Mid-Session Report Card: Green is Not the Color of the Season

On June 1, all legislation must be passed out of its ‘house of origin’ (where the bill originated) in order to move forward, making this date the unofficial half-time of the legislative session and a great time to assess how the environmental community is faring as we gear up for the session’s second half.

Unfortunately, the first part of this session is seeing the continued erosion of environmental protection that we witnessed in 2011. Of 12 bills identified by Green California (a coalition of more than 80 environmental, public health and environmental justice groups working on statewide policy) as priorities, only six passed out of their house of origin (some of which may not to make it through their second house or be signed by the Governor). Although batting .500 may be great in baseball, it is not a good record for legislation aimed at promoting energy efficiency, renewable energy and distributed generation; providing communities with notification of chemicals used in fracking operations; or developing approaches to address the lack of affordability of drinking water in certain communities. Even worse, of the three bills Green California identified as priorities to kill (including legislation aimed at promoting desalination and a bill that will make it easier for polluters to influence the administrative process at the State and Regional Water Boards), all have made it out of their house of origin.

Those of us who work in Sacramento understood that this was likely to be a tough session for the environment. The state’s ongoing economic crisis combined with a tumultuous election season does not bode well for our cause. Nonetheless, PCL, our partners in Green California, and our allies throughout California continue to fight vigorously for our issues this session while also developing a proactive environmental agenda and message for 2013. At this very difficult moment for the environmental fight, we look for support from each of you.