California’s environmental agenda gets new energy
Good morning, California. It’s Thursday, January 28.
EJ groups flex muscle
President Joe Biden on Wednesday issued a lengthy executive order on the environment and climate change, paving the way for California to advance its ambitious agenda even as numerous roadblocks remain.
Among Biden’s directives was a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal land — throwing into limbo seven Kern County leases the Trump administration auctioned off in December against California’s wishes. Biden also wants to conserve 30% of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030, a goal to which Gov. Gavin Newsom committed California in October. And the president plans to create a Civilian Climate Corps, evoking the California Climate Action Corps Newsom formed in September and whose first cohort began their fellowships this month.
To learn more about what Biden’s presidency means for California’s environment, check out this comprehensive explainer from CalMatters’ Julie Cart and Rachel Becker — it even includes a Magic 8 Ball that predicts his administration’s actions. According to the Magic 8 Ball, it’s very likely Biden will reinstate California’s authority to set its own auto emissions standards — an assessment Newsom appears to agree with.
- Newsom in a Wednesday tweet: “Hey, Toyota, Fiat, Hyundai, and Subaru — hope you watched (Biden’s) remarks. … Now, before all you companies start talking about national emissions standards, why don’t you start with DROPPING your climate killing, Trump-era lawsuits against CA?”
But even with a federal government that shares many of California’s environmental goals, all is not quiet on the Western Front. Newsom has come under fire from environmental justice groups — which are gaining influence in California and nationwide — for continuing to issue fracking permits. His administration approved 1,709 new oil and gas permits in 2020, a 117% increase from the year before, according to NewsomWellWatch, a site maintained by advocacy groups.
The California Environmental Justice Alliance gave Newsom a 44% rating on a scorecard released Wednesday, blasting the governor for vetoing a bill that would have reformed the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control.
- CEJA: We urge “Newsom to work closely with environmental justice groups to identify and act on necessary, transformative solutions to our climate and economic crises. … It would be a shame, and the governor’s unfortunate legacy, to let this moment pass us by.”
The coronavirus bottom line: As of Wednesday, California had 3,169,914 confirmed cases (+0.5% from previous day) and 38,224 deaths (+1.9% from previous day), according to a CalMatters tracker.
Also: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. And we’re tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county.
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1. Blue Shield to lead vaccine network
Blue Shield of California will lead the new statewide vaccine network charged with delivering doses to providers, state officials said Wednesday, adding that Kaiser Permanente will run a separate program for its members and provide additional assistance to the state. The announcement came a day after the state said a “third-party administrator” would spearhead the new system, but declined to provide additional details. That raised concerns for nine Republican lawmakers, who sent Newsom a letter Wednesday demanding more transparency about the contract.
- The lawmakers: “While we welcome any effort to expedite the administration of vaccines, the public and the Legislature have been left…