Senate committee approves Wieckowski bill to create state chief resilience officer to coordinate climate issues

April 9, 2019

SACRAMENTO – A bill by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) to establish the position of chief resilience officer to coordinate the state’s work on climate resiliency issues was approved this afternoon by the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.  SB 168 would enable the Governor to appoint the chief resilience officer, who would be based in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.

“We have heard from many climate experts in and out of government and at the local and state levels that improved coordination and collaboration would enhance our ability to make California more resilient in the face of the harmful effects of climate change,” said Senator Wieckowski, the chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy and Transportation. “Sea-level rise, wildfires, coastal erosion and rising temperatures will result in substantial damage to our natural habitat and economy if we do not have proper planning and implementation based on the latest research available to local agencies confronting these issues.”

SB 168 is backed by a number of organizations including the Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the City of San Jose, the Northern California Power Association, Climate Resolve and other groups.

“Last year, I testified at a climate adaptation hearing chaired by Senator Wieckowski. I believe that nothing is more important to the health and safety of California than trying to deal with our future climate,” said Jonathan Parfrey, executive director of Climate Resolve. “What I said then is still true today. California needs an individual at the Office of Planning & Research to coordinate and streamline resiliency efforts on research, on funding and on implementation. SB 168 accomplishes this by creating the chief resilience officer position.”

A recent analysis on coastal adaptation by the Legislative Analyst’s Office suggested the state should identify someone to coordinate and oversee California’s resilience plans.  SB 168 would make the chief resilience officer responsible for those tasks. 

SB 168 follows up on 2015 legislation by Senator Wieckowski that created the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resilience Program (ICARP) within the Office of Planning and Research.  The ICARP includes a Technical Advisory Council that facilitates climate resilience efforts among state, regional and local agencies and provides scientific and technical support.

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th Senate District, which includes parts of Alameda and Santa Clara counties.