Friday, October 9, 2015

Red-Letter Day for California Adaptation Planning: SB 379 is Law (and Some Other Good Legislation, Too)

Yesterday (Oct. 8, 2015) California's Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 379, requiring cities and counties to include planning for climate change impacts in their general plans starting in 2017.
SB 379 was proposed by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson of the 19th Senate District (including all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County).

The title of the bill reads like a strange little haiku:
Land use: general plan: 
safety element.
Last night I attended a sea level rise planning discussion (part of the Here. Now. Us. project) in Marin County, a county where you could say the default political persuasion was left of "Hippie," and found myself sitting next to not one but TWO climate change denialists. These people spent every minute of airtime they were allowed expressing concern that people are concerned about climate change (because of its illegitimate science, it is too expensive, we are already doing enough to respond to flooding, etc.). So I think this bill takes a bold stride forward. It explicitly uses the words "climate change" and "climate adaptation" -- phrases that provoked loud scoffs from the vocal duo I met last night. Let me offer the strangely titled-with-a-haiku SB 379 my own haiku in thanks:
With a clear task list
you ask us for foresight so
our children are safer.
The Governor also signed two other bills by the same senator yesterday, both concerning oil spill protections: SB 295 Pipeline safety: inspections  and SB 414 Oil spill response.

These other two good bills were also signed over the last two days, upping the ante on the state's GHG reduction goals and inaugurating representation of vulnerable populations on the board that oversees the state's main GHG reduction measures:
So now in the article of California's Health and Safety Code that deals with the make-up of the Air Resources Board, Section 39510 (e) reads:
"The Senate Committee on Rules and the Speaker of the Assembly shall each appoint one member to the state board who shall be a person who works directly with communities in the state that are most significantly burdened by, and vulnerable to, high levels of pollution, including, but not limited to, communities with diverse racial and ethnic populations and communities with low-income populations."
That is indeed another step in the right direction. Part of my 2009 Master's thesis was devoted to the "lessons learned" from the failed Environmental Justice Advisory Committee (EJAC) mandated by AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. That committee's participation in the initial roll-out of AB 32 resulted (as of 2009) in a lot of anger on both the EJAC and the ARB. A lot of the roll-out process was already determined by the time the EJAC was formed, setting the committee up for failure. Having actual front-line community representation on the ARB should improve trust, and hopefully the health outcomes of our state's most vulnerable populations.

Other legislation of note signed this week:
Also noteworthy in state adaptation news-- today the California Natural Resources Agency released the 199-page draft document "Safeguarding California: Implementation Action Plans" for which it is holding public comment sessions in Oakland, Sacramento, and Los Angeles.

Mon. Oct. 12: Bay Area Listening Session on Climate Adaptation
6-8 PM, MetroCenter Auditorium, 101 Eighth Street, Oakland (right above the Lake Merritt BART Station). 

Mon. Oct. 26: Sacramento Public Workshop on Safeguarding California Implementation Plans
10 AM- 12 PM, Rosenfeld Hearing Room, California Energy Commission, 1516 9th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

Tues. Oct. 27: Los Angeles Public Workshop on Safeguarding California Implementation Plans
1:30 - 3:30 PM, Carmel Room, Junipero Serra Building, 320 W. 4th Street,, Los Angeles, CA 90013

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