Busy Times for California Leaders and Environmentalists



We’ve had an exciting start to 2019 in California with a new Governor, Gavin Newsom, taking the oath of office, along with a new class of state legislators, many of whom ran and won on their environmental platforms. Legislative leaders, with pro-environment majorities in both the State Assembly and Senate are moving ahead with ambitious progressive agendas.    

Governor Newsom transitioned seamlessly to the state’s top job. Right after his inauguration, teachers went on strike in Los Angeles and the nation’s largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, filed for bankruptcy. The teachers’ strike is over, but the bankruptcy proceedings are just getting started. Meanwhile, Newsom is preparing for another wildfire season, negotiating with the legislature over the state budget, fighting the Trump administration’s senseless attacks on California, and he recently took his first international trip as Governor to visit El Salvador to strengthen bilateral relationships and offer an alternative humane, approach to immigration.

Newsom also made two major environmental announcements on important issues that NRDC has been advocating for years. First, he canceled the disastrous Water Fix, twin Delta tunnels project and announced a plan for one Delta tunnel coupled with climate resilient regional water supply strategies to help California use water more efficiently and decrease reliance on the vulnerable San Francisco Bay Delta ecosystem. NRDC welcomes the announcement. It embodies many of the elements NRDC’s water team helped develop with our coalition partners in 2013.  

Next, Newsom’s Secretary of CalEPA Jared Blumenfeld took a major step forward to protect children, farmworkers, and families by initiating the process to ban the brain-harming pesticide, chlorpyrifos, and proposing $5.7 million in new funding to support a transition to safer alternatives. NRDC’s public health team has been working to eliminate chlorpyrifos from fields and communities across the country for nearly two decades. State Senator Maria Elena Durazo is similarly authoring SB 458 to ban chlorpyrifos – highlighting the growing momentum to protect Californians from this toxic pesticide.

Sacramento action is intensifying around the thousand or so bills moving toward the Governor’s desk. NRDC and our coalition partners are working to pass legislation on a broad range of topics including efforts to: shore up California’s environmental and worker protections amid the Trump administration’s ongoing threats, reduce toxic chemicals and pollution, increase local water reliability, provide greater mobility options, increase the number of electric vehicles on our roads, and protect California’s people and natural resources from the threats of oil drilling.

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