New Bill Expands Climate Emissions Reporting

By Published On: January 28, 2021

Legislation introduced by Sen. Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) would require large companies that do business in California to publicly disclose their onsite and offsite greenhouse gas emissions starting in 2024. It would apply to companies that make $1 billion or more in revenue,

The reporting requirement has no emissions threshold and includes businesses not covered by the state carbon cap-and-trade program.

“This will be the broadest and most comprehensive set of emissions reporting requirements in place for large corporations,” Weiner said Jan. 27.

Under California Air Resources Board’s Mandatory Reporting Rule, any entity with carbon emissions of 10,000 metric tons or more of onsite emissions must report those gases every year. If those emissions are 25,000 metric tons or greater, the company is covered by the Air Board’s carbon cap-and-trade program.

SB 206 would for the first time extend beyond direct onsite emissions to those associated with a firm’s electricity use and indirect emissions from its supply chain. That is projected to cover roughly 5,000 companies, including Amazon and Google, said Catie Stewart, Weiner’s spokesperson. “It’s a much broader list of companies and the disclosures would need to be publicly available,” she told Current.

The legislation requires the Air Board to develop by early 2023 “science- based” reporting ground rules. How these regulations will differ from existing emissions rules isn’t clear. But according to Stewart, “they would be different but complementary of cap-and-trade reporting requirements that already apply.”

Starting in 2025, covered companies are to cut their emissions. They are to use a third-party auditor approved by the Air Board to both conduct their carbon emissions inventory and determine their individual emission reduction targets.

Emission levels would have to be posted on a public website.

The California League of Conservation Voters, Carbon Accountable and Sunrise Bay Area are the bill sponsors.

Legislation seeks to halt gas use in new buildings

SB 30 by Sen. Dave Cortese (D-Silicon Valley) would prohibit new state facilities from connecting to the natural gas grid. This bill is part of a legislation package he authored to decarbonize buildings across the state.

State-owned buildings would be required by SB 30 to be carbon neutral by 2035. In addition, it would prohibit state agencies from funding gas use in new residential and nonresidential construction.

Cortese’s related legislation includes SB 31 that would develop new building decarbonization programs at the California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission, with an emphasis on opportunities for low-income customers.

His SB 32 would require all local jurisdictions to update their General Plans to fully decarbonize their building stock.

SB 18 by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) seeks to accelerate the development and use of green hydrogen. 

Green hydrogen is made by using solar and wind energy to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

Skinner called this hydrogen “the only renewable energy source that has the potential to decarbonize all aspects of our economy. “

SB 18 specifically would require the Energy Commission to submit a report to the Legislature that models green hydrogen and its role in decarbonizing the power and transportation sectors by June 2022. The Air Board would have to include a strategy for promoting green hydrogen in its carbon emissions scoping plan by December 2022.

SB 207 by Sen. Brian Dahle (R-Redding) would require a new committee to advise the legislature by April 2025 about fully recycling or reusing solar panels put out to pasture. 

Dahle’s bill requires the California Environment Protection Agency Secretary to convene by April 2022 a Photovoltaic Recycling Advisory Group to develop recommendations for ensuring that all old solar panels are reused or safely and economically recycled.

Solar arrays contain hazardous materials, including lead. In 2015, a law was passed in California that stamped solar panels as hazardous waste. That ended their disposal in landfills.

In 2018, RecyclePV in California opened a solar recycling facility in Arizona. “RecyclePV can recover 98% of materials from a decommissioned module,” according to Solar Power World.

Some businesses specialize is reselling used solar components.

Elizabeth McCarthy

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