SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Democratic lawmakers in California introduced a package of climate bills Monday aimed at holding corporations accountable for their greenhouse gas emissions.
The bills include legislation to require companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions to the public, ban the state's public pension funds from investing in major fossil fuel companies, and create a group to analyze climate-caused financial risks for corporations. Similar efforts in prior sessions have failed to win enough support, but the Democratic lawmakers behind them say they're hopeful for a different outcome this year.
The policy group California Environmental Voters came out in support of the bills, saying the state has the opportunity to serve as a model for increasing transparency by companies regarding their emissions.
Last year, California Democrats passed bills focused on banning new oil and gas wells near homes and schools, establishing guidelines for capturing and storing carbon, and committing to expanding renewable energy sources. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has pushed policies to wean the state off oil and gas within the next few decades, including by banning the sale of most new gas-powered cars by 2035 and ending the controversial practice of fracking.
U.S. corporations that bring in at least $1 billion in revenue and do business in California would have to annually report their greenhouse gas emissions to the public under a bill re-introduced by Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat. It fell one vote short of passing in the Assembly last year after passing in the Senate.
Wiener said he's hopeful groups that opposed it last year will have a more open mind, adding that “our coalition is bigger and stronger.”
"We know there are corporations that want to do the right thing, and we want to support them,” Wiener said at a news conference Monday.
Wiener said lawmakers previously worked with the California Chamber of Commerce, a group also known as CalChamber that opposed his bill last year, to make improvements.
CalChamber President Jennifer Barrera said in a statement that lawmakers should take into account “unnecessary costs and regulatory hurdles” when proposing climate legislation.
“We look forward to working with policy makers to enact meaningful policies that protect jobs, encourage innovation and maintain growth,” Barrera said.
Democratic Sen. Lena Gonzalez, of Long Beach, introduced a bill aimed at prohibiting the California Public Employees' Retirement System and the California State Teachers' Retirement System from investing in the largest fossil fuel companies, including oil, gas and coal producers. A similar bill last year passed in the Senate but didn’t get a hearing in the Assembly.
“I'm hopeful that this year with the new makeup of the Assembly, with more coalition and with more emphasis on this crisis that we can actually get this done,” Gonzalez said.
Democratic Sen. Henry Stern, who represents part of Los Angeles County, introduced a bill that would create a group to review financial risks of climate change reported by companies.
He said the three bills will help the state support corporations committed to fighting climate change and hold accountable those that aren't.
The Western States Petroleum Association declined to comment Monday.
Sophie Austin is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Austin on Twitter: @sophieadanna