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New Calif. Climate Change Goals Clear Key Hurdle

Ben Bradford/Capital Public Radio
 

Ben Bradford/Capital Public Radio

The California Assembly has voted to expand the state’s authority to cut greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change. The Assembly passed SB 32 Tuesday, which would authorize the Brown Administration to reduce emissions by 40 percent beyond current goals, but only if the Legislature receives more oversight.

"It represents a new chapter in the state’s climate change policy," said Democratic Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, when bringing up the measure. "One that we should all be very proud to move forward."

Garcia is one of the Assembly’s moderate Democrats who did not support the measure last year. His reversal exemplifies how Democratic leaders got the new emissions goals passed the Assembly, probably the largest obstacle to passage, just a couple of weeks after the measure stalled.

SB 32 gives the state Air Resources Board authority to create new, tighter emissions rules, but it is contingent on enactment of another bill, which requires the board to report on the economics and efficacy of its actions.

It’s "really about reform, it’s really about oversight, it’s really about accountability," said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon after SB 32's passage. "These are the types of things we’ve been talking about as a caucus, as a Legislature for some time."

Even Republican Assemblyman Brian Dahle, who opposed the climate change bill, had positive words for its companion. He said state emissions rules have hurt his district’s economy.

"The policies that have been put in place have not been equally distributed, and I believe that’s part of why we have the companion bill," Dahle said. I like that part of that bill. We’re actually going to have some oversight from this Legislature."

Both the climate change and oversight bills face one more vote in the Legislature, before they move to Governor Brown, who says he will sign them.

SB 32 does not extend California’s cap-and-trade program, which has struggled this year. Rendon says he still plans to move legislation that will extend the program past its scheduled 2020 expiration date.

Ben Bradford

State Government Reporter

As the State Government Reporter, Ben covers California politics, policy and the interaction between the two. He previously reported on local and state politics, business, energy, and environment for WFAE in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Read Full Bio