State Lawmakers Vote to Extend Cap-and-Trade Program

SACRAMENTO -- State lawmakers have passed two climate change bills, including one which would extend Governor Brown's cap-and-trade program from 2020 to 2030.

"Tonight, California stood tall and once again, boldly confronted the existential threat of our time," Governor Brown said in a statement sent by his press office. "Republicans and Democrats set aside their differences, came together and took courageous action. That’s what good government looks like."

Last week the governor passionately defended the cap-and-trade program, urging state lawmakers to pass a pair of climate change bills.

Assembly Bill 617, a measure to tackle local air pollution, required just a majority vote -- 41 votes in the Assembly and 21 in the Senate. It passed the Senate with 27 votes to 13 votes. When it reached the Assembly, it passed with 50 votes.

Assembly Bill 398, the measure to reauthorize cap-and-trade, has passed. It had the support of 26 Democratic senators and one Republican senator and the Assembly passed it with 55 votes. To pass with a supermajority, the bill needed 27 votes in the Senate and 54 in the Assembly.

Sen. Tom Berryhill (R-Twain Harte), the sole Republican senator to support the bill, issued the following statement:

“This legislation is the unfortunate result of years of aggressive climate-change policies forced on us by the coastal elites who run Sacramento. But instead of sitting on the sideline and watching everything go off a cliff, I was able to ensure farmers, small-business owners and rural Californians were well-represented and protected in the negotiation.

Cap and trade fills a void created by onerous policies, a void that would otherwise be filled by regulations written by out-of-touch, unaccountable bureaucrats – the exact people I came to Sacramento to rein in.

As an added bonus, this bill suspends the illegal fire tax and keeps Sacramento Democrats from increasing taxes on gas by substantially more than one dollar per gallon. Again, this bill is not perfect, but it is more reasonable after a bipartisan negotiation. I am very pleased to have given farmers, small-business owners and rural Californians a voice in the negotiation of a measure that would have been passed one way or another.”

Democrats hold those exact numbers in both houses, but in the Assembly at least one member, Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), will be out all week. Her office said her absence is due to a long-standing family commitment, for which she got permission to be excused in January.

That means Gov. Brown needed at least one Republican on his side. He had that ally in Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, a Republican from Oceanside.

"You know, global warming has become a partisan issue," Chavez said. "As a Republican who believes in science, I don't have that hurdle to overcome."

Several environmental groups have voiced their opposition, saying the governor's bills aren't aggressive enough.

"Here in California we're supposed to be so progressive, but our governor continues to do favors for the oil and gas industries, and it needs to stop," said Adam Scow with Food & Water Watch.

Assemblyman Chavez said cap-and-trade's market-based approach is far better than a potential regulatory, state-run air quality board.

"In my life experiences, when you have one side on the left really upset, and you have another side on the right very upset, you probably have the right balance," Chavez said.