While the Legislature successfully passed and the Governor signed legislation aimed at guarding against financial harm from wildfires (AB 1054, Holden), some work on this matter may remain in the coming year.
As if PG&E issues were not enough, in the waning hours of the session, the Legislature advanced a measure that seeks to block the Trump Administration’s rollbacks of Obama-era environmental standards. While Governor Newsom has sought to position himself as one of the leading domestic critics of President Trump, his office announced that while Newsom fully supports the principles behind SB 1 (by Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins), he will veto the bill.
The measure does not “provide the state with any new authority to push back against the Trump Administration’s environmental policies and it limits the state’s ability to rely upon the best available science to protect our environment.”
Although Newsom’s announcement might have come as a surprise, Legislators were well aware of his unease about the bill. Newsom had signaled he was receptive to the water issues raised in a letter from California’s U.S. Senator Feinstein and several House Democrats who represent the Central Valley.
Atkins told reporters that she had debated for several days over whether to move the bill forward — not because she didn’t think it could pass the Legislature, but because of Newsom’s concerns.
While PG&E dominated the legislative session on energy matters, a bill that did not ultimately make it, the PG&E sponsored AB 235 (Mayes), a bill that would provide $20 billion in the form of state-issued tax-exempt to PG&E for its wildfire liabilities, stalled – but is likely to return in January 2020 – however, much will depend on how the bankruptcy proceedings move and how much confidence the utility can regain with the Legislature.