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Newsom hands lawmakers urgent climate agenda weeks before session ends

Lawmakers believe they will be able to get it done in the next two weeks.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With just a few weeks left of the legislative session, Governor Gavin Newsom sent lawmakers his list of climate actions he wants them to take.

Some of these actions, lawmakers have already attempted to do for years. However, Newsom going to the legislature and saying he wants something done is a rare occurrence, as one expert put it. Newsom is known exactly for the opposite, not telling the legislature what to do. 

This is the list of what the governor asked the legislature to "urgently" prioritize. 

  • Achieving carbon neutrality by 2045
  • Ramping up the 2030 climate ambition
  • Protecting communities from the harmful impacts of the oil industry
    • Establishes a setback distance of 3,200 feet between any new oil well and homes, schools, or parks.
    • Ensures comprehensive pollution controls for existing oil wells within 3,200 feet of these facilities.
  • Establishing pathway toward state’s clean energy future
    • Creates clean electricity targets of 90% by 2035 and 95% by 2040 with the intent of advancing the state's trajectory to the existing 100% clean electricity retail sales by 2045 goal.
  • Advancing natural and engineered technologies to remove carbon pollution

Several of these bills have been introduced before.

“I have a bill, Assembly Bill 1395, that is sitting on the Senate floor right now that addresses some of the issues that he's signaled, you know, to codify California's goal to reach carbon neutrality by or before 2045,” Democratic Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi said

One of the bills establishes a distance of at least 3,200 feet between any new oil well from schools, homes or parks. Muratsuchi has also sponsored a bill in the past that would require setbacks. 

"It's not deja vu as much as an affirmation that these are priorities for the state of California," he said. 

The assemblymember welcomes the urgency, and says it is better late than never. 

“He (Newsom) was backing ideas that had already failed and died without his support earlier in the legislative session," UC San Diego Political Science Dean Thad Kousser said. "Gavin Newsom has been pointing a lot of his policy proposals towards the outside world and towards headlines, but spending less time working hand-in-hand with legislators on moving his agenda than other recent California governor's.”

A reporter asked Newsom on Thursday why he would jump in at the end of session. To which, Newsom said, if not now, when? 

“We have to recognize the world we're living in, and the acuity of the challenge," Newsom said. "And so, I'm hoping we can dust off those bills to your question.”

Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher has thoughts on the proposal that are good. 

“I'll start with what I actually like about the plan," Gallagher said, "And that is the investments in carbon capture. We have great technology that's coming online, it will literally allow us to like take carbon out of the atmosphere.”

Gallagher does not, however, like the increased timelines. 

“People are already on a track to meet our current timelines, which are actually very ambitious," Gallagher said. "So the question is, why would you want to fast track those increased costs on everyone, when we're already paying the highest electricity costs in the nation. We're already paying the highest gas costs in the nation, as we know."

Assemblymember Muratsuchi said he’s confident the legislature can get all of this done in the next two weeks.

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