State Assembly Approves Assemblymember Garcia and Senator Padilla’s Legislation Creating the Southeast California Economic Zone in the Salton Sea Region

Salton Sea

(SACRAMENTO, CA) — On Wednesday, May 22, the California State Assembly voted to approve Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) and Senator Steve Padilla’s (D-San Diego) AB 2757, establishing the Southeast California Economic Region. This designation will enhance the competitiveness for federal, state, and local funding, as well as Lithium Valley and clean energy development investment opportunities in the Eastern Riverside County and Imperial County communities.   


This legislation builds upon recommendations made by the Lithium Valley Commission (AB 1657, Garcia). The Imperial County, Eastern Coachella Valley, and Palo Verde areas that would be included in this new economic zone share distinct economic demographics, challenges, and significant potential for solar, wind, geothermal, and direct lithium development. 


“As the global demand for lithium continues to grow and California works to achieve our zero-emission vehicle goals,  this legislation will strengthen Lithium Valley economic development, create jobs, and attract the resources we need to build out the overall energy infrastructure outlined in our community’s Lithium Valley vision. After years of laying the groundwork, we must seize this game-changing opportunity to uplift our economically underserved region, improve the quality of life for residents, and solidify our district as a global leader in this emerging energy industry,” said Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia. 


“We have the opportunity to bring profound change to one of the most overlooked and underinvested regions of our state. The Lithium Valley is on the cusp of a foundational economic transformation. Creating an economic hub facilitating coordination between all levels of government will help us bring investment and high paying union jobs to our community,” shared Senator Steve Padilla.


AB 2757 is supported by the County of Imperial, Comite Civico del Valle, Alianza Coachella Valley, and a robust coalition of other community and workforce organizations.


Imperial County Chairman Luis A. Plancarte said, “We are thrilled with the passage of AB 2757, which is a monumental step forward for the Southeast California Economic Region. This designation not only enhances our competitiveness for critical funding but also positions Imperial County at the forefront of the clean energy revolution. The collaboration between state and local governments, alongside community and workforce organizations, will drive job creation and economic growth, particularly in the Lithium Valley. We are committed to leveraging this opportunity to uplift our communities, improve residents’ quality of life, and establish our region as a global leader in renewable energy development.”


“The Imperial Valley is a historically marginalized geographic region and needs a definitive economic development designation that fosters economic relationships between business, labor, community, and the protection of our local environment,” advocated Luis Olmedo, Executive Director for Comite Civico del Valle.


“As former Chair of the Lithium Valley Commission, I am pleased by the enthusiastic support our recommendation is receiving. The designation of the Salton Sea region as an economic zone strengthens our competitiveness for federal, state and private investments needed to realize the lithium industry potential beyond an extractive economy and for the benefit of our local communities,” said Silvia Paz, Executive Director for Alianza Coachella Valley.  


In partnership with the County of Imperial, Assemblymember Garcia has also advanced AB 2922 to the State Senate, which would reinstate access to the Capital Investment Incentive Program (CIIP). This program offers crucial economic tools that would support Lithium Valley development.