Under the banner of a so-called California Green New Deal, liberal state lawmakers on Monday unveiled sweeping new goals to reduce homelessness, cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve living standards in poor communities within 10 years.
Their bill does not yet include any specifics about how they want the state to reach those goals or how they’d pay for the mandate.
Among other things, the plan aims to hasten the state’s compliance with targets that are already in place under California law to wean the state off of fossil fuels.
Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, said his legislation will grow to become more meaningful as it moves through the Legislature. He expects it to include concrete goals that would require Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature.
Bonta called his proposed California Green New Deal “a big, ambitious bill” that would “establish a framework of firm principles and goals.”
The name of the plan is modeled after a national Green New Deal bill proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York.
Cortez’s plan includes a federal jobs guarantee, universal access to clean water and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Bonta said his proposal adopts a more California-centered focus.
“Same name, same pillars addressing climate change as we promote equity, but this is California’s Green New Deal, so it’s different,” Bonta said.
A 2018 United Nations report warned of “irreversible changes” if the world doesn’t cut carbon pollution by 45 percent by 2030 from 2010 levels.
Nine Assembly Democrats, including Kevin McCarty of Sacramento, joined Bonta at a news conference Monday to promote the plan. Details surrounding the cost and revenue source are still being ironed out, though Bonta acknowledged the plan will be “expensive but necessary.”
“We can’t afford not to pay for it,” Bonta said. “There’s no bigger threat to our planet, people, existence, state, all the residents of California than climate change. It is existential. When the federal government decides to go to war, sometimes endless war, we don’t ask how it’s being paid for. There’s many things we do we don’t ask how it’s going to be paid for. The money shows up. It turns up. When we’re trying to save our planet, you would think there would be a political will to make the investment.”
Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, leader of the Assembly Republican caucus, chastised Democrats for not providing more information.
“It’s telling that Democrats refuse to say how much this plan will cost or where they’ll get the money,” Waldron said. “If their plan is to reduce emissions by making California so unaffordable that only Tesla drivers are able to stay here, they’re certainly on the right track.”
In September 2018, former Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law to phase out fossil fuels and require all retail electricity to be carbon-free by 2045.
The law, Senate Bill 100, requires 60 percent of California’s electricity portfolio to come from renewable energy sources by 2030. Bonta wants to expedite the process and transition the state off of fossil fuels entirely by 2030.
“SB 100 has a 2045 deadline, and we think that’s not fast enough,” Bonta said. “That’s one of the things we’re discussing. That’s not in the bill yet, but that’s the type of thing that we’re discussing that you might see.”
He and his colleagues did not have specifics on how the state would support communities of color, build more housing and cut homelessness. Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, who leads his chamber’s labor committee, said the group’s key objective is to make climate change the state’s top priority in 2020.
“If we don’t get this right, everything else we’re working on falls by the wayside,” Kalra said.
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