The 2020 Assembly has already passed. Click here to read our highlights from the Assembly. Please check back often for information on the 2021 Assembly!

Each year, PCL addresses top environmental policy issues that face California. Our Assembly focused on climate change and what we can do together to slow down the effects of global warming. Expert panelists from agencies, organizations, companies, and law firms pitched their big ideas on how to solve the most pressing issues of our time. We collaborated with Green California to bring panels on topics not previously addressed before, such as fossil fuels, biodiversity, agriculture, and health and environmental justice.

PCL also continued our Emerging Leaders Panel as a way to bring young advocates into the environmental policy conversation and provide those without a voice with a place to discuss their perspective on a more sustainable future and the work we can do to get there.

The Event

What: Planning and Conservation League’s 2020 California Environmental Assembly

When: January 25th, 2020

Where: McGeorge School of Law,

Who: Leading local and state elected officials, agency representatives, nonprofit and community leaders, attorneys, planners, and business representatives

Key Speakers

2020 Assembly Schedule

2020 Assembly Program

Download the Assembly Program

Our Climate Crisis: Beyond Seawalls and Electric Vehicles

McGeorge School of Law
January 25th, 2020

8:00 AM

9:00 AM

WELCOME – Main Lecture Hall

Howard Penn, Executive Director, Planning & Conservation League
Graham Brownstein, Board Chair, Planning & Conservation League
Rachael Salcido, Professor of Law, McGeorge School of Law

OPENING PLENARY SESSION (Main Hall): Meeting California’s Climate Challenge
Climate change threatens California’s natural resources as never before. At the same time California needs to continue to demonstrate global leadership reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving climate neutrality in the coming decades. The Natural Resources Agency is on the frontlines of battling wildfires, navigating droughts and floods, conserving important natural resources, protecting biodiversity, and preparing for sea-level rise. Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot will address these unprecedented climate challenges and share how state leaders are working together to address them.

Speaker - Secretary Wade Crowfoot

10:00 AM

10:15 AM

Reaction to Governor Newsom's Water Resilience Portfolio

In April Governor Newsom directed his administration to recommend a suite of priorities and actions to build a climate-resilient water system and ensure healthy waterways. To develop this Water Resilience Portfolio, his agencies have identified a suite of complementary actions to ensure safe and dependable water supplies, flood protection, and healthy waterways for the state’s communities, economy, and environment.

Now that the Portfolio has been released you will have the chance to interact with some of the leaders in several sectors to discuss what people like, what they do not like and where we go from here.

Moderator - Jonas Minton, Senior Water Policy Advisor, Planning and Conservation League

Marguerite Patil, Special Assistant to the General Manager, Contra Costa Water District
Alex Biering, Government Affairs and Communications Manager, Friant Water Authority
Eric Wesselman, Executive Director, Friends of the River
Jennifer Clary, Programs Manager, Clean Water Action

Land Use and Transportation: How to Achieve Our Housing and Climate Goals Together

California’s new Governor has put forth extremely ambitious housing goals for the state, 3.5 million homes by 2025. PCL believes it is imperative that the State’s housing goals are aligned with California’s goals for climate, health, and equity, and achieving all of these goals holistically in addressing our housing shortage demands consideration of where our housing is and who it will serve, not solely the sheer number of units we can produce.

PCL is actively working with cross-interest partners around the State with an aim to inform proposals for how to better align our housing and transportation investment with all of these goals. This panel will discuss the multiple recommendations that have emerged.

Moderator - Matthew Baker, Policy Director, Planning and Conservation League

Chanell Fletcher, Executive Director, ClimatePlan
Darwin Masoovi, Deputy Secretary of Environmental Policy and Housing Coordination, California State Transportation Agency
Natalie Kuffel, Land Use Counsel, Governor's Office of Planning and Research
Craig Shields, Section Chief, California Department of Housing and Community Development

Click here for Panel Materials

Litigation Against Environmental Rollbacks Under The Trump Administration

The scope and content of the “deregulation” efforts of the Trump administration have been on-going, seemingly relentless and, in many respects, unprecedented in modern American history. Concurrently, states like California and a wide range of national environmental organizations have filed a wide range of lawsuits, with the California Attorney General’s office having approximately 60 lawsuits pending against the federal government, many of which are challenging specific environmental rollbacks.

In this context, Governor Gavin Newsom, recently vetoed Senate Bill 1, by Toni Atkins, which was designed to be a comprehensive “backfill” for protecting the environment. This assembly panel will discuss key, pending litigation against the federal government and explore evolving options for protecting our environment.

Moderator - Jan Chatten-Brown, Founder and Co-Owner, Chatten-Brown, Carstens & Minteer, LLP

Michael Wall, Litigation Codirector, Natural Resouces Defense Council
David Zonana, Supervising Deputy Attorney, Office of the Attorney General
Kassie Siegel, Climate Law Institute Director, Center for Biological Diversity
Stacey Geis, Managing Attorney, EarthJustice

Click here for Panel Materials

Phasing Out Oil and Gas: Is it Legal to Keep it in the Ground?

As California works to achieve carbon neutrality and address concerns relating to health, safety, air quality, water quality, and environmental justice associated with oil and gas production, many are advocating for a "managed" decline in production, rather than allowing market forces alone to determine where drilling phases out first, and where it is allowed to continue longest. This panel will discuss how the state of California is currently studying this issue and the landscape of policy options for beginning a managed phaseout.

Moderator - David Weiskopf, Senior Policy Advisor, NextGen Policy

Ingrid Brostrom, Assistant Director, The Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment
Seth Shonkoff, Executive Director, PSE Healthy Energy
Brady McCarthy, Consultant, California State Assembly

Click here for Panel Materials

11:45 AM


LUNCH SESSION (Main Hall): Among the dragons: The spiritual path in the climate crisis.
Grief, rage, and despair are familiar, but we can also rely on uncertainty, sweetness, and be sustained by a kind of light that is in trees and birds and even in the darkest moments. We have the capacity and also an obligation to love the world as we work to change it. That love is also something to pass down. A crisis can last for centuries and during that time, it’s important that we care for ourselves. To do this we have to value forests and art and beauty and let our minds be free and natural like national parks. Join our lunch keynote speaker to learn how to stay opportunistic and hopeful in times of uncertainty.

Speaker - John Tarrant

1:15 PM

1:30 PM

The Impact of Climate Change on California Agriculture: What It Means to All of Us

Climate change is likely to have a profound impact on California agriculture. A shrinking Sierra snowpack would mean less irrigation water even as rising temperatures will necessitate more water to keep crops alive. Increased temperatures would also put additional stress on farmworkers and dairy cattle while limiting where mainstay fruit crops, including citrus and wine grapes, can be grown. The panelists in this workshop will elaborate on all these potential impacts as well as adaptation and mitigation measures.

Moderator - Jenny Lester Moffitt, Undersecretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture

William R. Horwath, Chair, Department of Land, Air & Natural Resources

Tapan P. Pathak, Cooperative Extension Specialist, U.C. Merced

Click here for Panel Materials

Securing the Future of California's Living Diversity

In 2018, California launched the Biodiversity Initiative –a historic commitment to saving the web of life that underpins our health and prosperity. Already, this initiative is reshaping how we build a better future --500 California biodiversity scientists have signed “A Charter to Secure the Future of California’s Native Biodiversity,” agencies are urgently scoping how they can contribute to the change, and Governor Newsom’s administration recently budgeted $18.6M toward ambitious biodiversity projects such as the effort to seed bank all of California’s plants and end plant extinction in the Golden State. This panel will explore how we can ensure resilient biodiversity in the face of climate change.

Moderator - Kimberly Tenggardjaja, Biodiversity Coordinator, California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Kim Delfino, Executive Director, Defenders of Wildlife
Charles Striplen, Environmental Scientist, North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
Dan Gluesenkamp, Executive Director, California Native Plant Society

Click here for Panel Materials

CEQA 2.0: The Effort to Resolve Longstanding Controversies About CEQA

During the summer of 2018, PCL formed an advisory group of CEQA experts from around the State to begin developing legislation to streamline CEQA. The group consists of lawyers and one planner, whose daily professional work involves representing a broad range of interests in the State.

Over the course of 16+ months, the volunteer group met for 12 full-day meetings and addressed multiple proposed amendments which now make up a bill pending in the legislature. Today’s panel will discuss the rationale behind the proposed changes and will welcome the audience’s comments.

Moderator - Kevin Johnson, Attorney, Kevin Johnson APLC

Jim Moose, Senior Partner, Remy Moose Manley LLP
Susan Brandt Hawley, Attorney, Brandt-Hawley Law Group
Douglas Carstens, Managing Partner, Chatten-Brown, Carstens & Minteer LLP

Health and Environmental Justice: Telling the Story of Climate Change’s Impacts on Our Communities

Join our lively panel bringing to life what the dry climate science has been telling us for decades. We will tell the stories of the health impacts of climate change and magnify the immediate health co-benefits our families and communities will enjoy as we transition to clean, renewable energy to fuel our societies.

Our panel discussion will illustrate how the universally shared value of human health-- particularly for the next generation--may be our most powerful tool for unlocking political gridlock in order to open the door to swift climate solutions. We hope you join us for this conversation telling the story of climate change’s health impacts as an important tool to build social will for health-protecting climate action.

Moderator - Sarah Schear, Co-Founder, California Climate Health Now, Medical Student, UCSF School of Medicine

Martha Arguello, Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles
William Barrett, Director of Clean Air Advocacy, American Lung Association
Katie Valenzuela, Policy and Political Director, California Environmental Justice Alliance
Ashley McClure, MD, FACP

Click here for Panel Materials

3:00 PM

3:15 PM

Hope for a Resilient Future: Young Leaders Share Their Vision

As the defining issue of this era, climate change will impact our communities for generations to come. Young people will soon inherit this colossal burden and will be asked to sustain, accelerate, and expand our efforts while grappling with the worsening impacts of climate change. We have seen young climate activists around the world mobilize to make their voices heard, demanding leaders to take urgent action to protect frontline communities and future generations. Despite the uphill battle they face, youth activists and young professionals continue to demonstrate the level of commitment, courage, and creativity necessary to conquer the challenges we face as a society. In short, we have a lot that we can learn from our youth.

Join us for a closing panel discussion with CivicSpark Fellows to hear their stories and vision for how we can rapidly decarbonize our economy and advance equitable climate solutions. We hope you will leave this session inspired and with a renewed sense of hope and commitment to creating a climate-resilient future for all.

Moderator - Julia Kim, Director of Climate and Energy Programs, Local Government Commission

Ali Lehman, CivicSpark Fellow
Kiara Ryan, CivicSpark Fellow
Laura Emmons, CivicSpark Fellow

4:15 PM

Hosts & Partners

PCL/PCL Foundation


McGeorge School of Law



Youth Partner


Gold Sponsors

Phyllis Faber
David Hirsch
Sage Sweetwood

Bronze Sponsors

National Wildlife Federation
Kevin K. Johnson, A Professional Law Corporation
Wittwer Parkin, LLP
Mogavero Architects, Inc.
M.R. Wolfe & Associates, PC
Lozeau Drury, LLP
Remy Moose Manley, LLP
Graham Brownstein
Ralph B. Perry III
Cynthia Bisman

Emerging Sponsors

Law Offices of Stuart Flashman
Center for Biological Diversity
Defenders of Wildlife
Monica S Hunter

Contributing Sponsors

Andy Sawyer & Carol Bingham
California Wildlife Foundation/California Oaks
Harold Thomas
Marin Conservation League
Friends, Artists and Neighbors of Elkhorn Slough
Margie Kay
Environmental Defense Center
Valley Land Alliance
Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks
Jen McGraw
Holland and Knight, LLP
Law Offices of Babak Naficy