Remarks by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León at a Press Conference on SB 350

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Remarks by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León as prepared for delivery:

Thank you for coming.

From day one, the people of California, the people who sent us here, have demanded an urgent and ambitious response to an unprecedented threat to our economy and our environment.

For the sake of future generations of Californians — and with the overwhelming support of the people — including national leaders, Nobel Prize winners and ultimately nearly every major stakeholder — even the President and the Pope — we reached for something grand and something doable while the world prepared to once again take its cues from California.

But in the end — with two days left — we could not cut through the multi-million-dollar smokescreen created by a single special-interest with a singular motive and a bottomless war chest.

We raced for the Triple Crown but, with the clock ticking, the stakes are way too high to allow the perfect to be the enemy of the great.  And so we have together agreed to amend SB 350 to remove the petroleum section and move forward with the other two sections — which, by any standard, are in and of themselves landmark achievements. 

Make no mistake: our resolve has not wavered one iota.

SB 350 will still represent historic clean-air standards, fuel significant clean-energy job creation and extend California’s global leadership in the fight to meet the climate challenge.  And we are never going to take our foot off the gas in our efforts to address the impacts of petroleum, the leading cause of greenhouse emissions.

And the fact that, despite overwhelming scientific opinion and statewide public support, we still weren’t able to overcome the silly-season scare tactics of an outside industry which has repeatedly opposed environmental progress and energy innovation — means that there’s a temporary disconnect in our politics which needs to be overcome.

Big Oil might be on the right side of their shareholder reports, but we’re on the right side of history.  And ultimately California is going to demand that an industry which represents most of the problem has an economic and moral duty to be part of the solution.  

I want to thank the diverse and unprecedented coalition of support who have come together to fight for clean air and clean jobs — including labor, business, building trades, environmental groups, underserved community groups, utilities, their consumers and so many others.  We moved mountains to get to this point — and we have more work left to do.

In the end, when SB 350 passes, California’s best-in-the-nation air standards will be tougher, our economy stronger and our future brighter. 

With that, I’m pleased to introduce Speaker Atkins.