Here Are All the Climate and Environment Bills That California Just Passed

At midnight Thursday, California lawmakers put their pencils down.

The legislative session had come to a close in Sacramento, and elected officials had approved a whole bunch of climate change, energy and environment bills — and rejected others. Here’s a brief roundup of some of the highest-profile legislation.

Opinion: Recess is Over, Californians Demand Climate Action from State Legislators

In the final week of what became the hottest month in history, it was reported that California is not on track to reach our 2030 climate goals to reduce emissions to 48% below 1990 levels. As we experience more extreme heat, droughts, water scarcity, and intense wildfires, California’s role as a climate leader for the nation and world is called into question.

California Lawmakers Wage Delta Water War With Newsom

Amping up their concerns as a deadline looms, key California legislators today escalated their pushback on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s efforts to streamline the Delta water tunnel and other infrastructure projects. The stalemate could become a critical lever while lawmakers haggle with Newsom over the 2023-2024 budget leading up to his June 27 deadline for approving the spending plan.

Opinion: California Water Rights at Risk as Three Legislative Proposals Advance

When California imposed its first-ever regulation on the extraction of water from underground aquifers in 2014, it gave environmental groups a landmark victory in their decades-long effort to overhaul water use laws.

It was also a political setback for farmers, who are California’s major water users and have depended on wells to irrigate their crops as increasingly frequent droughts reduce surface water in rivers and reservoirs.

A Drought Conversation with California’s Natural Resources Secretary

Days before the federal government shied-away from telling Western states how to curtail consumption of the drought-stressed Colorado River, Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a plan to speed-up projects that would help California use less of it.

To be clear: California hasn’t yet taken any big cuts from its Colorado River allocation, despite being its largest user. But, as pressure mounts, it might, writes Ian James of the Los Angeles Times. Newsom’s plan doesn’t mention the Colorado River directly, but it’s conceivable this is an effort to prepare California for that reality – or at least prove the state is doing something.

Opinion: California — Where Extreme Drought and ‘Megaflood’ Potential Collide

California’s water future is dire indeed — there’s not only the likelihood of too little, but also the possibility of way too much.

The potential for broad, devastating effects of climate change have become familiar over the years. In recent times, the prospect of actually running out of water has gone from the abstract to a realistic scenario in some regions of California and the Southwest.

Newsom’s ‘Water Supply Strategy’ Geared to Combat Drought, Climate Change

The Golden State is doing more than just praying for rain amidst the historic drought that is battering the state and the western United States.

Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a plan that would increase California’s water supply and combat the extreme weather patterns caused by climate change. The initiative, its scope captured in the 19-page “California’s Water Supply Strategy, Adapting to a Hotter, Drier Future” document released by Newsom’s administration, will invest $8 billion in water recycling, storage, and desalination.

Governor’s Resilience Strategy Promotes Needed Investments in Water Reliability

Aug. 11, 2022 – Sandra L. Kerl, general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority, issued the following statement in response to the water supply strategy released today by Gov. Newsom.

“Gov. Newsom has shown remarkable leadership dealing with extreme drought conditions, and his new strategy to improve California’s water resilience is another important step to protect the state’s economy and quality of life. The governor’s approach aligns closely with the Water Authority’s 30-year strategy that combines new supplies, infrastructure upgrades and conservation.

“While conservation has become a way of life in San Diego County, it’s clear that we cannot conserve our way out of the more frequent severe droughts afflicting the arid West. Both here and across the state, we must continue making strategic investments in supply reliability. We support state efforts to promote long-term thinking and the development of infrastructure to increase our capacity for water storage, water production, and water distribution. Those efforts are already well underway in the San Diego region, where our member agencies are developing repurification plants that extend our supplies by treating wastewater to drinking water standards.

“We applaud Gov. Newsom and the state for continued coordination and consideration of the unique hydrology of California’s different communities as they address long-term water supplies and the aridification of the West. We also welcome former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to the governor’s water leadership team. His experience and know-how will be critical to rapidly deploying solutions that are so urgently needed statewide and securing federal funds for that work.

“As we collectively work to improve California’s water supply, state and federal agencies have an opportunity and a responsibility to help pay for needed upgrades to ensure that safe and reliable water supplies are available and affordable for every Californian.”

— Sandra L. Kerl, General Manager, San Diego County Water Authority

California Unveils Water Strategy, Planning for Greater Scarcity

California Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a new water strategy on Thursday that plans for a future with 10% less water and shifts the emphasis from conservation to capturing more water that otherwise flows out to sea.

Climate change has contributed to more severe drought but has also set the stage for more intense flooding when rain does fall, as was demonstrated last week in California’s Death Valley, one of the hottest, driest parts of the United States.

Newsom: Desalination Project Should be Approved — “We Need More Damn Tools in the Toolkit”

Citing California’s worsening drought conditions, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday made a powerful new push for a controversial $1.4 billion desalination plant on the state’s coastline.

The proposed oceanfront facility in Huntington Beach has been under debate for more than 20 years, and its fate could set a course for other desalination plants on the state’s coast. The California Coastal Commission is scheduled to take a final vote on the project in two weeks.

“We need more tools in the damn tool kit,” Newsom said during a meeting with the Bay Area News Group editorial board when asked about the project. “We are as dumb as we want to be. What more evidence do you need that you need to have more tools in the tool kit than what we’ve experienced? Seven out of the last 10 years have been severe drought.”