Energy & Environment

Green mega-donor takes on oil industry over Calif. clean air law

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Billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer is taking on California’s oil industry as lawmakers there grapple with the future of the state’s cap-and-trade program.

State legislators returned to work on Monday with an eye toward extending the state’s cap-and-trade law by the end of the month. 

{mosads}Greens have hailed the law as helpful for reducing air pollution there, something Steyer repeats in his television ad. He said oil groups are pushing to have it scaled back to the detriment of public health.  

“California’s clean air laws are working,” Steyer said in the ad, which is part of a $1.2 million buy, the Sacramento Bee reports. “Just when we’re making progress, the oil companies are trying to weaken our clean air laws, but we can stop them.”

Besides looking for a deal on cap-and-trade, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has waged several battles with the oil and fossil fuel industries. Last year, Brown and legislative leadership abandoned a plan to cut the state’s petroleum use for vehicles, but not before the governor accused oil companies of selling a “highly destructive product.”

The industry has opposed the cap and trade plan and the oil reduction measures, the Bee reports, because they see them as unrealistic. Some lawmakers also question where the revenue from the cap-and-trade program is going. 

Steyer is a major player in federal races, promising to spend more in 2016 than the $75 million he spent on the 2014 elections. In California, Steyer has spent about $3.9 million since 2013, the Bee reports, with his group NextGen Climate spending an additional $1 million.

Tags California cap and trade Tom Steyer

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