Life Beyond 1.5 Degrees: Hard Truths and Solutions

Live and In-Person!

What: Planning and Conservation League’s 2024 California Environmental Assembly

When: January 27th, 2024, 8:30 am to 5 pm, with a social gathering from 5 to 6 pm

Where: UC Davis School of Law (Directions link), King Hall ( Parking & Campus Map of Area – PDF

PCL is excited to announce that the 2024 California Environmental Assembly will be held on Saturday, January 27, 2024, at UC Davis School of Law’s King Hall! Our return to an in-person event is made possible by the California Environmental Law & Policy Center’s generous offer to host the Assembly!

PCL’s Assembly features insightful and impactful panels on the critical issues we must tackle if we are to face climate change head-on. Recent Assemblies have led to countless advances in environmental policy; in just the last two years, almost a dozen bills have emerged out of the panels and conversations. Our keynote speaker for 2024 is Liane Randolph, Chair of the California Air Resources Board. 

The theme for the assembly is Life Beyond 1.5 Degrees: Hard Truths and Solutions. PCL strongly believes that we are falling short of enacting measures that will curb the climate crisis fast enough to avoid catastrophic impacts. We design our panels to focus on both immediate short-term solutions and strategies for the future. The sessions will focus on the topics of water law modernization, wildfire, transportation, CEQA, groundwater, and land use. The 2024 PCL Assembly will have three tracks with 2-3 sessions in each and will be held at UC Davis’s School of Law in King Hall.

To learn how you, your firm, or your organization can become sponsors of the 2024 Assembly – please download our assembly Sponsorship Packet, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

If you are a student, a recent graduate, have a limited income, are a member of an environmental justice group or environmental organization, or are in public service and are interested in attending the Assembly at no cost, please get in touch with

2024 Assembly Schedule

Assembly Panel Descriptions


Catch It While You Can: The New Science and Reality of Groundwater.

Join us to explore the intersection of new law, new science, and first-hand experience in the world of groundwater. SB-122 redefined aquafers as natural infrastructure, and this encourages big-picture thinking by allowing funding for projects that integrate flood control, greenhouse gas reduction, habitat restoration, and groundwater recharge. This panel presents a deep dive into the imaging capabilities developed by Stanford University, which are currently used to help growers replenish groundwater supplies; their information will be essential to making planning decisions about where and how to build any large-scale new development. We will also learn firsthand about the efforts of one irrigation district working with property owners and cities that resulted in some fantastic results for groundwater sustainability.

Moderator: Elizabeth Patterson, retired staff environmental scientist at DWR and former Mayor of Benicia. Bio
Aaron Fukuda, General Manager, Tulare Irrigation District Recharge Presentation Aaron Fukuda Bio
Paul Gosselin, Deputy Director at DWR in charge of Sustainable Groundwater Management Paul Gosselin Presentation Bio
Rosemary Knight, Stanford University Rosemary Knight Presentation Bio

An application for California MCLE credit is pending for this panel.

Water Law Reform: Righting the wrongs of the past as we prepare for the future.

California’s current system of water laws is outdated, and the system’s inability to respond adequately to increasing times of scarcity and climate change is making the weaknesses ever more apparent. One million Californians do not have safe drinking water. California’s aquatic ecosystems are in crisis, and users are confronting increasingly scarce and unpredictable water supplies. PCL and our many partners are amid a growing movement to reform our water laws to allow for better system management for the benefit of all users as we face future challenges.

But as we improve the system for the future, how do we also address and correct the inherent inequities of a system rooted in colonialism, genocide, patriarchy, and continued discrepancies of wealth and power? Join this discussion with representatives of California’s tribes and frontline communities that will illuminate this history and what is being done about it.

Moderator: Dennis O’Connor, former Chief Consultant to the California Senate Committee on Natural. Resources and Water Bio
Krystal Moreno, Director, Traditional Ecological Knowledge Department, Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians
Senator Ben Allen, California State Senate, Chair of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee
David Owen, Harry D. Sunderland Professor and Associate Dean for Research, UC Law San Francisco Dave Owen Presentation Bio
Nataly Escobedo-Garcia, Water Policy Coordinator, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability Bio
Tien Tran, Senior Policy Advocate, Community Water Center Presentation Tien Tran Bio

An application for California MCLE credit is pending for this panel.


Lessons from Lahaina: Have we learned anything yet?

Last year’s tragic events on the Island of Maui resulted from a “perfect storm” of both short and long-term planning deficiencies and extreme environmental conditions. Cumulative poor land use decision-making, transportation deficiencies, extreme drought conditions, unprecedented winds, and limited evacuation planning (including lack of timely notification of residents) led to 97 deaths. Hear our panel of fire, law enforcement, planning, and weather experts discuss lessons for California and what we need to be doing right now to avoid future disasters similar to what occurred on Maui.

PCL, the Center for Biological Diversity, and others argued that public safety should be a co-equal priority with new housing, pointing out that the costs associated with compliance would depend upon sighting decisions and the proximity of the projects to existing roadways. The effort to pass SB 571 is looking to build an expanded coalition in 2024, including firefighters, law enforcement, and utility associations to support the efforts of our environmental and public health allies.

We will also dive into an update on SB 571 (Allen) on Evacuation Planning for High-Risk Fire Zones; the bill is now a two-year bill and will be back for committee hearings in January 2024.

Moderator: Bob Roper, Former Ventura County Fire Chief and Co-Chair of the California Fire Safe Council Bio
Jason Weber, Chief, Marin County Fire  Bio
Anne Crealock, Planning and Program Manager, Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority Anne Crealock Presentation Bio
Laura Blaul, Board Secretary for the California Fire Safe Council, Laura Blaul Presentation Bio
Terry Watt, Consultant & Member PCL Board of Directors Terry Watt Presentation Bio

An application for California MCLE credit is pending for this panel.

Stopping Methane Emissions Immediately: 80% Reduction by 2030?

Is it time for an aggressive, on-the-offence strategy to take back a healthy planetary climate? Science considers methane emissions a primary target in this context with probable, significant, and immediate climate benefits. Methane is responsible, planet-wide, for approximately 40% of climate change. It is one of the most damaging GHG Emissions and is 90 times more potent in warming impacts than carbon dioxide. Atmospheric concentrations of Methane are 2.5 times higher than in preindustrial times. Yet preventable major methane emissions are released daily from the operations of industries worldwide.

In California, the primary methane-emitting industries are dairies and related agricultural operations (approximately 50%), landfills and related waste management practices (30%), and oil and gas, including gasoline refineries (20%). Technologies are available in all of these sectors to dramatically reduce, if not eliminate, methane emissions. In most cases, the newly captured emissions can be sold, and the resulting revenue will offset the costs of new containment infrastructure. At the same time, unintended consequences of methane containment can lead to public health impacts on neighboring disadvantaged communities.

Hear our panel of experts on the dairy, landfill, and oil and gas industries, as well as a leader in the Environmental Justice movement, discuss how to responsibly reach an 80% reduction of methane emissions statewide by 2030.

Moderator: Ken Alex, Director, Project Climate at the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment Ken Alex Presentation Bio
Debbie Gordon, Senior Principal, Climate Intelligence, Rocky Mountain Institute Debbie Gordon Presentation Bio
Albert Strauss, Founder and CEO of Strauss Dairy Straus Family Creamery Methane Reduction Presentation  Bio
Dr. Ramin Yazdani, Professor UC Davis Dr Yazdani Presentation Bio
Phoebe Seaton, Co-Director and Founder, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability  Bio

An application for California MCLE credit is pending for this panel.


A Cleaner and Healthier California: Environmental Justice and CEQA.

After the recent years of largely playing defense on CEQA, is it time to propose priority amendments to make CEQA more effective, efficient, and just?

Our panel of experts, including legislative staff from both the Senate and the Assembly, will discuss insider views about:

1) what happened this year with the Governor’s Trailer Bills and regular process CEQA bills that were successful;

2) the perspectives and “moods” of the two legislative houses about further CEQA updates and;

3) how these factors should inform decisions on what issues to address in new legislation.

We are interested in hearing everyone’s priorities!

Moderator: Doug Carstens, Managing Partner, Carstens, Black & Minteer, LLP  Bio
Kip Lipper, Chief Policy Advisor, California Senator Toni Atkins Kip Lipper Presentation Bio
Juan Flores, Community Organizer The Center on Race, Poverty & The Environment Bio
Jonathan Pruitt, Land Use Manager, California Environmental Justice Alliance Bio
Melissa Romero, Deputy Legislative Director, California Environmental Voters Bio

An application for California MCLE credit is pending for this panel.

CEQA and the Housing Accountability Act: Does there need to be a conflict?

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the Housing Accountability Act are often seen to be in conflict. CEQA is seen to slow the project review process; the HAA seeks to speed up housing production as much as possible. The HAA states that all environmental reviews and obligations must be complied with, yet an increasing proportion of housing is now exempt from environmental review under CEQA. Both the CA Attorney General’s office and the CA Dept. of Housing and Community Development have been armed with new HAA enforcement units. Still, it is usually only the public that ensures that the environment and communities are being protected by housing development–through CEQA.

Can these laws coexist? Can conflict between them be avoided? How do we build the housing we need faster while still providing for review and public input and keeping jurisdictions accountable to their housing obligations? How do we plan better than through the design of CEQA streamlining criteria?

Moderator: Sabrina V. Teller, Managing Partner, Remy Moose and Manley Bio
Louis Mirante, Vice President of Public Policy Bay Area Council Bio
Jennifer Ganata, Senior Staff Attorney, Communities for a Better Environment Bio
Winter King, Partner, Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger Bio
Valerie Feldman, Staff Attorney, Public Interest Law Project Bio

An application for California MCLE credit is pending for this panel.

Lunch Session


Liane Randolph, Chair of the California Air Resources Board Bio

2023 Environmental Hero Award

Presented to:
California State Senator Ben Allen Bio

PCL Service Awards

Presented to:
Fran Layton Bio & Jan Chatten-Brown Bio


CA’s Next Generation of Infrastructure: How do we build fast enough without replicating mistakes of the past?

The scale of new infrastructure California must build to adapt to climate change and the speed with which we have to do it is daunting. The amount of infrastructure that must be built to fully electrify our energy sector is alone monumental, but there is also massive innovation and change needed to our transportation system, our water systems, and our coastline to reduce our emissions and prepare for weather changes and sea-level rise.

Attempts by the administration to streamline the approval of these projects have been met with heavy resistance by the environmental and environmental justice advocacy communities. It is widely agreed that we need to make these changes fast, but how do we speed up these projects without limiting environmental review and public access to the process? How do we build this new generation of infrastructure in a way that lifts up communities rather than sidelining them?


Wade Crowfoot, California Secretary of Natural Resources Bio

Louise Bedsworth, Executive Director, Center for Law, Energy & the Environment, UC Berkeley School of Law Bio

A Special Thank You to our 2024 Co-Hosts

Thank You To Our Sponsors

Please consider joining them as a sponsor for 2024!

Gold Sponsors

Carstens, Black & Mintneer, LLP
National Wildlife Federation
Sage Sweetwood

Silver Sponsors

Sacramento Municipal Utility District
Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP

Bronze Sponsors

Center for Biological Diversity
Kevin K. Johnson
Lozeau Drury, LLP
Mogavero Architects, Inc.
Remy Moose Manley, LLP

Emerging Sponsors

Marin Conservation League
M. R. Wolfe & Associates

Contributing Sponsors

Andy Sawyer & Carol Bingham
California Wildlife Foundation
Endangered Habitats League
Environmental Council of Sacramento
Environmental Defense Center
Law Offices of Stuart M. Flashman
Mono Lake Committee
Soluri Meserve, A Law Corporation
Valley Land Alliance

Sponsorships Available

2024 PCL Assembly Sponsorship Packet