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California: First for families, first for clean air

In California, we like to go first.

Over 60 years ago, we became the first state in the nation to adopt aggressive air pollution regulations, which made us a global leader in protecting human health. Many decades later, our positive experience growing the economy while cleaning the air gave our leaders the confidence to adopt aggressive climate protection standards – which will lead to even cleaner air while unleashing investment in clean technologies that address climate change.

So it's no surprise that, when someone comes along claiming that what California really needs is a new oil drilling boom, we look at them with some skepticism. Such is the case with the Monterey Shale, which may (or may not) be on the cusp of delivering California to an oily nirvana (though it's worth noting that California is still the number three oil producer in the U.S.). We're leaning in the "may not" category, and we've got good company: The latest in our series on the Monterey Shale, out this week, includes an assessment by the world's leading oil analysts, IHS CERA, who see zero net economic benefit for many years – if ever - from the Monterey Shale. California's leaders might take a cue from these experts, and maintain their own healthy skepticism about the Monterey Shale's potential.

You know what else California did first? Adopt some very forward-thinking, pro-family rules regarding paid family leave. These rules allow California families to do what families are supposed to be able to do: Care for a sick or ailing loved one in a time of need. But, too often, workers can't get the time off, or can't afford to miss days at work. In California, we've long since made families a priority in our public policy, and now we may see similar action at the national level with the introduction of the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act. As our very own Ann O'Leary says, "We are all mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents or children – we need a way to care for our families without risking our financial security."

At Next Generation, we're so committed to expanding this type of pro-family approach that we host the California Work & Family Coalition, and its California Paid Family Leave website – which just underwent a significant redesign and re-launch. Please check it out and let us know what you think – and spread the word about Paid Family Leave. I can't think of anything more pro-family than that.

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