The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Kathryn Phillips, 916-893-8494

Governor's Executive Order Takes a Step Toward Climate Action in Transportation Sector

More Action Needed to Avoid Worst Climate Catastrophe in California


Governor Gavin Newsom today released an executive order designed to accelerate state action to cut climate pollution and respond to the climate crisis.

Executive Order N-79-20 calls on various state agencies to take actions that result in the following:

  • All new cars and light-duty trucks sold in California by 2035 and beyond must be zero-emission vehicles--that is, battery electric or fuel-cell electric.
  • Port and railyard drayage truck fleets must be zero emission by 2035 and all other heavy-duty vehicle fleets must be zero emission where feasible by 2045.
  • Help improve transit service, rail service and bike and pedestrian mobility.
  • Improved vehicle charging infrastructure, including to ensure that environmental justice communities are receiving needed charging infrastructure.
  • Restatement of previous direction to CalGEM to develop oil drilling rulemaking to protect public health. The EO stops short of establishing a setback of a certain distance between homes, schools and offices and oil drilling sites, but directs the agency to use scientific-based rulemaking and complete a draft by December 31, 2020.
  • Directed state agencies to strictly enforce bonding requirements and other regulations to ensure oil extraction operators are responsible for the proper closure and remediation of their sites, reducing the state's liability for oil wells as the state transitions away from oil use and supporting fossil fuel workers as part of the just transition.
  • Extension of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard to encourage the transition of refineries to low-carbon fuels.

The governor also said he is committed to working with the legislature to ban fracking in California by 2024.

The order focuses on transportation-related climate pollution. Mobile sources account for nearly 40 percent of the state's greenhouse gas pollution and almost 60 percent of ground-level air pollution.

Administration officials have said that this will not be the only action the governor will take in coming weeks to accelerate climate action.

A trio of environmental organizations -- Sierra Club, EarthJustice and the California Environmental Justice Alliance -- called on the governor via paid ads this week to take five clear actions to boldly address climate change:

  • End fossil fuel infrastructure: Stop permitting new oil and gas drilling, pipelines and infrastructure, and accelerate a managed decline to phase out oil production and refining in California, starting with operations near homes and schools. Provide proper support and resources to ensure a fair transition for fossil fuel workers.
  • Increase the use of clean electricity: Accelerate the building of solar, storage, wind and other clean technologies so that all our electricity is 100% zero-carbon by 2030, prioritizing communities at the frontlines of fossil fuel operations.
  • Phase out dirty fuels in our homes: Require all-electric new buildings by 2022, ensure 100% of appliances sold in California are electric starting in 2025, and invest to ensure low-income families can affordably upgrade their homes.
  • Phase out polluting cars and trucks: Move to 100% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2030 and accelerate public transportation solutions.
  • Appoint strong climate leaders to regulatory agencies, like the Air Resources Board, who will champion bold solutions that simultaneously address climate change and other air pollution.

This EO only fully addresses one of those proposed actions and partially addresses another, but doesn't set a timeline to match what's needed for fossil fuel reductions.

This year, the state has suffered record high temperatures, extraordinarily dry conditions, unusually windy conditions, and massive fires in nearly every part of the state. The state was also blanketed in smoke for weeks, creating unhealthy conditions across the state that are a daily reality for frontline communities in Los Angeles, the Central Valley and the Inland Region.

Statement from Kathryn Phillips, Director of Sierra Club California:

"A year of pandemic has been difficult. But when compounded with the effects of climate change, the year in California has been tragic and, for many, nearly unbearable.

"State leaders began to address climate change nearly two decades ago. Yet the steps taken haven't been fast enough or big enough to match the need.

"Governor Newsom's executive order will help advance climate action in the transportation sector at a time when it is most needed. It will also strengthen efforts to protect public health from fossil fuels. And separately, he has committed to working to ban fracking.

"This action today is an important first step to help move further away from the fossil fuels that have created this worldwide crisis.

"But so much more needs to happen here and across the country. And it needs to happen with an eye toward creating clean air communities and clean, good-paying jobs, as the governor indicated in his order today.

"We look forward to further action by the governor in the coming days and weeks to fulfill his promise to swiftly move on substantial climate action.

"There's much left to do to quickly cut climate pollution from electricity, buildings and fuels production.

"Only a suite of bold action across sectors will avert a climate catastrophe."

The Sierra Club is the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. We amplify the power of our 3.8 million members and supporters to defend everyone's right to a healthy world.

(415) 977-5500