SB 350 Statement at Assembly Natural Resources Committee Hearing

Monday, July 13, 2015

As prepared for delivery:

Mr. Chair and members,

In California, we understand the threat of climate change. We understand the costs of air pollution and other environmental hazards, because we deal with some of the worst air quality in the nation.

We understand that we have a responsibility to act – not only for the sake of our planet and future generations, but for the health of our communities today, and the health of our economy tomorrow.

This legislature has passed aggressive measures to rein in both our greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of harmful air pollution, and three consecutive Governors, Republican and Democrat alike, have signed them into law.

And when opponents of these efforts tried to undo our progress at the ballot box, voters overhwlemingly upheld our laws.

Now, as world leaders gather in Paris this year to negotiate a global climate accord to limit the warming of the planet, they will be looking to the California example.

Make no mistake about it.

We have accomplished an incredibly important feat – we have demonstrated to the world that we can have a strong, competitive global economy and also reduce our emissions.

We have done so while also taking steps to ensure that those most disproportionately impacted by climate change – from drought, extreme heat, and toxic air pollution that causes asthma, heart disease and a range of other health consequences – are prioritized in our policies and investments.

These policies are delivering results.

Whether it’s solar panel installations on low-income homes in East LA, Sacramento, or Fresno; or new electric vehicles for working-class families in places like Modesto and Stockton;

Thanks to our commitments and investments, Californians are breathing cleaner air and saving thousands of dollars each year on their gas and utility bills.

But we cannot afford to stop now. Despite our successes, there is much work still to be done.

That’s why I introduced SB 350.

California is often at the vanguard of social justice. We are often at the forefront of economic innovation.

And the challenge of climate change requires that we continue to press forward relentlessly and intelligently.

The goals set forth in SB 350 are ambitious, and they will test our ingenuity and resolve, but we can, and must, accomplish them.

We already have a successful framework in place to do so.

We have the know-how, we have the means, and we have broad public supports – the only remaining question is: do we have the will and the courage to act?

Now, as they have in the past, the usual suspects have sought to mislead, confuse, and intimidate policymakers and the public at large to prevent or delay action.

I want to be clear about this, because we’re going to hear more of the same this afternoon. You will hear a carefully calculated blend of factual inaccuracies, logical fallacies, errors of omission and scare tactics.

I want to specifically address several of the claims made in committee last week.

Several opposing witnesses made the claim that SB 350 gives ARB “massive,” “unchecked,” and even “unlimited” new authority. This is simply not true

According to this committee’s analysis, and I quote: “the bill does not change ARB's regulatory authority.”

The analysis continues: “This bill establishes a target that will require ARB to push harder, but still within the boundaries of existing law.

“ARB's authority is further fettered by: the California Environmental Quality Act, annual review and approval of its budget by the Legislature, Senate confirmation of its board members;

and, ultimately, judicial review. administrative procedures governing adoption of regulations."

Similarly, opponents claim that this measure will require ARB to ban or ration fuel. This is nonsense. Again, from this committee’s analysis, and I quote:

“The proposition that achieving a 50% petroleum reduction will require banning or rationing petroleum is a red herring.”

Many of the arguments advanced against this bill are based entirely on false premises meant to distract, or to stir irrational and unwarranted fear.

Opponents want you to believe that California will not be able to achieve these goals.

They want you to believe that we will not be able to compete as an economy if we implement these goals.

They want you to believe there will be massive layoffs and economic disruptions.

What you will not hear from our opponents is an acknowledgment of the tremendous costs of doing nothing.

These are real, quantifiable costs that are alreadt taking their toll on our communities and our economy, and that will only grow in severity the longer we wait to act.

This is not conjecture. This is the overwhelming consensus of the world’s scientific community.

To ignore this reality is to invite disaster.

California has a unique opportunity at hand, and we must seize it. Our state is home to the world’s eighth largest economy, and the actions we take here to address climate change are being closely watched around the world.

I urge your “aye” vote.