California Legislature ends 2021-22 session by passing key bills to address climate change

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As heat wave surges across state, lawmakers take action to mitigate future global warming

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In the waning hours of the 2021-22 legislative session Wednesday night into Thursday morning, California lawmakers passed several hotly debated bills that could mitigate climate change and protect public health. 

This significant new legislation includes setting a goal for 90% of the state’s electricity to come from clean sources by 2035; prohibiting new oil drilling within 3,200 feet of the places where Californians live, work, eat, shop, worship and go to school; and allocating major investments in clean cars, trucks, buses and clean energy in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $50+ billion climate budget. 

An effort to set more stringent targets for reducing global warming pollution passed the state Senate but failed to pass the Assembly. 

Another bill puts taxpayers and utility ratepayers on the hook for extending the operating life of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, which was supposed to close in 2025. If Gov. Newsom signs that bill, Diablo Canyon will be exempt from many environmental requirements and Californians will soon see a new fee on their utility bills.

Gov. Newsom had called on state legislators to go big on climate action after the federal government passed the Inflation Reduction Act. 

In response, Environment California State Director Laura Deehan released the following statement: 

“California is lighting the way to a bright future powered by renewable energy, including wind, solar, and battery storage. We know we will see even hotter heat waves, more severe droughts, and fiercer wildfires if we don’t act on climate. The Legislature took significant steps today to change that trajectory for the better. 

“We applaud our lawmakers for accelerating our path to 100% clean electricity, protecting communities from pollution from oil drilling, and making a major investment in clean cars, trucks and buses. We look forward to Governor Newsom signing these bills that answer his call to action.

“On the whole, this session was a huge win for our environment and public health. However, we’re disappointed that the Legislature voted to spend your and my taxpayer and ratepayer funds to prolong the life of the aging Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. We have no need for this potentially dangerous power source given the unstoppable momentum toward a state running on 100% clean, safe and renewable power — momentum that will only grow given other bills that passed.”