2020 Platform: Energy and Environment

 Climate change is an existential threat to humanity.  We believe California must lead in forging a robust global solution to the climate crisis.  Further, all Californians, urban, suburban, and rural, hold a shared interest in preserving and protecting the environment that sustains us.  California Democrats have led the way toward effective solutions to problems arising from our industrial society – resource extraction, waste disposal, and pollution – and their disparate impact on our forests, family farms, the poor, persons of color, and indigenous people.  California Democrats will prioritize energy and environment.

 Climate change and other environmental issues present a clear and imminent threat to our planet and our public health, therefore California Democrats will:

 

Energy and Climate

  • Support a green new deal: A comprehensive energy security and climate protection law calling for full decarbonization of the United States economy running on net-zero emissions by 2050, creating millions of good jobs; investing in green infrastructure and industry; securing clean air and water, climate and community resilience, healthy food; and, access to nature for all;
  • Urge Congress and the California legislature to implement a green new deal that achieves 100 percent clean electricity by 2045, with hiring preferences for formerly incarcerated and socially and/or economically disadvantaged peoples; deploys building and vehicle electrification and zero-net, carbon-free infrastructure; transitions away from extraction and refining of fossil fuels; creates substantial setbacks separating fossil fuel extraction from residential communities; upgrades America’s buildings for efficiency and safety; adopts low-carbon, plant-based food, and small-scale and organic farming; expands affordable housing close to jobs; involves labor unions in the process of job training and worker deployment; creates a network of public banks to finance green infrastructure; respects Indigenous rights; ensures that local implementation of the transition from fossil fuels is led from the community level; and, ensures that frontline communities affected by environmental degradation are given priority to mitigate poor planning and zoning decisions of the past;
  • Urge Congress, the California Legislature, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the California Energy Commission to reduce long-term reliance on nuclear power, ensure the safety and thoroughly evaluate the full lifecycle costs of nuclear power, phase-out all reactors, decommission and withhold funds for license renewal for Mark I nuclear reactors (which cannot be made safe), and ensure that operators provide emergency plans and provide adequate liability protection for populations within 50 miles of reactors; 
  • Urge the California Legislature, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the California Energy Commission to eliminate long-term reliance on gas storage facilities, such as Aliso Canyon and Playa del Rey, and to swiftly decommission these dangerous and unsafe sites, while providing incentives for municipalities, individuals, and families to phase out natural gas-powered appliances;
  • Work to ensure the clean-up and safe storage of nuclear waste and the clean-up of Superfund sites;  
  • Support distributed energy such as rooftop and passive solar; support expansion of solar energy production in disadvantaged communities and multi-unit developments; support government initiatives that allow property owners to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for their homes and commercial buildings; and, support energy democracy and community choice (CCA) energy programs to transition California to locally sourced clean power that will provide green jobs;
  • Support the implementation of a fossil-fuels extraction tax whose proceeds are solely used to phase out fossil fuel production and create a just and fair transition for workers in the fossil fuel industry; 
  • Oppose new fossil fuel infrastructure projects; and,
  • Support an immediate moratorium on fracking and other forms of oil/gas well stimulation.

 

Environment and Nature

  • Protect California's right, consistent with longstanding federal law, to set California science-based environmental standards that lead the way for the rest of the nation;
  • Commit to environmental justice: no community should be subjected to environmental hazards due to race, economic standing, or immigration status; and, prioritize legislation that includes environmental justice provisions;
  • Protect California’s unique coastline and wetlands: preserve and ensure coastal access for all people; support the recovery and preservation of our ocean ecosystems; and, oppose new offshore oil/gas leasing;
  • Protect California’s majestic forests: safeguard forests through sustained yield best practices forestry; oppose clear-cutting; and, encourage planting of trees in appropriate settings;
  • Protect California’s public lands for all to appreciate: support access to all while protecting sensitive areas; support dedicated funding for state parks; support full funding of state resource agencies, including State Parks, Fish & Wildlife, and Coastal Commission; and, oppose sale of public forests and parkland; and, oppose logging, mining and other resource extraction on public lands;
  • Protect California’s diverse flora and fauna: support preservation of adequate corridors and resting spaces for wildlife to migrate from important habitats to locations where they breed, feed or winter; and, support legislation protecting important keystone species of wildlife and plants;
  • Restore the clarity of Lake Tahoe and preserve California's inland lakes and wetlands by preventing the intrusion of new aquatic invasive species and by protecting watersheds and surrounding forest ecosystems; 
  • Support mandatory funding for Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) to counties that have relinquished taxable land to the state for wildlife conservation; and,
  • Protect California’s neighborhoods, rivers, beaches, and marine ecosystems from the costly scourge of plastic pollution: eliminate single use plastics and mandate eco-friendly packaging; and, support extended producer responsibility policies which require manufacturers of non-recyclable or hazardous products to provide for the safe disposal of these products at the end of their useful life.

 

Agriculture and Food Safety

  • Support an economically viable, environmentally sound, and socially responsible agriculture and food sector that works for all of California’s people;
  • Curtail and rapidly phase out chlorpyrifos and other pesticides that pose threats to farm workers, consumers, and bees and other pollinators; 
  • Promote humane labor conditions for farm workers and other workers, as a matter of environmental justice, so that workers are not forced to choose between an unsafe livelihood and unemployment; 
  • Encourage eat-local movements, small-scale farming, organic farming, community gardens, farmers’ markets, and other farm-to-table programs as a means of connecting consumers to food production, providing humane treatment of farm animals, and driving economic growth; and,
  • Support policy and legislation that encourages and educates on the use of plant-based alternatives to reduce reliance on animal agriculture, a major contributor to climate change.

 

Transportation and the Built Environment 

  • Defend California's longstanding ability to set science-based standards for internal combustion engines as a part of a comprehensive plan to reduce tailpipe emissions;
  • Support housing, transit, and jobs policies that give people jobs that pay a living wage near housing they can afford, so as to discourage super-commuters;
  • Support expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure; and, support policies designed to lower carbon emissions (and electrification where possible) of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles;
  • Demand that communities of color and low income communities, which are often disproportionately burdened with a high density of toxic industrial facilities and highways, receive community benefits including health care to cover injurious effects of pollution from forced infrastructure and industry;
  • Demand that communities of color and low income communities are given the right to participate as equal partners at every level of project decision-making, including needs assessment, planning, implementation, enforcement, and evaluation;
  • Demand Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) driving-reduction targets, shown by science to support climate stabilization;
  • Work for equitable and environmentally-sound road and parking operations; support strategies to reduce driving, such as creating smart growth and “complete streets,” teaching bicycling traffic skills, and improving transit, from local systems to high-speed rail; 
  • Support policies that empower small business owners to make investments in transportation infrastructure to ensure that freight moves by lower-emission local, short-line freight railroads to mitigate highway congestion and pollution;
  • Support the design and implementation of a single, environmentally-sound technology system that will collect and distribute fees for the use of roads, parking, and transit that is both economically fair and convenient and protects user privacy and the interests of low-income users; 
  • Encourage Net-Zero Energy Emissions in new home and commercial construction by 2030 and encourage the use of fire-resistant, termite-proof, and energy-efficient building materials in all new residential and light commercial construction;
  • Promote urban policies that lead to revitalization of disadvantaged communities, but without gentrifying communities so as to displace longtime residents; and,
  • Demand a state plan specifying how cars and light-duty trucks can meet climate-stabilizing targets by defining enforceable measures to achieve necessary fleet efficiency and per-capita driving limits; and,
  • Work to ensure that freeway expansion projects are subordinate to more sustainable alternatives that will result in more jobs and more economic growth.

 

Water 

  • Protect clean, safe drinking water in schools, public buildings, and municipal water systems as a basic human right; 
  • Support the mandate to ensure clean drinking water for all Californians by fully protecting all water sources, funding the treatment systems needed to clean up existing contamination, and assuring that small water systems, heavily concentrated in rural areas, have the resources to deliver reliable, safe drinking water; 
  • Motivate efficient and sustainable use of water; hold all users accountable to reasonable consumption levels; implement and enforce regulations for groundwater use that includes full usage documentation; and, ensure allocation and management of water to sustain the economy, including needs of agriculture, ecosystems, fisheries, recreation, and endangered species; 
  • Protect the Delta by upgrading the levees, restoring the rivers, increasing floodplain habitat for fish and wildlife and groundwater recharge, mitigating saltwater intrusion and subsidence, and preserving agricultural land; and, invest in projects throughout the state that reduce reliance on the Delta and promote water conservation as a way of life; 
  • Oppose farming practices that lead to long-term depletion of California’s aquifers; 
  • Prioritize conservation, stormwater capture/reclamation, and potable reuse/recycling over desalination and dam-building; and, 
  • Work to ensure that all stakeholders are consulted regarding proposals for new or expanded diversions of water from one watershed to another and that the environmental, economic, and social justice impact of these water diversions are fully addressed.

 

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