September 2, 2016
On August 24, 2016 California legislators passed perhaps the most ambitious effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the nation, handing a significant victory to Gov. Jerry Brown (D) ahead of a looming fight over the state’s cap-and-trade program next year according to an August 25, 2016 report from The Hill.
In a pair of party-line votes, the state Senate and state Assembly passed two significant bills: One would require California to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to a level 40 percent below its 1990 levels by 2030. The other handed legislators more control over the California Air Resources Board (CARB) which oversees emissions.
The current program requires California to reduce its GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 — a reduction of approximately 15 percent below emissions expected under a “business as usual” scenario. Because new technology and cleaner industrial sites make achieving those goals likely, the state now has a glut of carbon credits within the market. Some estimates suggest the most recent auction generated as little as $8 million, a fraction of what the state expected to raise.
Proponents say increasing emissions cuts from 15 percent of 1990 levels by 2020 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 is now essential to the carbon program’s success. If the legislature does not make changes to the current cap-and-trade system, Brown has suggested he will use his remaining political capital to put a measure on the 2018 ballot.
The two bills faced heated opposition from California’s oil and gas industries, which say they stand to lose thousands of jobs from efforts to cut carbon emissions. Republican opponents of the bills said they would cause higher energy prices, which hit low-income and minority communities harder than cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. Some supporters of the bills acknowledged that the costs of climate change legislation can fall disproportionately on low-income communities in California’s Central Valley.
The bill to give the legislature more control over CARB is a way to increase its racial and geographic diversity. That measure was sponsored by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, a Coachella Democrat whose inland district is one of those that stand to lose jobs if the oil and gas market suffers further.
It is the second time the two measures have come up for a vote: A combination of business-friendly Democrats and Republicans scuttled a similar push in 2015. Brown said supporters spent the past year tweaking the legislation and negotiating with members to secure enough votes.
What this means to you
California’s legislature has approved an increase in carbon emission cuts – from current goal of 15% by 2020 to 40% by 2030 – while granting the legislature more control over its Air Resources Board in a move to give ARB greater racial and geographic diversity.
MIRATECH can help
Contact MIRATECH for help meeting stationary engine emission limits in California.