Capitol Voice January 2024

 

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California’s Priorities at Stake: Unpacking Governor Newsom's Budget Proposal

From California to the Nation - Shaping Industrial Decarbonization initiatives in Washington DC

Meet Our Newest Organizer Jakob Evans + An Update on In-District Lobbying

 

California’s Priorities at Stake: Unpacking Governor Newsom's Budget Proposal

By Jason John

Capitol building


Last week, Governor Newsom released his 2024-2025 state budget proposal, which projects a $38 billion budget deficit. Although lower than the $68 billion projected by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, this still presents a significant shortfall that threatens to derail the critical advances we have made in environmental justice, conservation, transportation, and electrification. The Governor’s proposal includes delays and reductions to investments in these critical sectors, but keeps important funding for other climate initiatives from previous budgets. 

California faces a challenging fiscal situation, and proposing a budget under these circumstances is no easy task. However, Newsom’s proposal cuts hundreds of millions of dollars of funding from important programs, such as the Equitable Building Decarbonization initiatives and the Extreme Heat and Community Resilience program, that will be necessary to protect California’s communities and address the impacts of the climate crisis. 

The proposal also includes significant delays to funding for ZEV programs and cuts to transportation, which will disproportionately impact equity programs and harm vulnerable communities that are most at risk from the effects of climate change. Notably, the budget cuts over $700 million in water-related investments, including for watershed and climate resilience programs, water recycling and groundwater cleanup, and funding aimed at addressing PFAS pollution and dam safety. 

The budget does maintain $1.4 billion for nature-based solutions that will be vital to achieve the state’s 30x30 goals. It also cuts subsidies to oil and gas corporations. This is a win for Californians, and will help us move towards holding big oil accountable for its role in polluting California’s lands and communities.

It is a challenging time, but California must do better. The development of the budget is a months-long process, and the Governor will have the opportunity to present a revised budget in May. Over the next few months, Sierra Club California and our allies will be advocating at the legislature and with the administration to find ways we can bridge some of these important climate investments. Stay tuned for updates on this process and ways you can help supporta these critical programs and funding for California’s communities, nature, and future.

 

From California to the Nation - Shaping Industrial Decarbonization initiatives in Washington DC

By Gabriela Facio

smog over Los Angeles


This week, I joined my colleagues on Sierra Club’s federal policy team on Capitol Hill as part of a nationwide effort to lobby for the  emerging industrial transformation campaign. It was a unique opportunity to meet a diverse group of passionate advocates, coordinate with our incredible DC policy team on our federal campaign goals, lead teams of volunteers to lobby with congressional staff, and have the experience of walking through the iconic halls of our congressional office buildings.

Sierra Club’s Industrial Transformation Campaign’s goal is to advocate for a transition to cleaner technologies, promote global market leadership, and ensure a resilient low-carbon future for industries nationwide. This week’s congressional lobbying effort was aimed at educating members of Congress about the importance of clean transformation, and urging leadership to draft and advocate for bold, sector-specific clean manufacturing legislation and investment in government support of clean domestic materials. 

One of our most important objectives this week was addressing the impacts of industrial activities on frontline communities.  Sierra Club advocates spoke with Congressional staff and leaders about the need for industrial corporations to reduce their carbon emissions, especially near frontline communities. These predominantly low income and black and brown neighborhoods have disproportionately felt the burdens of pollution and negative environmental effects associated with industrial operations.

The emergence of a federal movement for industrial decarbonization policy signifies a crucial shift towards more sustainable practices and a more environmentally responsible future for the heaviest polluting industries in the nation. Federal support for buy clean initiatives in California is crucial to ensure standardization criteria for “clean” products, and create the market confidence for industries in California to confidently invest and adopt cleaner innovative technologies. It can provide greater opportunities for policy alignment, market incentives, research and development, streamlining regulatory processes, financial support for local initiatives, and a shared commitment to nationwide industrial decarbonization. 

Our team held over 35 congressional meetings this week, and this is just the start of our industrial transformation campaign this year. We’re excited about the potential that these efforts will have for illuminating a path toward a greener, more equitable industrial future. 

Thanks so much to everyone who traveled out to DC for these meetings, including staff from across the country, frontline community organizers, students, and our long-time and new volunteers. Joined together, our united front of voices helped amplify calls for a cleaner, low-carbon future. Keep an eye out for updates on our team’s future progress and ways you can get involved.

 

Meet Our Newest Organizer Jakob Evans + An Update on In-District Lobbying

By Jakob Evans