California lawmakers scale back environmental proposals as session ends

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 11, 2015 8:50 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - California lawmakers on Friday were poised to end their legislative session with dramatically scaled back ambitions for combatting climate change and fixing the state's roads.

Among the last bills waiting to be heard as the legislature approached a midnight deadline to end its work was a measure aimed at combatting climate change by requiring the state's utility companies to get half of their energy from renewable sources by the end of 2030.

That provision is among the few elements left in an ambitious package of bills that initially called also for the state to cut its petroleum use in half by that date and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent of what they were in 1990.

The bills, supported by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown and progressive Democrats, were scaled back dramatically this week amid opposition from moderate Democrats and Republicans.

Also off the table is a proposal by Brown to charge drivers $65 per year to help pay to fix the state's crumbling transportation infrastructure, including upgrading roads and bridges.

The proposals prompted strong opposition from oil companies and others.

"This law will limit how often we can drive our own cars," said a Western States Petroleum Association ad in opposition to the bill to cut petroleum. It warned of a future in which the state would monitor how far people drive and fine them for using too much gas.

After a two-hour closed-door session with Democratic leaders in the Senate and Assembly on Wednesday, Brown, along with Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, said they were abandoning some of the proposals.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Eric Beech)