Capitol Alert

California cap-and-trade faces uncertain future amid auction turmoil and lawsuit

In 2012, California’s largest greenhouse gas emitters began buying permits in a landmark cap-and-trade system meant to control emissions of heat-trapping gases and spur investment in clean technologies.
In 2012, California’s largest greenhouse gas emitters began buying permits in a landmark cap-and-trade system meant to control emissions of heat-trapping gases and spur investment in clean technologies. The Associated Press

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As Gov. Jerry Brown pushes to extend California’s cap-and-trade program past 2020, the greenhouse gas reduction strategy is under fire from all sides.

Quarterly auctions for carbon emissions credits have withered over the past year amid uncertainty about the program’s fate and an ongoing lawsuit from business groups charges that it is an illegal tax. Meanwhile, some Democratic lawmakers crucial to renewing the law are expressing very public dissatisfaction with what they say are meager benefits to their communities.

What could the future hold for cap-and-trade? Will California pivot to another strategy to reach its ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030?

Capitol Weekly will hold a daylong conference on the topic, starting at 9:15 a.m. at the Masonic Temple on J Street. Scheduled panelists include Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones; Western States Petroleum Association President Cathy Reheis-Boyd; Sen. Henry Stern, D-Los Angeles; and Loren Kaye, president of the California Chamber of Commerce’s think tank.

WORTH REPEATING: “When does @kdeleon’s 15 minutes of fame run out? #StandwithJanet” - Cynthia Bryant, California GOP executive director, on Senate leader Kevin de León’s assessment of Sen. Janet Nguyen’s motivations

DON’T LET ME BE THE LAST TO KNOW: After a winter of drought-busting storms, the Association of California Water Agencies is in town for its annual symposium to review what the legislative year ahead may hold. Local water district officials and lawmakers will participate on panels about Brown’s November proposal to make “water conservation a California way of life” and water finance legislation in the pipeline, including a possible $3.5 billion bond for drought relief, parks and coastal protection. Among the speakers at the daylong conference, which begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Sacramento Convention Center, are Assemblymen Marc Levine, D-Greenbrae, and Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, and Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa.

BREAK THE ICE: The Trump administration’s hiring freeze has begun to melt. How are federal offices in California coping?

WORK WORK: Organizers of January’s massive Women’s March, which drew millions of protesters worldwide the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, have organized their first follow-up action today: “A Day Without a Woman.” Coinciding with International Women’s Day, the general strike encourages women to show their economic value by taking the day off and not spending any money. Though female lawmakers plan to be at the Capitol for work, the California Legislative Women’s Caucus has organized a rally in solidarity, noon on the east steps. The Senate Select Committee on Women and Inequality and the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls are also jointly holding a hearing to examine how unconscious biases contribute to gender inequality in the workplace, 10 a.m. at the Secretary of State building auditorium on 11th Street.

GIMME MORE: Want to see all the gifts that lawmakers and their staff accept from businesses, trade associations and other groups that lobby the Capitol? Check out our database, now updated with 2016 filings.

(YOU DRIVE ME) CRAZY: We are moving quickly toward a world of self-driving cars, and with the new technology come new regulatory issues. Like, if a car crashes on the street and there is no human driver, who is at fault? And how should we insure autonomous vehicles? The Senate Insurance Committee will begin to explore those questions with a hearing at 1:30 p.m. in Room 112 of the Capitol. Representatives from the insurance industry, automobile manufacturers, government and consumer groups will be there to testify.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, who turns 76 today.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff