The 2018 Environmental Legislative Recap: The End of An Era
by Gary A. Lucks*
The 2017-2018 legislative session marked the end of Governor Brown’s sixteenth and final year as California’s longest-serving governor. As the legislative session began, California policymakers were preoccupied protecting California from regulatory rollbacks proposed by then-Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency ("USEPA") Scott Pruitt, and then-Secretary of the Department of the Interior Ryan Zinke. Governor Brown and the Legislature responded with a bounty of new environmental quality, land use, and natural resource laws designed to fortify California’s legacy.
The legislative session was characterized by an array of polices aimed at preventing and managing wildfire risks, expanding housing stock in response to a dearth of housing statewide, a continued focus on water conservation, erecting barriers to offshore oil and gas drilling, promoting climate-friendly refrigerants, and enshrining wild and scenic river protections. Other noteworthy achievements include the most ambitious clean energy law in the nation along with a bevy of policies easing the path for Electric Vehicles ("EVs") and rooftop solar. Finally, the Legislature crafted policies to reduce plastic waste and ocean debris. Except for budget-related urgency laws that passed by a super-majority (which became effective upon approval), newly enacted laws became effective on January 1, 2019.
I. WILDFIRE AND NATURAL DISASTERS