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January 31, 2022 - The Governor’s budget proposes $200 million General Fund over two years for the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) within the Department of Conservation (DOC) to plug deserted wells and decommission associated facilities. Although addressing deserted wells could have environmental, health, and safety benefits, this proposal represents a significant expansion of current well remediation activities. In addition, federal funding for well remediation activities will soon be available. Furthermore, it may be appropriate for the current oil and gas operators to bear at least some of the cost of remediating the environmental damages from these wells—rather than the general taxpayer through the state General Fund. We recommend the Legislature consider reducing the amount of state funding proposed, consider using alternative sources of funding to support well remediation, and require reporting on key program outcomes to inform future funding decisions.
January 31, 2022 - In this post, we discuss the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB’s) efforts to update the water quality control plan for the Sacramento‑San Joaquin Bay‑Delta and its source rivers.
January 26, 2022 - In this brief, we provide our initial assessment and recommendations in response to the Governor's wildfire resilience package, which would provide $1.2 billion over two years (including $800 million of new funding) for proposals intended to reduce the risk of severe and damaging wildfires.
January 25, 2022 - In this post, we provide a description and analysis of the Governor’s 2022-23 budget proposals to spend the additional revenues the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is expected to receive from last year’s governance and fiscal reform. Overall, we find that the proposals are consistent with the information the Legislature used as the basis for approving DTSC’s governance and fiscal reform. However, we recommend the Legislature continue to conduct oversight of the programmatic expansions being proposed and to revisit staffing levels in future years.
January 13, 2022 - On January 10, 2022, Governor Newsom presented his proposed state budget to the Legislature. In this report, we provide a brief summary of the proposed budget based on our initial review. In the coming weeks, we will analyze the plan in more detail and release several additional budget analyses.
Update (1/21/22): Includes a corrected estimate of Governor’s Budget proposals that are excludable under the State Appropriations Limit (SAL).
January 4, 2022 - Prepared in response to a requirement in the Supplemental Report of the 2021-22 Budget Act, this report identifies key design choices and options for establishing a forestry management training center in Northern California. Additionally, this report discusses some other strategies that the Legislature could consider pursuing—either in addition to or instead of establishing a new training center—to meet its policy goals.
December 15, 2021 - Chapter 135 of 2017 (AB 398, E. Garcia) requires our office to annually report on the economic impacts and benefits of California’s statutory greenhouse gas emission targets. This report provides our assessment of the effects of major programs in the agricultural sector that are aimed at reducing emissions and sequestering carbon, as well as identifies key issues for the Legislature to consider as it makes future policy and budget decisions.
December 13, 2021 - In recent years, as wildfires have increased in severity and damage, the Legislature has shown growing interest in state support of wildfire prevention efforts, including regional planning for forest health activities. The Regional Forest and Fire Capacity program (RFFC)—created in 2018—provides non‑competitive block grants to state conservancies, resource conservation districts, and other entities to facilitate regional coordination for forest health and wildfire resilience. These grants are intended to support regional planning, project development, demonstration projects, and community outreach. To implement these activities, grant recipients coordinate with and distribute funds to partnering entities within their regions. We prepared this report to provide an early review of RFFC’s implementation.
December 6, 2021 - Revenue from quarterly cap‑and‑trade auctions is deposited in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), and the funds are allocated to various climate‑related programs. In this post, we (1) summarize the results from the recent November 2021 cap‑and‑trade auction, (2) estimate future GGRF revenue and the amount available for discretionary spending under three different scenarios, and (3) identify issues for legislative consideration as it begins its 2022‑23 budget deliberations.
October 18, 2021 - The 2021‑22 budget package provides a total of $21.7 billion from various fund sources—the General Fund, bond funds, and various special funds—for programs administered by the California Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Agencies. This is a net increase of $4.8 billion (22 percent) compared to 2020‑21 estimated expenditures.
Correction 10/22/21: Funding amount for CDFW has been corrected.
September 30, 2021 - A key strategy for reducing home losses during wildfires is for homeowners to maintain an area free of excess or dead vegetation around their homes, known as defensible space. This report identifies the challenges to improving the number of homeowners in compliance with existing state and local defensible space requirements and provides recommendations to address these challenges in order to reduce the destructiveness of future wildfires.