EJ Groups Flex Muscle

Abalone Cove Shoreline Park has a beach with accessible tide pools in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. on Jan. 13, 2021. Photo by Shae Hammond for CalMatters

Abalone Cove Shoreline Park in Rancho Palos Verdes on Jan. 13, 2021. Photo by Shae Hammond for CalMatters

President Joe Biden on Wednesday issued a lengthy executive order on the environment and climate change, paving the way for California to advance its ambitious agenda even as numerous roadblocks remain.

Among Biden’s directives was a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal land — throwing into limbo seven Kern County leases the Trump administration auctioned off in December against California’s wishes. Biden also wants to conserve 30% of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030, a goal to which Gov. Gavin Newsom committed California in October. And the president plans to create a Civilian Climate Corps, evoking the California Climate Action Corps Newsom formed in September and whose first cohort began their fellowships this month.

To learn more about what Biden’s presidency means for California’s environment, check out this comprehensive explainer from CalMatters’ Julie Cart and Rachel Becker — it even includes a Magic 8 Ball that predicts his administration’s actions. According to the Magic 8 Ball, it’s very likely Biden will reinstate California’s authority to set its own auto emissions standards — an assessment Newsom appears to agree with.

  • Newsom in a Wednesday tweet“Hey, Toyota, Fiat, Hyundai, and Subaru — hope you watched (Biden’s) remarks. … Now, before all you companies start talking about national emissions standards, why don’t you start with DROPPING your climate killing, Trump-era lawsuits against CA?”

But even with a federal government that shares many of California’s environmental goals, all is not quiet on the Western Front. Newsom has come under fire from environmental justice groups — which are gaining influence in California and nationwide — for continuing to issue fracking permits. His administration approved 1,709 new oil and gas permits in 2020, a 117% increase from the year before, according to NewsomWellWatch, a site maintained by advocacy groups.

The California Environmental Justice Alliance gave Newsom a 44% rating on a scorecard released Wednesday, blasting the governor for vetoing a bill that would have reformed the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control.

  • CEJAWe urge “Newsom to work closely with environmental justice groups to identify and act on necessary, transformative solutions to our climate and economic crises. … It would be a shame, and the governor’s unfortunate legacy, to let this moment pass us by.”

CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics. 

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