California’s climate countdown: Can the state power through it? – CalMatters

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California, explained
It’s climate crunch time in California.
Starting today and lasting through Thursday, generators and transmission-line operators should delay any scheduled maintenance to avoid possible power outages as Californians crank up their air conditioners to deal with an expected onslaught of 100-plus degree heat, the state’s electric grid operator said Friday.
The California Independent System Operator’s warning came on the heels of draft legislation Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office unveiled late Thursday to extend the life of Diablo Canyon, the state’s last nuclear power plant in San Luis Obispo, by as much as 10 years — and give its operator, PG&E, a forgivable loan of as much as $1.4 billion to do so.
Taken together, the two actions underscore the extent to which California is at risk of repeating the events of 2020, when the state was unable to supply enough energy to meet demand, triggering the first rolling blackouts in nearly two decades.
Newsom — no doubt eager to avoid power outages as he elevates his national profile in what some suspect is preparation for a future presidential run — has for months pushed the idea of temporarily extending Diablo Canyon’s lifespan past its planned 2025 closure to help shore up the state’s electricity supplies.
But the draft legislation makes explicit the urgency behind his proposal: It would exempt the Diablo Canyon extension from review under the California Environmental Quality Act and several other environmental laws, limiting the legal challenges that anti-nuclear advocates and other environmental justice groups could bring against it, according to the Los Angeles Times.
And, unless Newsom calls for a special legislative session, lawmakers will have to approve his plan before the regular session ends on Aug. 31 — giving them less than three weeks to reach an agreement on the complex issue. (That isn’t the only contentious environmental legislation they’re grappling with: Newsom on Friday sent them a list of last-minute climate proposals he wants enacted, including accelerated greenhouse gas cuts, new interim targets for reaching 100% clean energy and safety zones around new oil and gas wells.)
The swirl of proposals comes as California prepares to lose its top climate regulator. Newsom announced Friday that Jared Blumenfeld, secretary of California’s Environmental Protection Agency, will step down at the end of the month to lead the Waverley Street Foundation, a new $3.5 billion climate change nonprofit founded by Laurene Powell Jobs. Newsom appointed Amelia Yana Garcia Gonzalez, a California Department of Justice special assistant attorney general focused on environmental issues, to replace Blumenfeld, the latest high-ranking official to depart the governor’s administration.
Other important climate news:
The coronavirus bottom line: As of Thursday, California had 10,104,761 confirmed cases (+0.3% from previous day) and 93,378 deaths (+0.2% from previous day), according to state data now updated just twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. CalMatters is also tracking coronavirus hospitalizations by county.
California has administered 79,191,867 vaccine doses, and 71.8% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated.
Today, more than 2,000 Kaiser Permanente mental health workers are set to launch an open-ended strike in Northern California and the Central Valley to protest what they say are unsustainable clinician workloads and lengthy appointment waits in violation of a new state law requiring follow-up mental health care for most patients within 10 business days. The National Union of Healthcare Workers, which represents the striking clinicians, alleged in a Thursday complaint to state health regulators that Kaiser is canceling thousands of behavioral health appointments and isn’t providing patients with alternatives in violation of state law. The union also said it reached a deal with Kaiser on wages during Friday and Saturday bargaining sessions but other issues, such as staffing and dividing providers’ time between patient appointments and administrative tasks, remained unresolved. Further bargaining sessions haven’t been scheduled, according to the union.
Speaking of mental health care, Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco said Friday that he plans to table his controversial bill to decriminalize certain psychedelic drugs after it was amended in a secretive legislative process to only authorize studying such a move. “I am looking forward to reintroducing this legislation next year and continuing to make the case that it’s time to end the War on Drugs. Psychedelic drugs, which are not addictive, have incredible promise when it comes to mental health and addiction treatment. We are not giving up,” Wiener said in a statement.  
From CalMatters health reporter Ana B. Ibarra: Rarely is there promising news when it comes to health care costs. But this week, President Joe Biden is set to sign into law the Inflation Reduction Act, a climate, health and tax bill passed Friday by the U.S. House of Representatives that’s expected to provide relief for at least some Americans. Here’s a look at what some of the measure’s health care provisions mean for California:
In other health care news:
With California’s Nov. 8 general election less than three months away, stay up to date on everything you need to know by bookmarking CalMatters’ comprehensive voter guide, which is updated with all the results from the June 7 primary and breaks down where the final two candidates for each statewide office stand on key issues.
Now, for a rundown of the latest election news:
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Government squabbling is crippling plans to address California’s homelessness crisis.
The promise of California’s plan to expand apprenticeships: The Golden State aims to turn apprenticeship into the common path and first choice for 500,000 in-school and out-of-school youths for whom the opportunity cost of higher education is simply too high, writes Natalie Palugyai, secretary of the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency.
L.A. Unified officials knock on doors, urging chronically absent students to return. // Los Angeles Times
Alameda County children wait as caseworkers fail to urgently respond to reports of abuse. // Mercury News
Without a school bus, these San Diego children are learning to get to school by themselves. // San Diego Union-Tribune
Anti-gay race extremist runs unopposed for Bay Area school board seat. // San Francisco Chronicle
Man arrested for California college tuition scheme that targeted veterans. // Los Angeles Times
California efforts to reduce jail population during COVID come to an end as crime rises. // Wall Street Journal
Chesa Boudin, Contra Costa D.A. join group urging California Supreme Court to overturn three-strikes ruling. // San Francisco Chronicle
State investigating campaign finance complaint against Chesa Boudin recall campaign. // San Francisco Chronicle
Brooke Jenkins’ $100K pay may have been legal, but was it ethical? // San Francisco Standard
Accusing a cop: Inside LAPD’s secret discipline system. // Los Angeles Times
She helped put her abuser in prison. Speaking out brought more horror than she could have imagined. // San Francisco Chronicle
Stephon Clark family settles remaining lawsuit with city of Sacramento for $1.7 million. // CapRadio
Caste in California: Tech giants confront ancient Indian hierarchy. // Reuters
Newsom, out front on marriage and marijuana, faces ‘different animal’ on drug sites. // San Francisco Chronicle
Vacaville man is blind, homeless and schizophrenic. Why can’t California help him? // Sacramento Bee
Officials criticized over lack of plan for Project Roomkey’s last 800 homeless residents. // Daily News
As financial collapse looms, Westminster City Council puts tax measure on November ballot. // Los Angeles Times
Kamala Harris, Oakland leaders announce $50 million initiative to invest in children, end poverty. // Los Angeles Times
What takes years and costs $20K? A San Francisco trash can. // Associated Press
First California Starbucks store to unionize just became the first to go on strike. // San Francisco Chronicle
Scion of S.F. coffee dynasty attempts run for district attorney, realizes he needs to be an attorney to qualify. // San Francisco Standard
Political group taps Orange County small business owners to help capture Asian American vote. // Los Angeles Times
California’s vital ocean current could soon see major disruption. Here’s what’s at stake. // San Francisco Chronicle
Alameda County’s ban on wild cow-milking could impact rodeos. // Mercury News
California’s abandoned homesteads fascinated me. My childhood home is one. // Los Angeles Times
New Sierra hiking trail aims to revive mountain towns. // Los Angeles Times
Red Fire burning in Yosemite National Park grows to 250 acres. // San Francisco Chronicle
Tips, insight or feedback? Email [email protected].
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