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Energy and Environment

Climate change is an existential threat to humanity. We are in a climate emergency. We believe California must lead in forging a robust global solution to the climate crisis, and that it must be done systematically, in a just and equitable way, centering on impacted workers, preserving and upholding unions, and directly serving those communities impacted economically, including both disadvantaged and environmental justice communities. Further, all Californians – urban, suburban, and rural – hold a shared interest in preserving and protecting the environment that sustains us. California Democrats have led the way toward effective solutions to problems arising from our industrial society – resource extraction, waste disposal, and pollution – and their disparate impact on our forests, family farms, the poor, persons of color, and American Indian and Alaskan Native people. California Democrats will prioritize balancing environmental justice and community sustainability with preserving our environment and ensuring a clean, inclusive, and affordable transition toward a carbon neutral, fossil-free society.

Climate change and other environmental issues present a clear and imminent threat to our planet and our public health, therefore California Democrats will:

Climate Crisis
  • Declare a climate emergency;
  • Support banning fossil fuel extraction, production, distribution, sale, and use in California by December 2030;
  • Support supplying 100% of California’s energy needs from carbon free renewable resources by December 2030;
  • Support a green new deal with action from the federal and state government: A comprehensive energy security and climate protection law that prioritizes the call for full decarbonization of the California and the United States economy running on net-zero emissions by 2030, creating millions of good jobs while ensuring workers in the existing energy industry maintain current wage and benefit levels; investing in green infrastructure and industry; securing clean air and water, climate and community resilience, healthy food; and access to nature;
  • Support a public jobs program that trains and employs a workforce with hiring preferences for impacted workers, union members, formerly incarcerated, and socially and/or economically disadvantaged Californians to address the climate mitigation and resilience measures described here, including non-fossil carbon-neutral renewable energy, energy resilience and grid reliability, public transportation systems, residential structure resilience measures, and other climate preparedness and mitigation measures;
  • Support the requirement that all projects requiring California Environmental Quality Act, (CEQA) analysis incorporate a climate impacts analysis incorporating and conforming to the policies and goals of the state’s 2022 Scoping Plan for Achieving Carbon Neutrality;
  • Support local communities’ land use authority to phase out any existing and zone out any future fossil fuel extraction located in their communities;
  • Urge Congress and the California Legislature to implement upgrades of America’s buildings, expand implementation of weatherization programs, and expand affordable housing for efficiency and safety in a climate-altered world, using a skilled and trained unionized workforce;
  • Support developing career technical education and university programs that are freely available to the public to develop a trained and credentialed workforce to decarbonize the California economy;
  • Support incentive programs for municipalities to invest in EV charging infrastructure;
  • Support holding corporations accountable to pay their fair share of climate damages they make or have made to communities through requiring emissions tracking and public reporting;
  • Support the creation of a network of public banks and/or revolving loan funds to finance green infrastructure projects; and,
  • Support funding research and development into non-fossil carbon neutral renewable energy infrastructure, smart grid technology, and full-circle/lifecycle infrastructure management, including recycling.
  • Affirm that energy is a human right and that it must be universally accessible, safe, reliable, affordable, and not exacerbate climate change;
  • Advocate for and fund a modernization of California’s electric grid to better accommodate increasing energy demand, integrate non-fossil carbon neutral renewable energy sources, protect rural and disadvantaged areas through the creation of microgrids, distributed and local energy sourcing, and redundant grid connectivity, and increase California’s flexibility in the face of climate change and diversifying energy sources;
  • Urge the California Legislature to implement a California green new deal that prioritizes investments in programs such as onshore and offshore wind, solar, and other forms of renewable energy projects to achieve 100 percent clean electricity by 2030, that includes hiring preferences for formerly incarcerated and socially and/or economically disadvantaged people and current wage and benefit protections for the skilled construction workers in the existing energy industry during the transition to clean energy;
  • Support a just and equitable transition of the California energy sector into a public good: a community-controlled and publicly-owned energy utility, or set of smaller utilities, that develops and employs the unionized, skilled, and trained workforce required to transition California to a carbon-free economy while guaranteeing high-road carbon-free jobs to impacted workers, maintaining the organizational structure of established unions, providing commensurate better living wages and benefits than jobs in the existing carbon-based energy sector;
  • Support the addition of eligible renewable distributed energy resources (DER) to California’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) definitions;
  • As zero-carbon and alternative domestic energy production sectors come online at a scale to provide for California’s energy needs, prioritize transitioning away from both the import of foreign fossil fuels and the domestic extraction and refining of fossil fuels as soon as feasible, coupled with commensurate investments in creating well-paying union jobs in the zero-carbon and alternative domestic energy production sectors;
  • Prioritize adopting separation of fossil fuel extractions from residential communities (also known as setbacks), while maintaining skilled and trained production workers within their industry with comparable compensation and benefits over the course of the transition to clean energy;
  • While existing fossil fuel infrastructure is being phased out, support measures such as air monitoring requirements to protect proximate frontline communities;
  • Urge Congress, the California Legislature, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the California Energy Commission to ensure the safety and thoroughly evaluate the full lifecycle costs of nuclear power, phase-out all reactors, decommission and withhold funds for license renewal for Mark I nuclear reactors (which cannot be made safe), ensure the safe storage of nuclear waste, and ensure that operators provide emergency plans and provide adequate liability protection for populations within 50 miles of reactors;
  • Urge the California Legislature, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the California Energy Commission to transition away from long-term reliance on gas storage facilities by supporting building code revisions requiring new buildings to be built gas-free, and providing opportunities for municipalities, individuals, and families to phase out natural gas-powered appliances in existing buildings;
  • Advocate for fair utility pricing, including minimizing fixed costs to incentivize conservation and making utilities more affordable for all;
  • Advocate that all utilities — including broadband — be safe, reliable, affordable, and worker and community controlled, with the mission to serve the public over providing shareholder/corporate profit;
  • Recognize the need for diverse renewable energy sources, appropriate for regional geography and the culture of communities in the region;
  • Support energy democracy: the growth of distributed rooftop, local, and community solar, battery storage, net metering, community-scale microgrids, and community choice energy, built and operated with a skilled and trained workforce or under a project labor agreement (PLA), as important tools to combat climate change, ensure resiliency, and build a safer, more reliable grid planned in a way that benefits all Californians, including renters and those in multifamily housing, as well as in disadvantaged and underserved communities;
  • Support appropriately sited utility-scale solar and wind, and support upgrading and hardening the California energy grid, all of which should be built by a skilled and trained workforce or under a PLA so that construction workers are paid living wages and properly trained;
  • Support energy democracy through community choice aggregation (CCA) energy programs, incentivizing municipalization and community-scale microgrids where feasible, and providing local economic benefit;
  • Oppose imposing new fees on solar users;
  • Oppose the development of hydrogen fuel projects that generate hydrogen in ways that involve fossil fuels and/or that emit unmitigated greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Oppose new fossil fuel infrastructure projects;
  • Call for an immediate end to offshore drilling for fossil fuel extraction, including both new leasing and existing permits, and a phaseout of onshore drilling, while decreasing reliance on imported energy;
  • Support an immediate moratorium on fracking and other forms of oil/gas well stimulation;
  • Support workers and communities displaced and/or affected by the phaseout of fossil fuels by investing in technologies built with a skilled and trained workforce or under a PLA, with strict labor standards that utilize existing craft skills and training, by helping construction workers transition to new projects and jobs that provide wages and benefits commensurate with their current jobs in the fossil fuel industry, and by providing new tax revenue to mitigate the loss of the fossil fuel industry tax base; and,
  • Provide bridge funding for local governments affected by the decreasing fossil-fuel tax revenues.
Environment and Nature
  • Protect California’s right, consistent with long-standing federal law, to set California’s science-based environmental standards that lead the way for the rest of the nation;
  • Commit to environmental justice: no community should be subjected to environmental hazards due to race, economic standing, or immigration status, and prioritize legislation that includes environmental justice provisions;
  • Protect California’s unique coastline and wetlands: preserve and ensure coastal access for all people, support the recovery and preservation of our ocean ecosystems, oppose industrial habitat alterations, especially where endangered or state-sensitive species rely on the current habitats;
  • Protect California’s majestic forests: safeguard forests through sustained yield best practices forestry, oppose clear- cutting, and encourage the natural regrowth of native and adapted, climate-resilience species;
  • Support the preservation of mature trees during new development with an emphasis on native trees and those species that are considered threatened;
  • Work to promote policies to protect organizations and governments that clean up land with abandoned mine and Superfund sites, with priority in funding based on impact on the environment and natural resources;
  • Protect California’s public lands for all to appreciate: support access for all while protecting sensitive areas; support dedicated funding for state parks; support full funding of state resource agencies, including State Parks, Fish and Wildlife, and Coastal Commission; and oppose sale of public forests and parkland;
  • Protect California’s diverse flora and fauna: support preservation of adequate corridors and resting spaces for wildlife to migrate from important habitats to locations where they breed, feed or winter; and support legislation protecting important keystone species of wildlife and plants;
  • Restore the clarity of Lake Tahoe and preserve California’s inland lakes and wetlands by preventing the intrusion of new aquatic invasive species and by protecting watersheds and surrounding forest ecosystems from degradation due to inappropriate development and pollution;
  • Support comprehensive regional and state-level long term policy and financial solutions for the Salton Sea that will remedy the toxic environmental, health, and quality of life concerns resulting from deterioration;
  • Support the state’s goal of conserving 30 percent of the state’s land and waters by the year 2030, also known as “30×30,” part of an international movement to protect nature across the planet, with the goal of preserving biodiversity and open space necessary to support the adaptation of flora and fauna to climate impacts;
  • Protect California’s neighborhoods, rivers, beaches, and marine ecosystems from the costly scourge of plastic pollution: eliminate single use plastics and mandate eco-friendly packaging and support extended producer responsibility policies which require manufacturers of non-recyclable or hazardous products to provide for the safe disposal of these products at the end of their useful life;
  • Support a ban on single use plastics by 2030 with exceptions for medical support devices and Americans with Disabilities Act requirements;
  • Support legislation that promotes helping disadvantaged communities disproportionately impacted by the effects of heat islands, including programs such as planting native drought tolerant trees and other plantings, providing funding for cool pavements, roofs, and reflective paint, and requiring future development projects have at least 30 percent green space;
  • Support strong regulatory measures for science-based health and safety setbacks for all industrial sites from residential communities and other sensitive receptors, including setbacks for oil and gas wells, incineration plants, toxic dump sites, plastic manufacturing, storage and pipelines, and similar facilities;
  • Support key environmental protection laws such as the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), California Coastal Act, and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) as important tools to, among other benefits, protect frontline communities from bearing the brunt of the impacts of climate change; and,
  • Promote the rights of California American Indians and Tribal governments to steward sites of cultural and spiritual significance including but not limited to their ancestral burial, cultural, and sacred sites and encourage government-to- government consultation and entry into, and honoring of, all government agencies agreements with American Indians and Tribal governments regarding the ecological management of these sites and, where possible, the return of lands to the jurisdiction and stewardship of American Indians and Tribal governments, and allocation of resources for legal representation and legal education for those harmed, funded in perpetuity.
Agriculture and Food Safety
  • Support an economically viable, environmentally sound, and socially responsible agriculture and food sector that works for all of California;
  • Curtail and rapidly phase out glyphosate and other chemicals that pose threats to farm workers, consumers, pollinators, and the environment;
  • Promote humane labor conditions for farm workers as a matter of environmental justice, so that workers are not forced to choose between an unsafe livelihood and unemployment;
  • Promote humane conditions for farmed animals;
  • Encourage eat-local movements, small-scale farming, organic farming, community gardens, farmers’ markets, and other farm-to-table programs as a means of connecting consumers to food production supporting and building rural economies;
  • Strengthen and strictly enforce emissions of criteria air pollutants associated with dairy digester biogas production, especially as they affect the health of workers and nearby communities;
  • Support regenerative agricultural practices, including research into scalability, sustainability, and cost effectiveness;
  • Support policy and legislation that encourages and educates on the use of plant-based alternatives to reduce reliance on animal agriculture, a major contributor to climate change; and,
  • Develop and support policies encouraging small, diversified farms to thrive, improving the state’s services to underrepresented farmers – young, people of color, and/or non-male – to build resilience in local economies and increase regional climate preparedness.
Transportation and the Built Environment
  • Defend California’s long-standing ability to set science-based standards for internal combustion engines as a part of a comprehensive plan to reduce tailpipe emissions;
  • Support housing, transit, and jobs policies that generate jobs that pay a family-supporting wage and benefits, near housing they can afford;
  • Support reducing vehicle miles traveled by expanding affordable housing close to jobs, reducing the number of food deserts, encouraging and providing incentives for remote work, and modifying the Brown Act to allow subcommittees of government offices to hold and attend meetings virtually, requiring that all government bodies provide hybrid options for public meetings;
  • Support measures to make it safer, easier, affordable, and more convenient for Californians to use active transportation (e.g., walking, biking, e-mobility) and public transportation;
  • Support a ban on sales and registration of new internal combustion engines (ICE) or gasoline-powered cars, light duty trucks, and SUVs by 2028;
  • Support a generous cash-for-clunkers program, beginning with the worst polluting cars, so that the working and middle class have effective incentives to trade in their older ICE cars for clean cars;
  • Fund efforts by cities and school districts to swap diesel, compressed natural gas, and other dirty buses for electric buses where feasible;
  • Encourage the United States Postal Service (USPS) to continue its program to upgrade its fleet with electric vehicles;
  • Promote evidence-based strategies to reduce driving, including investing in safer, greener, multi-benefit “complete streets”; piloting equitable congestion pricing that invests revenue into public transit improvements; facilitating affordable infill housing in high opportunity neighborhoods near jobs; reducing the cost of more affordable forms of zero-emission mobility such as via incentives/vouchers for electric-assist bicycles, mopeds, and other light vehicles; providing bicycle and traffic safety education at public schools; implementing equitable traffic regulations that prioritize the safety of young children, the elderly, and disabled people; and improving public transit networks between local transit systems, regional and high-speed rail;
  • Support expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure through incentives and changes to building codes supporting public safety and preventing vandalism;
  • Demand a state plan specifying how cars and light-duty trucks can meet climate-stabilizing targets by eliminating or offsetting emissions, eliminating the use of fossil fuels, and defining enforceable measures to achieve interim fleet efficiency and per-capita driving limits;
  • Demand that communities of color and low-income communities – often disproportionately burdened with a high density of toxic industrial facilities and highways – receive community benefits including health care to cover injurious effects of pollution from infrastructure and industry;
  • Demand that communities of color and low-income communities are given the right to participate as equal partners at every level of project decision-making, including needs assessment, planning, implementation, enforcement, and evaluation, with legal and/or consulting support to ensure they are represented on equal footing so as to balance the influence of developers and other moneyed interests;
  • Support policies that ensure that applicants of projects that result in heavy stationary- and/or mobile-source pollution impacts (e.g., large warehouses and distribution centers) pay their fair share to impacted frontline communities to mitigate for their impacts;
  • Demand that Regional Transportation Plans (RTP) include driving-reduction targets, shown by science to support climate stabilization;
  • Support policies that empower small business owners to make investments in transportation infrastructure to ensure that freight moves by lower-emission local short-line freight railroads to mitigate highway congestion and pollution;
  • Support the design and implementation of a single, environmentally-sound technology system that will collect and distribute fees for the use of roads, parking, and transit that is both economically fair and convenient and protects user privacy and the interests of low-income and rural users;
  • Support requirements for fossil-free net-zero energy emissions in new home and commercial construction by 2030 and encourage the use of fire-resistant, termite-proof, and energy-efficient building materials in all new residential and light commercial construction built by a fairly compensated, skilled and trained workforce;
  • Support policies and regulations that require bird-safe windows in new construction;
  • Promote urban policies that lead to revitalization of disadvantaged communities, but without causing additional pollution or gentrifying communities so as to displace or price out longtime residents;
  • Encourage larger cities to install traffic signals that monitor and adjust to the flow of traffic to reduce congestion and keep the air cleaner by limiting the gas emissions caused by idling vehicles;
  • Consider road safety for all forms of transportation and mobility when establishing weight standards for battery- powered vehicles; and,
  • Work to ensure that freeway expansion projects are subordinate to more sustainable alternatives that will result in more jobs and more economic growth.
  • Protect clean, safe drinking water in schools, public buildings, and municipal water systems as a basic human right;
  • Recognize the importance of rural watersheds for a sustainable and clean water supply;
  • Support the mandate to ensure clean drinking water for Californians by fully protecting all water sources, funding the treatment systems needed to clean up existing contamination, and assuring that small water systems, heavily concentrated in rural areas, have the resources to deliver reliable, safe drinking water;
  • Motivate efficient and sustainable use of water; hold all users accountable to reasonable consumption levels; implement and enforce regulations for groundwater use that includes full usage documentation; and, ensure management of water to sustain the economy, including needs of agriculture, ecosystems, fisheries, recreation, and endangered species;
  • Protect the Delta by upgrading the levees, restoring the rivers, increasing floodplain habitat for fish and wildlife and groundwater recharge, mitigating saltwater intrusion and subsidence, and preserving agricultural land;
  • Safeguard aquifers and natural springs and wetlands vital to the desert ecosystem from drainage and exploitation, essential to the survival of California species from bighorn sheep to migratory birds, and sacred to Tribal nations;
  • Encourage and incentivize water resources planning that builds regional self-reliance and decreases reliance on intra- state water trading and transfers;
  • Oppose farming practices that lead to long-term depletion of California’s aquifers;
  • Support land repurposing that is driven by local needs and embraces revitalization of the local environment and groundwater recharge;
  • Prioritize climate preparedness through water use efficiency, storm water capture/reclamation, groundwater banking, and potable reuse/recycling over desalination and dam-building; and,
  • Work to ensure that all stakeholders are consulted regarding proposals for new or expanded water diversions between watersheds and that the environmental, economic, and social justice impacts of these water diversions are fully addressed.