GOP legislators unlikely to pay price for cap-and-trade vote

SACRAMENTO – As the California Legislature approached a late-night Monday vote to extend the state’s climate-change-fighting cap-and-trade system, the Capitol buzz focused on Jacqui Irwin of Thousand Oaks. The Democratic assemblywoman was absent because of a long-standing family commitment, thus leaving Democrats one vote shy of the supermajority they needed to approve the system’s 10-year extension.

The Senate was less of a question, given that Democrats have a full supermajority in the upper house. As it turned out, the Senate passed the measure – and a companion bill that strengthens air-pollution reporting requirements – with all Democrats in support, as well as one Republican, Tom Berryhill of Modesto, who gained a concession (reduction of a firefighting fee for rural areas) he had sought.

But the Assembly vote wasn’t even close, as seven Republicans – including Republican Leader Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley – voted in favor of the extension. The other six Republicans were Catharine Baker of Walnut Creek, Rocky Chávez of Oceanside, Jordan Cunningham of San Luis Obispo, Heath Flora of Modesto, Devin Mathis of Visalia and Marc Steinorth of Rancho Cucamonga.

Mayes defended his vote, first by expressing how tired he is of partisanship, then noting that he supports cap and trade because “we believe markets are better than Soviet-style regulations.” He also posted on Twitter a large photo of Ronald Reagan with a recent quotation from former Reagan Secretary of State George Schultz: “Passing this bill on a bipartisan basis … is something Ronald Reagan … would be proud.” But despite his appeal to conservative icons, conservative activists and commentators were furious at the vote.

In a column Tuesday, Jon Fleischman, publisher of the Republican website Flashreport, ridiculed Mayes’ contention that the cap-and-trade system is a free-market approach to climate change: “Apparently Mayes believes that when the government creates Soviet-style limits on resources but leaves people with the freedom to exist in a world of artificial scarcity on their own terms, that is not command and control.”

Conservative former Assemblyman Tim Donnelly noted in an email blast that eight GOP legislators “voted for a (63 cents) per gallon gas tax, handing Gov. Jerry Brown another victory and a massive slush fund to spend on things like high-speed rail.” That number comes from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, which concluded that the cap-and-trade system could add 63 cents to a gallon of gasoline by 2021 if carbon credits sell for a high price.

Under cap and trade, established in 2012 by the California Air Resources Board and authorized by the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, the state caps allowable greenhouse-gas emissions by manufacturers. That cap then is reduced by 3 percent a year. Manufacturers who cannot reduce their carbon emissions immediately bid for “credits” in an auction system. The goal is to force companies to invest in low-carbon technologies, but the costs of the credits and those investments are expected to drive up costs in the meantime.

Some business groups backed the program, viewing it as a less-onerous means to achieve climate-change goals than the heavy-handed regulatory alternative. Some environmental and social-justice groups opposed the plan, which they view as going too easy on corporations. But few doubt that its passage will increase gas, food and electricity prices.

The issue is a hot button now, given that Republicans are targeting Democratic Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, because of his vote in favor of Senate Bill 1, a recently passed law that increases gasoline taxes by 12 cents or more a gallon and which also increased vehicle-license fees to pay for transportation projects. Most Republican legislators objected to a cap-and-trade driven gas-price hike so soon after this tax increase.

Because of the relatively large number of Republican votes for the cap-and-trade extension, the Democratic Assembly speaker “was able to let three of his targeted members, who are occupying seats the GOP would like to pick back up, either not vote at all or vote no,” added Fleischman. He called it a “a big strategic blunder” for the Assembly GOP.

It’s unclear whether the GOP legislators will suffer a political price for their vote. Berryhill is termed out of his Senate seat. “Because of the manner in which the party is currently run and funded, those legislators who voted for the bill will not be punished in any way by the party,” said Tom Del Beccaro, former California Republican Party chairman. “However, as (former Assemblyman) Eric Linder proved with his liberal voting record and loss due to low Republican turnout, Republican voters will be less likely to turn out for Republicans next fall.”

The Republicans who voted for the bill seem undeterred. Some of them joined Gov. Jerry Brown at a celebratory press conference after the bill’s passage. “We didn’t come here to Sacramento to just be Republicans and to hate on Democrats,” said Mayes. “We came here to Sacramento to make people’s lives better.”

Chávez noted that “we’re a very small component of the world on this but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be leaders on something that’s threatening the world.”

It remains to be seen whether the GOP, which was making political hay out of the recent gas-tax vote, can keep up its political momentum now that so many of its members voted for bill that may raise gas prices by far more than 12 cents a gallon.

Steven Greenhut is Western region director for the R Street Institute. Write to him at [email protected]


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  1. Randall May
    Randall May 18 July, 2017, 13:29

    The CRP lost all credibility not because of these issues but because of their continued support for crony capitalism and the police state. Think civil forfeitures or the burdensome penalty assessments that are collected to support the police state. The Democrats in California have a better chance of supporting social tolerance, limited government, or fiscal conservatism. Not my GOP.

    Reply this comment
  2. fredcdobbs
    fredcdobbs 18 July, 2017, 13:46

    12 cents plus 63 cents…pretty soon you are talking real money. What should be obvious to everyone is that this state’s economy runs on the Social Media Bubble. What happens when that bubble springs a leak?

    Reply this comment
    • TaxCollector
      TaxCollector 18 July, 2017, 14:17

      it will be blamed on Trump like everything else but really, big government causes problems on more big government can solve.

      Just keep letting these people keep taking your money and centralizing it in Sacramento unstoppable spending machine.

      Reply this comment
  3. lb1
    lb1 18 July, 2017, 14:42

    They are TRAITORS just like all of them. Gas is not all we have to worry about. In March they put in a mandate to raise electric and natural gas on all of us, funny thing is is that the head CEO of PGE suddenly was gave millions to step down and was placed by Brown as head of Public Utilities Commission which in turn put in place the mandate. Now this Cap and trade will raise them even more. These A$$holes need to be in jail with Brown the first one to go. Traitorous B#$%&rds.

    Reply this comment
  4. Skep 41
    Skep 41 18 July, 2017, 15:32

    Ah, Republiclowns. In this one-party ‘democracy’ they grovel for handouts at the feet of their Demo-Creep masters. What spineless nematodes they are! Climate-hero Jerry gets to wreck the California economy as he tilts at the Global Warming windmill with no opposition. I live here and I can verify that the idiots in this state richly deserve every bit of the disaster that is brewing just over the horizon.

    Reply this comment
  5. Art
    Art 18 July, 2017, 20:05

    I am skeptical of cap and trade. It is an approach to force companies to pollute less but it punishes companies that cannot do otherwise. I am amazed at the fact that 7 GOP members voted for this bill. I cautiously applaud the men who were able to let go of partisonship. However, this is unlikely to bring in moderate voters. The GOP is a tarnished brand in the eyes of California voters and no one pays attention to state politics. Either way, I will put aside my views temporarily and thank Chad Mayes for putting politics aside. You place my confidence that the state GOP can still win the hearts of California voters. Not one of ideology but of reason.

    Reply this comment
    • fredcdobbs
      fredcdobbs 20 July, 2017, 00:29

      You make the least amount of sense of any commenter on here. Your single paragraph is an exercise in contradiction.

      Reply this comment
  6. lb1
    lb1 18 July, 2017, 20:43

    Are you serious, you applaud them. They are freakin traitors. Climate change is a damn lie, A BIG FAT LIE. You, me and every person in Ca is going to pay dearly for this crap that disgraceful Jerry Brown is doing. Geez, when will people get a brain.

    Reply this comment
    • Art
      Art 19 July, 2017, 08:23

      Looking over the new details of the bill, I am not sure if it was worth it. I probably shouldn’t celebrate their votes based on compromise rather than what is right. As for climate change, the scientists have exaggerated the claims that population crises will happen by the year 2050. Our Earth is huge and there’s no way knowing when something disastrous. However, climate change is probably real. There’s evidence that our sea levels are rising, ice caps are melting, and certain countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia are losing water from a long drought.

      Reply this comment
  7. Queeg
    Queeg 20 July, 2017, 21:03


    Slow growth is expensive. You betcha. No need to discriminate just play take away and slowly starve the little people out.

    Seniors, the sick or disabled and minorities just don’t pencil anymore-

    Reply this comment
  8. Ron
    Ron 21 July, 2017, 09:19

    Cap and Trade has been a revenue generator for the State since 2006. It has raised over $7 billion for the State, but after 10 years since AB 32 was signed into law in 2006,according to the California Energy Commission, has yet to lower our 1% contribution to the world’s GHG’s. It has however been very effective in hitting citizens’ pocketbooks to fund a multitude of governmental pet projects.

    Our Legislators crusade to maintain the Cap and Trade “revenue generator” through 2030 provides the public with a dim forecast in the coming years as the burden of additional fuel costs will be falling completely on motorists and businesses. More cost increases that are coming are: A) Starting in November 2017, SB1 will add significant tax increases to gasoline and diesel fuels, as well as higher registration fees to finance transportation infrastructure, B) 4 years from now, according to estimates from the (LAO), Cap and Trade could raise gas prices by another 63 cents per gallon in 2021, increasing to 73 cents per gallon in 2031, and D) California’s LCFS is expected to grow and overtake the Cap and Trade costs.

    The inconvenient truth about AB 32, as well as Cap and Trade, is that we now have higher gasoline prices and higher electricity costs. The coastal elites who support “going green” at all costs just don’t care that the working poor and struggling middle class living away from California’s coast are bearing the brunt of higher energy costs. Tellingly, our state has the worst poverty rate in the nation where 1 out of 5 California families are barely hanging on. Thus, it’s hard to understand the time and effort being extended on the subject of the emissions crusade that is obviously negatively impacting our poverty and homeless populations.

    It’s our Legislators that are causing the price of California fuels to increase, not the oil companies. With the approval to extend the Cap and Trade system to 2030,California’s top politicians will have immense effects on what consumers spend for gasoline and a myriad of other products and services.

    Reply this comment
  9. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 22 July, 2017, 07:48

    Moonbeam is a total idiot just like with most of these global warming/climate change wackos out of their minds and their minds is not very much to speak about

    Reply this comment
  10. Dork
    Dork 22 July, 2017, 13:05

    The founder of the Global Warming Religion has just admitted he is a Fraud in a Canadian Court.

    “Only possible outcome: Mann’s humiliation, defeat and likely criminal investigation in the U.S.”

    Reply this comment
    • ricky65
      ricky65 23 July, 2017, 09:05

      Yeah, this is hilarious. Mann has been notorious about using lawsuits to silence anyone who criticizes any of his so called ‘work’. He famously sued Mark Steyn and others before and lost or dropped the cases.
      One of the principals in the current lawsuit apparently ticked off Mann by saying he called himself a researcher from Penn State. But in truth, because of his faulty data, he actually deserved to be in the state pen. Good line actually.
      But Mann stepped in his own trap with this last suit. During the discovery portion of the law suit, as is the defense’s right, the opposition subpoenaed all data related to his ‘hockey stick’ conclusion. Mann knew he could not produce this as it will immediately prove it had been manipulated.
      Thus the current contempt citation.
      It doesn’t get better than this.Exposing to the light of truth the climate change death cultists one cockroach at a time.

      Reply this comment
  11. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 24 July, 2017, 13:04

    If moonbeam realy wants to stop this fake global warming maybe he should keep his big yap shut and cut back on the Hot Air

    Reply this comment
  12. Bubba
    Bubba 26 July, 2017, 16:35

    Lest we not feel too bad the benevolent Moonbeam is giving up to $30,000 for us to buy Tesla’s so us pesants can do our part to help Don Quixote Moonbeam chase the imaginary global warming goblins away so all us “ungrateful” will have to sell our single family homes in the ‘burbs’ and relocate to high density housing close to public transportation because we can no longer afford to drive our SUV and cars because of cap and tax

    Reply this comment

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Steven Greenhut

Steven Greenhut

Steven Greenhut is CalWatchdog’s contributing editor. Greenhut was deputy editor and columnist for The Orange County Register for 11 years. He is author of the new book, “Plunder! How Public Employee Unions are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling Our Lives and Bankrupting the Nation.”

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