Sweeping Climate Change Bill SB 32 Stalls in Assembly


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

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. TrueBlueDevil

    Let’s hope that the moderate Democrats continue to have a common sense approach.

    California has a history of failed experiments. We wasted $1 Billion on electric cars, and then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (sp?) and Co. launched a failed Hydrogen cars initiative.

    Some regard “global warming” as the greatest scientific fraud in history.

    Here is a question, why won’t they debate their position with an informed “opponent”? I find it interesting that the Warmists say the science is “settled” when academia is supposed to foster exploration, and we are in the middle of a 13-year global warming “hiatus”. (Google it.)

    There is also proof from ClimateGate that numbers were purposefully fudged (changed) to support their viewpoint.

    These kinds of proposals are job killers, and will further raise the cost to live in California.

    “… growing the economy through pollution reduction” makes absolutely no sense. These measures will increase costs, will increase costs to lower income Americans, and will raise the cost of doing business here.

    Yes, we could get better gas mileage by making cars lighter, which increases fatalities wen people get in accidents.

    I was speaking with a person from Habitat for Humanity, which provides homes for lower income families. They told me the local fees and such to build a 1200 square foot house were $51,000, with another $10,000 for various connection fees. All of these regulations, fess, requirements add costs to working Americans.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      If Governor Brown wants to cut CO2 emissions, he could halt the high-speed train to nowhere. Heavy rail projects create a tremendous amount of pollution, and use lots of energy.

      1. Topcat

        If Governor Brown wants to cut CO2 emissions, he could halt the high-speed train to nowhere.

        I don’t think that Governor Brown will halt it, but there is a good chance that a future administration might.

          1. David Greenwald

            I wouldn’t say a little slower. It takes hours to go from Sacramento to LA. A high speed rail could cut the travel time in half or more.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          These equations get difficult. A true analysis would consider all of the CO2 put into the environment by the heavy construction, and CO2 created to make any of the components for the HSR.

          I would have been for it if they did it right – go up Highway 5, probably have 3 tracks (I think I heard there are only 2), and acquire the urban (toughest) land first.

          Japan and France had companies back out once we selected this route, which I think it for politics to somehow help Fresno and Bakersfield evolve. My cynical side says this is the lawyer full employment act.

        2. Topcat

          The “train to nowhere” won’t get people out of their cars anymore than Amtrak is now….

          From my experience riding the trains between Davis and the Bay Area, and also down the Valley towards Bakersfield, a lot of people are riding the trains.  There are certainly problems with the current train system which include some slow track, some single track which causes trains to wait for trains passing the opposite direction to pass, and congestion due to freight trains using the same tracks.  There are also areas where there are highway grade crossings which expose trains to the danger of train-vehicle collisions.

          My belief is that rather than spending billions and billions of dollars on a brand new “High Speed Rail System” that is facing tremendous political opposition and has serious problems with the routing, California should be spending just a fraction of that amount to upgrade the current system.  We have seen such improvements in other places, notably the Cascades Corridor between Portland and Seattle (with extensions to Vancouver BC).  Improvements that should be made include double tracking the system, eliminating grade crossings by building over and underpasses for road traffic, and straightening curves to increase travel speed.

          I think that there is a very good chance that the HSR systems will never be completed due to the extremely high costs and political opposition.  It is likely that some future State administration will halt the system and we’ll end up with a multi billion dollar white elephant system going from Merced to Bakersfield.

          1. David Greenwald

            How can they do that when the voters were the ones that approved the spending through a proposition?

        3. Topcat

          How can they do that when the voters were the ones that approved the spending through a proposition?

          The funding that the voters approved was only for the initial phases of the project.  There is no funding to complete the project.

          From the Sacramento Bee, January 17th, 2015: “Without a viable funding plan, high-speed rail goes off its tracks”

          “The authority is more than $20 billion short of completing the initial operating segment, and $55 billion short to build from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

          Cost estimates have doubled, then tripled, and now settled at $68 billion for completion.”

          It is highly unlikely that this project will be completed within the lifetimes of anyone reading this.


    2. Topcat

      California has a history of failed experiments. We wasted $1 Billion on electric cars, and then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (sp?) and Co. launched a failed Hydrogen cars initiative.

      An now we have the High Speed Rail project (AKA: train to nowhere) that will cost billions.  I wonder if some future administration will pull the plug on this?  It could be one of the biggest boondoggles in the history of California.

    1. Frankly

      But I assume for the opposite reasons that BP and I abhor the California Democrat Party.   You would prefer more business-crippling whacked out environmental legislation to deal with – as Barack Obama has said –  the most important issue facing us today.

      Unless I am wrong about your point here, it seems that California Democrats are not liberal enough for you… which is really quite amazing if you think about it.

      1. Davis Progressive

        i would prefer a party that does not kowtow to special interests against their own core ideology.  yes – the california democrats – at least enough of them – are not nearly liberal enough for me and they aren’t nearly as liberal as you want to claim.

  2. Davis Progressive

    at some point people will wake up to the damage was have done by delay and science denial.  guess i can’t count on it happening soon or with politicians that lack a backbone.

    1. Frankly

      Even if anthropocentric global warming is real…

      1. We cannot accurately assess the climate impacts.

      2. We cannot do enough to materially reduce Co2 in the atmosphere even with drastic measures (scientists admit this).

      So… then let me ask… why the h e l l are liberals so intent to implement more economic-crippling regulations?

      My answer is that liberals are either too emotional / not rational enough, or they see the global warming theory as their opportunity to push for their irrational Utopian new world order.

        1. Frankly

          There are trade-offs.  Yours is not the “good” view.  It is a quite frankly the selfish and destructive view.

          It is simply this.  Liberals tend to be either academic paper-pushers or low materialism hippies and they are completely aloof about the need for industry to support humanity.  Liberals pursue some vision of human existence that is unattainable… a utopia that cannot exist unless 50% of the global population gets exterminated.

          Liberals are uncomfortable with a mindset of abundance… I think because they are insecure about their ability to keep up, and prone to anxiety over economic dynamism.  Liberals tend to be more linear in thinking and desire structure and per-determined outcomes.  They like rules.  They see unfairness in almost everything and think we need to constrain society with more forced scarcity.  If we force everyone to have less, then we will be more equal and there will be less anxiety about being left behind or feeling left out of the part of society that thrives in the more dynamic and competitive space.  The problem with liberals is that the dynamic and competitive space is the engine that funds everything else.  Government does not produce.  And in Marxist/collectivist models where government does take over production, it does so very inefficiently in a spiral downward to even greater inefficiency.

          Liberal anxiety supersedes their ability to accept these facts.  However, tt is really difficult for liberals to make progress on their desire for more scarcity and rules moving toward their vision of utopia because a majority of people in a Democracy welcome dynamism and know that private production funds everything else and robust economic growth (abundance) is the much better model in terms of serving the human condition.

          For liberals, the theory of global warming is mostly an opportunity for them to overcome this challenge of rational understanding that the human condition is much better served by a perspective of abundance and robust economic growth.  Liberals can exploit the “science” and the “scientists” of global warming trying to combat the facts of economic dynamism and growth better serving the human condition, by a converse argument that the human condition will suffer from climate change if we don’t adopt the liberal model of scarcity.

          But we don’t know what the climate will change to.  And we cannot materially effect the Co2 levels with scarcity policy.

          And because of these two facts, it becomes clear that the theory of global warming is just an weapon in liberal ideological wars and must be defeated.

          I support moving forward with adaption to accommodate unknown climate change.  It is a good thing to do even if the theory of global warming is bunk.  And the best way to move forward with adaption is to unleash the power of the free innovation economy through tax incentives.  We are doing some of this, but not enough.

          The cost of solar panels is falling while their efficiency is increasing and over the next 10-20 years it will have a measurable impact on fossil fuel usage for electricity.   Economic incentives will get it done better than any liberal government policy.

          1. David Greenwald

            While you’re attacking liberals, perhaps we should attack conservatives for failing to consider and mitigate the environmental consequences from their enterprises?

        2. Frankly

          While you’re attacking liberals, perhaps we should attack conservatives for failing to consider and mitigate the environmental consequences from their enterprises?

          That is bad water under the bridge (except for the EPA-caused mess in Durango Colorado http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/sep/9/epa-accused-hearing-doctoring-video-mine-spill/).  Today, American companies have more environmental regulations to comply with than any other industrialized nation.

          I support the debate.  I agree that business owners will sometimes not be good stewards of the environment in the pursuit of profit.  However, there needs to be balance.  And the balance is far too far toward the environmental extremists in this state.

          1. David Greenwald

            What kind of balance are you expecting at this point? If anthropocentric warming is occurring, and it threatens the environment and food production as much as some projections suggest, how can you balance things? Are you suggesting a balance between the harmful affects of warming versus the byproduct of curbing warming? I can see that. But either way, things are going to get worse.

          2. Don Shor

            Focus on adaptation more than mitigation. And no, in California, it is not necessarily the case with respect to food production that “things are going to get worse.”

        3. Frankly

          I think Don and I mostly agree on this… it is logical.

          I have not read any “science” that makes anything but wildass global warming guesses about the actual climate impact that would impact food production.   Scientists cannot accurately predict the climate for more than a few days… maybe weeks out at best.  This next winter is supposed to be a wet el nino year.  But there have been la nina and el nino years before that ended up much dryer or wetter than predicted.

          Interesting that the water shortage in CA has causes a shortage of drip irrigation materials as it has provided the financial motivation for farmers to conserve.  Also, there are more drought-tolerant strains of crops that will replace those that need more water.

          These are “adaption” things.  And instead of implementing illogical scarcity policy based on our unfounded fears that world is going to dry-up, burn and flood because of man-made Co2… especially given the scientist-backed fact/agreement that there is nothing practical we can do to reverse the amount of Co2 already accumulated and that will accumulate in the atmosphere… we should be doing more of this.

          If the seas will rise, then we need to change our building codes for flood plains.

          If we will experience more drought, we should be adapting with water conservation.

          If climate will change the types of crops we can grow, then be ready to grow different crops… and work on new hybrids that can better tolerate the changing climate.  By the way, adaption like these things backs approving the innovation parks in Davis, because these are the types of companies that want to locate here.  But if old Moonbeam gets his way with his extreme California liberal environmental whacko legacy, they will locate in Texas instead, or they will never exist.

        4. TrueBlueDevil

          David, OK, business people / conservatives will mitigate the effects of using more Natural Gas… opps, NG is far cleaner than gas / oil / coal. Opps. Free market wins again.

          The free market isn’t perfect, but I believe I’ve read stories several times where the most polluted land is owned by… the government! Bingo! (Which gets back to property rights and an individual owning something, over a vast monolithic faceless enterprise.)

        5. Frankly

          LNG is much better than coal, and is better than gas and diesel if the waste methane that escapes from production is contained.   I support regulations to make LNG production trap the waste methane.  That methane can be used for other products.   Here is a story about a biodegradable plastic made from waste methane: http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=131553

          Again, adaption and the power of the free markets solves problems much better than does direct government intervention to force change with scarcity policy.


          1. David Greenwald

            Actually agree on your bottom line, my problem is industry has had a long time to fix this, but hasn’t.

  3. Anon

    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.”

    What was Gov. Brown (Mr. Moonbeam) thinking (he wasn’t) by intensely pushing for such ridiculous legislation as SB 350?  To try and reduce oil use by 50% in 15 years would have wreaked havoc with CA’s economy.  The gov’t has to phase in drastic changes like this over enough time so the economy, be it state or federal, can absorb it without sputtering like a candle being blown out.

    I am perfectly okay, as a fiscal conservative by the way, with trying to clean up air pollution.  I don’t necessarily have to ascribe to the global warming theory to know that air pollution is not a good thing.  But any program to clean the air has to take a sensible approach, weighing the critical economic impacts any legislation to reduce air pollution will have.  Appropriate phasing should be an important part of addressing any legislation on pollution of all kinds.  It took years to make a mess, and it will realistically take years to clean up.

    Having said that, I am all for pushing for the development of alternative energy sources – wind, solar, nuclear – anything that gets us away from depending on importing oil from other countries.  Fracking, tho controversial and in need of heavy regulation to protect groundwater resources, has resulted in much less dependence on imported oil.  In consequence, Russia’s economy is suffering, as are the economies of other countries who are not friends of the U.S.  I see that as a GOOD THING.  Gives them something to worry about, besides how to hurt the United States.

    1. David Greenwald

      I agree 15 years is aggressive, I suspect the Governor believes in setting a high goal will push industry and consumers to change their habits. I think a more sensible approach could have been enacted 20 years ago, now it’s getting late in the game. We’re going to have drastic effects one way or the other at this point. Just look at the impact of the drought – that’s pretty drastic. I’m not necessarily saying the drought is global warming related, that’s not my point here, I’m just pointing out how much one event – a drought – has on everyone’s lives.

      1. Anon

        Can you even imagine what a requirement to cut oil consumption by 50% in 15 years would have done to the state?  Most people have gasoline driven cars and cannot afford to replace them with electric cars (which, by the way, use electricity produced from oil); diesel (made from oil) fueled trucks ship goods all across the state; airplanes using jet fuel (made from oil) take off from airports all over CA; PG&E uses oil to produce electricity to heat and cool homes all across the state; numerous  products are made from oil, including asphalt for our roads.  See:



        Gov. Brown, aka Mr. Moonbeam, is more interested, it would seem, in having his legacy highlighted as the “global warming elimination czar”, with the fallout from such a stupidly drastic policy be damned!  He is clearly uninformed on the issue.

        1. David Greenwald

          I think Gov. Brown has been very pragmatic his second tenure as Governor, so perhaps there is a reason for his aggressiveness on this. BTW, the criticism from Pavley is that he didn’t do enough to push through the legislation.

      2. TrueBlueDevil

        If we finished the California Water Project we probably wouldn’t be in our current pickle, and I know we wouldn’t be in the pickle if we closed the border 20 years ago.

        Measures like this will drive more retirees and others to flee the state, many to Texas and Florida. There is already a huge migration out of people with retirement funds and investments and knowledge, who we are replacing with unskilled laborers. That a horrible trade economically and socially.

  4. tribeUSA

    Seems to me tax incentives are a much better idea than mandates (except perhaps in new building codes for energy efficiency).

    Simply provide tax breaks (deductions and credits) for wind, solar, and other renewables, and finance this by slightly increased taxes on fossil fuels. Solar and wind are already past break-even economically in many places; the tax breaks will help to speed up their installation.

    As I understand it the federal tax credit for home solar installation is set to expire Jan. 1 2016? I’m surprised I haven’t heard big noises by environmentalist groups to extend this for at least a few more years; this would do more to reduce future greenhouse gases than almost anything else that could be done.

    Mandates on energy efficiency for all existing buildings seem like a bad idea; as some existing buildings would be very expensive to upgrade. Again, just provide tax incentives to make it cheaper to upgrade; together with reduced energy use/bills, such upgrades would be more widely economical.

    I agree reducing CO2 emissions by 50% in 15 years is unrealistic to the point of being silly. Without any population growth and including the federal fuel efficiency mandates for new vehicles, perhaps a goal of 15% reduction in 15 years would be realistic–but largely due to immigration, the population of California is growing at about 1% per year (?about right?); so due to population growth we will be doing pretty good to stay about even in total fossil fuel use. Most progress made on environmental issues is being undermined by continuing relentless population growth; we are running faster and faster to stay in place.

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