Capitol Alert

Senate leader plans changes to climate bill to ease passage

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León speaks to reporters in Sacramento on Tuesday.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León speaks to reporters in Sacramento on Tuesday. David Siders

In a bid to blunt opposition from oil interests to a major climate bill pending in the state Assembly, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León said Tuesday that he plans to amend the measure to increase legislative oversight of its implementation.

The move comes as de León tries to push Senate Bill 350 through the lower house. The bill would require California to reduce petroleum use in motor vehicles by 50 percent by 2030, and oil companies have launched TV and radio ads criticizing the mandate it would give the California Air Resources Board.

De León, while dismissing as misleading claims that the ARB will ration gas or impose surcharges on trucks and minivans, said, “The reality is, does CARB deserve more regulatory oversight? Without a doubt, and I plan on doing that.”

The Los Angeles Democrat suggested that amendments to SB 350 will include “exit strategies and offramps” in the event of an economic downturn.

He did not detail other changes, but they are expected to include language prohibiting ARB from taking certain measures such as gas rationing, and adding legislative appointees to the board.

“We’re working out amendments right now,” de León told reporters at the Capitol. “We will share that with everyone very shortly.”

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association, said her organization is not satisfied.

“I have reviewed newly proposed amendments on Senate Bill 350,” she said in a statement. “It is the position of WSPA that the amendments do not go far enough to protect the state’s energy reliability and security. We remain opposed to proposals to reduce petroleum transportation in California.”

After the bill passed the Senate in June, oil companies began targeting moderate Democrats in the Assembly, where the vote is expected to be more difficult. The amendments are an effort to appease some of those Democrats.

“We have our work cut out for us, there’s no doubt about it,” de León said. “But I’m confident at the end of the day that our colleagues will do the right thing.”

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon tells reporters changes are in the works to Senate Bill 350.

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders

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