Soapbox

As Gov. Jerry Brown pushes cap and trade, interest groups take up sides

A truck drives into the Valero Benicia Refinery on Wednesday. Gov. Jerry Brown is racing to convince lawmakers to extend the state's cap-and-trade program which puts a price on carbon emitted by polluters, including oil refineries. The program has been closely watched around the world as a market-based way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it expires in 2020.
A truck drives into the Valero Benicia Refinery on Wednesday. Gov. Jerry Brown is racing to convince lawmakers to extend the state's cap-and-trade program which puts a price on carbon emitted by polluters, including oil refineries. The program has been closely watched around the world as a market-based way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it expires in 2020. The Associated Press

Editors’ note: The Legislature is scheduled to vote Monday on bills that would extend cap and trade through 2030. The following are voices from some of the interests involved in the debate.

Manufacturers

Californians should be proud that our current climate change program, including a cap-and-trade regulation, will successfully accomplish the 2020 greenhouse gas reduction target without serious economic disruption.

But reaching the 2030 goal will require faster and deeper emission cuts. Getting there will require carefully crafted regulations and effective legislative oversight. Cap and trade remains an important regulatory tool that needs legislative action to extend past its expiration date in 2020.

It is the most cost-effective emission-reduction approach to support job-creating industries, to protect consumers from unnecessarily high fuel and electricity prices, and to set a positive example nationally and internationally.

Managing the costs of climate change compliance is important to all Californians because costs of addressing climate change are passed through to families. Under a cap-and-trade program, the average annual household costs to meet California’s goal would be lowered by $2,300, according to a recent study done by the National Economic Research Associates firm.

Beyond controlling program costs, we need a durable program that addresses other important environmental goals and that can be used as a model by other states and nations. The package of bills, AB 398 and AB 617, accomplish these goals by extending a cost-effective cap-and-trade program and addressing local air quality concerns.

We urge lawmakers in both parties to support the bills and put California on a durable path to reach these important environmental goals while protecting jobs and the economy.

Dorothy Rothrock, California Manufacturers & Technology Association president

Builders

Once again, California is poised to show the rest of the world that environmental protection and economic growth can go hand in hand.

The two compromise bills hammered out under Gov. Jerry Brown’s leadership do exactly that: They preserve tens of thousands of blue-collar, middle-class jobs that already are here, while ensuring that California will meet its 2030 greenhouse gas reduction goals.

After decades in which steel mills, automobile factories and aircraft manufacturing plants have shut, construction employment in oil refineries up and down the coast remains one of the last decent-paying job options for people in some of our most at-risk communities.

Richmond. Carson. Wilmington. San Pedro. Martinez. Youth incarceration rates are going through the roof in some of these communities. One of the biggest drivers, of course, is the lack of jobs and apprenticeship opportunities.

Passage of AB 398 and AB 617 will help keep people working in those neighborhoods, and will give air quality districts the authority to reduce emissions around these large industrial facilities within them. The legislation will help fund public transit and high-speed rail, two critical components in the long-term plan to reduce carbon emissions.

These bills strike the right environmental-economic balance. Oil can be refined anywhere. It is better that we do it here, under California-level emission controls, rather than in some other state or country where there aren’t pollution controls, where there is no such concept as environmental justice for working communities of color.

We want to keep jobs here and reduce pollution everywhere, and that’s what this package of bills accomplishes.

Robbie Hunter, State Building and Construction Trades Council president

Small business

An extension of cap and trade would slam small businesses and working families.

California has stood alone in the nation with its cap-and-trade experiment in recent years. During that time, we have seen energy costs skyrocket for small businesses and working families. CNBC recently released its annual “Top States for Business” rankings. California came in last for business friendliness.

California, home to some of the nation’s worst poverty, should be doing everything it can to lower the cost of living and doing business in this state. Extending cap and trade goes in the opposite direction.

In a survey of our 22,000 small-business owners, 91 percent told us they are opposed to higher fuel costs that would come under cap and trade. We also have serious concerns regarding the arbitrarily rushed process. With zero policy analysis and rule waivers to expedite votes on these bills, small-business owners are being silenced. On behalf of our small-business members, we urge no-votes on AB 398 and AB 617.

Tom Scott, NFIB-California, state executive director

Environmentalist

“I’m just lucky I’ll be dead by the time global warming gets really bad,” an 18-year-old I know said to me not long ago.

If we don’t use every tool we have at hand to combat global warming, and develop better tools in the years to come, our kids’ lives are going to be harder than we can imagine. They know that. But we’re still in charge here.

California’s cap-and-trade program sets limits on climate pollution, gives industries incentive to limit their emissions, and raises funds to invest in climate solutions. It’s an important tool. The two bills up for votes in the Legislature on Monday, while imperfect, were brokered by the most committed elected officials in the nation. So let’s get it done.

And then let’s get right back to work. We need to cut pollution across the board by weaning the state off of fossil fuels and moving toward 100 percent renewable energy. By replacing our cars with electric vehicles. By developing more and better ways to store clean energy. These ideas are all before the Legislature in this session. Let’s get them done too.

We’ve achieved an unprecedented level of wealth in our society. Our kids should be able to look forward to a remarkable future, not dread a dystopian one.

Dan Jacobson, Environment California state director

Utility

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s mission is to provide our customers with innovative energy solutions in the most environmentally responsible manner possible. California’s cap-and-trade program helps us meet our own carbon-reduction goals and ones established by the Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32 of 2006.

Under cap and trade, SMUD receives allowances or tradable allowances. By trading these allowances, we reduce emissions with the least financial impact to customers. Without allowances to cover emissions, SMUD ratepayers could see increased costs of more than $1 billion from 2020 to 2030 – an estimated 7 percent rate increase, each year for 10 years.

In the last year alone, cap and trade allowances enabled SMUD to invest $2 million in projects that directly benefit disadvantaged communities and customers, including deep energy retrofits for low-income homeowners and renters. The allowances also helped us invest in fast-charging stations for electric vehicles and a small hydroelectric project that moves us closer to our clean-energy goals.

It would be a mistake to halt that momentum now. That’s why SMUD strongly supports efforts to reauthorize the state’s cap-and-trade program through 2030.

Arlen Orchard, SMUD chief executive officer

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