Capitol Alert

Kevin de León to answer Pope Francis on cap and trade

California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, waits to be interviewed by a French television station in Rome on Nov. 2, 2017. He is set to attend a climate change event at Vatican City organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, waits to be interviewed by a French television station in Rome on Nov. 2, 2017. He is set to attend a climate change event at Vatican City organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The Sacramento Bee

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, who arrived before Gov. Jerry Brown for a Vatican climate event organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, dined on Thursday with Argentinian Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, who helped put together Pope Francis’ encyclical letter on the environment.

In California, the document turned heads because the pope appeared to take somewhat of a swipe at greenhouse gas emissions reduction programs called cap and trade, a version of which Brown and de León pushed to extend this year.

Francis wrote that the trading of carbon credits “may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.”

“There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good.”

De León, previewing the speech he will give today, said he will highlight his Senate Bill 535, which directs a quarter of the proceeds from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to projects that benefit disadvantaged communities.

While the asterisk does not qualify as a papal rebuttal, it’s further than Brown went two years ago when asked about the pope’s writings and whether they amounted to a rebuke of his state’s climate priorities. In that interview with The Bee, Brown said the state’s cap-and-trade system was part of a broader, “integrated scheme” that is “completely consistent with the encyclical.”

On Thursday, de León nodded approvingly as a string of leading scientists and religious leaders gathered for hours of weedy policy discussions on the impacts of climate change, including gloomy predictions on mortality attributable to air pollution.

In the afternoon, he ducked out for a couple hours to tape an interview with French TV, stopping at St. Peter’s Basilica to take pictures of the dome. De León, who is running for U.S. Senate against Dianne Feinstein, said California would “move fast-forward – regardless of what Washington, D.C., does, or does not do.”

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Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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