Category Archives: California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32)

California pushes to extend its groundbreaking Global Warming Act

Repost from the San Francisco Chronicle

Sacramento’s climate on climate change

Editorial, August 8, 2016 4:46pm
The governor’s sense of urgency is understandable — there are lots of threats to California’s climate change fight right now. Photo: Rich Pedroncelli, Associated Press
The governor’s sense of urgency is understandable — there are lots of threats to California’s climate change fight right now. Photo: Rich Pedroncelli, Associated Press

Ten years after California passed AB32, our landmark law to fight climate change, the Legislature is being pushed to pass its successor. SB32, envisioned as the logical next step in California’s push, would set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below the 1990 level by 2030.

It should have been an easy ask.

AB32 hasn’t been perfect, but it’s helped to lower California’s emissions without negatively impacting its economy. In fact, the economy has grown — gross domestic product in 2015 was up 12.4 percent over 2006 — while petroleum and electricity consumption have both declined.

The state’s climate change battle is also highly popular with voters. In last month’s Public Policy Institute of California poll, 69 percent of Californians supported extending our climate change policies and aiming for the 2030 target.

But instead of responding with the pioneering spirit of their predecessors in the Legislature, current legislators are stuck in neutral.

SB32, authored by state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills (Los Angeles County), was stalled in the Assembly last year, thanks to the lobbying efforts of the oil industry. Pavley revived the bill this year, but its prospects look increasingly dire.

There are just a few weeks left in the legislative session, and SB32 is again at risk in the state Assembly. Pavley has negotiated plenty of compromises on the bill (including dropping a longer-term 2050 goal), but it’s still not enough.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is furiously trying to work out a deal behind the scenes.

The governor’s sense of urgency is understandable — there are lots of threats to California’s climate change fight right now, including a California Chamber of Commerce lawsuit that’s put the entire cap-and-trade auction program, the centerpiece of AB32, in jeopardy.

But the governor’s office needs to be careful to play the long game here. Doing otherwise could jeopardize the program in less expected, but no less crucial, ways.

Nancy McFadden, Brown’s executive secretary, raised the prospect of a ballot initiative if the Legislature doesn’t move on the governor’s climate change goals. In an Aug. 4 Twitter statement, McFadden said, “The governor will continue working with the Legislature to get this done this year, next year, or on the ballot in 2018.” That same day, Brown’s office filed papers with California’s secretary of state to launch an initiative drive for an as-yet undetailed “Californians for a Clean Environment” measure.

The governor’s temptation to run around an obstinate state Legislature and go directly to the voters is understandable, but it must be avoided.

Achieving climate change goals is a lengthy process with endless moving parts. The legislative process allows the state to adapt as conditions change; ballot measures etch regulations in stone.

With the cap-and-trade auction system in limbo, an inflexible ballot measure could be an especially dangerous solution to a complex problem. State lawmakers need to create certainty by passing SB32 now.

SF CHRONICLE EDITORIAL: Showdown in Sacramento

Repost from the San Francisco Chronicle

Legislature needs to pass California’s climate bills now

San Francisco Chronicle Editorial, September 8, 2015 4:54pm
Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León visits the Chronicle in San Francisco, Calif., on Friday, June 26, 2015 Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle
Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León visits the Chronicle in San Francisco, Calif., on Friday, June 26, 2015 Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle

This was never going to be easy.

When California passed AB32 in 2006, state leaders were feted all over the world for their strong leadership and their willingness to do the hard work in the fight against climate change.

But now the party’s over. The state Legislature is embroiled in a tough fight around SB350 and SB32, two critical bills that represent California’s next steps toward achieving our climate change goals.

This year’s legislative deadline is Friday, so legislators must act now.

The most controversial bill is SB350, by state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles.

The petroleum industry has its guns aimed on the bill, which would require the state Air Resources Board to decide how the state should reduce petroleum use by 50 percent over the next 15 years and require utilities to increase their renewable energy portfolios to 50 percent by 2030. It would also require improved energy efficiency in buildings.

Those are tough goals, but they’re achievable. California can get there without resorting to the scare tactics that the oil industry is suggesting in its disingenuous ad campaigns (a ban on minivans and SUVs, Soviet-style gas rationing, and other over-the-top threats).

The state Assembly’s own analysis points out that California’s existing regulations have already set the stage for a decline in statewide petroleum consumption by 31 to 41 percent by 2030.

SB350 represents one more push, not a paradigm shift.

Still, there are a few waverers among the moderate Democrats in the state Assembly. (SB350 has already passed the state Senate.)

De León is still seeking to compromise with them (he’s offered amendments to beef up oversight of the state Air Resources Board and is open to giving the state Legislature a chance to modify whatever regulations the board winds up proposing), which is positive. Increasing oversight of the board would be an especially good idea.

But there should be no compromise on the centerpiece guidelines of the bill. After all, the climate isn’t willing to compromise with California.

SB32, authored by state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills (Los Angeles County), has gotten less attention — but it doesn’t deserve to get lost in the end-of-the-year fray.

SB32 requires California to further slash greenhouse gas emissions, first to 40 percent below 1990 levels (by 2030), and eventually to 80 percent below 1990 levels (by 2050).

These are ambitious goals, and the state Legislature will have to refine them as technology and conditions change. But there’s no reason to believe that California can’t adapt to high standards.

Since we passed AB32, California’s economy has grown — not cratered. We’ve added jobs all over the economy, from manufacturing to clean technology.

Have there been financial costs? Yes. But Californians also value public health and the future of the planet, and that’s why the state Legislature needs to stop dithering and pass SB32 and SB350.


California Senate passes climate change bills

Repost from the San Francisco Chronicle, SFGate

State lawmakers pass bills combatting climate change

By Melody Gutierrez, 4:11 pm, Wednesday, June 3, 2015

SACRAMENTO — California lawmakers passed ambitious proposals Wednesday aimed at reaffirming California’s commitment to combatting global warming.

The bills, which still need to be voted on by the full Legislature, would translate into law the framework set by Gov. Jerry Brown in his inaugural speech in January and in an executive order in April that called for lowering the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

The 2030 target expands on the landmark AB32 California Global Warming Solutions Act adopted by the Legislature in 2006, which made the state a world leader in fighting climate change by calling for carbon emissions to be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020. The state is on track to meet the goals set in that law.

Both houses of the Legislature approved a handful of climate-change bills Wednesday. One bill approved by the Senate was B350, by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, and Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, that sets 2030 as the deadline for three big environmental feats: cutting petroleum use in half by reducing driving and increasing the use of fuel-efficient cars; boosting energy efficiency in buildings by 50 percent; and requiring the state to get half of its electricity from renewable sources.

The Senate approved SB350 in a 24-14 vote Wednesday. The bill now heads to the state Assembly.

De Leon said the bill would ensure that California continues to build “the new economy of tomorrow.”

“Let’s get it done. Let’s continue to lead the world,” de Leon said.

The Senate also approved SB185 by de Leon, which calls for the nation’s two largest state pension systems — California’s public employee and teacher retirement systems — to divest from thermal coal. The bill passed 22-14 and heads to the Assembly.

“We’ve already proven we can lower utility bills and rebuild our energy infrastructure, all the while cleaning up the air we breathe into our lungs and reducing our contribution to climate change,” de Leon said.

Many Republicans spoke against the climate-change bills, saying they will increase utility bills for consumers and businesses, and cost working-class jobs.

“We have a very lofty and noble goal, but other than feeling good about it, what has it actually accomplished?” asked Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar (Los Angeles County).

Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald

California Senate approves legislation to combat global warming

By Jessica Calefati, Bay Area News Group, 06/04/15, 7:00 AM PDT

SACRAMENTO ­­>> The state Senate on Wednesday approved a far-reaching array of bills designed to cement the Golden State’s reputation as an international leader in the fight against climate change.

If enacted, the legislation will trigger a fundamental shift in the kinds of cars and trucks Californians drive and the way they power their homes. New targets would force industries to create more renewable energy, make more vehicles that don’t burn gasoline and further slash greenhouse gas emissions.

Democrats roundly praised the bills, which were inspired by goals Gov. Jerry Brown outlined in his inaugural address. They said the legislation is needed to help the environment and create jobs.

“We’re talking about creating a new economy for tomorrow,” Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon said.

But Republicans railed against the legislation on the Senate floor. They called it “coastal elitism at its worst” and insisted the proposals would hurt the Central Valley, the region hit hardest by the Great Recession and the devastating four-year drought.

Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, seethed as he told his Democratic colleagues that Senate Bill 350 would “kill thousands of blue and white collar jobs in the Central Valley.” Sen. Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, pleaded with her Democratic colleagues to vote no. “I beg you,” she said.

But Democrats refused to budge. “Markets change. We transform. That’s who we are,” said Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys. “Welcome to America, baby!”

Many energy experts say Californians won’t know the true impact of the legislation on their daily lives for many years because the formula needed to achieve these ambitious goals — and the cost of such bold change for taxpayers and business owners — remains murky.

“I’m quite dubious about our ability to accomplish these goals we’re getting so many kudos for setting,” said James Sweeney, director of Stanford University’s Precourt Energy Efficiency Center.

“It’s going to be up to future governors and future lawmakers to make these goals work,” Sweeney said. “Unless we come up with a plan that’s not terribly disruptive to average Californians’ lives, they’re never going to follow through.”

If the legislation becomes law, it will be up to the California Air Resources Control Board to implement two of the measures’ toughest goals: cutting petroleum use by cars and trucks in half over the next 15 years and slashing greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels over the next 35 years.

To achieve the first goal, the board has suggested getting Californians to drive less by using more mass transit, dramatically increasing the fuel economy of cars and doubling the use of alternative fuels. But the board has publicized few additional details about how to get there — and that omission makes the legislation impossible to support, opponents say.

“Most of California’s businesses and families rely on petroleum for their day-to-day transportation needs and (the legislation) has the ability to compromise the availability of transportation fuels,” the California Chamber of Commerce wrote last month to lawmakers.

An oil industry trade group said it’s hoping for better luck and a different outcome when the measure is considered by the state Assembly.

“We will continue to educate consumers and businesses on the enormous negative impact the legislation will have on all Californians and hope members of the Assembly are more willing to take a critical look at this legislation than did their counterparts in the Senate,” said Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association.

Along with the dramatic reduction of petroleum in gasoline it requires, Senate Bill 350, sponsored by de Leon, D-Los Angeles, and Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would also require California utilities to generate at least 50 percent of their electricity from solar, wind and other renewable energy sources by 2030 and require state agencies to toughen building standards.

The Senate approved the measure on a 24-14 vote, with all Republicans voting no.

Billionaire activist Tom Steyer was one among many environmental advocates who praised the Senate’s action on the climate package as a “bold step forward” that tackles climate change “head on.”

“We owe it to our kids and our grandkids to protect them, and that means addressing climate change before it’s too late,” Steyer said in a statement.

The Senate’s endorsement of the legislation comes several weeks after Brown signed an agreement between California and 11 other U.S. states and foreign provinces to sharply limit emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050.

That same commitment is the backbone of Senate Bill 32, sponsored by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, which would extend California’s landmark climate law, signed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006. The new bill — which passed the Senate 22-15 —would lock into law a goal that Schwarzenegger had set: cutting greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by midcentury.

Other pieces of legislation the Senate approved Wednesday would establish a committee to advise the Legislature on climate policies that could create jobs; require that California’s pension funds for teachers and state workers divest from coal companies; and spur farmers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

California may not know precisely how it will achieve these goals, but UC Berkeley energy expert Dan Kammen said he isn’t worried. He expects the Golden State’s brightest minds to create new technologies to cover any ground we can’t with today’s tools.

“These are decades-long goals,” Kammen said. “The way to get there is to have a strategy that we know we must update and modify as we innovate.”