Environment California’s 2023 Program Priorities

Environment California outlines our program agenda for the 2023 legislative year, as we work to go solar, go big on offshore wind, stand up to polluters, protect our ocean, forests, incredible wildlife and more.

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Environment California Program Agenda for 2023

California is world-renowned for the beauty of our coastline, our majestic forests and breathtaking mountain and desert scenery. The innovations of our residents shape the global culture. As the most populous state in the country and now the fourth largest economy in the world, what we do here matters. The actions we take can lead the nation and the world towards a 100 percent clean, renewable energy future at a speed that staves off the worst impacts of global warming and protects our most treasured places and the wildlife that call California home. 

Investments by both Congress and in the California climate budget last year can save the state billions in avoided costs in the future. This year California’s challenge will be to keep investing in that future, while also finding additional cost-effective ways to protect the environment.

Environment California senior staff, Steve Blackledge, Emily Rusch, Laura Deehan and Dan Jacobson at the California state capitolPhoto by AJ Havrilla | Used by permission

100% Renewable Energy

For decades, we have had the power to harness clean, abundant energy from the sun and the wind. In 2023, it can be done more efficiently and cheaply than ever before. Yet we’re still producing, consuming and wasting energy in ways that do lasting damage to our environment and our health. We can have healthier communities right now, and a livable future for generations to come — but to get there, we need to rapidly transform the way we produce and consume energy.

Clean Energy advocate, Steven King speaks to supporters in Los Angeles rallying to keep solar growing.Photo by Dave Rosenfeld | Used by permission

Clean Energy Now: We support reaching 100% clean energy by 2030. Last year California set benchmarks to reach at least 90% clean electricity by 2035, and the state has to add 6-7 gigawatts of clean electricity generation capacity per year to be on track for that. We’ll need even more clean energy to get there faster. We support policies to incentivize more solar and storage, going big on offshore wind and transformative energy conservation and efficiency measures to meet these goals. We’ll be working in 2023 to advance solutions so that California can keep the lights on and build up the capacity to power our lives fully with clean, renewable energy.

Go Solar California: As one of the sunniest places in the world, we could technically meet all of our state’s energy needs with solar paired with storage. We strongly support solar incentive programs to take advantage of the built environment, and catch more sunshine with solar and storage on homes, businesses, schools, warehouses, superstores and other rooftops throughout the state.

Beyond rooftops, California has tremendous solar power potential over parking lots, along highways, across canals and other critical infrastructure throughout California to build a more resilient clean energy grid. This has the potential to not only produce clean energy when the state needs it most, but also save the state money, during a critical time. 

Conservation and Efficiency: ‘The cleanest energy’ is the energy we don’t use. Reducing energy use is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to reduce dependence on dirty, outdated energy sources. In 2023, we’ll promote greater adoption of energy saving technologies like smart thermostats and smart lighting in both residential and commercial settings, and will work to expand and promote demand response programs to incentivize energy conservation especially when demand is high.

Go Big on Offshore Wind: We will work to make sure the CEC stays on track for its statewide goal of at least 25 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2045, and ensure that we do so while protecting our vibrant marine ecology. We also support investing in electricity grid and port updates so we can go big on offshore wind.

A Million Solar Batteries: Catching the sun on existing rooftops across the state is critical to meet greenhouse gas reduction goals. We’ve built over a million solar roofs, now we need to build a more resilient electricity grid with a million solar batteries that can save that solar for later. We support innovative ways to deploy more battery storage like repurposing used electric vehicle batteries at the end of their lives to store more clean, solar energy.

Electric Buildings: Our buildings no longer have to pollute the air and contribute to climate change. We support energy efficiency measures along with electrifying home heating, cooling, hot water and cooking, so that the sun and the wind powers our buildings, rather than fossil fuels.

Laura Deehan, State Director speaks to reporters at a Climate rally in Sacramento, August 2022Photo by Ricky Mackey | Used by permission

Clean Air and Clean Transportation

Transportation is the largest source of air pollution and greenhouse gasses in California. We need to transform our communities to make walking and biking safer, electrify our cars, buses and trucks and improve charging for electric vehicles. We will work with the Charge Ahead California coalition to ensure the state continues to Invest in Clean Air

Public Transit and Safer Streets: We are working to double the amount of trips taken on public transit in the next ten years by promoting robust, clean powered transit systems and smart growth policies. We support more bike lanes and pedestrian walkways to get more people out of their cars and moving from A to B with people powered energy. 

A Million E-Bikes: E-Bikes hold the promise of clean transportation for millions of Californians while reducing congestion and air pollution. We aim to get the state to set an ambitious goal of  a million e-bikes and putting in place incentive programs to make electric bicycles accessible for all Californians.

A Million Charging Stations: We support increased investment now in building a statewide electric vehicle charging station network so that all Californians can recharge where they live, work and play and so that buses, trucks and off road vehicles have adequate charging support.

Clean Cars For All and other Clean Mobility programs: The dirtiest cars in the state can cause the biggest problems when it comes to pollution. We will work to take the dirtiest cars off the road by expanding successful local programs like Clean Cars 4 All to be a successful statewide program, allowing more people to replace their polluting clunker with a clean, electric vehicle, e-bike or public transit pass. 

GoEV City: We will work to advance ambitious clean transportation plans at the local level in communities, and make sure the new federal and state funds for EV infrastructure are rapidly deployed across the state, while also streamlining EV permitting and accelerating a transition to a zero- carbon transportation future.

Conservation Program Associate Ben Grundy speaks to Dan Jacobson and elected leaders at the La Jolla Marine Protection Area celebration event, right: Kayaking through the Matlahuayl State Marine ReservePhoto by Cristian Padilla | Used by permission

More Nature 

Every minute, America is losing two football fields worth of forest, meadow, grassland, desert, beachfront, riverside or wetland. California is a biodiversity hotspot, but in just the last 20 years, California has lost more than 1 million acres of natural land. Right now, over 600 native California species are at risk of extinction. Our ocean and rivers are threatened by oil spills to plastic pollution. The continuous loss of nature diminishes not only the richness of our natural world, but also of our own lives and our children’s future. We will work for more nature in the following ways:

30 by 30: We support a pathway that will truly protect 30% of our land, ocean and waterways by 2030 and sustainably manage 100% of our state’s natural environments. We will work to ensure that California’s commitment to conservation results in tangible protections and benefits for our rich ecosystems.

Marine Protected Areas:  While approximately 16% of Callfornia’s coastal waters are conserved, only 9% have the level of protection scientists say is needed to defend against biodiversity loss and climate impacts. This year, California will undergo a ten year review of the state’s Marine Protected Areas, and we will work to strengthen and expand California’s network of marine protected areas as well as establish new national marine sanctuaries, like the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. 

Wildlife Over Waste: We support efforts to reduce the deluge of single use plastics that harm our wildlife, perpetuate fossil fuel dependence and create needless waste. Last year, California took major action by passing the Plastic Pollution Producer Responsibility Act, which will reduce plastic in everything we consume, and ensure the polluters are footing the bill. While this law represents a huge step forward, we’re not done yet. We have more work to do to reduce wasteful use of plastic- from online shopping to the re-emergence of plastic bags.

No Offshore Drilling: We support an end to offshore oil drilling. The disastrous Orange County oil spill demonstrates that when we drill, we spill. We must work to end drilling offshore as fast as possible and ensure the current rigs are decommissioned safely and that polluters foot the bill. 

Climate Forests Campaign: Our forests, both in California and across the globe, provide habitat for critical species and help us fight climate change. We support protecting mature forests and trees from logging, degradation and deforestation. 

Environment California volunteers and coalition partners at the California Native Plant Society raise visibility about bees at the California CapitolPhoto by Ricky Mackey | Used by permission

Protect Wildlife

California’s wildlife is at risk. California has identified 1,153 fish and wildlife species that are vulnerable to becoming threatened or endangered, and the state needs dedicated funding to implement plans to effectively protect these critters. We support federal efforts to pass the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act which would provide more than $59 million for California to invest in on-the-ground conservation projects.

Save the Bees: Bees are dying off at an unsustainable rate, with serious consequences for our natural world. Nearly 1 in 4 native bee species are at risk of going extinct and honeybee colonies are collapsing. Bees play a vital role as pollinators, providing us with many of the delicious fruits and vegetables we enjoy everyday. Losing them would have a devastating ripple effect across all ecosystems. That’s why we’re working to expand bee habitats and stop the use of bee-killing pesticides

Save the Monarch: The Western Monarch butterfly population has plummeted in recent years. We support the immediate declaration of the Monarch as an endangered species and an action plan to restore their habitat and food source, and eliminate threats like butterfly-killing pesticides.

Save the Otter: The climate is changing as we speak. Sea otters play a crucial role in maintaining healthy ecosystems which helps reduce the impacts of climate change. We must defend the protected status of California’s Southern sea otter and support the expansion of marine protections to allow for even greater population recovery.

Reconnecting Nature: Human development has fragmented key habitats and increased animal motorist collisions. We support investments in more wildlife corridors like the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, which broke ground this year, to restore migratory paths and reduce this threat. 

Clean Water, Healthy Communities

Catch the Rain: As drought becomes more severe and more of California’s precipitation comes in heavy deluges a few days a year, we need to take advantage of new federal funds to update cities with green stormwater infrastructure to prevent pollution from run-off, catch more rainwater, prevent sewage overflows and restore our water table.

Get the Lead Out: Lead is a potent neurotoxin that affects how our children develop, learn, and behave. Yet, across the country thousands of tests are showing lead in the drinking water at schools, pre-schools, and/or child care centers. Environment California supports policies to get lead out of all drinking water, by testing for lead, replacing lead bearing parts in the water system and filtering water first.

Ban Fracking: We support a ban on fracking and cyclic steam injection. We also support implementing public health buffer zones around current fossil fuel facilities as soon as possible to protect people living near oil drilling operations immediately. 

Polluters Pay: For too long polluters have left a toxic trail in their wake and profited from extraction and pollution of our state’s resources. We support state and federal programs that ensure polluters pay to clean up toxic sites that threaten our air, water and soil.

Topics
Authors

Laura Deehan

State Director, Environment California

Laura directs Environment California's work to tackle global warming, protect the ocean and fight for clean air, clean water, open spaces and a livable planet. Laura stepped into the State Director role in January, 2021 and has been on staff for over twenty years. She has led campaigns to make sure California goes big on offshore wind and to get lead out of school drinking water. As the Environment California Field Director, she worked to get California to go solar, ban single use plastic grocery bags and get on track for 100% clean energy. Laura lives with her family in Richmond, California where she enjoys hiking, yoga and baking.

Dan Jacobson

Senior Advisor, Environment California

Dan provides campaign strategy and policy guidance for Environment California's program and organizational plans. Prior to his current role, he worked as the state director of Environment California and the organizing director of Florida PIRG, among other roles. The Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies (CEERT) named Dan a Clean Power Champion in 2019, and Capitol Weekly named him one of the “Top 100 Lobbyists” in California in 2008. Dan's areas of expertise include renewable energy, electric vehicles and ocean pollution, and he has successfully advocated for the passage of dozens of bills into law, including measures to ban toxic chemicals, bring 1 million solar roofs to California, and ban single-use plastic grocery bags. He ran the campaign for SB 100, California’s law setting a goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2045.

Steven King

Clean Energy Advocate, Environment California

Steven leads Environment California’s campaigns to increase clean, renewable energy throughout the Golden State, spearheading efforts to transition away from dangerous fossil fuels and address climate change. Steven lives in Los Angeles where he enjoys spending time outdoors, watching his favorite L.A. sports teams, and playing the trombone.

Ben Grundy

Conservation Campaign Associate, Environment California

Ben leads Environment California’s campaigns to tackle conservation issues at the local and state level. Ben lives in Alameda, where he enjoys playing basketball, cooking and taking walks on the beach.

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