Wieckowski bill to create Chief Resilience Officer to coordinate climate issues passes Senate

SB 168 authorizes Governor to make appointment

May 23, 2019

SACRAMENTO – As the challenges confronting California on climate change continue to mount, the state Senate today approved with bipartisan support a bill by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) to establish the position of chief resilience officer to coordinate work on climate resiliency issues.  Under SB 168, the Governor would appoint the chief resilience officer, who would be subject to a Senate confirmation vote.  The officer would be based in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.

“We know the challenges posed by climate change are increasing and that they require a collaborative and coordinated response to protect the health and safety of Californians,” said Wieckowski, the chair of the Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy and Transportation.  “Wildfires have devastated entire communities, resulting in fatalities, homelessness and extensive loss of property. Extreme weather, sea-level rise, erosion and flooding will continue to worsen at an alarming rate unless we become more pro-active, collaborate and take action based on the latest research and science.  The climate resilience officer will be well-positioned to help us address these critical issues.” 

SB 168 is supported by a number of organizations including the Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, the Northern California Power Association, Climate Resolve, Ocean Conservancy, the City of San Jose and other groups.

“Like other communities in California, San José is feeling the effects of climate change in the form of extreme weather, flooding, worsening air quality, and disruption of ecosystems and habitat. It’s vital that we do everything we can not only to halt climate change, but also to adapt to the changes that are now unavoidable. This bill is an important step in that direction,” said Kerrie Romanow, chief sustainability officer for the City of San José and director of the San José Environmental Services Department, which leads Climate Smart San José, the City’s climate action plan.

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.