Co-Chair Environmental Caucus

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.

Public Lands Protection Act

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 would effectively block any such 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 onFacebook.

Protecting rivers and streams

In his first year in the Senate, Ben authored landmark legislation, SB 637, that for the first time imposed regulations on a harmful form of mining called suction dredging that has caused toxic mercury pollution of rivers and streams for decades. This legislation was a top priority for the environmental community.

Climate Change

Ben has been a leader on policies that tackle one of the most challenging problems of our time, climate change.  In 2017, he authored a package of bills that address climate change on a number of fronts.

  • SB 79 provides incentives to low-income Californians to purchase electric vehicles.
  • SB 560 calls on the state’s public pension systems to consider the impacts of climate change when making their investment decisions.
  • SB 692 levels the playing field for renewable energy sources.
  • SB 150 seeks to put teeth into the law that requires local governments to reduce traffic congestion by reducing vehicles miles travelled.

He also coauthored SB 350 in 2015, the measure that put in place the policy that California requires 50% of energy to be from renewable sources by 2030.

Coastal protection

  • Coastal pollution prevention – Ben has authored legislation, SB 705, to phase out the use of polystyrene (Styrofoam) take-out food containers.  Modeled after the successful ordinance in the city of Santa Monica, this plan will eliminate a major, hazardous form of ocean pollution that is harmful to marine life and degrades the coastal environment. The Los Angeles Times recently editorialized in support of this measure.
  • Ending the use of drift gillnets – In 2016, Ben led the effort to end the use of drift gillnets off the coast that catch and kill marine life, including endangered sea turtles.  While this legislation did not pass, he continues to fight for policies that will end this harmful practice.
  • Clean beaches – Ben is a coauthor of legislation, SB 386, to prohibit smoking on state beaches and in state parks.
  • Coastal oversight – Ben serves on the governing board of the California Coastal Conservancy and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission.

Off Highway Vehicle reform

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.

Parks and open space

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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