Governor Newsom Establishes Broad Environmental Goals Through Executive Orders
Governor Gavin Newsom has issued several Executive Orders in recent weeks focusing on climate change mitigation and the environment. Some of these initiatives have the potential to impact California’s wastewater community. Earlier this month, the Governor signed an Executive Order, EO-N-82-2020 which directs state agencies to deploy a number of strategies to store carbon in the state’s natural and working lands and remove it from the atmosphere. The order also sets a first-in-the-nation goal to conserve 30 percent of the state’s land and coastal water by 2030 to fight species loss and ecosystem destruction.  There are several provisions of interest to CASA members, including:

  • Actions to enhance and conserve the state’s biodiversity;
  • A directive to state agencies to develop a Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy that serves as a framework to advance the State’s carbon neutrality goal and build climate resilience; and
  • A directive to identify and implement near- and long-term actions to accelerate natural removal of carbon and build climate resilience in our forests, wetlands, urban greenspaces, agricultural soils, and land conservation activities.

This Executive Order was proceeded by another environmentally significant order, EO-N-79-20 in late September requiring all new passenger cars and trucks sold in California to be zero emission by 2035.  While this order applies more broadly to achieving California’s climate goals, it’s notable that the Administration is publicly proclaiming their environmental platform in advance of the upcoming 2021-22 Budget release and Legislative Season next January.

The Governor has indicated these are the first of several executive orders he will issue to accelerate policies to protect the state from climate change and make communities more resilient.  However, while the orders serve to establish the policy goals, the Administration must work with the Legislature in the upcoming 2021 Legislative Session to enact statutory changes necessary to achieve the goals outlined in the orders, which will in turn provide opportunities for public engagement in the policy development process.