Boiling over – POLITICO


BOILING OVER: The labor movement’s bubbling tensions with environmental groups are coming to a head.

Labor unions want to be part of a group advising the state on how to reach its greenhouse gas targets. The problem? The labor advocates pushing for access are diametrically opposed to the environmental justice interests the group is supposed to represent.

Environmental justice advocates are dismayed by the State Building and Construction Trades Council’s bid to put a union member on the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee. The collision course began last month, when Air Resources Board member (and former Republican-turned-Democratic assemblymember) Nathan Fletcher proposed adding a union seat to the committee.

“I’m very concerned about having a specific labor seat on the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee,” one of the members, Paulina Torres, a staff attorney with the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, said at a well-attended Friday afternoon Zoom meeting. “EJAC members are representing their communities rather than, in this case, it would be their union. And so I just don’t — I can’t really see how there could be a labor representative.”

THERE’S AN ONGOING BATTLE OVER OIL PRODUCTION. Environmental justice advocates typically push for conventional pollution reductions at the source, citing impacts on nearby low-income neighborhoods. But the building trades don’t want to stymie fossil fuel production in California, which has been a reliable source of jobs. The union has fought the EJ community on efforts to establish buffer zones between wells and sensitive areas — a battle the environmental community lost this session when Senate Bill 467 died.

The conflict late last week crystallized the long-simmering tensions between two key Democratic constituencies, environmentalists and labor unions. And it made clear how irreconcilable their differences remain as the Biden administration tries to bridge emissions gaps on the federal level.

HAPPY MONDAY AFTERNOON! Legislative floor sessions are a bit calmer this week. Welcome to California PM Playbook, a new POLITICO newsletter that serves as an afternoon temperature check of California politics and a look at where the surplus dollars are headed this budget season. We’ll go through June 18 before returning in August for the legislative homestretch. Got tips or suggestions? Shoot an email to kya[email protected] and [email protected] or send a shout on Twitter. DMs are open!

TEST TAKERS: California health officials issued new Covid-19 test guidelines Monday that distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. The rules say that vaccinated people don’t need to get tested in most asymptomatic instances, which frees up tests for unvaccinated residents. However, there are exceptions, such as those living or working in densely populated environments and exposed to a known case of Covid-19.

DATA DUMP: Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office released new data about school district plans for the summer and fall, but questions remain.

According to the data released today, more than 99 percent of school districts plan to return to full-time, five-day classroom instruction in the fall. In his budget revision last month, Newsom vowed to tie state funding to in-person attendance.

Immediately, there were questions about the 0.66 percent of school districts that reported they do not plan to reopen next academic year and what that would mean for their funding and the students they serve. But Newsom officials told POLITICO that those handful of districts are likely reporting errors, and the state knows of no district willingly refusing to return.

The data released Monday is based off of responses from 85-90 percent of the state’s 1,037 school districts. Nearly 90 percent of districts surveyed said they plan to offer some sort of summer school to make up for pandemic learning loss.

Newsom has not yet said if schools will require students to wear masks in classrooms next academic…

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