Jerry Brown’s cap-and-trade bill passes Senate Environmental Quality Committee

  • Published on July 13th, 2017

Assembly Bill 398, Governor Jerry Brown’s legislation extending California’s controversial cap-and-trade program, passed the Senate Environmental Quality Committee by a five- to-two party line vote today. It will head to the Senate floor on Monday, July 17.

By Dan BacherCalifornia cap and trade infographic from KQED by Andy Warner

The bill is opposed by many environmental justice, consumer and conservation groups, although supported by some “Big Green” NGOs, including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the California League of Conservation Voters and billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer.

Update: California’s Chevron-written cap-and-trade bill passes

In public testimony today, Adam Scow, Food & Water Watch California director, urged lawmakers to oppose AB 398, legislation that he says “gives major giveaways to the oil and gas lobby.”

“Governor Brown wants to give the oil and gas industry a pass to pollute for another decade.” said Scow. “This bill, that is supported by Sempra Energy and the fossil fuel industry, makes a mockery of California’s climate leadership.”

“Legislators who care about our state’s future should vote no on AB 398 and instead demand polluters make real emissions reductions at the source,” he concluded.

Background: California’s cap-and-trade bill is a giant wet kiss to big oil

Julia May, senior scientist at Communities for a Better Environment, summed up the many problems with AB 398:

“The Cap & Trade extension was written by the oil industry, is even worse than the current failed program, includes preemptions from local action, gives away so many free credits we will never meet climate goals, and allows oil refineries to expand indefinitely with no program for Just Transition to clean energy that is so desperately needed in EJ communities,” May said.

Democratic Senators Jerry Hill, Nancy Skinner, Henry I. Stern, Bob Wieckowski (Chair) and Ricardo Lara voted for it, while Republican Senators Jeff Stone (Vice Chair) and Ted Gaines voted against AB 398.

Governor Brown made a passionate pitch at the hearing at the State Capitol on the legislative package that includes both AB 398 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) and AB 617 by Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) and Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles). Brown unveiled AB 398 on Monday with Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.

“This isn’t about some cockamamie legacy,” Brown said in the hearing.

“A lot of you people are going to be alive, and you’re going to be alive in a horrible situation,” Brown said as he turned to the crowd. “This isn’t for me, I’m going to be dead. This is for you, and it’s real!”

Brown has been trying to get a two-thirds vote in favor of the package in order to avoid any legal challenges.

A letter from members of the Senate Republican Caucus was delivered to Governor Brown outlining their concerns on cap-and-trade this morning before the meeting. The letter conveys to the Governor that the “Caucus is united in opposition to the current efforts to extend the state’s cap-and-trade program through Assembly Bill 398 (E. Garcia).”

The letter was signed by Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), Senator Joel Anderson (R-Alpine), Senator Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield), Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado), Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga), Senator Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove), Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama), Senator Jeff Stone (R-Riverside County) and Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) Senator Scott Wilk (R-Antelope Valley).

Other organizations and agencies listed in opposition to AB 398 by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee include: the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, California Environmental Justice Alliance, Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, Consumer Watchdog, Friends of the Earth US, Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, Sierra Club California and the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Then today, “a broad and deep coalition” of climate and environmental justice groups announced their opposition to AB 398, “the cap and trade bill that began with a Western States Petroleum Association wish list,” according to a press release from RL Miller at Climate Hawks Vote: climatehawksvote.com/….  

On June 28, In These Times revealed that leaked documents show that the Brown administration was promoting a cap-and-trade measure, not then yet a bill, “laden with talking points that appear to be ripped near verbatim from a policy paper by the state’s influential oil and gas lobby.” (inthesetimes.com/…)

Background: California oil lobby tops spending in 2015-16 session with $36.1 million

In spite of California’s reputation as a “green leader, Big Oil is the largest corporate lobby in the state and exerts enormous influence over the Governor’s Office, Legislature and regulatory agencies.

As usual, the California Oil Lobby was the biggest spender in the 2015-16 legislative session, spending an amazing $36.1 million as of December 31, 2016.

The spending amounts to $1.5 million per month — nearly $50,000 per day — over the last two years. The $36.1 million surpassed the $34 million spent in the prior session, according to an American Lung Association report. “That’s enough money to buy 103,000 goats,” reported Stop Fooling California, stopfoolingca.org.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) was the top overall oil industry spender during the 2015-16 session, spending $18.7 million. As is normally the case, WSPA ranked #1 among all lobbying spenders this session

Chevron, the second overall oil industry spender, spent $7 million in the 2015-16 session. It spent $3 million in 2016, sixth among all lobbyists in the current session.

In the seventh quarter alone, WSPA dumped $2.6 million into lobbying legislators and state officials while billionaire Tom Steyer’s Next Generation Climate Action spent an unprecedented $7.3 million, almost 3 times the oil industry group’s expenses.

The spending by Steyer’s group helped propel the passage of Senate Bill 32, legislation that reduces greenhouse gas level to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, in spite of strong opposition by the oil industry.

Since the 2007-08 Session, the oil industry has spent $133 million in lobbying in California.

To read the complete report, go to: http://www.lung.org/local-content/california/documents/Oil-Industry-Lobbying-2016-update-4_1-31-17.pdf  

(Image from KQED by Andy Warner)

About the Author

Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento who focuses on California's water issues, a healthy environment for the salmon fishery of the Northwest, and the attempts by big agriculture and big oil to hog all the water.
  • Nancy Keeler

    Guess what Gov. Brown…We’re ALREADY “alive in a horrible situation”, thanks to you.

    • John Weaver

      Excellent retort. Deep insight. Meanwhile, the oceans turn into bigger dead zones, the forests burn longer, the snowpacks reduce, groundwater is going down/polluted….but yeah, it is the Governor’s fault. Lol. Nothing to do with car culture/big oil/agricultural runoff…

      • Nancy Keeler

        Anyone who has said in previous comments that “serious geoengineering is required” is totally clueless. It is the geoengineering that has gotten us into this mess.

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