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How cap-and-trade bill will help the state while reducing greenhouse gas

The stacks from the Valero Benicia Refinery are seen as a pedestrian walks in a nearby neighborhood.
The stacks from the Valero Benicia Refinery are seen as a pedestrian walks in a nearby neighborhood. The Associated Press

The Legislature passed a major environmental protection bill Monday that brings flexibility, clarity and transparency to California’s cap-and-trade program.

By bringing a market-driven approach to curbing greenhouse gases, this plan will reduce regulation, lower costs, cut taxes, protect jobs and provide a model for other states.

Some Assembly Republicans played a central role in negotiating these changes. The problems with the existing program were significant. It would have been irresponsible to do nothing.

Absent the changes, the Air Resources Board had license to dictate how industries would achieve specified greenhouse gas reduction goals. This command-and-control approach would have resulted in costly and potentially unachievable regulations. Families would have borne the brunt.

The air board estimates that the cost of doing nothing would have been nearly $20 billion per year and could have cost more than 270,000 jobs. Rather than rely on costly bureaucratic directives, this new plan encourages a collaborative approach to limit greenhouse gases and increase innovation.

The new program will cut regulations, taxes and fees that could have cost more than $16 billion. The air board estimates it will achieve the established greenhouse gas reduction goals at fraction of the cost and save jobs.

This is why cap and trade received broad support from the California Manufacturers and Trade Association, California Chamber of Commerce and California Farm Bureau Federation, as well as the Environmental Defense Fund.

This is the first time in memory that fees, taxes and regulations will have been reduced on a massive scale and ultimately prove why market-based solutions are more effective than command-and-control schemes. This is an approach that the Legislature should adopt more frequently.

Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley is Assembly Republican leader, assemblymember.Mayes@assembly.ca.gov

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