The Porterville Recorder: Newsom signs $15 billion climate change package

September 23, 2021


Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation on Thursday that provides for a $15 billion package to deal with climate change.

Newsom signed the legislation at the site of the KNP Complex in Sequoia National Park as he visited the site on Thursday. Newsom dubbed the package as the largest climate change package in state history.

The legislation covers two main areas — dealing with the drought and wildfires. The legislation Newsom signed outlines investments to deal with wildfires. Newsom's office also stated the legislation provides immediate drought response along with providing long-term water resources.

Newsom's office stated the legislation is aimed at helping California's most vulnerable communities, stating the legislation is designed to “directly protect communities across the state from multi-faceted climate risks, including extreme heat and sea level rise.”

“California is doubling down on our nation-leading policies to confront the climate crisis head-on while protecting the hardest-hit communities,” Newsom said. “We’re deploying a comprehensive approach to meet the sobering challenges of the extreme weather patterns that imperil our way of life and the Golden State as we know it, including the largest investment in state history to bolster wildfire resilience, funding to tackle the drought emergency while building long-term water resilience, and strategic investments across the spectrum to protect communities from extreme heat, sea level rise and other climate risks that endanger the most vulnerable among us.”

Included in the legislation is a $1.5 billion wildfire and forest resilience package described as the largest such investment in state history. The state had allocated $536 million of that $1.5 billion in April. An additional $988 million during the 2021-2022 fiscal year will fund projects designed to reduce wildfire risk and to improve the condition of forest.

Funding is called for to go to fire-vulnerable areas, strategic fuel breaks, fuel reduction and restoring landscapes. The governor's office stated the package also provides a framework to expand the wood products market.

All of this is going to implement the Governor's Governor’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan he introduced in January. In addition there's funding for additional fire crews and equipment, and executive actions to help combat catastrophic wildfires.

CAL FIRE’s firefighting ranks were bolstered with an additional 1,399 firefighters and 12 additional aircraft in March. Newsom also launched a Wildfire and Forest Resilience Task Force early this year.

Newsom and the U.S. Forest Service also announced a shared stewardship plan in which one million acres of forest and wildland would be treated to reduce the risk of wildfire.

Also in the $15 billion package is $5.2 billion to be invested over three years to deal with the drought and water issues. “Climate change is making droughts more common and more severe,” Newsom's office stated.

Included is funding for emergency drought relief projects; support for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, with a focus on small and disadvantaged communities; funding to help implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation; and projects to support wildlife and habitat restoration efforts.

The package also includes $3.7 billion over three years for climate resilience designed to focus on “vulnerable, front-line communities to build resilience against the state’s multi-faceted climate risks, including extreme heat and sea level rise.”

Included are projects to make urban areas more green and grants to advance the Extreme Heat Framework as part of the state's Climate Adaptation Strategy. Also included is funding for the California Climate Action Corps, which supports local climate action projects in disadvantaged communities.

Agricultural also received its piece of the pie to become more climate friendly as $1.1 billion has been set aside over two years in that effort. The funding will be used to support sustainable agricultural practices, including the effort to promote healthy soil management and to reduce livestock methane.

There's also funding to replace agricultural equipment to reduce emissions and incentives to develop farm conservation management plans. The program also includes funding for healthy foods for seniors, schools and non-profit organizations.

There's also a $3.9 billion zero-emission vehicle package as part of the total package to meet the state's zero-emission vehicle goals. There's funding for 1,000 zero-emission trucks, 1,000 zero-emission school buses and 1,000 transit buses.

In addition there's a large amount of funding for roads with the priority to benefit disadvantaged communities. Also included are incentives for purchasing zero-emission vehicles and incentives for low-income Californians to used cars with a new or used advanced technology car.

$3.9 Billion Zero-Emission Vehicle Package

There's also $270 million to support sustainability and to reduce short-term pollutants caused by waste and $150 million for waterfront parks with an emphasis on underserved communities.

Newsom talso signed a number of climate measures designed to advance climate and clean energy efforts. Legislation to boost drought and wildfire resilience includes Senate Bill 552 by Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) to ensure small and rural water suppliers develop drought and water shortage contingency plans and implement drought resiliency measures to prevent and prepare for future water shortages.

There's also SB 403 by Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) to allow the State Water Resources Control Board to order consolidation of an at-risk water system or domestic well in a disadvantaged community. This has already been done when it comes to Exeter helping the nearby community of Tooleville.

 SB 109 by Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) creates the Office of Wildfire Technology Research and Development at CAL FIRE and AB 697 by Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Arcadia) enables the state to plan, manage and implement forest restoration projects on national forest lands through an expanded Good Neighbor Authority Program.

The legislation signed today also includes SB 1 by Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), which establishes the California Sea Level Rise Mitigation and Adaptation Act to prepare for sea level rise.

AB 525 by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) directs state agencies to develop a strategic plan for offshore wind resources following an historic agreement the state made earlier this year with federal partners.

SB 47 by Senator Monique Limόn (D-Santa Barbara) increases the amount of money the state can collect annually to plug abandoned wells, utilizing funds from fees on the oil and gas industry and AB 39 by Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Arcadia) enables the University of California to establish the California-China Climate Institute.

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