We need urgent action to fight climate change and provide a beautiful, healthy environment for everyone in California:
- Raise California's targets for clean energy growth and tighten pollution standards, towards 100% clean energy by 2035.
- Launch a Green New Deal to produce hundreds of thousands of good jobs to build clean energy and transportation infrastructure, clean up pollution, and prevent natural disasters.
- Win a strong corporate pollution tax to cut emissions and fund the Green New Deal.
- End new fracking, oil drilling, and coal mining with a new fossil fuel ban in California.
- Expand community environmental controls on local industries to protect clean air and water for everyone.
Climate change is rapidly destabilizing California's environment, devastating our communities with extreme wildfires, landslides, droughts, and increased air pollution. We must go beyond current policies that too often were written to protect fossil fuel companies, and left working people as victims of dangerous pollution. California should lead the world with a transformative Green New Deal to end climate change and environmental injustice.
As a longtime leader on Richmond City Council and in the Richmond Progressive Alliance, I am intensely proud of our environmental record. Chevron-funded politicians ran our city government for many decades until our grassroots movement took back City Hall. On City Council, I was deeply involved in our successful effort that won back $100 million in unpaid tax revenue from Chevron. I helped lead the fight to tighten limits on Chevron's pollution and learned firsthand about state laws that protect polluters by preventing local air and water regulation.
Based on my record of strong environmental leadership, I am very proud to have won the endorsement of the Sierra Club of California, California Environmental Justice Alliance Action, the California League of Conservation Voters, and many other progressive environmental organizations and leaders. As the only corporate money-free candidate in the race, I will build on my experience in Richmond to win strong environmental policies that protect working people, not corporate profits.
Urgent Climate and Energy Leadership
In the Assembly I will join with progressive legislators working urgently to strengthen California's clean energy and climate change prevention policies. I strongly support passage of Senate Bill 100 to achieve 100 percent renewable and zero-carbon electricity in California by 2045. I will push to reach that goal even sooner, towards 100% clean energy by 2035.
I will defend our existing climate protection policies from corporate attacks while pressing to strengthen them. Our current state targets call for an 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which climate scientists indicate is the minimum level of reduction needed worldwide to avert total catastrophe. As the fifth largest economy in the world, California needs to do more than the bare minimum, because we know not all other states and countries are willing or able to move as quickly as we can. California needs to lead with an all-out public mobilization to end climate-destroying pollution as swiftly as possible, and build an environmentally just economy in the process.
We need a ban on expansion of fossil fuel production in California, with a stop to all new mining, drilling, and fracking of oil, coal, and gas. I support a complete ban on offshore oil drilling and support decommissioning existing facilities. I oppose transportation of fracking oil, tar sand oils, coal, and other hazardous fossil fuels through California, and especially to facilities located in working-class communities. I also favor a state tax on existing oil and gas extraction to pay for clean energy and environmental programs. Public alternatives need to be developed to replace for-profit energy companies and utilities.
I support a strong corporate pollution tax to motivate use of environmentally sustainable technologies and to fund our Green New Deal. Corporate investors and executives should not make billions in profit from dirty industries while we suffer the extreme health and cleanup costs of their pollution. Such a tax could focus on greenhouse gas emissions as a climate protection measure.
California's complex cap-and-trade pollution market has made limited steps in the right direction, but its approach needs a fundamental change. Unfortunately, especially with last year's flawed Assembly Bill 398, the cap-and-trade system has been designed to protect corporate polluters, due to the influence of fossil fuel company lobbyists on corporate-funded lawmakers. A central flaw is that cap-and-trade permits "offset" payoffs which allow polluting industries to stay in place. These old industries are often located next to working class communities who thus do not gain from new pollution limits.
Our cap-and-trade program has reduced pollution much less than our direct state climate mandates, such as clean energy and vehicle emission standards. We should learn from our climate policy experience and expand on direct approaches that work. A corporate pollution tax would rapidly reduce climate-destroying emissions, hold corporations accountable, and protect working Californians from climate disaster.
A Green New Deal for California
We need a Green New Deal. This would be a dedicated public program to provide hundreds of thousands of good jobs to transform our infrastructure and restore our environment. As described in fuller detail in my Just Economy platform, a Million Jobs Program would direct public funding to projects across the state proposed by local communities and state agencies. In the Assembly, I will build legislative alliances for this program and develop it in close collaboration with labor, environmental, and community organizations.
Alongside incentives and laws that guide private companies in order to limit climate change, public programs should build the clean energy, mass transit, public recreation, and efficient housing infrastructure we need. In communities across California, industrial pollution and environmental disruption have created severe public health hazards while increasing vulnerability to disasters like wildfire and landslides. All of these challenges are opportunities for good public infrastructure and environmental restoration jobs.
Workers from fossil fuel industries and other polluting industries should not personally bear the costs of our public policy changes. We need a strong "just transition" program for job placement, retraining, and placement of these workers into comparably compensated, secure careers. This could be done through our Green New Deal jobs program.
California should promote small-scale residential and commercial solar to bring renewable energy into all communities. I will be an active supporter of legal codes and funding incentives that support this goal.
For too long in California our working class communities, and disproportionately people of color, have been the first to be exposed to toxic industrial development. As we develop a Green New Deal that benefits all Californians, we need to ensure that special resources are allocated to the communities most adversely affected with high asthma rates, lung disease, and other consequences of pollution.
Community Empowerment for Environmental Justice
I believe state law should not be used to prevent cities' and communities' efforts to limit industrial pollution. Cities should have the right to protect their citizens from toxic developments, but state law has often been used to pre-empt such community control. I have witnessed the devastating health effects of these state restrictions in Richmond. I will work with environmental justice leaders from across the state to strengthen the ability of local communities to limit toxic development in their area.
I believe we should return power to local Air District boards to protect local public health, and make them as democratic as possible. Air and Water District Board representatives should be directly elected by the communities they serve.
At the state level I will work to prevent oil refinery expansions, cement plant projects, and other toxic industries from being built next to working class communities -- especially those who have not yet won the power to decide on local developments that affect them. I will support state level efforts to mandate emissions caps on refineries, enact setbacks on oil and gas infrastructure near schools and residences, and strengthen regulations on fracking wastewater. I will work to expand green spaces for habitat and public recreation areas in working class communities, including by remediating toxic sites.
The ambitious environmental policies we need will not be won by politicians in Sacramento alone. Enacting these policies will require a mass movement. We must organize in our neighborhoods and workplaces statewide if we want to transform our politics to be free from corporate control. I will draw on my movement-building experience in Richmond as I rally support both inside and outside of the Assembly for strong environmental policies.
I support funding for community groups working to develop youth leaders in environmental justice. Their leadership and the leadership of community environmental organizations will directly inform my strategies for achieving real environmental justice at the local and state levels.
Immediate Action for a Healthy Environment
In the Assembly I will work to preserve, uphold, and implement the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The public relies on CEQA to protect its health and well-being and protect the environment. I oppose efforts (for instance in Senate Bill 827) to exempt private developers and municipalities from complying with CEQA requirements under the guise of assumed, undemonstrated environmental benefits.
I support AB 1316, the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act, which requires the California Department of Public Health to revise lead testing and exposure rules to consider proximity to polluting businesses, freeways, and lead contaminated plumbing.
I support AB 885 requiring K-12 schools to install certified water filters and replace lead pipes, and mandating local water utilities to periodically test water safety at schools.
Transportation produces half of California's climate-threatening emissions. We should immediately expand funding for public transportation. We need to restore and extend public transportation options, especially to working class communities. Annual state transportation budgets need to be aligned with climate goals, with increased funding directed to clean transportation.
I will work to strengthen California's workplace environmental regulations to protect workers from toxic exposure and ensure protection for workers who report hazardous conditions.
More money needs to be committed to maintain and restore California's water infrastructure, as demonstrated by the 2017 Oroville Dam crisis. We should repair California's existing water supply infrastructure first, before seeking to solve the state's water supply problems by investing in huge new projects.
I support Delta planning and restoration efforts to protect the West Coast salmon fishery and native fish, based on scientific evidence. I oppose the Delta tunnels project that threatens access to clean drinking and irrigation water for the Delta's population, while putting local wildlife, fishing, and recreation at serious risk.
Development on California's coasts needs to be carefully regulated and limited to protect public access and prepare for rising sea levels.
From the Pacific, to the Sierra Nevada and beyond, Californians deserve a state government that protects and restores a healthy environment for all.