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ISSUE

Energy and Environment

Climate change is an existential threat to humanity.  We believe California must lead in forging a robust global solution to the climate crisis.  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 indigenous people.  California Democrats will prioritize energy and environment.

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

Energy and Climate

  • Advocate for and fund a modernization of California’s electric grid to better accommodate increasing distributed energy demand, integrate renewable energy sources, protect rural areas through the creation of micro-grids and local energy sourcing, and increase California’s flexibility in the face of climate change and diversifying energy sources;
  • Recognize that schools play an important part in addressing climate change and support efforts for schools to become climate-ready, including through the creation of school and district Climate Action Plans;
  • utcome of K–12 education for our California students;
  • Ensure we prepare students to lead us to a sustainable future in a green economy by supporting teaching and learning about climate change in our classrooms;
  • Support a green new deal with action from the federal and state government: A comprehensive energy security and climate protection law that prioritizes calling for full decarbonization of the United States economy running on net-zero emissions by 2030, creating millions of good jobs; investing in green infrastructure and industry; securing clean air and water, climate and community resilience, healthy food; and, access to nature;
  • 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, with hiring preferences for formerly incarcerated and socially and/or economically disadvantaged peoples;
  • 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 production workers within their industry with comparable compensation and benefits over the course of the transition to clean energy; and,
  • Urge Congress and the California legislature to implement plans to upgrade America’s buildings for efficiency and safety; adopt low-carbon, plant-based food, and small-scale and organic farming; expand affordable housing close to jobs; involve labor unions in the process of job training and worker deployment; create a network of public banks to finance green infrastructure; respect indigenous rights; ensure that local implementation of the transition from fossil fuels is led from the community level; and, ensure that frontline communities affected by environmental degradation are given priority to mitigate poor planning and zoning and decisions of the past;
  • 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 eliminate long-term reliance on gas storage facilities, such as Aliso Canyon and Playa del Rey, by providing opportunities for municipalities individuals, and families to phase out natural gas-powered appliances;
  • Support building code revisions requiring new buildings to be built gas-free, providing incentives and opportunities for municipalities, individuals, and families to phase out natural gas-powered appliances, using new technologies and energy sources as they become commercially available and affordable;
  • Support weatherization programs designed to retrofit existing homes to increase climate resilience and decrease utility usage;
  • Advocate that all utilities — including broadband — be safe, reliable, affordable, and worker and community controlled, with the mission to serve the public over 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, and community choice energy 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 disadvantaged and underserved communities;
  • Support appropriately sited commercial-scale solar and wind, and support upgrading and hardening the California energy grid;
  • Support energy democracy through community choice aggregation (CCA) energy programs, sourcing clean power and providing local economic benefit;
  • Oppose imposing new fees on solar users.
  • Oppose new fossil fuel infrastructure projects;
  • Call for an immediate end to offshore drilling, 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 the workers and communities affected by fossil fuel phaseout;
  • Support workers displaced by the phaseout of fossil fuels by investing in technologies with strict labor standards that utilize existing craft skills and training; 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 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 and support the recovery and preservation of our ocean ecosystems;
  • Protect California’s majestic forests: safeguard forests through sustained yield best practices forestry, oppose clear-cutting, and encourage planting of trees in appropriate settings;
  • Work to promote polices 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;
  • Support mandatory funding for Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) to counties that have relinquished taxable land to the state for wildlife conservation;
  • 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 goal of conserving 30 percent of the state’s land 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; and,
  • Promote the rights of California’s American Indians to steward their ancestral burial grounds, cultural sites, and sacred sites and encourage government agencies to enter into agreements with Tribes and/or Indigenous Land Trusts regarding the ecological management of ancestral lands and, where possible, the return of public lands to California Indian jurisdiction.

Agriculture and Food Safety

  • Support an economically viable, environmentally sound, and socially responsible agriculture and food sector that works for all of California’s people;
  • 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, and driving economic growth;
  • 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 longstanding 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 give people jobs that pay a living wage near housing they can afford, so as to discourage super-commuters and urban sprawl/greenfield development;
  • Support a ban on sales and registration of new internal combustion engines (ICE) or gasoline-powered cars, light duty trucks, and SUVs by 2030;
  • 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 their program to upgrade their fleet with electric vehicles;
  • Promote new strategies to reduce driving, such as creating smart growth and “complete streets,” teaching bicycling traffic skills, and improving transit, from local systems to high-speed rail;
  • Support expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure through changes to building codes, and support policies designed to lower carbon emissions (and electrification where possible) of medium- and heavy- duty vehicles;
  • 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;
  • 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 users;
  • Encourage 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;
  • Promote urban policies that lead to revitalization of disadvantaged communities, but without gentrifying communities so as to displace longtime residents;
  • Demand a state plan specifying how cars and light-duty trucks can meet climate-stabilizing targets by defining enforceable measures to achieve necessary fleet efficiency and per-capita dricing limits; and,
  • Work to ensure that freeway expansion projects are subordinate to more sustainable alternatives that will result in more jobs and more economic growth.

Water 

  • 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 all 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;
  • 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.
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