July 12, 2017: Net Neutrality, California Environment Bills
- Today, July 12, has been designated an Internet-wide Day of Action to save net neutrality protections.
- A vote is expected tomorrow in the California Senate on two major environment bills: AB-398, an extension of California's cap-and-trade program, and AB-617, an air quality bill.
Over 80,000 websites are joining an Internet-wide Day of Action today, July 12, protesting the FCC's plan to repeal federal net neutrality protections. Net neutrality is the principle stating that Internet service providers must remain "neutral" with respect to the content they deliver to consumers—they may not block, slow down, or prioritize content based on which site it comes from. Without such protections, Internet service providers could create "fast lanes" for their own content and their partners, and "slow lanes" for everyone else.
The FCC's "Restoring Internet Freedom," which would repeal net neutrality protections, is open for public comment through mid-August.
- Battle for the Net (protest campaign website)
- Tech Firms Protest Proposed Changes to U.S. Net Neutrality Rules (New York Times)
- FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (full text)
- FCC Chairman Pai statement in support of net neutrality repeal
- FCC Commissioner Clyburn dissenting statement
AB-398 and AB-617
Governor Jerry Brown introduced two environment-related bills on Monday, July 10, the result of several weeks of closed-door negotiations between state legislative leaders, environmental advocates, and industry representatives. AB-398 would extend California's cap-and-trade system through 2030, and AB-617 would increase air quality monitoring and impose stricter penalties on polluters.
California's cap-and-trade system was enacted in 2006 (via AB-32), establishing a program beginning in 2013 to reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. This program included a number of policies—including higher fuel efficiency standards for vehicles and new renewable energy standards—but the major focus was on establishing a "cap" limiting the total greenhouse gas emissions within the state, and then allowing companies to purchase and exchange ("trade") allowances to emit carbon.
Governor Brown has presented these two bills as a realistic compromise between environmental advocates and industry to help California move forward with carbon reductions. AB-398 would extend the cap-and-trade program through 2030, but also came with major concessions to industry. Among these concessions: the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will set a ceiling on allowance prices, companies will continue to receive free allowances, and local air districts would be blocked from adding additional regulations on carbon emissions (though they would still be allowed to regulate other forms of air pollution).
In order to offset some of the concerns about AB-398's concessions, the Governor also introduced AB-617, a bill which would allow increased local monitoring of polluters, expedites retrofits to reduce air pollution, and imposes steeper penalties on polluters.
A vote on both of these bills is expected in the California Senate tomorrow, Thursday, July 13.
- AB-398 official bill information (full text)
- AB-617 official bill information (full text)
- Here's What's in the Deal to Extend California's Cap-and-Trade system (KQED)
- Gov. Brown and Democratic leaders offer plan to extend cap and trade, with aim for approval this week (LA Times)
- Debate rages over California cap-and-trade deal, concessions to Big Oil (Mercury News)
- ARB Emissions Trading Program Overview (Air Resources Board fact sheet)
- Assembly Bill 32 Overview (Air Resources Board info page)
Call to Action
Today I will be calling my California Senator and asking her to support AB-617 and protect our state's air quality. I'll also leave a comment on the FCC's net neutrality repeal proposal.
In order to leave a comment on the FCC's net neutrality repeal propsal, you can use this form on the FCC's website. Enter the number 17-108 in the "Proceedings" field, and select "Comment" in the "Type of Filing" field. You can then upload a text file containing your comment by clicking on the "Upload Documents" field.
Alternatively, Battle for the Net has a simple form on its front page with a pre-written letter, which you can also use.
If you are from California and don't know who your state representatives are, you can look up that information here: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/
Script for Calling California Senators
"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm a constituent in _____ (city/neighborhood). My zip code is _____. I'm calling to ask _____ (Senator's name) to please vote yes on AB-617 tomorrow. Protecting our air quality is critically important for our health and our environment. Thank you."