LOS ANGELES – California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a climate bill Tuesday that will extend California’s cap-and-trade program.

The program, which partly funds high-speed rail, had to overcome a court case that went all the way to the state's Supreme Court before being resolved.

Assembly Bill 398 authored by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, extends and improves the state’s world-leading cap-and-trade program to ensure California continues to meet its ambitious climate change goals.

“California is leading the world in dealing with a principal existential threat that humanity faces,” Brown said at the signing ceremony.

Governor Brown held a signing ceremony on Treasure Island in San Francisco for an extension of cap-and-trade legislation.
Governor Brown held a signing ceremony on Treasure Island in San Francisco for an extension of cap-and-trade legislation.

“We are a nation-state in a globalizing world and we’re having an impact and you’re here witnessing one of the key milestones in turning around this carbonized world into a decarbonized, sustainable future," Brown said.

Brown chose Treasure Island, an island in the San Francisco Bay, for the ceremony, the same location where former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 32 (the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006), which authorized the state’s cap-and-trade program more than a decade ago.

AB 398 passed in both the California State Senate and Assembly last week with support from Democratic and Republican lawmakers and more than 150 groups including environmental and business organizations.

California's planned $62 billion high speed rail project has received $958 million from cap-and-trade, by far the most money of any program since its inception, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A Times opinion piece suggests that Brown agreed to separate legislation eliminating the cap and trade's high speed rail funding in order to get Republicans on board with extending the climate change bill.

This legislation extends the program by 10 years until 2030, and makes the following improvements to the existing law:

  • Ensures that carbon pollution will decrease as the program’s emissions cap declines;
  • Cuts the use of out-of-state carbon offsets and brings those environmental benefits back to California;
  • Designates the California Air Resources Board as the statewide regulatory body responsible for ensuring that California meets its statewide carbon pollution reduction targets, while retaining local air districts' responsibility and authority to curb toxic air contaminants and criteria pollutants from local sources that severely impact public health;
  • Decreases free carbon allowances over 40% by 2030 and;
  • Prioritizes cap-and-trade spending to ensure funds go where they are needed most, including reducing diesel emissions in the most impacted communities;

Investments that the program funds include the preservation and restoration of tens of thousands of acres of open space. It also has helped plant thousands of new trees, funded 30,000 energy efficiency improvements in homes, expanded affordable housing, boosted public transit, helped more than 100,000 Californians purchase zero-emission vehicles and supported many other programs.

AB 617 by Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) and Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) – part of the of the legislative package announced with AB 398 – will be signed separately later this week and will establish a groundbreaking program to measure and combat air pollution at the neighborhood level – in the communities most impacted.

According to Brown, the legislation received bipartisan support.

“I want to especially thank Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes and his Republican colleagues for following in the footsteps of great Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, who both recognized the importance of fighting for clean air and water and natural spaces,” Brown said.

Speakers said they hope politicians at the federal level can follow the example set in Sacramento in reaching across the aisle to pass needed legislation.

“Republicans and Democrats were able to come together to pass legislation that helps clean up our environment for our children while at the same time supporting a booming economy,” Schwarzenegger said.

AB 398 strengthens and extends the state's cap-and-trade program, which would have expired without legislative action. The program, along with other state carbon reduction measures, ensures California will meet its SB 32 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

“As the Trump Administration seeks to undermine our nation’s climate leadership – the world is looking to California,” Brown said. “We are proving that growing an economy and protecting the environment is not an either-or proposition; we can and will continue to do both.”

“Today’s extension of the landmark cap-and-trade program, coupled with effective clean energy policies, will move us forward into the future and we plan to take the rest of the world with us,” said Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León.

The Senate President said the legislation represents a great example of “think globally, act locally.”

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