In 2017, Ben became co-chair of the legislature’s environmental Caucus. The caucus is comprised of more than 50 Senators and Assemblymembers who are fighting efforts at the federal level to roll back important clean air, water and resource protection laws.
In response to proposals at the federal level to sell portions of our National Parks, or lease public lands for mineral extraction or coastal drilling, Ben introduced the Public Lands Protection Act, SB 50. This measure blocks the sale or lease of federal public lands in California by granting the State Lands Commission first right of refusal on these properties. View the press conference on Facebook.
In his first year in the Senate, Ben authored landmark legislation, SB 637, that imposed regulations on a harmful form of mining called suction dredging which releases toxic mercury pollution into rivers and streams. A long-time concern for environmentalists, Ben was able to pass this critical piece of legislation.
Ben has been a leader on policies that tackle one of the most challenging problems of our time, climate change. Each year since entering office, Ben has made these policies the cornerstone of his legislative package. In 2015, Ben coauthored SB 350 which requires 50% of California’s energy to be from renewable sources by 2030. In 2017 he authored a number of bills aimed at a variety of issues affecting climate change: assisting low-income Californians with purchasing electric vehicles, requiring the State pension system to consider climate change when making their investments, and requiring local governments to reduce traffic congestion by reducing vehicle miles travelled
Ben introduced legislation to phase out the use of Styrofoam take-out food containers. Modeled after the successful ordinance in the city of Santa Monica, this plan will eliminate a hazardous form of ocean pollution that is harmful to marine life, degrades the coastal environment, and poses a risk to human health. The Los Angeles Times recently editorialized in support of this measure. Ben also serves on the governing board of the California Coastal Conservancy and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission.
Ben is leading the push to reform the state’s Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) program. His legislation, SB 249, will establish greater protections for land and habitat areas where OHV recreation takes place.
Ben grew up hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains, and remains an avid hiker today. He serves on the board of directors for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy where he is helping to preserve and expand parks and open space in the mountains.
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