Legislature Passes Key Climate Bills
August 25, 2016
This week the Legislature passed two key bills that will extend California’s climate goals officially beyond 2020 and provide additional oversight of the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Senator Pavley’s SB 32 passed the finish line yesterday after two years of negotiation and debate and is on its way to the Governor’s desk. In the end, the bill simply requires the CARB to ensure that statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are reduced to at least 40% below the 1990 level by 2030. This also codifies a Governor’s Executive Order B-30-15 establishing the same target.
In addition, the bill was linked to AB 197 by Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia which was also approved by the Legislature this week. This bill establishes additional legislative oversight of CARB, creating a Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies (JLCCCP) and adds two non-voting Ex Officio Members to CARB from the Legislature. The bill also establishes term limits for CARB Board Members and requires CARB to prioritize direct emission reductions and consider social costs when adopting regulations to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions beyond the 2020 statewide limit.
While this package extends California’s long-term climate goals, it does not resolve the question pending in the courts as to whether cap and trade is a tax and thus requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature to secure the future of the program.
Furthermore, the Legislature has yet to come to an agreement on the allocation of cap and trade revenues. As you may recall, the Governor proposed the expenditure of $3.1 billion in auction revenues in his January budget. The majority of these funds, approximately 60 percent, have been allocated as part of a continuous appropriation to programs like the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program and High Speed Rail. The outstanding 40 percent remains for the Legislature to divvy up amongst projects that reduce GHG emissions from a variety of different sectors.
It is widely anticipated that this will be one of the last issues the Legislature addresses before the end of their two-year session on August 31st. CSAC has a number of priorities for a cap and trade dollars, including support for Governor’s proposal to allocate $150 million to forest health and tree mortality as well as support for funding to a new local climate program, waste diversion and additional transportation funding.