Climate policy expansion clears biggest legislative hurdle

los angeles pollutionAn extension and expansion of one of the state’s landmark environmental laws cleared the Assembly on Tuesday — all but guaranteeing the bill’s ultimate passage. 

Senate Bill 32 would require the Air Resources Board to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions in the state are reduced at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Essentially, the bill builds on its predecessor, AB32, which required the ARB to achieve 1990 levels by 2020. 

To achieve these goals, the measure would continue to give the ARB the authority to create and implement regulations with blanket legislative approval, which has been one of the main critiques of the current program.

The most controversial measure taken by the ARB thus far has been the state’s cap and trade auction program, which a pending lawsuit argues imposed an illegally-passed tax on businesses.

While the Assembly was voting on SB32, the ARB released the results of the most recent cap and trade auction, which missed its target again by selling around one-third of the available emission credits. 

State of play

One slight legislative hurdle still in SB32’s way is a provision that it’s only effective if another measure, AB197, becomes law as well. This companion bill would create a legislative policy committee to oversee the ARB and adds two legislators as non-voting members of the board.

AB197 cleared the Senate on Monday and heads back to the Assembly for a concurring vote. Like SB32, its toughest test is behind it, although it’s still vulnerable in the Assembly — and opponents know it.

On Tuesday, legislators argued the pros and cons of the measure, largely along party lines. Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher of Nicolaus argued that the state’s environmental policies have hurt businesses and job creation, particularly in the oil and gas sector and among truckers.

Questionable process

Assemblyman David Hadley, a Torrance Republican, decried the bill as a gut-and-amend that hadn’t been fully debated in a policy committee.

“Observe the basic procedural tenets,” Hadley said.

Gut and amend is a procedural maneuver used to circumvent the normal legislative process that’s especially popular during the end of session. A measure to be considered by voters in November would curb the most egregious abuses of gut and amend.  

Toxic air 

Proponents largely made arguments that passing SB32 was the right thing to do. Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, complained about growing up in Riverside and often being unable to see Big Bear just mere miles away through the smog, or not being able to play outside as a result of negative quality warnings.

A recent report suggested that the greater Los Angeles area has the most toxic air in the nation, causing around 1,341 deaths annually. 


Speaker Anthony Rendon talked up the increased accountability measures in AB197. 

“With SB32, we continue California’s leadership on climate change, we keep making sure our air gets cleaner, and we ensure the economic and environmental benefits of our efforts reach all California communities,” the Paramount Democrat said after the vote. “To ensure those goals are achieved, we must also pass AB197 to ensure greater legislative oversight, as well as agency accountability and data transparency from the California Air Resources Board.”

The levels

For what it’s worth, total GHG emissions in 2014 (the most recent data) were 441.5 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent, and the target by 2020 is 431 MMTCO2e.

In 2007, around AB32’s passage, greenhouse gas inventory reached 479.74 MMTCO2e. This is according to data provided by the ARB.


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  1. Dork
    Dork 24 August, 2016, 08:10

    This is the dire forecast of Professor Valentina Zharkova, a solar physicist at Northumbria University, who has based her prediction on sun spot activity – known to be a significant driver of global climate – which is currently very low and likely to get even lower during the next three solar cycles.

    Reply this comment
  2. Ron
    Ron 24 August, 2016, 08:19

    According to the California Energy Commission we contribute a miniscule 1 per cent to the world’s greenhouse gases which is the same contribution when AB32 was signed into law in 2006, a decade ago. The cap & trade program has had little to no impact on the reduction of California’s contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions.

    California is in a precarious position. While the East coast experiences abnormally wet conditions, the stagnant weather conditions in California are causing more smog days. However, the emissions crusade that began in 2006 has failed to reduce California’s 1 per cent contribution to the world’s greenhouse gases, all while cap-and-trade has raised $7 billion in fees from our citizens’ pocketbooks for government’s pet projects.

    Maybe it’s karma that the cash cow of the cap & trade “fees” were a bust in the May and August auctions achieving less than 2% or their projected auction income, as CARB avoids the transparency that the program has done little in 10 years to reduce California’s 1% contribution to the World’s Green House gases. With the latest August auction results, however, the financial futures of the program and the bullet train are very shaky.

    In addition to those elected officials that continue to support the emissions crusade, the public, especially the homeless and poor that are disproportionally bearing the cost burden for the emissions crusade efforts of the AQMD deserves to know if there is any progress over the last decade in reducing California’s 1% contribution to the world’s greenhouse gases.

    Reply this comment
  3. Queeg
    Queeg 24 August, 2016, 09:55


    The Plutocrats will decree the sun may not come up. The Frank’s and North People will be for want …… will not be pretty!

    This fanatical climate regulation drastically affects the masses… so sad!

    Reply this comment
  4. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 24 August, 2016, 21:33

    Make these politicians stay home for a whole year instead of going all over leaving behind carbon footprints the size of 100 football fields

    Reply this comment
  5. ricky65
    ricky65 30 August, 2016, 08:15

    California middle class, working poor, suburbanites, ruralites: Your green masters and ruling oligarchs have a message for you:
    It’s BOHICA time!

    Reply this comment

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