California Dems reach deal on cap and trade

California Dems reach deal on cap and trade
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California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and state legislative leaders said Thursday that they have reached a deal to extend the state’s landmark cap-and-trade program aimed at dramatically reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.

The new deal will extend the program, initially authorized in 2006, by 10 years. It would help the state meet its goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, Brown’s office said. 

The two bills that will begin moving through the legislature on Tuesday include a program aimed at cutting pollution in some of the state’s dirtiest neighborhoods, as well as higher penalties against companies that pollute. They would also require industrial facilities like oil refineries to replace outdated technology with cleaner machines within the next six years. 

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“The legislature is taking action to curb climate change and protect vulnerable communities from industrial poisons,” Brown said in a statement issued with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) and state Senate President Kevin de Leon (D).

Lawmakers worked for months to come to an agreement that could bring together the liberal and centrist factions inside the Democratic Party in Sacramento. 

The two bills that will extend the cap-and-trade program will require the votes of two-thirds of all legislators to pass. Democratic leaders were so concerned that they might not hit the two-thirds threshold that they asked Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D) — a state assemblyman before he resigned to take a seat in Congress — to delay leaving Sacramento while the deal was struck.

One senior Democratic aide said the agreement represented a “threading of the needle” between industry groups that will be most impacted and environmental groups, which wanted harsh new penalties and stricter caps.

A new program to clean pollution in smog-soaked neighborhoods helped close the deal, the aide said. 

“This agreement ensures that Californians in underserved communities — and communities most impacted by air pollution — will receive the greatest benefit,” Rendon said in a statement. “All communities deserve clean air, benefits from strong climate actions, and a strong green economy.” 

The California Chamber of Commerce said it was still reviewing the legislation before offering an assessment. 

The new legislative language would require businesses taking advantage of carbon offset programs like planting trees to locate most of those programs in California.

Legislative rules will allow a vote on the two measures as early as Thursday. Legislators are scheduled to wrap up their summer session in Sacramento at the end of next week, before returning later this year.