California governor signs climate policy extension into law

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 25, 2017 4:24 PM

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on Tuesday a package of bills that use market forces to cut greenhouse gas emissions, extending by a decade the state's signature plan to combat climate change.

The legislation puts California at the forefront of plans by mostly Democratic governors to reduce carbon emissions and adhere to the goals of the Paris climate change accord even after Republican President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the pact.

Brown and other state Democratic leaders had vowed to make California the leader in opposing the environmental policy of Trump, who has rolled back the programs of his predecessor, Democrat Barack Obama.

Both houses of California's Democratic-controlled legislature passed the bills on July 17.

Opponents had said the package of bills represented a "regressive" tax that would not affect climate change.

The legislation extends California's cap-and-trade program, which was set to expire in three years, through 2030 and attempts to strengthen it by requiring large industrial facilities to upgrade old equipment with cleaner, more modern technology by 2023.

California's cap-and-trade plan sets a state limit on emissions of greenhouse gases and lets companies, such as factories and refineries, buy and sell permits to emit carbon dioxide. The system uses market forces to find the most efficient ways to cut pollution, supporters say.

The new package seeks to reform the state's existing cap-and-trade market by curbing the number of free carbon allowances by 40 percent by 2030 and requiring that offsets be sourced from California, not elsewhere.

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Despite holding a supermajority, Democrats failed in previous attempts to pass new cap-and-trade legislation over opposition from more liberal members of the party who felt it did not go far enough and moderates concerned about the impact on business.

Republicans were largely united in opposing the legislation, saying it placed unfair burdens on consumers and employers, especially on top of a 12-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax hike passed by state lawmakers earlier this year.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Ben Klayman and Peter Cooney)