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The annual California Environmental Scorecard grades the California State Legislature and Governor on their environmental and climate actions from the past legislative year.
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California is no longer leading on climate change. Here’s the reality: In the golden state, we are far behind where we need to be on climate action. The California Legislature and Governor have their work cut out for them. The time to go bigger and bolder on climate was yesterday. California has failed in recent years to muster up the political will to pass meaningful climate policy through the Legislature that will move the needle on issues that improve local air quality, advance environmental justice, replace dirty fossil fuels with clean energy, and that take advantage of the incredible opportunity that climate action brings for the health and safety of Californians and our state’s economy. California Environmental Voters assigned its first D grade (67%) to the state for its inaction on the climate crisis in 2021.
We are one year closer to the 2030 deadline scientists have given us to make the necessary investments and policy changes to avert major climate catastrophe, and we’ve got too little to show for it. We are not on track to meet our current climate goals, and in 2021 the state once again failed to take meaningful action at the rate and scale the crisis demands.
It’s no mystery why: A shocking 63% of state legislators take oil money. We have the solutions to solve the climate crisis, but too many of our leaders — who were elected to represent us, the people, who overwhelmingly support climate action — have lacked the political courage to move on meaningful climate policy. The clock is ticking, and anything short of bold, expansive action on climate is insufficient. California’s D grade for 2021 reflects that.
Climate Action Caucus
Members of the Climate Action Caucus are environmental champions fighting for bold policy change to address the climate crisis in Sacramento. These legislators deserve special recognition for their climate leadership in 2021.
Members of the Polluter Caucus have actively worked against efforts to pass policy that would protect our future from the climate crisis either by authoring anti-environmental bills or otherwise stalling progress on important policies. These legislators are responsible for stalling climate progress in 2021.
How it Works
How Legislators Are Scored
We select the most significant environmental bills from the previous legislative session and track how every state legislator voted on each bill. Scores are shown as a percentage and are weighted to include each legislator’s own pro-environment votes and the California score, which makes up 5% of every legislator’s own score. Legislators who author a pro-environment Scorecard bill that was included in the overall California Score are given an additional point, and those who have accepted oil money since 2018 (recent election cycles) have a point deducted.
How the Governor Is Scored
The Governor is also given a score, which is weighted to include the signing or vetoing of pro-environment bills into law and the California score, which makes up 10% of the Governor’s score. Extra points are included in the Governor’s score for pro-environment executive orders and important environmental actions his administration took in 2021.
Weighing the Scores
There are times when legislators fight hard behind the scenes to stop damaging and hazardous policy or fight for bold and important policy. Similarly, there are times when legislators aligned with polluters’ efforts behind the scenes to weaken or kill environmental bills before they can even get a vote. Voting records alone do not tell that side of the story. The weighted scoring method used by the Environmental Scorecard shines a light on whether the Legislature is authoring and moving policy that will significantly move the needle on the climate crisis and who is actually leading by authoring these bills. The Legislature and Governor need to measure success based on their ability to pass bold climate policy and the entire state’s success in taking the action needed right now to protect our future.
Oil Money Badges
An oil money badge appears on the Scorecard page of every legislator who has accepted money directly from oil companies or from major oil company Political Action Committees (PACs) within the past six years. While direct contributions from oil companies and their major PACs is not the only way a legislator can receive funding from the oil industry, it is a helpful indicator to show who openly accepts oil company funding and who does not. Recent oil money contributions impact a legislator’s votes today and they should therefore be held accountable to that today. Corporate polluters’ campaign contributions to legislators have a powerful impact on their votes. So for the first time, legislators who have accepted oil money in recent election cycles — since 2018 — have a negative mark on their 2021 environmental score, counting equal to an anti-environment vote. It is imperative that leaders reject the money and influence of this industry and instead hold them accountable for their role in creating the climate crisis.
How to Use the California
Through the Scorecard, we seek to accurately reflect the impact lawmakers have on addressing environmental issues and the climate crisis so voters can better understand how often their representatives in the State Legislature are voting for the environment.
Now here is where you come in. Find your legislator’s page, check out their environmental score, and make note of whether or not they take oil money. Then reach out to your legislator. Call, email, or tweet at them to tell them what you think of their environmental score and why it matters to you that your legislator always votes for climate justice. Don’t underestimate our collective power as individuals and constituents. When the people of California make their voices heard, our policies better reflect our state’s priorities.