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Global Warming2021-2022 California Environmental Laws: What’s Been Enacted?

2021-2022 California Environmental Laws: What’s Been Enacted?

2021-2022 California Environmental Laws: What’s Been Enacted?

Climate change and warmth bills have been signed in two packages amidst other environmental laws at the tip of the 2021-2022 legislative session.

On the close of California’s legislative session on September 1, legislators sent quite a few environmental bills to the Governor for his signature, including measures to mitigate climate change, deal with extreme heat, advance the state’s clean energy goals, take care of California’s ongoing drought, decarbonize buildings, construct more transit-friendly reasonably priced housing, and conserve our natural lands. Now that September is over—and the Governor’s window to sign or veto laws has closed—this post will provide a roundup of key environmental laws that passed at the tip of this session, although the bills discussed below are only a few of the many environmental bills which have change into law this yr (including SB 54, landmark plastic waste laws that was signed earlier in 2022).

Climate Change Mitigation

The Governor approved a notable slate of climate laws with a package that features more stringent greenhouse gas (GHG) emission targets and measures designed to scale back the state’s reliance on fossil fuels. In signing these bills, the Governor touted the state as essentially the most aggressive actor on climate within the nation. Implementation of those latest laws will likely be the true test of that statement, but they supply an exciting place to begin.

Critically, AB 1279 updates California’s statewide carbon neutrality goal to attain net zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2045, and codifies a separate goal of achieving GHG emission reductions to at the least 85% below the state’s 1990 levels by 2045. Prior to this latest law, the state was required by law to be sure that statewide greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to at the least 40% below the 1990 level by 2030. The ambitious latest goal would require rather more drastic reduction tactics across all sectors of California’s economy.

To fulfill these goals, the state is facilitating burgeoning carbon capture and sequestration (or storage) (CCS) technologies that capture carbon from point sources to store, in addition to carbon dioxide removal (CDR), which removes carbon from the atmosphere. SB 905, which passed contingent upon the Legislature’s passage of the web zero and GHG reduction targets in AB 1279, requires the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to ascertain a Carbon Capture, Removal, Utilization, and Storage Program to guage these technologies and adopt a transparent regulatory framework for his or her construction and operation. And to deal with one environmental justice concern with this system, SB 1314 prevents the carbon produced by these projects from being reinjected into wells for enhanced oil recovery, although other environmental justice concerns akin to the permanence of and leakage from storage or the incentivization of continued fossil fuel reliance will have to be addressed.

However, one tangible breakthrough carbon reduction and environmental justice success has been the culmination of campaigns on the state and native level to guard communities from the harmful impacts of oil and gas wells with a setback. Previously several years, UCLA law students from each our Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic and our California Environmental Laws and Policy Clinic have been involved in these efforts. Now, SB 1137 protects communities by establishing a setback distance of three,200 feet for homes, schools, parks, or businesses open to the general public from latest wells, and requires comprehensive pollution controls for existing oil wells inside the setback zone.

Other latest climate-related laws includes the next:

  • SB 45 facilitates local motion on short-lived climate pollutants by requiring CARB and CalRecycle to help local jurisdictions in complying with the state’s existing short-lived climate pollutant strategy.
  • SB 1145 requires CARB to create and maintain a web-based dashboard providing the general public with information concerning the state’s progress on meeting its climate change goals, increasing government accountability.
  • AB 1757 promotes natural carbon capture by requiring the state to develop targets for natural carbon sequestration and nature-based climate solutions that reduce GHGs in support of its climate goals.
  • AB 2101 expands carbon sequestration projects to incorporate whole orchard recycling (onsite grinding or chipping of whole trees during orchard removal to be used in topsoil).


The Governor also signed a package of warmth bills to deal with the deadly extreme heat that has been plaguing the state. AB 2238 creates the nation’s first extreme heat advance warning and rating system. The system will likely be based on data on weather and climate akin to duration of utmost heat events, science on and records of the health impacts of warmth, heat severity measurements, local information, and public comments, amongst other aspects. The hope is that the warning and rating systems will higher enable communities to arrange for warmth waves, particularly those which can be disproportionately affected by extreme heat. Along with this statewide system, SB 852 authorizes cities and counties to form climate resilience districts to finance extreme heat, drought, wildfire, and other climate resilience programs, empowering local governments to deal with these issues on a regional level.

AB 2243, which was developed through a partnership between students in UCLA’s California Environmental Laws and Policy Clinic and Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia’s office, addresses heat and air quality impacts on agricultural staff. The law mandates availability of protective equipment during poor air quality events, and directs Cal/OSHA, the state’s labor regulator, to contemplate additional high heat protections.

Other heat-related laws includes the next:

  • AB 1643 creates an advisory committee to check the results of utmost heat on staff, business, and the economy.
  • AB 2420 lays the groundwork for alleviating the health impacts of utmost heat for perinatal and infant children. It requires the Department of Public Health to review literature on hostile effects of utmost heat on perinatal health to develop guidance for protected conditions and health considerations for pregnant individuals and infant children.
  • SB 896 mitigates wildfire risk, which frequently correlates to extreme heat events, by requiring local assessments of the defensible space of buildings or structures in very high and high fire severity zones.

Clean Energy

Because the state transitions off fossil fuels, the importance of constructing a reliable and robust clean energy grid continues to extend. SB 1020 signals the state’s continued prioritization of fresh energy development, adding to the state’s existing goal for 100% clean electricity retail sale by 2045 by establishing interim clean energy targets of 90% of all retail electricity sales be renewable and zero-carbon by 2035 and 95% by 2040.

The Legislature also passed two budget trailer bills, AB 205 and AB 209, to supply financial resources to effectuate the state’s clean energy goals. The 2 bills allocate funding for utility customer debt relief; long duration energy storage projects to extend grid electricity capability; increases in energy supply and stopping outages; decarbonization of buildings, the economic sector, and the food sector; and renewable hydrogen production and direct air capture programs. Additionally they adopt policies akin to enabling utility residential rates based on customers’ ability to pay; streamlining the certification process for renewables like solar, wind, or geothermal energy generation; updating the constructing code to incentivize ultra-low-global warming potential refrigerants; and ensuring homes maintain a maximum protected indoor air temperature.

Other clean energy bills that became law include three authored by Senator Hertzberg: SB 529, which expedites review and approvals for transmission upgrades and construction; SB 1174, which directs state agencies to discover and advance obligatory interconnections or transmissions for clean energy; and SB 1340, which incentivizes solar energy by extending an existing property tax exclusion for newly constructed and lively solar energy systems. And laws to support sustainable transportation passed, including: SB 1226, which allows agencies to form Joint Powers Authorities to further zero-emission transportation and public transit goals, and SB 1305, which requires the state to maximise the acquisition and availability of other fuel vehicles for its own vehicle fleet.

Success on sustainable transportation didn’t extend to the realm of air travel: AB 1322, which might have set a sustainable fuels goal for the aviation sector, was vetoed. Newsom pointed to the state’s existing Low Carbon Fuel Standard program as an alternative choice to the bill, although aviation fuel producers may select to not opt-into this system, limiting its efficacy.


California continues to confront an extreme drought that’s not predicted to finish this yr, and even when rain were to fall one season of water could be inadequate to flee the state’s water troubles. Lawmakers have accordingly sought ways to conserve water, particularly in urban areas. To incentivize efficient water use, SB 1157 reduces the cap for indoor residential water use from 55 gallons per capita day by day to 47 gallons per capita day by day and requires the state to evaluate the impacts of the indoor residential use standard on water, wastewater, and recycled water systems. AB 2142 also seeks to stretch water by incentivizing homeowners to interchange lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping, although this may only make a small dent in overall consumption provided that urban sectors use just 10% of the state’s water supply in comparison with agriculture’s use of 40%.

Latest laws also address water access for tribal communities, that are uniquely impacted by the drought. AB 2877 facilitates tribal access to the Secure and Inexpensive Drinking Water Fund without jeopardizing tribal sovereignty. AB 2108 requires the State and Regional Water Boards to conduct environmental justice outreach regarding disproportionate impacts to water quality from waste discharge in disadvantaged communities or tribal communities. AB 2108 also requires findings on potential environmental justice, tribal impact, and racial equity considerations when adopting water quality control plans or state policies for water quality control.

Other water-related laws includes the next:

  • SB 1188 facilitates financial assistance for public water systems through the prevailing the Secure Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Law.
  • SB 1205 protects water access by requiring the state to develop regulations considering climate change effects on water availability for water rights permits.
  • AB 1811 mitigates flood risk by requiring local agencies to incorporate planning for climate change, rainwater, and stormwater management in local flood protection plans.
  • AB 1832 protects tidal waters by prohibiting permits for the extraction or removal of hard minerals from state waters subject to tidal influence, with exceptions.
  • SB 891 closes a loophole in existing law to bring businesses into compliance with stormwater permitting requirements.
  • SB 230 requires the state to check constituents of emerging concern in waters of the state and drinking water.

Land Use and Constructing Decarbonization

The Governor signed notable latest laws designed to deal with the housing affordability crisis, with GHG reduction co-benefits. SB 6 and AB 2011 enable residential development in zones where office, retail, or parking are a principally permitted use. AB 2011also exempts the approval of certain reasonably priced housing projects from CEQA, streamlining the permit process and inspiring urban densification. AB 2097 prohibits minimum parking requirements on any project inside half a mile of public transit. This encourages increased use of public transportation, to higher reap the benefits of the advantages of urban density.

After all, buildings themselves could be big carbon emitters, and are liable for 1 / 4 of California’s GHG emissions. Two latest laws address this issue on different fronts. AB 2446 requires reductions of average carbon intensity in construction materials for brand new buildings and in addition sets comprehensive targets to attain a net 40% reduction from 2026 constructing material GHG emission levels by 2035. SB 1206 limits the sale of short-lived climate pollutants which can be exponentially stronger than carbon dioxide like hydrofluorocarbons, commonly utilized in refrigeration, air con, constructing insulation, and more.

Ecological Conservation

This yr saw significant budget allocations to facilitate California’s conservation goals. The natural resources trailer bill, SB 155, allocates $768 million from the budget for multi-benefit and nature-based solutions, including those supporting the state’s 30 by 30 goal to conserve 30% of lands and coastal waters by 2030; in addition to $500 million for defense and restoration for coastal and ocean resources from sea level rise and climate change.

A Few Notable Vetoes

While the Governor signed quite a few significant environmental laws, he also vetoed several, including laws intended to deal with impacts to low-income communities of color from air pollution, water pollution, and sea level rise.

  • AB 2550 would have required CARB to take extra steps to supervise the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and have interaction with affected communities within the Valley in light of the District’s failure to attain attainment of national ambient air quality standards. While the Governor’s veto message asserted that additional legislative direction was not obligatory, communities within the Valley proceed to suffer from serious air pollution.
  • Citing cost concerns, the Governor vetoed AB 2248, which might have made funding available to deal with water quality problems in California-Mexico cross-border rivers. Such rivers include the Latest River and the Tijuana River, that are heavily polluted—Latest River is one of the vital polluted within the nation and imperils residents in Imperial County.
  • Calling for more comprehensive frameworks to deal with sea level rise, the Governor vetoed SB 1078, an modern bill to deal with sea level rise through a revolving loan fund that will have financed an area government buy-leaseback program for properties at long-term risk from rising seas.


The top of the 2021-2022 Legislative Session saw notable laws on climate, heat, clean energy, water, and land use change into law. While this most up-to-date wave of laws advances progress toward the state’s environmental goals, California requires continued and impressive motion within the fight against climate change.


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