Coastal Commission takes “support” position on sea level rise bill

State legislators will return from summer break on Aug. 12 and start taking action on AB 552, other bills.

SACRAMENTO—A proposal aiming to create an official state program on sea level rise adaptation and resilience was endorsed by the California Coastal Commission; the bill will be back on the radar of legislators as the State Senate and Assembly return to session from summer recess on Aug. 12.

Will Assembly member Mark Stone’s proposal, with the backing of the Coastal Commission, make it out of the State Senate and head to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk for approval? Assembly Bill 552 already made it out of the Assembly prior to the summer recess and already passed through a State Senate Committee.

The State Senate’s Natural Resources and Water Committee supported AB 552 by a 7-2 vote on June 25. A legislative analysis out of that committee stated AB 552 would help fund “certain scientifically-sound activities in order to help the state address coastal climate adaptations and resiliency.”

AB 552, as previously reported in The Log, would create Coastal, Adaptation, Access and Resilience Program. The program would, according to the legislative analysis out of the State Senate’s Natural Resources and Water Committee, would “fund activities to help the state prepare, plan and implement actions intended to address and adapt to sea level rise and costal climate change.”

A “Coastal, Adaptation, Access and Resilience Program Fund” within the State Treasury would also be created to provide money to agencies like the Coastal Commission and State Lands Commission to “take actions, based upon scientific information,” to meet certain objectives associated with sea level rise and other climate change issues.

At least two amendments were made to the bill since it was originally introduced by Stone, according to Coastal Commission staff.

“Amendments of 4/30/19 add the State Lands Commission to the list of agencies that would receive money from the fund,” Coastal Commission staff stated. “Amendments of 06/27/19 revise the title of the program, and specify that the Natural Resources Secretary shall ensure that moneys expended from the Coastal Resilience, Adaptation and Access Fund prioritize expenditures that minimize the overall financial risks and costs of climate change impacts statewide.”

Coastal Commission staff and language of the bill both stated at least 30 percent of state tidelands revenues collected by the State Lands Commission would be used to fund the program.

AB 552 stems from the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which, according to the State Senate’s Committee on Natural Resources and Water’s legislative analysis, “developed and implemented numerous programs and policies to address climate change through reductions in greenhouse gas and related emissions.”

“Put simply, climate adaption is the ‘new normal,’ and climate resilience is dealing with the ‘new normal,’” the State Senate’s Committee on Natural Resources and Water’s legislative analysis stated.

AB 552 still has to be voted on by the entire State Senate. Assembly members would get the bill one more time, should it clear the State Senate, to approve or deny amendments. Newsom would receive the bill only if AB 552 is fully supported by both houses.

The Log will update readers on the bill’s progress.

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