Weideman COVID-19 Update
May 7, 2021

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Governor’s Emergency Powers Upheld

In a unanimous decision, the 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled that Governor Newsom has the right to modify state laws during the COVID-19 declared state of emergency. This decision reverses a lower court’s ruling that favored the litigants that brought on the lawsuit, Republican Assemblymembers Kevin Kiley and James Gallagher, who argued that the Governor was overstepping his power on public health. The Assemblymembers have stated they will ask the California Supreme Court to revisit this decision.

Reparations Task Force

Governor Newsom announced appointments to the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans. This first of its kind task force was created by AB 3121 authored by then Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber. Appointed to the task force are Dr. Cheryl Grills, Dr. Amos Brown, Lisa Holder, Don Tamaki, and Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis. The task force will meet over the next year and provide a written report on their findings, along with recommendations, to the Legislature. More information on the task force and its members can be found here.

Can The Grid Handle It?

California Independent System Operator (CAISO) President Elliot Mainzer is guardedly optimistic that the state will not experience rolling blackouts this summer. He indicated that major utilities will have lined up more than 3,500 megawatts of additional power by August. Last year, high heat temperatures across the state caused a strain on the system resulting in 2 days of rolling blackouts. The California Energy Commission hosted a workshop on Summer 2021 reliability, where updates were given on activities designed to ensure reliable energy supplies over the summer, but officials cautioned that extreme heat events could still present problems. Following last year’s blackouts, the Governor ordered an investigation by the state’s energy agencies into the cause of the blackout, and the Root Cause Analysis was released in January. The Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee will be holding an informational hearing on the readiness of the power grid for the summer on Tuesday, May 18th at 1:30.

CAISO is also re-evaluating market rules and infrastructure policy as energy storage is expected to increase four fold compared to last year. A white paper was presented to solicit comments on market enhancements to integrate increasing energy storage deployments onto the grid. “Beginning with 4-hour lithium-ion batteries and ultimately expanding into longer durations and new chemistries, energy storage is going to play a critical role in maintaining reliability and providing essential grid services,” said Mainzer.

Padilla’s Lands Act

New California U.S. Senator Alex Padilla introduced the PUBLIC Lands Act which seeks to expand protections for over one million acres of public land in California. In addition to expanding protections, the Act would designate almost 600,000 new acres of wilderness for protection. The Act is aimed at protecting access to open spaces and fighting the climate crisis.

Zero Emission Vehicles Charging Forward

Air quality regulators took important and potentially ground-breaking steps to accelerate deployment of clean vehicles this week. The California Air Resources Board presented initial proposals for its Advanced Clean Cars II regulation, which would require light-duty automakers to sell increasing amounts of zero emission vehicles, beginning in 2026 and reaching 100 percent of new light-duty vehicle sales by 2035. Eleven other states follow California’s zero emission vehicle regulations, meaning the proposal could impact about a third of the U.S. car market. The proposal will continue to be evaluated and refined over the next year, before anticipated Board consideration in June 2022.