The Legislative Committee empowers citizen lobbyists to promote legislative action on climate change and a just transition that protects impacted workers and communities. Making our voices heard by legislators who usually hear primarily from special interest lobbyists is part of our core belief that the climate crisis can only be confronted by collective action and participation in the democratic process.

Our committee is a coalition of 350.org related groups in the Southern California area including SoCal350, 350 South Bay Los Angeles, Long Beach 350, 350 Riverside and 350 Conejo Valley. We also work closely with allies in the environmental justice community such as CBE, CEJA, VISION and STAND-LA.

If you are interested in joining, please reach out to the Committee coordinator, Sherry Lear at 350sbla@gmail.com. We hold meetings via Zoom every other Thursday at 7:00 p.m. to coordinate our work and communicate in between meetings via Google Groups.

Priority California State Legislation for 2020

AB-1080/SB-54 – Plastics bills

These sister bills would largely phase out single-use plastics in California by requiring that much of the l single use plastic packaging and products sold in the state after 2030 be recyclable, and that the state achieves a 75% reduction of waste from these products. There are some exceptions such as medicine containers.

Waste from plastic ends up in the ocean, where it kills fish, birds, and mammals. Plastics also pollute our water and food sources. According to the authors of the bill, less than 15% of single-use plastic is recycled today in California. Reducing non-recycled single use plastic will also reduce California’s carbon footprint.

The bills were introduced in 2019 by Ben Allen (the author) in the Senate and Lorena Gonzalez in the Assembly.  . Ben Allen represents CA Senate District 26 which includes much of the western area of Los Angeles County and is a strong advocate on environmental issues. AB-1080 passed the Assembly 44-19 in May 2019 and was sent to the Senate. At the same time, SB-54 was passed out of the Senate by a vote of 28-8. Since the bills are largely the same, they were expected to be passed out of the full legislature and sent to the Governor for his signature, but instead they were held over to 2020.

These bills have faced significant opposition from some affected industries, but remain a priority for Senator Allen and environmental groups across California to pass by August 31, 2020, which is the end of this legislative cycle.   Legislators need to hear from the public that they want California to lead on this issue, and to say no to special interests who put profits over our environment.

References:

AB-345 – Oil and Gas Drilling – Health & Safety Setbacks

update!!  please check out the wonderful EcoJustice Radio presentation on AB345.

Martha Arguello of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles discusses with host Jessica Aldridge neighborhood oil drilling, the call for a 2,500 ft. health and safety buffer, and how community mobilization is addressing the climate emergency and ensuring public health and environmental protection. Martha leads the coalition Stand Together Against Neighborhood Drilling in Los Angeles. They work in a statewide coalition dedicated to buffers as well called Voices in Solidarity Against Oil in Neighborhoods.   Please sign the VISION Petition here!

With California being one of the largest oil-producing states in the USA, community based solutions and industry accountability is vital to protecting the most vulnerable and building resilience. In Los Angeles, there are 759 active oil wells less than 1,500 feet from homes, schools, churches, and hospitals; these being predominantly in low-income and communities of color who face disproportionate health and safety impacts from their frontline exposure.

Martha Arguello is the Executive Director with Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles. For the past 32 years, she has served in the non-profit sector as an advocate, community organizer, and coalition builder. She joined PSR-LA in 1998 to launch the environmental health programs, and became Executive Director in November 2007. She is committed to making the credible voice of physicians a powerful instrument for transforming California and our planet into a more peaceful and healthy place

In October 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom  tasked CalGEM (the state energy agency) to establish rules to protect public health and the environment from the impacts of oil and gas extraction. AB 345 (Murasutchi) would direct CalGEM to use scientific data and health studies to establish health and safety setbacks between drilling and homes, schools, parks, churches, and other sensitive sites and strongly urges the consideration of a 2500-foot setback, which is the minimum distance considered to be safe under scientific studies. The bill would also require CalGEM to make efforts to gather a diverse range of public input, particularly from communities most affected by drilling, as it establishes these rules.

California currently has no setback requirements while Texas, Colorado, and Pennsylvania all require setbacks. It is well established that oil and gas drilling have severe health impacts on local communities, and recent studies have indicated that a history of pollution increases the risk of fatality from COVID-19.

AB-345 passed the Assembly on January 27 and is now in the Senate. Let your State Senator know that you support AB-345.

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