Last week, 22 faith advocates from various parts of California, took part in CIPL’s annual Lobby Day. In an effort to expand CIPL’s presence in Sacramento, 22 faith advocates attended 57 meetings with state senators and assembly members. This was an increase compared to years past – in 2012, 17 CIPL representatives visited 35 offices. The advocates were from various parts of California, including Fresno, Modesto, Stockton, the Bay Area and Los Angeles County.
Three bills were on the agenda. AB 217 (Bradford/De Leon) would continue the Single-Family Affordable Solar Program (SASH) and Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing Program (MASH) to continue until December 31, 2021. Currently, these programs, which receive 10% of funds from the California Solar Initiative surcharge, and which expand solar to residences in economically disadvantaged areas, is set to expire December 31, 2016. SB 43 (Wolk) will establish a program that allows customers of PG&E, SCE and SDG&E to become subscribers in off-site renewable energy facilities. This is important for those persons and institutions who historically have enjoyed little access to solar, including renters, homeowners, schools and businesses. SB 4 (Pavley) would put safeguards on the practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), such as fracking operators obtaining a permit, notification to nearby property owners and tenants, and disclose the amount and sources of water used.
The long day began with much-needed coffee and refreshments, and a time of networking for the advocates. Six persons had woken before the sun rose to travel from Los Angeles. Staff members from two offices filled the group in on the latest update and details of the bills. Henry Stern, Environmental Policy Director for Senator Pavley, spoke about SB 4. He told the group that SB 4 was important especially because of the Monterey Shale, which is estimated to hold two thirds of the nation’s oil reserves. He said all eyes are on California as it proceeds with fracking in this area and what safeguards will be approved for this process.
Jim Metropulos from Senator Wolk’s office emphasized the justice component of SB 43. It allows for a certain amount of solar energy to generated specifically in environmental justice areas, those that are hardest hit by poor air quality, regional climate change and difficult economic circumstances. One of the tools to be used in determining these areas is the newly-constructed Cal Enviro Screen, a tool that determines which areas in California are most vulnerable to a number of factors. SB 43 existed as SB 843 in 2012 and did not pass after aggressive lobbying by utility companies. CIPL’s efforts will aim to ensure that does not happen again this year.
Of the 57 offices visited, 10 were Republican, the rest Democratic. Five of these meetings included the legislator himself, including Senators Roderick Wright, Kevin De Leon, Mark Leno, and Assembly Members Steven Bradford and Rob Bonta. The responses from office staff and legislators were mixed; some were fully in support, others were on the fence, especially if they were unfamiliar with the bills and not on committees that will hear them, and some were against them. The advocates, many of whom had prior experience in lobbying, quickly became accustomed to the talking points and rhythm of an office visit, especially in the most important part – listening to what was on the minds of the legislators.
After an intense day of lobbying, a relaxing bebrief session was held at Cafeteria 15L. There, the advocates met and exchanged highlights, challenges and lessons learned during the day. All in all, it was an active, important day in the faith community’s efforts ensure that clean energy and protection of public health remain at the forefront of our state policies.
CIPL is planning another advocacy trip to Sacrmento in late August to ensure that these efforts staysat the forefront amisdst the “full court press” that often happens late in the legislative session when votes can change.
(Advocates on CIPL 2013 Cal Lobby Day from left: Betsy Reifsnider, Steve Fox, Allis Druffel, Jim Cramer, Rev. Maria Tafoya, Deacon Jim Johnson, Debra Silverman, Louise Johnson, Laura Hobbs, Jay Abbott, Paulette Benson, Larry Margo, Nancy Leavens, Cathy Hodge McCoid, David Montgomergy, The Rev. Sally Bingham, Ron Hermanson, Mark Carlson, Susan Stephenson, Clark Bisel, Elvira Ramirez, and Greg Bedard.)