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RELEASE: Assemblywoman Petrie Norris’ Sea-Level Rise Legislation Signed by Governor - Bill Invests Millions in Green Infrastructure along California’s Coast

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO— In an effort to combat the effects of our climate crisis, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) authored Assembly Bill 65 which was signed into law by Governor Newsom today. AB 65 invests in Green Infrastructure along the California coast in order to combat sea-level rise.

“The California coast is home to 840 miles of breathtaking beauty and nearly 70% of all Californians,” said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris. “And all of this is under threat from sea-level rise. We must be proactive and invest in smart solutions to safeguard our coast.

”Sea-levels are expected to rise 4-8 feet by the end of this century. This is 20-40 times faster than the rate we experienced in the 20th century and the implications are potentially catastrophic. According to a new United Nations-led Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the rate of global sea-level rise was 2.5 times faster from 2006 to 2016 than it was for nearly all of the 20th century. In the Antarctic ice sheet, the rate of mass loss had tripled relative to the previous decade and in Greenland, it’s doubled over the past decade. This is a global climate crisis.

Proposition 68, approved by California voters on June 5, 2018, authorized $40 million to assist coastal communities with adaptation to climate change. AB 65 will invest in projects that utilize green-natural infrastructure for coastal adaptation to address sea-level rise. Examples of green infrastructure include: tidal marshes, which reduce flooding and replenish beaches; kelp & seagrass, which reduce wave impacts; marshes, which reduce flooding and erosion; and much more.

Natural restoration projects not only protect the coast – they restore ecosystems, are important for carbon sequestration, improve recreation and access opportunities, and support coastal economies. This is a cost-effective, resilient approach to combat sea-level rise and protect the California coast.

This bill will become operative on January 1, 2020. AB 65 is supported by: Audubon California, Azul, California CoastKeeper Alliance, California Interfaith Power & Light, California League of Conservation Voters, California Native Plant Society, California State PTA, California Trout, California Voices for Progress, California Waterfowl Association, California Wilderness Coalition, Ceres, City of Costa Mesa, City of Laguna Beach, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of Harbors Beaches and Parks, Heal the Bay, Laguna Bluebelt Coalition, Laguna Greenbelt, Inc., Midpeninsula Regional OpenSpace, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Natural Resources Defense Council, Orange County Business Council, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, TreePeople, The Nature Conservancy, The Ocean Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, Union of Concerned Scientists and Wholly H20.



Audubon California: “By implementing "natural infrastructure" that restores ecological processes and habitats (like beaches, salt marshes, and seagrass beds), we can reduce erosion while expanding habitat, buffer storm surge while improving water quality, and ensure that people and wildlife can enjoy our coast for generations to come. That’s why we urge Governor Newsom to sign AB65, which prioritizes the use of natural infrastructure in the state's efforts to adapt to climate change, including sea level rise along the California coast.”

Azul: “As a strong supporter of Proposition 68 and the investments it made to assist coastal communities with adapting to the impacts of climate change, Azul is proud to support AB 65 and its effort to encourage natural solutions that provide multiple co-benefits. Azul realizes that the impacts of climate change along the coast are already visible and that there is an immediate need for local communities that rely on marine resources for their livelihoods to thoughtfully adapt to these impacts. Because of this, we appreciate the additional effort that AB 65 promotes in building long term coastal resiliency by prioritizing the use of natural infrastructure solutions. By doing this, this bill ensures that as the state adapts to the impacts of a changing climate, it is utilizing the best options available.”

Business Alliance for Protecting the Pacific Coast, Vipe Desi, Founding Member: “Sea level rise is happening and will effect coastal communities the world over. Any smart business person will tell you that addressing any challenge before it happens is much more cost efficient. Being reactive is costly, inefficient and to be honest, too late. AB 65 will implement smart, green infrastructure projects that will protect the coast and support adaptation to deal with impacts from climate change. The ocean is one of the most powerful economic engines driving our coastal economy and it will take collaborative efforts to prepare and mitigate risks to our local communities and businesses. This is an all hands on deck moment and protecting our shorelines is also protecting our economy and jobs.”

California Coastkeeper Alliance, Sean Bothwell, Executive Director: “Sea level rise threatens California’s vibrant coastal ecosystems, communities, and economy, and requires immediate action to protect and preserve our coastline. Assembly Bill 65 (AB 65) will provide the resources and strategies that California needs to adapt to rising ocean levels, while supporting both its wildlife and the public. We applaud Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris for her forward-thinking leadership to help prepare California for its future, and urge our Governor to sign AB 65 to protect California’s coastal environment and communities.

California Interfaith Power & Light, Susan Stephenson, Executive Director: “AB 65 is an essential ingredient of making the California coast more resilient to climate change.  Protecting the natural systems that protect us, like tidal marshes and reefs, will make our communities safer, and we urge Gov. Newsom to sign this bill.” 

California League of Conservation Voters, Mary Creasman, Chief Executive Officer: “Adapting our infrastructure to prepare for the future is just as critical as transitioning our economy. Investing in natural infrastructure is the solution to protecting our communities, and we are grateful to Assemblymember Petrie-Norris for leading on this vision. CLCV proudly supports AB 65 and focusing on how we can work better with nature, and we encourage the Governor to sign it into law.”

California Native Plant Society: "As an organization committed to the protection of the state's native flora, the California Native Plant Society is pleased to see the passage of AB 65, which promotes the use of natural infrastructure THAT can be less harmful to native plants in climate adaptation efforts."

California State PTA, Shereen Walter, Director of Legislation: "California State PTA supports public policies that protect and conserve natural resources and provide a quality environment for present and future generations.  This bill would prioritize natural restoration projects which include ecosystem restoration and access to recreational opportunities, which are shown to benefit the health and well-being of children and families."

California Trout: “CalTrout is thrilled to support AB 65. CalTrout’s State of the Salmonids Report that catalogs all 32 native trout and salmonid species in California identifies climate change as one of the biggest threats to our native fisheries. We are constantly looking for innovative strategies to prepare for this inevitability and to invest in protecting climate resilient natural infrastructure like our volcanic source water areas in Northern California and our dwindling estuary systems along the coasts. By investing in the Green Infrastructure highlighted by Petrie-Norris’s AB 65, we take an important step for preserving California not only for our salmonids, but for all Californians.”

California Waterfowl Association, Mark Hennelly, Vice President of Legislative Affairs: “AB 65 will assist in the restoration and enhancement of coastal wetland habitat, including critical eelgrass habitat that is relied upon by black brant and other waterfowl species. We appreciate the work of Assembly Member Petrie-Norris to support waterfowl conservation projects, including those that help address climate change.”     

City of Laguna Beach, Mayor Bob Whalen: “Climate change poses unique threats and potentially devastating impacts to coastal communities where millions of Californians live and work. AB 65 is a smart solution to counteract these threats by prioritizing green infrastructure. We sincerely hope that the Governor will sign the bill into law.”

Defenders of Wildlife: “As climate change continues to threaten California’s coastline, it is critical we invest in natural restoration projects to preserve our marine ecosystem. Defenders is proud to support AB 65 which, will combat sea level rise by funding protection of marshes, seagrass, rain gardens and other vital ‘green’ infrastructure that humans and wildlife depend on.”

Friends of Harbors Beaches and Parks, Michael Wellborn, Board President: “Swift action is needed to address the impacts from the climate crisis. AB 65 prioritizes spending for coastal cities that utilize green infrastructure and include projects with many public benefits, which our organization supports.”

Laguna Beach Beautification Council, Leah Vasquez, President: “The Laguna Beach Beautification Council  supports AB65  bill  through its speaker presentations encouraging Laguna Beach  as a California Tree City  to  help  mitigate climate change through responsible  development, land preservation, urban forest care and water wise  planting.”

Laguna Greenbelt, Inc., Norm Grossman, Vice President: "The Laguna Greenbelt, Inc., is working diligently to conserve biodiversity in the open space lands in coastal South Orange County. We urge Governor Newsom to sign AB 65 as a positive step to help us meet our goals."

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space, Ana M. Ruiz, General Manager: “As one of the largest regional open space districts in California, we support AB 65’s prioritization of using natural, or “green,” infrastructure along our coasts as a way to broaden our state’s diverse approach to mitigate climate change. California continues to demonstrate that a thriving economy and bold environmental policies can coexist, and this bill is critical in shaping the future and health of our pristine coastline, which attracts millions of tourists each year and provides Californians a high quality of life. If we wish to preserve not only our coasts but our planet, we must invest in green infrastructure along the coast to improve climate change adaptation and combat sea-level rise.”

The Nature Conservancy, Michelle Passero, California Climate Policy Director: “This legislation would facilitate much-needed investment in nature-based climate solutions that help protect communities from climate impacts, such as sea level rise, storm surges and flooding. When we protect nature, nature protects us.”

Oceana, Ashley Blacow-Draeger, Pacific Policy and Communications Manager: “Healthy ocean habitats can help buffer climate change impacts. Kelp forests, sea grass beds and rocky shorelines serve so many important functions; conserving and restoring these natural elements will in turn help protect local communities, economies and our blue planet. We appreciate Assemblymember Petrie-Norris’ leadership on AB 65 that will prioritize protecting and restoring natural buffers to aid in climate mitigation strategies. AB 65 is good for the oceans and local communities.”

Orange County Business Council, Alicia Berhow, Senior Vice-President: “Orange County Business Council supports AB 65, legislation that uses green infrastructure to safeguard Orange County’s coastline against rising sea levels and commends Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris for her leadership in protecting the county’s economic future with prudent action now. AB 65 ensures the county’s thriving coastal based tourism can continue to grow, while protecting homes with infrastructure improvements that utilize natural land and open spaces.” 

Orange County League of Conservation Voters, Michael Wellborn, Board of Directors: "The Orange County League of Conservation Voters supports AB 65 as a vital step in responding to climate change impacts along the Orange County coastline. The California Coastal Conservancy, under this legislation, would have clear guidance to implement natural infrastructure projects to better assist communities with sustainable solutions to the challenges of climate change.”

Ocean Conservancy: "Prioritizing green infrastructure is a coastal and ocean-smart solution for coastal adaptation; we are pleased to support AB 65."

Dr. Brett F. Sanders, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering & Department of Urban Planning and Public Policy, University of California, Irvine: “Sandy beaches are nature’s defense against coastal flooding, yet beaches in Orange County and across California are running short on sand after inland development and dams have cut off supplies. More projects are needed to put sand back on beaches to prevent damaging flooding.”

Sierra Club California, Kathryn Phillips, State Director: "This bill helps make sure California adapts to climate change impacts on the coast in a way that is sensitive to the environment and wildlife, while protecting people and property. It's sensible and smart. Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris deserves big kudos for taking on and helping solve this critical climate adaptation problem in her first year in office."

Sierra Club, Sharon Koch, Angeles Club Chair: “The passage of Assembly Bill 65 will help my community mitigate the effects of sea level rise by prioritizing methods using natural infrastructure for the protection of our coastal ecosystems.  This is a smart, practical approach to a challenge that needs to be confronted now before it is too late.  As a resident of Newport Beach, I urge the Governor to sign this measure into law.”

Surfrider Foundation, Jennifer Savage, California Policy Manager: "Without proactive planning, sea level rise will be the greatest environmental and economic catastrophe to hit California. AB 65 ensures investment in strategies most likely to mitigate the harm we're facing. By prioritizing green infrastructure, and protection and restoration of our natural ecosystems, Assemblymember Petrie-Norris is giving those who depend on California's coast new and specific hope for the future."

Dr. Kathleen Treseder, Professor of Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine: "AB 65 is based on sound science. Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris' bill is win-win-win: our species win, Californian residents win, and future generations win. Species can use the natural infrastructure for habitat. Californians will save money, because those species will perform services like pollution removal. Future generations will be protected from coastal erosion and other symptoms of climate change. "

TreePeople, Deborah Bloome, Senior Director of Policy and Research: "TreePeople supports AB 65 because TreePeople believes that natural infrastructure is critical to helping communities combat and adapt to climate change, especially along California's coasts. For example, natural infrastructure helps capture rainfall, increase water supplies, reduce water pollution, prevent flooding, and improve water quality which ultimately helps protect our oceans, watersheds, and coastal communities in California."

Trust for Public Land, Guillermo Rodriguez, California State Director: “Thanks to the leadership and advocacy of Assemblymember Petrie-Norris, AB 65 will invest in what should be our first choice to protect our 800-mile coast. Multi-benefit green infrastructure projects like restoring tidal marshes and wetlands, installing permeable pavement, increasing urban tree canopy and rain gardens are natural solutions that not only defend our coast against sea-level rise they also work to improve public access and recreational opportunities and sustain our important coastal economies”.

Union of Concerned Scientists, Adrienne Alvord, Western States Director: “Climate change is here and we must urgently begin addressing the threat sea level rise poses to our coastal communities. Assembly Bill 65 prioritizes projects that will increase the climate resiliency of our communities and our infrastructure. The Governor should sign AB 65 into law.”

Voices for Progress, Evan Minton, California State Policy & Programmatic Manager: "Sea level rise is a continuing reality due to climate change. California needs to be on the forefront of addressing public health, safety and environmental impacts in smart and innovative ways. AB 65 does just that and we urge the Governor to sign this bill into law."