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Brown: Cap-And-Trade Bill Signing Is Key Milestone In Climate Fight

  

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill that extends California’s signature climate change effort through 2030, the culmination of the governor’s years-long battle over the state’s cap-and-trade program.

It was a picture-perfect day on San Francisco’s Treasure Island – the same site where former Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed California’s first significant climate change bill more than a decade ago. Schwarzenegger joined his successor for this signing, and both pointedly labeled the bipartisan deal an example that Washington should follow. Brown said California’s cap-and-trade program is paving the way for other states – and even countries, like China.

“We are a nation-state in a globalizing world, and we’re having an impact," Brown said. "And you’re here witnessing one of the key milestones in turning around this carbonized world into a decarbonized sustainable future.” 

The coalition that backed the bill included business, industry and some environmental groups. There was also bipartisan opposition – from other environmental groups, and anti-tax conservatives. 

Some environmental justice groups say Brown made too many concessions to polluting industries. They argue the bill doesn’t go far enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions – and includes giveaways to the oil industry by preempting local regulations.

California’s oil industry once fiercely opposed the state’s cap and trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But this year, oil companies were part of a coalition supporting the extension legislation. 

Catherine Reheis Boyd with the Western States Petroleum Association says while it doesn’t like many aspects of the program, it’s the best option.

"Anything that we do going forward to meet these very aggressive climate change targets that California has set is going to be extremely costly for business," says Boyd. "The only way to minimize the costs in any way is through some kind of a market mechanism.”

The program puts a cap and a price on carbon emissions. Oil companies and refineries can buy and trade pollution permits on the open market. 

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office projects California gas prices could rise as much as 70 cents a gallon under cap-and-trade. Republican Senator Ted Gaines says that’s on top of the fuel tax and vehicle fee increases Brown signed into law this past spring.

"It’s coming at a cost – $2 to $2.5 billion a year for Californians. And it’s regressive in nature, will hurt the poor and the middle class the most," says Gaines. 

The Legislative Analyst’s Office also says gas would cost even more without cap-and-trade.

Brown will sign a second piece of the cap-and-trade package Wednesday. That measure seeks to improve air quality, particularly in low-income communities. 

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