|Legislative report from Sierra Club California | by
Bill Magavern, Senior Legislative Representative
Sierra Club Californias efforts in the State Capitol this year resulted
in some noteworthy successes, although much-needed actions to protect the environment
were often blocked by business lobbies and their political allies. Our new web-based
action network, combined with another jam-packed Lobby Day, activated members
and increased our clout with elected officials.
Californias environmental movement made national, even international, news
over the summer with the enactment of AB 1493 (Pavley, D-Agoura Hills), which
has set the Air Resources Board working on the first-ever limits on greenhouse
gas emissions from motor vehicles. We are now engaged in the long struggle to
implement this law, with the goal of having significantly cleaner new vehicle
fleets in seven years.
Smart growth advocates scored a significant win with the signing of AB 857 (Wiggins,
D-Santa Rosa), supported by environmental, labor and social equity groups. The
new law establishes state growth priorities that favor infill development and
more compact suburban growth and protect the most valuable natural and agricultural
Californians will enjoy improved access to coastal areas due the passage of SB
1962 (Polanco, D-Los Angeles). This law requires the Coastal Conservancy to preserve
opportunities for new public access ways along the coast. Too often wealthy landowners
resist allowing the public to enjoy access to some of our finest beaches.
Vetoed by Governor
Two toxics bills supported by both environmentalists and waste management companies
passed in the Assembly only to be vetoed by Governor Davis. SB 1970 (Romero, D-Los
Angeles), sponsored by Sierra Club California and Committee to Bridge the Gap,
would have required that radioactive wastes from nuclear power plants and nuclear
weapons plants go only to facilities designed and licensed to take radioactive
wastes. The bill would have reversed the radioactive waste deregulation carried
out by Davis Department of Health Services, which has allowed radioactive
wastes to go to metal recyclers, local landfills, schools and parks.
SB 1523 (Sher, D-Palo Alto), sponsored by Californians Against Waste, would have
established a small recycling fee on the sale of computer monitors and televisions
with cathode ray tubes, which contain toxic lead.
Passed but weakened
The Legislature and Governor moved to restore our states position as a worldwide
leader in clean renewable energy resources such as solar and wind power. SB 1078,
another Byron Sher bill, will reduce both the pollution and price volatility of
fossil and nuclear fuels by requiring electricity sellers to derive 20% of their
power from renewable sources. Unfortunately, opposition from utilities forced
some weakening of the bill, which establishes what is known as a Renewables
Did not pass
Because of opposition from the timber lobby and some labor unions, we were unable
to get a bill to Governor Davis on forestry reform. SB 234 (Kuehl, D-Santa Monica)
would have changed the make-up of the Board of Forestry, an important first step.
One of the hardest fought and most extensively negotiated bills of the year was
SB 482 (Kuehl). This legislation facilitates a water transfer between the Imperial
Irrigation District and the San Diego Water Authority. The Sierra Club worked
hard to prevent lasting damage to the Salton Sea, and our advocacy resulted in
amendments that limited the scope of the repeal of the Fully Protected Species
statutes. Governor Davis signed SB 482.
Sierra Club California represents the over 200,000 Sierra Club members in California
at the State Capitol.
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