Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) addresses the media after the passage of S.B. 32 in August. She’s flanked by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), Governor Jerry Brown, and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon, from left. Image courtesy Fran Pavley’s office.
Senator Fran Pavley is one of the members of the California legislature who will, with the end of the 2015-2016 session next week, bring a close to her tenure there. Pavley served for six years in the Assembly and six years in the Senate, where she worked hard to find consensus on environmental and climate change policies.
Pavley had a very successful career in the legislature, passing numerous bills on issues ranging from the environment and energy efficiency to education and women’s health. Among her biggest—and most famous—accomplishments is A.B. 32, California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act, which created targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and set the stage for the state’s cap-and-trade system. She also wrote a followup bill, S.B. 32, which extended those targets beyond the fast-approaching original deadline of 2020. In addition, Pavley headed up a successful fight to win the unprecedented right for California to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, and she wrote a bill that could help California finally create a rational, sustainable groundwater management policy.
Streetsblog talked with Senator Pavley about some of her accomplishments recently. There was a lot more we could have talked about, but we had to cut the conversation short so she could deliver a speech. The conversation below has been edited for length.
Senator Pavley started by talking about her groundwater management bill, because, she said, “It doesn’t get as much attention as all the climate things.” With a growing population—“We are at 39 million people, moving probably in the next ten to fifteen years up to 50 million people”—California can’t afford to ignore the problems inherent in its historical approach to water rights. “Water supply is certainly part of the discussion on how you strategically plan for that growth, along with transit along with other kinds of necessities.”
Besides, S.B. 1168 was, she said, one of the toughest bills she’d worked on. “It was complicated,” said Pavley, “and it wouldn’t have passed without a couple of things going on. One was record drought: 125 of our 515 basins were in severe overdraft, and in a drought sixty percent of California’s water supply comes from groundwater.”
“Right now we have too many basins where whoever can drill the deepest well gets the water. People literally—especially small farmers or lower income people—have been left high and dry, with the state of California providing huge containers of water, trucking them to their homes. It’s just amazing,” she said.