Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown moves to slip cap and trade into major climate bill

In a bid to preserve California’s cap-and-trade program beyond 2020, Gov. Jerry Brown has quietly proposed amending major environmental legislation to expressly authorize the regulation’s extension.

The draft bill language, obtained by The Sacramento Bee, would have the Legislature direct the California Air Resources Board to exercise its “authority under the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 ... including its authority for market-based compliance mechanisms, to meet a statewide greenhouse gas emissions target by 2030.”

Brown’s office on Monday confirmed it had offered amendments but declined to say what they are.

The proposed amendment could further complicate passage of Senate Bill 32, an already-controversial proposal to extend the state’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets beyond 2020. Lawmakers were reviewing the proposed text on Monday.

If incorporated into the bill, Brown’s proposed language will likely stir opposition to the broader bill from a subset of environmentalists who say that cap and trade has allowed industries to continue polluting in areas of the state where more poor and Latino people live.

“It looks like the governor is trying to shoehorn some kind of language about cap and trade post-2020,” said Brent Newell, legal director of the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment. “Senate Bill 32, right now, is legislation that would simply extend and create new targets. It would not extend cap and trade. The governor’s effort to wed the two will provoke our opposition.”

The bill comes amid a tenuous future for cap and trade, in which polluters pay to offset carbon emissions. Critics have argued the program is a tax that must be approved by a two-thirds legislative vote, a position rejected by many environmentalists and legislative Democrats.

The cap-and-trade program is a critical source of revenue to Brown’s plan to build a high-speed rail system in the state.

Brown, a fourth-term Democrat, has made climate change a priority of his administration. But he has struggled with moderate Democrats and Republicans in California’s Legislature.

Earlier this month, Brown opened a new ballot measure committee and a top aide, Nancy McFadden, issued a prepared statement downplaying the significance of any one bill in the Legislature.

“We are going to extend our climate goals and cap and trade one way or another,” McFadden said. “The governor will continue working with the Legislature to get this done this year, next year or on the ballot in 2018.”

Editor’s note: This post was updated at 3:25 p.m. Aug. 15 to include comments from Brent Newell and to correct the year of the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders

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