California Democrats cap legislative year with climate wins

Sep 1, 2022, 1:35 PM | Updated: Sep 2, 2022, 5:28 am
FILE— A pump jack extracts oil at a drilling site next to homes Wednesday, June 9, 2021, in Signa...

FILE— A pump jack extracts oil at a drilling site next to homes Wednesday, June 9, 2021, in Signal Hill, Calif. California legislators passed a bill, on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, to ban new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of homes, schools and other neighborhood sites. It now goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is expected to sign it. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Tougher clean energy goals, a ban on new oil and gas wells near homes and schools, and establishing guidelines for capturing carbon and storing it underground are among the climate proposals California Democrats advanced in the final days of the legislative session.

Taken together, along with tens of billions in budget money for climate proposals, the policies marked one of the state’s most groundbreaking years for climate action, some advocates said.

“This was a watershed year on climate action,” said Mary Creasman, chief executive officer for California Environmental Voters.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in August delivered to lawmakers a slate of climate proposals, some of which lawmakers had been pushing unsuccessfully for years. All but one, a proposal that would have required deeper greenhouse gas emissions cuts by 2030, will now head to his desk.

Broadly, legislative Republicans argued the bills would destroy in-state jobs and require the state to turn to foreign countries to import oil to maintain an economy that still relies heavily on fossil fuels. Democrats, meanwhile, said the urgency of climate change requires swifter, more aggressive action.

Here’s a look and some of the key measures:


Oil and gas companies would no longer be able to drill wells within 3,200 feet (975 meters) of homes, schools and other community sites.

About 2.7 million Californians live within that distance of a well already, according to state Sen. Lena Gonzalez, one of the bill’s authors. Studies show living near a drilling site can elevate the risk of birth defects, respiratory issues and health problems. Neighborhood oil wells are common across parts of Los Angeles County and Kern County.

The legislation wouldn’t shut down the more than 28,000 existing wells in that zone, but would require them to meet strict pollution controls. Those wells would also be barred from most permits to deepen or rework the wells.

State oil regulators announced a similar policy in 2021, though it has not yet been finalized. Supporters of the policy believed passing the law was the quickest path forward.

“This is a victory for every single family and every single frontline community in California that has been fighting Big Oil’s drilling in our backyards for decades and pushing for setbacks for years,” Kobi Naseck, coalition coordinator, for Voices in Solidarity Against Oil in Neighborhoods said in a statement.

California is the seventh largest oil-producing state and ranks fourteenth for natural gas production. Republican state Sen. Shannon Grove of Bakersfield, one of the state’s oil hubs, said the proposal would affect thousands of wells in her district and do nothing to reduce a need for oil.

“It doesn’t change the fact that Californians are still using oil every single day to make their lives more convenient and better,” she said.


California has already mandated that 100% of retail electricity sales will come from non-carbon energy sources like solar and wind power by 2045. Current law sets an interim goal of 60% by 2030.

Lawmakers have now boosted that to 90% by 2035 and 95% by 2040.

The action comes as California is struggling to keep its power grid stable as the state transitions away from fossil fuels and record temperatures blanket the state.

The more aggressive targets will put even more pressure on the state to build more solar panels, wind turbines and batteries that can store that power for use at night. At the same time, electricity demand is expected to sore as California tries to get more people to swap out gas-powered cars and home appliances for electric ones.

Lawmakers also agreed to a policy aimed at extending the life of Diablo Canyon, the state’s last nuclear power plant, to help stabilize the energy grid. Supporters of nuclear power say it is an environmentally friendly carbon-free energy source, but critics worry about its safety. The bill says any power from the plant generated after August 2025 couldn’t count toward California’s 2045 clean energy targets.

Newsom, speaking Wednesday, acknowledged the challenges of having enough energy to meet demand during heat waves made worse by climate change. But he said that will only accelerate California’s push to build a cleaner energy grid.

“Don’t think for a second … that we’re going to de-escalate our commitment to that transition,” he said.


Former California Gov. Jerry Brown signed an executive order in 2018 calling for the state to be carbon neutral by 2045, meaning any carbon that it emits is offset by removing a similar amount from the atmosphere.

Legislators on Wednesday voted to turn that goal into a law and require an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions along with it. The second part is designed to ensure that the carbon neutrality is mostly achieved by lowering emissions, not taking carbon out of the air.

Some environmental groups are skeptical that carbon capture is a reliable and safe technology and worry it will be used to let oil companies keep emitting fossil fuels.

Another bill passed by the Legislature requires the state air board to create a permitting process for for such projects. It bans the technology from being used to extract more oil.


Low-income Californians who don’t own a car would get a $1,000 tax credit under another proposal headed to Newsom’s desk. It would only be eligible for single people making less than $40,000 or couples making less than $60,000. Transportation is the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in California, and the state is broadly trying to get people out of gas-powered cars over the next dozen years.

Meanwhile, a proposal that would have required corporations with revenues of more than $1 billion to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions failed to pass the Assembly.

Another bill that would have set the state’s 2030 greenhouse gas emission goals at 55% below 1990 levels also failed. The current requirement is a 40% reduction, which some observers say the state is not on path to achieve.


This story has been corrected to say that new clean energy legislation would require the state to get 90% of its electricity from renewable or non-carbon sources by 2035 and 95% by 2040, not by 2030 and 2035. The story also clarifies that any power generated at Diablo Canyon after 2025 would not count toward California’s clean energy targets.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Arizona Secretary of State Latie Hobbs, left, the Democratic nominee for governor, and Kris Mayes, ...
Associated Press

GOP quiet as Arizona Democrats condemn abortion ruling

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Democrats vowed Saturday to fight for women’s rights after a court reinstated a law first enacted during the Civil War that bans abortion in nearly all circumstances, looking to capitalize on an issue they hope will have a major impact on the midterm elections. Republican candidates were silent a day after […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

US spy satellite launched into orbit from California

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — A classified satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office launched into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket on Saturday. The NROL-91 spy satellite lifted off at 3:25 p.m. from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California’s Santa Barbara County. It was the last launch of […]
17 hours ago
Yasir al-Rumayyan, the governor of Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, known as the Public Invest...
Associated Press

Saudi Arabia’s triumphant week reclaims the West’s embrace

NEW YORK (AP) — Saudi Arabia appears to be leaving behind the stream of negative coverage that the killing of Jamal Khashoggi elicited since 2018. The kingdom is once again being enthusiastically welcomed back into polite and powerful society, and it is no longer as frowned upon to seek Saudi investments or accept their favor. […]
17 hours ago
A model of the house where a precision counterterrorism operation killed al-Qaida's leader Ayman al...
Associated Press

CIA unveils model of al-Qaida leader al-Zawahri’s hideout

McLEAN, Virginia (AP) — The CIA has revealed a model of Ayman al-Zawahri’s safe house, used to brief President Joe Biden about the al-Qaida leader’s whereabouts before the agency killed him in a drone strike in Afghanistan. Shortly after al-Zawahri’s death, White House officials released a photo showing Biden talking to CIA Director William Burns […]
17 hours ago
Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka Ali Sabri addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General As...
Associated Press

Live updates: U.N. General Assembly

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Latest on the U.N. General Assembly: SAUDI ARABIA Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said Saturday that the world needs more fossil fuel investments, a message at odds with the United Nations’ own panel of scientists and researchers. “We need to invest in fossil fuels in order to meet growing international needs […]
17 hours ago
A Police officer detains a demonstrator during a protest against a partial mobilization in Moscow, ...
Associated Press

Kremlin stages votes in Ukraine, sees protests in Russia

Hundreds of people were arrested in Russia for protesting a military mobilization order aimed at beefing up the country's troops in Ukraine.
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
California Democrats cap legislative year with climate wins