2015 Year in Review

I want to thank all of you who made calls, contributed money, and sent mail to support SB 350, this year’s climate change legislation. Along with protecting California’s environmental review process, SB 350 was one of our major priorities this year, and we got two thirds of the bill passed with minimal amendments. Your help was vital to the bill’s passage because the opposition spent tens of millions of dollars to defeat SB 350 with campaign contributions and targeted TV ads. President pro tem Kevin de Leon thanked PCL for our strong support and the Governor invited us to be part of the bill signing last October.

Because of your help, California utilities will produce 50% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and we will double the energy efficiency of our buildings in the same time period. These 2030 requirements give utilities, government, and the private sector time to make the thoughtful, cost effective decisions that will protect our environment and create the green jobs that will strengthen California’s future economic growth. This legislation helped the results of the International Climate discussions in Paris, a landmark accomplishment with leaders from California there to champion the efforts.

But we have more to do. Our goal to reduce automobile petroleum use by 50% was deleted in the last hours of the final days of session. We could not match the strength of those opposing this provision, but we did prevent language that would have weakened the Air Resources Board’s ability to do its job cleaning up California’s air. Can you help us again with a year-end contribution? We need your donation to develop creative ways to overcome the financial power of those opposing climate legislation.

For 50 years, PCL members have supported sound environmental laws and have protected millions of acres of endangered wild places. I hate to think what California would look like today if you had not been so generous to PCL over all these years.

  • What would California be like if the tens of billions of dollars of PCL Initiative-acquired parks, wetlands, and wild spaces were developed?
  • What would California be like without Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs)? Think about all the problems that have been avoided by modifying projects before they started rather than cleaning up mistakes after they happen. Think of all the bad projects that were abandon after the costs of their environmental impacts were identified.
  • What would California be like if BART had not been expanded, if Metro Link did not exist in Southern California, if Sacramento and San Diego did not have light rail systems?

Thanks to your vision and commitment, PCL has had your support for 50 years and we have made California a better place.

In addition to this year’s Climate Legislation, PCL worked hard to protect CEQA and the environmental review process from serous weakening. We stopped efforts to exempt road construction from the EIR process. We also discovered and killed language buried in another large bill that could have exempted new dams and other large water projects from the EIR process. These are just a few of the CEQA successes of our staff and legal team this year. Our statewide team of lawyers gives PCL one of the strongest CEQA teams of any environmental organization in California. 

They deserve our thanks, and they thank you for supporting PCL. They will be busy again in 2016.

After a huge year for water issues in 2014, this year was legislatively quiet by comparison, but much work was going on behind the scenes to implement the 2014 Groundwater legislation, Stormwater legislation, and the 2014 Water Bond. PCL has a long history of shaping a sustainable water policy for California based on the common sense principle of meeting our water needs in the most environmentally responsible, cost effective way possible. All of these measures are a step in the right direction, but opportunities for mischief abound. The Water Bond, in particular, has funding for several new dams that don’t create much new water and are prohibitively expensive. A much more reasonable use for most of this money is for groundwater storage. PCL will work hard to make sure California doesn’t waste money and harm our rivers with unwise dam construction, but we need your support to fund these efforts. Not many groups pay attention to these important, but messy administrative details. The folks that want to build these dams are well funded and will be paying attention, and we need to as well. Your yearend gift will make a real difference to us and to California.

We want 2016 to be the year of a new Park bond, but there is a lot of competition from other measures. We will need a lot of help to make that happen. If you care about new funding for parks, wetlands and wild places, now is the time to give. Thanks for your half a century of support.

Best regards,

Howard Penn
Executive Director
For more information on Howard click here.

P.S.   We will be celebrating 50 years of successes in 2016 and additional information can be found at our website about our events, symposia, and trainings throughout 2016.  Keep your eyes open for our newly redesigned web site in 2016! Additionally mark your calendars for our Annual Environmental Symposium on February 27th, 2016 at UC Davis Law School. For Symposium updates, click here.