Capitol Alert

Fact check: Senate leader misleads on climate bill oversight


Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León was promoting his new climate bill in a TV interview Monday when he was asked why lawmakers should grant authority to the California Air Resources Board – an unelected body – to decide how to implement provisions of the legislation, including reducing petroleum use in California.

“Well, it was a board that started with Ronald Reagan back in the ’60s – they had the authority,” de León said on KCRA-TV in Sacramento. “My legislation would require them to come back and present the plan to the Legislature. So ultimately, the Legislature – those elected officials, both Democrats and Republicans – will be the ones ultimately responsible for voting the plan up or down.”

Analysis: De León has the history of the California Air Resources Board right – but not his own bill.

In a sweeping effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Senate Bill 350 would require the state to increase to 50 percent from one-third the amount of energy derived from renewable sources, while reducing petroleum use in motor vehicles by 50 percent by 2030.

The legislation does not spell out how the state will achieve that level of petroleum reduction. Instead, it maintains the California Air Resources Board’s existing, broad authority over vehicle emissions and fuel standards. And it does not call for an “up or down” vote on ARB regulations.

The issue is one of the most significant points of controversy in debate over SB 350, with some moderate Democrats in the Assembly calling for a future “up or down” vote on ARB plans.

De León has said he is drafting amendments to address concerns about oversight of the board. But his office has suggested those amendments are unlikely to pull authority back entirely from the ARB.

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders