Holding Senate Leaders Accountable for Climate Inaction

Holding Senate Leaders Accountable for Climate Inaction

Scientists are raising the alarm on the climate crisis. Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report, calling on policymakers to act and reduce emissions so we can avoid catastrophic climate impacts.

However, under Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins’ leadership, this year has been a “bloodbath” for climate legislation as “nearly every major environmental measure at the Capitol has been killed or shelved this session.”

That’s why as lawmakers return to the Capitol, we launched a new ad campaign, “Climate Courage”, calling for Democratic leaders in the State Senate to stop delaying climate action.

The ads shine a light on the role the top Democratic leaders in the State Senate played in halting critical climate crisis legislation. Senate Pro Tem Atkins failed to make the climate crisis a priority as the Senate’s leader and how her committee assignments give Big Oil a bigger voice in policy making. Not to mention, Senators Hertzberg and Hueso accepted more than $35,000 and $30,000 respectively from corporate oil interests including Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and Phillips 66.

Delaying climate action is unacceptable. Watch our videos on Senate Pro Tem Atkins, Senator Hertzberg, and Senator Hueso!

The legislature still has an opportunity to act on climate this session through supporting Assembly Bill 1395, which just passed the Senate Appropriations Committee and is up for a vote on the Senate Floor next. AB 1395 by Assembly Members Al Muratsuchi and Cristina Garcia would solidify the state’s goal of achieving net zero emissions as quickly as possible by no later than 2045, and to achieve and maintain net negative greenhouse gas emissions thereafter.

AB 1395 is a crucial pillar of our climate action agenda and broader approach to drastically reduce toxic levels of greenhouse gasses and scale back our dependency on dirty fossil fuels. However, policymakers can and must do more to protect the quality of the water we drink and the air we breathe, the safety of our homes from wildfires, and the health of our food and energy supply.

In her latest op-ed for the Sacramento Bee, EnviroVoters CEO Mary Creasman shared that policymakers must prioritize the following:

The impacts from climate inaction are hurting Californians right now. Families have lost their homes to fires, drought is costing workers their jobs, and our kids’ future is in question.

Tell Senate Leaders to show their climate courage and support AB 1395!

Plenty of significant climate policies have already died for this year as we tick closer to our 2030 climate deadline.   Senate Bill 260 – the Climate Corporate Accountability Act authored by Senator Scott Wiener – stalled out in the Senate Appropriations Committee and would have been an essential first step to ensure corporations are measuring and publicly disclosing their carbon emissions. This policy should be a no-brainer in a state like California when we know that 100 corporations are responsible for 71% of global industrial carbon emissions. 

Senate Bill 467 proposed a ban on dangerous oil drilling methods like fracking and would have required health and safety buffer zones between families and harmful oil extraction sites. Even though a fracking ban is popular with voters in California and health and safety buffer zones are in place in most other states, SB 467 failed to pass its first vote in a Senate environmental committee.   

The list goes on. Senate Bill 449, authored by State Senator Henry Stern which would have required corporations and financial institutions to disclose and show plans for climate-related financial risk, has also been delayed by the Senate. Senate Bill 345, authored by State Senator Josh Becker which would have required clean energy programs to consider environmental and social justice benefits in order to ensure projects are more equitable and accessible, is not moving forward this year. Senate Bill 342, authored by Senator Lena Gonzalez, would have added two critical environmental justice seats to the South Coast Air Quality Management District Governing Board, but didn't make it to a floor vote.    

The fact that these key climate bills, and more, are getting blocked is not a coincidence. It is a direct result of the millions of dollars that corporate polluters are spending to influence our state legislature.    

In the first few months of 2021 alone, the oil industry has spent $4.3 million lobbying Sacramento. In addition, our California Environmental Scorecard revealed that in 2020, 75% of State Senators accepted contributions directly from the oil industry or major oil industry Political Action Committees (PACs). As a result, lawmakers have worked to shelve critical climate legislation. Unfortunately, we cannot shelve the climate crisis.   

Whether we have climate solutions has never been the problem. The problem facing us right now is the lack of political will to do what is needed to avoid climate catastrophe. We hope our leaders see that Californians across the state and party lines are concerned about the climate crisis, so they need to have the climate courage and take action.

Posted on August 26, 2021 in ECOVOTE BLOG.

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