Tuesday, July 18, 2017

California extends cap-and-trade with some GOP support

California Gov. Jerry Brown. Credit: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
California Gov. Jerry Brown has been an outspoken leader on climate change, Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Georgina Gustin reports for Inside Climate News:

California lawmakers voted Monday night to extend the state's signature program for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, furthering California's leadership on climate change. The bipartisan vote provides what many supporters hope will become a model for tackling global warming as the Trump administration works to unravel federal regulations.
California's cap-and-trade program—the only one of its kind in the country and the second largest in the world—is the centerpiece of the state's efforts to reduce carbon emissions. It was established by a 2006 law and launched in January 2013 to run through 2020, but its fate beyond that was uncertain until now.
Monday's vote extended the cap-and-trade program through 2030, but with a few changes that turned some environmental groups against the legislation. Among them, it allows big polluters to continue buying permits to emit more greenhouse gases and it bars some separate regulations on refineries.
The bill passed the Senate 28-12 and was approved 55-21 in the Assembly, earning the supermajority it needed to pass. It now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.

A Rocky Road to Approval

When Brown last week announced the legislation to extend the program, three vocal factions emerged: Republicans pleaded with the governor to back away from the proposal, saying it would hurt California's economy. Progressive environmental groups—including may representing polluted minority communities—bashed the proposals as a giveaway to polluters, particularly the oil industry. Other influential environmental groups applauded the legislation, saying it represented a reasonable balance that represented the best change for moving the program forward.
"It's been crazy wheeling and dealing all week," said Danny Cullenward, a researcher with Near Zero, a climate consultancy based at the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University.
The state's cap-and-trade program reduces emissions by setting a statewide emissions cap that is lowered over time. Polluters are required to either cut their greenhouse gas emissions by a set amount or buy permits, or allowances, from other companies that successfully cut theirs.
Brown, who is attempting to cement a climate legacy after a long career in politics, spent most of the last week appealing to lawmakers, even attending a committee hearing in the state capital on Thursday where lawmakers pored over details of the bill.
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