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Governor Brown Eyes Chance At Renewing Cap-And-Trade Program As Climate Change Solution

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Gov. Brown is likely to want to continue the state’s signature climate change-fighting program — cap-and-trade — past 2020, when it’s set to expire.

But there’s a growing body of lawmakers who want to overhaul it. Business groups who once opposed Brown on California’s new, stricter emissions limits last year are now with him on cap-and-trade. Under the program, companies can buy and sell state credits that allow their emissions or invest in projects to offset them.

Eloy Garcia of the Western States Petroleum Association says it creates a market and flexibility for businesses that new regulations don’t.

"Do you want a higher or lower price on gasoline, diesel, electricity, natural gas?" Garcia says. "There’s a direct translation and it’s unavoidable."

Some environmental groups, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, agree. But groups particularly focused on air quality in disadvantaged communities say offsets and credits create major problems.

One such person is Parin Shah of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network.

"California’s current cap-and-trade program has loopholes that essentially allow for the export of climate benefits out of our state," Shah says.

And this view has recently won over some key state lawmakers. Senate Democrats are pushing to overhaul the program by removing some leeway for businesses and creating a more concrete price on each ton of carbon they emit.

The lawmakers, Brown, and these different constituencies will likely have to coalesce around a single plan, since they’re looking to reach two-thirds majorities in the Legislature to pass it.

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