Top 10 of 2020
We Are an Essential Public Service
California approached 2020 with a huge budget surplus and high hopes. Then the pandemic ripped the heart out of budgets far and wide. When it was all over, the state was broke. What was most notable, as the Legislative Session ended, was an eerie sense of hopelessness for some and defiance by others, all with a feeling of absence. Lawmakers ghosted their major responsibilities, with their accomplishments outmatched by the deep troubles facing California. In a twisted and truncated Legislative session, you would think that things could not get worse, until the largest wildfires in the state’s history struck another massive blow.
The year 2020 was supposed to be a breakthrough year, not a breakdown. California had already met their greenhouse gas reduction goals and their renewable portfolio standard, and made great progress on the low carbon fuel standard. Bold plans to be carbon neutral by 2045 were floated. Among all of the progress and chaos, the statewide recycling rate kept falling and CARB stepped over carbon-negative fuel technology to aggressively pursue electrification, placing further burdens on local government and the solid waste industry.
As CARB doubled down in the middle of the pandemic, essential workers stepped up on the frontlines at hospitals and emerged as heroes. The solid waste industry was recognized as an essential public service and quickly adapted to the new reality. During these uncertain times, the solid waste industry believes it is important to do their part in the effort to fight COVID-19, as well as protect public health and provide a sense of routine to California.
That empty void you feel could be regulatory fatigue coupled with lack of funding resources. With a third wave surging into this winter of discontent, a new Legislature will be seated, faced with great challenges that we have not seen in generations. With lost opportunities lingering, we look forward to 2021, which will blossom in the spring with new convictions and vaccinations. With a new CARB Board, we need cost-effective regulations and job-creating programs, with further oversight from the Legislature, to believe in near-zero and in-state RNG production. With the Recycling Commission making bold recommendations, CalRecycle needs to move beyond wishful recycling and promote compostablility and recyclability standards.
The world and California suffered in 2020 and will continue to grapple for months and years to come. We may feel that we cannot rely upon our elected leader or our regulators at these critical times, but we can depend upon our families, our community, and our essential public services to survive.