliminating carbon dioxide from air pollution with the eventual target of zero CO2 emissions.

SB 30, also known as the State Buildings and Assets Decarbonization Act of 2021, will mandate that by 2035, all state buildings be carbon neutral. Furthermore, the bill will mandate the state to withdraw from non-zero-emission projects, both residential and non-residential, by 2023. The bill also mandates that, beginning next year, all newly designed and built buildings must be zero emission.

SB 31 directs the California Energy Commission and the Public Utilities Commission to create new building decarbonization systems. The bill would authorize the Energy Commission to allocate funding for projects that emphasize decarbonization technologies in commercial and residential buildings.

SB 32, also known as the Decarbonization Act of 2021, will make it mandatory for all California jurisdictions to include building decarbonization goals in their General Plans that are consistent with state goals.

SB 47 Funds to clean up orphaned oil wells

Idle wells may pose a risk to public health and to groundwater and plugging costs for California’s oil and gas wells could ultimately reach billions of dollars.

An active or idle well can potentially become an orphan well when deserted by a financially insolvent operator. The state may eventually be responsible for plugging and decommissioning these wells. With approximately 107,000 active and idle wells, California is the fourth largest producer of crude oil and the fifteenth largest producer of natural gas in the United States. The issue of ensuring that resources exist to properly plug and decommission every well is critical for the state.

More than 5,500 oil and gas wells are orphaned and are highly likely to become orphaned, according to the California Council of Science Technology. According to the study, plugging and abandoning only these old wells would cost $550 million. Almost 70,000 other wells that are currently idle or nominally involved would need to be plugged at some point in the future.

 This bill would increase the amount of money that state oil regulators will spend on cleaning up these old, often leaky wells by a factor of ten beginning in 2022.

According to state senator Monique Limón, the bill would be revised to clarify that this cleanup money will only come from the industry, the current version of the bill indicates that money will be taken from the General Fund.

AB 1397 Quotas for lithium batteries

In recent years, the global market for lithium has exploded. For example, lithium is used in 90% of large-scale battery storage capacity, according to the US Energy Information Administration, and the capacity of those systems increased nearly 15-fold between 2010 and 2018. According to the United States Geological Survey, the only lithium generated in the United States is from a brine activity in Nevada.

Assemblymember  Garcia has been a strong advocate for the development of a lithium industry in the Salton Sea region. Last year, he was successful in forming a commission to investigate the possibility of doing just that.

Now, he’s introduced the “California Lithium Economy Act,” which aims to build a demand by mandating that 35 percent of lithium in state-purchased electric vehicle batteries be manufactured in California by 2035.

AB 525 Offshore Wind Power

Assembly Bill 525, sponsored by Assemblyman David Chiu, will encourage the creation of offshore wind farms in order to fulfill the targets of SB 100, also known as the 100 Percent Clean Energy Act of 2018, which calls for sustainable and zero-carbon energy sources to provide 100 percent of retail electricity sales to California end-use customers and 100 percent of electricity procured to service all statewide customers by 2025

AB 525 will set clear targets for offshore wind energy output, such as 3 GW by 2030 and 10 GW by 2040. If the bill is approved, an offshore wind farm strategic plan must be submitted by June 2022.

AB 1395 Clarifying carbon-neutrality targets

The bill will require the state board to collaborate with related state agencies to create an implementation and accounting system that monitors progress toward carbon neutrality.

This bill will make it the state’s policy to reach carbon neutrality as soon as possible, but no later than 2045, and to achieve and sustain net negative greenhouse gas emissions after that. The proposed law does not provide definitions to clarify carbon accounting issues as written, but it does guide the California Air Resources Board to begin working on it.

AB 1088 Changing how power is purchased

Some larger utilities are worried about their declining buying power as a result of the growth of local neighborhood option aggregators and rooftop solar generation. This bill will enable a discussion about whether it makes sense for the state to take over some of the procurement authority.

This bill, introduced by Assemblymember Chad Mayes, I-Rancho Mirage, would create a “California Procurement Authority” to streamline electricity procurement. It will encourage large investor-owned utilities to start outsourcing their procurement to this government agency.

SB 67 Speeding up clean-energy goals

SB 67 directs state regulators to develop a framework for monitoring the provision and use of renewable electricity to ensure transparency, and it aims to achieve 100 percent clean-sourced electricity earlier than the current 2045 deadline.

Although the bill does not yet specify a new deadline, it does advocate for an earlier deadline and will almost certainly be amended further.

A 24/7 Renewable Energy Standard will compel utilities to provide a growing share of clean electricity at periods of the day and seasons when it is generally produced in relatively smaller amounts. Currently, the reliance on fossil fuel power plants grows at night and at other difficult-to-serve periods.

AB 416 Restricting purchases of rainforest-sourced products

The “California Deforestation-Free Procurement Act,” similar to bills that failed in 2019 and 2020, will prohibit the state from purchasing goods that lead to the destruction of boreal forests or rainforests, such as some wood used by contractors.

If passed AB 416 will mandate that all state contracts in California involving goods that endanger tropical and primary boreal forests, such as palm oil, soy, livestock, rubber, paper/pulp, and timber, follow a No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation policy, and show that their activities in vulnerable tropical and boreal areas do not result in forest loss or depletion, or in violations of indigenous peoples’ rights.

Tropical forests occupy only 7% of the Earth’s surface but are home to nearly half of all animals. Every year, an estimated 18 million acres of forest are lost, equivalent to one-fifth the size of California, owing largely to the expansion of agribusiness plantations. Tropical deforestation and associated land-use changes account for about a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions and are a major contributor to climate change.