A bill that would have extended California’s pollution reduction goals out to 2050 has stalled in the Assembly. As a result, bill author Senator Fran Pavley announced on Thursday that SB 32 would not be considered during the waning hours of the legislative session, which adjourns today. Instead it will become a two-year bill, taken up again when lawmakers return to the Capitol early next year.
In a statement from Senator Pavley, she said, “Unfortunately, the state Assembly and the administration were not supportive, for now, and we could not pass this important proposal. I’m looking forward to working with lawmakers and the governor’s office to win passage later in this 2015-2016 session.”
SB 32 was approved by the state Senate earlier this year. It’s enjoyed widespread backing from local governments, low-income community organizations, businesses, environmentalists, labor, faith-based groups, former legislative leaders and editorial boards across the state. The bill had 27 legislative co-authors.
The Senator added, “By addressing many of the concerns expressed by legislators, and thus giving reasonable oversight and encouraging greater positive involvement to this branch of government, we would guarantee a legacy of informed climate champions that over the next decade will support the polices to reduce GHG emissions and provide investment in all communities.”
“As a parent and a teacher, I know it’s even more important to pass on the values and priorities to the next generation to ensure the support of policies to address one of the most important global issues, climate change,” she said.
SB 32 sought to build on California’s “proven model of growing the economy through pollution reduction” by extending the climate pollution reduction target to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
According to analysis, “the California Air Resources Board has determined (this goal) to be not only technologically feasible, but scientifically necessary to stave off the costliest effects of climate change.”
The analysis continues, “This target is guided by science and this bill provides the flexibility to adjust strategies to meet the target based on changing technological and economic conditions. SB 32 is also designed to integrate with complementary policies—such as standards for renewable power, energy efficiency in buildings, and petroleum reductions—to achieve four goals: job creation, improved public health, technology innovation and regional policy collaboration.
“Setting a clear, achievable climate pollution reduction target and identifying priorities to guide implementation will provide critical government accountability, as well as certainty to businesses investing in California for the long term. SB 32 builds on the state’s competitive advantage as a technology and policy leader, while the federal government, international trading partners such as China and Mexico, and neighboring states begin charting their own pathways to a low carbon economic future.”
SB 32, along with SB 350, were two centerpieces in the package of climate change. But something has gone wrong.
An LA Times editorial this morning writes, “Most Republican legislators have long looked askance at tough greenhouse gas regulation. But now a new crop of moderate Democratic legislators has joined them to strip all mention of gasoline and other fuel oils from one climate change bill, SB 350. Meanwhile, another important climate bill, SB 32, appears to have lost steam.”
The Times noted legitimate concerns with the timeline in SB 350, saying “it would have required the state to reduce oil use by 50% within the next 15 years. Even with ambitious new incentives and fuel standards, the chances of meeting that goal were iffy, largely because too many older cars would remain on the roads.”
However, the Times writes, “But it soon became obvious that the Legislature would shrink from any worthwhile restrictions on oil. Two other aspects of the bill will go forward: energy efficiency standards for buildings, and a continuation of the state’s existing commitment to use renewable fuels for electricity generation. Petroleum, one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, belongs in there too.
“Even worse, SB 32 stalled in the Assembly and its chances of passage are far from assured. This is the ‘son’ of AB 32, California’s signature climate-change law from 2006 that required the Air Resources Board to formulate a plan that would bring greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 down to where they had been in 1990. The state is on target to meet that goal, and SB 32 would tighten the noose on greenhouse gases, requiring emissions to drop by 40% from 1990 levels by the year 2030.”
Governor Brown is now vowing to use his administrative powers to have the air board begin work on reducing oil consumption. The Times is concerned. They write, “That’s not enough in the long haul. What if the next governor doesn’t share Brown’s passion for combating climate change? The board needs statutory authority to do its work effectively. And California needs the kind of courageous Legislature that passed AB 32 and showed the rest of the nation how to respond to the world’s greatest environmental threat.”
Meanwhile, Senate President pro tempore Kevin de Leon issued these remarks on Thursday at the Assembly Natural Resources Committee:
In California, we understand the threat of climate change. We understand the costs of air pollution and other environmental hazards, because we deal with some of the worst air quality in the nation.
We understand that we have a responsibility to act – not only for the sake of our planet and future generations, but for the health of our communities today, and the health of our economy tomorrow.
This legislature leads the world in building the clean energy economy of the future.
We are making strides expanding access to clean energy but still have a lot more work to do in making sure it reaches every Californian, especially those who suffer the most from pollution and don’t have the wherewithal to make this transition.
SB 350 will move the largest state in the union – the 8th largest economy in the world — to generate half of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
SB 350 will also double energy efficiency in all existing buildings by 2030.
These will be incredible achievements and we are well on our way.
This measure will put in place standards to make sure we get there.
And it puts in place accountability to make sure agencies and businesses work toward these goals in the most effective and equitable manner.
The SB 350 amendments do all of the following:
Strike out all references to petroleum reduction (requested by the Speaker)
Incorporate new provisions relating to the CAISO and its potential merger with PacificCorp.
Add new provisions relating to integrated resource planning for energy companies and utilities.
Utilities are on board along with a long list of other forward-thinking businesses.
And this bill is supported by the millions of Californians who want their leaders to move us toward a clean energy future.
Thanks to our commitments and investments, Californians are breathing cleaner air and saving thousands of dollars each year on their gas and utility bills.
As the President recently said when he recognized California’s new 50% renewable goal : “A lot of Americans are going solar and becoming more energy efficient not because they’re tree huggers …but because they’re cost-cutters.”
Let’s make sure all Californians can head in this direction and let’s take this next step together. I urge your aye vote.
—David M. Greenwald reporting