Meet the architect

Jeff vonKaenel

If you’re like me, you’re going to breathe the air today, drink some water and drive around a little bit. And when you do that, I’m hoping you’ll think of Kip Lipper, because he’s helped make the air and water a lot better for you.

Thanks to President Barack Obama, that air and water may get a whole lot better. Last month, Obama told the Environmental Protection Agency to re-evaluate California’s request to impose strict limits on vehicle carbon-dioxide emissions—a request previously denied by George W. Bush’s Republican administration.

Obama’s new directive will likely produce results within the next few months, possibly inspiring as many as 18 other states to adopt tailpipe-emissions standards that, like California’s, are tougher than federal standards.

Once again, our state is taking the lead. This legislation didn’t come about by accident. In fact, the architect of much of it is Lipper.

Lipper is an unsung hero. He’s written more environmental bills than you could shake a hybrid car at. During Lipper’s 24-year stint with Sen. Byron Sher, he helped craft environmental legislation that includes the California Clean Air Act, the California Safe Drinking Water Act, the California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act and the Integrated Waste Management Act.

Most recently, Lipper worked on Senate Bill 1760. This bill would create the Climate Action Team, which will be composed of representatives from the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency; the Department of Food and Agriculture; the Resources Agency, Air and Resources Board; the Energy Commission; and the Public Utilities Commission. It will be held responsible for coordinating the state’s overall climate policy.

Lipper and I met a few weeks ago over sushi at Mikuni to discuss the key issues developing in this realm of sustainability. As you might expect, he was a tremendous sage, providing valuable information.

I am excited that Lipper will now be working with new President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg to help keep California in the lead on cutting-edge environmental policy.

This year, there will be hundreds of bills introduced in the state Legislature. Many will deal with topics that do not matter. Many will be sobs to get campaign donations. There will be a few that justify all the expense and energy of moving them through the state Legislature.

There’s a good chance Lipper’s name will be associated with many of those. That’s more than enough reason to thank him for making our air and water cleaner.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.